Sunday, 22 May 2011

"Close Enough"

I don't know whether it is the rapture-that-didn't-happen, or something else, but I have recently been thinking about something that happened to me a while ago.

So one day I was at home, no doubt doing something incredibly important and time consuming, something during which I could not be interrupted - for fear of my concentration being broken and all of my effort would be wasted. Whatever it was, it must have been urgent, and time consuming. Probably.

Just imagine those are a pair of male hands. And the hand cream is completely organic - and yet somehow man-made.

Unfortunately there was an interruption to my incredibly significant work - the doorbell. As I am sure you can appreciate by now - I did not want to be disturbed. However I had no choice but to run downstairs and answer the door. There I was greeted by two middle-aged women, one standing about a foot in front of the other. The woman closest to me then asked me the question that they had clearly said many times before: "have you discovered the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ?"

"Well this may take a while."

At first I was tempted to say: "who?" Why is it that Christians seem to recruit people by asking about Jesus, as if there are some people in the Western world who legitimately would have no idea what a Jesus is? Don't get me wrong - I am not bashing Christianity. I have met Christians whose lives are better because of their religion. But the problem is that, when they come door-to-door, they do tend to... go on a bit. I stood there, trying to think of the quickest way to get them off the doorstep. You see if you just say you're an atheist they take that as an opportunity to convert you. It gives them a target to hit. I was racking by brain, desperately trying to come up with something when I had... an epiphany of sorts. It was so simple. Why had I never thought of it before? A pleasant smile spread across my face as I said the lie that would ensure they would quickly leave:

"I am Jewish."

It really would have helped if I had looked like this at the time.

I really thought this was a stroke of genius on my part. Jewish people do not embrace Jesus as the messiah - surely these Jehovah's Witnesses could not believe that they could reverse the beliefs handed down over thousands of years? Surely nobody is that insensitive? That misguided? The reactions to my statement from the two women were interesting. The woman furthest from me looked at me as if I had just said: "sorry, would you mind coming back a bit later? I'm feasting on the innards of infants at the moment."

Maybe I shouldn't have answered the door like this.

The woman closest to me took longer to formulate a response. She seemed to be turning things over in her mind, trying to decide if she should persist or just walk away. "Oh. Erm. Well... I suppose there are some similarities..." What?! I could not believe she was seriously going to try to convince me a (for all she knew) devoutly Jewish young man to get off the Jew train and ride on the Jesus Express. It is actually deeply offensive. Perhaps not as offensive as pretending to be Jewish just so you don't have to talk to Jehovah's Witnesses, but still pretty bad. I was about now that I realised how misguided my lie may have been. Not only am I not Jewish, I know very little about the religion - despite what I had seen on TV and in films. I was stuck. She then started to outline the Christian beliefs to me, and my sense of politeness forced me to just nod along and pretend to be interested. "You see, we believe that Jesus is the son of God and died for our sins." "Oh, sure."

"I'm sorry, could you please go over who exactly killed Christ? Thanks."

After a while she stopped and said to me: "You know it is so great to see a young man with faith. Can I ask you what you call God?" I still don't know what word Jewish people use for God. I had to cover. "Oh, I just say 'God', to make things easier for my non-Jewish friends." "Do you usually where a skull cap? It's just I notice you aren't wearing one now." "Err, well mine's in the wash. But I always where it to temple. I don't wear it all the time. It keeps slipping off." You might be able to tell by this time I was getting a bit desperate.

I guess I must have lost the clip? Or something like that.

"So are your whole family Jewish?" Now I started to think if they talk to anyone else in my family, and they figure out that they aren't Jewish they will know I was lying. "Um, no. It's just me. My family are not practising. Just me. We're all Jewish but I am the only one who visits the synagogue." "Which synagogue do you go to?" My answer requires a little explaining. For reasons too convoluted to get into, a friend of mine had pretended to be Jewish (so there is something of a track record when it comes to falsifying faith) and had also been asked to which he went synagogue. He just replied "the one in Romford" - having no idea if there was one. Apparently there is, not that I have ever seen it. So I just copied his answer. "Oh yes, I know the one." Good job she did, because I didn't. "There's a Jewish festival coming up soon, isn't there?" "Oh, yeah I think you're right. I'd completely forgotten about that, I had better start getting ready for... it." As unconvincing as my blagging seems now apparently she completely bought it.

I could make a joke about how Christians are quite easy to fool but that would just be mean.

Finally she gave me some pamphlets and left. Now let's follow this thought process through. Either she really did respect the fact that I was(n't) Jewish, and decided to have an earnest discussion about the differences about our faiths - or she thought that by explaining how great Christianity is she might be able to convert a young Jewish man to Christianity. Does that seem likely? I mean really, how many Jewish people are going to go back on everything they believe and suddenly say "actually, yeah, Christ is the messiah"?

To be fair that group is in the US. The parameters for 'crazy' are way more strictly defined over there.

So that's what happened to me. In the end it could have gone a lot worse - or possibly better - if I had gone with my original idea. To tell them I was a Satanist.