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Frederica Mathewes-Green on Ridicule, Rebuke & Responsibility
Recently a friend drew my attention to an exchange of letters between a mid-twentieth-century novelist and a lady. The lady thought the novelist was naughty and proceeded to lecture him about the unseemly content of his books. The novelist—and we can imagine bright, eager eyes over a mischievous grin—replied by thanking the woman profusely for rescuing him from error, and concluded by begging her to send a photo so he could see what true Christian charity looked like. A very satisfying put-down, in my friend’s opinion.
It got me thinking, though. For one thing, this wasn’t a fair fight. Your average moralizing citizen is no match for a guy who writes comic novels for a living. If the playing field were to be level, he should have voluntarily adopted some kind of handicap, for example, removing the letter E from his typewriter. (Someone made a similar observation when Antioch College instituted its student rule that all sexual encounters must be conducted with permission explicitly requested and conferred at every stage. For the first time in romance history, the verbal nerds had an advantage over the lummoxy jocks.)
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Frederica Mathewes-Green is a columnist for Beliefnet.com and a contributor to the Christian Millennial History Project multi-volume series. Her books include At the Corner of East and Now (Putnam), The Illumined Heart (Paraclete Press), and The Open Door: Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer (Paraclete Press). She lives in Linthicum, Maryland, with her husband Fr. Gregory, pastor of Holy Cross Orthodox Church. They have three children and three grandchildren.
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