Have a Heart
I’ve always maintained that Christians are hypocritical to perfection, but what’s most entertaining are all the rationalizations they spew to justify it. Let this tome serve as a textbook example to illustrate my point.
What follows is a true story that happened to a old friend of mine (I’ll call him “Mason”) in late December of 1993. What follow are my words to tell the story as recollected by him.
Atheist in a Foxhole
Mason is a three-time cancer survivor who’s been through more medical unpleasantness than just about anyone you’ll ever meet. He is a life-long atheist who never caved to a god delusion even through the worst of it. He is alive and well and celebrating 15 years of remission since his final bout in 1996. This story took place at the outset of his second bout.
After two and a half years of remission, Mason’s doctors discovered a fairly large slow-growing tumor growing between his lungs, pushing up against his heart. There was no way of knowing it without a biopsy, but all indications pointed toward malignancy.
Christian with a Pie Hole
The story begins with the stepfather (“Tim”) of Mason’s oldest and closest friend (“Jerry”). By sheer coincidence, Tony had his own profound and ongoing medical problems at the same time. Jerry’s mother (“Sheila”) and Tim were both militantly devout Christians with a penchant for preaching.
Mason was close with Jerry’s extended family and friends, and anything significant going on in his life was also known to them. Likewise, Mason was clued-in to what was going on in their lives. He was a regular fixture at every event and they thought of him as family.
Jerry and his wife knew that Mason was not a believer, but they kept it under their hats for no reason other than to not upside their largely devout family. Everyone else assumed that Mason was a practicing Jew.
Spreading the Word
Shortly after receiving the news that there was a growing tumor present in his chest requiring major thoracic surgery to remove, Mason first told his family, followed by friends and then select co-workers. The news spread quickly and eventually found its way to Sheila and, of course, Tim.
Mason’s surgery was scheduled shortly after the first of the year. Three weeks prior was Christmas. Jerry’s aunt and uncle held a yearly Christmas Eve gathering in their home, and Mason was always invited. It was a huge event throughout which easily 100 or so people would come and go.
Everyone in their family (and friends) knew about Mason’s relapse. It’s the kind of news that justifiably makes its way through the network, and everyone was concerned. Throughout the party each one in turn approached Mason delicately and with tact as most people would. I think your average person would want you to know that they were aware of what was going on, offer their assistance in any way possible, and not make a big production out of it. And that’s exactly what everyone did that night, except Tim. Mason should have seen it coming. (He didn’t.)
The Hypocrite Cometh
Jerry, his wife, kids, Sheila, and Tim arrived at the house together. Immediately upon entering the living room where the majority of attendees gathered, Jerry spotted Mason, called his name and caught his eye. Tim, now aware of Mason’s presence, walked quickly (he practically ran) toward him, pushing people aside as if on his way to save a dying man. Without so much as a “hello” or handshake, Tim placed one open palm on Mason’s stomach (about 10 inches below the tumor, oops!), wrapped his free arm around Mason’s back, pulled him close, and started praying aloud.
Mason still can’t recall all of what Tim mumbled in prayer (mostly because his blood was boiling at the time), but it was essentially a plea to Jesus to intercede with a medical healing. Mason became livid as his mind raced with thoughts of the profound physical assault that he wanted to unleash. At one point he looked up to see Jerry and his wife (now standing about 10 feet away) giving him a look as if to say, “PLEASE, BITE YOUR FUCKING LIP!”
Mason tried to remind himself that this was a concerned quasi-family member who feared for his life, and he hadn’t a clue that Mason did not believe in is god. Had it been anyone else, Mason would have beat this son of a bitch within an inch of his life – but he choked back his seething emotions and let the delusional fellow finish his silly and futile plea to Jesus to cure his cancer. Solely in the spirit of the holiday season and as a favor to Jerry and his wife, Mason stood there in silence and rolled his eyes. Tim’s prayer probably lasted less than a minute, but to Mason it felt like an hour.
Okay, so Mason felt a little bit better about it until….
As Tim broke his embrace, the little shit patted Mason on the back and said, “Now you go back to your doctors and tell them you don’t need their help anymore. You tell them that the power of JESUS cured you!”
Mason was furious again. Steam must have been coming out of his ears because Jerry, who obviously heard Tim’s final comment, grabbed Mason’s arm and quickly pulled him away toward the kitchen. Jerry cheerfully exclaimed, “Hey, I have to tell you about that thing I saw the other day…” or some other equally vague verbal subterfuge. Once safely within the semi-privacy of the kitchen, Jerry apologized to Mason and asked him to let it slide – which Mason did. Why the hell not? Mason had bigger fish to fry at the time anyway. And so Mason complied with Jerry’s request and pretended that the highly offensive religious assault never took place.
