How do you respond when your parent's pastor writes you an angry email?

Very carefully.
His email is in blue. Mine are in black and white.

I would like to share with you a bit about the letters on the right.

Whether or not to post them has been something I've been dealing with for the past week. You see, the letter is from my parent's pastor. As you may already have read, he has taken great issue with my website. He also very clearly has something against me personally.

Virtually a perfect stranger (we met once after one of his church services), his opinion of me means absolutely nothing. Despite having a closer connection than most who email me their judgments, Pastor Bob jumped to the same conclusions that so many before him have.

My greatest concern is for my parents. I want to make it absolutely clear that I love my parents a great deal, I have no ill feelings towards them and I know that they want only the best for me and are there to help me however possible.

I did what I could for as long as I could to keep my parents away from the site, while at the same time making them aware of what I was doing and how I felt.

He has taken it upon himself to send me this email, so after much deliberation, consulting with my friends and family, I have taken it upon myself to post Pastor Bob's letter and my response.

There is no reason I can think of why he would not want his words to be heard and his position on the matter made absolutely clear... and the same goes for me. In fact, there will probably be a sermon regarding all of this at some point. I can only see this getting more interesting so, as always your opinions are welcome.

What do I think, Bob?

I think that Pastor Bob went to your website, glanced at the front page, and then wrote an email not even closely describing your feelings about religion. Then condemning you for your opinions that he didn't investigate nearly enough.

I noticed that the feeling of the letter, the sentiment is that Pastor Bob has pegged you to be a "self-loathing, guilted, shamed" person and blind to your own feelings of insignificance and desperation. That he would extract that from your website tells me more about Pastor Bob than you, for it is very inaccurate. It seems more the assumption he has in general about people not requiring the crutch of religion, and that may be how he perceives strong, free thinking people that have their own opinions. That leads me to skip ahead a bit, I almost choked when P.B. wrote that you were not your own man, and that you let others do your thinking for you. How does that make any sense at all? You did your own thinking, and came up with decision that there was no god! Meanwhile, the pastor has jumped on the biggest bandwagon of them all, how does he describe his beliefs as original and claim he does his thinking for himself? He then speaks of people he went to while looking for valid evidence. After telling you to think for yourself.

Valid evidence. There is no valid evidence either way. Stating that if Jesus is who he says he is, then God is real, should not be proof for anyone. There are no logical reasons why it might be true. It's absolutely insane to believe it to be true, which explains the Pastor's email. It bothers me that the email in question seems to be powered by emotion and a bit of anger, yet the Pastor disapproves of your emotion regarding the matter of disbelief. It doesn't seem fair that you shouldn't feel strongly about your beliefs.

I always wonder if Christians get angry at the content on your site because it threatens their shaky world, or if they are simply offended by the dress-up Jesus. It must be hard to defend Christian beliefs due to the fact that there is nothing to support them up. I suppose that makes them feel backed into a corner from the start. And the anger the pastor speaks of. I get angry because brainwashing from birth seems unfair. And to those that get halfway through their lives and "find god" probably never found themselves up to that point. I think THAT'S sad. That you (Normal Bob) got to a stage (after the brainwashing) and started thinking for yourself because religion wasn't the comfort many claim it to be, is applaudable. You didn't accept the easy way out, simply because it didn't make sense. So maybe that unbelievable joy and happiness people speak of when they let "Jesus into their hearts", is actually the feeling of sanity, concern and responsibility lifting away. I suppose that would feel great, the descent into an alternate reality where everything's going to be okay. When I was a kid, I pretended I was in the cartoons and I hung out with Yosemite Sam and hunted Care Bears. But at least I knew it wasn't real.

So, Christianity should be appealing because it's about relationships and caring, Pastor Bob? And does this not occur without religion?! And it all comes down to that "love relationship with God". The point I think Pastor Bob misses, is that if there is no belief of god, then developing a love for him can't be done. Forget about hell, hate and shame (which I could argue IS part of Christianity). It does not mean living a life without love, but a life developing real loving relationships which are usually imperfect in many ways, but genuine. That means more to me if only experienced for one day than loving god for a lifetime. Pastor Bob's letter seemed more about making you feel hate and shame rather than the "love" of "God", Bob. And I don't think you'll ever feel insignificant! The Damned mentioned you in an interview!

