Was out walking the dog this evening, having a perfectly respectable time meeting all the neighborhood dogs, when I was once again waylayed by the “God Girls.” That’s what we call the Mormon missionaries that live in the apartment across the parking lot. A new “batch” seems to rotate in and out of the apartment every six months or so. I have been fairly successful in fending them of by simply telling them I am an atheist (which is completely true.) The word “atheist” seems to be to them like garlic to a vampire.
But tonight, despite pulling out the atheist card, I ended up standing there for about half an hour, trying to talk to them like people instead of automatons, getting eaten up by mosquitoes while my dog alternately hopped around and whined, and gave up and sat down. During the course of our chat, I told them my best friend was Christian and we have many good theoretical discussions. One of the girls told me, My best friend is like you… Like she couldn’t even say the word “atheist”, or maybe couldn’t bear to admit her best friend was…atheist.
Anyway, I almost made it away with minimal small talk when the weirder one got me with a question. Sometimes I just am too damn friendly and like to talk too damn much, and she found my weakness and suckered me in…
She asked me, If you did believe and you could ask Jesus one thing, what would it be? I actually had a hard time coming up with something, partly because I didn’t want them to just pick the answer to whatever I might ask out of their book. (At one point, one actually tried to read me a passage, and I said, trying not to be testy, “I can read it for myself, I just don’t believe it.”) I think when I finally did manage to articulate it, my answer almost stumped them. I told them about my cousin, who had been shot in the head and was brain dead until my uncle finally told the doctors to pull the plug. I told them I’d want to know, if his soul was separate from his body, did him being brain dead mean his soul was in Heaven or that was it trapped in his body until life support was removed? I told them I believed the soul resided in the brain, where our personality is. In fact, maybe I did stump them because they told me they “know” God has an answer, but they never got around to telling me exactly what it was.
We spoke of many things while they tried to convince me that the happiness, the good feelings in my life, were God speaking to me. I asked why God was always credited with the good while not responsible for the bad.
I tried to explain how I had been raised Catholic but simply couldn’t internalize it…
But nothing I said really seemed to get through. In the end they just kept going back to “testifying that they knew [this] to be true” because they could “feel” it. It was weird, like they only had so many lines on the script before they’d recycle and start over. I’m not trying to be mean. It’s not just because they are religious either. I know plenty of people of faith. But talking to these girls, it genuinely makes me a bit uncomfortable. Part of it is because I don’t really want to give them the time and attention to “convert” me. But it’s also because talking to them almost feels like I am talking to pod people…or Stepford wives. I try to connect with them on a “human” level and it’s like they’re vacant behind the rhetoric. There have to be normal girls in there somewhere, right? Girls that watch TV and joke and do things besides try to peddle their God? But when I try to draw them out, by asking their first names, (because they go by “sister- whatever- their- last- names are,”) they actually seem hesitant to tell me. I’m not calling them sister anything.
Anyway, they are probably pretty proud of themselves because I took one of their books. But I usually only read stuff like that so I can know what I am talking about when I wanna argue with someone. They asked if they could come by and talk some more sometime. I told them they were welcome to come and watch a movie with me. 🙂 Somehow I doubt they’d like my taste in films though.