A chance to serve
Your cover story about the Westminster retirement community being built next to a Christian school ("Endings & beginnings," Jan. 13) is just what many senior citizens need. As my husband and I approach our 70th birthdays, we would cherish a place to retire where entertainment is not the entire program. A chance to continue to serve the people of our community would be a fulfilling way to close life.
-Jean McCulloh; Temple, Texas
Yes, there are a multitude of opportunities waiting for seniors if they desire to "become involved," but at the end of the day they return to a "home," surrounded by people on the fast track to dying. Wouldn't it be shocking if we brought our own parents and grandparents into our homes and neighborhoods when they could no longer live on their own? What if we surrounded them with new life and daily opportunities to share their experiences with our children?
-Kristina Pontier; Hillsboro, Ore.
I agree with Marvin Olasky in his debate with Dinesh D'Souza that there is little or no desire, urgency, or motivation among Muslims to form alliances or affirm religious liberty anywhere in the world, especially with Christians in Muslim countries ("A question of linkage," Jan. 13). In America, condemning public insults against monotheistic religions is part of our traditional religious tolerance. This is not the case in Muslim countries. We should be under no illusions about the goal of worldwide radical Islamic fascism to destroy us or convert us.
-Bill Sappington; Homosassa, Fla.
It remains incumbent upon "traditional" Muslims to make their case that they do not share in a terrorist philosophy. Perhaps D'Souza could identify responsible organizations that share the more moderate outlook he espouses, if there are any.
-John Turner; Selmer, Tenn.
I empathized with D'Souza over the resistance Muslims have to the ugly face of America. The underlying issue generating our social problems is an educational system that has treated truth as relative, subjective, and mystical.
-L. Roberts; Colorado Springs, Colo.
D'Souza says that "we in the United States know that there is a difference between movies/television/music and the way Americans actually live" ("Cross-culture wars," Jan. 13). But if I read the statistics correctly, there is very little difference between those who profess to be Christians and those who do not. I have close Iranian friends and they fear our culture. I explain to them that Christians do not do those things, but when the church mimics the world, how can Muslims tell that there is a difference?
-Mel Brubaker; Saltillo, Pa.
Well within His grasp
Joel Belz's column about ailing Sen. Tim Johnson was right on target ("Where depraved hearts are darkest," Jan. 13). While most politically aware Christians cannot help but realize that Johnson's death would have swung the balance of power in the Senate, we must also acknowledge that the balance of power is well within the grasp of the Almighty.
-David G. Stieglitz; St. Charles, Ill.
Ezekiel wrote, "'Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,' declares the Lord God, 'rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?'" This shows what we should pray for in regard to Sen. Johnson: that he will recover but that his brush with death will create in him a desire to know God.
-Clyde E. Herrin; Bonner Springs, Kan.
Should have been R
In your review of Casino Royale ("Sports, sparks, and spies," Jan. 13) you say that "Bond's toned-down womanizing earns the film a PG-13 rating," but I hardly think that is the most distressing part in the film. You don't even mention the brutal torture scene that should have earned the movie an R rating.
-Janet Condon; Corning, N.Y.
"Dawn of the donkey" (Jan. 13) warned us that Congress planned to raise the minimum wage. It is usually justified as helping poor people, but when will Americans wake up and realize that it hurts everybody except politicians?
-Franklin Hall; Greenville, S.C.
Before Pat Robertson meets the Lord face to face, I hope he repents of presuming to speak for Him (Quotables, Jan. 13). By making "prophetic" statements that do not come to pass, Robertson is sullying the Lord's name.
-Elizabeth Patchet; Eau Claire, Wis.
Finally, human life trumps baby eagles ("Malaria milestone," Jan. 13). After decades of being cowed by environmentalist moralizing, it's refreshing to see the Bush administration reaching for the DDT sprayer. Even if Rachel Carson's 1962 shocker Silent Spring had been fully corroborated (it wasn't), how can you balance on the moral scales 1 million African lives a year against a declining eagle population? With self-righteous, save-the-planet zeal, Western countries took away the malaria solution and comforted the dying Africans with mosquito nets.
-James S. Martin; Scurry, Texas
Knowledge of IB
I teach the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge course at a public high school. In some ways you do a good job summarizing the good and bad points of the IB program ("One-world education," Jan. 13), but your discussion of the Theory of Knowledge class is misleading. The purpose of the course is to develop the critical thinking skills of students by forcing them to consider how to justify knowledge claims in different areas of knowledge. Some teachers may try to persuade students that there is no objective truth, but it can also be used to teach students that there is truth out there, and give them the tools to find it.
-Josh Tabor; Hacienda Heights, Calif.
Your article might be an accurate picture of the IB organization, but my high-school experience was much more balanced. My Theory of Knowledge teacher (a Christian) pointed out that we can still know things despite the problems we discussed. In English we read some Christian classics from Dostoevsky and Flannery O'Connor. In history we even talked about some of the good the United States did in Vietnam. I was well-prepared for the academic rigor and philosophical challenges of a secular university.
-Kyle Thayer; Fort Collins, Colo.
Although IB does openly teach a postmodernist paradigm, through participation in the program I'm learning to defend my faith in a global society. Sometimes going to class feels like taking a beating, and sometimes I feel alone and unheard. One of my teachers, for example, very vocally supports universalism. The IB program is a mission field, a little slice of the world in which I can interact with my diverse peers. But most of all, through this, I'm learning to be in but not of the world.
-Anna J. Wiersma; Allen, Texas
What we pay for
Marvin Olasky's column about William Easterly's new book, The White Man's Burden ("Don't be a Bepper," Jan. 13), reminded me of the mission plan developed in China by John L. Nevius. He taught that the national church should be self-supporting, and that goes against the grain of Americans who feel good sending cash to build and support national churches. Even in mission work there is truth in the statement: What we do not pay for we do not value; what we do pay for we value highly.
-Art Thompson; Westfield, N.J.
Friend in the valley
Your year-end issue ("News of the year," Dec. 30/Jan. 6) reminded me again why I believe so strongly in your mission. It reminded me that God is a tremendous force for good in a world full of self-centered brokenness. Special thanks for "Hello hardship, my old friend." God rarely comes to us in the mountaintop experiences, but He is always present in the valleys if we have but eyes and ears to recognize Him.
-Allen M. Burt; Ridgway, Colo.
Gerald Ford was sworn in as president in the East Room of the White House ("Ford and faith," Jan. 13, p. 23).