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Dear Fire And Brimstone Preacher

These letters are completely fictional. I got inspired to write them when I came across a homemade newsletter that claimed to be full of “good news”, but was mostly full of judgment and condemnation.

The thing that made me really sad was that it was put out by a semi-local family who is the only other one I’ve met in southeast Oklahoma that is into natural health and nutrition as much as I am. I was hoping we might be friends, but now – no way.

Now for the letters. Please remember that they are completely made up (although in truth, “Fire and Brimstone Preacher” is directed toward the main author of that newsletter – then again, they could, unfortunately, be directed toward any number of preachers).

First letter

Dear Fire And Brimstone Preacher,

My name is Netty. Starting at the age of three, my father sexually abused me several times a week. When he died in a car accident just after I turned sixteen, I was so relieved.

But I became lonely. I thought maybe what Daddy was doing to me was his way of showing love, even if I didn’t like it. So I thought the answer to my loneliness was to find more of that kind of love.

It really hurt me when I heard you accusing women like me of going after our lusts. It hurt even more when you called my two children, “children of sin.” I had always heard that God created all children. (?)

I wish I could stop this behavior, but I don’t have anybody to show me how. I don’t have anybody to show me what real love is.

I guess you don’t either, since you sounded so hateful and angry.

Anyway, you made me feel horrible, and I didn’t need that. I already feel horrible enough, every single day of my life.

Sincerely,

Netty

Second letter

Hey, Preacher, what’s up?

I gotta say I was real p.o.’d when I was at your service the other night. A friend of mine said I’d feel God if I went, but all I felt was guilt and anger.

Man, listen. How would you have turned out if both your parents were drug addicts and got you addicted when you was only twelve? Tell you what, I’ve been to rehab three times trying to quit, but it just won’t stick. My same friend who took me to your meeting said that God’s love could fix anything, but I guess I’ll never know. I didn’t see no love that night. Like I know what real love is.

Gettin high at least helps me forget that ache I got inside cause there ain’t no love there.

Hope you go to hell,

Todd

Third letter

Mr. Preacher,

I have twin sons and a daughter. I was planning on homeschooling all three before they were born. Then the twins turned out to be autistic with Down’s syndrome. Caring for them for the first five years of their life was exhausting and often painful. I knew that if I had to keep them at home for school, I was going to lose my sanity. I thanked God for the option of a public school with a great Special Ed. Program. The twins are eight now, and their teachers have done much more for them than I ever could have.

Janey is ten and has always gone to school, because the boys took so much of my time when they were little that I couldn’t homeschool her. I don’t like a lot of things about public education, and have struggled with guilt over having sent all of my kids to a school.

I thought I’d finally worked through that guilt, until I heard you preach last night and talk about how evil parents were who send their children to schools.

Thanks a lot.

Well, there’s one good thing about it. Your sermon has forced my nose into the Bible to rediscover how much God loves me, despite my imperfections.

Maybe that’s what you should do.

Sincerely,

Katie

Fourth letter

Dear Fire And Brimstone Preacher,

Last night I heard you criticize everybody from the Catholics to prostitutes. You kept screaming that God’s judgment was going to fall on them if they didn’t repent.

Two questions: first, how do you know they haven’t repented?

Second: My Bible says that the goodness of God leads people to repentance. ??? (I didn’t hear much of the goodness of God last night.)

And how come I didn’t hear you criticize fat people for gluttony? Oh, maybe it’s because you’re about a hundred pounds overweight?

This is the last time I trust my pastor’s judgment about guest speakers. I’ll stay at home from now on when he announces that one is coming.

Randy

******

God is love, and all who live in love, live in God.

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