Dear Mr. President:
We haven't met, but you may have heard of me. My name is Mack the Knife and my business is what we call "termination with extreme prejudice"if you get my drift.
I know you're awfully busy with the war and all, but I also know you've got an interest in theology and in good marriages. I've got a theological problem that's morphed into a marital problem. Here it is:
My wife, Polly, recently got religion. It changed her life and messed up mine. She says that my profession of terminating people with extreme prejudice runs counter to her religion and that if I don't find another profession she's going home to mama.
She says I should pay more attention to the Bible.
"But," I tell her, "my profession is one of the oldest in the world and I found out about it in the Bible. Fourth chapter of Genesis: 'Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.' Termination with extreme prejudicea time-tested and honorable profession."
And you know what she tells me? She tells me that the Old Testament stuff has been superseded by the New Testament stuff. She says if I want to stay married to her and remain active in my profession, I'll have to find justification for it in the New Testament.
Like you, Mr. President, I love my wife and I love my career. So I've looked and I've looked for something in the New Testament about the virtues of my business. But nearly everything I find there is that Sermon-on-the-Mount stuff about how we all ought to be nice to each other.
In fact, I couldn't find a kind word in the whole New Testament about termination with extreme prejudice.
"What did I tell you?" my wife says. "Change jobs or I'm going home to mama."
So I've been in a real funk about it, Mr. President. But you've given me some hope and that's why I'm writing to you.
I saw in the papers last week that this Bob Woodward guy has written a book called "Plan of Attack" and it's all about what led up to our war with Iraq. I find it a very interesting war because it's just chock full of termination with extreme prejudice. But what really caught my interest was something else in the book.
It's that part where you're telling Mr. Woodward about how you decided to go to war with Iraq. And he asks you if you went to your father for advice since he had taken us to war with Iraq 13 years ago when he was president.
The Truth, Mainly
And you said no, you hadn't asked your father for advice. And then Mr. Woodward writes that you said this about your father: "He is the wrong father to appeal to for advice. The wrong father to go to, to appeal to in terms of strength."
Then, he writes, you said this: "There's a higher Father that I appeal to."
My wife tells me that when people capitalize "Father" that way, they're talking about God. So it sounds to me like what you're saying is that while you didn't go to your lower-case father for advice on going to war, you did go to your upper-case Father.
And here's the part that excites me. Here's the part that gives me some hope about our marriage:
It sounds as if God approved of your going to a war in which thousands of people have been terminated with extreme prejudice.
That made my eyes bug out, Mr. President, because that's when I saw a way to keep both my profession and my wife. All I have to do is to show her that if God approves of your war, surely He couldn't disapprove of my measly little one-at-a-time termination businessand there would be no reason our marriage could not continue until death do us part.
So here's why I'm writing to you, Mr. President:
I need documentation to show to my wife. I need you to tell me where it is in the New Testament that God sanctions what you and I do. Where, exactlychapter and versein the Good News of the New Testament can I find Divine Approval of termination with extreme prejudice? I know you understand the New Testament much better than I do, so it shouldn't take you long to find what I need.
My marriage hangs on your answer.
I thank you in advance for helping preserve both my marital status and my professional calling. And God bless America.
Mack the Knife.
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail