When I was a lad barely into my double digits of age, one of the pictures in my mind, many double-digit in years later I often recall, is a large print that hung in the hallways of Clarktson’s St. Dan’s Catholic Church. It hung right there on the wall, when you walked into what is now the Cushing Center.
The print was of this bearded, white dude, hippy-ish, head back in laughter. Under it were the words, “Jesus Laughing.” That print, I now know, was a reproduction of a painting by Canadian artist Willis Wheatley done in the mid 1970s (I wonder if the church still has it?) and has meant a lot to me over the years. It reminds me still of the warm, caring and compassionate side of humanity I long for. I also let it give me permission to laugh, make fun of myself and sometimes life, too — it has allowed me to become the paragon of virtue you all know I am.
Which leads me to this . . .
. . . last month after I penned a column about a local author who also illustrates her own children’s books headlined, Oh, those ‘sneaky squirrels’ — what would Miles do? (March 23.) It was a nice little column and at the very end I typed these few words, “. . . maybe then I can figure out why I couldn’t publish my kids book, The Christmas Poop. With lines like, “Jesus pooped, you can, too,” I don’t understand why the idea didn’t explode onto the publishing world.”
After the column was published, I got a call from another local, a Christian soldier and pastor.
“I’m calling about your column last week,” said he.
“Good,” said I. “What did I write about?”
“You don’t remember?”
“I write them to forget them,” I answered quite honestly.
“You wrote about the children’s book.”
“Oh, yeah. Right!”
“Do you know what you wrote at the end?”
“Yes,” I said, and repeated it from memory.
“I am offended by that.” And, then the conversation went south from there. I offered to let him write why he was offended and I would run it.
Not good enough.
He wanted me to retract the offending sentence, publicly. I said I wouldn’t, as he said, I wasn’t very repentant. . . . he was gonna rally other local pastors and Christians to make things hard here at the paper, and for me.
I am ashamed to say, he found my Achilles heal, my weakness and pressed my bad button. “I’m being bullied,” my mind screamed. “Threaten my place of business?” my inside thought continued.
Forgive me, I called him “Dude” and told him to bring it.
Last week he and 12 of his disciples wrote and delivered the following petition:
“We the Christians of Lake Orion and surrounding communities after reading the column by Don Rush where he mentioned he wanted to write a children’s books on Jesus and his poo_ and entitled, Christmas Poo_, written in the Lake Orion Review during Holy Week valagar (sic) and offensive to God and our Christian faith!
“We ask that Mr. Rush acknowledge his sin against God’s name and make a public apology in his newspaper in Lake Orion and surrounding communities.
“Sincerely in Christ our Lord and Savior, who we honor and praise and do not take his name in vain as God has commanded!” And it was signed by 12 people.
I contemplated whether or not to respond. A sinner, I admit, pride slipped into my heart for this column and will ask forgiveness for responding, but respond I will.
To those offended Christians I ask, did not God create man in his own likeness? Did he not design us, our brains, our hearts, lungs and the processes, the intakes and outputs our bodies do to live? Our design is Divine and if we are like the Big Kahoona in the Sky, then not only did the Son of God poop, I reckon God does, too. Holy Crap! What’s so bad about saying that?
* * *
I also, received a hand written note stating basically the same, adding I should look up the Second Commandment. More importantly it was signed thusly, “I forgive you.”
To you, the writer of this note, sir, I thank you, and I am sorry you were offended.
* * *
The second commandment of God is: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
* * *
Haters are gonna’ hate. When folks, even the good soldiers of Christ, look to be offended, they will find ways and the people to offend them. Today, in America, as I have lectured my own sons, too many people confuse passion and compassion as being the same thing. They are not. Too many folks are “on fire” for one thing or another – they are passionate, and in their zeal, they believe they are absolved of their actions, because their cause is “just.”
When you are compassionate, you have a Love of one thing or another and it is Love that drives you, not your passion. Verily, I say unto thee, “put some more com into your passion.”
Bottom line, there many more atrocities in this world we live in to be offended by than the 36 words written by a small man, with a smaller column. In the mean time, lighten up. Laugh, love and live. Jesus did, you can, too!