Posts Tagged ‘proselytization’

Proselytization is a two-way street. So pity (a little bit) the poor attendees of the Southern Baptist Convention, who are going to have to deal with evangelization from PETAns:

Among the demonstrators who will be standing outside the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville as the SBC opens its two-day meeting on Tuesday will be one dressed as Jesus, carrying a sign reading “For Christ’s Sake, Go Vegetarian,” and another dressed as a chicken with a sign reading “Jesus Loves Me Too.”

Other members will be holding signs reading “Thou Shalt Not Kill. Go Vegetarian” and “Blessed Are the Merciful. Go Vegetarian.” They will also hand out leaflets that relate vegetarian living to Christian teachings.

Now, if you’ve read my book, you know that I’m not a big fan of granting people’s imaginary premises in order to engage with them.

If vegetarianism is a good idea, then PETA should be making the case that vegetarianism is a good idea. If a bacon cheeseburger, cooked medium rare, with aged cheddar cheese, two thick-cut strips of peppered bacon, a mix of mayonnaise and BBQ sauce that I like to call “BBQonnaise,” dill pickle chips, fried onion straws, crisp lettuce, ripe tomato, and sweet red onions isn’t the tastiest thing on the planet, they should be arguing that it isn’t the tastiest thing on the planet.

Instead, their argument contains the following pieces:

  • god’s mythological garden was vegetarian, according to the cave-people-written book of myths you cherish”
  • maybe the fish Jesus ate were only symbolic fish, just like the one that “got away” on your last trip to the lake
  • because Jesus “gave his life willingly,” eating his flesh and blood doesn’t actually count as eating flesh and blood (and possibly also because they’re actually crackers and wine, but we’re not going to mention this common sense fact, because we’re trying to participate in your fantasy world)
  • meat-eating is “part of the fallen creation” (whatever the hell that means)

You’ll have to forgive me for being skeptical that the PETAns actually believe any of these arguments, any more than they believe their arguments that “Mohammed only symbolically slaughtered the Banu Qurayza,” that “adhering to a vegetarian I-tal diet will increase the ‘life energy’ that Haile Selassie puts inside us,” or that “Bhai Gurdas’s praise of goat meat doesn’t really count because it was written in poetry form.”

Hopefully soon they’ll get back to more sensible behavior, like opposing the throwing of dead fish or hiring the granddaughter of a murderous guerilla to lend his violent cachet to their cause, or taking a brave stand for the rights of houseflies.


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Late yesterday afternoon I heard a knock on my door. Most people who visit either have a key or ring the doorbell, so at first I thought it might be Orthodox Jews.

However, I peered out the window and saw two Mormon-looking kids standing there, so I opened the door and popped my head out.

Elder Andre: Good afternoon. I’m Elder Andre, and this is Elder Bruce. We’re from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Joel: Can I offer you guys a beer?

EA: No, thank you. Can we ask you a few questions?

J: Sure, I was just making a pot of coffee. Would you like a cup?

EA: No, thank you. Are you religious?

J: Not in the slightest. Do you guys mind if I smoke?

EA: We’d rather you didn’t. If you’re not religious, I bet you’re “spiritual,” right?

J: Hell, no! Would you guys like a pork chop?

EA: No, thank you. Are you familiar with Mormonism?

J: Am I familiar with Mormonism? Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear shit in the woods? Was Brigham Young a racist? Did the prophet Moroni go into hiding to avoid being killed by the Lamanites? Was Timothy, son of Nephi, raised from the dead by his brother? Did Abinadi deliver Jesus Christ’s message to the court of King Noah at Lehi-Nephi? Are Amerindians the descendants of the Lamanites? Do aspirants to the Melichizedek priesthood study the 84th, 107th, and 121st sections of the Doctrine and Covenants? Was the doctrine of blood atonement responsible for the Mountain Meadows massacre? Can a living person, acting as proxy, be baptized by immersion on behalf of a deceased person?! WAS JOSEPH SMITH A TREASURE-HUNTING CHARLATAN?!

I mean, I may have heard a thing or two.

EA: And do you know about the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

J: Know about it? I think about it all the time. A sweaty, half-naked man, all … splayed out on a cross like that? mmm… I’m starting to think about it right now! Are you sure I can’t interest you in a beer?

EA: Um, we gotta go.

J: Wait, I didn’t even get to tell you about my book! Come back anytime!

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Carter Howell and Seth Munger are a lot like you and me. They’re “just 19- and 20-year-old guys.” They’re “not different than other people.” And yet some people look at them like they’re “from a different planet.”

All because they’re Mormon missionaries:

The day begins at 6:30 a.m. and follows a schedule that includes time for prayer — both solitary and with others — and planning for the day. There is time for meals — an hour for lunch, another hour for dinner — and then more door knocking in the evening. Their curfew is 9:30 p.m. Lights out at 10:30.

Curfew may imply that somebody is watching. Not so. These young men know and embrace the rules — and follow them.

And they pay for the privilege.

That doesn’t sound that different from other people! I generally wake up around 6:30am, spend an hour on lunch, and spend another hour on dinner! I can’t always stay up much past 10:30, either. And I’ve been known to pay for “privileges,” although I’ve never used that exact euphemism. I never knew I had so much in common with the Mormons!

“Some people look at us like we’re from a different planet,” Munger said. Before becoming a missionary, he said, “I was a person, too.”

That’s when Howell said: “Tell people not to be mean to us.”

Sorry, Carter and Seth, you just lost me. When someone comes to my house and wants to lecture me about the planet Kolob, meanness is the most appropriate response. When someone rings my doorbell to convince me that a 19th-century treasure hunter was some sort of “prophet,” I’m likely to release the hounds. When someone comes onto my property to insist on the supernatural infallibility of a dogma that magically changes whenever the political winds change, I call them a “Moroni,” even if it hurts their feelings.

Anyway, according to their theology, they are from another planet. Shouldn’t they know that? It’s almost like the Standards of Worthiness don’t apply anymore!

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Tragedy in (Wichita / Ottawa / Nepal / Israel), where (an anti-abortion activist / a devout Muslim / Hindu extremists / Ultra-Orthodox Jews) (murdered a doctor / murdered his sister and her lover / blew up a Catholic Church / beat up some missionaries) in order to (stop him from performing abortions / restore honor to his family / make Nepal into a Hindu state / prevent conversions). Spokespeople for (anti-abortion groups / Muslim organizations / Hindu nationalists / ultra-Orthodox Jews) urged that we not judge all their members based on the actions of (“extremists” / “extremists” / “extremists” / “extremists” ):

Most (Christians / Muslims / Hindus / Jews) manage to go through life without ever engaging in religiously-motivated violence. And while violence is never justified, we should be more tolerant and try to understand how people might have legitimate grievances about (procedures that we’ve repeatedly denounced as “murder” / the concept of “honor” our community has relentlessly promoted / the indignity of having to live under a non-Hindu government / free speech promoting a different form of superstition from ours).

In any event, we should be very careful with our words, as it wouldn’t be fair to blame an isolated incident on (religion / religion / religion / religion).

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