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Nov 5, 2007

No God

. Nov 5, 2007

Views


I took today off work and strolled on the pier for a while. The sun sparkled on the water and the wind was just brisk enough to remind me it's November in California. There were more people on the pier than I'd expected for a Monday afternoon. Many fished, standing in silence with their poles and staring at the green blue sea. Seagulls circled overhead, squawking and diving after fish guts thrown over the rails by men cleaning their catches.

In the middle of my reverie a male voice says, "Here you go, God bless you" as he hands me a small booklet. We exchange smiles and I thank him. He comments on my St. Jude medallion and asks me if I'm secure in my faith. I say I am. He wishes me well and moves on. He walks to a bench next to a fish sink not 10 feet away. A young man sits there with white iPod ear buds on. The middle-aged evangelist taps him on the shoulder:

Evangelist: Hey, hi. Here you go. God bless you.
Boy: What? (removes ear buds) What's this?
Evangelist: Hi, how you doing? Please read this, it's explains how you can know Jesus Christ personally. Do you have a relationship with the Lord?
Boy: What? Yeah, I have a relationship with the Lord. I hate him, alright? So take your damn papers and leave me the hell alone.
(The young man stands up and hurls the booklet over the railing. It flutters down to the sea)
Evangelist: I'm sorry you're angry. Maybe you can tell me about -
Boy: Maybe you can shut the hell up and leave me alone! There is no God, okay? Get over yourself. Frickin' loser.

The young man jams his ear buds back into his ears, slings a dark green messenger bag across his shoulders and walks off. The bag says "ARMY" on the flap. The evangelist sits down on the bench. A few people stare at him. He looks out to the sea for a moment and bows his head.

26 Whispers:

Pageturners said...

Heh, got what he wanted, I suspect.

Chase March said...

I wonder why people feel that they need to promote their faith. Many people find it annoying and just don’t know how to deal with it. I find the same thing happens when you get a door-to-door canvasser or a telephone solicitor. I think the least we can do in these situations is listen for a moment and then if you do not want to hear anymore, dismiss yourself politely. There is no need to be hateful or rude.

Doug said...

The young mans comments seem a bit harsh. Over the weekend a Jehovahs (sp) Witness came to my door spreading the word and asking me of my beliefs. I was polite and gave him my standard answer....

I don't discuss politics or religion with people who show up at my door.

In all honesty I try to keep those discussions to a minimum even with people I know.

AntiBarbie said...

I personally am not a believer but as annoying as it can be to be preached to, I can't imagine someone reacting that way unless they are really hurting inside. That kid has a whole lot of anger built up in him and I hope for his sake he finds an outlet for it that's not destructive.

Vienne said...

Hi everyone, there was certainly a raw nerve there. Whether or not it involved religeon, I'm not sure, but the young man was definitely reacting to something beyond the evangelist. Also, to say "I hate God and there is no God" in the same breath is a contradiction and pretty revealing, I think.

FOOTPRINTS said...

the spoken words certainly reveal a lot about someone's state of mind. words are the mirror of heart.

I agree with you it's not about religion :)

~ Annita

mae said...

Given that preachers and evangelists are bordering annoyance every time they approach us- as mature and responsible individuals we are certainly in no position to be harsh or react in a rude manner towards them. I am shocked by this boy's anger!

I think religion is a personal matter and I really don't want to get it in the street but a firm "no I'm not interested, thank you" would have been my answer to the poor evangelist. Respect for others doesn't require religion. It's just being human. I wonder if that boy is...

Vienne said...

Hi Annita, that's a beautiful way of expressing feelings - "words are the mirror of the heart". I think this boy's heart is broken.

Mae, I agree with you. It was an over-reaction and pretty rude. I continue to wonder what's put this young man in such an angry way.

Ken S said...

I pity the evangelist. The young man didn't need to react that way.

LORD MANILA STONE said...

may god bless that boy, to be honest, i sometimes feel annoyed when mormons come to our house and start making schedule of some bible sessions, i have to admit i turn them down, i still believe in God though...

Vienne said...

Hi Lord Manila, every believer is allowed to worship in their own way, in my opinion. So don't feel guilty about refusing the visitors. I'm Catholic but I don't make it to mass every Sunday. Some might fault me for that but I don't think God does.

LoveGod said...

We are being "evangelized" by something every day, several times a day - through the media, music, magazines, radio, television, etc - and all try to persuade us that God is dead or he is the cause of chaos and pain. This boy has been indoctrinated to believe the same. This is all so sad to me; God is love and is the source of life. If all knew Him, how sweet he is, we'd all know that, like the evangelist in this story, we'd be sharing His love all the more.

Hatred towards God is sadly misplaced.

wilbau said...

When witnessing (70ies, 80ies) I had thousands of reactions like the one from this young man. These days in Europe hardly anyone is standing up for religious values.

Majik2903 said...

I don't think the boys comments were called for. In some ways I can understand why the boy was so rude, I've been in some situations that make me question wether there is a God or not. Sometimes the timing is just wrong and I think that's exactly what the evangelist experienced, bad timing. Not everyone is willing to listen all the time, sometimes its just not the right time. None the less, it was a very interesting post!

Peace!

Vienne said...

