Yesterday, I received the following email from an unhappy reader:
I (mostly) love your posts – the ones that focuses on general relevant matters/issues and not on yourself. As I receive the emails, please do not search in your blog logs…
Since I found your blog I was very impressed and even subscribed. I even engaged before which you entertained up to a point. But something has been bothering me and I could just not put my finger on it.
So I have to now say this even if it is simply to make me feel better – and no, it is not the ‘bitter’ ‘thing’. Although you lost your faith and changed your believe system, you have NOT lost two of the very ingrained characteristics of evangelical pastors/preachers: You still ‘know it all’/’have all the answers’ and is still very much judgemental, e.g. judging people on their language use. Maybe that is why evangelicals still like to engage with you, they can relate, as they see that you are actually one of them – at least in behavior/reaction!
And no, I am not an evangelical.
Sorry, I checked the logs.
First, If you have been reading my writing for a while, then you know “I don’t know it all.” Not even close. Your baseless assertion is simply wrong. As far as being an expert on the IFB church movement or Evangelicalism in general, what do you want me to say? I am, in fact, an expert on these things. That’s why reporters contact me for background information and why I regularly do on-the-record interviews. I’m sure you know stuff too, right? I make no apology for what I know and who I am.
Second, we all make judgments. ALL OF US, as you did with this email; with your judgments about my character.
Third, I am not aware of me judging anyone for their language.
Fourth, if you don’t like me as a person, by all means, stop reading my writing. I wouldn’t want to offend your sensitivities further. Would you like me to unsubscribe you from receiving the emails?
The emailer responded:
It must have been in the middle of the night there in your part of the globe when you responded, so you do not sleep? And you were quite fast/swift at that to. Also, I do note that you responded in person, not via your PA. Thank you for confirming my observations. I did not judge, I observed. R.E. language comment, see (okay, so I suppose it is about ‘dogma language’) Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Geri Ungurean Calls for the Arrest and Execution of Dr. Tony Fauci
I am sure you know it all about the IFB church and so on. Be that as it may, my life was quite good before I even knew of some body called the IFB church or of Bruce Gerencser, and will be quite good post that. I just hoped that I could learn something from that church (even if from their bad example) and from you, but I prefer to learn from humble people. By the way, I stumbled across your blog when I researched some church in Auckland New Zealand, their teachings etc. and saw that you were approached to comment on that. So I am well aware of your credentials. I unsubscribed myself, don’t worry.
P.S. Don’t know why I still responded – suppose just to make myself feel better – selfish person that I am.
Based on the server logs, this person has been reading my writing since 2020. He (or she) clicked on the Contact link numerous times over the past two years before finally following through with an email.
I found this person’s emails to be quite puzzling. My writing style has been pretty much the same for years. If someone doesn’t like reading my personal, first-person posts, why bother to read my writing? This blog is primarily about my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism. Even when I write about issues, I tend to use lots of personal stories and analogies. This has always been the case. That said, I don’t care why people read. I just find it puzzling that this person waited two years before emailing me to tell me what he “really” thinks.
Now to the substance of his emails.
First, I am a late-nighter. Regular readers know this. I typically do my writing between the hours of 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm. My wife, Polly, works second shift as a manager at a large manufacturing concern in Archbold, Ohio, from 6:00 pm to 2:00 am. Typically, we go to bed around 4:00 am. (We’ve been a late-night family most of forty-three years of marriage.) Once I am in bed, it takes me two to four hours to get to sleep. Bedtime is the worst time for me, pain-wise. I fall asleep when drugs finally overwhelm the pain and I fall asleep in exhaustion. Typically, I sleep in two to three hour blocks. Bowel and bladder problems routinely interrupt my sleep. Thus you are likely to get an email or text from me when most people are fast asleep.
This person emailed me at 2:01 am. I responded at 2:49 pm. As far as being swift or fast with my response, is there an appropriate amount of time I am supposed to wait before responding? One of the reasons I promptly responded is that I wanted to respond instead of Carolyn. Trust me, if she had responded, I doubt the emailer would have been pleased with its tone. 🙂 She doesn’t suffer fools either. 🙂
Second, this person calling his email an “observation” is a distinction without a difference. We all make judgments. When I received his email, I made a judgment about him. He’s done the same with me. This man has determined I am a know-it-all, judgmental person, lacking humility. While I think his judgment is without merit, what could I possibly say to change his mind? That’s why I suggested he stop reading my writing. If his sensitivities are so easily offended by my words, it is best for him to avoid this blog.
Third, his claim that judge people for language use has no merit. Commenters are free to say whatever they want, even Evangelicals. EVERY, and I mean EVERY, Evangelical commenter is given one opportunity to say whatever he or she wants.
The email used a link to a quote by Geri Ungurean as evidence of me judging people for language. Huh? I made no commentary either in the post or in the comment section about Ungurean’s quote.
Fourth, I suspect the real issue here is that I speak authoritatively on the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement and Evangelicalism in general. I spent the first fifty years of my life in Evangelicalism, as a member, college student, and pastor. I have been writing about and critiquing Evangelicalism and the IFB church movement for two decades. I continue to follow these things closely, reading blogs, checking out websites, listening to podcasts, and watching YouTube videos. I do these things because it is my job. Does anyone think I would be wading in this cesspool if it wasn’t for this blog? Of course not. I have a job to do, and as long as I am physically able to do so, I plan to keep putting on my hip waders and wading into the Evangelical toilet. If this makes me a know-it-all or judgmental, so be it.
As far as humility is concerned, the emailer confuses my pointed, direct approach with arrogance. Not much I can do about this. Either you like my writing style, or you don’t. I have quit following a number of people over the years. Not one time did I ever think to send them an email telling them what I don’t like about them. Different strokes, for different folks, right? This doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes or that I can’t do better. I try every day to be a better person and writer than I was the day before. It saddens me that the emailer was disappointed in me, but I have learned that I can’t be all things to all men. I am an old man, a cranky curmudgeon (please see I Make No Apologies for Being a Curmudgeon). I have a lot of “stuff” on my plate financially and health-wise, so I really don’t have much time to invest in changing the minds of people who don’t “like” me. I will listen and respond, but expecting me to be anyone other than who I am? It ain’t gonna to happen.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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