“Do not wait for the last judgment. It comes every day.” -Albert Camus

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After all this time, all these years, all these degrees of separation – a mere knock guides me to shedded enemies. It was midmorning when a pair of shadows alerted me to some unexpected presences. I think I knew before I knew, my gut clenching beyond the usual spasm of social anxiety.

The blockers of the light lingered and adjusted themselves and finally put knuckle to wood. I rearranged loose hairs and wished I had showered for the day and briefly considered not answering, but I was already at the door and well…why not? I opened the front door and wedged myself between it and the wall to keep the cats in and the nonsense out.

I had eaten recently but all feeling of fullness fled when my suspicions were confirmed, leaving behind only a tingly vacancy. Jehovah’s Witnesses were standing before me. A childhood’s worth of memories knocking on strangers’ doors and spilling out formulated speeches came back. I did it into my teenage years, but I never got old enough to get the door slammed in my face. I resisted the urge to do so to the man and woman who were beaming at the sight of an open door, an opportunity.

I know you weren’t expecting us this morning.
Little did she know I hold my breath every time there’s a knock I don’t anticipate.

Living in apartments, Witness sightings are usually limited to random literature in laundry rooms. (Which I always take the time to deposit into recycling bins in hope that the deceased trees will go to better use.)

But here they were, offering a pamphlet and asking a question.
Who do you think controls the world?

I blanked. What kind of bollocks question is that? Are we talking weather patterns and gravity? Politics and no-fly lists? Who controls the world? What on earth does that mean?

The woman repeated the question as the man thumbed through his Bible. I gaped, trying to find a way out of the carefully set trap. The man asked again as he found the scripture he wanted. I said it would depend on what we’re talking about, I needed specifics.

They held up another pamphlet, identical to the one I held in my hand. It had three options. Of course it did. No open ended questions, lead all the way. My preapproved answers were: God, humankind, or someone else.

jw.org

Without actually reading the scripture, the man said that the Bible tells us that the Devil is in control. He asked if I agreed, clearly thinking I would.

Instead I told him that I have relatives that are Witnesses, that I grew up in it. (Oh, they are my Sisters! And you will be again too, eh?) I told them that I was an atheist. Back in my door knocking days I think this would have raised an eyebrow, but they took it in stride. Maybe it’s a more common response now? I can hope.

He chose the complimentary route and said that most people that identify that way are big thinkers – whatever that means. He asked how I had come to the conclusion. I told them I didn’t think much about religion from when I stopped going to meetings as a teenager up until I had kids. (Oh, you have kids! I think he sensed bait.) I said I went looking and didn’t find any answers or evidence – not a single reason to believe in a God.

Evidence has always been one of those buzzwords and he latched on to it. Oh, but the evidence of Creation is all around us. I think he meant to gesture to the sky, but it landed on the adjacent building which is highlighted with bird poop-like primer in anticipation of an upcoming paint job.

I think he could tell that wasn’t a winning strategy, so he went back to the scent he had picked up earlier. Didn’t you think having your babies (he held out his hands to mimic a swollen pregnant belly – his manner was really quite endearing), don’t you think your children are a miracle? 

I smiled. I love Boots and Bubba. In my life, in my everyday, they are extraordinary. But inexplicable by natural or scientific laws they are not. I shook my head and simply answered no. This brought the woman back into the conversation, but not with words. She gasped abhorrently. A mother unwilling to call her children miracles was simply too much. She was only in the corner of my eye, but I saw the shocked expression she wore. It had settled by the time my head turned.

The man smiled, told me his name, asked mine, and shook my hand. The woman offered her name and hand. They encouraged me to take a look at the pamphlet and went on their way.

I shut my door and gently locked it.

My son had not lingered at the door like he usually does for deliverers of pizza, but I had seen his hand at the blinds. He asked who was at the door, what they wanted. Just a man and a woman, I told him; They wanted to talk about what they believed. He was satisfied, moving on to another of the approximately 874 questions he asks each day.

Once his voice quieted, I took stock of myself. My stomach still felt abandoned. Holding up my palm, I saw without surprise that it was shaking. All this time, all these years, so many false degrees of separation later – I am still a child dissatisfied with their answers.

Their buildings are modest, their funds are not. Their beliefs are lowly, their lies lofty. Their army is filled with kind, loving Brothers and Sisters waiting to welcome me home, infiltrating the one I have made for myself. My blog is tiny and their website is translatable into languages I can’t pronounce.

