Bad Advice On God And Buying Shit

Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.

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“I have been mentoring a young woman for about five years at my current company. I was instrumental in hiring her at this job (as well as her previous position). I am a fashion designer and have made gowns for many top celebrities.
When it came time for her to marry, she chose to have her gown made by someone with far less experience and who has a reputation for making trashy and cheap clothing.
I found this out by accident and have been feeling sad and insulted ever since. I have been steering clear of the young woman, who seems to have no idea how she has offended me. After so many years of friendship (or at least what I thought was such), I feel not only insult but loss.
I want to let this go, but I don’t know what to do.”
— From Sad Designer via “Dear Am,” 19 July 2016:

Dear Sad Designer,

Some people foolishly mentor young folks with the hope that they’ll impart their wisdom and experience upon a new generation of achievers. Many others wrongly suppose that, in helping the youths learn from the mistakes of their elders, they’ll create a better, more equitable and positive world and workplace. They are all missing the point: Mentoring young people is about making them buy your shit.

You haven’t put your time and energy into helping this young woman build her career only to have her cruelly decide, out of absolute malevolence and heartlessness, not to buy your shit! Your shit is objectively the best, and everybody else’s shit objectively sucks. That this ungrateful lady can’t see that is truly a specific loss for you, the person who should have had the most say in what your mentee wears to her own wedding.

It’s kind that you want to let this go, but that’s probably impossible given the level of damage this young, selfish woman has done to you personally, on purpose, by not buying your shit. If you let this go and treat this young woman like an adult human who is allowed to choose her own wedding dress, it’s likely that she may come to believe that humans aren’t obligated to buy people’s shit. Think of the consequences down the line! There may be photographers, bakers, writers, plumbers, electricians, picture framers, landscapers, roofers, contractors, and lawyers who are professional acquaintances of this young woman and who will be similarly snubbed by her failure to engage their services at every opportunity.

Everyone has to buy everyone else’s shit all the time, or else shit may go unbought, the greatest tragedy — greater even, if you can imagine it, than a woman wearing a wedding gown that someone at work doesn’t like.

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“I noticed a very attractive woman coming out of the library. She was wearing a soft, feminine short skirt. I wanted to compliment her, so I walked over and said, ‘I love your skirt — it looks so pretty.’ She said, ‘Thank you. You made my day!’
We had a great conversation for several minutes, after which we went our separate ways. Afterward I was kicking myself because I didn’t ask for her phone number. It felt good to know that my compliment made her feel pretty.
Do most women appreciate compliments about their clothing? I wouldn’t want to make a woman feel uncomfortable. But it brightens my day when I can compliment someone.
— From LARRY IN LOS ANGELES via “Dear Abby,” 23 September 2016

Dear Larry in Los Angeles,

Yes, all women everywhere are dying to know that you approve of their sartorial choices. They are all on tenterhooks wondering whether Larry finds them attractive. It is their dearest wish to have Larry’s approval, without which women are but empty shells of despair, waiting to be filled by Larry’s opinions about what they wear.

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“I’m a 27-year-old man who practices the Catholic faith. I got into some trouble with my foster parents awhile back, and they forbade me from coming to their house. I don’t know who my biological parents are, but I prayed and prayed that someday they would rescue me from each foster home I was in (a total of five).
I was married to a woman for eight months and 19 days. I gave her everything she wanted material-wise, and I loved her like I’ve loved no one before, but she still cheated. Before she left me for another man, I prayed that God would make her see that I was the right man for her, but again my prayers went unanswered.
If God really exists, shouldn’t he answer at least one of my prayers, being that I’m a faithful servant?”
— From Faithful Servant, via “Ask Willie D.,” Houston Press, 8 September 2016

Dear Faithful Servant,

One’s religious journey often presents a number of mysteries — What happens after we die? Why does the Tooth Fairy give some children more money than others? — but none is greater than the quandary you have presented: If God is real, why doesn’t he act like the delicious candy machine of goodwill that He’s supposed to be?

Some among us may wonder why God allows, say, racist dictators to commit genocide, or why God puts guns in the hands of would-be mass murderers. But you ask a more important, and a more fundamental question: Why isn’t God forcing people to do what you want them to do in exchange for your faithful servitude? After all, that’s definitely what the Bible says: Go to church, and God will totally hook you up (there’s also something in there about cloven-hooved animals). That’s why literally every person of religious faith on earth gets what they want all the time, except you.

It’s not up to you to take responsibility for your actions and to make the best of the hand you’ve been dealt! Nobody has ever said that God helps those who help themselves. Think of God as a giant tally card in the sky, ticking off favors to give to people who say nice things about Him. After all, that’s what relationships are, right — since God made us in His image? They’re wholly transactional situations wherein you get to decide what should make other people happy, and they pledge niceness in return.

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