Creed Screed: The Letter

By Paul Leavans

When men were burning their draft cards and women had decided to go braless, I was there away from home and on my own in college. If you were in college in those days you know what it was like. In the middle of all this freedom, my father wrote me a letter. It was something like this:

Dear Paul:
Your mother and I are very pleased that you decided to go to college and complete your education. We have agreed to give you some financial support so you will not have to spend so much time working, as this might keep you from your studies. 

We want you to devote as much time as possible to improve yourself. We have heard that many students waste their time and money off campus. Please stay clear of them. If you waste it, we will stop sending you money. I am looking forward to your graduation so you can join me. One day you will inherit it all. 

With all our love, Dad.

 I decided to show this letter to my favorite professors.

“Well, Paul,” my history professor said, studying the letter, “your father seems to want you to improve yourself. But I need a little more information about your family background to interpret the letter properly. When he says ‘improve yourself,’ is he referring to your educational opportunity, or is he perhaps concerned about your social standing or your financial security? If you could just provide me with some more environmental information, I’m sure I could help you decipher the letter.”

I stared at the man and shrugged. “Thanks anyway, professor,” and I left the office. My next stop was my philosophy professor’s study; philosophy was my No.1 subject at the time. “Would you like to see what I received from my father?”

“Sure,” the Ph.D. said. “Let’s see, ‘Many students waste their time;’ That’s an interesting concept. What is time? Today was tomorrow yesterday, and tomorrow will be today tomorrow. So you see time is constantly changing. As for wasting it, how is it possible to waste something that is always with us, and constantly changing?

You see, your father is simply stating an opinion that he wants to share with you. It is interesting reading, but don’t draw any definite conclusions until you have read a lot of other concepts. You need a broader base of information for your full development.

“Well, yeah … thanks, I think,” a bit bewildered as I left his study.

Next stop, the theology department.

As the learned theologian slowly read the letter, he frowned.

“My, my!” he exclaimed. “I’m sure your father didn’t mean to frighten you, but he does have some serious inconsistencies in his letter. He closes his epistle, ‘With all our love,’ and yet he also says, ‘We will stop sending you money.’ Certainly he can’t mean that. He can’t love you and withhold anything from you. He also says stay clear of other students. Yet he wants you to go to all your classes. How can you do that if there are other students attending the classes?”

“Come to think of it, I don’t think your father wrote this letter. I think the clue is in the first sentence, ‘Your mother and I are very pleased.’ It appears that your mother wrote the letter and signed your fathers name to give it an element of authority. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you should be aware of it. I hope this will be of some help to you.”

“Yes … thanks,” and I left his office.

Oh, incidentally, my father was a minister.

Here is the point. If you know my father, you can understand the letter. If your father sent you a letter, would you read it? He already did — the Bible.

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