Denizens of Atheist Nexus, I have failed you. I am ashamed.
I recently bought a country place to get away from it all. By "it all", I mostly mean "people". I want to grow fruits and vegetables, feed the chickens, and raise honey bees. I want to plant trees. I do not want conversations with people who have agendas.
Tuesday I was unloading 2 young hazelnut trees from the pickup truck. I'm moving them from the town yard, not enough room. And squirrels were getting all of the nuts. Damn those cute rodents.
A white sedan drove up the road. Three modestly dressed ladies got out, carrying bibles. One had a bun. The others wore scarves. Now was my chance. Ready to pounce, tell them "I'm an atheist!" "I've read your cursed bible more than you. It's vile". "I voted for Obama! Take that". "I'm a Sodomite. Give me your sons."
So the lady said, "We're here to do our Christian work. Do you have some time?"
I had no fight in me. I just said, "No, I'm busy". And she said "Maybe another time". And I said "Maybe.".
I'm sorry. Can you forgive me?
My response: "Does your Christian work include digging holes for these hazelnut trees? Because my soul would exalt in the Lord if I could go inside and watch some football while you ladies finished the landscaping."
Also, your sins are forgiven you my child. Go and sin no more.
Thanks for the comments.
There's always "next time". "Next time" I'll probably do the same thing. I don't owe them anything. Not even the time of day.
You are right. I'm new in the area. Properties are in the 2 to 5 acre range, so not too close by. A couple of properties down, there is a family homeschooling their 5 small children. I'm not wanting to stand out, I just want to be left alone. If the church ladies come by again, and I tell them again I'm too busy (which I am), I hope eventually they'll give up and try to plant their seeds on more fertile ground. It's not a "plan", it's just I want to be left in peace. If somebody wants to discuss tomatoes, or plums, or grapes, then I'm fine.
The thing here is I thought I would be more assertive. Must be my age.
Since we've moved here three years ago, we've had three such visitations from JWs. On all three occasions, I identified myself as an atheist and proceeded to disabuse my guests of any credibility they might have with their assertions of supposed religious "fact." I've been tolerant of their intrusion, but after multiple such intrusions, that tolerance is becoming strained.
When and if (and I think the former far more likely) they show up again, I may be tempted to ask them: "Why are you doing this? I am an atheist, and I am far more certain of my position than I suspect you are in yours. As Carl Sagan once famously said, 'I don't want to believe; I want to know,' and nothing of what you are promoting has anything near the certainty which science offers us. Indeed, too much of it is demonstrably WRONG.
"I have no interest in pushing my atheism on you, and you have no chance of converting me ... NONE. The arguments you put forward are old, and have all been discredited, and I seriously doubt any new arguments in your favor are forthcoming. That said, is there any reason why your visits should continue?"
Ya know, I don't go up to random people and announce to them that I'm an atheist, or try to convert them in any way. The way I see it, it's nobody's bloody business what I do or do not believe in. The fact of the matter is, I just don't want the fight/struggle/antagonism/agony that would result. I just want to be left alone. I've had JW's and Mormons come up to me when I've been working outside and try to engage me (the Mormon dudes actually asked if they could help-I was trying to remove a weed-tree). I was polite and said "no, thank you" and that was that. I think a good old "I'm not interested, thank you," is just fine. Why does everything have to be a fight?
You didn't fail and you don't owe an apology to anyone. Move on, padawan.
How about, "Come on in. But I will only discuss religion while naked. I find that leads to the most sincere discussions"
I guess I won't do that after all.
Another possibility: "I'll listen to you only if you then listen to me set you straight for an equal amount of time." If the agree, quietly intone at the proper moments "One minute." "Two minutes." and so on. (You might also want to correct their English as they go on, or count aloud the number of times they say "like" or "you know.")
For me that would be an interesting experience. It would make my holiday.
Don't worry, it was 3 to 1 anyway.
We've been visited by Baptist, Methodist, Church of Gawd, but the JW were the most persistent. Since they have no compunction coming on my property without invitation and assuming that I need their "holy sure cure" for what ails me, then I have no problem telling them I am an atheist. We haven't been bothered by any of them in years.