Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Kink in My Armor

As I write this, we are at Defcon 4 for craziness as the countdown to Rapture is exactly four days away. I wish I had more time to devote to this, but thankfully the left-wing radical media is ALL OVER this story. I especially like MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell's take and CANNOT WAIT to see how Bill Maher attacks/discusses it on Rapture Eve this Friday.

But that's not why I'm writing today.

Imagine, if you will (or because I insist), that you are just dying for a chocolate milkshake. But considering that you don't live atop a Dairy Queen, are very lazy and haven't perfected that "instant food" machine from Star Trek, you accept that you're pretty much shit out of luck.

But then there's a knock at your door and, by Thor's Hammer, there's a free milkshake just sitting there with your name on it. Of course, I would typically warn you about free food you find on your doorstep -- much less food with the ability to knock on your door (does it have arms or telekinesis? does it matter?), but you get the idea, right?

So that's why I'm writing.

As you can probably tell, I'm usually at the ready for a good religious discussion. And while my wife and I have some pretty rigorous talks, there's nothing like getting a little strange, if you know what I mean (wink, wink).

And sure as shit, not 10 seconds after hearing a tentative knock on our front door was I engaged in just such a discussion.

Behold, a two white folks, David and Mattie (no, I don't remember their real names), were at my door complete with pamphlets, mousy hair and those damned puppy-dog missionary eyes. Every JW I've met (usually at my front door) exudes this odd mix of overly-confident vacuum salesman and almost-defeated high school junior looking for your $15 to fund the Hurricanes' uniform drive. Honestly, I don't know whether to pity them or drive them away.

In this case, I engaged them. Like big time. 

So, I paid the customary etiquette, nodding and smiling as he droned on a bit about why God didn't really use the Japanese earthquake as punishment (clearly David never met THIS chick). Nice thought, but kinda old news for me. No, I had bigger Jesus fish to fry. So, like a good host, I interrupted.

"Do you think the rapture is coming on May 21?"

David (mid-20's, could be the nerdy forensic guy on "C.S.I. Des Moines") and Mattie (early 40's and probably right at home with a God Hates Fags picket sign in her hand) shook their heads with a reassuring "no." 

"But you do believe the world is going to end soon, right?"

"Well, the signs are all there," David began as I swooned in deja vu (remembering the conversation/confrontation I had at work). David began running down the "startlting" truth behind the increased earthquakes, floods and Charlie Sheen antics which he clearly saw as the trailers before the big show. 

I rebutted with what I found as sound logic -- like the fact that there have ALWAYS been earthquakes and natural disasters or the fact that the perceived increase in such events is colored by the fact that we have better monitoring equipment. Naturally none of this made a dent, at least not for him. But it was for me.

Please to explain: So I am a pretty firm believer in environmental change/global warming. It makes complete sense to me that human activity has had some affect on the plant which is resulting in harsher weather, homeless polar bears and the like. So, why was I just playing all of those scientific facts down? Did I not actually believe them or was I -- (gasp) a victim of COGNITIVE DISSONANCE!?!?

In any other conversation about weather patterns, I would concede that yes, it does seem that earthquakes are getting more extreme, that tornadoes seem to be getting bigger, more frequent. But that has more to do with the melting of polar ice caps, more moist air and what not. I have no faith that it has to do with the amount of heathens in this world.

"So if it's not God causing the increased earthquakes, whose doing it?" I asked.

In a nutshell, his position was that man's wicked behavior was bringing the world to an end -- but where I saw pollution of the air, he saw pollution of the soul. Which may seem like splitting hairs but I don't see it that way. Mainly because to agree with David I would have to accept a whole host of unbelievable notions: multi-headed apocalyptic lions, witchcraft, the devil, Paul Ryan's budget -- it's all too much, and, not to mention, nonsensical.

Take this tidbit: When they told me that a good atheists' deeds (you know, giving to the poor, saving bunnies and the like) did not weigh the same as an average Christian's I asked why. I was told that a really good person's deeds are bupkiss without the J-Man's stamp of approval. Yes, I knew the answer but I really just needed someone to say it out loud to my face. They did not disappoint, but, wait it gets better.

"Does God help those that do not believe in him?" I posed.

I mean if God really is a master chess player, does he only move the pieces that believe in him? If so, why would he bother to punish them if the ones who don't if they wouldn't recognize it as punishment?

"Well," David looked reluctant for the first time, "No, he doesn't."

"But," Mattie piped up for the first time, "The devil might."

If this was a shitty romantic comedy trailer, this is where they would play the record scratch cue.

I literally took a step back, as if to get a better view of this brand of idiocy.

"So, God won't help those who don't believe in him but the devil WILL help those that don't believe in him?"

Now, to be honest, David looked kinda pissed. It was as if Mattie just admitted that "yes, we do spit in your burgers." If he hadn't been abundantly wasn't clear that he wasn't getting a sale before, Mattie had just sealed the deal.

Mattie shrugged her shoulders as if to say "well, you asked."

Oddly, the illogical lunacy of that statement didn't sink in and instead pooled around their feet.

It was hard to react, so I just repeated a shocked "wow" about four times before saying:

"You know, I really do like the Christian message of 'do unto others as you would have done unto you,' but statements like that are the reason why so many people are turned off." I said this not to be mean, indeed, I assured them that I was not "aiming for heaven," but as a genuine statement of disappointment.

But perhaps we should thank folks like Mattie who lay it all bare. She was clear that for all the Jesus talk, many Christians aren't really interested in Jesus' golden rule -- they are more interested in Jesus' Gold Club Card; that exclusive membership that only lets in the like-minded.

Having exceeded my daily dose of BS I bid them adieu and went back in for some breakfast.