The article written by Nancy M. Tischler on the fictional settings created by Jan Karon and Wendell Berry ("Books issue: Jan Karon vs. Wendell Berry," June 30/July 7) depicts my 30-year marriage. My wife dwells in Jan Karon's world; I dwell in Wendell Berry's Port William. But together we grieve over what modernity and progress have taken away.
-Mark R. Seeley; Charlotte, N.C.
I appreciate the attempt to compare the fictional places created by Karon and Berry but it largely fails, and not from lack of skill on Tischler's part. Despite his estrangement from the institutional church, Berry's fiction is much truer to the Christian experience. His characters have a sense of looming joy and impending disaster, of the twin possibilities of love and judgment, while Karon's world is tidy and sentimental. While Karon's work has some moralistic merit, it remains artistically insubstantial, like a Thomas Kincaid painting, to be consumed and forgotten. What use is Karon's "gentle life full of grace" without the brutal reality that makes us see our need of grace?
-Stephen Schuler; Golinda, Texas
Jan Karon's wonderful books are dessert after a steady diet of violence, hypocrisy, and plain lunacy in the media. When I crawl in bed with a Karon novel, I know it will be a sedative to my weary soul. When I pray, it's for the redemption of the sinful world and deliverance of the innocent, and for a Mitford-like world full of Father Tims and Cynthias, God bless 'em.
-Barb Roberts; Lynchburg, Va.
"Backward, atheist soldiers" (June 30/July 7) was quite eye-opening and troubling. It appears that, as Paul says in Romans, "professing to be wise, they became fools." The proper and urgent response to those who publicly express such intense hatred of our Lord is to pray that God in His great mercy will give these authors the gift of saving faith.
-Joan M. Hochstetler; Charlotte, Tenn.
Why the violent language by the atheists? If there is no purpose in life, why get all exercised about people who are "deluded" into thinking that there is? In general, Wilson's book is a well-reasoned, relatively calm response to Harris' book-exactly the mode and mood Christians should take. (I have read both.) Hate mail should be off-limits to Christians, whatever the atheists may write or say. Also, The New York Times' endorsement of the atheists' books confirms what many of us have suspected for quite a long time, namely, that The New York Times editorial board is virulently anti-Christian.
-J.C. Keister; Lakeville, Minn.
Your review of all the atheist authors brought to mind this Scripture from 1 Corinthians: "But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." We should not be surprised at their thinking.
-Dorothy Austin; Farmington, N.M.
Heroine of faith
Thank you for Stephen Griffith's article on Ruth Bell Graham's long and beautiful life ("Woman of letters," June 30/July 7). I admired her as an older sister in Christ who taught me about loving family and God in her books. She was a heroine of faith to me. I hope Mr. Griffith will finish her book, How to Marry a Preacher and Remain a Christian. Her wisdom and humor would benefit so many.
-Joan G. Martin; Marietta, Ga.
In the summer of 1982 my fiancé gave me a beautiful copy of Ruth Bell Graham's book of poems, Sitting by My Laughing Fire. It faithfully and safely led me through our engagement, early marriage, and mothering of four children with beauty, wit, sorrow, and always with hope. At least twice a year I read it all the way through, laughing and crying, as she expresses the challenges and joys of the Christian life.
-Carol Stone; Sagamore Beach, Mass.
Ripping good mystery
Thanks so much for Megan Basham's positive and accurate review of Nancy Drew ("No mystery here," June 30/July 7). My 10-year-old granddaughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the clean humor, the ripping good mystery, and Emma Roberts' charming portrayal of the heroine. It was a pleasure to see a movie that both entertained and provided so many examples of good behavior to discuss with my granddaughter.
-Molly M. Freeman; Tulsa, Okla.
Regarding the study suggesting the patterns in fossils of the dinosaur Sinosauropteryx are not "protofeathers" but merely skin fibers ("Where the evidence leads," June 30/July 7): Evolutionists are bluffing when they say their beliefs are scientific.
-Karl Priest; Poca, W.Va.
I appreciated "British idol" (June 30/July 7). Paul Potts, who blew away the audience and judges on Britain's Got Talent singing "Nessun Dorma," showed the world that you can't judge people by how they look. I saw his performance on YouTube and, even though I knew what was coming, I was still surprised by how superior he sounded. Also, the look on Simon Cowell's face was priceless!
-Michael Davis; Springfield, Va.
Hard to be sympathetic
It was hard for me to muster much sympathy for the Shah family mentioned in your cover story on the plight of legal immigrants ("Not so 'grand' a bargain," June 23). My brother, after working for the same company for over 20 years, was forced to take early retirement and is being replaced by immigrants from India. So much for loyalty to a hard-working, long-term employee.
-Kathy Parcells; Dayton, Ohio
I think the answer to Joel Belz's question, "What about Israel?" (June 16), was answered in the next issue in "Persecution: Cut off" (June 23). Israel has no tolerance for Christians, so why should we support them? The Judaism of today has little to do with the fulfillment of prophecy, as so many think. It is, in fact, the very Judaism that Jesus condemned.
-John G. Barbour; Tallahassee, Fla.
I was surprised by "Cut off." Munayer complains about being stopped at checkpoints when Jews are not. If he can show me all of the Jewish people blowing up nightclubs, buses, and military stations in Israel, I will gladly take his side on that one. However, as long as only Arabs are doing these things, there is no logic to police wasting their time stopping Jews as well. One can only wonder what Christians in Saudi Arabia, China, and other nations would think of such "persecution."
-Richard Stead; Los Alamos, N.M.
Spirit or style?
Regarding Andrée Seu's account of her experience in a church in Philadelphia's inner city ("Holiday and Heaven," June 23): The lively singing and preaching, which differed so radically from what she was exposed to in seminary, certainly might have been influenced by the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, she might have been simply struck by something new to her: the energy, volume, and emotion that characterizes thousands of black churches. Is it the Spirit or just a different style?
-Doug Hjellen; Mill Creek, Wash.
Saved the landing
What a great story of the gymnast star Tom Kelley and his mom, Susan ("Life of the mother," June 16), who chose to save her son even at the risk of emergency surgery. Abortion is a slap in the face of God!
-Margaret Maass; San Luis Obispo, Calif.
- The 75,000-member Evangelical Presbyterian Church is based in Livonia, Mich. ("Where they stand," July 14, p. 33).
- Lady Bird Johnson died July 11, 2007 (The Buzz, July 21, p. 4).
- Syria is north of Israel; Jordan is the nation east of Israel ("Fighting chance," June 30/July 7, map, p. 22).
- The website URL for the book Faith of Our Fathers: God in Ancient China is FaithOfOurFathersBooks.com ("Seven fat years," June 30/July 7, p. 38).