Yesterday, I went up to the grocery story, and in the fruits & nuts section of, “bulk aisles”, a funny little man caught my eye. The conversation started with my asking him if he saw walnuts anywhere. He stepped aside as he pointed to one broken bin and another nearly-empty bin, which contained less than an ounce of walnut pieces, so I was out of luck. I mentioned that the pre-packaged walnuts were priced at 6.99 for seven ounces and was shocked that Central Market was charging a dollar, per ounce, for walnuts. That’s $16.00 per pound! I thought this would be the last of the conversation; no such luck.
The man then asked of me, “Say, do you go to church regularly” I responded, “No, I don’t believe in any god or gods. But, thank you.” And, that’s what I get..; I should not have added that note of appreciation, for he took it as an invitation to continue this conversation. Great. I told him I really didn’t wish to hurt his feelings, but I’ve been there and I’ve tried to believe what he thinks is true. Before he got too far into how I will end up burning in hell, I asked which church he attends. Funny; he said he goes to different churches but mostly reads the bible. So why was he asking me if I went to church? Did he want a reference? Was he starting his own church and looking for followers? Hmm?
The man said, “but there are very nice people at church…”, to which I replied, “yes, and this is the main reason I attended a Christian university and why I honestly did try to believe in that god thing. Ultimately, however, I could not.” Then he said, “Well, I used to do bad things. When I was at U.T., I was in a fraternity, and I drank and did the worst things, but I have now become a good person, and this is because of church.” Why do church-goers assume that atheists are bad people who do wrong? I explained that I’ve never been a bad person. I’ve always tried to do right by others and, when I can, to do for others. I’ve raised two children into adulthood and they are wonderfully giving people who have much compassion for others. In my life, I’ve rarely behaved badly and certainly not intentionally done so; why would I need to go to church? I have people in my life who also do good things for others and am not particularly looking for a new group. If, and it is the case, I do not believe in a god, why on earth would I go to church? Why would I wish to live a life contrary to my own beliefs? Do I really wish to live a lie?
Stumped, the man began to go down the Israel path. He mentioned how terrible Islam and Muslims are. Well, he picked on the wrong atheist to try and have a go at, this time, especially in regard to Muslims or Islam. Rather than tell him everything he knows and believes is a lie, I questioned why he would think such things. I asked, “Do you know that Muslims praise Jesus?”, and, “Do you know what Jews teach in their Talmud about Jesus? Did you know they say he is, ‘boiling in hot excrement for an eternity’, in hell?” No, he said, he had never heard such a thing. I asked him to investigate this statement. The man said he didn’t know that Muslims write, “P.B.U.H.”, after mentioning Christ. Did he know what this means? I let him know what this means; “peace be upon him.”
Then I asked him what he thinks of the occupation of Palestine. I asked if he thought it was right that our government and our Christian churches fund the occupation and genocide of Palestinians, who happen to be the rightful owners of this land. He did know this and he said, “I think anyone who participates in genocide of any people should be wiped out!” I laughed. Murdering those who commit genocide would be genocide, too. Heck, I only want, “Israel”, dismantled and the people to either accept Palestine as their homeland or for them to move elsewhere. He wants them dead.
So, who needs to go to church? What good is religion doing him?
Thankfully, the man said he reads and adheres to the King James version of the bible, only, but when he attends church, he gets his head filled with the lie of Israel. I hope he learned something from our conversation. But, I have to wonder if he will again approach others while shopping. Something tells me he may be more cautious, but in a way, I hope he continues in his quest for truth.