Saturday, July 18, 2009

Disturbing the priest

One of the all-time greatest rock songs, from Black Sabbath's sublime "Born Again" album. The indefatigable Ian Gillan does so much screaming and cackling in this song, that it's a miracle he had any voice left after recording it. I never pay attention to lyrics, but this morning, I was reminded of a nice little line from this song: "Watch out for religion when it gets too near."

I was still in my ratty PJs and savouring my last cup of late-morning coffee when someone knocked on my door. I went to have a looksie, and beheld two very well-dressed young men whose appearance and demeanour screamed "Jehova's witness." I usually shoo these types of visitors away, but for some reason, felt a pang of sympathy for these two youngsters who were braving the insufferable heat for the sake of their so-called duty. So, for roughly two minutes, I let them chat me up about Christianity and the Bible -- no use clamming up about my faith, since I loathe lying and my cross tattoos were plainly visible -- before wishing them a good day and advising them to stick to whatever little shade they could find.

As they were leaving, one of the kids turned back and, rooting through his briefcase, told me he had a pamphlet he thought I might find useful. I was going to respectfully decline, but again, felt so bad for these kids toiling away in the dog days of summer in the name of their faith, misguided though it may be in my opinion, that I decided, "let this poor kid hand me his leaflet; if nothing else, it might provide some laughable bathroom reading." Imagine my surprise when I looked at the pamphlet and saw it was entitled, "Depression and Anger." The Jehova young'un proceeded to explain that this pamphlet not only referenced several passages in the Bible dealing with the evils of depression and anger, but also provided several additional references (Biblical or otherwise fanatically Christian, of course) that would help, and I quote, "a Christian who had strayed from the path" overcome the root of these evils. In the immortal words of Jack Slater, "big mistake." I gave Jehova boy the Manson lamps, and asked, "Wouldn't this pamphlet be a more appropriate choice for someone who answered the door while wiping their eyes, or insulted you, or slammed the door in your face? That's the kind of person that might be in need of counseling, anger control, or simple etiquette lessons." The obviously nonplussed Jehova kid tried to rally, and replied, "We like to leave these pamphlets so that good Christians like yourself can use them to stay on the path." "Nice try, but the damage is done," I told Jehova boy. "If staying on the path means making unfavourable snap judgements of people who open their door to your unsolicited Saturday morning visits, I'd rather careen right off your path, for it leads directly to presumption, which, last time I checked, was a sin." Hey, I figured waxing poetic was the way to go. Jehova boy tried to stammer out a reply, but I politely and firmly told him not to bother, and sent him and his pal on their merry way.

And that's how Bible-pounding zealotry transformed a nice Saturday morning coffee session into me standing on my porch in my PJs, looking like a disheveled swarthy hillbilly, and arguing semantics with two suit-clad Jehova's witnesses young enough to be my kids. Watch out for religion when it gets too near, indeed.

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