Am sitting in room 203 of a Best Western, about to go to bed after a thrilling night at the nearby Dollar Tree.
I’ve received a ton of comments, RE: my Tim Tebow post. I’d say it’s pretty splitâ€”50% agree with my take, 50% think I’m an anti-Christian hater.
The correct answer: Hmm … not sure.
In all seriousness, I’d like to elaborate a bit on what I wrote. First, I do appreciate all the feedback, especially from those who don’t agree. The comments were, mostly, very respectful and well-stated.
That said, after reading several points against my post, I still have to say that missionary workâ€”while perhaps done with a warm heartâ€”is sinister. I’m not talking about when, say, a town is hit by a tornado and people respond with food and clothing. What I’m referring toâ€”what I’m directly referring toâ€”is when a group of religious people travel somewhere (usually, it seems, in matching T-shirts with goofy slogans like IT’S MOD TO LOVE GOD!) in a concerted effort to get people to “see the light”â€”oftentimes in underdeveloped parts of the world where people are easily sold and/or, in their poverty, looking for an answer (a former colleague of mine terms this “cultural genocide.” I must agree).
Readers asked, “What’s the difference between a Christian stating his beliefs and me (Jeff Pearlman) stating mine right here?” Well, the differences are many:
A. I’m not trying to sell anything. I don’t care if people reading this share my view or not; or wind up dumping religion or accepting the magic Twinkie as a savior. A missionary, however, isâ€”undeniablyâ€”selling something. Which leads to point B …
B. When it comes to religion, you can’t know, with 100% certainty, that you’re right. You just can’t. And if you do, you’re either:
â€¢ Not very bright.
Think about it. Religion is all about faith. Whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure (I tend to think of faith as the noose religion leaders tie around the necks of their flock. If something good happens, “See, faith!” If something bad happens, “Now is the time we need to turn to faith!”). But faith should not be a certainty. It can be a strong feeling. Even a really, really, really strong feeling. But it’s not 100 percent. Nobody can knowâ€”without questionâ€”that their religion is correct. They just can’t, based on the convolution that is history and the various religious texts. Again, they can be pretty darn steadfast. They can even “feel it in their hearts.” But there has to be some doubt, because, well, life includes doubt.
Hence, you’re either crazy/not smart/a post-rehab celeb, or you have even a teeny, tiny sliver of doubt. And if you have a teeny, tiny sliver of doubt, how can you preach your religion to, say, the Sudanese with complete and total certainty? (And, once again, those who have no doubt whatsoever truly scare me. I mean, in a huge way. They’re the people who occupied Jonestown; the people who fly planes into buildings; the people who will take any action as long as they believe God told them to).
As for me, I’ve never said I’m 100-percent right. Oftentimes, I’m 100-percent wrong.
But here, with this issue, I feel pretty confident.
Final thought: This actually isn’t about Christianity, and I feel crappy that it came out that way. This is about organized religion, and the myriad ways it seems to butcher things. Hell, when it comes to Jesus, sans the church and the interpretations and the holidays, I’m a huuuuge fan. I don’t believe he was the messiah (Truthfully, I’m not even sure he existed), but I love how he walked with the sinners; how he felt genuine pain for the suffering; how he cared more for others than himself. That’s a wonderful, beautiful, important message.
And people seem intent on screwing it up.
PS: I received a few letters from people urging me to “stick to sports.” Sorry, but I can’t do it. On my passion/interest list, the rankings go: 1. Politics; 2. Religion; 3. Sports; 4. Roberto Kelly statistical analysis.