A Less Traveled Road, Higher Than Others
As I indicated in a previous post, I’m really not into atheist evangelism. I’ve certainly clashed sabers with religious people over issues of prejudice, but I try to keep the anti-supernatural evangelism to a minimum. Earlier this month, I read a rather nice post that addresses evangelism at My Brain Itches. Here’s an excerpt:
They love to do it.
Coming to the door. Hit the doorbell. You answer and they introduce themselves.
Salesmen of a different kind. Pitching salvation.
Selling you out of a fiery hell. Selling you out of your soul.
They came to the door at 8:00 pm this evening and I was more than happy to answer.
I used to argue. I used to fight with them. I used to try to get them all riled up. It’s no use.
I engage them. I tell them I understand where they are coming from. I discuss what makes them who they are.
Listen: If I try to argue I’m right and their wrong, I’m not better than they are.
In fact, I love engaging them. I love trying to find out from where they come. What’s the motivation to them going door to door selling a god.
Knowing that my kids may read this gibberish, I will say this: They get excited thinking it’s a door-to-door salesman of religion. They watch. They know I’m so purely atheist that they think I’m going to lay into these people.
They were watching. I turned around after closing the door and they were peaking around the corner. Probably disappointed.
Welcome to the High Road.
Go here to read the rest.
I’d be a liar if I said that I always take the “high road.” The past week has certainly lead me to one or two places where I eagerly knocked a few heads together. It’s pretty easy to lash out when you are facing down a group of people’s prejudices and those prejudices are aimed squarely in the middle of your forehead, laser sights radiating ill intent. It was tempting to rip their faith to shreds, and I came dangerously close to walking down that path. It’s particularly tempting to aim for someone’s vulnerable spots when one is deeply hurting or threatened.
In the end, I withdrew from these conflicts because I simply grew tired of facing down stubborn hatred and prejudice. There are times when one faces a prejudice so deep that it becomes futile to forge onward. It’s a great relief to stop banging one’s head into an impenetrable wall. Sometimes a throbbing headache feels better than repeated impact.
I also decided to withdraw from these conflicts before I completely lost control of my anger. When one tires of beating one’s head against a wall, sometimes the next impact is made with a pickax. That’s when things escalate in ways that aren’t necessarily helpful to anyone. Ideally, I try my best not to fall into a state of mind where my next action is to verbally tear someone apart.
Mostly, I try to remain civil in the face of incivility. I try. I sometimes fail. I try again.