Seventeen week old Elijah dictated the following letter for Grandpa to send to President Trump after hearing the President’s United Nations speech. Here’s the letter:
September 21, 2017
Dear Mr. President:
I’m little but my Grandpa says I have rights under the First Amendment and that I should exercise my right of free speech to tell you what’s on my mind. I hope that’s okay with you. Grandpa says you’re bigger on the Second Amendment than the First Amendment, but they’re all part of the U. S. Constitution, right?
I’ve thought many times of writing you but decided not to until hearing your speech to the United Nations this week.
You may wonder why a kid like me would send a letter to the President, but there’s more than one good reason.
We have a connection you may not about, although my Grandpa is very famous, like you. You and Grandpa were baptized as babies in the Presbyterian Church. Your pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica in Queens took you in his arms and baptized you “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” But before your parents put you in the pastor’s arms, they had to answer a question: “Do you promise, in dependence on the grace of God, to bring up your child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
I asked Grandpa what nurture and admonition meant. He said nurture is like when Mom breastfeeds me. Admonition, he says, is an old word we don’t use anymore and that’s a shame because you could use a good admonishing. Admonition, Grandpa says, is a way of setting boundaries on a child’s behavior; it’s part of the discipline necessary to raising a child toward responsible adulthood. Admonishing is telling a child “No. You can’t do that. You’re a child of God, but you’re not the only one.” Grandpa tells me that all the time. I wonder if your mother and father ever did that with you before they sent you off to the military academy.
So you and Grandpa are both baptized Christians. But there’s even more of a connection!
Grandpa became a Presbyterian minister. He knows one of your church’s former pastors at First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica. Before Rev. Dr. Raymond Schwartzbach (Grandpa calls him ‘Ray’) came to your church in New York City, he served the college church at The College of Wooster which Grandpa served six years after Ray.
Grandpa says Ray was really special and that he left Wooster because he wanted to get back to the city. He told Grandpa that your church was the most multicultural church in the Presbyterian Church (USA) with 32 different languages — the most in the whole country!
Watching you speak to all those different languages at the United Nations made me wonder what happened to you after your pastor held you in his arms and baptized you into the way of Christ. Did your parents nurture you? Did they admonish you? Or were you left on your own? Did they teach you not to call people names? Did they admonish you when you did? Did they teach you the first article of the Westminster Catechism, that “the chief end of man is to glorify God…” and not yourself? Did they teach you the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the meek? Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are the poor. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness”? Did they teach you that Presbyterians value simplicity and modesty, and that they dislike ostentation? Did they teach you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you? Did they teach you the difference between loving your country and worshiping it? Did they teach you that nationalism is sin, that the nation is not God?
I’m just little and I haven’t been baptized yet like you and Grandpa. But I have questions. I’m not sure I want to be baptized if being baptized means I have to be admonished as well as nurtured. Maybe you feel the same.
Please answer if you have time. I know you’re very busy with Kim Jung un and Robert Mueller stuff, but Grandpa says some things in life are too important to ignore.
Pingback: A Brother’s Letter to the President | Views from the Edge
I pray for Elijah every day, and for all the children and grandchildren of my friends, and all over the world. And to be honest, I am glad I don’t have any of my own. That has always been a point of sadness, sometimes extreme, and sometimes just a dull ache, but now I cannot imagine the pain of looking into the future for these precious little ones. I am doing everything I am able to do to help speak out against the growing division and open hatred in this world. I try to believe in positive change that will turn us around, and often, my pessimism wins and I am glad to be old.
Barb, Apologies for being so late in this reply. I only now saw your comment!!!
The world would be a better place if Barbara Kidder had given it another Kidder and I think I can understand both of your sentiments about the little ones. Elijah and his generation are in for a very rough ride. So were we, of course, but the clouds over Elijah are much darker than the ones that hung over our heads. What I see in this precious gift of Elijah is sheer joy — smiles, giggles, laughter, light in his eyes that does not come from the world of frowns and sobbing despair. I want some of that joy, and I do get some whenever I see him. Wish you could see him there in PA.
Thank you for sharing your very thought conversations Elijah.
Ed and Ev Gehres
Thank you, Ed. Elijah says he’s going to write the president again soon. His Spanish-speaking babysitter is really upset about Puerto Rico.
Can you send this to me in an email? Would love to pass it on. Don
Hi, Don, Will send you the link to the Presbyterian Outlook online review. Thanks for asking. See you soon.
WOW! Send this to the President, Christian Century, Presbyterian Outlook, The Office of the General Assembly, and to the National Council of Churches, just few of the many that comes to mind. Send it to Ken Trainor at the Wednesday Journal in Oak Park. Tell him I suggested that you send t to him. Also, tell him you’ll be preaching at First United Church of Oak Park on Sunday, September 22nd. Send me a print out of the message.
Dear Elijah, I hope your Grandpa sent the letter exactly as you dictated it. It’s wonderful.
Grandpa, never sent the letter. I’m kinda upset but it’s okay. I’m going to write another one and give it to Mom to send over the internet. Grandpa’s old. He only takes stuff to the Post Office and he’s too lazy to walk there.
Sadly, I think it is past the point where admonishment would do our president much good. I think that barn door has long been closed. I too have often wondered what went wrong with the child Donald to bring up such a terrible adult person. Something deeply unfortunate not only for him, but for the world.
Marilyn, I do believe you’re right that the barn door is likely closed. Nevertheless, Scripture is filled with stories of astonishment when it was least expected. Certainly now is a time when we expect it least but may yet act in hope. I’m thinking of a series of letters to the president that might address the issues of childhood and youth.
Elijah, I hope you send this to our Presbyterian President, good words of advice, from the mouths of babes.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you, Rev. Dempsey. I asked Grandpa to send it today. He says he did!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Super letter dictated by a super kid to a super Grandpa. (How did grandpa feel about the point in the speech where — obviously under instruction from the speech writer — Mr. Trump paused for applause and there was none? …)
LikeLiked by 1 person
Elijah loved it. He almost clapped, but he couldn’t get his hands to hit each other.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Excellent letter, Elijah! Grandpa is very wise and will nurture you well, and I’ll bet even his admonishments (should you require any, which is difficult to imagine) will be gentle and thoughtful. I look forward to the day we’re able to meet and have a good conversation. Blessings — Erin
On Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 9:58 AM, Views from the Edge wrote:
> Gordon C. Stewart posted: “Seventeen week old Elijah dictated the > following letter for Grandpa to send to President Trump after hearing the > President’s United Nations speech. Here’s the letter: September 21, 2017 > Dear Mr. President: I’m little but my Grandpa says I have rights u” >
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Erin, Your grandson, my cousin, will be born in December. I can hardly wait. Glad you liked my letter.