Violence provokes more violence and really solves nothing, as they seem to be finding in the Middle East, in Northern Ireland, in Sri Lanka, and Bosnia. As you have experienced, real security does not come from the barrel of a gun. Despite your massive defense spending, you were vulnerable from within.

How does one reconcile the need for justice and the Christian message to love our enemies?

I hope so much that when the cry is for justice to be done that you in the U.S. will be ready to accept your own standards and values: that someone is presumed to be innocent until they are proven guilty; that there will be sufficient evidence, not just suspicions and hunches; that those who are accused must be found guilty in an open court of law because it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

It will be salutary to recall Oklahoma when initial suspicions pointed fingers at Arab terrorists as likely perpetrators. It is too serious a matter and there is too much at stake for the U.S. not to be able to produce hard, credible evidence that can pass muster. The terrorists will have won an important battle if they cause you to jettison your own high standards. Let the law then take its course.

The love that Jesus enjoins on his followers is not namby-bamby. It is realistic. What Jesus is asking his followers who may have been grievously wounded by the enemy is not that they should like, not that they should have warm feelings for, this enemy but that they should love him or her; should believe, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that this person guilty of this heinous deed is still a human being (and terms such as "terrorist" tend to depersonalise, to demonise the other), that this hated one is indeed a child of God; and should wish the best for them. It is not something we can accomplish on our own. Remember, Jesus did not demand that we should be merely good. No, he challenged us to be perfect, to seek to emulate the perfection of God, who makes the sun shine on good and bad alike.

We are exhorted to forgive one another even as God in Christ forgave us; we are in the forgiving business whether we like it or not. And we can do this only through God's grace. It is ultimately God at work in us to make us to be like God. Yes, it is a tall order, but that is the love that changes the world, that believes an enemy is a friend waiting to be made.

Is there such a thing as a "just" war?

The just war theory was a recognition that we live in a less-than-perfect world. In an ideal world, there ought to be no war, for war is evil--but it might be the lesser of two evils. It might be better to go to war against Hitler than to allow him to throw babies into gas ovens.

There were criteria to be satisfied before the serious and ugly business is undertaken: Have you exhausted all possible peaceful alternatives? Will you, if war is declared, abide by the conventions governing conflict; namely, that you target only the military?

There is no such thing as collateral damage. The terrorist attacks were particularly reprehensible because they targeted innocent civilians. Collateral damage is a horrible euphemism for killing ordinary mothers and children and fathers and uncles and brothers.

Are you reasonably certain of success and will things be better after the war than before the war? Had these questions been asked then the Gulf War would not have been waged for it failed to satisfy the conditions of a just war. But can any war ever be just again when we have such devastating weapons?

You've said that you believe that human beings were made for goodness, made for love? How then are some people capable of unspeakable evil? How do you accept the existence of evil, and yet still believe in the core goodness of human beings?

God does not give up on anyone, for God looks on each of us as a masterpiece in the making. But God took an incredible risk in creating us not to be automatons but to be decision-making creatures with the freedom to choose to obey or not to obey God, to love or not to love God.