RE Your report "Behind The First Noel," which explored the story of Christ's birth as told in the Gospels [Dec. 13]: Jesus remains an enigmatic person who is truly irreducible, and for this reason the quest for the historical Jesus continues. To Gospel writers Matthew and Luke, the miraculous conception of Jesus was a divine act, unparalleled in history. Of course, what determines whether people accept such a miracle depends on their philosophical world view. Luke 1: 37 says the angel Gabriel assured Mary, "For with God nothing shall be impossible." That one passage explains it all.
(THE REV.) TONY COSTA
Nearly everything about the stories of Jesus' birth is mythical. Over the years, tradition has added layers to the tales: farm animals, three kings, the celebration of Christmas during the winter solstice. Inquisitive people--those who are not satisfied with the attitude of others who think they learned all they need to know about Christmas in kindergarten--can celebrate the truth behind the myths. If we can imagine humility instead of arrogance and pride; simplicity in a complex, greedy world; peace reigning over hate and war; and inclusivity rather than bigotry and oppression, then we can imagine the divine potential in a tiny baby.
Grand Haven, Mich.
Your article was a reverent but not cloying look at the birth of a man who changed the world. Too often we overemphasize the divinity of Jesus and miss his message. Christ's magnificent legacy is not so much the stories of miracles as his genius in understanding our human predicament and conveying remarkably simple answers to our problems. We should not forget that the core of his ministry is love, not just for ourselves and those close to us but for everyone.
Palm Springs, Calif.
Aa a Southern Baptist Sunday-school teacher, I tell my students what most of us here in the Bible Belt believe: the Scripture is the inerrant word of God, given by inspiration to the writers of the Bible. That Matthew and Luke record different details makes neither of them inaccurate. Nor does the fact that some of this cannot be corroborated by other sources. That's why we call it faith.
Annan Under Fire
Your story on U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the oil-for-food scandal [Dec. 13] conceded that neither Annan nor his son has been found guilty of anything improper or illegal. You noted that Annan is defending himself against a "small but determined band of congressional foes" that has grown from a "fringe obsession among conservative ideologues to the subject of five separate congressional investigations." But why focus on problems at the U.N. instead of the real scandal of the day: lying by the U.S. President to take us to war?