The fundamental baptists are out to get us

... in a good way. Of course. (Right?)

Since I've moved here, we've been visited by door-to-door evangelists four times (that I know of). The first visit was from a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses who seemed quite perplexed to encounter a resident who didn't speak Spanish. (Up until that moment, it hadn't really dawned on me that I'm a member of an ethnic -- and possibly also of a linguistic -- minority in my own neighborhood.) The flumoxed front man seemed to be asking something to the effect of whether I was sure I didn't speak Espanol, when his partner, who was reasonably fluent in English but didn't seem to have the spiel memorized, apologized that they didn't have any literature in English to offer me and bid me a good day. I smiled politely and waved them off, grateful for once for the language barrier.

The second, third, and fourth visitations have been from Fundamental Baptists in the neighboring city. Two of these visits were within five minutes of each other -- they were evidently canvasing the neighborhood and hadn't coordinated who would ring the doorbell of the house on the corner. I gave the first pair of visitors the name of my grandfather's (formerly) baptist church rather than my own presbyterian one, just in case they think that Presbyterians are all going to hell, and accepted their tract and little piece of paper with a map to the church on the front and a five-point explanation of how to be sure I'm going to heaven when I die on the back.

I wondered vaguely how the Anglo teenage girls who came to my door were managing with the rest of the folks in the neighborhood, given that the JWs had seen fit to send an evangelist who knew no English knocking on our doors. But then, my neighbors are much more bilingual than I am. Even where Spanish is the language of the home, almost every household has at least one member who's functionally proficient in English. And who's to say that those girls didn't know Spanish? They're growing up in Southern California, after all.

Well, now I have a hypothesis about one outcome of the post-canvas debriefing from the Fundamental Baptist outing into the hinterlands of south Oxnard. When I shouldered the door open this afternoon, arms loaded down from a long day's shopping, three familiar-looking pieces of paper fluttered to the ground. The Fundamental Baptists again? I wondered, returning to pick up the litter after depositing my load in its various proper places. Those guys really need to learn to compare notes about which houses they've already hit.

I was particularly puzzled by the presence of more than one tract with a gory picture of what looks for all the world like a severed hand on it. (It's supposed to be Christ's hand, nailed to the cross, but with no arm attached and blood pouring out from the wrist, it's kind of easy to misinterpret the picture. I suppose that's why the tract publishers have since changed the cover art.)

What, had they come knocking twice, not gotten a response either time, and left a tract as a calling card? Had the second team not noticed there was already a tract wedged in the door?

That's when I noticed that one of the tracts was in Spanish. Aha. Probably only one team had come back to our house, then, re-armed with a more appropriate selection of literature for this population. Not getting an answer at our door, they left a copy in each language, to cover all the bases.

Only the English tract had an invitation to the church tucked inside.

The Fundamental Baptists are King James Only folk -- a delightful little subsection of American Protestantism embodying the reductio ad absurdum of a line logic about the nature of Scripture that leads to the conclusion that the 1611 Authorized Version of the Bible is THE inerrant word of God.

I wonder which Bible they think my Spanish-speaking neighbors should read.


Athena said...

Did you get a Chick Tract? I'm so jealous!

The JWs in Oxnard were merciless. You better hope they don't send out the same English-language team that used to come knocking on my door back in the day. I practically had to conduct an exorcism to get that old man to leave.

Rick said...

Love the blog! Heard of Julia Sweeney? See:

For comments on the "age of reason," birthdays, and door-to-door JWs.

Enjoy, RAM

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