In one Mexican drug cartel, the mandatory reading includes an American evangelical's bestseller.
Drawing from an unlikely source, La Familia Michoacana bases its ideology in part on the book "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge, founder of the Colorado Springs-based Ransomed Heart Ministries.
And Eldredge sees the gang's use of his book in a positive light.
"At first, I was really mad that they hijacked my book for their purposes," he said. "But on second thought . . . maybe it will touch the hearts of the people who use [it]."
Really, John Eldredge? You believe THAT strongly in the power of your writing?
When the Holy Bible falls into the hands of oppressors (as it often does) - when it becomes fodder for Nazism or for Manifest Destiny or for pouring acid down African children's throats to eliminate witchcraft - we don't celebrate that Scripture might have some "accidental" positive impact. We weep. We mourn. We grieve that light has been twisted into darkness. We ache for the atrocity done in the name of God, and for the way that abuse mutates in the hearts and flesh of victims, keeping them damaged, far from the light of life and hope and goodness and truth.
How dare they pervert the Cosmic Christ by co-opting our sacred text!
But you want to claim thankfulness?
John Eldredge, when the cartels go down into the barrios to murder rivals and traitors, I'm afraid I'm not quite optimistic enough in the power of your writing to believe that your concept of conservative gender roles and masculine dominance will do much to redeem the violence, death and hopelessness there. Whether good or bad in and of itself, your book is a victim of hijacking. Now, so are you. Sometimes, when victims feel most powerless, they tell people about something positive that came out of their victimization. It's not quite Stockholm Syndrome, it's more like simple justification, stemming from the dirty shame of feeling used. You've been used, and suggesting your book will touch the hearts of the oppressors is telling us a story to wash away some of that shame. Or maybe it's just nice to have such long-term solid book sales.
May we reject our own words when they are co-opted for evil! May no loyalty or pride buffer and protect us from the truth!
And may I reject and recant everything I've just written here, if it falls into the hands or onto the lips of cartels, killers, misogynists, and other riffraff.