“No thanks, I have no interest in any of that,” you say, bashfully, and close the door. You return to your lunch and immediately ask yourself why you didn’t engage them in conversation. One of those intellectually engaging conversations – or maybe the proper word is debate, perhaps even argument – that go round and round and persuade no one to change their minds. Taking a bite of soup-dipped toast, you tell yourself you’re secure enough in your atheism that they’d never have managed to sway you. You would have failed to even dent their fervent belief too, no doubt. Then what would have been the point? Is life not too short to run around in circles like that?
Blowing on a spoonful of soup, you think about their strange sales pitch. The woman – Polish maybe, in her thirties but dressed like she’s in her sixties – held up a copy of their magazine, Watchtower, and asked you to consider an article she was pointing to. Something about God. You weren’t really paying attention; you were distracted by the strangeness of the action. What if you went from door to door with a copy of the Irish TImes, asking people to consider some random article you pointed at? They’d have been as quick closing the door on you as you had been closing the door on those two. The other Witness – a man, in his forties, with a luxuriously bushy mustache – stood to one side, just nodding his head. What he was nodding at, you can’t guess. For a moment, you hope you didn’t offend them by cutting them off so quickly and closing the door. They’d only have been wasting their own time as much as yours, you reason. Anyway, they’re used to that, it’s part of the deal, it’s the challenge of going to these strangers houses and trying to ‘save’ them.
As you run the empty bowl under the tap and stick it in the dishwasher you think to yourself that you don’t like Jehovah’s Witnesses anyway. No, that’s not true. You don’t like their religion. The Witnesses themselves, for the most part are like anyone else really. The universe is a big, scary, unknowable place and it’s only natural that people would search for something to make all that seem more manageable. You don’t like the rules they have, you don’t like their attitudes to women, gays and blood tranfusions and the whole idea of “sin” and “Satan” and silly stories like that. Of course, you don’t dislike those rules anymore than you dislike the rules of any other silly religions out there. You believe in equality and all religions deserve equal amount of ridicule and disdain. You chuckle quietly to yourself – you find your own jokes too funny.
But, you think as you put on your coat and step out into the dull autumnal air, it might be nice to be that assured of your beliefs. How comforting it must be to know you’re absolutely right about God and the universe, heaven and hell, and good and evil. To carry this book with you, this 2000 year old book full of inaccuracies and inconsistencies, and to know that every word in it is true simply by virtue of what it is and what it represents. There’s an almost childlike innocence to it and you think to yourself that you almost miss that. Almost.