Barbarians At The Door

missionary-figuresThe church bell chimed ’til it rang twenty-nine times
for each second it took for her herald.
The leaflet she left I did throw on the ground
not a green way to grub for my money.

I believe that God has a plan for all of us.
I believe that plan involves me getting my own planet.
And I believe; that the current President of The Church, Thomas Monson, speaks directly to God.
I am A Mormon,
And, dang it! a Mormon just believes!

Q. Oh,  where can I go to learn about God, religion, being humble and serving the poor? (Remember: When claiming he out-gave Barack Obama, Mitt Romney referred to giving money to his church as “charitable donations.”)

A. Take this road two miles, hang a left at the oak tree, and look for the most opulent building in town. You can’t miss it. It’s the one that makes the Tower of Babel seem like child’s play. We call it a Temple. Don’t ask us how it was funded, though. Our financial records are more private than your phone calls.

This weekend, Thomas Monson, the 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had a message for his faithful flock of 15 million worldwide via the LDS General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve built 142 temples, he proudly said, the most recent one in Gilbert, Arizona, and there will be a modest 172 of them by the time all current construction projects are completed.

Another Mormon leader had a slightly different message for the record number of nearly 85,000 Mormon missionaries crawling around the surface of this planet. Jeffrey Holland, an official member of a select group known as the Quorum Of Twelve, called on missionaries to “defend” their faith.

Holland pointed out that missionaries should stay strong and defend their faith despite the inevitable personal abuse they will encounter. (Source: FOX News.)

Since I couldn’t make the conference this year, I guess you could call this an open letter of sorts containing an opposing point of view from the Abyss. Maybe my invitation got lost in the mail?

Tom’s Law #42
You never have to defend your religion to me if you don’t stick it in my face in the first place. In other words, please don’t put me on the receiving end of your missionary position.

Source: Tom’s Infinite Book of Infinite Laws

I hope you all appreciate the gentle and soft tones of this reasoned response message.

I’m glad you’re excited about your church’s membership drive. Clearly it has been an effective strategy and, when combined with prolific reproduction, has served to grow the size of your church. Good for you. That doesn’t mean, however, that I want to hear about it.

Sure, missionaries are some of the nicest people you’d ever hope to meet. I don’t quibble over that. To save time we’ll stipulate that fact, for the record. Additionally, of all the Mormons I’ve met in my lifetime, with only two glaring exceptions, have been wonderful people that were delightful to spend time with. (The only exceptions were a boss and his wife, and we all know that the asshole status of boss trumps everything else, even religion and God. Yes, they were devout Mormons but more than that they were truly awful people.)

All I ask is to be left alone. You won’t have to “defend” yourself to me if you don’t bring it up in the first place. You mind your business and I’ll mind my own. Didn’t your mother ever teach you that politics and religion are not polite topics of conversation for complete strangers?

Do missionaries sometimes take “abuse?” Apparently they do if one of the Quorumites is putting it out there front and center on the world’s stage. If only there was some way to reduce the likelihood of that abuse? How about not knocking on people’s doors? Yeah, that might do it.

Why not change the strategy? Why not send out flyers and put announcements in the newspaper’s meeting calendar announcing a big hoedown at the local armory or what not? You can even offer prizes for investing two hours of time to listen to your presentation. Like a free toaster. A free trip to Las Vegas or a resort is a time-honored technique that has been know to work for this sort of marketing.

The point is that kind of approach would be voluntary. People could choose to attend, or not, based on their own choice.

Showing up, unannounced, at the door of someone’s home is decidedly involuntary (on their part). It’s rude. It’s bad form. It’s pushy.

Part of my problem is that I view uninvited guests at my door as a form of hostility. It’s like crossing my personal no-fly-zone with your F-16 with missiles hot. It’s simply not done. The moment you decide to come on my property and knock on my door you have left the world of defense far, far behind. You are bringing it. You are forcing the issue. You are playing offense. (I mean that in more ways than one.)

In such circumstances, the aggrieved party has the right to respond in kind. Pretty much all options are on the table at that point. You don’t get to whine about it.

