Though I haven’t had much time lately to read, I have been able to get into Jim Wallis’ book, God’s Politics. It is a great book that every Christian should take seriously. There are several things I will probably quote from his book in coming weeks on the blog, but I found the following letter from Wallis that appeared on MSN’s website for quite awhile in response to comments about religion made by Jesse Ventura very interesting. I know it’s old news, so if you have already hears about this, I’m sorry to be so far behind the times. If not, I would recommend reading on. I especially appreciate his wit.
An Open Letter to Jesse Ventura
You and I have never met; we’ve lived in different worlds. I’ve never been a biker or boa-feathered wrestler. And you, I’ll guess, have never led a prayer meeting. But you’ve been preaching a lot of sermons lately. Even one on religion, in Playboy magazine no less! I read the interview and thought I’d write to straighten out some of your misunderstandings, just to be helpful. There’s probably a lot you don’t know about religious people, but now that you’re governor you’ll want to find out.
You said, “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers….” Well, you’ve got a point if you mean those who just go to Sunday services and treat it like a nice club. But there are quite a few religious folks who try to live their faith between Sundays, 24/7 as they say.
First, you might want to visit your own inner-city pastors in Minnesota. I know a lot of them, and they’re pretty tough minded, even though they’ve got big hearts. You see, they live and work in urban war zones where one has to demonstrate the love of God and not just talk about it. I’ve seen you wrestler guys strut around the ring, but I doubt if many of you would make it in a neighborhood like mine. Anyway, I’ve been with some of your pastors at gang peace summits, no place for the weak-minded, and they could teach you some stuff.
I’m sure you’ve already been reminded about Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, who were pretty tough. Just ask the Southern governors or the British. I remember watching South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu face down armed security police inside his cathedral in Cape Town. And did you know Nelson Mandela, who was probably the strongest political leader on the planet, is a religious man?
I wish you could meet my friends Daniel and Phillip Berrigan. They’re Catholic priests who’ve been fighting against nuclear weapons for decades and have spent years in jail for their often lonely protests. I guess they don’t need strength in numbers. Ever spent any time in jail, Jesse, I mean for doing something right? Lots of us religious folks have.
Most of the people I’m thinking of are not famous. I also know the streets of Olongapo in the Philippines—you know, that place you said you had fun with young girls. What you probably didn’t know was that they were poor, rural girls lured into prostitution with the promise of urban jobs. They became virtual sex slaves, drugged and forced to live in barracks-like quarters for the profit of businessmen. I’ve walked those streets with a Mennonite relief worker who helped the girls overcome their addictions and diseases. You can imagine how tough-minded a person has to be to open a shelter for the girls and take on the pimps. You wouldn’t want to cross her, Jesse.
Many of the folks I wish you could meet are close to home, in neighborhoods all over the country. They take in refugee families, run homeless shelters and soup kitchens, mentor at-risk kids, and walk alongside poor families making the transition from welfare to work.
I suspect you’re the kind of stand-up guy who would want to know when you got it wrong. So I thought I’d drop you a line. Hope I’ve been helpful. Maybe we could arm wrestle some time.
Enjoy the weekend.