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.John 13:34-35
“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?Matthew 5:43-47
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?Romans 2:4
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.
Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android
It’s a testament to how fundamentally broken our society is when you find yourself defending strangers that you have, and will, never meet. Or perhaps not; maybe it’s really a testament to the success of the American experiment. I read a blog post today by Erica Roman concerning Patton Oswald. Two people I have never met, inextricably tied to me by one thing; we three have all experienced the same loss; months apart. Does losing your other half create enough common ground between strangers to crate real connections? Perhaps.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the crux of my post tonight. It should be; that connection should truly be enough. Sadly, this isn’t about that soul shattering loss. No, this is about the tragic state of our society. When did it become okay to attack others simply because they differ? In this supposedly enlightened age how is it ok to attack someone for their religious bent? Or to attack someone else simply for their opinion? Erica wrote an amazing piece about Patton. It went viral. Then she had to write another defending her opinion about him; because he’s an atheist and she’s not?
In what world do we need to defend ourselves because we found common ground with someone different? When did we become so broken that seeking common ground was wrong?
To Erica and Patton, I don’t know you, we will likely never meet. That said, you both have been an inspiration to me, and others, during the worst moments of our lives. Please, never, ever stop speaking about this subject.
Thank you, Ms. Roman, for the continued sharing of wisdom earned from both the uphill climbs and downhill glides of your journey. I share your enthusiasm for making one’s way in a kind and gracious manner.
YES! Yes all of this, Erica! Thank you again for speaking the words in my heart.
Well said x
Oh Erica! Just when I thought I could not love you any more than I already do, there was this post. You are truly remarkable. Keep them coming, Lady.
Very well put. Keep your faith & keep sharing what you believe. All the best.
Erica, I have been thinking of this post all morning. It was through researching Patton (two years ago) after finding he was a widow that I found you. (The “controversy”). I was recently a widow then (still am) and bonded with so much of what you wrote. It wasn’t your faith, however, which I know is a very big part of you and your life. It was your story of loss and acceptance/ defense of Patton’s journey that moved me. Followed your post since. What you write here today has moved me for much of what you said about the judgement of others in the cloak of religion is why I left organized religion so long ago. What I grew up learning Jesus was to have said (you cited several of those scriptures) was the total opposite of what I was finding many in those institutions practicing. It continues to this day, as you have stated.
I am not here to write about me and my faith. I write to thank you for so much for saying it is LOVE, beyond judgement and belief, that matters. I want to thank you for sharing your story. It helped me in those early days of my grief. Your post today added a positive moment to that journey we walk in this horrible club of grieving a very close loved one.
Thank you Erica
…and I am glad you two finally got to meet without the media blitz that came to you two several years ago.
Very well said. I agree with you. As
Christians it is not our job to judge others as it says in Matthew:
Matt.7.  Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
As you also say, those who cast the first stone are not without sin.
As a recent young widow, I love reading your blogs. It gives me renewed hope that one day can find love again
Well said regarding political environment and organized religion. I am a member of a LUTHERAN church but I hate hearing good Christians hating on non-Christians. Also they get wrapped up in political battles. Jesus was pretty clear to love one another. Do not cast stones. Give Caesar what is Caesar’s and our Father what is HIS. I also was widowed now married again I been convicted regarding moving forward so soon. It was my faith and understanding that my first wife is now a sister in heaven and when I arrive I will be a brother but till then I think God has a plan and wants me to speak about my experience to others and his scriptures not in church but outside those walls where his word and love is needed for everyone. I am far from perfect and a horrible sinner but I believe God uses the sinners today as he has in the scriptures. So continue the good fight my fellow Christian soldier! And pray to be lead by the Holy Spirit in Jesus ‘ name. After all the disciples went out into the world and shared love of Christ with who? Everyone! The sower and the seed, rocks and fertile soil. So obvious the message was meant to be delivered to everyone and showing kindness to the atheist was not wasted even if the seed falls on rock. I love to quote Yoda also, “There is no try, Do or Do Not!”
Wow! Preach it sister!
I read this and wanted to stand up and cheer, but I’m at work, that might not go over well. THANK YOU!