Getting the wires well and truly crossed

Ed
Ed Smith
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

The only way to tell this story is strictly chronologically. Several months ago a couple of people decided they'd like to get together and discuss openly and honestly the things they believe and don't believe from a spiritual perspective. They'd keep the group small and include people who aren't afraid to have their religious underpinnings knocked out from under them.

Do I believe in hell? Why? Where does this idea of Mary being a virgin come from? Can we accept a God who orders an old man to kill his son? How much of what I believe is cultural? How much simply what I grew up with? How much of it is baloney? And so on.

The view from here - The only way to tell this story is strictly chronologically. Several months ago a couple of people decided they'd like to get together and discuss openly and honestly the things they believe and don't believe from a spiritual perspective. They'd keep the group small and include people who aren't afraid to have their religious underpinnings knocked out from under them.

Do I believe in hell? Why? Where does this idea of Mary being a virgin come from? Can we accept a God who orders an old man to kill his son? How much of what I believe is cultural? How much simply what I grew up with? How much of it is baloney? And so on.

Great idea. I was invited to join. Our group includes a Pentecostal pastor, a United Church minister, a couple of Anglicans, one Roman Catholic, at least one self-proclaimed agnostic and a couple who don't know what they are.

The group was a success from the beginning. We don't ridicule each other's beliefs, but we do question each other mercilessly and aren't afraid to say when we think the other person is out to lunch or out in left field or whatever clichÉ best applies.

Then at one meeting not long ago, we decided that since there seemed to be so much that we had doubts about, we would, for the next meeting, each bring along some belief about which we had practically no doubt. Accordingly, the day before the next meeting I sent out a little reminder that the meeting was at our house and the topic the one on which we'd decided.

Almost immediately I got a reply from Evelyn. Evelyn is a lovely lady who is really enthusiastic about our group. I was a little surprised, therefore, to get back this answer.

"I'm sorry, but what is this??"

Gosh, she'd been there when we talked about it. I decided to leave it until the next morning but the discussion at that time was so interesting that I forgot about the e-mail. In fact, Evelyn and I had a lively debate about what the topic meant and never did agree. After, I wondered whether or not I had come on too strong, even for our group.

Later that day I remembered the e-mail and sent off a reply.

"Now do you know what this is?"

I was even more surprised when the next e-mail came.

"No, I certainly do not know!! Can you clarify?"

Well, that didn't sound very friendly. In fact it sounded definitely peeved. What did she want clarified? She knew as well as I how we arrived at the topic for that meeting, but now she seemed to be pretending ignorance and somehow suggesting she had been left out of the process.

This didn't seem like Evelyn at all.

Of course I'd never had a face-to-face disagreement with her before, either. Perhaps this was a normal reaction for her in such circumstances.

I went to OH with the problem. She and Evelyn and a few others in the neighborhood are almost a sisterhood. They are part of a card club that has been meeting once a week for 40 years. To celebrate their 40th anniversary, this fall they're going on a cruise together.

Close is not the word for that bunch.

"I think I've offended Evelyn," I said.

"If that's what you think," OH said, "why don't you call her and straighten it out?"

"Because," I said, "she started this by e-mail and we're continuing it by e-mail. No one can claim this or that or something else was said when it's all down on paper, or at least in black-and-white."

To be honest I didn't think I was ready to face in person the glacial chill that had been the tone of Evelyn's e-mail. I was beginning to think that inside this friendly, smiling person I had known over the years was a cold fury that was just waiting to unleash itself on me.

"I'd call her," OH said again.

I sent another e-mail.

"I'm totally mystified. What is it you want me to clarify?"

That should elicit some response that would help explain why she was being so difficult. The response was far from enlightening.

"I would like you to explain what the message meant!! Why meet at your house the next morning and bring some statement or something pertaining to that!! Why add my name to the list?? I'm sorry, but I do not recall hearing from you before!!!!! Please explain."

That did it.

She was obviously prepared to be obstinate and refuse to accept my explanation for how that topic had developed, and now she wanted out of the group. Only one thing to do.

I sent another e-mail.

"It seems I have offended you in some way although I'm still not sure how. However, we have known each other for 35 years and surely you know I would rather lose an arm than offend you in any way. Please forgive me.

The return e-mail explained everything to me, as it will to you.

"You've known me for 35 years??? I know of one Ed Smith that lives in the Springdale area. He writes a column for the newspaper in the city here, the Telegram and I do not know him personally.

Dear God!

Thanks to this fantastic electronic age in which we live, I've been writing an Evelyn in Springdale and the messages were going to an Evelyn in St. John's who was obviously just as confused as I was, poor lady. The latter address must have found its way into my electronic address book at some point and I had forgotten it was there.

I know the question in your mind right now. How is it possible for Smith to be so stun and still function in polite society? I don't know

Ed Smith lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca

Organizations: United Church

Geographic location: Springdale, St. John's

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments