Let me tell you about two friends of mine, and no matter how this piece plays out - these guys really are my friends.
The first is a buddy from my army days. He and I haven't seen each other since I left Ft. Riley, Kansas, and headed to Okinawa nearly forty years ago. During the intervening years we have both raised our families, done our own things, and had limited contact with each other. We re-established contact over the Internet a few years ago, and since then we have occasionally exchanged the same tired old jokes that get passed around and around on the net.
But my army friend has a political bent, and he either doesn't read the Ramble, or he is trying to convert me to fascism. This friend, you see, hates Democrats in general and President Obama in particular. This friend, like so much of America, seems to take his less than ideal circumstances to heart and want to blame unions, and women, and smart black politicians for his personal shortcomings. I feel bad for him because his life obviously came up short by some measure, but none of us achieve all of our dreams. It is so tragically sad, however, to see anyone blame their misfortunes on the straw men being put up as targets by Scott Walker and his ignorant ilk. So many politicians make their marks in the world by dividing the working public against itself.
It has gotten to be so bad, that when this buddy sends his chain mail hate around, I just automatically delete it. If I want to read the Klan's talking points, I will go to their website and get it firsthand.
My other friend is a former neighbor from the Wheezin' Geezer Trailer Park in Arizona. He and his wife are truly wonderful people who would literally do anything in the world for anyone needing their help. They even adopted my cat when I moved to Okinawa.
But this friend has a serious blind spot when it comes to religion. He is firmly planted in the hate wing of Christian fundamentalism. When I was still in Arizona he was up in arms because the young people in his Baptist Church had succeeded in bringing some Christian rock music into the weekly service. Now he sits at home most days, when he isn't sharing his ice cream with my kitty, and forwards Christian hate as fast as his fingers can type in email addresses.
Today this friend in Arizona forwarded a dire warning to me titled: Beware of This Book! Serious!! The book rating all of those exclamations marks is Conversations with God and it's counterpart, Conversations with God for Teens by Neale D. Walsch. According to the warnings in my friend's frenzied email, Conversations with God is so "devastating" that James Dobson talked about it twice on his radio program this week! And if Dobson criticizing a book isn't damning enough to send you to the bomb shelter, Oprah praised the book. (What the hell could a female, black, liberal like her possibly know about God or morality?)
(I will order my copy today. Anything that sleazy Dobson defames moves automatically onto my "must read" list.)
The first example of heresy that is mentioned in this chain email involves an accounting of a young girl who asks, "Why am I a lesbian?" Mr. Walsch, speaking for God, answers that she was born that way because of genetics just as others are born right-handed or with brown eyes. He told the girl that she should go out and celebrate her differences.
Which of course is correct - and beautiful advice. But hate-mongering Christians see homosexuality as a choice people make freely. When they decide to repent this chosen sin, they can then get themselves into some type of "cure" program - much like Communist "re-education" camps.
Another girl asks: "I am living with my boyfriend. My parents say that I should marry him because I am living in sin. Should I marry him?" Walsch, again speaking as God, responds, "Who are you sinning against? Not me, because you have done nothing wrong."
The final question mentioned in this email rant asks about God's forgiveness of sin. His reply is "I do not forgive anyone because there is nothing to forgive. There is no such thing as right or wrong, and that is what I have been trying to tell everyone, do not judge people. People have chosen to judge one another and this is wrong, because the rule is "judge not lest ye be judged."
But if hate-mongering Christians are forbidden to judge others, how will they occupy their waking hours? Maybe they could spend more time in church chilling out to some really good Christian rock music. My money says that's what Jesus would do!