The one where Shell loses it a bit
I hope everyone had a nice Halloween. We had a fabulous time right up until the moment when my son reached into his plastic jack-o-lantern bucket and pulled out...
It's a good thing he didn't see who did it, or his father and I would probably still be in jail. We were that furious.
So yesterday I fired off an outraged letter to the local paper. I balked when it came time to send it, though. I hate to admit this, and I hate to be such a coward, but I'm simply not a bomb thrower. Never have been, don't see the appeal, just want to be left alone. Here it is anyway; I'll take suggestions. (The name of my town has been changed.)
Dear My Town Christians:
October 31st, 2006, goes down in my personal history as the night I officially Had Enough. That night, as my husband and I squired our 9-year-old son through the charmingly communal tradition of neighborhood trick-or-treating, basking in the lovely autumn weather and the glowing excitement of the intrepid candy-hunter, one of my fine Christian neighbors snuck a Chick tract into my child's plastic pumpkin.
You remember when we used to panic about the Bad Strangers who might slip poison into our children's treat buckets? A cheap moronic pamphlet about burning in everlasting fire isn't physically poisonous, admittedly, but only a maniacal zealot would give such vile trash to a child, and only the lowest, meanest maniacal zealot would make a point of doing so during a children's holiday.
I was not a religious person when I moved here three years ago, but my life without gods was not something I spent much time pondering. I certainly had nothing against believers. I co-existed effortlessly with people of various perspectives on life, the universe, and everything. It never occurred to me to do otherwise, and not merely because my dedicated avoidance of conflict borders on the craven, but because I have a visceral aversion to causing other people discomfort. I can't even bring myself to hang up on telemarketers.
Also, I like people and I respect the fact that they aren't all like me.
Unfortunately, that naïve attitude did not prepare me for what I found here. The tract incident is only the most recent indignity. For example, a couple of months after we relocated to My Town, my son was invited by a soccer teammate to attend Guest Night at the local mega-church. I was happy to let him go, eager for him to make friends. I spoke to the boy's mother and told her frankly, like the fool that I was, that my son had not attended a church service before; she laughed and told me this event more closely resembled a carnival than a church service.
Imagine my shock when my son, then 6 years old, came home and explained that they had played carnival games and eaten snacks and then been instructed to stand and close their eyes and "ask Jesus to come in our hearts so we can go see him after we die." They took a 1st grader, not a member of the church, unaccompanied by his parents, and "saved" him? Talked to him about his own death? I was appalled.
Then, of course, there's his 3rd grade teacher who encouraged her students to compose their Thanksgiving declarations of gratitude using her suggestions, written on the board for their copying convenience, resulting in my son's arriving home with a paper about being thankful for "God's blessings" and for how "God is always there for me." My Town "Public" Schools, they call them. Yeah, right. (The nativity scene in that year's "holiday play" was precious as well.)
I swear I never felt this anger toward Christians before. I never had a reason; where I grew up being "Christian" mostly just meant being kind and participating in a lot of bake sales. And I spent my entire childhood in small-town Texas. I lived under blue laws, where the toy and tool aisles of the local Safeway were chained off on Sundays! But I truly have never seen anything like this aggressive hustling of children. Never. And I'm done. I'm not naïve anymore.
You want to terrorize your own kids with comic strip portrayals of eternal torture and gruesome stories about fathers who sacrifice their children? I'll pity them but I won't interfere with you. You stay away from my child, though. I mean it.