Hank the Cowdog ("Dog's best friend," Dec. 2) on the cover of WORLD! Good honk! John Erickson is a master storyteller, with an amazing repertoire of voices. Thank you for bringing us his insight into the significance of good stories, the lack of form in much of what is called art, and Hank's (and our) struggle with sin. Erickson spends most of his time with animals; even so, he seems to understand the human condition very well.
-Jennifer Eason; Huntsville, Ala.
What profound and uplifting comments on the responsibility of an artist toward our culture from Erickson. I especially appreciated his observation that "people need good stories just as they need home-cooked meals, clean water, spiritual peace and love . . . artists should nourish the spirit, not poison it."
-Betty Nelson; Riverside, Ill.
Your lists of favorite books for children ("Books that show, books that tell," Dec. 2) couldn't have come at a better time. Our oldest is 13 and it's becoming painfully clear how many "popular" books out there, at the middle- and high-school levels, are inappropriate. Thanks to WORLD, I can give my kids ideas about good books without worrying about what they'll be reading.
-Kathy Lonai; Milton-Freewater, Ore.
I was surprised at how few recently published books were on your lists. As a children's librarian, I see many new books and, while many are forgettable, some are just as enjoyable as the old classics. For picture books, I suggest Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems; Mommies Say Shhh! by Patricia Polacco; and He's Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson. For chapter books I recommend The Christmas Doll by Elvira Woodruff; The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson; Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan; and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.
-Karen Pegors; Auburn, Wash.
I was surprised that Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss did not make your list. This is a wonderful book for teaching children to be pro-life, and it is my all-time favorite.
-Joan Brauning; Coatesville, Pa.
I just devoured your issue on children's books. I'm surprised no one listed Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-zoo by Mercer Meyer, a delightfully illustrated book about the alphabet and so much more.
-Cheryl Dimon; Rye, N.Y.
One of my delights as a father was curling up with our now-grown daughter and a big book. Chapter by chapter we made our way through Black Beauty, Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island, Hans Brinker (oooh, that was painful), and more. As a parent there is something wonderful about sharing imagination with your kids. Of course, if you don't have kids, you may have to borrow some-nephews, nieces, grandkids, campers at storytime . . .
-William Harris; Grand Rapids, Mich.
It intrigues me that so few of the books listed were "Christian." For years I scoured church and public libraries and Christian bookstores for exciting Christian books I could read to my Sunday school students. As a family, we read terrific stories during the week from library books. I questioned whether I should be filling my boys' heads with such prattle, yet I wanted them to enjoy reading and to use their imaginations. Then one day I realized that "all truth is God's truth." Suddenly, I found plenty of books with godly principles for children when I stopped looking only for "Christian books."
-Tami Johnson; Midland, Mich.
Out to get us?
"Anti-Christian paranoia" (Dec. 2) by Gene Edward Veith reminded me of the truly grim opposition that we Christians sometimes face. The unfounded accusations were uncomfortably reminiscent of the stories of Emperor Nero ordering fires set in ancient Rome and then blaming Christians. Thank God for His protection.
-Gary Witte; Mt. Horeb, Wis.
After reading "Anti-Christian paranoia," a reasonable column about secularists' baseless anxieties over a supposed plot to "make the United States a 'Christian nation,'" I turned the page and found D. James Kennedy's full-page ad: "We Can Reclaim America for Christ!" Maybe stuff like that fuels the paranoia.
-Ralph Blair; New York, N.Y.
How conveniently secularists ignore the fact that Christians have led the battles in the abolition of slavery, in establishing schools, hospitals, the care of orphans, the hungry, and homeless, and in almost every humanitarian effort.
-Grayce Abel; Winfield, Kan.
Hoping for hearings
Regarding the possibility of endless hearings into the Bush administration now that the Democrats control Congress ("Leadership lineup," Dec. 2): I sure hope so. The question is, do the Democrats have the spine? Back in the mid-1990s, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives aggressively delved into alleged misconduct by the Clinton administration to see whether he had used the White House Christmas card list to identify potential Democratic donors, not to mention the investigation of a failed real-estate deal, and Monica. Now when it's the Republican president's turn in the hot seat, some conservatives can't even admit that investigations are warranted.
-Kyle Watson; Greenfield, Mass.
Tapestry, not "hooey"
Megan Basham's critique of The Fountain ("Kaleidoscope of confusion," Dec. 2) accuses Aronofsky's film of messages that it neither intended nor offered. The movie is not Christian in worldview, but then its primary function is not to offer propositional truth but mythic possibility. Before it is a manifesto on the nature of religion or a tract on the theology of death, Aronofsky's movie is a metaphorical tapestry, not "self-reverential art-house hooey."
-Charlie Starr; Grayson, Ky.
Out and in
Thank you to Wayne Grudem ("Dangerous first step," Nov. 25). He was decisive, direct, and scriptural. Shame on us for not wanting to offend and so become politically ostracized at the expense of obedience to God's Word. It is unfortunate that the popularity of some of the new translations is a commentary on the Christian landscape, showing that biblical distinctiveness is out and relativism is in.
-Krag Johnson; St. Johns, Mich.
We who recognize the leadership of women do not all leap into the abyss as the "Christian gays" and social liberals do by condoning sodomy and abortion. I don't want to see women aspiring to be ministers as much as to see them desire to be knowledgeable, equipped, eager to serve, and enabled by their churches to do whatever it is that God inspires them to do.
-Barbara Mason Rohrs; Maumee, Ohio
Values voter speaks
Republican voters abandoned their own party on Election Day because it shot itself in the foot while backpedaling on values issues evangelical voters cared about ("Quiet time," Nov. 25). The GOP failed to understand that values voters will not support the Republican party if the party does not support their values.
-Paul Penner; Hillsboro, Kan.
I appreciated the constructive criticism of President Bush in Joel Belz's column ("'Not well enough, not fast enough,'" Nov. 18). Regarding Bush's "cautious and sparing" use of his bully pulpit, he is under pressure from many sides, not least from the international community. As an American living in the U.K., I have been continually surprised at the vitriol against our president. On a recent political talk show, for example, one person referred to President Bush as a "lunatic" and said he would rather see nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran than America. It's hard to realize unless you spend time outside the United States just how much the eyes of the world are on us.
-Christie McVeigh; Ulster, Northern Ireland
Ingrid Schlueter of Crosstalk radio talk show states that she saw a Rick Warren video concerning Syria ("'I should have been better prepared,'" Dec. 16) before criticizing his remarks.