Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Case of the Mysterious Book

Mystery achievement
Don’t breathe down my neck, no
I got no trophies on display
I sign them away, I mean what the heck?
~~ “Mystery Achievement” by The Pretenders

I posted about this on Facebook and got so many interesting remarks, and it prompted my own thoughts, that I decided I’d make a blog entry out of it.

On Friday, I got a package in the mail, and when I opened it, I found this book and this note. I do not know who sent it. It came from the return address of sales and marketing company in Brea, California. I do not know of anyone who is in Brea, I don’t recognize the handwriting on the note, and there was no additional note to tell me who sent it.

Muy misterioso, no?

I can only assume that it was a Facebook friend who decided that I might be interested in the book and took the time to look up my address online (probably not hard to do) and package it up and mail it out. When I posted it on Facebook, I said that if the person who sent it doesn’t want to post publicly, they could send me a private message, but I still have not had anyone step up and say that they were the one who sent it.

At first, I took it as an oddity, a weird little mystery about which to speculate on Facebook, and didn’t think too much about it. But as is my wont, I kept thinking about it, because something about it just niggled at me. And, as is also my wont, I have a few things to say about it. If this person is a Facebook friend, as I suspect, I hope they see this, because they need to.

First, Lee Strobel is generally considered to be a total hack among my atheist friends. He attempts to couch things in scientific terms, but he’s no more a scientist than I’m the Queen of England. He has no background in science whatsoever. Zero.

Second, why the secrecy? Why didn’t you sign your name? It’s almost as though you are ashamed, or more likely, worried about what I might say to you. (The latter is a legitimate concern, as you can tell, because I am writing a blog entry about it.)

And what is your purpose in sending this to me? Do you want to convert me? Are you so concerned about your own beliefs that you feel that I need to validate them with my own approval? (This was posited by my friend Mark, and I think it’s a legitimate point, one that hadn’t occurred to me.)

Finally, and this is really important, you have no idea of how I came to this point in my feelings about religion. You seem to have the arrogance to think that I haven’t thoroughly thought about this in my 50+ years of life on this earth. That if I really think about it, and read a book by some dude with no science background, I’ll suddenly have an epiphany and the scales will fall from my eyes.

You have no idea about my background or what type of religious indoctrination (I use that word purposefully) I received. You have no clue about the conflicts with which I have struggled in my life, including an ex-husband who “found God” and decided that I was possessed by a demon. You don’t know about someone in my life who burned one of my books because it had bad words in it. BURNED A BOOK.

You don’t know how I have grappled with these matters for much of my adult life, and the guilt that I have felt because I wasn’t pious enough or worthy enough to get into heaven and would surely burn in hell.

You don’t know how I prayed desperately for God to heal people I loved dearly, including an aunt who was like my second mom and an uncle who told me from his hospital bed that he thought of me as his daughter. They died, anyway.

You don’t know how I can’t be myself around certain family members because for them to find out that I don’t believe would be so horrible to them that I would be getting daily, tearful calls telling me to mend my ways.

You don’t know. But you were presumptuous enough to send me this book, thinking that you might save my soul, or that I might validate you, or whatever the hell reason you sent it to me. But you didn’t have the courage to stand up for your convictions and at least say, “Hey, Beth, I sent this to you because….” You did it anonymously. I think that is something you might need to explore about yourself, rather than worrying about my immortal soul.

One of the many reasons I left religion behind was the arrogance of those who have decided that their beliefs are the only true ones and that everyone must get on that Jesus train or burn in hell. My ex-husband was determined that I would see the light and when I saw that his attempts to convert me were going to continue as long as I was married to him, I asked for a divorce.

I do not make decisions lightly, and leaving religion behind was not easy. It took me many years of thinking, pondering, and discussion. Do you know how incredibly difficult it is to break away from a mindset and belief system that has been indoctrinated in you since you were old enough to walk? This has not been an easy journey for me and I still deal with family issues because of it. I’ll just say it...the fact that you would presume so many things about me and decide that I need to get religion is not only offensive to me, it is insulting. And it pissed me off. That is something you really don’t want to do.

Listen. I’m a tolerant person. I’m cool with people believing what they want to believe, as long as those beliefs don’t hurt or discriminate against others. Some people who have a deep and abiding faith do very good things because they feel it is the central tenet of many religions to serve others. I respect that, I really do. But some of us help others because we feel it’s just the right thing to do. Both are equally valid approaches with a common goal.

So if I can respect those who believe, why can’t you, Mystery Mailer, respect me for not believing?

Do unto others, man. Do unto others.


  1. Wow! I remember you posting about the book that came from an anonymous sender. I did not realize it was a book like this. I assumed someone had sent you an anonymous gift of a book they thought you'd enjoy reading. And by the way, just to be certain that you know, it was not I!!! I have too much respect for you, your beliefs, and the way you express yourself, to stoop to being sneaky like this. Also, as you know, I'm not sneaky or secretive about my own religious beliefs. I enjoyed reading this. I could FEEL the slow burn in the beginning, igniting to hot, blue flame by the end. lol And speaking of flame, I don't think you're going to burn in hell. :)

    1. Lori, I didn't for one moment think it was you!

    2. Oh good! I was rather incensed that someone would do that to you.

  2. This was done to you in a slightly creepy way. I believe this person cares about you, or at least about your social media stated thoughts & beliefs, but in a twisted, dysfunctional way. You are a smart chick; the person may also believe he/she could never go head-to-head with you on a religious debate.

    I hope you can empty out the headspace this is taking for something better. It clearly hit painful emotional triggers from your past. I felt you going through pain as I was reading this.

    1. Thank you, Mary. I'm good, although you're did bring up a lot of stuff from my past that I really prefer to leave behind. Although, really, all that is part of what made me who I am, so I think it's important to think about it, but then move forward.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?