God doesn't like me.
God is angry at me.
God is offended by me.
Or so I am told.
What a way to wake up in the morning. After a night of bad dreams, I got up and checked my e-mail to find a letter (a kindly thing to call it) from someone who has seen me lecture recently. He wanted me to know that, while I had not offended him in my presenation, I had offended God. Then he called me a 'overweight, disabled, foul mouthed, drunk' ... OK, there's a tee-shirt in there somewhere.
I know my lecture style isn't for everyone. I know some are put off by my real world examples with real world language. I never swear for effect, I do use 'cuss words' and am aware every time that I do. I know that some won't be able to hear the message because of the way the message is given. But because truth is such a fragile thing, if I change stories, the language of stories, they suddenly don't sound real anymore. I don't make up situations, I colour them in the telling like any storyteller, but I don't conjure them. I'm afraid if I alter the language the situations will sound contrived, like a story made for the point rather than having a point drawn from a story. I get that people don't get that. I get that some simply don't like how I deliver a message.
What I don't get is that someone I don't know, who knows me only from behind a podium, feels that they can speak for a God who knows me from both the deep and shallow ends. How someone feels that they can tell the state of my faith, my values, my heart by sitting and listening to me from within a bubble of preconceptions.
I read the letter to Joe, this guy clearly hadn't picked up that I was gay too - he'd probably run from the room, and Joe openly worried that the letter would bother me. I suppose because I'm writing about it, it does. But then again, not really. I just thought I'd suggest to all of you, and remind myself, that it's good to remember that there are other people on the end of your comments, human sensibilities at the other end of your disapproval, real feelings that can be hurt ... all on the other side. I think it's easy to forget that a comment, a letter, a criticism is aimed at someone else who will feel.
Readers of Chewing the Fat are a lovely lot. Some of you have really disagreed with what I've written, but for the most part you've been deft at doing so kindly. In fact, some of the comments here - kindly given, have led me to rethink my position and sometimes even change my mind. This is why I started writing this blog, to have a conversation, to learn and to throw things out to see what bounces back. Sometimes, even if I haven't changed my mind due to a disagreement, I'm still glad to have been asked to think more deeply about something.
The fellow who wrote me a letter worries me. When you put words into the mouth of God, much is at risk.