Later that evening everyone departed for home with no intention of speaking about the event again, but Sheila and Tim both hit the road basking in the glory of a miraculous healing by the grace of Jesus. Fine. Whatever. At their age (around 65, I guess) one more delusion wasn’t going to dull their senses any more than they already were.
But wait folks. The story’s about to get better…
About a week later Mason checked into the hospital and underwent the median sternotomy that would reveal the truth. Needless to say, when they cracked his chest open the tumor was still there. (Sorry guys, but I’m afraid that Mason really did need his doctors after all. That’s strike one against Dr. Jesus, buddy boy.) But was the tumor benign? If so, was it always benign, or was it once malignant but Jesus healed him? Or was the tumor malignant and Tim’s prayers had just fallen upon deaf ears?
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the tumor was in fact malignant. (The story would suck otherwise, eh?)
And I suppose it should come as no surprise that neither Tim nor Sheila ever came to see Mason in the hospital. I can assure you that these two muttonheads eagerly awaited the results so that they could give credit to Jesus for Mason’s miraculous healing. But Mason made sure that Jerry let them both know that the tumor was malignant. He would have loved to tell them himself, but the little cowards refused to show their faces. That’s strike two, kids. Must be god’s will I suppose.
Anyway, Mason recuperated, healed quickly, and went back to his old routine just as fast. Just for the record, unlike Mason’s first and third bouts with the disease, his doctors opted not to treat him with chemotherapy or radiation. It was a very quick bout unlike the first…or the third that was to follow less than three years later. The entire tumor (and the surrounding tissue) came out cleanly, so there was nothing nasty left behind to treat.
In the months that followed the surgery, from time to time when Tim and Sheila were around, Mason would direct the topic of conversation to his surgery and the malignancy. And as predicted, the two (admittedly well intentioned but profoundly delusional) nutbags remained conveniently silent. That always put a smile of satisfaction on Mason’s face.
But wait again folks. The story’s about to get much better…
Sometime later that summer, Mason received some jaw-dropping news. It came to pass that Tim’s heart was failing – and failing badly. (He battled heart disease for many years prior to this incident.) Well, praise irony because Tim needed a heart transplant! (No lie, folks.)
Mason was absolutely ecstatic – not because Tim was ill and might very likely die, but rather because sitting right before him was a chance to bask in the irony of tables turned on a hypocritical Christian. The planets must have been in perfect alignment or something because a chance like this comes along but once in an atheist’s lifetime. Now the real test was to commence. What was poor old Timmy going to do? Was he going to follow his own advice and rely on the laying of hands for a cure? Was he going to tell his doctor that his services were no longer needed? Yeah, uh huh. Don’t hold your breath.
Well, as you could have guessed, this miserable son of a bitch decided to secure the services of a team of university medical school doctors to save his life. Apparently Dr. Jesus was on vacation because Tim got his name on the heart donor recipient list so fast that his head spun. Believe me, Jesus wasn’t even in Tim’s forethought when he got the news because his name was on that list faster than a televangelist steals collection plate cash to support his coke and hooker addiction.
Mason knew for a fact that there was no laying of hands for Tim. (So much for faith.)
And now for the fun part. There was no way in hell that Mason was going to let Tim off the hook for his duality when the tables turned against him.
Without recounting the exchange (the details of which were delightful to Mason but unimportant to the story), being hypocritical to perfection, Tim explained that “this is different” and that Jesus was going to work through his doctors to save his life and provide a heart when the time was right.
Despite his white knuckles and the bulging vein on his forehead, Mason chocked back what he really wanted to say to this miserable hypocritical little troll: “GO FUCK YOURSELF, YOU BIBLE PUNCHING HYPOCRITE!” But Mason wasn’t going to scream at a well intentioned man who probably wasn’t going to survive the ordeal for long.
That’s strike three, Timmy. Jesus is out!
All’s Well That Ends Well
Mason would have laughed out loud had the transplant failed, but on some level he was truly happy that it didn’t. Jerry was his friend and he wouldn’t want to see his family suffer. In the end, Tim got his new heart and anti-rejection drugs kept him alive and kicking…but only for a short while.
The irking factor, however, is that Tim and Sheila were able to wrap themselves even tighter in their delusion by giving all the thanks and praise to Jesus for saving his life in the short run…and calling Tim home to his heavenly father in the long run. Nope. You just can’t win with these people. They have a rationalization for everything.
Yes, Timmy. Delusion is bliss, ain’t it?
Rest in peace.
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