Hmmm.... Sara
Wed, 13 Mar 2002
22:26:42 -0500


Have you heard any word back from your response to Pastor Bob's letter? I think this is a very interesting side to the entire website. This really adds a whole new dimension to everything you have accomplished on here because we "know" Normal Bob Smith, but now we are meeting a more personal side to the site.

This really confirms that you are a human just like the rest of us instead of a Famous Web Guru. If there is more communication between the 2 Bobs are you going to faithfully post it? I think you have handled the entire letter and issue with great taste, while debating even posting it.

Wow, great material Bob!!! I will be watching for a follow-up response and retort.
Thanks for the hours I have spent here.

Nigel Clouse

Sun, 10 Mar 2002 14:26:30 -0500
As for Jesus, everything hinges on him. After all, if he claims to be who he says he is, then God is for real.”

Dear Normal Bob,

Your site is quite remarkable. I glanced at some of your musings and thought I would make a few observations.

First of all, you have no "valid evidence" for what appears to be a hardcore slam against the Christian Religion. I emphasize the word "Religion" since you don't seem to have a clue as to what Christianity is about. But you got yourself real stuck on religion "preaching damnation to a sick and twisted world in the name of God (my only companion)..." (Your only companion? Where did that come from? Your cynicism is not really about God, Bob. Its about your own insignificance.}

But back to religion... Religion is about all the games and the formal ritual and the shame and guilt and self-loathing people practice in the name of God, hoping to really make him their closest companion. (These last three items should ring bells since you are clearly overflowing with them. I wonder why? Who made you feel so poorly about yourself that you should become so histrionic and narcissisticŠso desperately needy so as to use "I spit in your face" approaches to try and get attention? Really, you are not nearly so offensive as you are blind to your own desperation and also profoundly saddening.)

Back to religion. You know what it looks like in its darkest outfit. But nothing on your site would indicate you know anything at all about Christianity. And after reading about how much you love humanity I would think that true Christianity would be very appealing. After all, its all about relationships, and caring. Its real simple Bob. Christianity says that Jesus has done everything for you that needs to be done in order to have a love relationship with God. It has nothing to do with preaching hell and hate and shame.

Ah... but I just remembered. God ate your balls. First off, God doesn't care about your balls. Secondly if someone ate them it had more to do with you than anyone else. Your really need to stop blaming things on others. Finally, sorry to disappoint you, but you are a lousy and exceedingly ignorant theologian. You need to learn about the things you are going to criticize. Then you might have a little credibility with people who think.

For example, you don't believe in the existence of God. OK. That would explain why you don't have a notion of how the Bible explains Him. All you have is a shallow popular version which I choke on just as much as you. As for the Bible... have you ever looked at some the LOGICAL reasons it might actually be true? I don't think you have the guts to do it. As for Jesus, everything hinges on him. After all, if he claims to be who he says he is, then God is for real. Once again, maybe you should look at the logical reasons why he might be who he says he is. But I don't believe you can, Your emotions run you too much. Logic is just a nice word you happened to find in the street one day.

Back to the bit about "valid evidence and experience". Come on Bob! Valid experience? Based on what? Experience is purely relative at best, and never entirely trustworthy. Any philosopher worth his salt will tell you that. You need to study the failure of logical positivism. Besides that, if you are going to let your personal experiences with religion have this much impact on you then its very obvious that others in your life are dictating your belief system to you. Think Bob! Think! Don't let other's do your thinking for you. When someone reacts as violently as you have its no mystery as to who is running your life. And it isn't you.

And what's this word "valid"? The last time I went looking for valid evidence regarding the person of Jesus and the truth of Genuine Christianity I went to people who have actually weighed things out thoughtfully rather than emotionally. Good grief Bob! Get yourself on some good antidepressants. Then go get an honest assessment done by people like Josh McDowel or C.S. Lewis, or someone else worthy of your attention. If you'd spend a little time honestly dealing with your anger, your manipulation by other's opinions and versions of religion (You are not your own man Bob. Time to self-differentiate.), and reading up on apologetics, you might surprise yourself about how good life can actually feel.

From one Bob to another.
Surprise me.

Wed, 13 Mar 2002 06:23:57 -0600

Pastor Bob,

Let me begin by saying I am surprised at the way you've chosen to confront me on this matter. As a pastor, a therapist and a leader I'd expect you to put your emotions and ego aside and address me in a calmer state instead of attacking me personally.

