It’s hard to figure out how religion will play itself out, particularly when you deal with the issues I do, and the way I do.
I’ve come to expect just about everything.
When I returned to the Myrtle Beach area after spending a year on fellowship at Harvard, I was greeted with an, um, sweet welcome back note from a reader:
“Glad to hear you have a crippling disease. Obviously the socialist liberal anti white [sic] commie rot in your brain has spread to your body. Maybe you should pray to Obama your god for salvation. Except he doesnt [sic] care about useful idiots like you. Hopefully it afflicts your fingers so you can no longer spew your disgusting racialist commie tripe.”
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It came from unnamed reader X Bone at email@example.com.
I had been diagnosed with the rare disease CIDP while I was in Cambridge and wrote about it a few times.
(Here is a piece in which I used CIDP to illustrate why poor people need health insurance in addition to faith.)
But many more people - many who disagree with the stances I take in my column and on this blog - have reached out with a different purpose, to offer kindness and caring and a reminder that I’m in their prayers.
I received well wishes from this area even while I was in Cambridge from a variety of faith groups, and individuals, including from conservative Christians I’m at odds with over things like gay marriage and the “sinfulness” of homosexuality.
They oppose those things because they believe the Bible makes it clear that God frowns upon non-heterosexual activity outside of marriage, which they define as between one man and one woman. Acceptance of homosexual activity, in their minds, undermines what God wants and what he intended for humanity.
Because I think they are wrong, I’ve been told that makes me a heathen heading for Hell just like the people in those gay marriages I’m in favor of. Some of them have even suggested I got sick because I don’t view the Bible and God the way they do.
Even if, in their minds, their position is coming from a position of love and tradition, it has still led to second-class citizenship (sometimes much worse) for gay and lesbian Americans, which is why I will continue to shout my opposition to such views.
Having said that, there are plenty of people of faith in the Myrtle Beach area, no matter their views on hot-button issues, who try as best they can to spread love and civility, even to so-called heathens like me. The latest example showed up yesterday.
A woman, unannounced, stopped by The Sun News and left me a gift and a nice note. It was a prayer square (in the photo above) from The Prayer Quilt Ministry of Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church in Georgetown.
The note, in part, read:
“Please accept this little prayer square made by the Holy Cross Quilt Ministry. It is for you to use or pay it forward to someone who is in need of the strength of God. Life gives us so many challenges to overcome. You are an amazing person and have overcome a major illness this past year. We will continue to send prayers your way for all you do for others as well.”
It made my day. And I will cherish it.
I don’t know the personal views on issues such as gay marriage of the people who put me in their prayers and decided to use their time to think of me this way. And I don’t need to know.
The prayer square will always be a reminder that no matter how many ugly notes I receive from people claiming they represent God, there are plenty of others who try their best to walk out their faith and put it into action, and that those are the people I should focus on when thinking through faith issues.