All the credit. Zero blame.


I recently was on a business trip to Denver when my phone started blowing up. My aunt was calling and leaving messages continuously. I was in a conference, so I couldn’t answer or check the messages. But about the time the fourth time my phone vibrated, I knew I needed to excuse myself and figure out what was going on.

Before I let you in on what happened, let me give you a bit of background on my aunt. She is in fact my aunt, as she is my mother’s sister. But she is only 13 years older than me and it really seemed a small 13 year spread growing up. We always had more of an older sister/younger brother relationship (which is my favorite sibling relationship thanks to some spectacular older sisters in my life). I’ve always been very close to my aunt which is saying a lot. I really am not close to many relatives (sure that is my fault), but for those that I am close to, I am very close and fiercely loyal. And she is one of my favorites which means we are very close and I would do absolutely anything for her.

She always treated me as a peer when I was growing up which meant the world to me. Here she was, this young, cool, great-looking girl who went out of her way to include me as a friend, not as a kid she was related to. That always made me feel good about myself. She took me to my first concert, she took me along on some of her dates (and I willingly gave feedback on how suitable I thought these guys were), I was with her when I drank my first beer in a bar, she bought me my first Rush album, she made me dance the first time (this was the song) in public, and we had countless great times on my grandparents’ boat.

As we grew older, that 13 year age difference continued to shrink. I married and had kids first. She married and had kids later. I’m not sure when it happened, but eventually that age difference was completely gone. We counted each other as friends. She sought my advice on difficult issues she faced. She asked Susanne and I to take care of the kids should something happen to her. She trusted me and I her.

So my aunt has always been one of a handful of people who are very important to me. I’ve always appreciated our relationship and I’ve always loved her a lot.

Back in Denver, I stepped outside and called her back. I immediately knew something was very wrong. She was struggling to speak and fighting the tears. Eventually the word came out. CANCER. It struck me so hard. The weight of it crushed me. But as I am prone to do, I hid my reaction. I wanted to be strong for her, to reassure her, to encourage her, and to let her know that I loved her. I didn’t want her to sense any negativity, worry, despair, or dread from me.

I tried to take an analytical approach to the conversation. I wanted to know the facts, what WE were up against, and how WE were going to beat it. What type of cancer? Is it contained? What is the prognosis? She didn’t have a lot of answers then, but of course, she had a plan. That’s the kind of person she is. Her plan involved the assemblage of a team. Each team member would have certain responsibilities for oversight within a specific area of her treatment or life. She wanted me to be a team member and tasked me with assisting with her finances. I of course agreed. I was encouraged that she had a similar analytical approach and that she was already planning for her success. I think she may have done more to pick me up during that conversation than the other way around.

Another team member was charged with team organization and communication. The communication has been primarily through e-mail amongst all the team members and some additional family and close friends. And apparently everyone on the e-mail distribution list is very Christian. Well, save one.

So she began her fight, the team members began their assignments, and the e-mails started flowing.

Of course there was a bunch of the “we’re praying for you” stuff early. It irritated me. I mean seriously – what the hell does prayer do? Do you really have to ask your god nicely to save my aunt? Why can’t he just do it because it’s the right thing to do? Is he such a horrible being that he won’t intercede unless you bow down, kiss his ass, and beg? My aunt has been a believer and fan of the guy her entire life – shouldn’t that be enough for him? Why does he require prayer? But I let it all go and made no comment. There were actual, real issues to be dealt with and I didn’t want to distract anyone from their task.

Her doctor said she needed to immediately remove all stressors from her life. The kids would have to move in with their dad. The dog was going to need to go with them. Everything she was working on from that proverbial front burner would not only have to be removed from the front burner, it would have to be taken completely off the stove and forgotten about for now. And someone was going to have to take in my grandma who was living with her.

