Wednesday, 25 August 2004

Jehovah and all that

His Witnesses were at our door the other day, a rather sad blonde one in a chiffon dress, a jolly black girl with a nice white shirt, and a patient eleven-year-old. It had been some while since any JWs had called to have a go at me, and I have always found them quite agreeable (much pleasanter and more fun than sharp-suited Mormons with their silly nonsense about revelations on golden plates and the Lost Tribes of Israel), so I was happy to chat for a bit.

I have never taken the view that knocking on your door and trying to convert you to a daft religion is a gross invasion of privacy, for, after all, they mean well. I would never want to offend such kind, simple people by mocking their beliefs, however loopy these seem to me.

On this occasion I did venture to ask the question posed at the Monkey Trial by Clarence Darrow (or Spencer Tracy*): Who was Mrs Cain? At the trial Williams Jennings Bryant (or Fredric March) finally conceded that the words of the Bible should not always be taken literally, but my visitors were of sterner stuff and explained with great seriousness that that Adam and Eve had had daughters as well (though the Bible had omitted to mention it) and so on… it all sounded a pretty unsavoury business to me, but they seemed quite happy not to think too deeply about it, rather like Bryant at the trial, who said at one point, 'I do not think about things I don't think about.' (Darrow asked, 'Do you think about the things you do think about?' Bryant responded, to the derisive laughter of spectators, 'Well, sometimes'.)

I tried to encourage my visitors a bit by telling them that if I decided to believe in a god then I might well choose theirs. It seems to me that the world we see is much more likely to have been created by the wrathful, vengeful, iniquity-smiting, pillar-of-salt-transforming Jehovah** rather than by any of the other popular ones. I mean, you’d know where you were with a horrid old monster like him, rather than any of those beings who purport to be loving and merciful but demand constant praise for anything good that happens while insisting that anything bad is our fault: All Things Bright and Beautiful, sure, but nothing is said about who made All Things Dark and Ugly, like earthquakes or piles or Margaret Thatcher.

However, they didn’t seem to take this as much of a compliment, so I ended on a conciliatory note by saying that I won’t hear a word against whatever gods there may be because they (he, she, it) have always been perfectly sweet to me.

The JWs said they had much enjoyed our chat, as indeed had I. We parted with expressions of mutual esteem and they promised to call again.

*By the way, the film was called Inherit the Wind (Stanley Kramer, 1960)

**I might also have told them that I am on their side when it comes to the lamentable replacement of 'Jehovah' (as in Guide Me O Thou Great….). When William Williams wrote it in 1745 he knew what he was writing, and when a Welsh male voice choir belts out Bread of ‘Eaven to the tune Cwm Rhondda there’s no nonsense about Redeemers.


Marc said...

That, sir, was well written and incredibly funny. Maggie Thatcher indeed.

Tony said...

Thanks Marc. Splendid news on the Thatcher front today: her ghastly son Sir Mark has been arrested in South Africa.