Sunday, February 20, 2011

Until You Master the Needed Social Graces...

Thinking about unwanted religious recruitment always brings one or two funny stories to mind. The best story, ever, belongs to my best friend, Karl. He died young many years ago, but to this day, things happen that only he, of all my friends, would fully appreciate and I miss him quite poignantly at times. I clearly recall the sound of his laughter. Sometimes, I hear him laughing distinctly in my mind and wonder if an earthly sense of humor translates to the spirit world. (I question whether something funny here is sophisticated enough for an expanded consciousness.)

When Karl was a young man attending school in central Kansas after his stint in Vietnam, the Jehovah's Witnesses found their way to his door - repeatedly and irritatingly. Dropping broad hints will never deter these folks. If they believe there is even a tiny chance to bring you to Jesus, they will not give up and continually return to your home. One day they knocked on Karl's door when he was showering. It was the last straw. He opened the door stark naked and growled, "What do you want?" It was the permanent end to the visits.

When the Witnesses began knocking on my door in Topeka, I had enough worldly experience to not invite them in. I always tried to politely discourage them from returning. It seemed that no matter how I phrased it, I was not convincing enough. One day an impeccably dressed older black couple knocked on my front door. The woman was tall, with a huge bosom, wearing a modest hat and a dark tailored suit. The man, a dignified and graying gentleman in a quality pin-stripe, was quite short and well spoken. They were a beautiful couple. Their humble sincerity deeply touched me. There was something quite wholesome and clear about these two people. They truly believed they were doing what God required of them and, for all I honestly know, they were absolutely correct. My heart opened immediately to them and I felt a genuine flush of compassion and gratitude for their earnest ministry. I was not tempted to believe their way, or go to their church, but for a moment I saw them as perhaps the Creator sees their endeavors, as the Creator sees all of our best efforts.

As kindly as I could, I told them my son was Potawatomi and in our house we practiced that spirituality. As they prepared to leave, I impulsively said, "God bless you." I meant it. But, I sincerely hoped they would not pester me again with this religious business.

About two weeks later on a bright Saturday morning, someone unexpectedly knocked on my front door. It was the man and woman, as impeccably dressed and as gracious as ever, and another woman. The couple greeted me by name, then introduced their companion. The dear church lady triumphantly added with a knowing nod of her head, "She is Potawatomi, too."

I distinctly heard Karl laughing - with immense delight. I hear him laughing right now.

6 comments:

Li'l Ned said...

Ah, the JW's....... My brother claimed the same excellent results with the 'answer the door stark naked' technique, but I've never been bold enough to try it, myself. A Christian Scientist friend told me she had good luck by answering the door with a CS pamphlet in hand, offering to trade for one of the JW's. She said they fled in alarm at the prospect. My ace in the hole, which I've never actually used, would be to answer the door flourishing a copy of '30 Years a Watchtower Slave' a book by some severely disillusioned/deprogrammed former JW that we found in an old box many years ago. I haven't read it either, but I would hate to give it up. In the meantime, I continue to be polite when I answer the door, but tell them immediately I'm not interested in discussing the Bible or any other part of their message, and then quickly change the subject to the weather. I've heard if you are rude or nasty they don't return but I just can't do it. I think they are crazy, sadly deluded and unforgivably arrogant to go around pestering us all with their religious crap, but my mother's words are still with me to 'be nice'.

Jackie said...

Yes, that was Karl and my problem - our mother's voices in our heads admonishing us to be nice! lol

I have found, after 50 plus years, the direct approach is the best. Come visit me as a friend, but you are not allowed to talk about religious matters. That worked well the day there were three cars of them in my drive way!

I don't get too upset with them because I figure I was a religious nut in former lifetimes, too.

fernenland said...

My mother always invited the JW's in for a cup of tea, in her later years, because, she told me, she liked a good argument. I never appreciated how delicious a good argument could be until the JW's caught me off guard one day. A car drew up, but they kept the engine runnning. Someone come to ask for directions? I thought. Then they asked me what I thought of all the violence in the world. So (realizing now who they were, but not having time to gather my thoughts) I told them. We stood outside having heated but earnest metaphysical "discussions" for about 25 minutes. At some point, someone inside the car turned the engine off. I felt rather sorry for them that things have gotten to the stage where they EXPECT they won't be welcome. I have always been polite, but it was the first time I had actually engaged them in debate and truth be told I enjoyed it. It was this occasion which culminated in the episode I described in my earlier comment. I hope they come back, my unGodliness notwithstanding.

fernenland said...

PS I should add that I remained polite at all times and we parted with expressions of mutual esteem, but sadly they haven't been back yet. Possibly they are still working out how to refute my argument about the unfairness of being consigned to the nether regions simply because you died as a baby, too young to make an informed choice. Or perhaps they have just concluded that my soul is beyond redemption...

Jackie said...

All this energy about JW and what arrived in the mail Saturday? A thank you for flowers and condolences - with a pamphlet from the JW!! LOL

cyberkit said...

If I tried answering the door like that in my current shape, I could be charged with several crimes against humanity.