Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Read With Caution

I received an email complaint the other day. The writer had attended one of my workshops and was offended, mightily offended, that I had 'ridiculed' Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I was a bit taken aback because, as many of you know, I am a believer. The story the complainer refers to is one of, I think, the deep spirituality of a woman with Down Syndrome. In it I joke about how Christmas cards show Mary smiling and though she may be the mother of God, she is also a woman and she'd be pissed off at having to give birth in a stable because Joseph didn't make a reservation. Now that joke may not be your cup of tea, but I happen to think that God has a sense of humour and that Jesus occasionally, if not often, laughed. My faith isn't so fragile that it has to be protected from light hearted kidding.

What was concerning is that the woman who complained attached the following email. I've only taken out a few lines near the end. In it the writer explains that God will hunt you down and kill you should you 'mock' him in any way. This, to me is disturbing reading so I'll understand if you want to give it a pass. But for those who will brave it, I'll meet you again afterwards:

UNTIMELY DEATH!

BE SURE YOU SCROLL WAY DOWN TO SEE WHAT THIS MESSAGE HOLDS .... FOR YOU! - YOU JUST MIGHT BE SURPRISED! - I WAS!

DID YOU KNOW THESE FACTS?

I SURE DIDNT TILL NOW

Death is certain but the Bible speaks about untimely death!

Make a personal reflection about this......

Very interesting, read until the end.....

It is written in the Bible (Galatians 6:7):

'Be not deceived; God is not mocked:
for whatsoever a man sow,
that shall he also reap..

Here are some men and women
who mocked God :

John Lennon
(Singer)

Some years before, during his interview with an American Magazine, he said:

'Christianity will end, it will disappear.. I do not have to argue about that.. I am certain.
Jesus was ok, but his subjects were too simple, today we are more
famous than Him' (1966).

Lennon, after saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, was shot six times.

Tancredo Neves
(President of Brazil)

During the Presidential campaign, he said if he got 500,000 votes from his party, not even God would remove him from Presidency.

Sure he got the votes, but he got sick a day before being made President, then he died.

Cazuza
(Bi-sexual Brazilian composer, singer and poet):

During A show in Canecio ( Rio de Janeiro ), while smoking his cigarette, he puffed out some smoke into the air and said:'God, that's for you.'

He died at the age of 32 of LUNG CANCER in a horrible manner.

The man who built the Titanic

After the construction of Titanic, a reporter asked him how safe the Titanic would be.

With an ironic tone he said: 'Not even God can sink it'

The result: I think you all know what happened to the Titanic

Marilyn Monroe
(Actress)

She was visited by Billy Graham during a presentation of a show. He said the Spirit of God had sent him to preach to her. After hearing what the Preacher had to say, she said:

'I don't need your Jesus'.

A week later, she was found dead in her apartment

Bon Scott
(Singer)

The ex-vocalist of the AC/DC. On one of his 1979 songs he sang:

'Don't stop me; I'm going down all the way, down the highway to hell'.

On the 19th of February 1980, Bon Scott was found dead, he had been choked by his own vomit.

Campinas (IN 2005)

In Campinas , Brazil a group of friends, drunk, went to pick up a friend.....

The mother accompanied her to the car and was so worried about the drunkenness of her friends and she said to the daughter holding her hand, who was already seated in the car:

'My Daughter, Go With God And May He Protect You.'She responded: 'Only If He (God) Travels In The Trunk, Cause Inside Here.....It' s Already Full '

Hours later, news came by that they had been involved in a fatal accident, everyone had died, the car could not be recognized what type of car it had been, but surprisingly, the trunk was intact. The police said there was no way the trunk could have remained intact.To their surprise, inside the trunk was a crate of eggs, none was broken

Christine Hewitt
(Jamaican Journalist and entertainer)

said the Bible (Word of God) was the worst book ever written.

In June 2006 she was found burnt beyond recognition in her motor vehicle.

Many more important people have forgotten that there is no other name that was given so much authority as the name of Jesus.

Many have died, but only Jesus died and rose again, and he is still alive.

'Jesus'

PS: If it was a joke, you would have sent it to everyone. So are you going to have courage to send this?.

I have done my part, Jesus said 'If you are embarrassed about me, I will also be embarrassed about you before my father.'

