I got a bug in my bonnet—well maybe a ball cap—this week, but you get the general idea. There have been several things that had me shaking my head and then there were things that just made my blood boil.
The head shake: Jesse Jackman and Dirk Caber continue to get hate mail from religious zealots. There was this one woman who did a whole psycho analysis of the couple. Best thing I can say about her diatribe was that she didn’t send them a bill.
There are two things that bother me about this: One is that this woman, as well as many others, uses the Christian Bible to spout hate. I was raised in a Christian household and I was repeatedly told that the Christian faith was based on love. That Jesus Christ loved everyone, no matter what. My grandmother practiced this, as I saw over and over during her life.
I remember one particular summer Saturday morning when my nannie (yes, I had a nannie) said that she and some of the other ladies of her church were going to go door to door handing out pamphlets, encouraging people to attend their church. They were setting the table for lunch during this conversation. Without missing a beat, or stopping what she was doing, my grandmother quickly and quietly stated, “The best way to encourage people to come to your church is by leading by example of the teachings of Christ, not going door to door like an encyclopedia salesman.”
Aunt Lillian stopped. (Aunt Lillian was my nannie and I called her that her entire life.) “What do you mean?”
My grandmother stopped and stood up very straight. (She needed to, she wasn’t even five foot tall.) “The bible says to love thy neighbor, doesn’t it?”
“Well, yes,” Aunt Lillian replied and pulled out a chair and sat down. She knew my grandmother well.
“I’ve always thought that loving thy neighbor means the same thing as helping that neighbor.” My grandmother also sat down at the halfway set table. I was on the floor playing with my favorite toy, and no, I’m not going to say what it was. “Instead of tramping all over the city, why not pick one house, one neighbor who could use some help, like yard work or a small house repair and help that one person.”
“But that costs money,” Aunt Lillian argued.
“Last time I checked, paper and ink cost money. Cutting grass, trimming hedges, and just plain ol’ clean up only costs sweat,” my grandmother all but harrumphed.
“How is that going to get people to come to our church? To want to learn the teachings of Christ?”
My grandmother leaned towards Aunt Lillian with a smirk on her face. “Do you not watch what is going on around your neighbor’s house? See who’s comin’ ‘n’ goin’? Those are the people who will want to come to your church because they can see that you practice what you preach. Trust me; it is always better to spend your time in showing your love of Jesus in putting his teachings into practice.” My grandmother stood up and continued putting the cutlery on the table. “Besides, how many of those pamphlets do you think end up in the trash?”
As I remember, Aunt Lillian didn’t say anything else on the matter. However, I do remember her mentioning to my grandmother that her family and members of the church were planning on helping an elderly couple paint their front porch and cleaning up their front yard which had gotten away from them.
“That’s nice,” was the only response my grandmother made.
So…instead of this woman going off, and basically misquoting scripture, she could have better spent her time and energy in doing something for someone else. Just my thoughts on it, but who am I?
The Blood pressure bump: I got a hateful email from some woman raking me over the coals for a short story that didn’t include condoms. The story is ‘Red Felt’, which is in the anthology I put out last year. I actually had to read the thing twice to believe it.
It seems I was promoting unsafe sexual behavior because the two characters didn’t stop, rip open condoms before having sex on top of a pool table. The poor thing was in quite a state from the flavor of her email.
My initial response was…well, I’m not exactly sure what emotion that was. Shock? A little. I mean she did take the time to write the letter. Anger? Yeah, a little of that too. I mean, first off it is fiction and second off had she really read the story she’d have realized that the entire story was based before AIDS. Last time I checked, men couldn’t get pregnant, so the use of a rubber was kinda… well…uh…. You see where I’m going with that? Then I just laughed.
I did reply to the email and apologized that the story upset her and that I was thankful that she cared about the AIDS crisis. I also offered to refund her the cost of the book. Yeah, of course I did point out the timeline of the story and hoped that she would reconsider reading it again with that perspective in mind.
Nope, I didn’t hear back from her. Oh well.
The Blood Boil: I found a piracy site that had four of my books for free downloads. This particular site had tons of authors’ works on there for free! I don’t know about some of the authors but I actually need my money. I’m a self-published Indie author. I don’t have a publisher behind me doing editing, covers, proof reading and all the other countless tasks it takes to put a book out. It costs money to get a book out. I also have bills to pay!
Simply put…this is theft. Plain and simple. There is no stopping this practice, I know that. However, trust me, I don’t know of any writer who is getting rich from writing. It takes a lot of time, effort and coins to bring to fruition the pleasure that is gained from those books. If you happen across some of these piracy sites, please take the time let the author or publisher know that their work is being given away.
I often say that when you’re in a bad mood, or feel as if the world is coming down around your shoulders, go out and do something nice for someone else. For those who know me, you’re probably tired of hearing me say it, but it is true.
Yesterday, I wasn’t in the best of moods. There are times I feel as if I’m walking around with a target on my back. Anyway, I was out running errands and stopped at a little diner for lunch. Not long after I sat down an older woman, thin as a rail, her eyes clouded with cataracts, came in and ordered lunch. A grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tea.
The longer she sat there, the perfect lady—she even had a hat on—the more she reminded me of my nannie. This brought a smile to my face. I have such wonderful memories of my Aunt Lillian, which came rushing back. The love she gave me and my family over the many years she was in our lives. In tribute to that loving woman who helped form me into the man I am today, I paid for the lady’s lunch and left.
Rest in peace, Lillian Pettus. Thank you for your love.