I didn’t intend to publish this letter on my blog, but I couldn’t find anywhere to actually send it to Penn. So here it is, on my blog, right where he’ll see it ;-)
I thought about trying to write a witty opening line, to keep you interested, but this is all I could come up with. Watching you on Celebrity Apprentice gave me an even greater appreciation for you as an intelligent, thoughtful, and talented man. Cards on the table, I’m a Christian pastor (Southern Baptist, no less), but I am allowed to watch TV, as long as it doesn’t lead to dancing. I had been exposed to your career in various ways, but felt like I sort of “got to know you” through seeing you on Apprentice.
Watching you choking out an impassioned explanation of how Opportunity Village empowers people “who would otherwise just be thrown away” moved me deeply. Here I am, so many months later, reading the Bible on my Kindle and my thoughts wandering a little and I thought about it again. I seriously considered writing you a letter like this then, but I didn’t. I don’t know why. Maybe I didn’t want to be another guy aiming for “the atheist who promoted proselytizing on YouTube.”
But it has nagged at me off and on, so here I am. The general thrust of what I have wanted to say then and now is that my heart ached with you as you talked about human beings being “thrown away”. And my heart ached as I just wanted to speak into the TV and explain that the only basis for treating so-called “throw-away” people with the dignity Opportunity Village does is found in a Christian worldview. Obviously, you disagree with me, but I see no way that a Darwinian, literally godless framework can find room for compassion for the weak and the less efficient. Such compassion can only flow from the image of God the Creator stamped on our humanity and the vestiges of his compassionate grace that still rattles around our stony hearts. Such compassion in our society is a lingering remnant of a Christian worldview that had embedded itself in our society. In the same way, I believe your compassion for such people comes from the God you so famously don’t believe in.
Like I said, I’ve wanted to tell you this for awhile, and now I know at least I’ve said what I feel bone-deep. Obviously all I see is the “public Penn”, but if Public Penn indicates you truly, I am sure you are a compassionate and kind man.