I oversee a benevolence fund at our church and wrestle with many of these issues regularly ("Giving that worked," March 14). Who should be helped and in what capacity? Does the person need to change his lifestyle? Is the person being honest with us? Should the hard-earned dollars of our donors pay for things like cable TV? Should we direct people to government programs and further burden the taxpayers? Thanks for the special issue; it gave me much to think about.
-Stephan Landau; Bridgewater, N.J.
The graphic titled "High-cost capital" (March 14) illustrates why a nationwide, uniform minimum wage is nonsense. Since the costs of living in Dallas and Pittsburgh are about two-thirds of that in D.C., the minimum wage in those cities should be pro-rated to match the cost of living, if there has to be a minimum wage at all!
-Marsha Burford; Hot Springs, Ark.
I can see Joel Belz's point, but I don't think his proposal to let 10 percent of public school students take a $6,000 buyout to attend non-public schools of their choice will fly ("Buy them out," March 14). The real issue is not the quality or cost of education; it is control. My wife and I learned that as pioneering homeschoolers in the early 1980s. The authorities didn't really care about quality, or that they were saving money not having to teach our kids-they wanted them in their classrooms.
-N. Phillip Hawkins; Indianapolis, Ind.
Although I agree with Belz, I think the problem is even more systematic than he stated. We have entered a fiscal wonderland where $27 billion really doesn't count for much anymore, particularly in Washington. And I fear that, long term, the government would end up consuming the private institutions.
-R.G. Murray; Los Angeles, Calif.
As a public school teacher, I would say that liberals would rather die than allow any religious-based teaching to enter the public education equation.
-Bruce Collier; Titusville, Fla.
Read the wrong books
Journalist Bill Moyers said that he "can't do what He asks me to do, so I can't legitimately claim to be a Christian" ("'It all fit together,'" March 14). Yes, we all lack the power in ourselves to do any of these things, but Christians receive power from Jesus to turn from wickedness. Many books describe breathtaking acts of forgiveness, such as The Hiding Place, Miracle on the River Kwai, and End of the Spear. Is Moyers like Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, someone who has read all the wrong books?
-Mark L. Psiaki; Ithaca, N.Y.
Moyers doesn't realize that the sisters whose confession convinced him to leave the ministry could have been the catalyst to keep him in. They saw something in him that caused them to trust him above all others they had heard. What a gift! Too bad he used it as an excuse to bail out.
-Ardith Burrows; Escondido, Calif.
After reading the interview with Moyers, the mean-spirited Christian in me said, "Oh, gag."
-Sharon McCall; San Leandro, Calif.
We want more
In "Killer care" (March 14), Cal Thomas criticizes Obama's proposal for a National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, but the flaw is in having any government-sponsored health care at all. This entire issue finds its origin in health insurance itself, a third-party-payer system. As long as someone else is paying the bill, we all want more than we could afford on our own.
-Jeffrey B. Talley; Marietta, Ga.
Thanks for the update on C. Everett Koop. His experience illustrates the problems with nationalized health care. Living in England for eight years, I saw how well government rations health care. Women had to wait five years for their "annual" exam. Our neighbor's daughter had to wait 18 months for a tonsillectomy. And the American government has done such a bang-up job handling the digital TV conversion-imagine how well it will do with matters of life and death.
-Christopher Cooper; Tucson, Ariz.
"Lutheran divide" (March 14) was a frightening reminder of how far the church has gone from the truth of the Bible. It is a sad day in America when churches have to debate the issue of permitting homosexuals in the pulpit.
-Rebekah Reysen; Valrico, Fla.
Janie B. Cheaney's column on adults who are acting not like parents but schoolyard bullies ("Acting out," March 14) resonated with me because I too have experienced the wrath of an overly indulgent, overcompensating neighbor. I attribute it to adults wanting to be friends with their children, instead of parents.
-Julie Morscheck; Wheaton, Ill.
President Obama's permitting federally funded embryonic stem-cell research to proceed in the name of "science" is disappointingly dishonest (The Buzz, March 14). The dramatic discovery of iPS cells (produced from normal skin cells and having all the same pluripotent capabilities of embryonic stem cells) changed the equation completely. Obama's decision smells of political posturing for his radical base while demeaning those with ethical concerns, of maligning the motives and intelligence of President Bush, and of "using science for political purposes."
-Steve DuPlessie; Attleboro, Mass.
I very much enjoyed "Creating beauty" (March 14). Thank you for an interesting article addressing the recession and fashion in a way that I could understand.
-Molly McCalmont, 14; Donegal, Pa.
God's good gift
"Alice's battle" (Feb. 28) blessed and challenged me. I am unmarried at the age of 31. Married women with children have warned me to "enjoy these single years while you can, because they're some of your happiest." This deeply grieves and frustrates me, for my sake and for theirs. Singles need not warnings against joy but rather life-giving encouragement that God and His gifts are good.
-Jennifer Harger; Austin, Texas
So often I feel my excitement about the prospect of marriage plummeting from the excess reminders to "keep in mind" and "be fair" from my well-meaning Christian friends. I want to "walk with the wise," but I often forget that I ought to be walking with the Wisest.
-Chloe Engel, 20; Bryson City, N.C.
The challenges of marriage are cause for celebration, not a call to grin and bear it. In the midst of our struggles with each other, there is another courtship going on, another lover of our souls who sees and understands and empowers us to love each other in spite of it all.
-Vic Lortz; Beaverton, Ore.
Standing and reaching
My husband and I have been struggling with how to stand up for what we believe, but yet still reach the hearts and lives of those who are living without the truth. "Prodigal sons" (Feb. 28) was one of the best columns that I've ever read on this subject.
-Rachel S. Behr; Knoxville, Tenn.
True evil at home
I'm shocked that I never before realized that young girls being forced into prostitution is such a problem in the United States ("Shame of the cities," Feb. 28). Christians should be making a much bigger deal about this and doing more to help out. This article is a good start to showing people the true evil that exists every day right here in the country that we call home, and what needs to be done to stop it.
-Britt Botterman; Crete, Ill.
Charles Murray's description of the problem-our society's obsession with a college education-has greater merit than his fix ("College crush," Feb. 14). Employers' demand for bachelor's degrees has driven the free-fall transformation of most degree programs into trade schools crafted less to build wisdom, character, and citizenship than earning power. And Murray would have us finish the job by certifying a student's mastery of isolated skills but not his grasp of the larger cultural project and his place in it. The classic liberal arts education is sadly sick; I fear Murray's cure might kill it.
-David Covington; Quincy, Calif.
Jesus' parable in which He says "as much as you did to the least of these, you did to Me" is in Matthew 25 ("Giving that worked," March 14, p. 42).