A deputy tried to convert me to Christianity tonight. It would have been better received if he was one of our more ethical or least self-centered deputies, but, alas. On the other hand, I've never had anyone of really deep ethics who genuinely cared about others attempt to proselytize. Just my experience. Your mileage may vary.
It would seem that if you were going to try to convert someone to your religion, or any religion for that matter, you'd use the sense of any basic predator and look for the weak or the injured. Wouldn't it make sense to concentrate efforts on people in a spiritual crisis or identity turmoil or at least somewhat unhappy? Thinking back, the handful of people I know who were successfully (and fanatically) converted to a religion were caught at exactly these low times. So... hmm... the good converters do follow the predator dynamic. That's interesting.
So why try to convert me? Until a direct question is asked, people usually assume that I am the same religion they are: live a fairly ethical life, do things you're proud of and speak with a little respect and knowledge of whatever religion comes up and it's just assumed that you're a fellow member of whatever flock is on their minds (I once had a girl write a letter suggesting we explore a long term relationship since we were both born again fundamentalist christians in a godless, secular world ?!?)
In this case, I think it was as simple as validation. He'd taken certain clues (I was on graveyard shift for awhile and got very good at crossword puzzles) as signs that I was very intelligent. Unless he could prove to himself that I was firmly in the grip of satan, it was an affront for someone he considered intelligent to disagree.
It was weird. He'd been "studying the bible for 26 years" but he'd never read Josephus or any of the Jewish philosophers or even any contemporary history books to supply any context. When that part of the conversation didn't go as he'd planned (and honestly, I wasn't trying to be an ass) he switched to the supernatural effects he's experienced from being "born again". That was a non-starter, too. I've been involved in and experienced some pretty weird stuff.
"But I wasn't dreaming this," he kept saying. Neither was I.
He asked if I believe in an afterlife. I do, because of some personal evidence, but I told him it didn't matter. Trying to explain, I told him that what made Lucifer into Lucifer was that he wasn't satisfied to be an angel. This is a huge, beautiful world and I will never in my lifetime or many lifetimes exhaust the beauty, mystery and sheer experience of it. How sacriligeous to ask for something more, as if the world was not enough.
The very need to seek an afterlife, to seek something beyond and above the miracle of life and every day is the very attitude that created (according to Milton) the Christian Satan. Maybe, maybe if life were something that I would use up or exhaust it might be right to seek for more. But what kind of petty monster is given inexhaustible riches and lives in the very hand of God and snivels for something more, for heaven. To be in "His presence". If you aren't in his presence now, if you can't see that you live in the very heart of the divine, dying won't help you.
Last night (it's 24 hours later. I got busy) driving away from this encounter, the west was a half circle of brilliant royal blue with a curved line of glowing, layered gold and pink clouds directly overhead and a swirling black mass of clouds to the east flashing with sheets of lightning. A half moon rode the edge of pink and gold. It was beauty and power, light and dark.
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