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Biblical Promise Stands Despite Claim of a 'Secular Jesus'

Regarding the front-page article ''Creation of a 'Jesus for the '90s' Touches Off Theological Debate,'' Jan. 5: The leaders of the new Jesus academic movement erroneously question, among other factors concerning Jesus, his virgin birth by referring to it as ''improbable ... a fabrication.'' In doing so, they are obviously also denying the prophetic pronouncement of Isaiah (7:14): ''Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son...'' This therefore is not only an attack on the New Testament but on the Old Testament as well.

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This misguided and woeful attempt to secularize Jesus has no hope or promise for mankind in comparison with the already well-established faith of Christians in the Christianity of Jesus and their hope of salvation and promise of eternal life. Kudos to the Monitor for revealing this outrageous attempt to secularize the Master Christian. Jesus can no more be separated from Christianity than the sun from its rays. And if he were here today, I'm sure he would condemn as sheer nonsense this attempt ''to sell the concept of a 'secular Jesus' ''; yet he would say ''Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.''

Charles F. Rasoli Princeton, N.J.

Right on the mark, but wrong location

My geography lab students and I find the article ''L.A. Still Picking Up the Pieces After Quake,'' Jan. 17, informative and right on the mark. But we would like to correct the location given in the picture ''Road to Nowhere.'' Rather than Sherman Oaks, at the south-central edge of the San Fernando Valley, the actual location of this collapsed freeway is approximately 13 miles north in Sylmar at the junction of I-5 and Highway 14. The collapse of these freeways created an inconvenience for local commuters trying to travel between homes in Valencia and Palmdale and workplaces in Los Angeles.

Interestingly, this same junction collapsed during the Sylmar Earthquake on Feb. 9, 1971. It was targeted for a retrofit to bring it up to higher earthquake standards that were developed after the Loma Prieta Earthquake, which caused destruction of several freeways in the San Francisco Bay region in 1989. Today this retrofitting continues at a more rapid pace in Southern California.

Richard M. Raskoff Van Nuys, Calif.

Chair of Earth Sciences and Physics

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Los Angeles Valley College

Rockwell, America's favorite artist?

Regarding the article ''The Wild Stillness at the Heart of Andrew Wyeth,'' Jan. 16: It was mentioned that on the jacket of the book Wyeth is described as ''America's favorite artist'' and the author goes on to say that ''such a claim is unlikely to have been made if there was much fear of contradiction.'' I would like to contradict this statement. On the cover of a February 1979 issue of The Saturday Evening Post is a self-portrait of Norman Rockwell and the caption next to it is ''America's Favorite Artist'' - a tribute I feel is true. The Post had 300 covers by Norman Rockwell before he died in 1979. In the book ''Norman Rockwell Illustrator,'' by Arthur Guptill, we learn that the originals of his paintings of the Four Freedoms (Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, Freedom From Fear), created in 1943, were sent all over the nation during War Bond Shows and were circulated as posters to post offices and schools.

In my travels across the states and in New England, Normal Rockwell's art work has so often been featured in private homes and public places. If you've ever been to Stockbridge, Mass., where he lived, you would know how its population swells with Rockwell fans who ''want to savor the surroundings of their favorite illustrator.''

Dee Hopgood Boston

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ''Readers Write'' and may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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