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12/15/02 Devil's Advocate
11/30/02 The Wall
11/15/02 My Darling Packrat
10/15/02 The Magazine Rack
10/01/02 My Shoe Thing
09/15/02 Doey Overies
08/16/02 Panic Attack
07/15/02 Unsolved Mysteries

Devil's Advocate

They say a man's home is his castle. Why, then, won't the city allow me a moat?...

There was a knock at the door. Several, actually. I glanced through the peephole at two rotund women armed with booklets. An alarm sounded in my head: Jehovah's Witnesses.

Normally I hold my breath and play dead, but something possessed me to open the door. I guess the devil made me do it.

"Good day, ladies. May I help you?"

The woman on the left was black; the other was white. One more race, and we would have had a commercial.

The white one said, "How do you do?"

"I do well."

"We are visiting to share important information..."

"I don't mean to be rude," I said, "but did you notice my NO SOLICITING sign?"

They gasped in sync. The white one drew her Bible from its holster and spun to a dog-eared page. She read like a televangelist:

"The apostles were no peddlers of the Scriptures [pause for dramatic effect] as the false prophets were. What they preached was the straight [pause] unadulterated [pause] word of God."

I wondered how you say "I don't care" in her language.

The black woman asked, "You're a Christian, I take it?"

"Does it show?" I said. "Actually, I believe in all Gods. I'm a pantheist."

They exchanged a ruffled glance. That one was new to them. In fact, they were still shocked that I had opened the door. The white woman confessed that she didn't understand.

"I'm a student," I said.

Their eyes grew as big as collection plates. A student! Let us teach you...

So began a homily about life, the universe, and everything. Evidently, they were on speaking terms with God, Who is distressed by stem cell research. You can't blame Him. The population being what it is, we should give up fission and take a crack at fusion.

The black woman finished her lines, and the white one took over. I squirmed the way I do when my mom won't say goodbye on the phone. Some people just don't realize when they've overstayed your attention span. I cut them off mid-thump:

"I appreciate your conviction, but think about me, the consumer. How am I to trust your views when the other faiths stop by later, equally confident?"

The Witnesses tried to look at each other without moving their eyes -- not an easy trick. The white one answered as best she could while her partner worked the Bible. They had steered the conversation back to stem cells when I broke in again:

"What does your creed have to say about dinosaurs -- fossils that predate Genesis?"

They chuckled knowingly; this one they knew. The Bible referred to them as sea monsters, and they would bring a pamphlet. Kingdom Hall had a pamphlet for everything.

"Of course," I continued, "at that time the world was flat."

They stared blankly.

So it goes.

I inquired about the Hubble findings, how Earth is downright overlookable in the grand scheme of things. What about life on other planets?

"The Bible refers to spirit creatures," said the black Witness, "but Earth is where God exists."

I passed on that pamphlet: how depressing.

No matter how I thrust, they parried. I asked if the retarded get a free pass to heaven; they had a reference. I questioned the parallels between Scripture and mythology; they had a passage. As one spoke, the other quoted. They were slippery missionaries.

Perhaps it was a wearing-down effect, but I began to feel a sense of kinship with these women. Whereas I had opened the door to satirize their faith, I came to see that they are just like me -- desperate to survive their own death. Sure, they led with their religion, but it could have been worse: they could have been there to rob me.

At the end of the day, though, I couldn't adopt a religion that skips birthdays. Think of the gift-loss!

The ladies bid me farewell and promised to return next week. I was about to decline when I had a flash: No, I'll invite the Mormons...think of the possibilities.


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