They asked, “When you look at this picture, what feelings do you have?”
I responded, “It looks like someone’s unrealistic interpretation of paradise.”
They followed up with, “Do you believe these conditions will ever exist on earth?”
I responded with a simple, “No.”
My pessimistic responses must have opened the door as they immediately burst into a dissertation on a new heaven and earth. They said (quoting directly from the brochure), “The ‘new earth’ will be a righteous society of people living on earth, and the ‘new heaven’ will be a perfect heavenly kingdom, or government, which will rule over this earthly society of people.”
I responded, “Sweet, does this mean China is going to forgive our debt?” They were visibly puzzled by this response.
They then explained (still quoting from the brochure), “Such ideal conditions were part of God’s original purpose for this earth. He placed the first human couple in the earthly Paradise of Eden and gave them a marvelous assignment: Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.”
I said, “Hold the phone. Are you saying that you literally believe in the story of Adam and Eve? What about evolution? You do know that it actually happened, right?” Again they looked visibly confused, almost like I was the wacko for bringing science into the conversation.
They quickly dismissed my interruption and continued, “A Messiah will come who will serve as a divinely appointed king and rule over this new world. The Messiah will rid the earth of all wickedness, and then the psalm will be fulfilled.”
I asked, “Will the Messiah bring us total consciousness?” (a la Carl Spackler from the Dalai Lama). My Caddyshack reference was clearly lost on them so I added (in my best Bill Murray impression), “So we got that goin’ for us, which is nice.” …crickets. Tough crowd.
They went on (completely oblivious to my awesome attempt at humor), “The Messiah’s rule will bring earthly benefits beyond compare, accomplishing everything good that God originally purposed for his people to enjoy on earth. Hatreds and prejudices will cease to exist, and eventually everyone on earth will be a true friend of everyone else.”
I responded with, “Wait, aren’t the Jehovah’s Witnesses adamantly opposed to gay marriage? In fact I recently read that your religion teaches its membership that homosexuality is a detestable abomination caused by demon possession. So how does that work out then?” This is about the time they started to look nervous.
Not sure how to respond they quickly continued with, “The whole earth will eventually be brought to a gardenlike paradise state. Never again will people feel hunger because of lack of food. All will enjoy the fruits of their own labor, as our Creator promises: They will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage… They will not plant and someone else do the eating. In God’s new world, no longer will people be crammed into huge apartment buildings or run-down slums, for God has purposed: They will certainly build houses and have occupancy…They will not build and someone else have occupancy.”
I said, “Hmm, that sounds a lot like socialism. I’m more of a free enterprise guy myself.”
They went on now visibly irritated (but in the same robot-like tone), “In time, God’s Kingdom will even restore the peaceful relations that existed in the garden of Eden between animals, and between animals and humans. The Scriptures say: The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them.”
I said, “So we’re back to the fantasy picture. Let me tell you why it’s an unrealistic interpretation of paradise. First off wolves and lions eat lambs, so they could never hang out together. It’s the circle of life, didn’t you ever see the Lion King? Secondly humans were never meant to cohabitate with wild animals. Haven’t you ever seen When Animals Attack? How about Siegfried and Roy, ever heard of them?” I was just about to start into my assault on the hypocrisy of organized religion when they decided to walk away (shaking their heads). Apparently I was deemed a lost cause. “Hey, I didn’t ask you to knock on my door,” I called out after them.
After I closed the door and walked back into my office my wife asked, “Who were you just talking to?”
“The Jehovah’s Witnesses,” I responded.
“Were they trying to help you see the light?” she joked. “You could actually use a little more light in your life.”
“Ouch,” I thought to myself. But she’s not wrong. Perhaps I have grown a bit too jaded towards my fellow man. It’s just that there’s something very offensive to me about aggressive religious recruitment. Faith without logic is a very dangerous thing. Religion is about as personal as you can get. So where’s the logic in peddling your faith door-to-door like cheap cutlery or encyclopedias? I’m all about religious freedom and tolerance. Believe what you want to believe (as wacky as it may be), and be a better person for it. Just please leave me out of it.
Who knows, perhaps a peaceful new world will come. But I’m fairly certain it won’t be delivered by a pair of drones knocking on my front door.
The Quinsey Blog