Editor’s note: This editorial first appeared here on Christmas Day 2007.
We don’t think a secular, general circulation newspaper is the place to advance any one religious belief. It isn’t appropriate or even right to push our faith off on good people who believe differently. And, frankly, inclusiveness is consistent with our view that there are many paths to the Truth, and our search isn’t the only way to get there.
As for Christmas, it means many things to many people. For some, it’s a time to celebrate the spirit of giving. For others, it’s all about receiving. Even the materialism that tends to surround the season has its place — it keeps our economy humming along.
But for many Christians there’s a deeper meaning, and it has nothing to do with what goes under the tree. It’s a time to mark the birth of a savior whose entry into this world is advanced by biblical stories of a divine and miraculous birth more then 21 centuries ago. Perhaps you know the stories, and maybe you understand that words like faith, gifts, blessings, celebration and life are very much a part of it all.
Years ago, someone wrote an essay that carried a Christian message, but much more. It’s a testament to the life of a single man, Jesus of Nazareth, who had a tremendous impact upon the world as we know it. We have reprinted it below.
Regardless of your beliefs, we hope you will agree that it speaks to the spirit of the day, when the better things in life are celebrated.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Today, let’s surround ourselves with the better side of Truth.
One Solitary Life
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30. Then, for three years, he was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn’t go to college. He never lived in a big city. He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself.
He was only 33 when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his garments, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave, through the pity of a friend.
Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race. I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned — put together — have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one, solitary life.
Although the author is frequently cited as “unknown,” an original 1926 version of this essay has been attributed to James Allen Francis.