The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jehovah at the Park

"(T)he second you take control of a conversation to steer it towards a desired result, you're not a person anymore - you're a salesman - and it's no longer a conversation - it's a pitch." Phil Cooper (Danny deVito) in The Big Kahuna

A while back, I wrote a post on dishonesty and religious proselytizing. I referenced the movie quoted above and was reminded very recently of why it annoys me so much.

I was at the park in the morning with my son. He's one and a half years old, so he was happily playing on the equipment while I watched. It was early so we were the only ones at the park, all covered in dew. It was really nice.

I noticed a guy approach us; he had that purposeful stride that meant he was going to talk to me and I saw the bible in his right hand. I thought, "Dammit..." I'm sure he saw the look on my face, but, like the professional salesman he was, he plowed ahead. He started a conversation about what a nice morning it was, asked how old my son was, commented on what a great thing it was that I had time to spend with him on a weekday. All I was doing was waiting for the go-to.

The "go-to" is where they present the material. He did, fairly quickly, go to his give-away copy of Awake!; a special issue titled, "How to Raise Responsible Children". An interesting aside: inside that pamphlet was another, hidden one, The WatchTower. It had as its main article, "Five Lies About God, Exposed!" Slightly more aggressive than the parenting one, but not really once you read them both. ...but I digress....

I thought, do I tell this guy to fuck off? Do I refuse his material? Do I accept it because that's the fastest way to get him to go away? Because of the situation (i.e. my kid was there), I opted to just take his crap and let him leave, but it really bothered me.

It took a bit of thinking on my part, but finally the realization that bubbled up was that it bothered me because of the blatant dishonesty he displayed. He had no interest in me or my kid. He could have cared less about how old my son was, whether or not I was a nice or interesting person, or what my beliefs were - all he wanted was to get his stupid pamphlet into my hand. He was a salesman, and a shitty, dishonest one at that.

I've thought about what the best response would be if he or any other JW approaches me again. I thought that maybe I could say, "Tell you what: if you can tell me why we can sometime see the moon in the daytime, I'll take your information and read it." Of course, we could replace that question with any basic science question, but I didn't like that option in the end because, what if he is a scientist? He might know all about that - then what? You're in for a potentially long conversation when that was exactly what you were trying to avoid.

The rude-route is always an option, but then I'm an asshole too. I don't like that. Contrary to my blog presence, I try to be a nice guy in the real world. The conclusion I came to was to just be honest about how I feel when approached by a person like that. I think saying something like, "Listen, I really feel like you're a salesman right now and that you're not being genuine. All you seem to want is to get promotional material in my hands, and I'm not interested in that. I'm very comfortable in my view of the world, and that view does not include any god or gods."

We'll see how that works out.

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2 Barbaric Yawps:

At 31/10/11 12:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former JW, I'll say please be merciful. They are taught that if they do not witness to the best of their ability, then come the End, God will kill them. Also, if they do not go out, their family and friends will think them 'weak' and will not get their support or approval. If they exit the religion, like I did, their friends and family will completly shun them. It's a no win situation.

Sometimes they don't want to be at your door (the park) anymore than you do. And when you are shy (like I was) it takes EVERYTHING you have to get up early on a Saturday morning and knock on someone's door. When the other person was hurtful, their words festered in my heart for days, months, even years. Nonetheless come the weekend, I felt pressured go out again.

Try imagining what it would be like if you were the JW. How would you want someone to treat you?

#

Interestingly, the last article of the Five Lies magazine was an article defending 607 BCE which is a central date in JW theology. However, upon examination, the article seems full of fallacies. Perhaps you could kindly encourage the next JW you meet to make personal examination from unbiased sources...

 
At 1/11/11 12:51 pm, Blogger Heathen Mike said...

Hey Anon,
Thanks for commenting. Usually, on the rare occasions when I get JWs at my door, I can tell by the looks on their faces that they don't want to be there and I'm sure that they can tell by the look on my face that I don't want them there and have no interest in their schpiel. I always listen and then either take their material and send them on their way, or I'll say "no, thanks" and off they go.

The guy who approached me in the park was clearly a pro, however. He had the polished delivery of a salesman and the look on his face told me that he had the "rebuttal book" memorized.

Still, I was nice. I would have to be having a pretty bad day to lash out as I often fantasize doing. Generally, I'm all (nice) talk. :)

 

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