Friday, November 11, 2011

Get on your knees


Jeanne Phillips fumbles another easy one with a flaccid answer in today's installment of Dear Abby:
Dear Abby: My husband and I are not religious. We believe that people are entitled to their own beliefs. My problem lies with my brother-in-law and his wife. They are two of the most judgmental, sanctimonious people I have ever known. They “hate” (their word) Mormons, Catholics, etc. How would you suggest I respond to their criticism of our “lack” of Christianity and their offers to pray for us? —Biting My Tongue in Great Falls, Mont.

Dear Biting Your Tongue: If your relatives are an example of people who practice Christianity, heaven help the rest of us. If you must interact with them, practice selective deafness, and when they spout hatred, excuse yourselves.
Oh, Jeanne, “selective deafness” isn't going to work with these god-botherers. Otherwise they would have gotten the hint long ago that their religious babble isn't appreciated by the tongue-biter and her husband. By offering to pray for them, the self-righteous duo is setting up a perfect rope-a-dope situation. Seize the opportunity! For example, thus:
Dear Biting Your Tongue: Subtlety would be lost on your brother-in-law and his wife and direct confrontation could cause family strife you might prefer to avoid (though do discuss with your husband the possible advantages of being estranged from his brother and sister-in-law). Your best option is grateful acceptance of their offer to pray for you: “Oh, thank you! That is so considerate of you! You know that my husband and I aren't particularly religious, but it's clear that your faith is strong and in your hearts you're prepared to move mountains. You are welcome to pray for us as much as you want, but let's not speak of it again. We can patiently wait for your prayers to demonstrate their power.” Try to avoid a sarcastic tone while you say this. Keep it neutral. If they try to bring it up later, quash it quickly: “Oh, don't worry about it. I'm sure you're doing your best.” Repeat as necessary.


Karen said...

I'm not sure it's possible to make that response without sarcasm creeping in! But I love the idea.

Una said...

Oh' That's just perfect! LOVE it I am so using this, THANK YOU! THANK YOU.