I only opened the door because I thought it was a delivery. I’ve been doing a bunch of online Christmas shopping.
There was no smiling Amazon box on my porch.
It was a smiling guy wearing a tie, holding a zippered book and what appeared to be a Bible tucked in his armpit.
Thought Bubble: “AAACCK! Julie! What have you done!?”
After his jovial icebreaker comment about how the vine on my porch reminded him of the grape vines he used to swing on when he was a kid, he abruptly launched right into his spiel with a question about politics and the end of the world that I literally couldn’t make ANY sense of, much less answer.
“Have you ever wondered about whether the world blahblahnonsensicalblahblah.”
Thought Bubble: “um, I can honestly say no. Because I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.”
I told him I was sorry but that I only discussed politics with close friends and he said, “Me too! We have something in common!”
Thought Bubble: “ummmm. no. I don’t think so. I’ve never met you before. You are standing on my porch, not sitting in my living room. We are not close friends. We’re not even acquaintances. and you just asked me a question about politics.
Then he asked me something as equally nonsensical as his opening question, which he seemed believe was a natural conversational bridge from politics to God and once again, I couldn’t make sense of what he was trying to say. In all honesty, it’s very possible I didn’t care enough to put any effort into deciphering the question.
Thought Bubble: “Jehovah’s Witness.”
He was looking at me expectantly.
I was completely frank: “I’m not really sure what you’re asking…This is a Christ-centered home.”
He said: “We have something else in common!”
Thought Bubble: “I know he knows that’s not true.”
Quick Prayer: “Lord, do I go there or not? Please help me follow your lead.”
and Memo to Me: It would appear that Jehovah’s Witness canvassers are trained to find and call to attention something they have in common with their targets – even if they have to invent the commonality.
JW: “Let me give you a tract that addresses politics from that standpoint.”
Thought Bubble: “? huh? What standpoint?”
He unzips what turns out to be an actual book FULL of tracts, all organized in plastic sleeves. Flipping through, he pulls one out, opens it up and points to a quote referenced as Daniel 2:44
“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed. And this kingdom will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it alone will stand forever. (emphasis his)
As he slowly read the verse out loud, he followed along the text with his finger and I remember him being completely oblivious to the fact that I was actually looking at his face and not the tract, thinking, “I wonder if he’s been trained to do that. I can’t be the only person who finds it condescending.”
Quick Prayer: “Okay Lord. I REALLY need you to tell me what to say. NOW.”
I took the tract out of his hand, turned it over, looked at the bottom.
My tone of voice was neutral: “You’ve misrepresented yourself.”
He looks surprised. Confused. Hurt. Acting is not his forte.
JW: “I didn’t misrepresent myself! How did I misrepresent myself?!”
Me: “There’s a significant difference between Jehovah’s Witness and Christianity.”
JW: “There are lots of differences between Christian religions! For instance, Baptist’s believe…”
Me, softly interrupting: “I’m not referring to doctrine.”
Silence. I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t have an immediate response.
Quick Prayer: “okay God. Now What?”
JW: “I don’t understand what you mean.”
Immediately, the thought popped into my head: “Don’t explain. It’s a trap.”
Me: “I’m having trouble believing you don’t know what I’m talking about. You must have engaged in conversations about the difference before.”
I’m not sure exactly what he said next. But I remember thinking “Tangent. Distraction. Non-essential doctrinal difference.”
Me: “I’m sorry, I’m really not interested in debating non-essential doctrine. There’s a single significant difference between Jehovah’s Witness and Christianity.”
I continued, looking at him quizzically: “I’m finding it difficult to believe you don’t know what I’m talking about.”
JW: “What’s the difference between Jehovah’s Witness and Christianity?”
I looked him straight in the eye and slowly shook my head: “We don’t agree about who Jesus actually is.” (click the link to see a 2 minute explanation of what JW believe)
Another brief moment of silence.
A woman, obviously his canvasing partner, who had been walking up my driveway, stepped close enough to him so that he noticed her presence and realized he was being observed.
JW: “Well, who do you believe Jesus is?”
Again, I thought: “Don’t explain. and only focus on this one issue.”
Me: “I’m having a difficult time believing you don’t already know who I believe Jesus is. You must have had conversations with Christians about this before.”
Me: Are you saying Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses agree about who Jesus actually is?
Thought Bubble: “I KNEW he knew what I was talking about.
and I LOVE the Socratic method. loveitloveitloveit.”
Me: “I’m not going to try and convince you to believe what I believe about who Jesus is. But I do believe you misrepresented yourself. Jehovah’s Witness is not a Christian religion.
Me: “I respect your beliefs. Please respect mine.”
He thanked me for my time and I respected his beliefs again by not wishing him a Happy Thanksgiving.
As I think about it now, I realize why they were canvasing on a Tuesday morning. They know it’s likely there are a lot of people who’ve taken the week of Thanksgiving off.
the words calculated and predatory also come to mind. but still. very smart.