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"Mailbag" Continued...

Issue: "Four horsemen of the apocalypse," Oct. 4, 2008

Double whack

Thanks for the double whack upside the head. As the pastor of a church of 80 that refuses to grow according to my will, I am prone to complaint and discouragement. Your picture and caption of one pastor's self-supported ministry in the slums of Manila ("Houses of God," Aug. 23) and Andrée Seu's admonition to take responsibility for our heart's condition ("The active heart," Aug. 23) set me straight after a particularly difficult day.
-Tim Kirkes; San Dimas, Calif.

Never forgotten

The world has lost a great man in Alexander Solzhenitsyn ("What men live by," Aug. 23), but we can thank God he left his trace upon this earth. His words have affected and deeply moved many people, including me. The music of some Russian composers (such as Shostakovich) will too seldom be heard because they were too afraid to anger the Communist government. But through agony-and years in the gulags--Solzhenitsyn refused to let governmental whims determine what and how he would write. As long as people love God and liberty, Solzhenitsyn will not be forgotten.
-Danielle Shirley, 15; Pecatonica, Ill.

Neither is waterboarding

After 30 years of heroin/opiate addiction and four years as a substance-abuse counselor prior to a relapse (leading to my present incarceration), I know something about this subject, and so I'm concerned about Theodore Dalrymple's book, Romancing Opiates ("Drug of choice," Aug. 9). His notion that heroin users have "made a determined effort to become" addicts is absurd. My own experience, and the lives of scores I've known, refutes the assertion that addicts "do not become criminals to support their habits." True, medical assistance is not normally required for heroin withdrawal, but only because withdrawal is not typically life-threatening. Neither is water-boarding. The "horrors of withdrawal" are real and the primary reason why those who want to stop, don't. Further, to claim that heroin is not highly addictive is to embolden vulnerable young people who would otherwise rightly fear experimenting with the drug.
-David Peterson; Jackson, Mich.

Too much love?

I appreciate WORLD but am very troubled by Janie Cheaney's concluding question to "Disorganized religion" (Aug. 9): "How can you [who claim to follow Jesus yet remain outside His church] love Christ and despise His body?" Perhaps there are those who love Christ and His true body too much to support any group calling itself His church that would knowingly deny Him. I do love Jesus Christ and His body of true believers. But we have been in many churches over many years and been grieved and nearly overwhelmed by the reality that they are deeply corrupted. We wonder at what point they are not churches at all.
-Tom Viets; Forest, Va.

Clearing up memories

The "Remembering the summer of '68" issue (Aug. 9) was amazing. Boy, did it bring back memories, and it clarified a few things too.
-Joe LoGiudice; Lakewood, Calif.


NYU visiting research scholar Jeff Sharlet considers himself neither an atheist nor an assailer of Christianity ("Power vs. Love," Sept. 6). He celebrated Hanukkah when he was 5 years old. He states that he does not yearn for power-"That's why I'm a journalist"-and has been "greatly impressed and persuaded by Cornel West's thinking on the 'love ethic,' as well as the centrality of love in Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and teaching."

One Nation, a sponsor of the Islam program at the Religion Newswriters Association's annual conference this month, is a nonpartisan organization representing American Muslims ("Conference on covering Islam," Sept. 6, p. 11).


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