This coronavirus joke I found on a nontheist website called Childhood’s End gently pokes fun at the relentless door-to-door proselytizing of Christianity’s Jehovah’s Witnesses sect.
It’s best to criticize gently, because even die-hard, hard-core, fundamentalist Bible-thumpers, like the Witnesses, can be and generally are (in my experience) exceedingly nice, authentic people with true hearts.
For instance, years ago when my wife and I lived in the lovely, woodsy countryside about 10 miles outside Rapid City, South Dakota, one particular Witness — a very tiny, tidy woman I’d guess was in her late 70s — periodically appeared at our doorstep, black patent-leather handbag in hand, to tell us about Jesus.
She was the sweetest little old lady ever, and I didn’t have the heart to ruin her day by informing her I was as unrepentantly atheist as she was not. So, I smiled and politely listened to her spiel, accepting without snarky comment the latest issue of The Watchtower she always handed me as she left.
She was the opposite of hard-sell, just calmly but resolutely going about her business of spreading the Lord’s word to all who would listen. Gentle decency just surrounded her, like an aura.
I remember one 5-below winter morning, snow still on the ground from a quiet storm the night before, I looked out our front window as someone in a car dropped her off by our mailbox. In her shiny patent-leather church shoes, holding her equally shiny purse by its short strap, she gingerly trekked up our snowy driveway to knock on our door for God.And once again, I listened and smiled, took my copy of The Watchtower and watched as she padded back down the driveway to the waiting car.
Another time, she quietly appeared at the front door before knocking (we didn’t have a bell), and my wife saw her through the door’s glass panel.
I didn’t, as I walked from the bathroom in a direction that would have taken me right past the front door, where the aged Witness stood. At that moment, I was, uh, in my birthday suit, and my wife from her vantage in the living room saw a potential catastrophe of biblical portent unfolding. From halfway across the room, I saw her eyes abruptly widen to alarming size, which blessedly slowed me just enough so that I caught a glimpse of our saintly visitor before she glimpsed (OMG!) me.
Whew! I had never changed directions faster in my life. Saved (so to speak).
After quickly dressing, I greeted my faithful friend at the front door. I listened to her for a few minutes tell me about the peace that could be mine, received my latest copy of The Watchtower and once again watched her walk peacefully, contentedly away.
Although I’m not one iota less of a nontheist today, I can confirm that this kindly little woman did, in a sense, “save” me — from permanent unyielding cynicism about human nature. For which I am grateful.
There really are very good, honorable people out there who still believe all kinds of nonsense. In fact, I can’t say for sure that I don’t myself.