Editor’s Note: In place of our usual columnist, who cited exhaustion brought on by watching the Music City Marathon, we offer the following letter that miraculously arrived in our offices on Sunday. It was addressed to Charlie Ward of the New York Knicks and to the Nashville-headquartered Baptist Sunday School Board. Its authenticity cannot be verified; however, the letter bears an Iowa postmark.
Dear Charlie: While resting last Sabbath, I caught a discussion on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters about some remarks you recently made concerning Jewish people. I believe you said the following: that Jesus’ blood was on their hands; that they wouldn’t have wanted him crucified had he not told them truths they didn’t want to hear; and that Jews still persecuted Christians today.
I know the media have made your life hellish ever since you made those unfortunate statements. Nevertheless, I feelcompelled to weigh in on this subject, in the hopes of straightening out somemisconceptions.
First of all, contrary to what the pundits say, what you’ve been experiencing is not really a living hell. Not even close. There’s a room way downstairs, if you follow my meaning, where some poor souls have to watch an endless loop of Matlock reruns. (Every Wednesday night, the dialogue is overdubbed in Korean.) Talk about gnashing of teeth. But I mention it in the hopes that this prospect will keep you on the straight and narrow.
On that subject: Hey, you screwed up. But I’m not going to come down on you with a lightning strike. Being who I am (All-Knowing, All-Seeing, etc.), I know what’s in your heart, and I know your observations about Jews were a reflection mostly of ignorance. Believe me, I’ve heard a lot worse.
Also, it’s not like I’ve never made a mistake. That’s right, I admit it. You’ve probably read about the time when all the things I created were so screwed up that I flooded the world and pretty much started over. Sports journalists were another mistake, although I am not taking the rap for Dennis Miller or Marv Albert. Human free will enters into this equation somewhere, and that’s one of the things I want to discuss with you.
Your first mistake was choosing to talk candidly to the media. Let me tell you, the wily serpent has nothing on these guys. As a group, they’re no more interested in you than in Adam’s off-ox. They’re just interested in getting a storythe more sensational the betterand they weaseled you into serving one up on a platter like John the Baptist’s head.
God only knows ( if I may use that expression) why the views of a basketball player on religion, or any subject other than basketball, would have news value. Would anyonesave for USA TODAY, and don’t get Me started on that ragcare what Shaq thinks about campaign finance reform? Please. Another example: If Ty Cobb were here (he wished!), I’d love to talk with him about the science of hitting. His thoughts on racewhich, of course, I already knoware about as useful as teats on a boar hog (one of My other occasional slipups).
But just because the guys who dangle microphones in front of you are tricksters, that doesn’t absolve you of responsibility. I’m sorry the New York fans booed you. But you bit the apple, so you had to suffer the consequences at the Garden.
Frankly, I’m surprised at you, and I don’t get surprised often. You’re not some rookie from Holy Cross. You’ve been in the league long enough to know to stick to phrases like “We were really in the zone tonight” and “They just wanted it more than we did.” Maybe I should go check our records and see where you were when I handed out the brains.
You were absolutely right about one thing: The Jews are a stubborn people. That’s one of the things I like about them. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I chose them.
When you consider all the stuff the Jews have gone throughslavery in Egypt, exile in Babylon, the Romans, the Spanish Inquisition, yadayadayadaa less stubborn nation probably would have bailed on Me a long time ago. Can you imagine the unholy train wreck if I had made the French My chosen people? Picture how fast the Italians would’ve switched over to Satan’s side the first time I even broached the idea of circumcision. The Jews have stayed put. Sure, the kvetching can get to you, but that’s a pretty small price to pay. Besides, I have the patience of Job.
Here’s something else I need to fill you in on, Charlie, so you can tell some of the other Christians who don’t seem to have gotten The Word yet. I thought about this all day yesterdaythat would be a couple of millennia, by your calendarand I’m not so sure the Jews need converting.
Last time My Son was down thereand, by the way, He speaks for Me completelyHe told everybody who would listen that He hadn’t come to replace the Law of Moses but to fulfill it. In fact, He said He wasn’t changing a jot or tittle (or at least some Aramaic words to that effect). And when He met the Samaritan woman at the well, He told her, “Salvation comes from the Jews.” A lot of people conveniently overlook that one, Charlie, though I know you must have read it. If not, you can look it up in the Gospel according to John. A lot of people think I Ghost-wrote that book. For the record, I didn’t, though it is a personal favorite.
More than once, Jesus said He came to save the lost sheep. The ones who never strayed from the foldthat is, who followed both the spirit and the letter of the Lawwere in good shape. And I shouldn’t have to remind you that the first Christians were almost all Jews and just naturally figured they’d stay that way. In fact, no less than Peter, who’s still clanging around the keys to my kingdom somewhere, was pretty well convinced you couldn’t be a Christian without being a Jew. You should be eternally grateful I overruled him on that one.
Having said all that, Charlie, I’m not really chapped at you. Sure, I could cast the first stone if I wanted. But I know that you were genuinely remorseful when you realized what you had done. You’re a good young man, and, take it from me, you have a bright future.
In My book, your words weren’t hate speech but ignorant speech. And it wasn’t even malicious ignorance but just ignorant ignorance. As to the former category, there is something you can do for me: Go have a talk with your Southern Baptist brothers and some of the rest. (I’m copying them on this letter to smooth the way for you.)
I still remember a few years ago when the big poobah of the Southern Baptist Convention declared, “God does not hear the prayer of the Jew.” (Again, news to Me.) That statement was a lot closer to Hitler than anything you said. So tell that guy and those who think like him that I said cut the crap, or one of these days I’m gonna cloud up and rain all over them. Tell them to let My people be.
Oh, and if ever you find yourself matched up on a basketball court with Rev. Pat Robertson, I’d be amused if you dunked in his mug. Boo-yeah!