Saturday, July 28, 2007

No Soliciting

It seems so inhospitable to put an "unwelcome" sign on the door, even if it is specifically aimed at such bottom-feeding scum as salesmen and evangelicals.

Some Bible students knocked on my door this morning. To their credit, they knocked softly, asked apologetically if they had gotten me out of bed (they had not, but I loaf around in my PJs for half the day on weekends), and left without argument when I said I wasn't interested. So I'd say they weren't pushy, except that there's no getting around it: it is inexcusably pushy to summon a stranger to the door of her home to preach at her, no matter how politely you try to go about it.

"We're Bible students bringing a message this morning," the man at the door said to me. Ooh! A message! For me?! I wonder what it could be???

Does anybody ever do this? It would be fun to see if you could pull it off, if you had some free time and a good poker face. You should invite them into your home and ask to hear all about their religion, and, this is the hard part, you have to act like this is all totally new to you. Maybe get out a pen and paper and jot down notes. "Wait a second, wait a second... Je-sus... and how do you spell the last name?"

Because honestly, who are these people trying to reach? They aren't spreading any message that anyone they are likely to meet hasn't heard. And the message never changes. There aren't innovative new advances in the field of religion. No, trappings change, the rituals change, the language changes; but the underlying message is the same: You better think like we do or you'll be sorry. Churches do an awful lot of this outreach-type stuff, so it seems they must get some kind of return on the investment, but I'm frankly a little unclear on what their actual goals are.

And maybe that's what you should invite them in and ask them, if you were so inclined: What exactly is it that you're trying to accomplish? What's your success rate? Among what demographics are you most successful? Do you really feel you are bringing an unfamiliar message to new people?

It wouldn't work, of course, because I'm sure the foot-soldiers out canvassing your neighborhood don't know the answers to those questions. And it would just turn confrontational and everybody would get all upset. And I don't know about you, but unlike salesmen or evangelicals, I've never been willing to upset or hurt someone else just for the sake of trying to get them to do what I want.

I should at least have asked if they had any literature. It would have made something funny to blog about.



At July 28, 2007 1:22 PM, Anonymous b.r. said...

You know, long ago I tried just what you just suggested and it didn't turn out confrontational. I found the whole thing to be very amusing and they NEVER came back.

It was a couple of really cute Mormon boys. Late teens or early twenties I'd say. I was in my hardcore atheist phase at the time, as I had only recently abandoned Christianity and determined that EVERYONE was full of bullshit.

They knocked. I immediately opened the door and invited them in. They started their spiel and I, having only recently found plenty of rebuttals for all the usual Christian propaganda, was ready. I kept them for about an hour, fighting everything they said, calling them on all their circular logic, butting heads with things like facts. I made them work. Hard. They finally insisted they needed to move on. I insisted they come back. Reluctantly they agreed. A week later they came back, slightly better armed (they'd done some homework) and we went out to lunch. At this time in my life I was positively ravenous for new information and was even worse (if you can imagine) at drilling a subject into the ground.

We went out to lunch, the three of us, and I scarcely paused for a breath. I'll never forget our last words. They were dropping me off and said they'd never met anyone who challenged them so much, and that they realized that they (yes, it's true) had no real evidence or anything to support their claims. I asked them to come back again and they politely refused. And I really did want them to come back. I was enjoying it.

I still wonder to this day if I shook them up enough to convert either of them. I wouldn't at all be surprised.


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