I got up this morning, made my usual indecently huge cup of French vanilla coffee and fired up my laptop to check my emails. Gmail came to life and the very first subject line sent my eyebrows to the roof: “YOU’LL SIZZLE IN HELL!”
I thought, “Wow! Great title, I wonder who wrote it.” You see, I read a lot of dark fantasy and horror novels, so I’m on the mailing list of every dark, bloody writer I like. I figured it was the title of a new book. Nope. It was the title of the email from a woman who really disliked my “Jesus Would Do Outreach” post. I won’t tell you much about her email because I don’t use that type of language, but I’ll share her last line. She said:
“I’ll rejoice when I stand by my Lord Jesus and we both watch the flames of hell consume your arrogance.”
This woman has a way with imagery, doesn’t she?
There is a second email I want to share with everyone. It was sent by a fellow Pagan a few days ago. This person believes that adding anything about Christianity to my Paganism is just wrong. The email was well researched, it provided the names of many Pagan gods who have acted just like Jesus, but it sent a clear warning. Here is a quote from the email:
“I have heard people say to have tolerance for all beliefs and ideals, but what of protection? Fundamentalist christianity FAILS quite consistently to support Pagan alliance/tolerance/outreach/etc programs. they won't work with us.. they hate us. please, as a fellow pagan, i urge you to choose your own path, but also to consider WHICH solar messiah to model your organization after.”
This email saddens me to no end. It makes me wonder how much pain this person had to endure in order to feel this way.
However, I washed the pain away by looking at my archive and reading the emails I got from people who feel just like me. They also think that adding what we like best from other spiritual paths enriches our own belief system. Here are a few quotes:
“I have believed in God and Jesus without a doubt since I was two years old.... and I am very much a witch...”
“…to fully experience our religion we have to learn about others.”
“The fact that modern Christian churches have perhaps fallen off the bus on this does not change the fact of who Christ was.”
“I also was pleased to discover a concept bridge between two much loved spiritual discovery paths…”
And a personal favorite:
“First off, Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!! This was one of the best articles I've read in a long time. I totally agree with you...Jesus Would Do Outreach!! I've been scoffed at and at times told that I'm not a "real pagan" because asked that inevitable question, Do you believe in Jesus? I honestly say Yes. I may not have the same views towards him that Christians or Pagans (or anyone else, for that matter) but I do most definitely believe in Jesus...”
And this is not even one fourth of the positive email responses, so as you can see I have a bunch of goodness to cleanse away the bad and the creepy. I sure hope that the hell-inspired woman and the Pagans-must-hate-all-Christians man find just as much goodness in their life, but I have my doubts. When one lets one’s heart be clouded by fundamentalism or absolutism of any kind, it is almost impossible to let in the goodness of life—or common sense for that matter.
What could push a person to feel “joy” when thinking about someone else’s suffering? How much pain does it take for a person to start hating an entire group based on feelings inspired by some of its members? How do people’s comments affect your writing?