How Lewis Lit the Way

As a nondrinking, nonsmoking, retired graphic artist, I was impressed by the apt and powerful image of Aslan rising from the pipe on your November cover. The article and illustration match perfectly. Well done.

Our two sons were raised on Narnia. Now they are passing their love of C. S. Lewis on to our grandchildren. I can imagine Lewis merrily writing his enchanting tales as he imagines them in his pipe dreams—to give the phrase a positive twist.

Darwin Dunham
Minneola, Florida

Pep Talks for Successful Living

Mark Galli's editorial was full of keen insight. I used a highlighter on several portions and tacked it up on my bulletin board. Even so, I take issue with one implication: that prosperity preaching is essentially innocuous. On the contrary, when moralistic messages are divorced from the grace of Christ, they form a false gospel.

The message of Joel Osteen and company is consistently one that makes the recipient responsible for earthly and spiritual success: think positively, make lemonade, "I think I can, I think I can!" This may nudge disheartened seekers away from foolhardy living, but it suggests that lifting ourselves up by the bootstraps is possible and sufficient. Such talk is not a partial or incomplete gospel; it is antithetical to the gospel.

Let us instead preach only the pure, world-upside-down grace that Galli heralds: the wisdom of the Cross.

David Huizenga
Wyncote, Pennsylvania

Our Own Worst (Art) Critics

I desperately need to respond to N. D. Wilson's column on the "Christian artist" label. I was a member of a band, all Christians. While our music reflected our faith, only one song used "Christian vocabulary." We did not want to be called a Christian band because of the limits it created. When playing for Christian audiences, clear gospel message language is expected. If you don't have that, it can be tough.

We had the chance to play in local bars and clubs, where people noticed our lyrics were different and full of hope, and many of them took our CD. We could go anywhere and take Jesus with us. As a classically trained musician and a Christian, I doubt Handel or Bach would have called themselves "Christian composers." Rather, their goal was to create beautiful music for their patrons, which at times specifically glorified God. That is how we should judge "Christian art."

Bill Kropp
CT online comment

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The Fear That Draws Us

If "scared" or "be afraid" replaced the word fear in the November Global Gospel Project article, God would seem not that different from the ancient gods who needed appeasement because they were angry with humans. Mark Galli could have explored how fearing God works out in day-to-day living. How does that fear influence how I interact with other people? How do I love someone who frightens me?

CT might publish an article about loving a God who calls us friends, and how that frees us from the notion that fear is healthy and spiritually growth-enhancing. Often in Scripture, the first words spoken in an encounter with God were, "Be not afraid." Why? Because we cannot love what we are afraid of.

Bernie Kopfer
CT online comment

Would You Kill This Chicken with Your Bare Hands?

I appreciated CT's article about Lamppost Farm very much. After spending three years in Mexico and witnessing a pig killed outside church one morning, I realized why many people today can't understand the sacrifice of Jesus. In countries where animals are raised and killed for nourishment, and people see the blood spilt so that they can live, they understand salvation much better than those who buy packaged and sanitized meat at the local supermarket. Those people see none of the sacrifice, and therefore it means nothing to them.

Candi Frizzell
Major, Salvation Army
Mesa, Arizona

While the mindfulness and gratitude practiced by Lamppost Farm is light-years ahead of today's standard agricultural practices, the underlying assumption of the article is that animals were made for human consumption. Yet more and more Christians are realizing that eating animals was not part of God's original design for creation, nor will it be a part of a kingdom in which "they will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain." I hope CT will highlight some of the reasons why Christians are turning back to plant-based diets.

Sarah Withrow King
Deputy Director, The Sider Center on Ministry and Public Policy
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

Whenever somebody claims, "This (activity) is more spiritual than that one," I need to give due diligence to determine whether I should adjust my own spiritual life to encompass the claimed benefit, or if the claim is really, "I like my secular tradition more than your secular tradition." I think your chicken farm article falls into the latter category.

Christians derive substantial spiritual (as well as financial) benefit from factory farms and processed food, because those scorned links in the food chain have freed up millions of people from the drudge of growing and preparing their own food, so that they can do other things to create wealth and therefore help others. I buy TV dinners or canned soup for about $1 each, and heat them for five minutes in a microwave. As a computer programmer who works on Bible translation software, I can earn 500 times the cost of that meal in the time it would take me to prepare it from local fresh produce. That doesn't seem like a good investment of the talent God entrusted to me.

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Tom Pittman
Bolivar, Missouri

Healer Beware

In response to the interview with Candy Gunther Brown about her book The Healing Gods, having grown up in the New Age movement, I'm pretty aware of pantheistic religious influences in many alternative therapies and absolutely reject them. However, as someone formerly in the medical field, I also recognize that there is some scientific basis for many of these practices. How much each practitioner of alternative treatments adheres to Eastern religious influences and calls upon spiritual forces varies widely and should be identified prior to treatment.

Denise Plichta
CT online comment

I have lived in East Asia for about 20 years. I am bemused by American alternative healing practitioners who think nothing of combining shards of many religious traditions of which they know little: a little feng shui here, a little Ayurvedic medicine there, chakras, Zen meditation, I Ching hexagrams, taken all together with a big dose of naïveté.

On one hand, isn't it a bit presumptuous, not to say disrespectful, to shop around among religions as if you were at a swap meet, extracting the bits you want and patching them together as you please to satisfy an appetite for personal health and fitness? On the other hand, Westerners, including Christians, commodify spiritual practices because they no longer believe in the existence of the spiritual world (or else hold the simplistic view that everything spiritual is full of goodness and light). But the spiritual world exists whether people believe in it or not.

Brenda Sansom-Moorey
CT online comment

The God I Can't Write Off

Thank you for Kirsten Powers's inspiring article about Jesus finding her. What a crescendo conclusion to an issue featuring C. S. Lewis. Although both conservatives, my late wife and I became fans of Powers when she began commenting on Fox News. We were impressed immediately with her intelligence and honesty. I hope for a future article about her continued experience.

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Bill Snyder
Rio Verde, Arizona

Kirsten, thank you for sharing your testimony. It made my day. Of all the Fox News contributors whose politics I don't always agree with, you are my favorite. I have been drawn to your calm and honest demeanor for some time. You always seem to have that "something" that I could never quite put my finger on. Now I know why.

Emmie O'Neill
CT online comment

Net Gain

Responses from the Web.

"Stories of how God saves 21st century arch-unbelievers send my heart singing, including this one."
John Piper (@JohnPiper) on Kirsten Powers's conversion.

"In modern Christianity, we often lose sight of the fact that Jesus and Paul were revolutionary in their treatment."
John Vaughan (@lawyervon) on how Scripture views women, according to blogger Sarah Bessey.
"'I'm a Feminist Because I Love Jesus So Much,'" interview by Katelyn Beaty.

"Well done. The truth is sufficiently obfuscated by (honestly funny) humor."
Elizabeth Sullivan, CT online comment.
"11 Christian Book Promotions Gone Horribly Wrong," by Katelyn Beaty.

"Thanks for the thoughtfully presented guidelines. As in so many endeavors, confident ignorance often leads to more hurt than help."
Paul Godwin, CT online comment.
Speaking Out: "How Churches Can Help Without Hurting After Super Typhoon Haiyan," by Jamie Aten.

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