In an un-trafficked corner of our living room sits a humble, lumpy pet bed. It’s our dog’s safe place. When he’s curled up in his stinky, duct-tape-patched bed, no one in the family is allowed to mess with him: no tug of war, no wrestling, no stealing his ball to play fetch. It’s the only place he can claim as his own in this big ole tug-of-war world — the tiny, impenetrable corner of the universe where he can let his guard down, sigh deeply, and be at peace. Where he can let his fur flag fly.
That’s the way I feel about my home: It’s sacred, personal space where I’m protected from the hubbub just beyond, where I don’t have to make excuses for blasting John Fogerty’s “Rock and Roll Girls” and dancing through the house until I’m out of breath, or apologize to anyone for still being in my skivvies at 11 a.m. on a Saturday.
So I didn’t apologize to the cheap-suited salvation peddlers who darkened my doorstep last weekend. First, I let my dog lunge and snarl at them through the glass window of the front door. They could see inside and we made eye contact, but I made no move to answer the door because (1) I didn’t invite them here, (2) I wasn’t wearing much, and (3) I could see they didn’t have cookies.
But they wouldn’t leave. They stood firm, their godly grins saying, “We’ve got all day, lady, so get your scantily clad rear over to this door before your dog has a heart attack.” Outraged, I stomped to the door and flung it open. Smiles, greetings, pleasantries. “We’d like to give you The Watchtower …”
The Jehovah’s Witness are a branch of Christians who don’t believe in celebrating birthdays or holidays. They believe we’re living in the End Times, and that only 144,000 people total will go to heaven; there are about 12,000 spots left unspoken for.
That may sound whackadoodle to you, but to me it’s no more absurd than resurrections and sea-partings, sacred cows and 72 virgins, engrams and protective underwear. I begrudge any unexpected knock on the door — the way millennials recoil from phone calls — but I particularly resent proselytizers who try to earn their way into an overcrowded heaven by invading my safe space and shattering my weekend bliss in order to shove their particular brand of lunacy across my threshold. It’s like the mailman himself peeing on my dog’s bed: The horror.
If I burst into their church service to preach about science, reason, and the folly of hitching your wagon to a magical star king who abhors blood transfusions, it would be rude, right? But I wouldn’t because I don’t give a Fogerty what anyone else believes. Let your faith flag fly in your own peaceful place — but don’t schlep that nonsense onto my property and demand my attention.
Jehovah’s Witnesses go door to door because Jesus’s disciples did, and the Bible tells them: “from house to house they continued without letup.” A friend who grew up doing it says they truly believed they were saving souls, and that door-slammers were “blinded by Satan.”
My friends take pride in the ways they’ve scared Witnesses off their porches. Some answer the door nude while cleaning a rifle, or claiming to be the second coming of Christ. Some speak directly to any children the bell-ringers have brought with them: “Do you really believe this stuff? You don’t have to go along with this, you know.” Others claim to have been excommunicated from the church, which means Witnesses are required to shun/not talk to them. I’m told a No Trespassing sign works just as well, or calling the local Kingdom Hall (i.e., mother ship) and asking to be removed from their list.
My recent visitors turned heel and beat a path for the sidewalk when — with one hand holding my kimono closed and the other preventing my dog from eating them — I snapped, “I’m a hard-core atheist and this really irritates me. Please don’t come here again.” If they do, for Jehovah’s sake, they’d better have cookies.
Starshine Roshell is the author of Broad Assumptions.