I want to share an email I received today and my response to it. I probably should not have responded, but it is about the sixth or seventh email of this nature I have received this "season." There is a widespread belief, by conservatives and moderates, that most liberals are non-believers - or heathens. To be sure, a number of liberals indeed are non-believers. Some are of other faiths, whether Jewish or Muslim or otherwise; others are agnostic, questioning things here and there; and some are atheists - non-believers. Some of us are a combination though we do not always recognise that trait.
I think I am a believer: a Democrat who believes, a liberal Christian.
The email I received is from a friend of mine, a retired attorney in Lexington who I've gotten to know through politics, someone whose opinions I respect. We are both Democrats. For the purposes of this entry, we shall call him Mr. Clay. (There have been some famous attorneys from Lexington named Mr. Clay, but they did not align themselves with the Democratic Party, nor did any of them ever email me). Our Mr. Clay's email is below, followed by my response.
From: Mr. Clay
To: Mr. Clay's friends
Subject: MERRY CHRISTMAS
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 2009 17:03:11 -0500
I will be making a conscious effort to wish everyone
a Merry CHRISTmas this year ...
My way of saying that I am celebrating
the birth Of Jesus Christ.
So I am asking my email buddies,
if you agree with me,
to please do the same.
And if you'll pass this on to
your email buddies, and so on...
maybe we can prevent one more
American tradition from being lost in the sea of
And my response:
Mr. Clay --
First, Merry Christmas to you as well.
Let me relate a story. Living alone I do not have much need to decorate - no kids to look under the tree for presents - just me (and I know what Santa is bringing me). So, every year, on the day after Thanksgiving I hang a wreath on my front door and put candles in my two front windows. But, I don't light them until the 24th. I was taught that we decorate for Christmas but only on Christmas Eve does "the star appear" and we turn on the lights. My lighted wreath and candles stay lit through January 6, the Feast of Epiphany, and the day we celebrate the visitation of the Wise Men to the manger.
As you know, I'm a pretty liberal guy - one of the more liberal ones you may know. I'm a faithful and longterm member of the ACLU as well as the American United for the Separation of Church and State and other "leftist" outfits. I am one of those people who jump up and down about the separation of church and state, or to use the words of the Constitution, "the respect of one religion over another" by the government.
I do not expect everyone to celebrate the Birth of Christ the way I do, with a succession of Advent Candles being lit from Sunday to Sunday between now and the 24th, or the Twelve Days of Christmas being celebrated, as I was taught, from December 25th to January 5th. But I do celebrate. And I have a deep, abiding faith in God and Christ. And while am very, very far from perfect, I think my beliefs are in line with Christ's. But then, I think every Christian thinks that - that their beliefs are in line with Christ's. None of us are completely right and none of us are completely wrong.
The main thing is to believe. To believe in grace, to believe in mercy, to believe in redemption, to believe in love.
Thanks for the email. I hope you and all your family are well. Enjoy the season. Merry Christmas. Pray for a healthy and peaceful 2010.