Monday, May 19, 2008

It Always Comes Back To Jesus

I had a garage sale last weekend which I spent a couple of hours each evening throughout the week setting up. This was our annual sale for my charitable crafting group and as I've stated before, there are many people out there that are all to willing to jump to conclusions when you run a crafting group with the purpose of donating items to your community.

Here are some things that I have learned in the last seven years:

People are astonished to learn that I am younger than 60, let alone younger than 40 (I only have four more months to be able to stun people with this fact).

People are amazed to learn that I am not associated with a church.

People are floored to learn that I am not only NOT associated with a church, but I am also *GASP* NOT A CHRISTIAN.

People are then suspicious because apparantly, Christians are the only ones who are allowed to be charitable. It is a REQUIREMENT that you must have the fear of God to scare you into doing good things apparantly. It is not enough that you realize you are a human being that feels it is the job of every human being to make life a little easier for other human beings.

What's that called children???? COMMUNISM!

So, because of what I do, I get a couple of emails a week from people who have found my group via the internet and start to put a religious angle on what I am trying to accomplish. Sometimes I respond to their emails by explaining that I'm not a Christian, other times the emails are so utterly offensive to me that I don't even go there.

So, you might say that I'm a little tired of the God Squad.

So when a woman found my group via the internet and discovered that she lived one block away from me, she emailed me and found out about our upcoming sale. NOw, when someone sends you an email with the signature tag line "Let his son-shine on you", it might be a clue as to what you are getting into. I, of course, try not to prejudice myself in these situations. I want to believe that I can communicate with people without having to start the conversation with the opening salvo of "So, it looks like you're a real Jesus freak. How's that working for you?"

Anyway, she was going out of town and wanted to know if she could come over and shop early. Not a problem! So while I'm out in the garage last week, she comes up my driveway with her son in tow. The child is about 10 or perhaps a little older and as she starts to shop, he begins to solidify my belief that I am currently in the presence of the most annoying child in the history of procreation.

Now, there are many reasons why kids can behave like he did. They can have a physical or mental impairment. They can have some sort of disorder that makes it impossible for them to realize that when your mother is talking to someone and you are way old enough to understand social interaction, you don't physically come between the two people and start shrieking questions. You also don't interrupt your parent every single time they open their mouth with completly inane observations. You also don't run into the back yard at a stranger's house and begin to crawl all over their dog who is tied up. (I looked in the back yard and as this child was two inches away from my dog's face being utterly obnoxious, my dog looked at me with the absolute personification of the phrase "WTF?").

As I stated, I'm all lightness and understanding when it comes to kids with problems. All a parent has to say is something like "Yeah, it can be hard to have an autistic child but we're managing." But in this case, mom not only didn't have a clue that this behavior was way outside of the social norm, she actually fed into it and encouraged his every interruption and laughed at his obnoxious behavior and simply DID NOTHING. As I tried to price things, this child would pick things up and insist that he wanted his mother to buy him a quilting applique kit because hey, if you're flying high with unmedicated ADHD, you OBVIOUSLY need to learn to applique.

I was ready to pull a Dog Whisperer move on this kid and just clothesline him to the ground and dig my fingers into his neck with a sharp exhalation of my breath. As Ceasar would say "I am the alpha dog and this is my house."

After fifteen or twenty minutes of the madness, mom gets around to mentioning my health issues and how I can't knit anymore. She then, as her short bus hummingbird of a child flittered around us, asked if she could pray for me.

I stifled a sigh and said "Sure". I wanted to tack on "You can also sacrifice a goat for me too, so long as you realize that you're doing this to appease your own self interest and it has nothing to do with me." But of course, I didn't. That would be rude.

"No," she continues. "I don't mean at church. I mean right now. Will you bow your head with me and we'll pray together?"

I think by this time, Junior was digging through my yarn bins, probably looking for something to eat.

"No," I told her. "That's not OK with me."

In retrospect, I should have told her "I think you have a lot of praying to do regarding your own family. Why don't you work on that first?"

She then continued on like nothing had happened and it took her another ten minutes to get the hell out of my garage.

I really need to develop a good comeback for situations like this. Something like "I'll pray with you now but you have to attend the virginal sacrifice this evening at midnight with me. Bring some firewood and a bottle of tequilla."

It's very easy to be snarky. It's a little harder to come up with something that truely lets people know just how offended I am by this behavior. They have no clue because their ego tells them that it is up to them to save the world.

They have no concept that perhaps, the world does not want to be saved.


Rebecca Hartong said...

It's not only their own egos telling them they've got to save the world, their fellow church-members are telling them too.

Being nice can be a burden at times. I've got myself into a situation where, fairly soon I suspect, I'm going to have to bitterly disappoint a Jehovah's Witness lady who's been coming to see me once a month for the past year or so.

I'm always willing to talk to her, see. That's how I was brought up. You're courteous to people (unless they're doing something really awful, of course, and even then... "Excuse me. I'm sorry to interrupt you, but would mind awfully much not beating that old man over the head with his cane?")

Anyway, so I've been nice and every month I accept the Watchtower and Awake! magazines she gives me and sometimes I even read them because I'm fascinated by the different things people believe.

When she asks me directly, though, I've made it fairly clear that she and I aren't on the same page when it comes to things like the Bible being the inerrant word of God.

So... the last time she was here, she asked if she could schedule some time with me ("just 10 minutes or so!") to talk about the truthfulness of the Bible and I said sure, sure...

I really have no desire to get into it with this woman. I wish she'd quit visiting because I feel like I've unintentionally been leading her on. (The curse of being nice, dontcha know.) But she is very nice and she's black so I've probably got some residual race-guilt at work here too. What to do, what to do...

God... am I ever a liberal from Minnesota, eh?

Shelly said...

Jehovah's Witnesses are something of an amazing lot to me. While I completely and utterly disagree with them, I do have to admire their dedication. Here in Alabama, it is 90 degrees with 100% humidity. It takes a special kind of person to want to put on a suit and go door to door in that kind of weather...

Jesus people, in general, scare the hell out of me. I have a friend who works as a chef at a retirement home for nuns in Minneapolis. I can tell you, based on repeated personal experience, that the nuns, who have dedicated their entire lives to God, wouldn't have done what that lady did. Her arrogance is staggeringly inappropriate.

I've had people ask me if they can pray for me before, and, I always say yes, because if it makes them happy, what the hell do I care? I've even gone so far as to ask the aforementioned nuns to say a little prayer for me regarding situations in which I needed all the help I could get. Its not that I believe the same things that they do, its just that I believe very strongly that if enough people direct their energy toward a particular outcome, it DOES make a difference. This notion is in no way Christian, and I don't believe that Christians have the lock on being able to direct their energy toward a particular outcome. We ALL have that ability. Clearly, you have it, by starting and operating this amazing charity which I so admire...