Saturday, October 9, 2010

Run The Other Way

The most frightening sight I've ever been confronted with in Japan is this:

Two women of a certain age walking towards me, wearing modest skirts, beige hose, sensible shoes, and carrying large handbags...

Yes, the Jehovah's Witnesses have made converts of a few Japanese as well, and they go door to door, handing out the same tracts they do everywhere else.  Are they some sort of cosmological constant?

I say this in spite of the fact that I have a Japanese friend who is a Witness.  She lived in Texas (where her married daughter lives still with the grandchildren), so she speaks English well.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that's why she gets sent to canvass certain areas, so they don't have to walk away from a household where no Japanese is spoken.  Since she and I have experiences in common, it's always mutually agreeable to converse about those and any of several interests we share.  She is extraordinarily generous and kind--she never stops by without some herbs from her garden, or some hydrangeas, or a couple of lemons from her tree.  Or tracts.  And that's the thing--I consider her a friend, whether we agree on religious issues or not.  But the reverse, I think, is not true.  I'm fairly certain that she's been told to stick to her script and not get too friendly with a non-witness who doesn't appear to want to convert, or even discuss the bible much.  I wonder whether she sees how divisive that attitude really is.

A post over at The Atheist Rabbi brought this into my mind all of a sudden.  He put up a YouTube video of a Life of Brian scene that I hadn't seen in ages.  One of my favorites from that film, in fact, and one that reminds me of my Witness friend who lectured me from the Witness book "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" about how we're all supposed to run around using the Lord's name!  Some industrious Witness had in fact counted the number of times in the Hebrew Bible the Tetragrammaton  appears ("nearly 7,000 times!").  When she got to that bit, I chewed my lip, kept my peace, and let this scene run through my head:

So, bad news if you were thinking of emigrating to Japan to escape the Mormons (yup--they're here, too) and the Jehovah's Witnesses.  But I can tell you how to identify them from a distance without binoculars...:))


  1. The best bit wasn't on there... :0(

    "I'll have two sharps, two flats and a packet of gravel."

    Just read the post you referred to, and the post *that* was referring to, and it turns out to be yet another case of 'looking for a reason to be offended.' It must be that. Surely these people can't *really* be that thin skinned.

  2. Oh--I didn't read the post he was referring to, should go do that.

    "...two sharps, two flats, and a packet of gravel." That wasn't there? That will have to be fixed!

  3. There--fixed, just for you:)) I even managed to go into the html embedding code and change the width so it wouldn't overrun the column. You've made me a bold woman, Daz!

  4. Just read the Washington Post article he was referring to. I'd like to know where he gets off calling Jon Stewart ignorant...Jon Stewart, of all people!

  5. Wahay! Well done young lady! It's the first step on the slippery slope to geekdom!

    I'd not actually seen Jon Stewart, but by pure chance, I was browsing through Channel 4's online catch-up site, and found that they show The Daily Show over here, so I watched a couple. Calling that bloke ignorant would seem kinda dumb, to say the least.

  6. West country accent...

  7. West Country? Oh dear, were I ever to meet you, I'd be talking like you in 5 minutes...

  8. My accent isn't quite as strong as his, except when I'm drinking...

    That's as close to specific as I get, when mentioning where I live on t'internet.

    I just posted a video that I thought was quite interesting, btw.

  9. Watched the Avalos vid--very interesting. I always wonder why biblical scholars and priests/pastors think it necessary to hide information like that from people. Is it because of the Men in Black principle?

    Just love Tommy Lee Jones:))

  10. I seem to remember (well, not personally...) that was roughly the position of much of the Catholic hierarchy vis à vis heliocentricism. "Okay, you're probably right, but don't tell the flock. The poor lambs couldn't handle the truth..."

    No matter how much it changes, somehow it still stays the same.

  11. Aside from my love of Life of Brian :-), gotta add that I have been accosted twice (*twice*!) by Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan! Whilst on vacation!
    We stayed in a little inn on the north side of tokyo for a few of our trips, and twice got the knock on the door...
    Here at home, they have given up on us. Maybe it's the giant Torii Gate in our backyard garden. They probably figure we're a lost cause. :-)

  12. I'm lucky here. I've got no door directly onto the street, and nothing else that makes it look like there's a home here. I did used to find that answering the doorbell while sporting a foot-high multicoloured flat-top haircut would visibly dim the old witnessing-enthusiasm.

    Ah, happy times...

  13. @ann--the JW's got you while you were here on vacation? Really? I wonder what they thought they were going to get out of that!

    @daz--speaking of foot-high multicoloured flat-top haircuts, that reminds me, I have some photos to email to you! (secret, secret!)

  14. Don't say you've gorn 'n' got a mohawk or something ...

  15. Ah the JW's. For some reason they have just crossed me off their list entirely. I see them canvasing the neighborhood now and then but one rarely stops anymore. And their visits were so damned entertaining.

    They are so used to speaking to Christians that some one like me is a bit of a surprise to them. The last couple (years ago) left a bit red faced and flummoxed and they've never been back. Bismarck has even hosted the regional JW convention the last few years (who the hell though that would be a good idea, I simply don't know), and yet none stop. I've a feeling they have a Google Map with the hopeless cases marked in red.

    Personally, I feel some discrimination. I wonder if I have a lawsuit here. ;-)

  16. "Red faced and flummoxed"?! What on earth did you say to them, KK?? I simply must know! I could use some ammo... Face-to-face, I'm always too nice to say anything sarcastic, and I've always had the feeling that irony would just sail right overhead...

    Feeling discriminated against,are you? Wait a minute...I know I've got a Watchtower around here someplace...I could call the organization and let them know there's a lonely atheist in North Dakota...:))