My telephone rang Sunday afternoon, just as I filled in 1-Across on the Sunday Crossword Puzzle. The caller was a woman who identified herself as the wife of a local pastor. I thought, "This won't take long. She'll invite me to come to their church, I'll explain that I already belong to a church, she'll thank me, wish me a a good afternoon and I can get back to the puzzle. But, no. I wasn't to get off as easily as that.
Mrs. Pastor: Mrs. A, do you have a personal relationship with God?
Me: Why, yes I do.
What I wanted to say: I talk to God all the time. Not that He always answers. I think he must have better things to do than to answer my piddly little prayers. In the grand scheme of things, he can't just drop everything and help me win the lottery.
Mrs. Pastor: Well, good. So, do you think you are going to heaven?
Me: I certainly hope so.
What I wanted to say: Not today, I hope. There are a few books in the world that I haven't yet read and I would like to find out who the Next Iron Chef is going to be.
Mrs. Pastor: It is very important that we go to church and pray as hard as we can, because, you know we are in the end times.
Me: Oh, I don't know about the end times, but we are certainly going to - er - Hades in a handbasket.
What I wanted to say: The end times? Holy Sh**, how did I miss the signs? I gotta go. I'm off to to Walmart to get plastic wrap and duck tape!
Mrs. Pastor: Yes, indeed. It is so important in these days, with politics being the way it is.
Me: Politics? Did you say you are a Pastor's wife?
What I wanted to say: Aha! Now I understand. You're scared of the Godless Liberals who just passed one of the Healthcare bills in the House of Representatives, which is a bill, by the way, that I have prayed for. And, I continue to pray that it passes the Senate. Also, by the way, I think God would want everyone to have affordable healthcare. And, so would his son. So there.
Mrs. Pastor: Yes, I am. (and she told me the name of her husband's church, which I didn't recognize as any major denomination that I had ever heard of.) I was sitting here at home on this lovely fall afternoon, praying about what I could do to help God and it came to me that He wanted me to get on the phone and make these calls, urging people to go to church and pray, so that they can all go to Heaven when the time comes.
Me: Well, thanks for your call. I'll surely think about what you have said.
And, we hung up.
What I wanted to say: Mrs. Pastor, I'm sure that you are sincere. You sound like a very nice woman. But, when you make these phone calls, you seem to be assuming that you are talking to heathens, because they don't attend your husband's church, and you can show them the way. Otherwise, your questions would have been phrased differently. For instance, "Mrs. A? I'm calling to get your ideas on how we can bring non-believers to God." See? That means you are assuming that I am on your side, and incidentally, God's.
It's a good thing I was feeling mellow that afternoon, or I might have engaged her in a debate about who's a Christian and who's not. But, I learned a long time ago that a debate of that kind would have resulted in a standoff, and we would not have parted friends.
I worked in a place where the majority of people knew I was a Democrat, and made the leap that I must also be a heathen. They were pretty obvious about it. I have had religious tracts placed in my box in the mail room and in the front seat of my car. And, when I spoke to the H.R. manager about it, suggesting that it came pretty close to religious harassment, I was told that it shouldn't bother me if I'm a Christian. I couldn't think fast enough to reply to him. But, I did go to my boss, the Plant Manager, and, to my surprise, he told the H.R. manager that he had been receiving the same tracts, and Mr. H.R. man had better do a little investigating and get it stopped. It stopped so quickly that we decided that the culprit was the H.R. Manager, himself.
So, maybe I'm just a little sensitive about it when strangers ask me if I'm going to Heaven. To me, that's just rude.