Hip-hop, Halo and why we went to war: The readers respond

Dear Editor,

In the last issue of the Waltonian, Josh Andersen reflected on reaching 2,000 deaths of American soldiers in Iraq. He closed his article with the words, “I still don’t get it.”

It is my fear that there are many people in our country who “still don’t get it.”

It’s easy to point to 2,000 deaths and say it is bad foreign policy. Although each loss of life is precious, I don’t believe our foreign policy is bad. Our foreign policy is now finally what it should have been years ago.

We are at war, and this is a different type of battle.

This is a stealth war in which our enemies can live among us–they can infiltrate our society and the societies of our friends. In the past, our foreign policy in the Middle East was lacking insight, enabling our enemies to take advantage of us. This all culminated in 9/11, which resulted in 3,030 deaths and 2,337 injuries.

In the last 25 years, terrorists have been at war with us, but we haven’t been at war with them. These acts of terror are the consequences of an ill-advised Middle East foreign policy pursued for many years.

George Bush set out to change foreign policy in that area. We need to go after the terrorists and not sit back and be reactive towards terrorism. The bombings since 9/11 in Bali, Spain, London and, most recently, Jordan, further illustrate the continued danger posed by terrorists.

My heart aches every time I hear of another suicide or roadside bombing in Iraq. The insurgent and foreign terrorists have killed many innocent men, women and children.

But when Saddam was in power, he filled mass graves with hundreds of thousands of his own countrymen. He ran torture and rape rooms. He gassed Kurds in the northern part of his country.

I feel deeply for the parents of the brave young men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I thank God for these brave young people. These young heroes know that freedom isn’t free.

There is so much good being done in Iraq that goes unreported. Recent commercials by the Kurds show the thankfulness of the Kurdish people. They are promoting the idea that they are happy Americans came to Iraq. (www.theotheriraq.com. Click on: “Who Are The Kurds”)

Establishing democracy in the Middle East is not an easy task, yet the government of Iraq is holding elections. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are including women in elections and expanding women’s rights.

We should all thank God that we haven’t had another major attack in the US like 9/11. We should unite behind the president, not undermine him. When one undermines the president, one undermines our brave soldiers and our mission.

The terrorists don’t care what political party you belong to, how old you are, what color your skin is or what gender you are. The terrorists want to kill Americans, Israelis and other Westerners (or, as they call us, “infidels.”).

Our security efforts have to be right every time. The terrorists only have to get it right once.

Let’s pray that we all “get it” before it is too late.

Gary Wissinger, Administrative Computing

Dear Editor,

In the past few issues of the Waltonian, we readers have been treated to two articles focused on one of my favorite subjects: video games.

Unfortunately, the authors did not take the time to define video games, nor their genres, nor their complexity. It is apparent that the only games being described in these articles are first-person shooters (FPSs), or perhaps the infamous Grand Theft Auto series and its many clones.

But last time I checked, there were more games on the market than Halo or the latest WWII simulator.

For the last five years, I have written reviews for a particular genre of videogames known as role-playing games (RPGs) for a prominent Web site, RPGFan.com. This genre often involves heavy plots with lots of dialogue (be it written or spoken), and depending on the style of gameplay (traditional, action or strategy), emphasis on tactical and mathematical know-how.

As a child, I grew up playing not just Street Fighter II but also Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger. These RPG titles taught me many things that gave me an edge in academics. My vocabulary was nearly double that of my peers in elementary school and junior high.

Though I may have been better off reading a book, no one at that age could have paid me to read–the video games were a fair alternative.

RPGs are just one of many genres of video games. Adventure games like the Legend of Zelda series put an emphasis on puzzle-solving and, more recently, character development and symbolism.

Some games are simple, peaceful and fun simulator titles, such as Natsume’s Harvest Moon, where the player starts and maintains his or her own farm. The point here is that there are a lot of video games that do anything but glorify violence.

Admittedly, violent video games are more popular (especially in America).

Industry insiders know that FPS titles and violent free-roaming games (like Grand Theft Auto) will sell better than any other type of game on this side of the Pacific.

But that doesn’t mean that video games as a medium of popular art are all bloody and gory to the point of endangering our own minds. Many RPG and adventure titles will force players to make decisions regarding ethics and morality that affect the game’s ending.

In other words, we are not forced to lose our conscience because we enjoy this form of interactive art.

Like television or film, video games will always be criticized for their objectionable content. Nonetheless, there will always be decent options for the discerning gamer.

Furthermore, because a video game portrays violence does not mean it glorifies violence–especially games that include a decent plot with a clear perspective on the world (RPGs are known for having these qualities).

So, for those criticizing video games, get over your ignorance and explore all the varieties of video games before playing the violence card.

Patrick Gann

Dear Editor,

The issue about hip-hop clothing is not about racism, it’s about a culture.

Consider hip-hop artist Usher, who professes to believe in God yet drops his pants at concerts.

Consider hip-hop artists paying preachers to take part in their videos.

Try paralleling the sex-drugs-and-money lifestyle of hip-hop with professions of God’s love. It is the equivalent of joining Baal with Yahweh.

If we dress only for comfort, what if suddenly every bandana said “Satan Rules” or every bling-bling was in the shape of a seven-headed dragon? We would quickly decide physical comfort is not the issue. We would be spiritually uncomfortable.

We should be now.

Some do not follow the hip-hop lifestyle past the music, but it toes the line between two options, like meat and vegetables. Paul told the Romans that the eating itself was not a sin because “he who eats meat, eats to the Lord,” and “he who abstains, does so to the Lord” (Rom. 14:6).

But he also says, “None of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.” He continues with ” If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.”

A baggy sweatshirt or a bandana may be neutral enough, but if an outfit clearly reflects the uniform of the hip-hop culture, it carries its message.

We must be aware that we are many; much of our family in Christ and non-Christians alike will never see more of us than a passing glance.

When culture equates a mode of dress with an immoral lifestyle, Christians need to take a stand against all resemblance of it (1.Thes. 5:22). Changing the words on the clothes and jewelry is not enough.

The hip-hop culture fuses Baal and God. The bandanas, the bling-it may all have to go.

We are not our own. Paul implores Christians to “be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody” (Rom. 12:17), and Jude tells us to “be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear-hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

Petra Eldridge

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