Recently, Jehovah’s Witnesses, one adult woman and one teenage girl, knocked on my door. They were talking to people about prejudice. Being familiar with cult recruitment tactics, I asked whether they were working on a project. No. Were they proselytizing. They looked confused (maybe they didn’t understand the word proselytize). We are encouraging people to read the bible, the elder told me.
I read the bible almost every morning. When I told them, the elder looked pleased. The younger fidgeted. The elder said God simply wanted us to live well and fear Him. I asked her whether she thought God operated from a place of fear. I think God operates from love, I said. She agreed. I spouted off my problems with biblical depictions of a jealous God and illustrations of women as property. They offered me a brochure, that I declined. If I had questions, I said, I would go to a Rabbi, since I am Jewish. They went on to the next house.
I enjoyed our chat. I miss philosophical conversations about big questions. And it felt good to express my questions fully. In “school” “teachers” orchestrated our “discussions” steering all interactions through the “school”-appropriate funnel. Sometimes I picture those “classes”, filled with people seeking freedom and light, shackled and weighed down by “school” rules implemented to guard shadowy secrets.
No longer bound by these “rules”, I feel free in thousands of simple daily interactions. My precious weekends are no longer impeded by 7 a.m. recruitment meetings, or coffee dates with perspective “students”, or burdened by the nagging obligation to recruit 24/7 — always be on the lookout for those in need of “school”. I am free to simply live. I feel badly for those two women. Maybe there are people who enjoy canvasing door-to-door, imploring strangers to read the Gospel. But I’m willing to bet that there are other things they’d rather be doing.
We’ve all been there; we came to believed we “owed” “school” and had to pay with our lives, literally giving away precious time and energy; some lost decades to “school”. We could have been playing with our kids, or making music, or hiking trails in the White Mountains, or strolling the beach, or reading a good book, or visiting Foxwoods in Connecticut. We could have been doing almost anything else.
I feel badly for current “students”, who are now carrying the burden of “school’s” demand to “give back” what is “owed”. I thank God I am free of the deceptive practices spurred by “school’s” AIM: approaching strangers, carting around a pretend project (I’m writing a book and am asking people about x) and hidden agenda (recruit more manpower and money for “school”). Needless to say, after the ladies left, I thought, “There but for the grace of God go I.” And went outside to work in my perfectly imperfect garden.
Happy school-free summer to you, too!