Making friends with believers

Julie Ferwerda

The other day, I mocked poked fun at a woman named Julie Ferwerda for writing a web editorial about dating Jesus. You can see the original post here.

Ferwerda’s editorial was an easy target, and I shallowly attempted to make a joke of it. Ferwerda caught wind of my post and has responded to it, which impressed me in a weird way.

This past weekend, I went to the gym. I got an email notification in my earphones while I was on the second mile of a 5K treadmill run. I switched over to my email to see this:

Julie Ferwerda | Hey Jeremy | January 16, 2011

In other words, it was a direct email from Julie Ferwerda. Her message was “Hey Jeremy” and the date is pretty self explanatory. This wasn’t on the blog. This was personal. My knee-jerk reaction: Ferwerda means business.

My heart sank. I panicked a little. I refused to click on it right away. I felt like it was going to be angry, and I didn’t want to be flung off the treadmill in the event it shocked me. So I kept running.

“Shit,” I thought. “I’ve managed to piss off this random woman and she’s now emailing me personally to take down my asshole post.” My mind was racing with all kinds of possibilities of how she was going to rip me a new asshole. Plus I thought she was Asian, because the picture at the top of her editorial was of an Asian woman looking downward. Apparently she’s not Asian.

Or maybe she was going to be nice about everything, and say, “Pretty please with sugar on top, take down your post.”

And I would say, “Screw that. I’m leaving it up. You put yourself out there. You get criticized. Own up, bitch.”

You know. It’s the Internet. You can call a woman a bitch while hiding behind the safety of your computer screen. It’s easy. Try it sometime. It’s invigorating!

I finished my workout, went down to the locker room, avoided eye contact with all the dudes walking around, showered, dressed and went out to the lobby. I sat down on a cushy leather couch and opened the email.

And what to my wondering eyes did appear? There was a kind-hearted email from a genuinely curious and interested person. Ferwerda complemented me explaining that we might have come from similar positions but landed on two different platforms. She is still a believer and I’m not.

So we’ve exchanged a couple, “hey how’s it going” emails.

Unlike most believers I know, Ferwerda has read and researched Christianity and religion. She’s read Ehrman and others. She’s a well-rounded believer. I respect that. A lot.

Of course a “real” Christian would criticize her. She doesn’t believe in hell. She doesn’t call herself a Christian, which is a sticky point for me, but whatever. She does follow Jesus and she believes she’ll be in heaven someday.

You can go read her blog. It’s damn interesting. Ferwerda is a dedicated mother and wife. She’s involved in all kinds of things I respect (e.g. humanitarian causes, dispelling biblical misconceptions, etc.). I have a feeling that several of my lurking readers who are looking for a way to express their doubts about Christianity but not ready to take the atheist plunge would LOVE Ferwerda’s blog.

Even more awesome, Ferwerda wants to send me a copy of her forthcoming book that I can read and discuss here. I’m giddy with excitement.

The way I see Ferwerda is she’s a gateway drug to this side of a coin. She’s a stepping stone toward non-belief, or at least a more realistic view of the world through an educated view of bible.

Sure, sure, I could criticize Ferwerda on a few things. And I’m sure you could, too. But you have to respect someone like her. I mean, she’s got a sense of humor. And a sense of humor goes a long way.


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