My (almost) meeting with Jehovah's Witneses

For the third year in a row I was passed over and I am not happy about it.

 

A raise?  A promotion?  No, I'm not talking about something that frivolous.  I am talking about hearing The News.  The Good News.  No, that still doesn't do it justice.  I'm talking the GREAT news. 

For the third straight year there was a tan minivan down the street and three well-dressed people walking from home to home.  That's right - the Jehovah's Witnesses were in the neighborhood.  Rebecca noticed them as she pulled in the driveway and went around to the back yard to give me... well, the good news.  I was in the process of trying to cover the pool (again) and not in any condition to greet my treasured guests.  Rebecca ran inside to get me a shirt and I went to my car to get a breathe mint. 

And then I waited.  And waited.  And they never came.  Unlike last year's blog where I pointed out the lighter side of my near-miss, I was heartbroken this year. 

Did you ever anticipate a conversation with someone?  You end up in a weird place where you have both sides of the conversation in your head.  You say something, they say something, and then you say something really f'ing cool.  Maybe even triumphant.  I hate to say this but I was almost in a fantasy state just thinking about it.  I think some of this is due to the fact that I LOVE talking about religion but I usually do not bring up the topic unless someone else does.  So if you put me into a place where someone not only brings it up but actually comes to me?  As I said in the other blog, throw in a fat man and a tree and you'd have a Pagan holiday.... errrr... Christmas. 

So that got me to thinking.  Should I just save my conversation for next year?  Nah, might as well write it down.  Here is how I imagine it going.....

(queue the dream sequence)

So I open the door and there stands Salma Hayek

(oops, queue the other dream sequence)

A well-dressed man and woman walk up my driveway on a sunny Saturday afternoon.  The man is older than the woman and he is carrying a book and some pamphlets. 

"Greetings friend" the man says with a smile.  "Do you have a few minutes to talk to us today?".

"A few minutes?  For you, I have all afternoon" I reply with an even bigger smile.

"I'm Mr. White and this is Ms. Pink.  We'd like to share some good news with you".  The joy in his voice increases as he completes the sentence.  Mr. White goes on to explain that they are Jehovah's Witnesses and they would like to tell me a little bit about their group and beliefs.

"I am well aware of your group so you can save the background info.  If I am to follow your beliefs I think I'll need a few questions answered"  Mr. White  nods and says to proceed. 

I take a breathe and begin.  "I am a college graduate and I know that education is frowned upon in your organization.  My degree is from Buff State so that doesn't mean much, but it is still a degree"

Mr. White doesn't even pause a moment.  "We've changed our position on education in recent years.  It is now ok to have an education as long as you don't over-do it.  Our elders have realized that you're not a threat to figuring out this racket unless you go to one of those artsy-fartsy schools". 

"Whew, that's a relief" I reply.  "I thought for sure that one would count me out.  Ok, now onto the next one.  I hear that only 144,000 people are going to heaven yet your followers are several times that number.  Aren't I too late?"

"No, you're still ok.  A few years ago we realized that we probably had this number wrong all along so we adjusted it.  We saw the mistake that the Shakers made - banning reproduction - and we realized that by having a hard ceiling we weren't going to attract new members.  After all, this kind of stuff won't appeal to people if there isn't something in it for them". 

"Good point Mr. White.  The people have to know that they're getting a prize after they've gone through the motions over the course of their lives.  It sounds too good to be true!  Speaking of truth, how do we know it is true?  I've read many pro-Christian books and they admit that the Bible was written decades after the events supposedly happened and the authors were not only not witnesses, they were really just writing down the folklore of the time.  How can I know that these events are true" I ask.  I noticed that a bead of sweat rolled down my cheek.  I was most nervous about this question. 

At this point I noticed a change in Ms. Pink.  She had been smiling and nodding her approval as Mr. White knocked down my concerns one by one.  Not only did her look change, she gave Mr. White a "WTF" look.

