Letter to the President
While we'll never know for certain if the President is checking for music and poetry blogs, we can hope. This letter, along with a batch of the same from other poets, will be sent to the White House, so that we may receive form letters and, perhaps, autographed glossies. The futility of it all is almost breathtaking. Still, we try.
22 August 2005
Dear Mr. President:
I would like to speak with you about Jesus Christ. I know that He is your favorite philosopher, and I agree that the wisdom of Jesus is still of value in the modern age. However, I am concerned with the wide gulf between your stated admiration of Jesus’ teachings and your administration’s policies. I thought about writing you a poem, since I am a poet, but this is an important matter and I would prefer to speak directly.
“It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle,” Jesus said, “than for a rich man to get into heaven.” That Jesus said this and meant it literally is a point with which I assume you must agree. Now sir, I am a reasonable person. I do not expect the rich to give away all of their money and start wearing sackcloth. I recognize that it is necessary for America to amass vast quantities of resources in order to maintain its global empire. That said, I wonder how you reconcile America’s stated quest for world dominance, both social and economic, with Jesus’ teaching against the amassing of wealth. I do not expect you to live in poverty, or even stark simplicity. But I cannot understand how a man who so admires Jesus could instate domestic economic policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer. I cannot understand how a man who so admires Jesus could strip the resources of poorer nations to make his already-affluent country even more affluent, to the detriment of people who are struggling to eat. “What you do unto the least of my children, you do unto me,” Jesus said. Mr. President, I am not being glib when I ask if you would take food from Jesus’ mouth so that Americans might drive even larger, more lavish SUVs. If we take the Bible as a literal document of Jesus’ teachings, it seems perfectly clear that he would strongly disapprove of many of your administration’s policies. I would like to know how you reconcile your words with your actions, in your own heart and mind. I am trying to understand.
Mr. President, as you know, one of the primary, most fundamental aspects of the teachings of Jesus was “Love your neighbor as thyself.” I am concerned that this tenet is being paid lip service by your administration and by the mainstream media outlets that support it, but not observed. I believe that Jesus must weep to see how his teachings have been twisted and perverted to suit the whims of corporate America. We are now seeing a proliferation of “mega-churches,” which spend money on flat-screen TVs and extravagant buildings that might be better allocated to outreach missions for the needy. Jesus rarely gets angry in the Bible, one of the only times he did was when he found the money-changers in the temple. But now the money-changers aren’t just using the church, they’re running it, and they’re preaching Jesus’ word in a twisted version that promises unending wealth for those who strive for it (which usually means those who already have it). What a sick parody of the word of the Son of God! Mr. Bush, being a Christian, I know that you must be concerned about this development. I bring it to your attention in case you are unaware that your administration and many powerful religious institutions are corrupting Jesus’ teachings of charity and compassion, remaking them as golden icons of personal gain. I’m sure you’ll agree that this must stop, before Christianity loses all meaning and becomes another corporate brand.