Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Letters, I Get Letters..."

That song was a feature on the old "Perry Como Show"... Okay, I really just dated myself. But it stuck in my head and was running through my mind today as I was running to the plumbing shop and under the sink fixing a faucet.

I got a letter today. An email, actually. And it was of a particular variety.

Now as a semi-public person, because of my writing and workshops, I get letters or emails fairly often. I try to answer them all. Even the ones of a "particular variety." And I have received a fair number of those over the years. By "particular variety" I mean the ones that start something like, "Dear Mr. Bill, I just [read your book, blog, essay, article] [heard you on the radio] or [saw you on television] or [heard you preach] and you are going to Hell. In Christian love, XX"

One of my favorites went one for eight pages in this vein. My absolute favorite said, "Mr Bill, I just heered you on the radio and you is ignorant."

Well, no argument there. And, like I said, if the letter comes with a return address and name, I'll answer. Not to argue, just to say thanks for at least reading, hearing, seeing, or whatever me and I pray God's blessings on them.

But I won't be able to answer today's. More about why in a minute. First, I will share what it said.

"From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots." Those who beat their swords into plowshares will be ruled by those who didn't. Liberalism, hypocrisy, and political correctness are killing the country that many have bled for. GET OVER YOURSELF YOU ARE INDEED THE WORST OF THEM! DICK

My first thought was, Why are there soo many Dicks in this world? But that seemed unkind, so instead I reread the letter to see if there was anything there that might be helpful or instructive.

There wasn't. At least to my thinking. That "Those who beat their swords into plowshares will be ruled by those who didn't" may be true (or may not), but I don't care. Do I prefer to live in a democracy? Sure. But most of all I care to follow Jesus and beating swords into plowshares is a Biblical injunction. I'd rather be on God's side in this "fight" than of "patriots."

I put "patriots" in quotation marks, because I think it's a false assumption that the only patriots are those who fight for their country. What about those who die for their beliefs? I seem to recall that at least a few peace-loving Quakers died in the cause of religious freedom -- killed by the Puritans whose blood was spilt killing off those who disagreed with them (including one or two or hundreds of Native Americans). And because of those Quaker deaths (at the hands of their fellow colonists), we have religious freedom today. And because of others who were imprisoned for their beliefs, we have trial by jury. And...

But I have a feeling Dick has long stopped reading by now. In fact, I'm not sure he's ever read anything by me, other than my website which refers to me living on Ploughshares Farm.

Am I a liberal? Politically, I guess I am. And proud of it. Liberals have done a lot in our nation's history to make it a better place -- worked against slavery, for women's rights, for equal rights for minorities, for... Have they screwed up? Doh! Sure. But they aren't the ruination of this country anymore than Richard M. Nixon's imperial White House years were. Talk about almost killing the country!

Am I a liberal? Religiously, not so much. I'm pretty conservative actually -- I read the Bible (and believe it), am a Trinitarian (which is not a word that appears in the Bible), believe that Jesus is the son of God, believe that Jesus died for our sins (though I'm not sure exactly which method of atonement was at work there), that miracles happened and still happen, and so on.

But Dick claims that I am "indeed the worst of them."

Okay. I probably am. Though St Paul thought he was -- he even called himself "the chief of sinners." I'm probably giving him a run for his money. But that means that Jesus came for me, too. As Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief ."

Works for me!

So why won't I answer Dick directly? Well, partly because I suspect Dick is not his real name. He sent his letter anonymously through the automated email link on my website. I don't think his email address really is (clever, eh?) or that his phone number is 555-555-5555 (I suspect he's watched too many movies and picked that number up from them).

As far as his urging me to "get over" myself, well, Dick, that's good advice. You are not the first to have given it to me. And it is something I've been trying to do for decades now -- to get over myself and get more into living in the way of Jesus. So thanks for that reminder.

-- Brent

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