It all started with that letter. The writer was an obvious fanatic (undoubtedly a fundamentalist Christian), whining to the editor of our local newspaper about alleged discrimination by media elite in general, and Hollywood in particular. "Christians are stereotypically portrayed as hypocritical, psychopathic, intolerant, self-righteous boobs incapable of discernment, higher reasoning skills, and independent thinking," she ranted. What did she expect? That's how Christians are, I reasoned: fair reporting.
"Most of Hollywood's writers, actors, producers, directors, and publicists -- have obviously never met a Christian, except as one would meet an elephant at the zoo," she complained. A bit over the top, I'd say, but intriguing. It got me thinking: how could I judge the issue? I didn't know any Christians either!
It wouldn't go away. The problem nagged me like a mosquito, demanding attention. Okay, I'll research the issue and write a rebuttal, I conceded, maybe presenting my opinions as a personal expose'. Bzzzzzzzzzzz. The mosquito wouldn't rest: fair-mindedness required legitimate dialogue with Christians -- ugh. That meant deception, infiltrating their bunch and becoming one with the herd. In other words: going to church. Sigh. The sacrifices one must make defending journalistic integrity!
With heroic effort, I stalked my quarry through the yellow pages, shrewdly targeting the most vulnerable member of the fundamentalist flock: the nearest independent Baptist church. That was the easy part.
The hard part began the next Sunday when I slipped through that door. I had considered several strategies, but decided the best was to go as an obnoxious infidel and trap them committing hypocrisy: piece of cake.
I postponed shaving, and renounced mouthwash and deodorant entirely: the ranker the better, I mused. It would have worked, except for that old lady. She smiled and greeted me as I'd expect a mother would greet a son just returned from the grave. I may have carried the scent, but she wasn't my mother. Clearly she had lost her senses, but my case was in shambles.
At least there were some who disdained me: I jotted down details. The old lady smiled approvingly, assuming I was taking notes on the sermon. Stupid fool!
I needed more time. The following Sunday, that old lady again: she introduced me to several others. My notes were sketchy. "Listen!" the preacher roared suddenly during his sermon, "Beware the wolf among us, seeking to destroy this flock for his own advantage!" I tried to look casual as I glanced around nervously. The old woman stared as blankly as a lamb at slaughter while the blush line rose above my collar. How naive!
A young couple greeted me by name the next Sunday: we sat together during church. The old lady waved at me from across the aisle and smiled. When the pastor asked for testimonies, she rose and praised God for her church family. "Dearer companions to me than my own children," she confessed, "feeding me with the love of the Lord." She seemed sincere: what was the catch?
I quickly shaved and arrived the following Sunday just in time for the opening hymn. The sermon was from Proverbs: "Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein," the pastor read -- Proverbs 26:27, King James Version. Are these people Stone Age, or what? After church a family invited me to join them for lunch at their place: I accepted. Funny, they were the same at home as at church. Even more peculiar, their hound behaved well and their children were respectful! I can't remember the last time a kid called me "Mister".
With dogged determination, I persisted. For over a year I scavenged, attending Sunday worship, Bible study, and prayer meetings, until at last I was satisfied. "Dear Editor," my letter began: "Christians are being disrespectfully treated with systematic bias by the media, the entertainment industry, and activist judges. Maybe somewhere there are Christians who deserve it, but not the ones I know. After a year of intensive study, I have reached this conclusion: 'It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God' (Hebrews 10:31 KJV), for 'woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes' (Isaiah 5:21 KJV). A personal introduction to Jesus has changed my life, beginning with a challenge provoked by a simple letter, like this. If you don't believe me, I DARE you to investigate this issue for yourself!"
I proofread the letter and printed it, pleased with my testimony. Who would have thought? I marveled with appreciation at how I'd been had.
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