It was clear that Mr. White knew what I was talking about as his face looked as though the holy ghost had just eaten his lollipop.  "Well...." he stammered a bit and then cleared his throat.  "Yes, that is true but we have come to accept the fact that God sent his messages through the authors of the gospels.  We do not know who wrote the gospels but by golly it is clear as day that they are divinely inspired". 

"Excellent!"  I exclaim.  "The people that tried to recruit me to the other religions that you reject said the same thing!  How dare they say that when you know the truth.  I'm thinking about dropping them a line to tell them that their authors couldn't also have been divinely inspired.  How rude of them to copy your claims!".

"Um, yeah, how very rude" mutters Mr. White as he tugs at his collar.  I thought this odd as it wasn't particularly hot that day.  Anyway, I take a glance over at Ms. Pink and she does not look like a happy camper.  Who knows, maybe she is still a little bent at having been pulled out of school after the 8th grade. 

"I have one last thing that worries me a little.  I am completely on board with what you are saying but I'm not so sure that my wife will be on board.  After all, it is pretty obvious that your group isn't so fond of women.  Is that true?"

Mr. White seemed to rally a bit after hearing this question.  "We've also changed our thinking on this one as well.  Women are no longer forced to wear a hat while praying.  Isn't that great?  We thought about changing some of the other things as well.  But the good book is pretty clear about women being subservient to their husbands and not being in positions of power.  We think that allowing them to wear hats is a pretty good middle ground".

I took another look Ms. Pink and she looked like she was going to slug Mr. White.  She kind of looked like Ralphie did when he found out that the message that he deciphered with his prized decoder ring was really just a commercial for Ovaltine.   I don't know exactly what she was thinking but I'm guessing that it had something to do with missing out on all of the keg parties that her (former) friends had as teens.  I felt bad for rocking the boat - after all, I really just wanted some information.  I wasn't trying to pull back the curtain. 

"Well thank you both for stopping by.  This really cleared up some of the reservations that I had about becoming a believer.  You've really cleared up some of this rough stuff so that we can focus on the nice stuff.  I like that".

Mr. White, seeing that maybe the day was salvageable after all, perked up.  "So you're with us, brother"?

"Sorry" I replied, "The Catholics were here yesterday and said that they were running a promotion where if I signed that day I could get a signing bonus AND a couple of indulgences.  I didn't feel I would get a better offer from any other religion so I jumped on it.  You may want to look in to the indulgence package.  I know that this kind of came and went in the dark ages but you can see how it would appeal to people today."

Mr. White muttered something as he turned to walk away.  Ms. Pink paused for a minute and then whispered to me "so what is beer like? Is it as good as I hear it is". 

I couldn't help but smile as I thought about my answer.  "It is better.  As I often tell a young woman that is about to have her first adult beverage, if you drink it fast it won't hurt you. You're going to be alright, Ms. Pink'. 

 

(Note:  The original post can be found at prayingtopesci.com)

Views: 131

Tags: atheism, jehovah, recruitment, witness

Comment by Steve on September 16, 2011 at 11:45am
They must have caught on to your atheism and known that you're a lost cause
Comment by Pesci on September 16, 2011 at 11:53am

I know it sounds corny but do they have a list of potential targets?  I am thinking that marketers can figure this stuff out then religious wackos can as well. 

Comment by Jehiah Tonnesen on September 16, 2011 at 3:41pm

All areas are broken up in to "territory's." They have the territory's on index cards and they hand them out to groups of them to go door to door in. They also keep track in notebooks about who they have talked to, complete with addresses and everything, and what they talked about. If you have an experience where you either leave their faith shaken, or feeling incredibly stupid, they write your address down and make sure no one else goes there for about 2 years.

Comment by Pesci on September 16, 2011 at 3:45pm

Thanks Jehiah, that's what I figured.  But that's just it - I've never actually talked to them.  There must be a list that they maintain.  I've written a few anti-theist letters to the local paper - maybe they know me from there.

