Thursday, November 01, 2007

A-Holes for Jesus

Well I just got back from Sixth Street for Halloween, and if you don't know what Sixth Street is, then it sucks to be you. I went to my old pre-kid haunt Emo's for the first time in over a decade and actually took my daughter (she really wanted to go); and yes, we had the best costumes there (I was GI Elvis, and looked quite spiffy in my camos, purple shades, and fake sideburns). I'd tell you what she was, but I'm afraid you might not approve.

But that isn't what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about religious people and why the hell they have to block up the street on Halloween. For those who don't know Sixth Street here in Austin, it's a street with a bunch of bars that they block off from car traffic on busy nights so drunk people can walk wherever they want without getting runover. It's usually pretty crowded, even in the street. and on Halloween, it's jam packed. It took us twenty minutes just to walk a few blocks.

But the worst part was the intersection where the Jesus freaks were. Now don't get me wrong, I'm cool with people believing whatever the hell they want to believe, just as long as they don't interfere with me. And that's exactly what these jerkoffs did. They were stopped in the middle of a huge pedestrian jam and beat their tambourines and wore their religious shirts. One guy seemed to be of the opinion that people don't know the Ten Commandments enough, so he had to wear it on a t-shirt. And thank god too, as I was just about to covet somebody's stuff until I saw that shirt.

And that just sucked. The pedestrian traffic went from slow to a complete stop, thanks to those bozos. Because they just stood there in a big group blocking a major part of the road. And what were they doing there? Did they really think they were going to convert somebody right there on Sixth Street? Did they imagine that they'd finally find that dude who would gladly convert to Christianity, if only a schmuck in a t-shirt blocked his path to the next bar? Is it possible that there exists somebody who hasn't heard of Jesus yet, and is just ripe for conversion...on Sixth Street?

I doubt it. I think they were just trying to be a-holes and to start a fight. Like it makes them feel righteous to piss people off and get yelled at. Not that I saw anyone yell at them. In fact, for as much as there is a "war on religion" and this being Austin...on Sixth Street...on Halloween, I think everyone was pretty cool with them. I mean, there were freaks dressed as devils and devils dressed as freaks, and yet I didn't see anyone mess with these guys. And if anyone deserved to be messed with, it'd be these guys. I'm telling you, I just needed to get my daughter home as she has school in the morning, and these guys were totally stopping that from happening.

And I saw something similar last year, except it was just one dude preaching really loudly. And while he personally didn't create too much of a barrier (except that he was standing on a platform), there were always people standing around with big smirks on their faces, and that blocked the road too. And from what I could tell, he wasn't even trying to convert anyone. He was just ranting about all the people with the smirks on their faces, which was everyone, and how he can put up with it. As if this was a test of his will power and faith in Jesus. As if this was all about him.

And it was. Just as it was about the jerks who blocked the way tonight. They weren't trying to save my soul. They didn't really believe they'd find that one guy who hadn't yet heard of Jesus Christ. They were just trying to feel holy and important. This was all about them, and we were just props in their little test of faith. They didn't care if they were blocking the road or preventing my daughter from getting home. They just wanted a little taste of martyrdom; to reconfirm their religiousity by going directly into the belly of the beast and confronting the Devil himself. That's all this was about.

Again, this shouldn't be construed as any kind of attack on religion, because it's not. Religious people do a lot of good things in the name of religion and I won't knock them for that at all. But these guys were something completely different. They weren't raising money for pregnant teens or building homes for the homeless. They weren't even trying to convert us. They were selfishly wasting my time in order to feel better about themselves, and that's just wrong. If they've got nothing better to do on Halloween than to stand around looking dumb, that's their business. But they've got no right to make the rest of us stand around with them. That's just not how this shit works. You mind your business, I'll mind mine; and if one of us wants to be converted to the other person's business, then we know where to find it.

And no, it's not on Sixth Street. That's just the place you go when you want to look like an idiot and have people compliment you for it. And yes, I got quite a few compliments as GI Elvis. But then again, I really did look pretty cool.

P.S. If you ever get the chance, I recommend seeing Nebula (though they sound much better in person than their lousy MySpace page would indicate (their music is like metally Hendrix)), and I strongly recommend seeing Static Static, even though we had to leave the show much too early. Good stuff.


Mumphrey Bibblesnæð said...

I think shallowly religious people like aggressively trying to convert people because it lets them off the hook.
They've done their part, they've tried their best, they stood there and told the unbelievers the Truth, and the unbelievers laughed at them. So now they can go on their way, feeling happy knowing that if the unbelievers all burn in hell, it's their own damned fault.
It's Easy Faith: just rant and rave and insult everybody and you're a Good Christian and you've done all you could be expected to do.
Only that's not how it's meant to work. People who think a little more deeply about their religion, and try to live it conscientiously--and I rather unhumbly lump myself in among them--understand that what you believe shows up as the way you live. If you want to show people the rightness of your faith, you don't yell at them about it and then tell them they're going to burn since they didn't heed you; you do something to help people who need it, here and now, and without asking to be paid back in any way.
So you help feed the hungry. You do something to help the homeless. I myself try to do work to help abandoned animals. You give to charity. And you even do indirect things like maybe stand behind programs like SCHIP that help those who need it.
But to a loudmouthed, shallow, ultimately selfish "Christian" like those you met, that's too hard and takes too much of their valuable time. So they take the easy way out and, as I said, they're off the hook.
One of the things I think that gets badly misunderstood about religion is that it is really for me, not others. By that, I mean that my understanding of my faith--Protestant Christianity in my case--is that it gives ME responsibilities and duties that I have to live up to. It doesn't mean other people have to do what I think is right, it means I have to do what is right. Loudmouthed Christian think being Christian means THEY get to tell everybody what to do and how to do it and what to believe.
They're not really Christians at all, to my mind.

Jake said...

I think it's all about the persecution complex. Being persecuted is a big part of the mythos of some brands of Christianity, and since they're not actually persecuted, they have to make ginormous pains of themselves so that someone will finally get fed up and yell at them. And then they can point to that incident and say "look! We're persecuted!"