I attended a secular writers critique group for years. The leader founded the group for Sci-fi writers but accepted what life gave him – a diverse group writing in different genres. He was the only one writing Sci-fi material. I was the only one submitting non-fiction Christian material.
The first year I attended was shaky. Religion is a sensitive topic. We established a rule not to comment on whether or not we agree with a writer’s point of view. Comments were limited to how the material could be improved. Learning to critique without commenting on whether or not they agreed with me was difficult. I made it a point to ignore insults and, if necessary, turn the other cheek, which is not always easy to do. In time, friendships developed and we rarely had a contentious meeting.
There remained a moment of dread when my work was critiqued. I never knew how they would react, especially when a new person joined. We had recently acquired a new member, Otto, a Jew uncertain about his heritage, when we critiqued Heavens Address. I was positive he would be offended by my Christian material.
The critiqued started on a contentious note when one member read from my chapter, “There are no good ole’ boys clubs in heaven” and then took issue with the theme that God does not show favoritism. Apparently, I struck a nerve.
“That’s not true,” he said, “God plays favorites. He showed favor to – ”
“David,” someone blurted out.
“Solomon,” he said.
“So God is not just?” I asked. I couldn’t resist either and could have easily refuted God showed favoritism toward both names that surfaced.
“God is not fair and I’m entitled to my opinion,” he said.
He is entitled to his opinion even though we had a rule not to express such opinions. I decided that I’d said enough.
Several members who favored the “God shows favoritism” opinion had their say and then it was Otto’s turn to comment. I braced for another tongue lashing.
“I’m Jewish,” Otto said. “I’ve read the Old Testament a lot and this is DAMN fine material.” He was very much impressed by what I had written and continued his praise until I was embarrassed.
The meeting ended and the member who set the contentious tone was the first to leave, or so I thought. Before I could leave, Otto picked up where he left off praising Heavens Address. I was humbled that a Jewish man who knew the Old Testament would be so moved by something this Gentile had written.
As I was walking out of the bookstore, I heard, “Goodnight, Teena.” The man who declared “God is not fair” was looking at some books near the place Otto and I were talking. Apparently, he heard everything Otto had to say after the meeting as well.
I drove home feeling vindicated. The next time someone takes issue with your God, don’t defend yourself. There is a Jewish savior in heaven who just might send a Jew to defend you.