Congratulations on your cover story "Looking at India" (Dec. 9). I've been traveling in China and India for more than 20 years, and there is no doubt that what happened in China, with tens of millions turning to Christ, is also now happening in India. These conversions are mainly among the many indigenous evangelical agencies and churches, and Christians beg for training to reach their spiritually hungry neighbors.
-Dave Stravers; Grand Rapids, Mich.
"Looking at India" has a picture on page 16 worth an avalanche of emotion. I immediately thought of Jesus' words: "Suffer the children to come unto Me." I wanted to reach out and tenderly clean the child's face and arms, even if it meant relief only for a moment.
-Paul Kester; Kingsley, Pa.
Thank you for the cover story on India, and praise God for organizations such as Gospel for Asia that carry the good news of Christ to a world largely ignored by American Christians.
-Charlie Markum; Louisville, Ky.
The American dollar goes a long way in India. An Indian pastor and his family can be supported for $120 a month, for instance, and a church building with parsonage can be constructed for $3,000 to $5,000. When we all work together to aid these India-based mission organizations we can accomplish a lot.
-Tim Inman; Ypsilanti, Mich.
What are we doing?
Joel Belz's column ("Over there," Dec. 9) said so much that I have been feeling lately. I am a conservative who has twice voted for George W. Bush, but I am struggling with the war in Iraq. Are we accomplishing anything of lasting value? As the father of two sons, ages 22 and 17, I have great reservations about sending them to this conflict. As a pastor right next door to an Army base I fear for the men and women in my church who are soon to be redeployed. Thank you for helping me see that I am not alone in my frustration.
-Brad Butler; Pembroke, Ga.
I supported the war, thinking that maybe, just maybe, a democracy could be built from an Islamic nation to serve as an example to other nations in the region. Sadly, now I believe that I was in error. I've also come to realize once again the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, who warned us against getting overly involved in other people's affairs. We've not won many kudos or much gratefulness trying to be the world's policeman. Isolationism is a bad word of late, but I think that its alternative has proved too costly in lives, money, and material.
-Dan LaRue; Lebanon, Pa.
I grew up in the '40s and '50s watching World War II movies and thinking that we lived in a country that stood for what is right and was willing to fight for it. I don't think that is true anymore. The United States needs to get out of Iraq if Iraqis don't want to fight for their freedom, but instead are willing to kill each other over their understanding of Islam.
-Herman Smith; Albuquerque, N.M.
As sad as it is to see a prominent Christian such as Ted Haggard fall in such deep sin, it is refreshing to see that the leadership of New Life Church recognizes the need for corporate repentance, oversight, and restoration ("Steady and stable," Dec. 9). Many churches do not understand the importance (or the biblical imperative) of oversight. Indeed, they do not practice it or even understand that it is an act of love.
-Thomas Burley; Alto, Mich.
Rev. Mike Ware's comment-that his committee's goal is to restore Haggard to "public life, and hopefully sometime in the future, Christian ministry life"-made me so angry. Why is it so impossible for Christian public figures to retreat permanently back to private life, like the rest of us live everyday? Must they always speak, write, or sing to audiences (or congregations)?
-B.L. Wiedenbeck; Oregon, Wis.
There was a ray of hope in the congregation being exhorted to accept some collective responsibility for Haggard's behavior. For any congregation to allow leadership to live a life without accountability is unconscionable. When are we going to take the pastor off the pedestal and treat him like an equal brother?
-Edmond Caouette; Atlanta, Ga.
The meaning of gender
If New York had allowed nonsurgical gender changes ("Pick and choose," Dec. 9), all it would take to legalize a "marriage" is for one partner to have his birth certificate changed. That way one of them would be male and the other female. This would also bring all the benefits that a legal marriage brings. You can bet the homosexual community is aware of this unintended consequence. If this spreads throughout the country, we will find that all of the work to get marriage amendments passed was for nought.
-Dennis Babish; Evansville, Wis.
What does it mean to live as a member of the opposite gender? In such a system, all a man has to do to change his gender to a woman is declare that he is a woman without changing anything about the way he acts, speaks, or dresses. If anyone can define for himself what it means to be a man or a woman, then male and female have no meaning.
-Paul Hair; Dillsburg, Pa.
My children can't quite grasp why the word queer in their books (published prior to the '70s) means unusual, but in conversation it means something quite different. Gay isn't cheerful anymore and truth isn't fact, but the culmination of an individual's emotional experiences. A person's "gender" means anatomy, not feelings. Those who would encourage the use of such terminology are as confused as the people they are attempting to define.
-Lori Parziale; Alexandria, Va.
Attempting to redefine family is not only destructive to all but, more fundamentally, attempts to destroy the reason the biblical family is crucial: God is our Father and we Christians are His children ("Experimental kids," Dec. 9). No other "alternative family model" can work well because our Father designed the family. How could anyone willing to look at the results of variations on God's design still honestly think alternative approaches may work as successfully?
-Ken Howard; Eagle Creek, Ore.
"Experimental kids" is a sad commentary on our culture. The article comments that homosexual partners who choose parenthood are putting their interests ahead of the child's. However, the traditional family faces similar conflicts of interest. We choose day care, government schools, and electronic babysitters to occupy our children's time. Meanwhile, we focus on our careers, self-fulfillment, and accumulation of things. Homes become simply a pit stop in the rat race of life. When we begin spending real time together, we will find the heart of family. Only then will we have something of value to say about families, to a culture where anything goes.
-Shar Barkdoll; Houghton, Mich.
I went to see The Nativity Story not expecting much after reading several reviews ("What would Luke write," Dec. 2). I came away with a smile that wouldn't let up, with a heart rejoicing afresh in such an amazing Savior, and a new appreciation for those who helped usher Him into this world. I loved the actors and was touched by the tender relationship between Mary and Joseph.
-Annamarie Mangum; San Marcos, Texas
What a joke
After throwing away a chance to finally bring this country back to the Constitution, some Republicans are blocking pork spending ("Pork chops," Dec. 9)? What a joke, and a bad one at that. The opportunity of a generation has been squandered by so-called conservative Republicans. I fear the chance will never come again for America.
-David M. Berman; Richmond, N.H.
One wonders . . .
Regarding opposition to ads for The Nativity Story ("Quotables," Dec. 9): What do people think we are celebrating at this time of year? I don't know of any government protection from being offended.
-Steven E. McElwain Sr.; Newark Valley, N.Y.