Catching Hell From Christians
*MY (SORT OF) OFFICIAL STATEMENT TO MY CRITICS*
That’s right ladies and gentlemen; I used the word hell. I am not a cussing man, unless, of course, I smash my thumb while working on a home improvement project. Or if my vintage truck (that thought was so cool when I bought it) breaks down yet again⎯leaving me regretting that I ever purchased it. But the expression fits these days.
I would like to take a moment to respond to some of my critics. And by critics, I mean people who are emailing me all kinds of nasty things about my book but have never read it. Normally, I would not do this. It is standard public image strategy to never respond to your critics, since a response is a type of validation. But in all fairness, I can’t write a book called 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith and not expect to have any critical reactions that need to be dealt with.
Let me begin where I might end, in anticipation of some not finishing this long statement. I just want to make sure everyone is left with my most important points:
• Believe it or not, my book is overwhelmingly positive (you can read the reviews to verify this).
• You can’t believe everything you see. Interviews that are prerecorded (like on TV) often do not communicate every detail of the story being covered. Therefore, the full context of said subject is never revealed. They are more like interest-generating highlights.
• Christians should be thanking me for writing the book. Sorry, but you’ll have to keep reading for my explanation on that one.
So let me move on to some comments I have been receiving. What’s interesting about these comments is that the harshest ones have been from Christians and these individuals have NOT read my book. This does not surprise me. This probably does not surprise you. In fact, I write about this in my book (Chapter 10 on what I hate about Christians).
The proverbial “don’t judge a book by its cover” comes to mind here. They truly personify the expression. You’d think Christians, who are mad about someone judging them and their faith, might not want to be so judgmental. The irony is that I believe my book is exactly what they need to read. If this is how they treat me (a fellow flawed follower), I can’t imagine how they treat people in their daily lives: cousins, co-workers, neighbors, schoolmates etc.
I want to share the sentiments I’ve been sent because I think it is a learning moment. Shockingly, these emails have not been anonymous. I suppose I should give them credit for that, at least. In respect to the senders (because I am actually not the savage that some claim), I will simply paraphrase the thoughts and not give you their names.
I have been called a sick-o, loser, idiot, the dumbest person in the world, offensive, that I need to get a life, that I’m promoting ignorant trash, and that it breaks the heart of God that I would ever release a book like this. Surprisingly, I have not yet been told I am going to Hell. But I’m sure it’s coming (especially since I just mentioned it). Let me say it again, all these comments are from Christians who have not read the book. It’s not like I can’t take it. I invite critical thinking…so long as it is informed.
The other interesting thing is that some of the kindest emails (in response to my first ABC News interview) have come from self-proclaimed humanists, pagans, atheists, and agnostics who read the book. In fact, I was surfing around the web and found an atheist discussion-thread on some forum in which an atheist was actually defending me:
“So…get over yourself (Jason) and move on with your life. If you’re pathetic enough to need a religion to give your life some sort of self meaning then shut up and stick to your faith.”
Response from another Atheist:
“Why should he do that…I’m pretty sure he didn’t write the book for atheists to tell them to stop whining, he wrote it for other Christians to read it and stop being d*#ches to the rest of the world…no one forced you to watch the video…so maybe you’re the one who needs to get over yourself and move on.”
In closing, I was sincerely hoping Christians would be less judgmental. I know that was naïve, but I wanted the Christians to prove me wrong. It saddens me that they would make parts of my book so true. They send me a hateful email because they’re mad that I would say anything negative about Christianity? How does that make sense? It’s life imitating art (Or is it art imitating life since my book is about life? Not really sure how that expression works in this context). Does it discourage me? Yes. But it also fires me up even more. I will simply think of them as that strange family member that everyone tolerates because they have to. And maybe they can think of me in the same light and still let me come to the family picnic. But let this be a lesson to us all.
The funny thing is, Christians should be thanking me for writing this book. That’s right. Read it again: thanking me. Why? For two reasons:
1) It would only have been a matter of time before someone else would have written a book under the same title. And it would not have been so constructive, healthy, positive, and motivational. Frankly, I’m surprised that someone didn’t beat me to the punch. As a matter of fact, somebody approached me to buy www.10thingsihateaboutchristianity.com, but I told him I already wrote the book. I haven’t heard back.
2) I have been able to give them a tool that will help them bring dialogue about Jesus in front of diverse audiences that would otherwise ignore the subject. And isn’t that really the point of it all, Christians? We call it the Great Commission in my neck of the woods. The more people that talk about Jesus the better, I say.
I operate my life under the assumption that God is okay with questions, doubts, honesty, and passion. If not, then he is no God worth following. That is the premise of my book and why I have any measure of sanity and peace at all. So let us not judge a book by its cover, unless you are merely commenting on the artistic design. Besides Christians, if we were all to judge the Bible by its cover alone, we would be forced to admit that it looks like the most boring book in the world. Instead, it continues to be the best-selling book in history year after year, because it is by opening the pages we discover that only certain parts are boring. The rest reads like:
“General Hospital meets Indiana Jones meets Lord of the Rings meets Monty Python. It’s filled with stories of action, adventure, fighting, sex, love, and humor. There are even fire-breathing dragons and a talking donkey. But no ogre. (Sorry, Shrek.)”
–taken from 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith in Chapter 3 on The Bible.
[UPDATE: I just got compared to Hitler and my book got compared to Mein Kampf. Once again, it was from a ‘Christian’ who has not read my book.]