You said that you glanced at some of the musings on my site, then you followed that up with "nothing on your site would indicate that you know anything about religion." You have clearly not looked at much of my site, and that which you did you did not do with an open mind. You have made an extremely naive evaluation of me, and now I have to correct you.

In your letter you've got me overflowing with shame, guilt and self loathing. You think that I've blamed others for my problems (perhaps even a God that I believe doesn't exist). You've assumed that others have dictated my belief system to me, in fact I think you've even alluded to Satan himself. And to round things off you think that I'm depressed (needing anti depressant medication), and angry... violently so. All of these ugly, careless assumptions you've made are a blind assessment, knee-jerk reaction of who you think I must be. It's very disturbing.

Overflowing with shame, guilt and self loathing? None of these could be further from the truth. I post everything I believe for all to see, critique and even judge. Dare I say I am shameless? Pastor Bob, I'd think you'd know the difference between shame and pride.

I have never felt better about myself, what I stand for, what I believe and who I am as a human being. It is the fuel behind all I have done. I feel no guilt for these things, but I am aware that you think I should. I am trustworthy, honest, hard-working and open to discuss anything about myself and the things I've done. My website and this response to you are perfect examples of this.

I blame no one for anything. If you're referring to the "God ate my balls" statement, I was being sarcastic. Once again, I do not believe God exists. Do you believe me yet?

I have also stated on my site several times that I do not have hard feelings towards Christians nor do I regret being raised Christian. I understand why people believe, it just doesn't make sense to me as an adult.

I can assure you that I do not have these beliefs being dictated to me from outside forces. I take great pride in the search I've conducted, looking for truth, sense and purpose. The letter you've written to me reeks of intimidating words and demeaning accusations. Talk about dictating a belief system, your methods speak volumes Pastor Bob.

Lastly you see me as depressed and angry. This is proof enough that you have not looked at my site and know nothing about me. These last two years have been the best of my life. I'm doing everything that I enjoy (art, writing, expressing my thoughts and defending my beliefs). What could be better? I'm more confident than I've ever thought possible, I'm making friends, meeting girls and I've got nothing to hide. How about you?


Now back to religion. What you see as a hard-core slam on religion (your knee-jerk reaction) is really comedy, making fun and criticizing. There is nothing wrong with these things. If you would really read my site you'd see that it is not violent or angry. You need to relax, put aside your prejudices and recognize the care and struggle I've put into this. I've gotten many emails from Christians who get it.

I truly care about humanity. It is more valuable than anything else... especially religion. If Christianity were simply about love for humanity, I'd repent. But Christianity also requires believing that God exists... and I do not. Pastor Bob, despite what you believe, it is possible to think there is no God and still be able to love. You really think very little of atheists don't you?

You and I both know why faith is the key ingredient to the Christian religion. If God could be proven then faith wouldn't be an issue. Good grief, do you think I was thrilled when I concluded that Heaven wasn't real? Of course I've got the guts to listen to valid evidence. In the end however, you're asking me (and the world) to worship a supreme being somewhere out there based on the promise of a book written thousands of years ago by people who didn't even have first hand knowledge of Christ.

My purpose for the web site is self-expression and the opportunity to engage in dialogue about this issue. Believe it or not, I welcome feedback from people with opposing views. It challenges me to keep reevaluating my beliefs, and frankly, it can also be quite funny.

I once was at a sermon of yours where a gentleman stood up and asked if you could pray for a friend of his whose son moved to California and left the Christian faith for another religion. You asked "a cult?"
He replied "Well not exactly a cult but it isn't the Christian faith."
You assured him "It sounds like a cult. It's a cult. We'll pray for him."
You jump to conclusions before weighing the facts, you stereotype, accuse and soapbox. Subsequently your opinion carries very little weight with me.

I don't claim to be an authority on Christianity or atheism. I'm not out to convert anyone to my point of view. My opinions are the product of my personal experience with Christianity. As for my "histrionics, narcissism, desperate need, insignificance, lack of logic, anger, manipulation by others," etc., etc., etc... All I can say is that my sense of humor and your sense of humor are clearly not simpatico.

I'm curious as to the real purpose of your letter. Was it to instruct or was it simply to lash out at me?


Pastor Bob Part 2
Past Hate Mail