Him: "Not that we trust you for a second. It just occurred to us that Balaam's ass in the Old Testament (Numbers 22:21-39) means that we might need advice from a simple creature."
Me: "Thanks. I think."
It was easy work. I sat down and immediately came up with the following lesson outline for the new FFF manual.
Lesson One: Coping with Hoping: We've heard ad nauseam that homosexuality is of the devil. But what should happen if your kid (or the neighbor kid) announces they are gay? Resort to Old Testament scriptures while showing them the door, or love and accept them just the same?
Lesson Two: The Whole Fam-Damn-ily. What do you do when someone in the family breaks ranks and leaves the church? Do you follow your heart and reassure them that they are still in your Celestial will, or do you accept/dwell on the advice of Someone who had to drown his own children?
Lesson Three: Some things are sacred and shouldn't be treated with lightmindedness, in the manner of a certain newspaper columnist. That's cool. Just remember that there's far greater danger in being overly heavy-minded. That's when people get hurt.
Lesson Four: NOYFB Sex, busybodies, and the sometimes latent voyeurism of ecclesiastical interviews. Figuring out who you should confess your sins to when the only entity that ultimately matters already knows about them.
Lesson Five: Discipline and the Dichotomy of Church Punishment. Why do adulterers and apostates get the chop, when robbers of widows and orphans don't miss a minute of blessing potential?
Lesson Six: Gospel and Bureaucracy. Spirituality doesn't need a chain of command. It may be a necessary evil now but won't exist in the hereafter when confused bureaucracy is a required element of hell.
Lesson Seven: Dressing for Spiritual Success. Other than that they require turning up the heat to insufferable levels for suit-wearing men, are the bare shoulders of women actual tools of Satan?
Lesson Eight: Coping With Church Social Pressure. What to do if a mission isn't for you, but something you're better suited for the military, Peace Corps, or caring for refugees is just the ticket? Footnote: How to lovingly tell others where to get off.
Lesson Nine: Gossip What part of our neighbor's business is also our business? None of it, unless you live next door to someone like me, in which case it requires getting off your butts and helping out, even if it just means calling the police.
Lesson Ten: Whose Money Is It Anyway? Technically, the entire world belongs to our Creator (yes, even if said creator is a series of random events), but it's still your choice to pay tithing on what and to whom you think you should.
Lesson Eleven: Paying Attention. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding" except when crossing the street, handling loaded firearms, changing the oil in your car, rock-climbing, cannon-shooting, etc.
Lesson Twelve: Communicating with the Lord. Prayer is important, but it doesn't always have to be done in a groveling manner. Prayer can also be couched every bit effectively as an argument, a demand, or even akin to hostage negotiation. Just keep the line of communication open.
Robert Kirby can be reached at email@example.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.