What started out as a concept with some money making opportunity has turned out to be a remarkable educational experience.
Over the past ten weeks, since the site began, Brad and I have received two-thousand plus emails from atheists applauding Eternal Earth-Bound Pets as “genius, “brilliant,” and the funniest poke at fundies they have ever witnessed. Naturally, almost all of them want in on the action. We have demurred thus far and not taken on additional rescuers or expanded our area of coverage. One could have predicted this kind of response, but hardly in the numbers we have experienced.
Then there are the angry Christians who see this service offering one of three ways:
Fundie evangelicals who perceive this as an intentional ridicule of their sacred belief for which I am assured I will “burn in hell forever,” and who would no more entrust their pet to a godless atheist than they would a Korean restaurant owner. Some try their proselytizing act assuming the threat of hell would jog my intellect free from my brain.
Second, from non-Rapture believing Christians who are embarrassed by their Rapture believing brethren, and who assure me I will “burn in hell forever” for promulgating this misinterpretation of scripture. Sometimes their email is sprinkled with obscenities that one would think would prohibit their kissing Jesus or their Moms with their filthy mouths.
Third, from Christians who insist their pets will be beaming up to Jesus with them, and that my ignorance of this proves I am a “fool.” Naturally, this is inventive feel good doctrine which does not exist anywhere in scripture. But invariably they warn me I will be “burning in hell forever.”
As you can see they all share one common theme – the promise of an eternal camel BBQ in the netherworld.
But the letters that surprised me the most were from liberal moderate Christians who not only see humor in the details of the terms and conditions and contract language, but who actually congratulate us for our creativity and entrepreneurial endeavor -- going so far as to wish us luck on our business. And these aren’t just rare occurrences.
Last week I received an email from a lovely lady from Michigan, a believer whose husband happens to be a pastor. She made a suggestion about some of our contract language, and explained that she and her husband found the site very entertaining. Both hoped we were realizing some sales for our efforts. We exchanged emails, over a couple of days. I answered some questions about “belief” (or in the case of atheists the lack there of), my position of the creation of the universe, and the trials and tribulations of raising a two year old (she has one now, I had two over a quarter century ago.) She bought my book for her pastor husband today. I expect this to be the beginning of a long term pen pal relationship.
Early this week an email challenged our site’s statement that all our pet rescuers have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit in accordance with Mark 3:29. He asked me to explain exactly how I interpreted Mark 3:29 and how exactly we had blasphemed to ensure it being the “unforgivable sin” described in scripture. So, having not a lot to do other than watch bad TV, I gave him the scriptural interpretation of what made it the unforgivable sin of the Pharisees, followed by my modern day interpretation of how to blaspheme in order to make it applicable for non-Pharisee blasphemers.
He replied quickly, thanking me for my response, and congratulating me on my knowledge and interpretation of scripture. Turned out he is a retired Episcopal priest, bordering on something like agnostic. He wanted to make sure we weren’t just pulling the blasphemy guarantee out of our asses. He wished us luck on our business.
There have been many more like these -- friendly, charming, funny and supportive believers. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I never would have expected such a divergence of perspective of what our offer meant to Christians; such diametrically opposed emotions emanating from people sharing the same religion; such a difference in temperament and tolerance.
I turned a year older on September 8. I am really old now, but not too old to be educated and pleasantly surprised.