Comment by Jehiah Tonnesen on September 16, 2011 at 3:52pm

It's quite possible. One thing to remember about them too is that a majority of them aren't trained at all, and the ones knocking on doors age's range from 13 to 70. They have "presentations" memorized to give people at doors.They are also very human, by that I mean they get scared and nervous like anyone else. When I was a JW I passed up many houses because I was to nervous to go talk to a stranger, I was only 15 so I feel it was understandable. But the point is that they may sign the territory card off as done when only 5 houses have been hit.

Comment by Dale Headley on September 16, 2011 at 4:37pm

   Thanks, Pesci, for your hilariously entertaining blog post.  Please allow me to attempt to return the favor.  Only my story is not fantasy, it actually happened.  In fact, it happens about twice a year, with very little variation.  It's never the same people twice, though, for reasons that will become obvious.

   I always offer a caveat as soon as I open the door.  I say, with a friendly smile,

"You're Jehovah's Witnesses, right?" (You can easily tell a Mormon from a J.W. by his height, his age, the intensity of his whiteness, and the degree of his arrogance).

"Yes!"

"Well, you are welcome to talk for as long as you wish.  In fact, you're welcome to come in and sit and talk." (They usually decline the offer;  perhaps they suspect that I am an immoral, evil atheist who will attack them).

"No, we're fine."

"Well, I want to let you know right off the bat that, although I am happy to talk with you for as long as you like, YOU will be the ones to break it off, because you don't have a snowball's chance...I am as atheist as you can get.  If you are out here today to try to get as many converts as possible, you might not want to waste time with me."

   They ALWAYS opt to stay and convince me - so full of confidence in the righteousness of their mission and the power of their message are they.  

"What I'd like to ask you first," they begin, "is when did you stop believing in God?"

"When I stopped believing in Santa Claus.  In fact, it was easier to stop believing in God, because, after all, I know what Santa looks like; where he lives; what he wears; what malls he sets up shop in; what TV shows and movies he stars in; who his helpers are; what transportation he takes...but I know absolutely none of these things about God."

"Yes, ha, ha, ha," she says, weakly.

"It occurred to me by the age of seven that it was a lot easier for me to believe that Santa manages to circumnavigate the globe and deliver all the presents in one night than to believe the REALLY impossible things God is supposed to do."

"So, why DON'T you believe in God?" she says, as though she hadn't heard what I just said.

Three reasons:

   1) "It makes no sense.  The idea that there is a magic man up there somewhere looking down on 7 billion people, guiding their lives, and deciding which of their prayers to answer is preposterous."

   2) "After two millennia of trying, no one has managed to come up with a single bit of EVIDENCE that God exists."

   3) "As the great 19th century astronomer/mathematician, Pierre LaPlace, said when asked that question - 'Sir,I have no need of that hypothesis.'  The only reason you choose to believe in a god is that you are afraid of a death that is permanent.  I am not.  I regard death as indistinguishable from my non-existence before I was born.  The concept of eternity, to me, is different for each person; it is the period of time between birth and death; whereas you seem to believe in a life after death that goes on forever, and ever, and ever and....  I have no recollection of suffering before I was born, so why should I fear returning to the same state?  The atoms of my body have existed since the 'Big Bang'.  They are currently busying themselves with participating in the evolution of my body; and when I die they will move on to other pursuits.

   There is a lot of subsequent back and forth that is predictable, including the inevitable need to explain the difference between a "theory" and a "scientific theory."  But then I hit them with the one and only contentious comment of the day:

"Even if I were capable of believing in some kind of Supreme Being, and even if I wanted to, I would be ashamed to, and I'll give you a example.  Do you have your Bible?"  (They always do, of course) "Turn to II Kings, Chapter 2, Verses 23 & 24."  They dutifully do so (so far none of my visitors has had those passages sto

Comment by Pesci on September 19, 2011 at 8:33am

Thank you for the compliments Dale, and for sharing your story.  I honestly don't know which direction I would have taken the conversation - it very might have been what you described.  It probably would have been a little different as what really gets me going is the conversion aspect of all of this.  It is one thing to have your own cutesy gut feelings that tell you that this is all for you and that you'll live forever.  It is quite another to take that to someone else as a "truth".

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