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Dispatches The Buzz

A servant leader My daughter's godfather died on June 5. Although she is only 35 years old, I am confident that Reagan will learn to appreciate whose name she bears. It means "peace through strength" and reminds her that she can be great and accomplish great things by being a servant leader. She will understand that standing up for good and defeating evil is her commission. Tears flowed when I heard about Ronald Reagan's passing, and when a co-worker asked what was wrong I told her that one of the five greatest men of the greatest generation had passed away. -- Rick Schatz; Louisville, Ky. As an African who made several missionary trips into war-torn Angola, I will always be grateful for the role Ronald Reagan played in saving lives there in the 1980s. The Communists had destroyed many churches and used Soviet-built jets and helicopter gunships to strafe villages and schools. In 1986 I heard Reagan promise, in a speech broadcast over the BBC, to send Stinger missiles to UNITA freedom fighters in Angola. We were stunned, and scarcely dared to believe it would happen, but it did. Soon the bombing and strafing came to an end. I have numerous photos of Soviet aircraft shot down using the missiles. They are a reminder of an American president who cared about the people of Angola suffering under Communist occupation. -- Peter Hammond; Cape Town, South Africa How ironic that we battle to protect traditional marriage while we hold up Ronald Reagan as a protector of family values. Have we forgotten that as governor of California Reagan signed no-fault divorce into law, setting off a domino effect that swept 45 other states? While we honor a great man, let us remember the full history of his life and honestly record it. -- Annette Glass; Austin, Texas Quality time TV networks may have produced the "industry standard" 35 episodes per year in 1964, but these days the standard is more like 22 episodes, 26 if you're very successful ("End of season," June 19). Nearly instantaneous ratings measurements allow networks to order six, nine, or 13 episodes of a program, air three, then cancel if millions don't immediately tune in. With networks programming from week to week, as opposed to season to season, you will no doubt see more of this, not less. I hope that the networks start to give viewers the time they need to make informed decisions that result in a higher standard of program content. -- Richard D. Perez; Norton, Mass. Potterphobia It seems that Andrew Coffin ("Potter 3: the darkest yet," June 19) is infected by a knee-jerk Potterphobia. I have no problem with the Potter stories and find them comparable to The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. They provide many good points for discussing with my children the characteristics that make Harry (or Frodo) successful in his quests. We do, of course, talk about the witchcraft that God forbids, but this is not it. -- Mike Dwyer; Fort Collins, Colo. Vastly better I just want to commend you on your new website design. It's a vast improvement. And thank you again for all the great reporting that you do. -- Kris Sedmera; State College, Pa. Facts of life In "Healthy skepticism" (June 19), Lynn Vincent noted that Planned Parenthood claimed on its adolescent-sex website, Teenwire, that "condoms are 85 percent to 98 percent effective." The FAA would ground aircraft with such failure rates. Our legislators should be very skeptical of the arguments of the anti-abstinence lobbyists, no matter how they try to disguise the facts with fine words and pretty speeches. -- Paul Bade; Mankato, Minn. Just when I needed another good article to defend my position on a certain subject, WORLD came through again. I teach a seventh-grade Life Skills class in a public school. The class has an abstinence component, and I'm on an AIDS/Human Reproduction committee in the school district where I live. Both school districts want to revamp their sex-education curriculum to include condom usage, birth control, and homosexuality. I am gathering data to support the abstinence-only approach, and lately WORLD has had some great articles on it. -- Kathy Durling; Marlette, Mich. Being there In "Too legit to quit" (June 12) Mindy Belz reports the fears of her Iraqi sources as fact without providing context and critical analysis. She is wrong to suggest that the Bush administration wants "out of Iraq quickly." In fact, the next year-long rotation of U.S. forces to Iraq will include more combat brigades and support troops than the first two rotations. The willingness of the administration to send a force of this size -- much of it from the National Guard -- in an election year indicates significant political will. One further correction: General Abizaid and Ambassador Bremer chose to sit in the audience at the inauguration of the new interim government. It would have sent the wrong message if an American had taken the stage at such an important Iraqi political event. -- Christopher N. Prigge; Baghdad, Iraq Balanced vision Mr. Olasky stated well the error of prosperous churches that spend far less on missions and mercy ministries than on building programs and choirs ("Keep it simple," June 12). But there needs to be balance. The now underutilized cathedrals of Europe were part of an all-encompassing vision of Christendom that would bring every aspect of this world under the authority of Christ. Such magnificent structures did not stand aloof from the communities they served. The grounds often included the schools, hospitals, and "social services" which have since been abandoned by a fragmented church and left to the oversight of secular institutions. These church buildings are grand because the vision of Christendom was grand, bigger than the emphasis on the individual which has become another form of idolatry in modern culture. Couldn't there be a church which is equally passionate about both aesthetics and mercy? -- Jani E. Quay; Little Rock, Ark. Snaky coincidence Your story about Cambodia ("Snake eyes," June 12), complete with pictures of a five-headed cobra statue adorning a temple and stone receptacles containing the remains of hundreds of humans, reminds me of Chichen Itza, a three-hour drive from Cancun. It contained a large Mayan community around the time of the fall of Rome. Towering above all else in this mathematically advanced civilization was the Pyramid of Kukulkán. Twice per year on this pyramid the shadow of the sun playing on the stairs caused the illusion of a snake proceeding down the pyramid in the direction of a lake. Over the lake is the Platform of Venus, from which young women and children were pushed to their death as a sacrifice to the serpent. Can it be a coincidence that two pagan communities thousands of miles apart would both use human sacrifices to worship a creature selected by Satan to tempt man in Genesis 3? -- James A. Davids; Alexandria, Va.