weekend, I'd mailed cards to family and friends I won't see to share
greetings this Christmas. Their cards for me have already filled my
those cards contain holiday newsletters. I love getting the 2008
news. Learned that my childhood friend, Michele, and her husband,
who live in Maine, vacationed this year in a state with which I am
presently fascinated because I'm reading James Michener's novel, "Alaska."
It is a
very long novel, which I started during the election when Sarah
Palin made me realize how little I knew about her state — though I
knew more than the geography-challenged liberals who laughed at the
notion that Alaskans can see Russia from parts of their western
wonderful book, but I occasionally set aside the historical fiction
to read something else, like Roland Merullo's "American
Savior." A media mention about a novel in which Jesus returns to
run for president caught my attention, since I was looking for a
gift for my son, the Obama voter. I had joked with him (in the
tentative way that family members on different sides of the
political spectrum "joke") about it being my fault because I hadn't
raised him in any organized religion; so now, at age 44, he is
looking for a Messiah. So I thought if I gave him "American Savior"
for Christmas, he'd get my point.
course, I read it first, trying to keep it pristine except for
underlining the part where a Navajo woman, Jesus' mother in his new
life, tells the media that "Respect for one's mother is a central
tenet of Native American life, and it pleases me greatly that my son
has remembered this..."
is so good that I gave it to my partner, Chip, to read; and when he
couldn't finish it in time for me to mail it to Nevada for
Christmas, I ordered another copy for us.
finish converting my home office back to a living room, there is no
room for a real Christmas tree, but I've been happy over the last
decade with the little toy tree that sits on my bookcase and flashes
many colors. Next to it is the Bethlehem manger-in-a-bottle that a
very patient uncle created when he took a break from building tiny
my son, I was raised in an organized religion. To paraphrase the
Jesuits, "give me a child for seven years and she will celebrate a
traditional Christmas forever." So as I still believe, like
Virginia, in Santa Claus, I also still believe in the baby Jesus,
sing the carols, and give the proper holiday greeting — "Merry
of the Catholic Church I left for various reasons, ranging from its
prohibition on birth control to the ongoing problem of evil: How can
a loving God allow the terrible things that happen?
Merullo's narrator, a "more than slightly cynical young TV reporter"
named Russ, tells Jesus: "If I was setting up the world, I'd set it
up... no rape, no cancer, no kids hit by cars, no Alzheimer's, no
war. That would be my idea of loving my created ones. Sorry if that
sounds arrogant or something, but that's what I'd do..." And Jesus
responds in a way that I found strangely satisfying.
not to say that Merullo has all the answers, but he comes up with
enough of them to make his Messianic candidate, well, worth voting
agree with Merullo's Jesus on everything, but I was surprised how
closely His political philosophy resembled mine. Somehow I'd always
thought that Jesus would be a liberal — though I suppose that
evangelical Christians think He'd be at least a social conservative.
from the Bible that He didn't get involved with tax issues, aside
from rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, whatever
forward to discussing "American Savior" with my son; thanks to
Merullo, there may soon be peace on my little piece of Earth,
my daughter-in-law the English-language Mexican cookbook that my
Mexican mama sent to my mother when I was an exchange student in
Mexico City; although we differ on illegal immigration, we share a
love for Mexican friends and food.
year my grandtwins were given my father's N-scale electric train
set. When I learned that he had wanted one as a child, but was too
poor then to celebrate Christmas; I sent him first the train with
track and then, each year, pieces of a potential railroad village
which he planned to build in the basement after his retirement. The
year before he died I found a train store in Germany and added tiny
Bavarian folk dancers and an oompah band.
didn't get a chance to build the village, but his grandson and
great-grandchildren are enjoying the train now, which I'm sure makes
him happy there in heaven with Jesus, for whom I have a new
appreciation thanks to "American Savior."