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They scare me.

Not the believers – the beliefs. They knock on my door, but prey on the hearts of others. Jehovah’s Witnesses are only one sect of one religion of three of hundreds of thousands.

I am small, but I speak. I speak so there is a voice besides their own.

This blog recently turned one. I have so much more left to say.
Thanks for listening.


31 thoughts on ““Do not wait for the last judgment. It comes every day.” -Albert Camus

        1. The amount of pop culture references to JWs and Mormons knocking uninvited shows what an annoyance they are here in the States. I’m glad to know they haven’t made it to every corner.

          1. They’re in most corners! The U.S. just has more than our share of fundamentalists. American fundamentalists are making big inroads overseas though, to those poor people’s detriment.

          2. Indeed. Even our fundamentalists are fighting a culture war I think they’re bound to lose eventually. Religions become less insane the more secular they become. It’s far from over, but I see reasons to hope!

    1. It is. I try to remember that they sincerely believe they have been ordered to do so by a supreme being. I swear though, if I ever find myself listening to a proselytizing child, I WILL tell them that they don’t have to believe – to look for answers themselves, that there are other options.

      1. Once, years ago, these two lovely young JW females came to my door and after I said no thank you I added, Ï was raised a JW and I want you to hear this. You are young. You are lovely. You have brains. With those three gifts, there is an entire planet of wonderful experiences out there waiting for you if you will just go enjoy them, so my advice to you is, get out now! Get out fast, go far, and don’t look back!” They were so surprised and taken aback that they were flustered as they thanked me for my interest and beat it out of my yard. (<:

      1. This Video was truly funny, truly. Thanks for the well said feelings of “truth”…..

  1. I used to have fun with the Mormons who would knock on my door. I’d invite them in, acting seriously interested in their “Message”
    “I’m really anxious to listen to your pitch but first…. How ’bout a beer, or maybe something stronger? I have some whiskey and crack. Great buzz from those if proportioned correctly.”

    Yeah, I have no patience with these people.
    Once I wore a pin on my shirt to work (I was working in a small office supply store in NE Texas, Commerce…maybe you know the town.. Anyway, the pin was black with the words in white: “More Madonna. Less Jesus.”
    Lucky I did not lose my job over that one.

    Loved this post.
    Cheers.

    1. I definitely have to give you points for style! I’m just not extroverted enough to try something like that, but I’m glad to know that someone out there is. I have been to Commerce before. Well, through Commerce. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

        1. Definitely! It always amazes me when I stop somewhere that is easy to blow by otherwise, there’s always a reason it’s still there. Either a tight-knit group of people or a history that the people pass on. Love that.

  2. I know writing has moved me when I feel privileged to have read it, awe when I read it, and regret when I finish it. This made me go on that roller coaster again. I never get tired of it.

    You’re braver than I am, I think. I probably couldn’t have opened the door. If I had kids, and they were with me, I would have probably taught them plenty of bad words not to use in polite society while I screamed obscenities at the trespassers.

    JW tracts have always been fascinating in a clinical sense to me. Someone leaves a bunch of them in the waiting room of the psychiatrist that I go see every 3 months. There’s always bright, smiling faces. People who are happy to be doing whatever they are doing. They’re the kind of plastic smiles that look like someone is trying too hard. I realize that if my parents went to a different church, had a different upbringing, I might have been one of those kids way back when.

    Then I happen across the tracts that claim martyr status for kids who die because they refused transfusions, and my heart breaks.

    1. Thank you, Sirius. That’s a high compliment and I cherish it.

      It’s kind of strange for me to hear you call it bravery. I felt tiny doing it.

      Their publications aren’t all rainbows. Their children’s Bible story book still haunts me.

      The smiles are plastic hard, though I’m sure many are actually happy. JWs are definitely one of the more cultish religions.

      I know children that have died on account of their parents’ refusal to give them blood. I know parents who gave their children blood and saved them from certain death, only to be reprimanded and shunned as a result. It is a twisted existence.

  3. I liked this the first time, but I never commented on it. Shame be upon my head… :0p

    I have to admit that there’s a certain shiver that runs up and down my spine when I’m confronted with memories of “myself as evangelical.” It’s a combination of anger, shame, amusement, and incredulity (not necessarily in that order).

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