Dear Reverend Hanson:

Hallelujah, I am saved! Since my dear wife died some years back, I've found it harder and harder to keep to the straight and narrow path. I have cussed, I have struck out in anger, and more than once I have drank myself asleep to stem my weeping. These have been difficult times for me, but your blessed advice column, your books, and exercise video have guided me.

Last night as I knelt in prayer, I was filled with pure, blinding light as a voice spoke to me from deep within my own soul. The voice told me I am a wretched sinner, but I may yet redeem myself in the eyes of the Lord. Then it commanded me to burn your books and videos and to stop taking the diet pills you sold me. It said you are a sham, a false prophet who preaches only to gratify his ego and increase his wealth and influence. This is very hard for me to accept because I have already lost twenty pounds. I cannot disobey my Lord, but I don't want to abandon you either. So please, Reverend, try to see the light. Change your ways, and beg Jesus for forgiveness.

Yours meekly,
Saved in Salem

Dear S.S.,

Hold your horses! What makes you so certain that Jesus' was the voice you heard? The evil one is tricky and deceitful; he delights in misleading gullible believers such as yourself. You are not the first or the last sinner to be duped by Satan's Jesus impression; only the latest and one of the most brazen.

Jesus, it's well known, hears all our prayers but he doesn't talk to just anybody. He speaks to me, of course, because I have been His special messenger ever since I first sang His praises in the Balboa Young Sinners' Choir at the age of eight. Rest assured, if Jesus has something to tell you, I'll let you know. Satan, on the other hand, will talk all day and night if he thinks you're interested. His voice is loud and gravelly from an eternity of cigarettes and bad living.

Jesus commands; Satan complains. Only Satan would instruct you to bear false witness against your religious leaders in a public forum. I forgive you, this time, but take heed! If one day a gentle musical whisper manifests itself just below your left earlobe, while a heavenly white light brighter than the ultra-powerful halogen spot-lamps used by His late night road crews to repair His interstate highway system blinds you, and you feel the sin peeling off of you like paint under a heat gun, and the voice commands you to love all mankind and to submit joyously to His word, then you'll know that Jesus is micro-managing again. (He promised he wouldn't, but it's His world, I just work here.) But if the voice whines and screeches like a fornicating house pet and leads you to pride and slander, and that light blinks on and off like a cheap disco light show--then cover your ears, Brother, and pray.

If none of this describes your episode, then perhaps you were simply dreaming a Satan-inspired dream, brought on by ingesting sinful snacks and beverages. Please, come on down to the Church of St. Mary and Her Heavenly Lamb this Sunday, enjoy a satisfying helping of the Body and Blood of Christ, and let yourself be purified.