Top Five Favorite Responses from Angry Readers

‘Tis the season for top ten lists.

So, having posted my top¬†10 (and more)¬†favorite movies and albums for the year, let’s move on to the next most exciting thing. I’m kicking off a new annual list:

Top Five Favorite Responses from Angry Readers

Full disclosure: Although I’ve received plenty of spectacular responses here at the blog this year, all five of these first-rate put-downs were were mailed straight to Christianity Today in response to the re-printing of my commentary on the different ways in which Christians are responding to The Golden Compass. So even if I wanted to post these in their entirety, I couldn’t. It’s worth noting, though, that my opinion earned not only my damnation, but the damnation of Christianity Today International as an organization.

So… here we go.

This year’s responses are all unfairly yanked out of context, but they still contain the germ of the writers’ meaning. If you wonder what prompted such sentiments from readers, please feel free to peruse the article that inspired so many to write in. (And to be fair, the positive responses outnumbered negative responses, so the picture isn’t as bleak as it might seem.) I excerpt the letters here, preserving the dramatic use of capital letters, because we all know that words are more powerful when they are shouted. And yes, these all came from different letters, different people.

Here we go:

1.

In regards to your softness and even promotion of The Golden Compass… You truly do an evil work. Your complete ignorance of the way of righteousness is astounding, particularly since you posit yourself as a christian. You are an easily deceived, deceiver and the blood of souls of the lost, who you have comforted in their rebellion will likely (apart from your repentance) be in your mind through all eternity. … You espouse an effeminate Christianity that is an ugly falsehood. … Repent and believe the gospel.

[NOTE: Most hurtful of all, this writer spelled my name "Jeffery."]

2.

Shameful are your deeds as you lead multitudes into the snare of the devil. … For IN THE LAST DAYS many shall fall away from the faith. The only thing I see is that you promote doctrines of demons and since I use to bat for the other side, you are either thoroughly deceived or you are willingly puppets of the devil to corrupt the minds of the simple.

3.

I will be praying for this critic , your site and ALL who don’t know JESUS as their LORD and SAVIOUR .

4. (from a pastor)

I’m sorry Your way off base and the Harry Potter thing don’t even get me started. I thought this was Christianity today not “NEWAGE today”… I know here’s a thought let all the atheist and witches make movies that put down Christianity and lets hand out a couple of Oscars there way and say thank you for advancing the kingdom of Heaven. … if one family or child does because of it then there blood is on our hands because of our SILENCE… you think about that.

5.

Everytime I read more of this type of song and dance from someone in the so-called Christian community, it makes me SICK. … Fence sitting is very dangerous. Maranatha!

[Note: For those who don't know, "marantha" means "Our Lord cometh," and it was an expression used by St. Paul at the end of First Corinthians. The word is used to anathematize someone for a great crime, basically to say, ``May the Lord come quickly to take vengeance of thy crimes.'']

I’ll mention one runner-up, a letter that was sent directly to me, and thi was just a general response to my work. This fellow was bashing me for the opposite reason… saying I’m too conservative.

It is very rare that I contact a writer in relation to how sincerely bad it is, but your movie reviews are beyond terrible; they are moral pomposity disguised as intelligent “cultural interaction.” If you were simply a Christian writing movie reviews I would expect extremely good insight into the moral questions, spiritual successes and insights, and general penetrativeness of modern film. Instead, you are a “Christian movie reviewer” which means you spend your time worshiping at the altar of family values and selling your critical insight at the cost of stars = the “should-ness” of conservative movie watching.

I’m sure that you spend your time listening to, communicating with, and generally prostituting yourself out to the coporate conservative monster, and so consider this the voice of the silent majority who never read your claptrap because they have given up on partisan arts-reviewers when they realize that art is a universal medium, not a body of morally suspect material to be criticized by, basically, another Christian intellectual-whore. Christians have branched out a great deal; maybe its time for you to work outside the morally-antiseptic boundaries you have limited yourself to or by which have been limited. As it stands, you should just review movies with a “safe” or “non-safe” label. Everything else you write is useless.

Uncurteously,

[Name deleted to, um, protect the writer]
Methodist Theological School in Ohio
3081 Columbus Pike
Delaware OH, 43015″

And there they are. Five clips, and a runner-up, from a mountain of mail I’ve received from brothers and sisters in Christian community (or the “so-called Christian community”).

What’s my response to these writers? Well, it’s called Through a Screen Darkly. It started as an email, and it turned into a book fourteen-chapters long.

You won’t see me approving comments like this for inclusion in our Comments-section conversations here. I’ve established a comments policy (see the sidebar on the right side of this blog) that allows me to keep conversations from devolving into flame wars.

I encourage responses from different perspectives, and I’m happy to host debates. If you want to post criticism, that’s fine. Just do so respectfully. If your response contains stuff like you see in this list, it won’t be posted. I’m not going to allow rage and the damning of souls to hell as part of casual conversation here. (But then again, your words just might end up in the Top Five of 2008!

P.S. In any comments responding to this post, please demonstrate the kind of grace that these writers lacked… even toward them.

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  • bentheredonethat

    Jeffrey,

    These are horrible and ridiculous comments. Thank you for treating them with grace and patience. I believe, however, that God is already rewarding your kindness by LETTING YOU HEAR THE NEW SAM PHILLIPS CD before any of the rest of us!!!

    Cheers to you and to what a light you are to the rest of us.

  • jenzug

    This reminds me of the post you wrote awhile ago about someone in the media contacting you for a Christian perspective on something, then dropped you because your opinion wasn’t extreme enough.

    You should give them these email addresses.

  • http://phillipjohnston.wordpress.com Phillip

    The guy from the Methodist seminary used the word “claptrap”. That made my day.

  • http://frightfullypleased.blogspot.com Stephen

    I always get a kick out of the unusual spelling and syntax that often characterizes these type of reactions. It’s also common in those hysterical e-mails that begin “forward this to everyone you know!!!”

    Keep up the great work! I’m still jealous that you got to see INLAND EMPIRE on the big screen with Mr. Lynch present…

  • http://nebblog.blogspot.com/ nebbo

    I’ve said it before and will say it again (probably), but I just don’t “get” responses like that. This goes beyond illiteracy (as in, they didn’t read your articles for comprehension) and right to a world-view so clouded and fearful that a few key words randomly pulled from a page will induce frothing. In some cases it seems that the mere mention of a given movie is just plain unacceptable to some people unless it involves unequivocal damnation of it.

  • jeslbates

    Wow. Way to take one for the team.

    Those certainly are passionate responses. I suppose with comments such as those, you’ll never be able to take yourself too seriously; never blindly believe, well, anything. It does make you stop and reevaluate what you believe. It’s just sad to me, as they are obviously desperate for people to know Christ, yet in the vicious words, they so blatently paint an opposite picture. :( I just read James 3:13-18 today; heavenly wisdom, that ain’t.

  • http://www.alissawilkinson.com alissamwilkinson

    I was feeling bad about some negative feedback; this made me feel so much better. :)

  • tedolsen

    Raca.

  • cincyjake

    Jeffrey,

    I’ve never posted but I am a longtime reader of your site, Christianity Today reviews, and a lurker at Arts and Faith. Its high time that I said thanks for your writing and work – it has been a great help to me as I have sought to understand how to apply my faith to the things I watch and listen to, and (as a Pastor) to teach others to do the same. I appreciate your continued work in the face of such criticisms – while its easy to laugh at such over-the-top letters, I have no doubt that it is quite wearying at times. Do know that your work makes a difference.

    Jake Christian


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