Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We'll all burn soon enough

Dr. Lovemonkey, relationship columnist from the Providence Phoenix, printed a letter in yesterday's column from a 14-year-old girl who is being harrassed by a religious popular girl. She writes:
Dear Dr. Lovemonkey,

I am a 14-year-old girl with a big problem. There's a popular girl in my class who tells me that everything I like is evil, and that I shouldn't like this or that because when I die I will go to hell. She thinks liking rock and roll and reading fantasy books is sinful. She goes on and on about what the Bible says and that the music, books, and people I like are all "evil." I respect what she likes, and I think she should respect what I like, too. I think that I'm okay but her constant put-downs sometimes cause me to feel depressed and wonder if I am okay. What do you think?

--A Little Confused
The reply is amazingly bland:
Dear A Little Confused,

Don't be confused. You are okay and this girl in your class is obviously only able to boost her own self-confidence by putting someone else down. Avoid her, pay no attention to her, and hope that she will grow up. You sound like you have a pretty good sense of balance.
Ashley: Wow. This response is so blah that I couldn't even muster an opinion.

Lulu: I know!

Ashley: Even though the exact same thing happened to me in high school. I think my interaction went:
Girl: You know, you'll go to hell for reading those books!
Me: Will you be there?
Girl: No!
Me: Sweet.
That does tend to end the conversation rather permanently, though.

Lulu: That might not be a bad thing. She doesn't say if she wants to be friends with this person. If she does, why? They don't seem to have anything in common. She may just be a nice girl who wants to live and let live, with neither of them judging each other, but I don't think that's realistic. You can only control your own (outward, anyway) judging, not someone else's. The best she can do is to be polite and cheerful about refusing to discuss eternal damnation.
Girl: You know, you'll go to hell for reading those books!
LW: Sorry, I'm not interested in discussing it. What are you guys doing in fifth-period gym, volleyball?
Ashley: The best thing is probably just to say no, firmly but politely. It's unclear if she's tried that. Just a basic, "I don't share your beliefs, so we'll have to agree to disagree" repeated ad nauseum. Any actual engagement is just going to prolong the conversation.

Lulu: Right, like you'd turn down anyone. Engaging with a proselytizer is like talking to someone who wants to go on a date with you, but who you would never go out with. It may be counterintuitively kinder to be brusque. She doesn't want to give the other girl false hope that she could be talked into converting. Eventually, the other girl will get tired of bringing it up, but only if the letter-writer doesn't give her anything to go on, ever.

Ashley: Although I still don't see a reason to be nice.

Lulu: Burn that bridge!


  1. 14 year old girls listen to music that they refer to as "rock and roll" and it is considered evil by their ultra-Christian peers?

    Was this letter dug up from a time capsule buried in 1955?

  2. Oh, yeah, the 50s didn't come to Rhode Island until like 1993.

  3. So it's true that there are actually popular Christian girls at high school? I thought it was a concept made up by _Glee_ and _Easy A_ to enable plots that would only make any sense in the seventeenth century.