The Golden Sentence

4 Mar

West Carrick Church

I came home to this letter after a long, hard day at the hospital. It was pressed into the space between my storm door and front door. It reads:

Dear Neighbor,

I am sorry I was unable to speak with you personally. I stopped by to share some encouragement from the Bible with you.

You don’t have to be sorry, neighbor. I’m actually quite glad I missed the opportunity to discuss my faith with you–and you should be too.

You don’t get much useful information on this here blog, but I’m feeling generous today, and so I am going to tell you how to get rid of these hostile intruders–swiftly, non-criminally, and with as little effort as humanly possible.

You are going to say a single sentence, and repeat it as many times as necessary until all the Bible beaters in the world slink off into the mists of history. Now clear your throat, look that creepy Mormon dead in the eye, and repeat after me:

“I don’t discuss my faith with strangers.”

The above letter is basically an advertisement for a book called “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” a copy of which currently sits on the back of my toilet, in the event that I find myself entertaining drunk knuckleheads at 3 in the morning, as happens far more often that it should for a man of my age. I was not aware that the contents of the Bible were any more a mystery to the world than the molecular structure of water, but then again, I was raised literate, and my eyes are connected to my brain.

Now, I don’t mean to join the growing chorus of militant atheists who, galvanized by the popularity of intellectual “heavyweights” like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, are every bit as steadfastly crazy and cruel as your average homophobic, woman-hating evangelist. I don’t mind religious people. I went to a Catholic college. I work at a Catholic hospital. I was an altar boy for ten years. I admire Christians–that is, the nine or ten true Christians who still exist on this planet. And yet, at no point in my Catholic upbringing did I feel the urge to pamphleteer my neighborhood with brochures bearing bitter chestnuts such as this:

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES: At death, humans cease to exist. “The dead…are conscious of nothing at all,” states Ecclesiastes 9:5. Since the dead cannot know, feel, or experience anything, they cannot harm–or help–the living. –Psalm 146:3, 4.

My God, you people are terrifying. Who said anything about the dead harming the living? That is an even bleaker view of death than the one I currently harbor, and I’ve been suicidally depressed for a record 864 days in a row.

And another thing: Who the fuck goes around ringing people’s doorbells anymore? That is absolutely insane. Were none of you people raised in cities? Doesn’t everyone assume, as I do, that everyone is a murderous cannibalistic necrophiliac until proven otherwise?

Stay away from these nightmare peddlers. I’d tell you to not answer your door at all, but that’s unfair: there may be Girl Scout cookies on the other side. And I would never want you to miss out on some cookies. Alternately, you can do what my friend Stephen used to do in college: invite these weirdos into your kitchen, and encourage them to preach the Good Word while you lovingly stir a pot of hot chocolate laced with LSD.

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