Sunday, July 03, 2011

Are You a Good Person?

I was browsing the religion section of the Franklin Barnes and Nobel when a well–dressed young man asked me, “Interested in these kinds of books?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Mind if I ask you a question?” he said.


“Are you a good person?”

“Sometimes” I said, knowing where this conversation was going. “Sometimes I’m a real SOB.”

“Have you ever told a lie or taken something that wasn’t yours?”


“Then you’re a liar and a thief. Are liars and thieves good people? Do you know what happens to liars and thieves? They spend eternity in Hell. Their only hope is accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Are you ready to do that?”

“Burn in Hell or accept Jesus?”


“You asked me if I’m ready to burn in Hell or accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I’m not ready for either. In fact I don’t believe in either.”

“But …”

“Listen, if you really believe that the Creator of the Universe is a sadistic torturer who needs the death of an innocent in order to forgive the guilty, you’ve got a major problem. If you dare speak of God as Love, and then imagine a god who will roast you in Hell for telling your friend she doesn't look like she's gained weight when in fact she does, then you're sick. We create gods in our own image, and if this god is your image I suggest you need serious psychiatric intervention. We’re you abused as a child by your dad? You should get help.”

“F#ck you!” he said as he stormed away.

I called after him: “Do you know what God does to people who swear? He makes them burn in Hell for ever.”

He gave me the finger. Jesus would be proud.


Mary Ingmire said...

Damn! I was in the Franklin Barnes & Noble a week ago. Wish I has witnessed that encounter.

Maggid said...

wish i were that articulate -
I'm sure grateful you're walking the earth.

smiles -

The Shadow said...

Had to speak to this one. I give thanks for you and the wisdom I can gain from your experiences. May I use your words if confronted? thank you!!

from the Lady Philosopher said...

The beginning questions of this discussion look familiar. I go through this every time I have a family meeting with my Evangelist brother and his family, and kids.
Too bad you couldn't speak for me, last Friday, but I did pretty good actually, this time. I basically called him out on the fact that his religious belief allows for absolutely no coexistence on this globe.
We went around in circles for 2 hours. He told me I was delusional and that he would pray for me, and that I am losing time in getting saved. He is still my brother, so we never end it the way your story did.I am even sadder for his kids,and I have to keep my mouth shut around them on this subject.
GIVE us some more comebacks for this one!

Robert said...

I stumbled upon your blog yesterday, unfortuneately i cant follow you from work, and realy like your ideas and way of
read the book last legends of earth by a.a. attanasio, not religious at all but the ideas are astounding.
i have to ask you (with great respect) though: were you abused by a Christian as a child?
Kind regards,


Barry said...

Dear Robert-

Most Jews in America, at least those my age (61) have been abused by Christians. Maybe someone's mother told their kid not to play with us, or their minister said we were going to hell, or we lost a job because the boss doesn't want to work with a Jew, or people in the most hateful, racist, homophobic Christian sects have told us they can't understand why we don't want to accept Jesus as they have. DON'T get me started.

RJW - Progressive said...

Type alert:

"We’re you abused ..."

Should be "Were you abused...."

feel free to delete this post as it doesn't contribute to the discussion, per se

RJW - Progressive said...

I'm a Christian, myself (free-range variety although I belonged to a fairly conventional conservative congregation for years.)

I see two central focuses of Christian belief and doctrine.

One involves the ministry of Rabbi Jesus and "following in his footsteps" ("in his dust," as it were.)

That is, how to act in this world.

The other focused on "how do I get to heaven?" Which assumes that "heaven and hell" are the answer to the question "what happens to me after I die?

I don't want to completely dismiss the significance of the second question or its proposed answer, but it seems to me that first is far more important (and interesting.)

And, in my experience, those who obsess on the second tend to be pretty self-centered, no matter how often they fervently sing "It's all about you, Jesus!")

(Which is another whole issue ... )


I am now a confirmed Shapiro-ite.

Anonymous said...

@Robert: Ditto to what Barry said.