On the same day that I read The Christmas Sweater, I read coincidentally what might in retrospect be an astonishing development in the world of cancer research. My wish, for this Christmas season, is that everyone will come to appreciate the sweater's magnificent metaphor.
In the afterword to his newest book, author Glenn Beck explains why he wrote what he wrote:
In The Christmas Sweater, Eddie's trials begin when his father succumbs to cancer. I didn't select that disease by accident. Almost all of us know someone who has been affected by it in some way, and I am no different; my grandfather had cancer.Six years ago, just after Christmas, my nephew, Tyson Taylor, died of cancer. In a matter of a few months, a strapping young life, with so
Regardless of whether, like Tyson Taylor, our bodies are ravaged by the sin of cancer, or whether our souls are stricken by the cancer of self-worthlessness, there lies somewhere on the messy floors of our minds the joy of a Christmas Sweater for each of us.much promise, was prematurely snuffed out. "We have the latest medications," said the doctors, "and the success rate is very high." And for a while, we all had hope.
Regarding the subject of his book, Beck continues:
...I chose cancer for another reason as well--because of someone who I believe will cure it. His name is Jon Huntsman.Published on Christmas Day, 2008, was , had I not been reading a particular book, what for me might have been a fairly innocuous headline in the Deseret News: "Scientists Make Key Cancer Discovery." The story begins:
A hallmark of cancer is unrestricted cell growth, which begins when gene mutations "turn off" or "silence" genes that regulate cell growth. Now researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute have identified two enzymes that can combine to "turn on" silenced genes and may also prevent gene silencing. That could put treatment or even a cure in reach if scientists can learn how to use this pair of enzymes to turn on key genes at will.The discovery holds great promise of stimulating the healthy suppression of cancer cells in the body.
The key finding is the discovery of the use of two enzymes and a regulator to remove DNA methylation, which may allow genes to be turned back on.Wouldn't it be remarkable if a newspaper report on Christmas Day 2008 signaled what ultimately turned out to be the cure for cancer? Beck says
Though involved in many charities, Mr. Huntsman's passion is the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Hospital in Salt Lake City. When I visited the Institute for the first time, I told Mr. Huntsman that I had never seen anything like it before. "I know," he replied, obviously used to hearing that kind of reaction. "We're going to cure cancer, and then we're going to turn this place into a Ritz Carlton."For those, like Tyson Taylor, whose spirits
He smiled, and I wasn't sure if he was kidding or not. Then he looked at me with zeal in his eyes... "Glenn," he said firmly and without an ounce of hesitation, "we are going to cure cancer here."
Then he looked at me with zeal in his eyes... "Glenn," he said firmly and without an ounce of hesitation, "we are going to cure cancer here."have already passed on to the next phase of existence, this particular cure will have come too late for their mortal bodies. But a cure for physical cancer is not The Christmas Sweater's only metaphor. The sweater represents also a cure for sin, a reminder that "many of us don't face ourselves because we are convinced that we're worthy of only a certain level of happiness". Instead of wadding our own Christmas Sweater up in a ball and tossing it on the floor, though, we should cherish it and wear it often. Beck says that:
My mom gave me the sweater, but the greatest gift was given to all of us by a loving Father in Heaven. It is the only true gift ever given to all and yet opened or appreciated by so few. It is the gift of redemption and atonement, and it sits on the top shelf, largely untouched, in the closets of our soul.By the end of his story, "Glenn-Edward Lee-Beck" has come to realize that "I finally know who I am, and I am happy." Regardless of whether, like Tyson, our bodies are ravaged by the sin of cancer, or whether our souls are stricken by the cancer of self-worthlessness, there lies somewhere on the messy floors of our minds the joy of a Christmas Sweater for each of us.
I clearly remember the look in [my mom's] eyes as she saw my sweater rolled up in a ball on the floor of my room, and I remember realizing all that she had done for that gift. [In the same way, I had refused] to stand at His feet and see Him with the same look in his eyes as he asks me, "Son, is this the gift that I gave you?"So, if you haven't already, pick up your Christmas sweater from that heap on the floor, smooth out its rumples, and put it on. And then, beginning to know who you really are, you can be happy, too.