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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Proselytizing


I've always had a combative response to proselytizing. Whether its been a suited-up group of Mormons knocking on my door at 6 AM with crisp button-downs and uncracked Bible spines -- or fundamentalist-infused Evangelicals condemning everyone in a 50 yard radius to fiery damnation while handing out business cards to their church.

It's because I'm Jewish. That's why it bothers me. Jews don't proselytize. We don't try to convert people. Why? Because fuck you, that's why. We've endured thousands of years of persecution, genocide, and diaspora simply for the sin of being "God's chosen people" ... and because we're good with money, or something like that.

Anyways, the point is that Jews, as a group, look down on proselytizing. We see it as phony, cheap, and that those who convert are generally doing so for selfish rather than spiritual reasons. How do we know this? Because across our history we've been forcibly converted, pressured to convert, and/or murdered for not converting... to Christianity. In Spain, for instance, the story of the conversos is both tragic and inspirational as to the lengths Jews will take to remain steadfast in their religion despite having to present an outwardly "Christian" facade just to not get burned at the stake.

Even during the Holocaust, we hide our Jewishness to survive, but we never abandoned it. Always he practiced in secret. Even in the camps. Even at the moment of our deaths. Even as the gas and bullets ended the 6 million... we remained Jewish to the end.

Basically Jews are ultra hardcore devoted to being Jewish, regardless of how "religious" we are; we'll be Jewish long after the other world's religions have long since passed to the void, like so many of our enemies have already...

So when I see some kindly woman telling me I need Jesus, I tend to laugh in her face, scold her for being so ignorant, and use the very tenets of her own religion to shame her for the offense of attempting to shove her religion down my throat. Especially when I'm just sitting her eating a burger, goddamnit.

Or when a hardcore Jesus-freak starts slanging that fire-n-brimstone speech, telling me I killed Christ and am going to hell unless I repent and convert. Lawd, I laugh and curse his idiocy. Jesus was Jewish, fool! Jesus preached love and compassion, not hate and damnation. Besides, all those Biblical quotes you're using come from MY Old Testament. And, let me tell you, you're totally getting them wrong. You don't even understand how wrong you are, not just about my religion but yours as well.

I remember a wonderful occasion when I was approached by some middle-aged Evangelicals at San Francisco's Union Square. They were handing out leaflets with the usual -- accept Jesus as your personal savior or go to hell -- ballyhoo. I politely said I wasn't interested; I'm Jewish and quite happy with my religion. But one man made an off-the-cuff remark about how my people killed Jesus and it's so tragic that we can't be "saved."

Rather than directly tell him how un-Christian he is that Jesus himself was probably face-palming from the pearly gates right then, I opted to engage in a little dialectical.

"Excuse me sir."

"Yes?"

"I had some questions about Jesus actually. Would you be able to answer them for me?"

"Absolutely! Are you ready to accept Jesus into your life and let him be your savior?"
"Well, hold on, I can't really say because I'm just so confused about everything. Jesus is the son of God right?"

"Yes, the son of God and the Virgin Mary."

"Right, but this guy Joseph was Mary's husband, right?"

"Yes..."

"So, let me make sure I got this straight. Mary was married to Joseph. Mary's son Jesus is also the son of God, not Joseph. Right?"

"Yep, exactly. You got it. Does that clear everything up for you?"

"Well, not quite... Because basically that means that Jesus is the bastard son of God and Mary's adulterous affair, while Joseph is the cuckolded husband."

The man stood speechless. At first I wasn't sure he'd heard me; certainly no one else had been listening. Then he says, "Um...I don't think it works like that..."

"Okay, well maybe you can explain it to me? I mean Joseph and Mary were married. But then God comes down, impregnates Mary with Jesus, who's also a demigod apparently then, and then pretty much vanishes back up into the clouds."

"Umm, well... I never really thought of it that way... exactly..."

"Ya see, isn't that crazy? God and Mary are both adulterers, Jesus is a demigod bastard, and poor Joseph is just this schmuck who's been cuckolded by the very creator of the universe."

"Well... yeah, I guess you're right."

"Really???" I was incredibly surprised that the guy gave in this quickly. But it got even more astonishingly hilarious.

"I can't... I don't. What the hell have I been doing? Jesus..." He was mostly mumbling to himself, so it's hard to give a faithful translation of his entire internal conversation. But suddenly he grabbed his gear and just started walking away.

"Where are you going? Hey! Where you going?" His friends kept shouting for him to come back, asking what was going on, where he was going, etc etc. I just sat back and laughed at the irony of it all.

Which brings me back to my point: people who spend all their time trying to convince others to join their religion rarely take the time to do the necessary introspection to think about their beliefs that they supposedly are so committed to.

Which is why I'll always give the side-eye shade to those people who keep trying to "save" me, "convert" me, or otherwise proselytize to me, I'll happily and shamelessly humiliate then, taunt them, and generally fuck with them. Why? Because I can find God on my own. I don't need your arrogant faux-pity. I don't need your bullshit self-righteousness. And I definitely don't need to be rudely interrupted continuously just so you can satisfy your own crappy need to preach your religion in an effort to hide how shallow your faith truly is.


Just saying. Cheers.

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