Initially, my uncle was going to take in Grandma, but then he had his own family situation that prevented that. So, out went the e-mail requests. And so began the prayers to their deity to find someone to take Grandma. Lo and behold, their prayers were answered. My grandmother’s sister would take her in until my uncle could do it. Apparently this was viewed as a miracle by these people. Seriously. A miracle. A woman’s sister agrees to let her stay for a few weeks and that was proof to them that their imaginary friend was on the case. How ridiculous is that?

Here are a few comments that appeared in the team e-mails regarding Grandma’s sister agreeing to put her up a few weeks:

“Praise God – that is one less thing to worry about!”

“This is a beautiful invitation. What a blessing!”

“Keep those prayers going that Grandma views this as an opportunity to visit with her sister.”

“Per Romans 8:28, God could bring several good things from this!”

“God is so good.”

God is so good. Really? Can anyone explain that to me? Go ahead and explain to me as if I’m a complete moron with zero understanding of this God character.

This is one thing about religious people that irks the hell out of me. All this praise was heaped on their god for apparently interceding and working his magic. Sans supernatural-being magical intervention, I guess her sister wouldn’t have taken Grandma in for a few weeks. So everyone thanks the Lord and credits him with this miraculous event.

Well, I hate to urinate in everyone’s Wheaties, but fuck your non-existent god and the bullshit, Bronze-age text he rode in on. How can you as a decent human being thank him for something that clearly would have happened regardless and completely ignore the fact that he has allowed my aunt to be stricken with this horrible disease? She has to undergo multiple surgeries, months of painful chemo and radiation treatment, deal with her entire life being turned upside down – all with no guarantee of any return to normalcy. Isn’t anyone going to address the fact that their god is a real asshole for doing that to my aunt?

You can’t have it both ways Christians. If your god deserves praise for finding Grandma a place to crash for a few weeks, he deserves all the blame for putting my aunt, his loyal follower, through this horrible ordeal.


8 thoughts on “All the credit. Zero blame.

  1. Kevin McCreight

    Jim, I am sorry to hear yet another person must deal with this retched disease that seems to have no boundaries. It is my wish that this journey finds you with all the strength and courage you need to complete it, whatever the outcome may be.
    Try not to let the others draw you into anger, their naivety will eventually become apparent to them, whether now or after their last breath has been drawn. I can tell you that after my dad died, it was the final push that several years later led me to the realization there is no god. It was a weird sensation, part relief, part disappointment that I had wasted so many of my years believing in falsities….but it finally did come.
    Don’t look at them with contempt and anger, but pity them and wish them instead a speedy recovery to logic and rationalization. I was once like them, so convinced in my beliefs. It took a senseless loss for me to ignite the flame of reason and true thought and it may well be that this is as much for them as anyone else that has come before us.
    You were right when you wrote a while back that it is easier to believe in a god. To think that this is just part of his master plan, or a test of faith is so much easier than the reality of shitty luck. I lift my glass to you and your aunt and send every bit of warm and caring thoughts that I can muster your way. If you are ever in need of a favor or just to vent, you know where to reach me. Best to you all.

  2. Marina

    So sorry to hear that your Aunt is sick. I hope that she will have the strength to kick cancers ass! She certainly has surrounded herself with the best team to help her in that fight!

  3. Ted

    My wife’s grand father recently fell very ill with double pneumonia. He was in intensive care in the hospital for a couple weeks. His condition was very precarious for a couple weeks (especially due to his age of 85 years) but he pulled through and is making a slow recovery. No doubt, this is due to the excellent medical care he received.
    He is a fourth generation farmer; its highly likely had this happened 100 years ago, the outcome would have been much worse.
    I cant tell you how many times I have heard family members attribute this to the token “power of prayer”, or say silly things such as “see, god was listening” nonsense. Mean while, atrocities are happening all day every day and its crickets with regards to God’s influence.
    Long story short – I am with ya on this Boats.

    • Exactly Ted. And 100 years ago when those prayers would have likely gone unanswered, the response would have been something about the deity working in mysterious ways and him being in a better place.

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