updated 2/27/2004 2:08:10 PM ET 2004-02-27T19:08:10

Last Tuesday, I received an e-mail from a viewer named Valencia, who wrote to our show after our discussion about the commercial tie-ins to “The Passion.”

She said of me, “I am very tired of the self-righteous non-Christians who think it‘s OK to get Christians on television and bash their beliefs.” Clearly, this movie has everyone talking.

I know that wasn‘t meant as a compliment, but I took it as one. When I‘m wearing my interviewer hat, I try real hard to keep on an even keel.  Obviously, in this case, I did. 

Valencia, as you know, I wrote you back and I told you I am not a non-Christian-- far from it.  I accepted Christ when I was 15.  In fact, I was a Sunday school teacher for the fifth and sixth graders when the World Trade Centers were attacked.  My Christian faith is an important part of my personal life.  And for Valencia and many other viewers to suspect that I was a nonbeliever means I‘ve done my professional job and kept the personal out of it. 

Now I want to get personal about “The Passion,” because it seems like just about everybody else has.  I‘m not sure I‘m going to see this movie.  The previews of the blood and hatred and the gore of Christ‘s crucifixion unnerve me.  I weep at the Good Friday services just hearing the scripture on his death. 

And if you read the scripture, you know the death of Jesus is described in the barest of terms.  The Gospel leaves much of Christ‘s agony to the imagination of the reader.  The entire world now knows how Mel Gibson imagination sees that event.  And he‘s entitled to share that view, as he has.  But the rest of us are entitled to our views as well. 

I choose to focus on what the Gospels do spend so much time on, which is love, God‘s love for all of us, for Jews, Gentiles, Muslims, Buddhists and non-believers alike. 

On television, we’ve questioned, and we‘ve debated, and we‘ve listened, and hopefully learned. Maybe we understood how each of us can choose to believe or not believe, as suits us best.  And the fact that we live in a place where we can do that, is really something to get passionate about. 

'Deborah Norville Tonight' airs weeknights, 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.


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