From the heart
Thank you for "Not your ordinary campaign stop" (Dec. 23). My dad and I met Sen. Brownback about a year ago and were impressed by how he doesn't fit the stereotype of a politician. He was unabashed in talking about his faith, he valued the input of others, and he probably listened as much as he talked. When he did talk, he was genuine and what he said and the causes he espoused came from his heart and what he believes in. -Anthony Cavicchi, 15; Houston, Texas
I met Sam Brownback at an election rally in 1998 and have kept up with his career ever since. As a U.S. senator, he has opposed abortion, government-funded health care, and same-sex marriage, while supporting free trade and homeland security. Through the years his voting record has been consistently conservative, unlike the political paths of some other Republican candidates that have only recently taken an obsequious turn to the right.
-Lynn Rutledge; Naperville, Ill.
A fine record
Congratulations to Burl Cain, warden of Louisiana State Penitentiary, for the impressive drop in crime among the inmates there ("The mark of Cain," Dec. 23). Allowing religious instruction that gives criminals the opportunity of accepting religious principles is more effective than greater control or more rules. As President Calvin Coolidge said (and this applies to any group), "The government will be able to get out of the people only such virtue as religion has placed there." Any religious institution that teaches righteous principles should be welcomed in prison.
-Darlene Bennett; Salt Lake City, Utah
Change a prisoner's values and you change his conduct. Thank God for men like Cain, who is successfully applying this truth behind prison walls. The reality is in the changed lives of the men at Angola Prison. Too bad that The New York Times, like most of the rest of the world, just doesn't get it.
-James Daniel Marshall; Monroe, N.C.
Thank you for telling us about the Louisiana State Penitentiary and Warden Cain. Where else in the world will you find a population that is 40 percent Christian? I thank God that the prisoners can enroll in seminary training and that they can run their own radio station.
-LaRoyce Hicks; Santa Paula, Calif.
How callous we are
I was absolutely outraged and heartbroken to read that some oppose American involvement in Darfur ("Darfur," Nov. 25; Mailbag, Dec. 23). It brings to mind the story of the good Samaritan. How callous we are in the face of genocide. We allowed this to happen in Rwanda because we were distracted by the conflict in Haiti and now, overwhelmed by a complicated war in Iraq, some would turn a blind eye to genocide.
-Cherie Catron; Chillicothe, Ohio
Joel Belz appears to have confused man's finitude with his fallenness ("Far as the curse is found," Dec. 23). The FBI's inability to catch Eric Rudolph or the United States' inability to capture Osama bin Laden is just as likely a reflection of man's limits as it is of man's sin nature. Sin does enter the picture when we fail to recognize our limitations, as we 21st-century Americans are prone to do. The ancient Hebrews knew such a mistake was idolatrous and sinful; the ancient Greeks, in their own way, would have recognized such unbounded confidence in ourselves as hubris.
-Grant Brodrecht; Winter Park, Fla.
While I appreciate the sentiment of "Far as the curse is found," an even more meaningful use of "Joy to the World" is to view it not as a Christmas carol but simply yet another "Christianizing" of a psalm, the second part of Psalm 98. Watts titled it, "The Messiah's Coming and Kingdom." It is in the second advent, with Satan bound, that sins and sorrows will no longer flow, thorns will no longer infest the ground, and nations will prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love. Then all the subjects of Christ's kingdom will see, to quote Belz, "how far His goodness will ultimately reach."
-Gary Roseboom; East Peoria, Ill.
Thanks for Mindy Belz's fine article on Archbishops Peter Akinola and Henry Orombi ("2006 Daniels of the year," Dec. 16). It was well done, not only informing me but challenging me to pray for these two champions of the faith.
-Nick Britton; Hagerstown, Md.
Joel Belz insinuates that people who disagree with him in believing that Armageddon is near are "goofy" and exercise "fear-mongering" ("Two-way paranoia," Dec. 16). One's view of eschatology is not a test of orthodoxy. One can also disagree without using disagreeable terminology.
-Barbara Stogner; League City, Texas
Not so simple
How can someone justify being a "transgender" person ("Pick and choose," Dec. 9)? It may seem like a simple solution to their troubles, but they don't appreciate that God made them who they are and can accomplish His purposes through them.
-Joel Beavin; Berryville, Va.
A matter of time
Regarding Joel Belz's growing uncertainty about the war in Iraq ("Over there," Dec. 9): There were naysayers in the 1930s, too, who felt that FDR was wrong to get us into World War II when we were attacked by the Japanese. If we do not take the fight to the radical Muslims, they will be here. It's just a matter of time. Too many in America do not think this is possible and are in denial. The free world is in a fight for existence. What will it take to break the back of this enemy? We can't roll over and give up.
-Al Wychers; Jamestown, Mich.
The terrorists really do want to kill us. Iraq is the battleground, and the war is global. We either fight them until we win, or we will be defeated by our lack of willpower.
-Ken Babington; Cocoa Beach, Fla.
I recently read Sergei Kourdakov's autobiography, The Persecutor, recounting his work for the KGB ransacking secret churches and beating the religiozniki (believers). Eventually he was saved and defected to Canada, where he spoke out publicly against the persecution of Russian Christians. In 1973 he was shot and killed at a ski resort with a gun he had borrowed from a friend. The death was ruled an accident, but I couldn't help associating his demise with other Mother Russia--related deaths described in "From Russia with hate" (Dec. 9).
-Richard Walther; Houston, Texas
Wayne Grudem sounds like he comprehends well the church's drift from God as it submits to feminist theology ("Dangerous first step," Nov. 25). The church's drift is only mimicking the moral decline of our society as it submitted to feminism.
-Chuck Roehrich; Grand Island, Neb.
I disagreed with some of the views Grudem expressed in "Dangerous first step." I am a young woman, and God has called me to vocational ministry. Although I strongly agree that feminism in churches and homes is unbiblical, leading to un-Christian liberalism, I believe that women have a bigger teaching role than he allows. Yes, the church should only be headed and led by godly, ordained men, but women may "prophesy," and I understand the spiritual gift of prophecy to be the proclaiming of God's truth to people.
-Jessica Gibbens; Westover, Ala.
Light bulb's on now
I have been moderately dissatisfied by the homepages of my various internet service providers, but the light bulb finally went on today. I looked up your site, breathed a sigh of relief, and changed my homepage to your address. We have been happy subscribers for many years now, and I have no clue why it took me so long to have the thought.
-Jason Dohm; Rolesville, N.C.
Please cancel my trial subscription. The last straw was the year-end issue.
-Charlene F. Pinkava; Brookings, S.D.