Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hate mail

(Advance apologies for the length and seriousness of this post! I won't make a habit of it.)

So I just got my first hate mail. And it was for writing a poem about the bible. Go figure. I was trying to explore the character of Job's wife whose only recorded words are "Bless God and die" (mistranslated later as "curse God and die"). Those are the words of a devastated broken-hearted woman. And what woman wouldn't be who had lost all ten of her children at once?

I was also writing the poem from my own experience as a woman who had lost two babies through miscarriage, both due to toxins in the water supply. After the first baby died, I had a D & C in the hospital under anesthesia. When they woke me I began weeping uncontrollably. They sent a nun in to me who held my hand and told me not to cry because Jesus had wanted my baby. I said angrily (only because I was still woozy from the drugs. Normally I would have just thought it.) "He didn't want it as much as I did!" So let's talk about God and Jesus and all those things I normally avoid because belief is such a deeply personal thing.

I believe in God. I believe that God is, first and foremost, love - my love for my family and friends, their love for me, and also my love of the stunning beauty of the world around me. These things are God's grace in my life, helping me get through the things that would seem otherwise unbearable.  What I don't believe is that God put toxins in the Williamsburg, VA water supply to kill my babies as a test or because Jesus wanted them. God made the water and the air, but man poisoned it.

Now lets talk about Jesus. I was raised going to church in that habitual not-deeply-felt Presbyterian way. I was baptised, I wore a gold cross through my teens, my mother read me the bible sometimes (and I cried my head off when Joseph's very mean brothers threw him in the pit). It was simply a part of my life. But then people started to tell me that unless I believed that I was born in sin and that Jesus Christ died on the cross for that sin (of being normally procreated and born to a woman) and if I didn't accept Him as my personal savior, I was going to burn in Hell.  Scary stuff, so I tried. I went to church and prayed hard to God and Jesus to show me the way. They never did.  So I remain what the right-wing Christians would call a "Universalist."  And I've stopped going to church because it no longer seems that church wants me.

But here's what I do know and believe about Jesus. He was a beautiful man who preached love and the loving particularly of one's enemies. In the parables, he taught us about the Good Samaritan (Samaritans and Jews despised each other) who took in the beaten Jew when the priest and the Levite left him to die on the side of the road. If Jesus were walking down a road today and saw, let's say, a beaten gay man (Matthew Shepherd or any of the other poor boys who died recently), he would have stopped and taken him tenderly into his care, put balm on his wounds, and tended him back to health with love.

If there is a Devil, it is hatred. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." I will try to follow his example; to not hate, even those who are hateful, and to walk this Earth in the grace of kindness and love, which I believe is the hand of God in our lives.


Willym said...

As always cara well reasoned and well written and the only response that can be given to anyone who wrote that e-mail. That poem was a truly moving work that made me both cry and also stop and think. Let's hope that who ever wrote that piece of hate understands what you have said now.

Anne Watkins said...

There is only fear and consciousness. Just those two.

Expressions of hate come from fear, and as much as I cling to compassion for those who express hate (and even be gentle with my own judgmental lapses), it does make me afraid to see how casually accepted the voices of hate seem to be. Or not even recognized for what they are. Onward Christian soldiers, indeed.

Jesus was one of many great teachers who taught - by example- about love. Not love "if". Just love always.

Did you read Bill Coffin's eulogy to his son, Alex? It so beautifully addresses the idea - the mistaken idea- of God's hand or the "will of God"- in tragic consequences.

Carry on, Elizabeth. You are a clear voice in the darkness. And we love you!

Claire M. Johnson said...

I fail to understand how those people who purport to be Christians take a message of universal love and turn it into a message of hatred and intolerance. There was a recent story on the news about a church group out of Kansas that pickets the funerals of soldiers because they believe that those who die in the war are a manifestation of God's hatred of homosexuals. Just random people getting killed because of those sinful gays. HOW IN THE HELL DO YOU GET THERE? You know that I'm a pagan but there are times when I fervently wish there was a heaven and a hell, because I have no doubt people like that are going to burn for eternity.


Goddess bless you.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks all. I've gotten so cozy and comfy with my little family of cyber friends, that I sort of forget that anyone can take a potshot at me. Ah well. I've met so many truly lovely people here, and an occasional crank doesn't change that.

David said...

Cyberworld is exactly the place where all sorts of frustrated folk can attack whom and what they want, it seems (I am beset, for instance, by Catholic orthodoxy who insist on popping up where I don't ask them. Plus people with bees in their bonnets about hi-fi, in which I'm not interested, but at least that's not negative or malicious).

What you say strikes exactly with my feelings. But even if it didn't, I would salute your individuality and the wonderful way you express something meaningful in that poem.

And remember, positive commenters are in the minority on messageboards at large - you should see some of the insults we have to delete from The Arts Desk comments - but they make it worthwhile. Very pleased to have 'met' you.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth you have a beautiuful way of expression with words. I can relate to both the poem and today's post.
I can use your words for my thoughts.

ayeM8y said...

Awesome. I love your thoughts and point of view.

Doralong said...

A well reasoned response to an unreasonable asshat. As Ghandi once said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Elizabeth said...

David - Yes, I guess I've skated by much of the nastiness on the web. Hope to do some more skating in the future!

Dayle - "I can use your words for my thoughts."
I am so honored! There is no greater gift for a writer than to be told s/he has touched and expressed someone else's feelings.

ayem8y - Thanks for the support my dear.

Dora - That is SUCH a great quote. Thanks for reminding of it. Very cheering.

jason said...

as always....beautifully put.

God = Love. It's as simple as that, I think. If it's not love, it's not God.


I had someone write they were going to impeach my cannibal Kenyan and went to his blog and he lives in Canada and has an ad blog..Forest Gump was right..stupid is as stupid does.

mumbliss said...

Dear E-beth,
I for one, love you more and more. I think all the love you bring to your life and that you give to others, will be like a precious oil that coats and permeates the ground around you. The hate and misunderstanding will roll off like dirty water, and make a puddle to either avoid or splash around in if you have good boots.

The Justified Sinner said...

I'm always very proud when bigots hate me!

I love you and we've never even met. Hope that balances it up a bit.

Elizabeth said...

Mumbliss - Love you too, as you know. Must buy good boots!

Dauvit - Oh my goodness, that so much more than balances it up!

a thousand shades of twilight said...

Such a levelheaded and well written entry (as usual)- the fact that anyone could send you hatemail for that beautiful, moving, personal poem makes my blood boil. I probably would have responded more along the lines of something that could only be translated as "please go away, you trying and unpleasant character". Which wouldn't help anyone much, would it? As you say, if there is a devil, it is hatred.

I'm with Claire when she exclaims HOW IN THE HELL DID THEY GET THERE? and echo the Justified Sinner's sentiments. I can't help but think that the fact that you are annoying narrow-minded types is an indication that you are doing something right!

We all cherish you and your writing.

Eartha Kitsch said...

Very beautifully written.

Forget the hate mail people. It seems like they try to cast judgment and tell a person what is "right" and "good" but at the same time, they aren't practicing it. I think that they cancel their own selves out by doing so.

It's only human to question and to have emotions. We were made this way. I remember when the "WWJD?" craze hit and I still wonder if people really stop and think seriously about what Jesus WOULD do? You hit it right on the head.

Keep on doing what you're doing, hon. Let the haters eat themselves up inside. You're good folk and can float above it.