Heaven, Have Mercy on Us

At the playground with Neptune today, I was suddenly accosted approached by a Jehovah’s Witness. She handed me a copy of Awake! with the headline: “How To Be A Better Parent.” (Seriously: what is the difference between Watchtower and Awake!?) We talked for a while, I challenged her, she challenged me, but I’m not crazy familiar with the Bible that I can pull out scriptures to support my ideas. She asked me for my phone number and I was like: “Woah! You are so not coming to my house,” so politely declined. I didn’t really mind talking with her, but I find proselytizing religions a bit troubling, and especially Jehovah’s Witnesses a little too presistent. It’s like a busy-body’s religion, imposing and telling everyone what to do, what is right and what is wrong and judging people accordingly. I mean I don’t mind if a religion includes that as part of their mandate, but please don’t shove it in my face. I do like talking to devout people, of any denomination, and trying to convince them that: 1) we are both right, and that we share many views, values and opinions, and – more entertaining – that 2) my belief system, the church of something but nothing in particular, is better than theirs. Of course, I really don’t think that it is possible to have a better religion. Religion generally helps people figure out their own lives and who they are and some people really need that; others don’t really have an option to exclude religion from their life because it’s so deeply part of their culture. Anyhow, I could go on forever, and then I’ll have to start organising my argument and then that could go on forever too. So in closing, I fully expect to meet Sister Violet again in the streets of Park-Ex, and we will continue our discussion.

Could I just mention, also, a memory from my childhood? I remember having this illustrated Bible when I was a kid. It was from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and had really dramatic, painted illustrations of the major narratives; a sort of “Best Of the Bible.” I just remember a lot of flames and those infamous pillars of salt. I think now, who really wants a kid to read one of the most tormented stories ever told? A book full of people making horrible mistakes and wrong decisions, of great human suffering and lament. I mean, I get that there’s a greater meaning, but when you’re 8-years-old how much of the subtext do you really get? Shouldn’t the Bible technically be rated PG-13? Or get a “Teen” ESRB rating? I mean, it’s about a million times more racy than Pokemon. I suppose the goal is to etch the images and morals into young minds. It kind of worked on me, though I have forgotten all the details, and now just remember pictures of crumbling cities, of shrouded women in tears, and of babies floating down rivers in baskets.

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5 thoughts on “Heaven, Have Mercy on Us

  1. Amen to that. And who decides which parts are (supposed to be) literal truth and which figurative, especially in the face of widely accepted evolution theory vs Genesis (minus Phil Collins)?

    Just finished reading Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion” – it has some fascinating sections on particularly bloodthirsty parts of the Old and New Testament that are real eye openers to someone who’s never picked up a bible. There’s also some great speculation on whether troubling childrens minds with these images (not to mention threatening them with Hell that with a childs suspension of disbelief becomes far more real than any adults) constitutes child abuse. The man sure does paint a convincing argument.

  2. Hey there!
    But are those images really any worse than those on Yugi-oh (spelling?) cards kids are trading these days? Or Lord of the Rings movies some people insist on watching with their preschoolers?
    I went walking last Canada Day with my 7-year-old nephew on a bike path up North a little after sunset to go to a world music show. He was terrified, couldn’t handle it, said he kept seeing “freaky things” in his head. I wondered if my nephew’s freaky images came from the yugi-oh cards he’d played with all afternoon. Those things are UGLY.
    And have you seen those CSI society games in the toy aisles of department stores, lately? Some crazy people in offices somewhere seem hellbent into putting awful images in our children’s heads. Maybe we ARE going to hell. Where are those Jehovah’s witnesses when you need them? (Just kidding)
    Sorry I go all apocalyptic on you every time I post.
    Take care,
    Isabelle

  3. A J.W. couple knocked on my door last month and I wanted to be real with them and not blow them off, so we talked and I tried to focus on all that we agreed on but they seemed to want to find the differences and dive into those. Anyway, I think next time I might blow them off because now I can’t get rid of my new “friends”(I use the quotes because I saw them as potential friends, but I believe they see me as a potential notch on their bible belt.)

    I’ll just go ahead an come out of the closet and admit to being one of those who believes that there is a God who is behind everything and who is personal and who Jesus is somehow a part of. Someone who takes the Bible seriously and who thinks that God has a right to make demands of us.

    BUT…that being said: I think christianity/religion is usually mistaken and unhealthy. It seems to me that a large # of people want to be told what to think and do. But the Bible actually says “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” and “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands.”

    And as for the whole proselytizing thing, I think it’s based on tradition and not on the Bible: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”

    Anyway, I could go on and I’m a little embarrassed as to how long this comment is! Too much caffein! Goodnight…

  4. As I was rereading my entry, I remembered that there is/was a Dears fan club in the West Island of Montreal, who are mostly Jehovah’s Witnesses. So this is just a shout out to them, and that I hope I didn’t offend anyone, because that certainly was not my intention. I think religion and spirituality is meant to bring people together, not divide them. Right?

  5. Natalia, if you do not want to listen to a JW. just do not do it and tell us politely you do not want us to reach you. we will do so. If you want to talk on a theme just let us know. we are open.. you can use your own Bible, if you have..

    Jonathan

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