"Tick, tick, tick . . ." (May 7)
While Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are surely "budget blasters," you didn't mention interest payments on the debt or the effects of Obamacare on these costs. Unless we return to balanced budgets and begin to pay down our debt, the interest alone could consume our entire revenue stream in the foreseeable future, especially if interest rates rise.
John Mandeville; Fort Mill, S.C.
You forgot another "budget blaster": defense. It takes a different kind of political courage to tackle this one, but Eisenhower's 1961 warning against the power of the "military industrial complex" still needs to be taken seriously.
Phil McLain; Portland, Ore.
"Inside out" (May 7)
It is long overdue for the devious practices of the Insider Movements and "Muslim-friendly translations" to be exposed. As one who primarily ministers to Arabic-speaking Muslims and has had to deal firsthand with these materials and those who support them, I commend you for writing a biblically based article.
Adam Simnowitz; Dearborn, Mich.
I am disappointed in your unbalanced treatment of a very important topic. You suggested that these translators "remove phrases" from the Bible, but supporters would say that they are seeking to accurately communicate the meaning in the original inspired Greek text. These materials also often use "paratext" such as footnotes, glossaries, and so on to communicate terms and concepts that the audience finds difficult to understand, especially in the case of kinship terminology.
Larry Chico; Ottawa, Ontario
Thank you for the enlightening article. A Bible translation that blurs the deity of Jesus Christ and a discipleship strategy that urges continued conformity to many patterns of Islam is not Good News for Muslims. It is easy for me to make such statements as a Westerner whose life is not daily threatened for professing Jesus, but to soften the offense of the gospel in any cultural context is to shrink back from declaring the whole counsel of God.
Shane Pummill; Alexandria, Va.
"Paycheck program" (May 7)
The Earned Income Tax Credit is another example of an idea that sounds good, but the people I know who receive it are self-employed or small business owners who hide income to qualify for this program. Maybe I'm cynical or it's the people I know, but government handouts seem to be invitations for fraud, lying, and stealing.
Donna Bandow; Jonestown, Texas
The headline says EITC is a program many conservatives can support, but it is designed to redistribute wealth. In addition to problems with fraud, the way the law is currently written will also discourage many lower-income people from getting married. Christians should be concerned about the poor, but is a huge government check at tax time the answer?
Andrew Reigstad; Youngstown, Ohio
"Giving (up) the tithe" (May 7)
In vain I looked in this story for a reference to 2 Corinthians 9:7: "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." Cheerfulness, compassion, and generosity should be bolstered by the promises of rewards so prevalent in the New Testament.
H. Eberhard Roell; Boulder, Colo.
Those who embrace flexibility on this issue of tithing are taking the salad bar approach to Scripture. More people seem to be picking and choosing what parts of the Holy Scriptures they want to follow.
Lee Stauff; Orwigsburg, Pa.
"A nation of Terrys" (May 7)
This column was spot-on. One reason for so many slackers that you didn't mention is that men who can get sex outside of marriage see no need for marriage. Marriage has a civilizing effect on men and women, encouraging responsibility and provision for the resulting children. Skipping marriage sets off a perverse domino effect.
Melissa Brock; West Unity, Ohio
These masked slackers have roamed American society for decades. The label "New Lower Class" and the reasons for its emergence were clever and compelling. This column also resonated with me because I sometimes found myself in that role. By the grace of God those storms are long behind me now. This problem can only be fixed by God. He is the antidote for struggling and decimated families and churches.
Christopher Adams; Del Rio, Texas
"Money back" (May 7)
Joseph Slife observed, based on the average federal income-tax refund for 2010, that the average taxpayer would have enjoyed more than $200 per month if the withholding tax had been calculated correctly. Readers might benefit from a free tool on the IRS website called the "Withholding Calculator." This tool can help taxpayers more accurately determine the number of withholding allowances to claim on their W-4 forms.
Virginia Ann Loftin; Richmond, Va.
"Alternative TV" (May 7)
The article on the costs of cable and satellite TV alternatives was interesting, but even Netflix requires a good internet connection. Why does no one mention over-the-air TV, which is absolutely free? I canceled cable a few years ago and put a little hand-sized amplified antenna outside my back door. I get 40 channels. It gives us more money to support missionaries.
Jim Rootsey; Melbourne, Fla.
Notable CDs (May 7)
How can "Just the Way You Are," a song about acceptance, be dismissed as "smug" while "Only the Good Die Young," a song that mocks a young girl's faith and chastity while trying to solicit sex from her, is endorsed as Billy Joel's most "dramatically effective"? Thirty-four years after this song was written, we are still reaping the bitter fruits of the sexual revolution.
Bill Scheidt; Ephrata, Pa.
"Turning 65" (May 7)
I have met a few older people who made me feel as if I were in the company of a present-day Simeon or Anna. Their godly characters were clearly the product of faithful and joyful endurance in past trials. Their long years may not be decorated with impressive achievements, but they made me realize that there would be no retirement in Christian life.
Mie McCaffrey; Butte, Mont.
"Steadfast heart" (May 7)
Daniel James Devine erred when stating that the No. 1 killer of Americans is heart disease. The No. 1 killer of Americans is abortion. For perspective, the 2010 census lists only nine cities (starting with Dallas) with populations larger than the 1.2 million babies aborted annually, and eight states with smaller populations.
Nick Patapoff; Los Angeles, Calif.
Houses of God (May 7)
It's so good to be able to read national and world news from a Christian perspective. I especially enjoy, among other features, "Houses of God." I love seeing the amazing variety of churches around the world.
Patty Harmon; Augusta, Ga.
Notable Books (April 23)
Susan Olasky's page of book reviews often is among my favorites. In a recent issue I was pleased to see I'd read one of the reviewed books. Once I'd read all four and it's been a game ever since to see if I can match that number.
Michelle Ule; Santa Rosa, Calif.
"Delivery from shame" (April 23)
The article was good but didn't mention one huge component of fistula in young women: female genital mutilation. This horrific procedure, done on young girls, produces damage and severe scar tissue that does not promote a normal labor and birth. As long as this heinous practice continues, there will always be a great need for people like Dr. Hamlin and her late husband to provide care and reconstruction for damaged women who need, more than ever, an introduction to the Loving Bridegroom.
Karla Messerschmidt-Morgan; Sequim, Wash.
"The magic word" (April 23)
God knows that I need frequent reminders to be thankful in all circumstances. Recently they came from Andrée Seu's column on one day and on another from a prison correspondent who "noticed a few things that our Lord does for our enjoyment" as he was "looking out my little window in my cell."
Harriet Borgman; McBain, Mich.
Milton Coke of Global Partners for Development did not travel to Bangladesh with Scott Seaton ("Inside out," May 7, p. 46).