How to dispatch a Jehovah’s Witness

For many years, for as long as I can remember, I have fallen into the trap of getting drawn into discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Not that a “trap” is such a bad thing. They are good for catching things, capturing things, altogether being good for the collection of just all kinds of things, including special information that just might get you through the day. That includes such highly specialized information as how to get to heaven, why you are going to hell, why you generally suck … and so on.
In fact, I’ve had furious but generally beneficial discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past. In fact, just once, while I was a reporter covering religion for the Prescott Courier*, I decided it would be a fine idea to do a story about what it was like to be a door-to-door evangelista. So I talked two of these Jehovahcrats to allow me to follow along with them as they went through a neighborhood. Turned out to be a fine story. I wrote it in real time, like a day in the life kinda thing. And if I learned one thing, it’s this: It’s no fucking fun being a Jehovah’s Witness.
Ever since then I’ve remained compassionate for these people. I became even more curious about them. They seemed to have the thickest skin of any style of religious zealot ever, save for perhaps Jesus of Nazereth … you know, that original polydactal cat who, in being paranormal, or, perhaps quite insane, was made to be “normal,” by agreement of many so-called wise Jesus historians, clergyman and political thinkers, about seven centuries later in a nation I believe at the time was called Byzantium, in a city I think was called Constantinople, but is now called Turkey, about seven centuries after he was reportedly crucified. In other words: When his round peg was fit into a square hole (“whole?”, hell no!) thus leaving four odd joints all quite unaccounted for at each corner. Not a perfect fit, save you, but, at least, it made for a decent book, which today they still call the Bible. Now, to complete that thought, and I apologize for getting so far off the point, there remains many clear thinking folk who at least can agree on one thing; and that is, some key portions of the real story were left out.
Those points, in fact, were always pecadillos for myself, and they became keys to my ongoing conversations (OK, OK, arguments) with Jehovah Witnesses. I mean, I’m just a reporter, after all, and to report on an event seven hundred years after the fact is just plain no bueno.
The problem with these folk, as I see them, is you can’t get a word in edgewise once they get locked into explaining to you why you can’t get to heaven, why you are going to hell, why you suck … and so on. This is one reason why people don’t like them to come to their door. It’s not so much the invasion of privacy … though that irritation is no doubt included. Getting spammed by Bible beaters is, after all, about the worst thing anyone in America has to accept without question … due to the First Amendment … and so on … no, the real problem with Jehovah’s Witnesses is you can’t tell them a fucking thing without causing a hemmorage to break in the vessels of their brains, and then they start spewing about the blood of Jesus all over you, the unhappy consumer.
The wisest amongst us just tell them to go away. But that rarely works. They are trained to remain steady. To stay thick skinned. To hang in there. To become, well, victorious. Victory, being, I suppose, an elusive hope, since absolutely nobody really knows if you’ll make it to heaven, or, hell, or why you really suck … not one fucking living soul, anyhow, despite all of the different claims, once you are dead. And so, you can probably see why they can get under your collar … in case you don’t have a First Amendment clause in your city, state, nation or planetary system …
After many years, I have become something of an expert, though, in discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses because, well, I’m a compassionate guy who believes you can learn something from everyone, especially (and this is one of those completely quite remarkable things about life) complete fools.
But as time has gone by, I have learned to save time on these discussions, and here is my secret: Just fucking agree with them. Then, they will leave.
But don’t agree to anything else … boy, this is a fine point, the real “deal breaker,” because if they get a whiff of your dissent … they will launch into when, exactly, they can come over to launch into more disagreeable discussions, or, want to know when they can come over and take you to their church. I’ve, personally, never been in one. In fact, since the last time I was in a church, a Presbyterian haunt in St. Charles, Illinois, I completely messed up the whole sharing the sacrament ritual, since it was my first time at that place, and I was raised just straight Presbyterian, and but they didn’t do the breaking of the bread or the drinking the Kool aid thing the same way … then, later, and belive me, this never ever happened: the madman named Dr. Mengele, who brought me there, left me at the church and the pastor had to drive me home to this strange city I’d only been in for about 48 hours, without mountains, nor compass, nor stars to even remotely comprehend, much less the fucking weather, which nobody (this part being true, even understands anymore) … and it turned into a real mess, and now I’m seeking counseling for that particular unfortunate, quite traumatic event …
Anyhow, to conclude, to be a real Jehovah’s Witness de-neighborizor, you have got to scare them with something far scarier than hell, far more truthful and therefore less apparent than heaven, while at the same time, at the end, telling them you totally agree with everything they have to say.
This is how it worked for me in the morning sun the other day: I went outside my front door. I saw three of them coming toward me. I said, “Boy, you guys are really in trouble.” Then, I said, looking up at the incredibly suddenly stormy sky, “Look up there, we’ve got weaponized weather,” then making a broad circle with my other hand, creating a globe-like circumference, continued with “a hurricane headed toward the Gulf of Mexico named Earl,” and finishing it with, “and I totally believe in everything you say.”
And so, they left. Scattered, in fact, in three directions down the street. One guy went over to a house that looks like some kind of Adams Family recreation, perhaps even a Disney recreation for a very scary ride, and he got stuck trying to get his way through the bushes and deep, deep weeds. He looked back at me, and, to continue my de-neighborizing, I shouted over the increasing winds, “Don’t go there. Nobody home. Everyone who is actually home here mows their lawns.” So then he turned, after tripping through the brambles a bit more, to get away. The other two went scurrying down the street, looking for homes with fully mowed lawns, I suppose. I knew, of course, since this is basically a Presbyterian territory, that they were really headed for even worse trouble. I laughed to myself. Imagining the horrors that awaited them …About 15 minutes later, I saw them drive by in a white compact car. No doubt driving out of town as fast as they possibly could. I think I will never forget the deer-in-the headlights look of the youngest of them sitting in the back seat car. He gazed back at me in amazement as I smiled and waved. He looked as if he’d just seen a ghost. Oh God how I will miss him. He could have actually been a real friend ...

1 comment:

TJ said...

Witnesses don't really teach people how to get into heaven (Witnesses believe humans are meant to stay on earth) or that anyone is going to hell (they spend much of their discussions arguing against the traditional concept of a fiery hell). This is actually part of what makes them unpopular at the doors.

But as a reporter, you may be interested in their contributions to free speech, both in the USA and throughout the world. The one-time Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Harlan Fiske Stone wrote, "The Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to have an endowment in view of the aid which they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties."

Currently the Witnesses have been battling Russia's slide against such civil liberties in the European Court of Human Rights: www.jw-media.org/rus/rus02e.htm