My Buddha-nature must be coming along nicely. This morning I was the most courteous I've ever been to the Jehovah's Witnesses who periodically ring our rural doorbell.
And I had some reasons to be my usual blunt, ascerbic self.
The blueberry-filled whole wheat pancake I usually have for Sunday breakfast had just been put on a plate, butter and syrup applied. I was hungry. Hearing the doorbell ring, my wife said "Who could that be at this time?"
It took me about two seconds to make what turned out to be a highly accurate guess.
I opened the front door with my right hand, while holding Family Dog #2 back with my left hand. Seeing two men standing there, neatly dressed in suits, the lead guy holding a black Bible and a glossy colored flyer, my immediate reaction was irritation.
Pushing my body halfway through the door to keep our squirrel-crazed dog from dashing outdoors, I mentally rehearsed my usual Jehovah's Witnesses brush-off: "Thanks, but we're not interested. We're happy with our beliefs, or rather the lack thereof." Slam door.
I'd actually started to reach out with my left hand to grab the flyer so I could start crumpling it up to make the door slam more dramatic, but I think the guy thought I was trying to shake his hand or something (with the wrong hand). My grasping was of air, an empty gesture.
That gave me a few seconds to reassess the situation. The men seemed pleasant. It was a nice day. The pancake wasn't going to cool down much in the next minute or two. So I calmly stood in the doorway, waiting for the pitch.
Which -- no big surprise -- was about Easter coming up, the biggest day of the year for Christians, they told me.
They wanted to invite me to the Kingdom Hall in Salem where, the Bible-holding guy said, he'd be giving a special talk on something or other Jesus'y (I wasn't paying much attention to the details, knowing there was no way in hell I'd ever set foot in their church).
He and his companion clearly were jazzed about the anniversary of Jesus' death, which the flyer informed me was Tuesday, March 26, after sundown. They said they wanted to let people in our neighborhood know about the Jehovah's Witnesses event.
Like I said, ordinarily I would have responded with some sort of anti-religious putdown. Or at least a brusque brush-off. But today I calmly accepted the flyer and said "Thank you" without rushing back inside.
I guess I was sort of curious to see what came after the usual one minute Jehovah's Witnesses pitch, since I'd never stayed around after it.
In this case, nothing of the proselytizing sort. Maybe they knew I wasn't a likely conversion candidate (seems like the organization would maintain a database of addresses with comments attached, like "aggressive atheist lives here, bound for hellfire").
One of the men made a compliment about how nice our yard looked. I said that we'd just had a whole lot of bark blown in, which, at my sixty-something age, appeals to me much more than having a big pile of bark dumped in our driveway, since our yard is large, convoluted, and difficult to shovel mulch over.
This reminded one of the guys about his youth, when his mother would point to just such a pile of bark and say "spread it." So we ended up having an exchange pleasantly unrelated to anything religious.
We said our goodbyes. I went back to my pancake. I felt good. I was glad that I'd been more polite than I'd ever been to Jehovah's Witnesses. Don't know if my mellow mood will carry over to their next visit, which I'm sure will come.
Today I just felt that these men were doing what they felt impelled to do. No different from what we all do. They deeply believe in Jesus and his power of redemption/salvation. They want to spread the "Good Word."
Have I ever believed in something equally unprovable and unlikely? Sure I have. Have I ever wanted other people to believe in my unprovable, unlikely belief? Sure I have.
He who is without a history of unjustified holier-than-thouness, throw the first stone of non-self righteousness. That person sure isn't me.
The "One Man Died for All" flyer is in our recycling bin. Yet not crumpled up. How respectful of religiosity I was today!
JW's can show up almost anywhere you live, from the sticks to the urban areas.
I have had them show up at a place I lived miles down a dirt road, or while we were nude sunbathing (circa 1970) which made them very uncomfortable and they couldn't wait to get out of there but we kept asking more questions.
What I do is tell them thanks for coming but I have spoken to members of their religion many times over the years and their religion is not for me and I don't want to talk about it. But I speak respectfully. This is while I stand practically invisible behind an unopened screened door. I then wish them a pleasant day, say goodbye and that is the end of it which is a good thing because any back talk from them MF'ers would result in the "cha-chuck" of the slide on the 12 ga. shotgun I'm holding.
It's really an AK-47.
Posted by: tucson | March 25, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Interesting post Brian.
We just had a couple of JW's visit our house for the first time in about ten years. I thought they gave up on us but I guess not. I actually had an okay, non-eventful experience too. They handed me an invitation to some kind of an event they were having. We then all smiled, bid one another a pleasant day, and said good-bye. Maybe they have a new marketing and sales strategy. I hope they don't come again and take it up or I mean down a level. Maybe I should send up a prayer to Jehovah to intercede on our behalf for help!
Posted by: Shawn | March 25, 2013 at 11:55 AM
"I hope they don't come again..."
Unless you call up the Kingdom Hall and specify that you are put on their "do not call" list, they are compelled (by their interpretation of the Bible) to keep coming back.
Posted by: cc | March 25, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Good work Brian. You had just shown your flip side. Or Must I say your true side.
On another note I am enjoying your book RETURN TO ONE. Good piece of work.
Posted by: rastaman | March 26, 2013 at 02:22 PM