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Dear Son

By ex-Pastor Dan ~

Several weeks ago I posted a letter that I had written to my mother, a 95 year old, fundamentalist, pentecostal Christian. I won't re-print that whole letter here, perhaps webmdave will post the link:

My mom waited quite some time in replying, but finally she sent this very short attempt at deflecting blame back upon me:
My Dear Son Danny,

I'm sorry YOU feel like you do - all I can say is you haven't walked in my foot steps.

I love you & I always will.


This kind of took me aback. I really had poured my guts out in my letter, and I expected a little more than just one more lame attempt at making me feel sorry for saying anything. So after several weeks of ruminating upon it, I wrote her this reply:

Dear Mom,

As you can see, I have returned your card. As I stated, very clearly, in my last letter to you, I refuse to accept any more guilt, shame or fear from you.

Your few words did not speak at all to the heart-felt questions and comments in my last letter to you. All you did was try and deflect any blame right back at me! It was a very blatant attempt to push all the fault and guilt back upon me, and it is not mine to take, so I refuse to take it.

It strikes me as very sad and disheartening that you can cry and beg forgiveness from your make-believe god, but you can’t ask forgiveness from your own flesh and blood, who really does exist and has been almost irrevocably harmed by you. I say ALMOST irrevocably harmed because I have turned things around, and I am healing. I will continue to heal and become whole again, with or without your apology. I gave you this opportunity more for you than for me. I thought you could put your Christian principles into action, but alas it seems that is beyond your ability. Denial of reality is easier than facing the horrifying thought that you could have been wrong all of these decades.

Denial is not only easier and less painful in your kind (fundamentalist Christian) of belief system, it is absolutely necessary, a matter of life and death! For a family like ours who leaned entirely on religion (Christianity in our case – the Lighthouse in particular) for our security and meaning, the creation of ‘fantasy well-being’ became critical and all encompassing. When someone in the family (me) finally steps outside of the delusion and dares to utter the words, “the emperor has no clothes!” we don’t stand a chance of being heard.

So dear mother, I give you one more chance to do the right thing. Without deflection or guilt-laying; without trying to shame me into coming back to Jesus; without trying to make me feel bad for hurting you (which is NOT my intention), I ask one simple question:

DO YOU WANT A RELATIONSHIP WITH ME OR NOT? YES_______________ or NO______________

We will keep it very simple this time, just check one and send it back to me.

I do love you, mom, even though our worlds are very far apart, and our beliefs are completely different. I know that you will never change, but I still love you, can you say the same?

I hope to hear a real, loving answer from you, but if you chose to attempt another slap-in-the-face, I will return it to you also.

In unconditional love,

So, there it is. I sent that letter off today. Writing these two letters has really helped me realize that I am not the crazy one, but my mom is. Another person in the family who has lots of unresolved issues with my mom suggested that I write the letters but never mail them. Perhaps that works for some people, but not for me. It truly is not just about me. I hold out a tiny glimmer of hope that even the slightest amount of change is still possible in my mom. Dan Barker was able to eventually bring his parents out of the delusion of Christianity, and I am a bit of an enigma myself. Perhaps, just perhaps, before she dies, I will find a way to reach her. I certainly hope so.