I have a friend who tells me I’m sickly. She makes that statement based on years of observation that the cold and flu season affects me in June as often as in January.

I have another friend who insists I have moved hypochondria out of the realm of a minor neurosis and placed it in the category of fine art. She wonders where I took my degree. She has, let me add, a theological bent, and patterns her language after the hyperboles of Jesus. You might say she comes from the can-a-camel-go-through-the-eye-of-a-needle school.

I dismiss both of these theories. I’m just a warm, caring person, I tell such friends. And germs know it. They can sense these things. Any stray bacterium or friendly virus who happens by knows a good home when he sees it. So, in my sincere and honest way, I open myself up for hurt. (I think that also shows I’m a child of the 1970s.) Not only that, but my hospitality doesn’t last for a mere three- or four-day stretch, which is the average length of time most of my acquaintances allow a germ to visit. I throw open my sinuses and my larynx for three, sometimes four, weeks. Why should a bacterium and his family settle for a short stay with someone else when I’m around? They hardly get settled in bronchial tubes elsewhere when the antibodies arrive to say, “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry,” or make such suggestions as, “You don’t want to outstay your welcome, do you?”

My antibodies, on the other hand, take hospitality as seriously as the Jews did in first-century Palestine. I’m sure I can hear them mutter something like, “entertain angels unawares.” But it’s not always easy to penetrate the congestion, so I could be wrong.

Now, I know that they know how hospitable I am. And when you’ve got antibodies and nasal passages as open and responsive as mine you need to keep an eye out. You have to wield a fast hand with the vitamin C and B12 if you want to keep the germs’ visits to a minimum. What may seem like hypochondria to the outside observer is just wisdom on my part. A little tickle in the throat? A sneeze or two? Watery eyes and a dull headache? I reach for the aspirin bottle; an ounce of prevention, my old doctor used to say.

But despite my vigilance and my nine hours of sleep at night, I can evade the friendly beasts only so long. Then I climb into bed with the orange juice and nasal spray nearby.

And the verse about being content no matter what your state. But I ask you: would Paul’s statement have as much impact if we knew that his thorn in the flesh was just a recurring attack of the common cold?

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Unkind to PTL

We have read the May 4 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. We think the headline re Jim Bakker and the PTL Club (News, p. 44) is unkind.

“Bakker Turns in His Apron After the PTL Cake Falls” looks, sounds, and reads like a very uncharitable thing to print. It almost reads like CHRISTIANITY TODAY is rubbing its hands in glee over the problems of a brother in Christ, and that is sad.

We are charter members of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, and we also pray for the PTL Club. Let’s take care of the whole body of Christ, in love.


Covina, Calif.

Even if each word of your article is true, you do not, as a Christian, have the right to publish it. Your duty is to pray for him and to try and uphold him in every way possible. Maybe Jim Bakker has done some things wrong, but haven’t the rest of us done things wrong also? He is almost constantly in the public eye and therefore his wrongs are seen quicker than ours are.


Albert Lea, Minn.

Most of our world today is experiencing financial difficulties, both individuals and organizations. Jim Bakker’s decision to let someone else take over management was probably very wise. This will divide the pressure and enable the organization to do the job more effectively.

I must say how disappointed I am in CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S statements about PTL. I for one will be continuing my support of them and when they have problems, I will seek to give them a helping hand rather than a punch in the nose.


Fifth Street United Methodist Church

Meridian, Miss.

Three Mile Island

The editorial on “Three Mile Island” by Nancy Tischler (May 4) was a treat compared to the pot shots which came from the news media, especially some TV analysts. The author kept both feet on the ground.


St. Paul Lutheran Church

Jackson, Mo.

Your editorial on the Three Mile Island event can only be branded irresponsible. It not only failed to take any kind of stand, it didn’t even raise any questions. The Apostle Paul tells us to “awake” (Eph. 5:14); your editorial seems like an attempt to keep God’s people asleep and complacent—in direct opposition to our responsibility as stewards of creation.


Fuller Theological Seminary

Pasadena, Calif.

The article on Three Mile Island shows our present-day desire for a fail-safe life and our fear of facing any other way of life. After escaping one supposedly possible calamity, we reflect on escaping from a time of “tribulation.” The real calamity of the day is people’s own fear of facing life or death or tribulation. The living Jesus enables us to face reality without fear.

