Worst Advice Column Ever (this week)
Here is the dilemma.
Imagine you have a child. Because you and the child's mother have separated, the child is brought up by her mother, but you still play a big part in the child's life. Since the mother has custody, you leave the child's religious education to the mother's family.
Unfortunately, the child is brought up as a Fundamentalist Christian.
This is the problem faced by one single dad who is apparently going to Hell. The child cries and has nightmares about her dad burning in Lucifer's inferno for all Eternity. He can't mention trigger issues like evolution or homosexuality because she has been indoctrinated into a cult of evangelical irrational hatred.
Quite a conundrum.
Luckily, Cary Tennis, The Salon's advice columnist, is on hand to respond to this letter from the self-styled 'Unholy Father.' Bizarrely, Tennis cack-handedly compares God to football: if football can exist, so can God, or some such nonsense.
His main suggestion is that the father should go Church and see for himself what all the fuss is about, to show he has 'independence of spirit' and isn't 'dogmatic or close[sic]-minded'–that he's just like, say, the completely open-minded, non-hidebound church.
Then, he should chat with church officials to find out if there's a loophole in the 'Eternal Damnation' clause whereby he can assure his daughter that he's not going to Hell.
The father's letter is level-headed and strikes a careful note of concern about his daughter, without being shrill or nasty. However, Tennis' reply variously implies that the father (because he doesn't believe in God or religion) is obviously closed-minded, fearful, glib, dogmatic, and argumentative. I find his logic appalling, spurious, and revolting.
What really galls me is that Tennis suggests that the letter writer has probably already made a 'silent act of surrender' to God in his heart, but is somehow denying it out of sheer pig-headedness.
His attitude is typical of religious types who assume some secret, cosmic insight into life, the universe, and everything (and other people's 'souls') simply because they believe, without any good reason, in the ancient naive ramblings of superstitious narrow-minded cults.
Well done, The Salon–you're getting more like The Onion with a straight face.