Margaret and Bob stopped by yesterday. They came to see Steve but he was out. I'd never met them before and Steve has only known them for a couple of months. He met them one Saturday morning when they rang our doorbell. Steve had mistakenly left the front door open with only the storm door to protect us from the outside world. Since it was obvious that we were home, Steve answered the door. We are generally polite people so Steve listened to the sales pitch and accepted the pamphlet. Margaret and Bob left after a few minutes and Steve vowed never to leave the front door open again. They visited again a few weeks later, catching Steve outside with no escape. Again, he patiently listened and they left after a few minutes.
So yesterday, just before noon, I had just got home from kick boxing and was making my lunch. I had the stereo turned up loud enough that it could be heard outside, so when the doorbell rang, I had no choice but to open it. I knew at an instant that it was them. Margaret asked for Steve by name, Bob stayed a couple of feet back, not speaking, only nodding in my direction. After I told them that Steve wasn't home (which he wasn't, otherwise I would have made him answer the door), Margaret went on to read a passage of scripture and ask me how I felt about the bible. Not wanting to get into it with them I replied that it was a really big question. Margaret than babbled on for it a bit while I impatiently held the door open to the freezing cold air streaming inside my toasty warm house. She did say something about how back in the day there was a bible in every house and how advances in science and technology have made us into sceptics. She than handed me a pamphlet entitled "Can You Trust the Bible?" Apparently, this was a special issue that "would not be reprinted", according to Margaret. I think this was supposed to make me feel special for receiving it. I can assure you, it did not. She opened the pamphlet and drew my attention to it's "selling features", which included:
"Reasons to Trust the Bible
Candor and Honesty
and then a section that reads:
"You may wonder, 'Is there any source of guidance that is worthy of our trust?'"
and another that reads:
"After reading the articles that follow, you can decide for yourself whether the Bible merits your trust."
I had just about had enough at this point. I was raised Catholic and currently consider myself agnostic. I don't know what I believe but religion is not currently a part of my life. I do know how I feel about the bible. When we were kids, my brother received a gift from our parish priest. It was a thick, beautifully bound book called "Beautiful Bible Stories". It was full of passages from the bible in large print accompanied by beautifully painted pictures. Obviously it was meant to be an introduction to the bible for young children. But what struck me then and what sticks with me now is the title. These are stories. Whether you believe that they are true or not, they are simply stories. And these stories are interpreted differently by each religion who claims this book as their own. So who's right? If I had my way, we would all agree to disagree. If everyone could accept that their are several interpretations of this text and no one is more correct than the other, wouldn't the world be a happier place?
Margaret and Bob left me with the pamphlet and were on their way. They were very efficient. The visit wasn't more than five minutes, although it felt like a lifetime to me. And not once did they mention that they were Jehovah's Witnesses, although the tiny print on the back of the pamphlet confirmed it. But the most interesting thing happened after they left. No, I didn't magically become a believer. I watched Margaret and Bob walk to their car, parked in the court across from our house. They sat in their car for a few minutes, presumably taking notes and then drove away. Clearly they were not visiting anyone else in our neighbourhood that day. Either the rest of our neighbours had successfully brushed them off or they think that Steve and I really need saving. Oh we need saving all right. But not in the way they think.