The Jehovah’s Witnesses Call

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!