By Paul Proctor
October 1, 2005
Earlier this year, when Pastor Rick Warren and the human interest-hungry press began heaving hyperbole over hostage Ashley Smith's alleged miracle in Atlanta, I carefully covered the reported facts in an article entitled: The Purpose Driven Hostage and came to a completely different and less than enchanting conclusion than that of the media at large. It was, I admit, a disconcerting summary and one that certainly wouldn't warm the hearts of fawning Warrenites, help sell any books for Zondervan or ads for any of the competing news networks and chat shows that were all cashing in on Ashley's ordeal.
As a result, many wrote in to me expressing, not only their appreciation; but also their amazement that they had somehow, in all of the excitement, overlooked the contradictions that now seemed so obvious; something, frankly, all of us are capable of when we let ourselves become seduced by voices around us that contradict the Word of God.
As you might expect, there were others who denigrated me for shamefully questioning Ashley Smith's confusing testimony and glorious experience with "God," missing the point of the piece entirely, which I realize can happen when one becomes emotionally invested in a lie. When confronted with the facts, they're forced into either doing an embarrassing about-face in front of everyone and looking like a turncoat and fool or joining in on the attack against that one dissenting voice that had the audacity to ruin the group fuzzy. After all, it's certainly no secret that our sinful nature would much rather laugh with liars than defend the truth alone.
Although the media couldn't wait to turn a mass murderer's conversation with his hostage into a conversion experience for our collective consumption, as if Smith, reading from The Purpose Driven Life, had somehow brought about a spiritual awakening in kidnapper, Brian Nichols' pathetic life; for some reason they didn't think it was all that important or relevant to point out to anyone later that his new "purpose in life" would be to follow Allah and deny his horrific homicides in court before the eyes of those who witnessed them. You see, Nichols not only converted to Islam in jail after the hostage incident, but also pleaded "not guilty" to the four murders he committed in front of numerous witnesses. (Unbeknownst to most Purpose Driven proponents and their prospects; without confession and repentance, there is no conversion to Christ.)
So, if you were looking for a miracle here, it didn't happen - unless you're a Muslim.
After stumbling upon these new developments regarding Nichols a few months ago, I was momentarily inclined to write about some of the rotten fruit that was beginning to appear; but elected to just let it slide since nobody seemed to care much about him anymore; and Ashley, with her newfound fame and fortune was becoming all the rage, much to the delight of Rick Warren and his publishers.
Well, in light of some additional late breaking news concerning our favorite hostage, I would say that it is now time for that PDL fruit update.
As many of you already know, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday the 27th of September, that, in Ashley Smith's newly released book about her hostage experience, entitled, "Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero," she reveals for the first time that, during her captivity, Brian Nichols asked her if she had any marijuana he could smoke. Though Warren's Purpose Driven poster-child-to-be had no pot to give him, she did happen to have some crystal meth tucked away in her purse that she was willing to share.
"Smith says in her book that as the night wore on after Nichols had snorted some of Smith's meth she tried to win Nichols' trust by talking about her faith in God and relating to him her personal stories�She writes that she asked Nichols if he wanted to see the danger of drugs and lifted up her tank top several inches to reveal a five-inch scar down the center of her torso the aftermath of a car wreck caused by drug-induced psychosis. She says she let go of the steering wheel when she heard a voice saying, 'Let go and let God.'" -- Associated Press
That's right; Nichols' new drug supplier and fellow user was compassionately counseling him on the dangers of using drugs - her drugs, to be more specific.
According to Rick Warren, this is how God works.
Now, it doesn't pose all that much of a public relations problem for Ashley Smith and her publisher since she's just a poor, confused recovering drug addict and mental patient who has been through so much in life that nobody with a heart and a hanky is about to hold her responsible for anything prior to her kidnapping, and probably after - especially if she continues to repeat the line that has helped so many busted celebrities over the years: "Yes, I've made some mistakes in the past; but I'm putting it all behind me now and moving on with my life" - which happens to be in keeping with Rick Warren's "accept yourself, love yourself, forgive yourself, believe in yourself and be true to yourself" gospel of self-esteem that he so courageously proclaimed in the March 2005 issue of The Ladies Home Journal.
This does, however, present a potentially explosive public relations nightmare for "America's Pastor" and his Purpose Driven Premise among more biblically minded evangelicals since he specifically used Ashley Smith's "miracle" to help market himself, his books, his programs and his Peace Plan to fellow Christians, many of whom believe that crystal meth is not a fruit of the Spirit. In fact, I believe the hostage crisis was even called the "high water mark" for his book; and this, my friends was the point of my Purpose Driven Hostage commentary that some seemed to miss.
It's not about criticizing or condemning struggling victims like Ashley Smith, even though she obviously has many serious obstacles yet to overcome. It is about warning her and others like her that tragedy awaits those who hear and obey voices that contradict the Word of God, however compelling they may be; something Ashley has a history of doing.
She went on to say in the AP article: "It's hard for people to understand the miracle of the story�"
Well, yes Ashley, it is; but I'm sure Tricky Ricky and his public relations team will think of something. They always do�
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." - 1st John 4:1
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Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print.
It's not about criticizing or condemning struggling victims like Ashley Smith, even though she obviously has many serious obstacles yet to overcome. It is about warning her and others like her that tragedy awaits those who hear and obey voices that contradict the Word of God...