house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

44 days, 11

Glorious morning, the type you would want to spend on a long bike ride and I on a patch of sparkling grass, reading and writing. Deep breath. Silence. No workers. The taller plum tree has exploded into delicate flower. I go to take a look and notice a car stopped in front of the house. OH NO. Somebody 'POPPING BY'. Deep sigh.

Nikita is dispatched to deal with the intruders. He doesn't come back. Kira (in pyjamas) and I go to see what's going on. Over the fence (the gate is locked, yesss) Niki is in conversation with two strangers.

The younger one – neat clothes and a Communist Cap the type Ceausescu used on visits to collective farms in the '70s – smiles widely and speaks English. I have a feeling I ought to know him, but I don't. He mentions having been here before. Panic. Who is he?

Then I see what Nikita's holding: a religious brochure. These people are fishing for converts. I picture shutters closing in my brain with a sharp snap. Faith I have, religion I (try to) understand, but dangling a Bible in front of others, to see if they follow me meekly all the way to church no, no, NO! Then I got curious, why would anyone be doing this?

The English speaker loved quoting the Book. He held a battered copy and spent a lot of time seeking paragraphs to illustrate this or that point. I asked him 'Why do you try to recruit people?' 'We give them information', he said, 'we educate them so they can make up their mind.' I told him I thought people needed educated on how to live with more care for nature and for each other, he agreed and waved the Bible about, looking for another quote. I wanted to say 'You're not listening' – then realised that here he was, going house to house with something he believed in; if I wanted to be heard so much, why wasn't I out there, knocking on doors with my beliefs in a brochure and clutching a battered copy of 'Silent Spring'?

In a show of open-mindedness, he lectured proudly on about Science and Religion not clashing at all: 'One explains the What and the other explains the Why' - I could see how much he loved to say that. 'OK, but then what about Darwinism?'; 'Oh, that is only an Opinion!'; 'Why then does the Church feel so threatened by this Opinion? Why has it divided America (for example) neatly in two?' He dived into the Bible for a quote on fanatics and Pharisees and thus lost me completely.)

At this point, Nikita was fanning himself with the literature, Kira looked crumpled and asleep on the step. The sun was strong above us, and Commy Cap was telling me where the Bible Study Group met weekly. 'OK, but you never once asked US about our faith!' A small chink in the smile then it was back on. 'Of course. What DO you believe in?'

This is when I realised I couldn't explain. It would take too long and, perhaps, would sound like Chinese to this neat, neat guy with his Bible, Chinese or blasphemy, or both and more, some kind of mortal sin.

What would I have said? - I thought on our walk back to the alambique. That I don't believe God is vengeful, or petty, in fact I don't believe He punishes anyone at all. He doesn't sit there counting sins, or checking who's reading His Holy Books and who's bringing more sheep into His fold. In fact, He doesn't bother anyone – if you need Him, He's there, that's all. He's always there, wherever you imagine There to Be... I believe He has many names – Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Jehova, Zeus, Ra. As for Good and Bad and all that. I believe you need to try to be good without want of reward or fear of punishment. Just try to be the best you can.

There's more, but as we got inside Kira, who had done her own serious thinking, suddenly piped up: 'What are Jemima's Witnesses?' - so I promptly added Jemima to my list of Gods.


At 12 March 2012 at 19:49 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh, I have to remember that: 'Jemima's Witnesses'! My response to them in the past has been: 'Actually I know about you very well, as I did my Ph.D. on religious cults and sects.', while my husband tries to convert them to atheism.

At 13 March 2012 at 02:57 , Blogger Magnus said...

Hey, at least they spark of some serious theological debates around the house... And last time they were so impressed with the woodwork around the house, the lime, straw etc. they didn't get a biblical word in edgeways!

At 13 March 2012 at 12:28 , Blogger emwolfem said...

Yes, I felt like trying to convert them to well, anything else! But then I realised making converts is not my cup of tea. (I mean, look at this blog :)!


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