???????????????????????????????Why is is such a big deal to knock on someone’s door when you are not expected? I’m not Miss Manners but I’ll try to explain. I might be in middle of any number of possible things that are none of your business and it’s extremely irritating to be interrupted. Here’s some examples:

  • I worked the night shift and you just ruined my one chance at much-needed sleep.
  • I’m quietly recuperating from minor surgery.
  • My pets finally positioned themselves for a nap on my lap. Your knock sends them scattering.
  • Was in the middle of making the winning move in Jenga.
  • We’re in a precarious sexual position that may not be possible to achieve ever again.
  • I’m at a tricky stage in the kitchen making a fancy meal. The interruption ruins the attempt. The ingredients go down the garbage disposal. You owe me dinner.
  • An online multiplayer game is in progress that can’t be paused and I’ll lose by stepping away.
  • My inebriation is peaking and your existence is harshing my buzz.
  • I was delicately balancing a Ming vase, your knock startled me, and it’s now in a billion pieces.
  • The previous night strangers knocked on that same door and robbed me at gunpoint. You are causing PTSD flashbacks.
  • I’m hard at work, in the farthest corner of the house, in my office, deep in thought computer programming, which you have derailed.

The point is it could be any of of these, or more, because you are not expected. You don’t have an appointment. You are intruding. You’re not the reason for my day. You are an interruption of it.

Lastly, I wonder how you would feel if the roles were reversed? I don’t believe atheists print leaflets and go door-to-door asking if you’ve been not saved yet. What if they did? I wonder if you would like it if the same thing happened to you at your home? Assuming I could get past the security and the gate.

Your church services are open to the public, right? What if I walked in and tried to hand out “reject God” fliers during your homespun homily readings? After all, this is about my message and my wants and my timetables and my convenience. Not yours. It seems to me you should be fine and dandy with it. Just accommodate me and then I’ll be gone. No harm done, right? So what if if you felt it was an unwarranted disruption?

Call me stupid but it seems to me that if you don’t want abuse, you shouldn’t go out asking for it.

9 responses

  1. I really really REALLY don’t like people coming to my door unannounced/uninvited. I should probably get a compound somewhere with fences, but I like things like roads and water and sewers and cableTV.

    The other week, a Jehovah’s Witness came to my door, and I was all riled up to shut her down, but I just couldn’t — she was polite, apologized for the interruption, wanted to know if I’d take a pamphlet (sure), wanted to know if I’d like to discuss anything (not really, but thanks) and she wished me a nice day. Dare I say it — we were CIVIL to one another.

    Like

    1. I really appreciate the reply on this one. I sweated bullets if I should post it or not. I don’t want to offend Mormons (or anyone else) who are nice people.

      25 minutes after I initially saw the linked story on FOX News (and did a knee-jerk tweet about it) and Jehovah’s Witness came to my door, too. I opened the door one-half inch (since the feline beasts are not allowed outside) and peered suspiciously through the crack. It was an old woman behind an adorable little girl, perhaps three years old. In the cutest way possible she stuck a leaflet through the door. I graciously accepted it.

      They didn’t try to engage me in conversation and went on their way. I guess that’s about as good as it gets for this sort of thing. I didn’t read the leaflet and I’m sorry resources were wasted creating it. I tossed it in the recycle bin.

      My wife said I should have told them I’m an atheist but somehow I feel it would have been rude to share my personal beliefs with others like that. Go figure.

      Like

      1. I was like you — I certainly didn’t want to throw my (lack of) faith in her face and I was glad to see that she could move on without trying to proselytize to someone that had politely, but clearly said “no thanks”.

        Like

  2. My Gramma is Jehovah’s Witness, & made me attend church with her many times as a kid. I was raised Lutheran, & am now Pagan, and live a block away from an LDS church, with many members of said church living in the vicinity. They’ve always been very polite neighbors, and the few times their members have stopped at my door, I’ve told them politely “No thanks, we’ve got most of the bases covered, thanks.”
    (I’m Pagan, one of my kids is Catholic, one is agnostic, and one is atheist.) They smile and go about their business.

    The few JW’s who’ve stopped by. .. well they’re a little pushier (obnoxious), and I just tell them “I paid at the office, and if I’m going to have to listen to you, then you have to be in one of my rituals,”.

    Clears them out, like bleach on a blood stain. Matter of fact, they haven’t been around for a while…hmm… maybe I’ve been “blackmarked”? *whew*

    Like

    1. I’m always afraid that if I actually dared to tell the truth they’d come back to cleanse me from the neighborhood or something. 🙂

      Thanks for the wonderful comment. It is much appreciated!

      Like

  3. I don’t know why people would be offended by someone knocking on their door to tell them they’re living wrong.

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    1. Purported message: “God loves you.”

      Actual message: “You are living wrong, you should join us, give our church money.”

      Because, membership drive.

      Like

  4. If I could ‘like’ this an infinite number (is there such a thing?) of times I would. I like… infinity! Called it.

    My eldest brother is a hardcore, Christian minister. I love him but we’re not compatible.

    Like

    1. If you truly believe then, yes, you can ‘like’ this an infinite number of times. Let go of your doubt!

      Thanks for the kind comment! 🙂

      Like

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