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God Squad: Cleaning out the mailbox

Some spring cleaning items from the mailbox . . .

My column on using BCE/CE rather than BC/AD brought in a ton of mail. Most were like this from “T”:

“Thank you for your insightful column about the BC/AD controversy. In my mind it has always offended me, but your explanation is perfect. I shall no longer be offended and I’m gaining insight into what offends others just by reading that column. But why I really wrote this email is concerning the last part where you mention the teacher who said “Do you love me?” and then this teacher asked again “Do you know what hurts me?” I think that was quite profound — if you don’t know what hurts someone then how can you love them? I will use that in my teaching and my personal life. Thank you again for your valuable insights on faith.”

But then there was this embarrassing note from “J” in West Palm Beach, Florida:

“I read your column today about BCE and CE with interest because I have never seen BCE and CE used before. I am probably just not noticing it, I guess. I do understand your point of view. But, what does BCE and CE mean/stand for? I read and reread your column and could not find what these letters stand for/an explanation of their use. So, please email me and tell me what they are. Thank you.”

Oops! Sorry. BCE just means “Before Common Era” and CE means, “Common Era.”

In the category of “I think you just sent me a compliment but I’m not completely sure”:

“Rabbi, I think you’re a jerk. I have always thought so, but I have to give you props for today’s column (“How word choices can affect others”). Too many people seem to think that all citizens of this country are Christians; that, in fact, we’re a Christian nation. I guess being a Jew — even just a ‘cultural’ Jew — doesn’t count. My point is simply this — you said what needed to be said: We should respect others’ beliefs if we want them to respect ours. By the way, I don’t believe in God. (And I think I have good reason.) I think all organized religion is a scam. But I wear a Star of David on my neck every day; for me it is a political statement — it says ‘I am not a Christian.’ L’chaim.” — From “C”

Thank you for your . . . compliment? Thank you also for being such a fine example of your point that, “We should respect others’ beliefs if we want them to respect ours.” I will reread my column if you reread your response.

What kind of family reads my column? Good question . . .

“Thank you for your thoughtful column on tattooing. I appreciate the 1 Corinthians text but choose to interpret it a bit differently: My body is a temple and I choose to honor God by having lovely stained glass windows. Your column is quite the subject of discussion in our family: an 88-year-old patriarch, a self-confessed atheist who nevertheless is a member of the local Unitarian Universalist community; a Catholic mother; a caretaking 63-year-old daughter who joined the Presbyterians in her youth but believes the Universe is Gaia, the creative God force; a sister who invokes the Lord but does not attend church; and four grandsons of various non-faiths including one staunch atheist.” — “A” from Idaho Falls, Idaho

And . . .

“I was raised as a Catholic and still can sing (in Latin) most of the Gregorian liturgy. But I have two Jewish, three Catholic and two Protestant grandchildren. I read your column in our paper religiously (pun intended) and I greatly enjoy your common-sense approach. I, also, miss Father Tom.” — From “A”

Now that the end piece of my column says “Send all comments and questions to . . .” and not the unintentionally aggressive “Send questions ONLY to . . . ,” I am receiving some lovely comments without a hint of a question. Take this comment from “M”:

“I will continue to read your columns. I have saved over 50. I have sent several to friends for whom I think a specific column would be beneficial. Most, if not all of your columns, are rich and insightful. The first thing I read in the paper is “God Squad.” Thank you for sharing your wisdom.”

And that, dear readers, is why I write.

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