Sunday, May 1, 2011

Don't Proselytize Me

There I was, "easy like Sunday morning," sitting in my most comfortable chair, sipping soda and reading an excellent murder mystery.

There was a knock at the front door. The mystery was suspenseful enough that the knock made me jump, but there are a few friends who know me well enough to be welcome to drop in, so I got out of my comfy chair, onto my walker and galumphed my way to the front door. I could not see anyone through the peephole, so I didn't open the door; I merely said "Who is it?"

After a second, a young family, dressed for church and carrying their bibles, appeared. The young man said something; I didn't understand and asked him to repeat. Rather than repeating himself, perhaps influenced by my reluctance to open the door, he said "Have a nice day" and departed.

My strong feeling is that these good people came by with the intention of converting me to their religion. Maybe they are "required" to do so by some mandate, real or imagined, of that religion. Usually they are not interested in the give-and-take of real discussion; they know they have the One True Religion, and they need only tell me about it... truly a one-directional communication... for me to be Saved, as they already are.

I know these people are exercising their First Amendment right, and I do not begrudge them that. I am invariably civil in my interactions with them. But they are wasting their time with me, and life is too short for them to waste their time, or mine.

Unlike one friend's car, I am not convertible. I have my views on Life, the Universe and Everything, and I'm just not interested in buying a package someone else is selling. Threatening me doesn't work, either; I find it utterly incredible that an all-powerful god would bother to condemn anyone to an eternity of hell, for any reason whatsoever. If belief in your god requires me to accept the existence of a hell, I don't want to waste your time or mine talking with you. (Atheists and agnostics, on the other hand, are welcome here. Have a seat and I'll fetch you a beer.)

In earlier days, in another house, on Sundays, in pleasant Spring weather, I often sat inside with my front door open, with a screen door to keep out mosquitoes, reading and sipping, enjoying the breeze. Unfortunately, the whole proselytizing game became too popular in that neighborhood, and I found myself becoming less than polite to those not easily discouraged by a first rebuff. Eventually I started closing my door. Bye bye, Spring breezes.

So let me make it clear to anyone walking in my neighborhood: I don't buy anything sold door-to-door. That includes religion and politics, even though I've done some block-walking myself in the past. If you're a friend or neighbor, come on in. If you are walking for a candidate, please stick a brochure in the outer door. If you have any other agenda, please just keep walking.


  1. ...Have to smile, Steve, You are even more crotchety than me! I think a lot of it has to do with aging and pain ( at least in my case). There just isn't spare time to indulge the delusional. I also reject the terms atheists and agnostics, as implied semantics embedded in the monotheistic loop of Augustinian sophistry. For example, nearly everyone I talk to about 'original cause' takes it at face value. Why? I don't assume an 'original cause' at all. There is absolutely no proof of it----not even 'string theory.' Although, I would agree that 'string along' theory is a religious opus morandi.
    When the holies come knocking on my door they usually leave a Jesus card in the screen-door, of which we have a nice collection now. Jesus is still portrayed as I remembered him as a child----blond, blue-eyed and dressed in a bathrobe. When we lived on the farm in Vermont, different tactics were required: First I would open the door and say 'Praise Jesus' complement them on their good work and then point down the road to the 'party house' and say, "Those folks really, really need to hear the word." Another technique is to ask them for a donation for your (imaginary?) church, saying stuff like: "He giveth unto them,,,ect and so on." I hope these tips in advanced crotchety are helpful! :) m

  2. mandt, there's no doubt I'm crankier than you are! :-) I'm crankier than just about everybody I know. Except Stella. Between her and me, it's a close call. :-)

    I can't say I believe in an "original cause," or a Creator-with-a-capital-C. Universes can be made out of the vacuum (which is one of the most nonempty entities one could imagine), or in the bathtub, or almost certainly in the current and approaching generations of particle accelerators. If the LHC does not create some new particles, and possibly new "universes" to contain them, I shall be very surprised.

    But there is nothing spiritual to be found in particle physics and cosmology, at least not for me. I go through periods in which I am obsessed with those things... I regularly catch up on the popular output of several name-brand scientists on matters cosmological. But notwithstanding one clever writer's reference to a "God particle," I don't see any of that as having anything to do with the spirit. They are orthogonal realms. (A housemate of mine and I once decided that we split the sum of human knowledge between us in the house: hers was the Department of Ultimate Matters; mine was the Department of Penultimate Matters. Penultimate is good enough for me.)

    One thing I can say in favor of pursuit of cosmology and (separately) genetics is that both are so complex as to render conventional religions boring. Anything that can encourage people to turn their attentions elsewhere than formulaic religions as intellectual disciplines is, IMHO, a good thing. Conventional religions should stick to housing the homeless, feeding and healing the poor, etc. Again, that's just IMHO, or perhaps IMNSHO.

    OK, I'm off to go crotchet for a while. I may throw in a few quavers and even an occasional semiquaver...

  3. I read that last word as a semi-quark! :) m

  4. Semi-quark? Is that like a preon? I guess one doesn't hear much about preons these days.

    Once, on a day that involved my reading about particle physics and later accompanying arias by Henry Purcell, I found myself humming, as I left the harpsichord, "Quarks and leptons, come away, come away..."



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