Pass this message to 8 people {EXCEPT YOU AND ME}...You will receive a miracle tomorrow. I Hope that you don't ignore and let God bless you.

Thus ends the email.

Thus ends the cosmic threat on my life for having a sense of humour about the Christmas story. What disturbs me here isn't the lazy thinking and faulty reasoning that fills the post. What disturbs me is the fact that the message of the post isn't about 'sinners' getting their just desserts. It's about the very personality of God. God as serial murder. God as a twitchy fingered, slightly psychotic gunman. God as someone I wouldn't have a beer with. God as someone petty and vain. What also disturbs me is the use of the reasoning that lead to the murder of disabled babies (you sin, you get a disabled baby, kill the disabled baby because it is evidence of sin). What disturbs me is that someone could send me this and then say that I WAS MAKING A MOCKERY OF FAITH.

To top it off, the send to 8 people and get a miracle. What the hell is going on in these minds ... hey let's build a bowling alley, we've got the space!

I'm OK with people giving me criticism and feedback, really I am. But I'm not OK with getting vague threats against my life. I'm just a lecturer, I'm just some trying to get a message across. Some times clumbsily, some times not. Do not threaten me or my loved ones.

I know I should let this go but it's really, really bothered me. Not the email itself, but the intent behind it.

And that, I resent.

21 comments:

ivanova said...

Really creepy. Essentially the email is a threat on your life. Also, the message doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because actually everyone dies, believers and non-believers alike. You could have an email saying, "Mother Theresa was very devout and publicly declared her faith. Then she died from malaria and heart failure!!!!" That would be equally scary and non-sensical.

brokensaints said...

I have a friend who likes to say things like "100% of people who mock Jesus die." Except his point, is of course, that 100% of ALL PEOPLE die.

As a fellow believer, I am glad that you are a believer and I am glad that you make jokes. I am glad that you are secure enough in your love of God to know that God loves you and accepts you, jokes, sexual orientation, and all. thanks.

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg said...

I always find it appalling when people get upset about doubt, laughter, anger, or any other relationship with God beside pure mindless zeal, but don't seem the least bit concerned about the hell people put each other through on this earth. Rape, war, poverty, injustice--these are the things that break the heart of God.

God is big enough to take a joke. God can handle our anger and our doubt. God can even deal with our wrestling with whether there is a God at all. The Jewish people have been doing all these things for millenia and lo and behold, we're still here! (And the fact that we almost haven't made it a few times has nothing to do with God and everything to do with human evil and mindless zeal.)

But don't get me started...

Anonymous said...

What is truly frightening is that this person (given they were at your presentation) works for an organization that supports people with disabilities. What message is she giving to them? To their families? Did my own child die because he dissed God or was that a punishment sent to me? I'll have to think back - I'm sure I must of said something challenging to him, used his name in vain - guess it was my fault after all. Guess I got it wrong because I grew up believing God forgives, God consoles, God is there when we are at our lowest and struggling the most even when we don't recognize or honor him. Any "religion" that believes God or Jesus or whoever punishes and kills is the kind of faith that leads to people who punish and kill. Unfortunately we have many examples of that in our world. It is used for justification in blowing up woman who consider abortion to thousands in buildings and planes. What punishment is this person inflicting on the people she is suppose to be supporting?

CAM said...

I love the Christmas card story, and if you want to get right down to it, if you are mocking anyone (and I am not sure you are) it is the people who draw the pictures on the cards, not God.
Maybe the person who sent you the email sympathized with the staff in the story and sent the email to deflect the feelings the story invoked.
In any case, those chain letter emails are just as silly as the old chain letters used to be and we should all stop sending them, and certainly stop using them to scare or upset people.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave
Your work has helped shape how I think about disbility. Thank you.
What you need today is a song. I reccommend the U2 version:
Well Jesus was a man
Who traveled through the land
A hard working man and brave
Well he said to the rich 'Give your money to the poor'
For that they laid Jesus Christ in his grave
alleluia etc.
Listen 2 or 3 times & it'll play in your head all day.
Cheers!

Gilly said...

You know, I have this idea that Jesus was a fun guy. Always laughing, always finding the joy in things, teaching us to be in the world and to know that there is sin, wrongdoing and loving it regardless. I believe he would have belly-laughed at your joke. In fact, the idea of him crying was so absurd that the one time he did, it was recorded for all time. And we know the shortest verse in the New is - Jesus wept. So astonished were his friends that they had to write it down.

