Letter to Jessie Jackson
Jesus Morality Perhaps (not sent)
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20121225                                20131107

This letter composed for Jesse Jackson the ubiquitous black civil rights persona on December 25, 2012. This was one of several things written during a highly productive, some might say manic, period over the Christmas holidays. This letter was never sent, as of November 4, 2013 (and July 7,2020).

Today is Christmas. The day we celebrate the birth of Christ, thus the name of the day for the mass said in church today. I note, of course, this is but a minor part of the mid-winter celebration we call Christmas: presents "for the kids", carols, abundant food, and drink (punch spiked by the bad uncle but the kids giggle and the siblings argue), not that dominant solstice celebration. The quieter one.

Jesse Jackson wrote a column about that quieter celebration that was printed in today's very civic newspaper (almost no mention of Christ, current column and comics exempted). I would like to deconstruct that column now in light of the message of Christ who you (Jesse) also claim to be celebrating today. I may try the "me-you" construction now and then, but if you are offended, just replace it with assertions in the passive voice or pluralize it to "we" and you have the same thing). Your column notes the "real" story today is about Christ not solstice, but as above, I disagree, it is certainly part of the story, but I doubt the Chinese are paying much attention to this part of today's "story", and as said above, even the newspaper that carries your column doesn't give it much attention. But I think I know what you mean, "It should be".

Then you very briefly describe the story of Christ's birth, emphasizing the family's ordeal of being "forced" to "return" (report) to "register" (currently sex offenders like me also have to report to "register"), for the "occupier" (Rome, I guess, not Herod). "One brief look and the innkeeper announced there was no room" (you made up the "one brief look part" and "announced" parts). You note the baby was born in the cold (all babies born that time of year were, at least all outside noble's palaces, which might have one or two small heated rooms, anyway European babies were born all the time under much colder conditions). After listing a few more such "bad" conditions Christ must have "suffered" at birth, you say, "this was a child at risk". Is any child not at risk? OK. Jesus was born. You seem to want to stress how he suffered, but actually birth in a stable filled with warm animals was probably a warmer, safer softer (straw stewn) place than most to have a baby. He was human, born to a hu man at the time, so he, as humans now are, was born and always will be at risk. So what are you telling me other than we are all at risk. No harm done, it just seems quite irrelevant to me, but I suspect you are building a base upon which you will attack suffering, "as Christ suffered" due to poverty and "being left out", just like people today.

Onward, to quote:
   "Like today, these are not normal times" (like everyday, everywhere)
   "Poverty and violence were spread through the land" (like everyday, everywhere)
   "Prophets predicted a Messiah" (like everyday, everywhere)
   "To free the oppressed" (like everyday, everywhere)

Again, true, but what's the relevance? Then without explanation you tie these observations about life's usual conditions to a description of Jesus as Prince of Peace; that he sought to "preach good news to the poor" (and the rich), though I would use the word "share" rather than "preach". Again quite irrelevant. But then you mention things I might consider so. "He never lifted a sword nor carried a shield, never held an office nor amassed a fortune". Yes, of course, that's part of his example.
"He taught us the power of love and hope and charity", Yes, of course, as have many, many, many others throughout history.

To those observations you add: "Let us take stock, not of the presents we give or get, but of how we treat the young in the dawn of life, the poor in the pit of life, the elderly in the dusk of life, the stranger on the Jericho Road."

Yes, of course, but I would only add as well as the rich snob CEO, the arrogant politician of the other party, and even our enemies, nez pas?

After noting we "should" hear this message, no harm there, you continue with some assertions that are completely unrelated; completely unrelated though I suspect you think they are logical necessities from the message of Christ.

"We don't have to accept a nation where 6-year olds ......"
"We don’t have to let the gun lobby ......"
"We don't have to accept a country ......"
"We don't have to emulate ......."

I think a quick reading of Mathew 5 - 7, Christ's new covenant on how to interact in society, says a resoundingly clear, but very quiet. "Yes, we do"

That, I believe, is a big part of the message of Christ this Christmas day and every day, but, sigh, as he said, few know while many follow the way of Jesse, carrying the cross upon which he died as their justification. Strange, very strange.