As the Irish and Catholics were once rejected ("New neighbors," Feb. 9/16), in many ways Hispanics are rejected today. Our national policies need work, but they're no excuse for speaking ill of our new neighbors. It's awful how "Mexican jokes" are common even among children. We should extend mercy, acceptance, and the gospel instead of telling them to go home-a home that often includes drugs, poverty, and darkness.
-Hannah Johnson; Powhatan, Va.
"New neighbors" is a big dish of food for thought. Our history of immigration and integration has been a marvel of assimilation. But today, with some Muslims and those of other Eastern religions determined to impose anti-Christian principles, we now have a mind-boggling problem. How can we integrate oil and water-Christianity and its antithesis? We can't make room for sin but we must love the sinner.
-Jack Simmons; Venice, Fla.
Marvin Olasky states that "we should be sad to see some GOP candidates playing the immigration card." I disagree. The "immigration card" means the candidates' promises to uphold America's laws to protect our borders against unlawful intruders. I will not support any candidate who does not play it.
-Ruth A. Wallace; Louisville, Ky.
The good, the beautiful
I heartily agree with "Acquired taste" (Feb. 9/16). As a classically trained church musician, I struggle with the "sugar and French fries" of our culture, both in church music and in secular music. The negative press that good music (and good art as a whole) receives, along with the mental laziness of our culture, so often discourages aesthetic excellence.
-John Grantz; Cumming, Ga.
Until quite recently in the history of music, to put food on the table many of the greatest classical composers had to write music that the general public had some hope of enjoying and understanding. Professors of art and composition on university faculties receive a paycheck whether or not their works are widely accepted or even good. Some professors of composition count the public's dislike of their music as a badge of honor. The true and the good should be joined by the beautiful in identifying absolutes.
-George Krem; Berthoud, Colo.
Gene Edward Veith's point about unity and complexity is exactly right. People may enjoy music which does not fulfill those ideals, but that does not mean that the music they prefer is as beautiful as Bach and Mozart by virtue of being likeable.
-PhoebeJoy Wong; Las Cruces, N.M.
As a musician and song writer, I realize that there can be a shallowness in contemporary Christian music in general. However, hymns can at times be at least as offensive with their musical and lyrical obscurity. And, like a single pearl, some contemporary songs are beautiful because they are simple expressions of faith.
-Bill Slack; Phillipsburg, N.J.
The three-chord creations of modern musicians like Hillsong and David Crowder and the hip-hop artist Grits have luring lead-ins, feints, unprecedented crescendo developments, and multi-stage choruses. Not complex? Indeed! Many hymns and classical pieces are nice to listen to and have words that amount to an entire systematic theology. But their words remain in the pew, and they do not posit attitudes relevant to a culture lacking vision.
-Kevin Schmidt; Leavenworth, Kan.
I read "Breaking through" (Feb. 9/16) with great interest. I thought the piece was well-written but I was very concerned that you referred to Hamas as a "militant group." As far as I know it is a terrorist organization. Also, I am very troubled that you described the situation between Israel and a terrorist organization as a "cycle of violence." The terrorists are indiscriminately and purposefully killing civilians, whereas the Israelis are trying to defend their country and their citizens. This is no more a "cycle of violence" than our own police cracking down on criminal activity that puts our citizens in danger.
-James Epp; Balko, Okla.
Instead of the West taking on the major responsibility to supply the Gaza Palestinians for their survival, why doesn't the oil-rich Arab world help them? It's no problem to supply them with the thousands of rockets that have rained down on innocent Israelis. It appears that the Arab world would rather kill the hated Jews and keep the Israeli-Arab conflict festering with no end in sight than aid their fellow Arabs.
-Irving E. Friedman; Irvine, Calif.
Not so small
How many of us have been handed too much change by a cashier, or noticed digits transposed in our favor on a credit card statement? It seems a small thing, but as David Alan Peterson points out ("The small things," Feb. 9/16), the consequences are significant. They might not seem as dramatic for us as for someone in Peterson's situation, but keeping the little "windfall" tarnishes our character, makes it a little easier to give in to the bigger temptation ahead, and harms our witness for the character of God.
-Sarah Szymanski; Nashua, N.H.
As an inmate, I fully understand Peterson's situation. I am writing because you included a very much ignored member of our society. For you to print the column says to me that inmates are still people of worth, not only in God's eyes, but in the eyes of godly men and women as well. Thank you.
-Robert Casto; McAlester, Okla.
WORLD's coverage has expanded not only in depth as was advertised, but in reach and diversity as well. As a 20-something Christian, I am very glad to see articles of such contemporary relevance and social/cultural significance, especially "Good from bad" (Feb. 9/16) regarding our society's view on homosexuality. My lone complaint is that I find it difficult to browse through each issue because I'm interested in reading almost every article in full.
-Lucas Walther; Pylesville, Md.
Thanks to Janie B. Cheaney for continuing George Orwell's project (see his essay, "Politics and the English Language") of purging the English language of meaningless clichés and other verbal rubbish ("Waterboard that cliché!" Feb. 9/16). Cheaney suggests that over-reliance on clichés "flattens subtlety and discernment," but even worse, it allows us to be manipulated by anyone-preachers and pundits no less than politicians-who can string together enough empty slogans to win us over.
-Stephen Schuler; Golinda, Texas
The remaining question
I enjoyed the article about Abe Lincoln ("Pilgrim politician," Feb. 9/16). It was really encouraging and a very timely message about where our nation is today. The question remains: Are we being judged by God? There is nothing new under the sun, is there?
-Diane Berry Detmer; Taylors, S.C.
To the poor, not to hokum
Thanks for the article about how some of the disaster relief agencies are buying into the global warming hokum ("Disaster 24/7?" Feb. 9/16). I will be sure not to make any contributions to those listed in your article. I want my money to go for the relief of the poor and those in need, not to support some social-progressive agenda.
-Mike Stein; West Bend, Wis.
Chikumbuso Community Center is located in Zambia ("Picking up the pieces," Feb. 23/March 1, 2008, p. 72).