Last week I received a disturbing email from a friend who had just returned from Bible Camp. Her message accosted me the same way an angry drunk who staggers out of a bar attacks the first poor schmuck he encounters. And in this instance, I was the poor schmuck.
The topic of the email was know Jesus or go to hell. She was determined to "save" me from myself, it seems. And if it meant doing so with the business end of a (metaphoric) crowbar, then so be it.
At first, I thought I thought she meant well. But the method in which she applied her message left me irritated, as if I had a tack embedded in my shoe.
As I re-read her email and watched the accompanying video, (seen below) It occurred to me that she wasn’t the least bit concerned about my salvation. The letter, in reality, was all about her. She was afraid that if she didn’t drag me --kicking and screaming--to the throne of God, then He, in His wrath, would turn on her.
And after watching the aforementioned video, I got the distinct impression that her version of God needed to hire better PR people.
I discussed the situation at length with my Lama, who of course, gave me outstanding advice in regards to handling this kind of situation. (Oh, if only I had called before I responded to her message, but be that as it may). After my afternoon practice, I read from The Heart of Compassion: The 37 Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva. As I reflected on the verses that discuss suitable and unsuitable friendships, I decided it was time to leave the friendship I had with the Christian lady behind. I quietly left the yahoo group we were on and removed her from my face book friends' list.Why, you might ask?
- Did she commit an unforgivable social faux pas, worthy of a verbal flogging?
- Was her choice of e-mail font too gaudy?
- Was her spelling an atrocity against man and God?
It all came down to Respect, and, in her case, the lack thereof
She called the “Word from God” she received for me that day love, but that “Word” was light years away from what love really is.
You see, Love without respect is NOT love. Love without respect is nothing more than cruelty thinly disguised as goodness. Sure, people who do this will go so far as to say they have your best interest at heart, when in reality, they do not. It’s like having someone slam your head against a concrete retaining wall all the while saying it’s for your own good.
And remember, kiddies, when someone says they’re doing something for your own good, it almost never is.
Was my former friend deliberately being mean spirited?
Do her hobbies include kicking kittens and punching puppies?
No, but she did let hubris and elitism speak for her instead of kindness and acceptance. You see, the problem with my friend wasn’t that she went to Bible Camp. The problem is, she went to Bible Camp and forgot to pack her good common sense, tolerance and respect.
She let herself be led into a hyper suggestive state while participating in her retreat. And at some point, she forgot the teachings and started stoning out on her emotions. By the time she was ready to leave, she was not high on Christ, but high on her minister’s interpretation of Christ. And that interpretation was an unsavory one.
There’s an old saying here in Texas in regards to this kind of thought.
Where you lead me I will follow, what you feed me I will swallow.
And this comes to the second problem; receiving really, really bad advice in regards to missionary work. Not only did she receive really bad advice, but she wasn’t taught the skills needed to approach someone with a good heart and a gentle attitude.
Because of this, she is going after non-believers the way a hunter goes after baby seals. It's not kind hearted. It does not love. And it’s certainly NOT respectful, especially after you’ve had to tell that person no several times before.
In the end, someone is going to stand up to her bullying. Because, let’s face it, that’s exactly what it is. Bullying. Soon, I suspect she is going to do this to someone who will be rude to her. Someone will to say something that will tear her violently out of her moment of rapture. And when that happens she is going to be left with fear, doubt and a monumental persecution complex.
All of this, because she was turned loose on the world at large armed with a tremendous about of fear, elitism, and arrogance, but with very little skill and no capacity for understanding that one simple phrase:
NO means NO.
There is a vast difference between real honest to goodness spiritual growth, and getting stoned off of your own brain chemistry. People, like my friend in the example, returned from her retreat just as drunk on religion as if she’d been tossing back margaritas all weekend. And like someone who comes staggering out of a bar and accosts the first person she meets on the street, she came to my cyber door, kicked it down, and spiritually assaulted me. And because of her scare tactics I felt violated and hurt. Not good PR when you’re trying to ‘ win souls for Jesus.’
And I’m sure when my former friend sobers up from her religious binge she’ll find that she’s at least one friend short. Not because I don’t love her, not because I don’t care about her, not because I don’t respect her, but because she is not a suitable friend. And what makes her unsuitable is her blatant lack of respect.
May you benefit from these words
May you and yours be healthy and happy
May you and yours be healthy and happy
Om mani padme hum.
All art and videos are borrowed from various websites. All the artist’s rights are preserved.
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