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St. James Anglican Church

Atlanta, Ga.

Good Vibes and Bad

As a minister to youth in a large progressive evangelical church, I greatly appreciated the article by Richard Mountford, “Does the Music Make Them Do It?” (May 4).

I quickly agree with the author regarding the amorality of sound impulses as an art form. As a former professional trombonist I enjoy many musical art forms from classical to jazz-rock.

However, I strongly feel that the amazing capacity of our minds to receive subliminal messages, whether in the form of visual images or audio images, is a factor that needs some treatment. One suggested research project might be the relationship of youngsters involved in sexual experimentation to the affinity of the same for sexually suggestive music (determined by lyrical content), regardless of conscious awareness or intent of the listener.


Rockwood Park Assembly

Fort Worth, Tex.

While admitting that rock music has produced ill results on some people, the author contends that the Christian should not take issue with it until he or she finds proof that it causes harm to all people in the same manner. That sounds like the same arguments I hear in favor of social drinking and legal use of marijuana.

Why doesn’t Mountford repeat some of the lyrics of popular rock songs and allow his readers to decide how difficult they are to understand? Is he really trying to tell us, through his limited trio of researchers, that the message doesn’t matter, only the beat?


Pleasant View Wesleyan Church

Muncy, Pa.

I was very disappointed in the treatment of rock music by Richard Mountford. The subject was treated almost exclusively from a psychological standpoint based on secular studies and not from a biblical perspective.

While it is true that sin is not simply a result of environmental causes apart from the inner condition of the heart, this does not mean a Christian can tolerate any form of entertainment which does not directly lead to overt sins. The fact that a majority of the men who read pornography do not become rapists does not mean a Christian should condone this.


Carlisle, Pa.

Need Sensitive Dialogue

The editorial on “Resurging Islamic Orthodoxy” (May 4) has muddied the waters on the issue of dialogue with Muslims. At one point you criticized the Anglican bishops for rejecting an amendment stating that dialogue could never be substituted for evangelism. On what grounds do you make this judgment? Ralph E. Brown has written, “Although evangelicals believe in dialogue, we insist that it is not synonymous with evangelism but only one method of evangelism. And in witness to Muslims it is an important one.” (“How Dialogue Can Be Used to Witness to Muslims,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly, Winter 1971).

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In missions to Muslims perhaps the most desperately needed element at present is a sincere effort to communicate through dialogue. Because so much dialogue between Christians and Muslims has been, as you write, “to convince others of the truth …,” the Christian and Muslim have become alienated from one another. As R. Pierce Beaver writes, “Dialogue is not disputation, which is a verbal attempt to conquer a foe.”

Missionaries who engage in dialogue to convince only, do not convince, nor do they have the advantage of learning what the Muslim’s viewpoint may be. Dialogue must be used to learn about the people from the people. When we have listened, and when we have learned, we have earned the right to be heard.


Wheaton, Ill.

Courageous and Incomplete

Your April 20 editorial on the “Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty” was both courageous and incomplete.

I commend your even-tempered argument for an American Christian perspective that begins “to see the Palestinian issue in human terms instead of in terms of the maps in the backs of (our) Bibles.” And I am much warmed by your commendation of peacemaking as a laudable public policy.

But, in both your editorial and news article, you ignored an obvious irony. Congruent with the longstanding militarist American policy of “peace through strength,” President Carter forged peace with a huge influx of advanced military weaponry to both Egypt and Israel.

Why was more than $2.5 billion worth of new arms in the Mideast necessary to make peace? I am afraid the answer to this question defines the character and durability of this peace. I hope otherwise.


Dayton, Va.

In your April 20 editorial you succeeded in cutting through the heavy swaddling of myth and put the issues in a truly Christian perspective.

Until “justice and compassion,” as you put it, are applied to this issue, it will never be resolved.


Fort Stockton, Tex.

Unreal Heroes Only?

Harold O.J. Brown, in his article “Superman on the Screen: Counterfeit Myth?” (Refiner’s Fire, April 20), has exhibited a keen understanding and a creative pen in regard to the recent phenomenon of the superhero.

But I do not see how superhero stories are necessarily telling us that heroic qualities can be manifested only in unreal persons. We do not need a historical person to show us that virtue can be admired and emulated, though an example of a historical person would, indeed, be much better.


DeKalb, Ill.

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