We are all precious in his sight, even Pat Buchanan

Published March 10, 1996 3:27PM (EST)

have the teeniest suspicion that some of you out there might not be heavily into Christianity, so perhaps I should begin by saying that right now it is Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, which is the day that John the Baptist baptized Jesus, after which Jesus walked in the desert for 40 days mulling things over. So during Lent one is supposed to mull things over just like Jesus did.

Catholics are big on giving things up for Lent, but we Protestants mostly just mull. So I personally get to mull over my craziness and my pathological self-justification and my profound lack of willingness to forgive.

As I said to an audience in Indianapolis, I am not one of those Christians who is heavily into forgiveness. And someone later asked me, "What kind of Christian are you?" and I said, "I'm the other kind."

So during this Lenten season, I have to deal with all the rage I feel against Republicans. I asked my friend the priest if it was a problem for Jesus that I hated the Republicans and he said, Oh no, Jesus hates them too. But I thought that despite what this holy man of God said I should take a look at my incredible anger at the Grand Old Party, as I believe it is called.

Unfortunately, by this incredible coincidence right before Lent I wrote a review of the new thriller by Pat Robertson, and in it I said that Pat was perhaps just a wee bit rigid and maybe he had not listened to the Dylan classic "With God On Our Side" enough times.

The review came out and Lent began and I was asking Jesus to help me see that it's madness to have such overt hostility to Republicans, and I was praying to Jesus to make me more like Him, welcoming all beings, even Pat Buchanan. Because that is the truth: Jesus welcomes Pat Buchanan in exactly the same way that he welcomes my tiny princess self, even though Pat Buchanan is batshit crazy.

So then the phone calls began. I appear to have gotten on some right-wing Christian telephone hate list and my phone number is being faxed all over the country and these women call up and say, "You don't know me, and I guess you think you have a funny tongue inside that mouth of yours, and I guess maybe the devil does too, and I think that all I need to say is that I will see you at the throne of judgment."

And the voice is so warm and friendly, it's like one of those flight attendants you get when you fly out of Atlanta, and she's asking me if I would like some orange juice and by the way I was going to rot before the throne of judgment. All the callers mentioned that throne, I think they may have had a script, and one time it was a man's voice and for a while I thought it was my brother Steve trying to make me laugh, and when I realized it wasn't I also realized that I couldn't find the portable phone, which my son Sam had put in a box for what were no doubt very good reasons of his own, so I was looking like a madwoman all over the house as this voice kept coming from my answering machine filled with contemptuous rage and hatred, and I noticed dimly that it exactly matched the contemptuous rage and hatred that I was feeling.

I finally found the phone and hung it up and stood there in the bedroom and realized that there was no difference between my callers and me, that we were both trapped by rage and judgment and profound lack of willingness to forgive.

And it was at that moment that Lent actually started for me, and once again I became so relieved that I have a Savior.

By Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is the New York Times bestselling author of "Help, Thanks, Wow"; "Small Victories"; "Stitches"; "Some Assembly Required"; "Grace (Eventually)"; "Plan B"; "Traveling Mercies"; "Bird by Bird"; "Operating Instructions" and "Hallelujah Anyway," out April 4. She is also the author of several novels, including "Imperfect Birds" and "Rosie." A past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an inductee to the California Hall of Fame, she lives in Northern California.

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