10 May 2010

What's a little judgement among friends?

I'm a pretty accepting person. Seriously. If your lifestyle doesn't hamper my lifestyle, generally I could give two shits about what you do in your spare time. But I got pissed yesterday and in fact I'm still pissed today, the more I think about this. And feel free to tell me if my line of thinking is wrong; it wouldn't be the first time. After all, I put my thoughts out there on the world wide interweb-thing so people can openly argue with me... or try to sell me Chinese Viagra, there seems to be a lot of that going on lately.


Let me preface this with a few bits of information.
  1. I'm aware that people have different beliefs. I'm no dummy; it's what makes the world go 'round. And I know that I'm not going to agree with everything everyone says; that's what makes me, me.
  2. I know that when people find something that makes them happy, they want to share. It's human nature. Examples: "Mint M&M's rock my world and you should try them; you're going to love them." "The Octagon is the best movie of all time - you need to watch it." "Tyler Florence is the hottest man alive and therefore everything he cooks is AMAZING, I'm not kidding." See?
  3. In spite of the fact that I publish many of the minute details of my life here and on Facebook, I'm sort of a private person. There are two things I think shouldn't come up in conversation with strangers or with casual friends: politics and religion. And not because I'm not informed (although I don't watch Fox News 24/7 nor do I attend church on a regular basis) - but because some things are just private. To me, faith is a very private thing. My relationship with God is just that - my relationship. Last time I checked, I didn't need to have to check with anyone else in order to maintain that relationship. When and if I choose to divulge that information is my prerogative.
  4. And just as a side note, I have known two door-to-door vacuum salespeople, two travelling missionaries and have family that belongs to the Church of Latter Day Saints.
So taking into consideration all of the above information, read the following narrative and decide if my feelings are out of line.

The Bee and I hosted a small get-together yesterday afternoon. My youngest brother and his significant other and their new (adorable!) puppy as well as a friend of the Bee's and the friend's older brother. We grilled hamburgers, cut up a watermelon and ate too many no-bake cookies. Good times, right?

Sort of. The Bee and I are lackadaisical (at best) in our church attendance, as is my brother. We each have faith, in our own personal ways, and believe in the Lord but religion is not at the forefront of our daily lives, even though we're aware that it would provide comfort and stability to our relationships and our lives in general. We get that. I get that. However, the friend and the friend's brother are members of the Church of Latter Day Saints, have strong beliefs and convictions and, as former missionaries, are happy to spread the word of Jesus Christ into the lives and homes of their friends and even the homes of strangers.

This is where I start to get pissed.

This isn't my first encounter with the Bee's friend and it's not my first encounter with the friend's brother. However, it was my first encounter with the two of them in my home, eating the meal that we provided to them, and enjoying our hospitality. It's also not the first time that the Bee has heard their spiel - he's listened quietly and declined, he's spoken loudly and declined. Knowing that he's not interested in their message, don't you think they would have passed on offering up their message once more?

Nope. After dinner and during (too many) no-bake cookies, here it comes: "I have a gift for you that I'd like to leave here for you to peruse at your disposal. It's a gift that changed my life and I think it could change yours..."

What?! Are you serious?

Now, since it's the Bee's long-time (we're talking they shared diapers and playpens) friend, I decided to stay out of this conversation and see how he would handle it. The friend continued. "I have a book I'm going to give to you, it's 521 pages but you don't have to read all of that. I'm going to mark a few passages that I think will improve your life."

Not joking here.

In the three years that I've known the Bee, I don't think I've seen him pick up a book unless he was moving it out of his way or using it to steady a drink. He's not a literary kind of guy; I know this and accept this about him. His friend knows this too, having attended high school with him and probably assisting him in passing classes that required large amounts of reading. But the friend continued. "As the man of the house, it's your decision as to whether or not you allow your family to enjoy such happiness..."


First off, "the man of the house" makes all the decisions that affect the family? Since when? The man in this house can't ever decide what we're having for dinner, much less make the decision to join a church and bring happiness into our (apparently) dismal lives. Second, who are you, friend, to make the judgement that the man of this house and his family need to be saved and you're the one to bring us to the light? By coming into our home and telling us that our lives need improved and here is the path to that improvement, isn't this friend passing judgement on the way we live our lives, the decisions we make and the relationships we have with God? Who is he to do that? What is so hard about accepting the idea that we do not need his gift, we have not asked for his gift and that we will not be acknowledging his gift into our lives? Why can't we all continue to be friends without the constant rift of religion? Knowing that God accepts all his children, sinners or saints, regardless of the path they choose - shouldn't that be enough to keep the propaganda at bay and allow friends to be friends?

But, like I said, I chose to stay out of this discussion, knowing that whatever came out of my mouth would likely be words that discouraged further barbecues, and I wanted to see how the Bee would respond to his friend. The Bee's response? Gobble, gobble, freaking gobble. After imbibing in a little bit (ha.) of Wild Turkey and Coke, he generously accepted the invitation to keep the book, read the message and see if this path could improve his life and the lives of his family members. Knowing that I was sitting just a few feet away, close to boiling over with obscenities, he quickly ushered the friend and the brother outside and bid them farewell.

So as I write this, there's a blue book in our kitchen junk drawer, mocking me, inciting me, reminding me that we're apparently not good enough and our lives will forever be lacking because we're not following the chosen path to enlightenment. If I weren't against the desecration of books as a general rule, I would have happily taken the gift outside and set it on the still-burning charcoal grill in the driveway. I'm still pissed about this little exchange; I'm pissed that his friend has the nerve to come into our home and tell us our spiritual beliefs are inadequate, the nerve to brazenly declare his path the best path, the chosen path, the only path. And to be honest, I'm a little peeved at the Bee for letting this take place in our kitchen.

Am I wrong? Am I wrong to be offended by this "invitation?" Should I be more accepting of the message and the messenger, even if the messenger is aware of our lack of interest? Should I write this off as a friend merely sharing his excitement for his passion in life or is it okay to be offended by this shameless speech and bit of propaganda left in my home?

I've given you the topic. Discuss. Get back to me. I'm curious. If I'm wrong, I'll admit it. I'll also be happy to share a gift with you, a gift that I've received that has made absolutely zero change in my life or my beliefs but might make a change in yours - and it's not even a fruitcake.