Dave, pay no attention to those who would wish you harm. They are silly, short-minded people who live by their own design, not God's. Live, knowing that Jesus is alive and walks (or wheels!) with you day by day. He loves you, and that is all that is important.

Jan said...

Dave my favorite picture of Christ is one of him laughing. I am glad that my God is one of laughter and love and not like the one of that woman's who is vengeful and cruel. Keep spreading the love and laughter as there is too much cruelty in this world.

Anonymous said...

The wheeliecrone says -
I have never understood people who believe that they know exactly how everyone else should live. I have more than enough on my plate just figuring out how I should live - I certainly don't have the energy to direct anyone else's life.
Of course that email creeped you out, Dave. It would creep anyone out. Threatening people in the name of the Creator and His Son - well, that's not exactly behaving in a loving way, is it?
I suppose, Dave that now that you are popular and well-known and respected, and your lectures are attended by a large enough group of people, sooner or later you are bound to come across someone who has a medical condition which, in Australia, is referred to as FITH. FITH - F_ In The Head. I believe that your path has crossed a poor soul with that condition.

Laurel said...

Dave, you and your commenters are people who give faith and Christianity a good name. Your emailer, quite the opposite... oh well. It's your words and those of your commenters today that I enjoyed and will remember.

Bevbct said...

I agree with previous posts - a very small minded person sent that email to you. I, too, worry that she is working with clients and possibly imparting her view of the world to them. What a vengefull God she believes in.

I am a believer and I have heard the Christmas card story - I laughed then, and will laugh again the next time I hear it. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I always am amazed how people who announce their strong faith and judge others so strongly. Can also Minimize the power of God by suggesting he will over you a mircale by forwarding it to 8 people. lol. The Jesus and God that I know are free from the ego. and aren't out to hunt down the people who say things agianst them. If that was the case I think the world would be much less polluate at this time! Today I said a pray for your email senter to truly have a mircale with out the 8 emails. I pray for them to have insight, tolerance and true peace.

Shan said...

When I first read your post today I thought, "Uh oh, posting that might have been a mistake." But your commenters pleasantly surprised me. I expected to find a lot of anti-religious comments, and there really aren't any.

I got this email a few years ago but I think it was sent to me because the sender thought I'd be nodding and saying a hearty "Amen" all the way through it. Instead I thought she was a crackpot.

And I also thought, That doesn't bode well for me, since although I am a Christian, I have sassed the Almighty many times in moments of frustration or defiance.

Jackson said...

Between the email yesterday and the email today, it's strange, I think today is the really shitty one.

karen said...

I love how you take the negative things and put them out there for us to share the burden with you. It is the great colossal "Is it me, or is this nuts?" ... and so healthy for all of us to share with you. It's nuts.

I agree with the poster that suggests we all stop with the chain letters. They are creepy. Years ago, my sister received a chain letter that she broke because we don't ever pass them on. Coincidentally, a close and beloved in-law was killed in an avalanche, on a rescue mission, a few days later. While she knew it was a coincidence, it made a devastating event even worse.

Belinda said...

That email, far from having to do with the faith I know, is basically an attempt at a magic spell.

Like Anonymous, I worry that this person works for an organization that supports people who have disabilities,but perhaps the emailer can learn something from them. Those I know have much more sense than this.

Susan said...

If there were any truth to that email, I would be dead many times over by now. Thank God for his patience, his mercy, his grace - and -yes - his sense of humour! Or I'd have been toast long ago. Burnt toast.

Anonymous said...

The ignorance is quite unbeleivable. AC/DC's Highway to Hell is about life on the road on a tour bus, not a great metaphysical commentary! Beyond that I have nothing to add to the above, very sad that people can be so consumend with such a hate filled view.

Kristin said...

I've seen the body of that email before and HATES it. The God they portray in that email is deeply disturbing.

I'm with you. I think God must have an incredible sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday.....a little about poo. Today.....a little about Jesus. I love reading your blog, cause I just never know what I am going to get.

My two cents.....Jesus has a sense of humor.

CJ said...

Well, I m a Jew and still alive. What does that mean?