April 24, 2010

Pimping for Jesus, or The Worst Thing about Cancer

You might think the worst think about cancer is the chance, however remote, that you might die, or the fact that, at least in cancer mythology, you're forced to face your own mortality (I don't know about you but I did this a long effing time ago), or the unforgettable pain that occurs when your doctor rips out the temporary mammosite and replaces it with the permanent one without use of pain preventatives.  (Dentists learned a long time ago that it's detrimental to patient health to HURT people. Five minutes to apply lidocaine vs. the lifetime I will remember the unnecessary pain of that day -- bad call, Matt.) But I digress.

The worst thing about cancer is that some people who have kind intentions are nonetheless unable to prevent themselves from insulting patients and violating their religious freedom.  The impulse is, I believe, the result of totalitarian American Christians, those people who believe their willingness to be "kind" overrides other people's freedom of religion and/or their freedom from religion.

For example:

This jewel was delivered to me a few hours before surgery but, thank heavens, I didn't see it until the next day. The last thing I needed before surgery was strangers making unwarranted assumptions about me.

I was not afraid of anything the day of surgery, or the day before, or the day after, or at any time in this process.  (But thanks for trying to instill some in me.)

I do not need hope; I need the most brilliant, most professional medical care that the health insurance I am privileged enough to own can buy.

Additionally, in being free to despair on the cross, Jesus freed the rest of us to despair whenever we please.

I understand that "in Jesus' name we pray" is a closure taught in many Christian denominations; however, it was not part of my tradition. I find it simple-minded and always think the pray-or doth protest too much.

Finally,any time I want somebody to write a prayer for me, I don't want it to be a stranger who knows nothing of my faith tradition, of my relationship (or lack thereof) with God, or my repulsion at the Barbie doll pink paper inflicted on breast cancer patients.

If you want to perform an act of kindness, do so. If you want to proselytize, do so.  Just don't confuse the two.  Jesus really doesn't need you pimping for him.

This conversation reminds me of when my late husband was dying that a Baptist preacher relative told him he needed to give his heart to Jesus. Fred was baptized into the Christian community as an infant and never took a vacation from it.  Anyone who presumed that Fred needed effing INSTRUCTION in FAITHFULNESS didn't know a thing about him. My fervent desire is that said relative go to the grave despising me for not inviting him to speak at the funeral.
If you have overstepped into someone's spiritual life in a stressful time, please understand that I intend kindness in stating clearly how I feel, just as you intended kindness with your pinko prayer. 

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