That’s what I’ve been doing in my spare time, instead of blogging. By the way, a special edition of that prequel will be available free at the DQW Bookstore around Thanksgiving, if I’m not sidetracked by too many distractions. This week, several have given me a wink and a nod, trying to coax me back into blogging mode.
But it was the teenager distributing religious tracts in front of the Wrigley Building and moments later, the guy screaming Divine threats through a bullhorn as the crowds walked by Water Tower Place that really prompted me to momentarily push the prequel aside.
I had the distinct pleasure of encountering the young girl and a few of her family members today on my way to a luncheon and again on my way back. From several hundred feet away, I could read the big bold white letters on their t-shirts: “JESUS HATES SIN.” I groaned in disbelief, but managed to maintain my composure as I neared them.
Apparently, I appeared to be an approachable soul (or at least a salvageable one). The girl extended a tract in my direction. Instead of reaching for it, I leaned over and said quietly, “Jesus doesn’t hate anything, Sweetheart.” I smiled and walked on.
“Judge not, judge not”, I kept repeating to myself, harkening Jesus’ loving wisdom. I’m not sure it worked. I was quite offended that someone would construct a sentence with “Jesus” as the subject and “hates” as the predicate. Fewer things are more oxymoronic. Oops, I forgot—judge not.
Pardon me, I’m still evolving. And, I have to remind myself, so are those who believe that Jesus hates anything. So, on my way back, when the young lady stepped toward me, I tried to say something more empowering: “Seventy times seven, dear. Remember ‘seventy times seven.’”
I figured that she could use a reminder, too—or at minimum, she could do the math. Surely someone who says to forgive a sin 490 times can’t really “hate” sin—unless of course, he’s a hypocrite.
And that brings me to the angry man down the street, who didn’t need a bullhorn to be heard above the noisy Michigan Avenue traffic. He had an important message that he was bellowing to pedestrians within earshot: God is going to torture us with endless doses of excruciating pain if we don’t clean up our acts.
Would that be the God of “God is Love”/“Prince of Peace” fame? I wondered.
A steady flow of passersby kept it moving, pretending to ignore the rant. However, one young man objected to being assaulted by someone’s religious views as he was going about his day.
And that’s when it happened, much to the chagrin of those of us who believe that God is good all the time. The man went into a rage. “God’s going to throw you right in hell! You’re going straight to hell (and more venomous blah, blah, blah)!”
I shook my head and smiled at the couple standing nearby. “Now, isn’t that Christ-like?”
Have mercy! The mouth behind the bullhorn then started screaming at me. I mean he ripped me a new one. The Christ was undoubtedly missing from this card-carrying Christian.
Call me crazy, but I think it’s folks like him who are directly responsible for the skyrocketing membership in the Church Alumni Association, as Bishop John Shelby Spong lovingly dubbed it. Fewer folks are willing to accept portrayals of God as Boogie Man or terrorist, no matter where it’s written.
That leads to the third thing that caught my eye this week: a lawsuit filed by a Nebraska state law maker. The defendant in State Sen. Ernie Chambers’ lawsuit is none other than…God.
If I may invoke legal parlance, “based on information and belief”, Chambers’ suit accused God of inspiring fear and causing “fearsome floods … horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes…widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.” To make matters worse, the lawsuit claims, God has threatened Chambers and his constituents with bodily harm. In response, Chambers is seeking a permanent injunction against the Almighty.
The senator acknowledges that his lawsuit is frivolous by design. He’s trying to make the point that anybody in Douglas County, Nebraska can file a lawsuit for any ridiculous reason. And he wants the practice to stop.
But Chambers—who is known to jab unChrist-like Christians now and again—appears to be making another point, too: The acts that God has been accused of intentionally committing against mankind are indisputably terroristic and inhumane. In some cases, they are petty, vengeful, unforgiving—and even hateful. Notably, God is said to have claimed responsibility, actually confessed, to acts that qualify for criminal prosecution.
Would Love do any of it? Could it be that the heinous accusations against God are as frivolous as Chambers’ lawsuit?
Are some of us boldly promoting God’s accusers rather than God’s goodness?