and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
December #4

New book posits Jesus as presidential candidate
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Friday, December 26, 2008

By last 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 card sleigh.

Some of 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 shore.

It's a 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.

Of 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..."

The book 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.CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTO

Until I 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 ships.

Unlike 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 Christmas!"

The rest 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.

This is 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 for.

I don't 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.

We know from the Bible that He didn't get involved with tax issues, aside from rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, whatever that meant.

I look forward to discussing "American Savior" with my son; thanks to Merullo, there may soon be peace on my little piece of Earth, anyhow.

I gave 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.

This 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.

My dad 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."

Merry Christmas.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson's
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.