Hi lovegod, you make a powerful point. My personal beliefs are aligned with yours. As far as evangelizing, I'm not as strong or confident in my faith as the man who walked the pier that day. I admire him for it.

Wilbau, you mention an interesting observation. I wonder what a lack of interest in religion does to a society? Not so much to the individual, but to the way of life in whole communities. Do you see any difference?

Majik, I've questioned my faith, too, over the years. I think that's precisely why it's called 'faith'. Believing without seeing. I know what you mean about bad timing. Sometimes these evangelists come across too strong because they're so focused and don't seem sensitive to where others are in their life experience. I hope both the boy and the man will be okay.

Grimly Fiendish said...

I dont think the lads comments are an issue. I think the evangalist was in the wrong place at the wrong time thats all.
Maybe if he had seen the army bag before approaching he might have taken into account that the lad in question have just come home from a tour of duty. That he might have had to kill people. That he might have seen his friends die in front of him. That he may indeed have witnessed such horror that belief in god was impossible to his mind, after all why would god let such evil take place.
I think it is nothing more than a case of two people who should never have met on that day.

footiam said...

I can identify with that. It happens here in my country and most of the time it is the born again who preys on the would be lamb and sometimes, it is a teacher in a school who is the one who preaches to the young minds. I wouldn't say we should respect the preacher because I don't think the preacher himself respects others. Some people value their privacy and when a preacher preaches to a young one especially, they must not have thought of the poor parents who would be heartbroken as a result of the preacher's action. In some cases, the child and the parents become estranged because of this irresponsible action of the preacher. In the first place, I often wonder why they spend their time going round minding peoples' business. God would make you this and that if He sure wants to and who is the preacher to interfere. Besides, don't you think who can easily be led by the preacher can easily be swayed by the wind. Do read an excerpt that I posted in http://Dhammadelights.blogspot.com about choosing your religion.

MS said...

If the kid has ear buds in, he has essentially closed himself off from the world and doesn't want to interact. In this day and age, he has put himself in a private space, so to speak. So I would never dream of tapping on his shoulder, unless the music was too darn loud, or he *had* to know something, like his soda spilled.

The kid was rude, no doubt, but the evangelist apparently doesn't understand the new rules of a society with ipods. No longer does being in public mean that one is in public.

On a related note, there was an overly friendly guy on the university shuttle bus yesterday. For him it was a public space in which to interact with others. For some of us, however, me included, it was the last chance catch up on much needed sleep before work. For others it was a final chance to catch up on work before class or to go over notes before delivering a lecture. The guy stuck out like a sore thumb.

Vienne said...

@Grimley: That's exactly what I honed in on - the Army bag. I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of the scenarios you mention applies to the young man, or perhaps to a relative of his. I felt like his anger comes from seeing horrible things.

asian gastronomist said...

the army bag was one of the details that stood out most to me. I think his anger was misplaced and he took it out on the evangelist.. however. The evangelist should have noticed that by having an ipod in his ears and his body languages.. that he didn't want to be bothered. I also find it annoying people who try to convert you to their way of thinking.

Shirley said...

As a Christian, I cringe when I see Bible bashers - they don't do anything to show 'Good News', rather they turn people sour.

However, I have no issue with evangelism, when it is done with sensitivity and love. If God has changed my life, wouldn't it be natural for me to want to share that with others?? It's like the analogy that as a Christian, I am like a beggar that has found the bread - I just want to point other beggars to it.

Yes, God HAS made a huge difference in my life. Yes, I want the world to know. But yes, you have a choice whether you listen or not. And if I am serious about following God, the second half of the greatest commandment is 'Love others as I love myself' - that doesn't mean shoving something down their throat. But it's also not loving to not show people the best thing ever.

As an aside, I've written a song about exactly this topic - feel free to listen at http://www.soundclick.com/bands/songInfo.cfm?bandID=760352&songID=5950757

Lisa McGlaun said...

I feel sorry for both of them. How sad that this young man thinks he is alone in an angry universe and how sad that the older man needs to change others to feel whole.

gale said...

interesting anecdote!i agree with above commentators that if one is not religiously interested, there is no need to be rude. I believe people are especially more rude regarding religion (compared to when people advertise things like products) because religion can be a personal and very touchy subject, unlike, say, an ad to get your windows replaced. great topic and keep up the good blogging!

Jason X said...

Good discussion. Ironic how Christian belief can be so intolerant. I satirize a lot of office politics and relationships in my blog, but I just posted one that covers religion at work. Surprisingly, it's close to a real experience I had. Take a look if you get a chance:

http://theuserpool.squarespace.com/journal/2007/11/15/bible-study.html

Vienne said...

Thank you, Gale! I agree with your sentiment. Nothing excuses rudeness, yet people have their right to be unbothered, too.

Jason X, I read your post. I'm glad you explain it's satirical - that would be pretty incredible in today's environment!

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Aw, the man was praying for the Lord to help find the young man a peace of mind. Even after the humiliation that had been flung at him.

Many people are angry nowadays. I have seen it when visiting blogs and I too pray they find that peace of mind.

God is love. Love! That's all it takes to understand him. Search for love and you'll find peace of mind when you can return it.

God made us all different so we would all see him in a different light quite naturally. We have to accept that.

Hugs, JJ

 

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