Two years ago today I wrote a feisty blog defending the right of Patton Oswalt and widowed folk everywhere to love again after loss. It blew up bigger than I could ever have imagined. 3.5 million views on my blog site alone, not including all of the other platforms that picked it up. I found my words trending and with that came a ton of support and also a lot of criticism.
Soon enough my 15 minutes of fame passed and life returned to its normal routine. While most of the criticism faded as soon as the internet found something new to buzz about, there was one thing that people would continue to bring to my attention.
You know Patton is an atheist right?
Why would you defend a crazy liberal?
Did you hear about that joke he just made?
Every time those accusations have come at me I respond the same way.
“What does that have to do with anything I wrote about?”
It makes me so angry that I live in a culture where I have to justify why I defended someone from bullies. Let me make this perfectly clear. I don’t have to agree with a single thing that someone says, does or believes in order for me to show them kindness and stand in their defense when they are being wronged.
I think both political parties are corrupt and full of it. I compared the last election to a race between Emperor Palpatine and Jabba the Hutt. I couldn’t in good conscience put my name behind either so I voted for JarJar in protest. But I have close friends that voted on both sides of the party lines. I might not have felt that either candidate was worthy of my vote, but I can respect the lines of reasoning of my friends who decided to choose one or the other. If I could only associate myself with people who lined up with my political views I’d have maybe two friends.
My ultimate wish for America is that the two sides would come together and come up with solutions. We are becoming more and more divided but I believe the answers are somewhere in the middle. No one person or one party is right 100% of the time. If we stopped thinking that disagreement is the same as hatred we might actually begin to heal our nation. If we shifted our motive from being right to finding solutions, we could truly become a great nation.
As for my faith. Yes. I am a Christian. Patton is an Atheist.
The people who seem to take issue with this are other “Christians” and I find that disturbing. I’m disturbed that so many people say they are Christians and yet they clearly do not know the scriptures or the God they claim to serve. I wish I could tattoo these scriptures on the forehead of every angry “Christian” I’ve seen railing against Patton on Twitter. Then maybe it might sink in that they are actually called to love.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you … If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? … And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
It’s not my job to convert anyone. My job, according to scripture, is to love well and be a reflection of God’s kindness. Cursing someone is the opposite of Christian. Looking the other way when someone is hurting because they don’t believe what you believe is Phariseeism. Christians, get your theology straight. We are called to love. Full stop. There are no amendments that allow you to attack those who do not believe what you believe. You do not have to agree with them to love them. But I suppose if any of you are without any sin, you can cast the first stone.
Last night I got to meet Patton Oswalt in person. I reached out to him on Twitter when I saw that he was going to be starting his tour in Nashville. He was super kind and got me tickets and arranged for me and my husband to meet him backstage after the show.
He was so nice. There were no airs about him. He seemed genuinely interested in conversation. He asked me about my writing and my time in Nashville. We talked about the blog I had written and our personal experiences of that whole situation. We connected on grief and the widowed experience.
It was only about 15 minutes or so before we had to go. I found myself wishing we could have gone out, gotten some food and talked about life. Not because he was a celebrity and that’s kinda cool. But because he’s another human who was shot in the heart by the same devastating bullet that hit me.
Everyone is human. We all love and dream and hurt and fear. If everyone could just take a half second and stop screaming, stop vilifying those who are different than we are or believe differently than we do, and start seeing the common bonds of the human existence we just might have a chance to come together and build a world worth living in.