Let me start by saying that I absolutely do not want to offend anybody. I am fully aware that religion plays an important part in many people's lives. But I just don't like to be "saved". Or asked to believe in downright illogical stuff. I am neither lost nor doomed. I have a functional moral compass, thank you. And I have seen many hypocritical and dishonest religious people in my lifetime to know that belonging to a religion is by no means a guarantee of being in touch with one's spirituality.
When I was growing up in Puerto Rico we were constantly visited by the "Testigos de Jehová" (Jehova's Witnesses). It did not matter that my mom was downright hostile to them every time they showed their faces. Throughout the years she welcomed them with phrases such as these:
THEM: (cheerful) ¡Buenos días! (Good morning!)
MOM: (scowling) ¿QUE TIENEN DE BUENOS? (WHAT'S SO GOOD ABOUT IT?)
THEM: (cheerful) Buenos días. ¡Que Dios la bendiga! (Good morning. God bless you!)
MOM: (annoyed) Váyase. No me interesa. Dios no existe. (Go away. I'm not interested. God doesn't exist.)
THEM: ¡Hola! ¿Podemos hablar con usted? (Hi! May we speak with you?)
MOM: (impatient) No. ¿No ve que estoy ocupada? (No. Can't you see I'm busy?)
Rather than scare them away, her comebacks made them more determined to come back another day to try and save us heathens from the fiery pits of hell. It must have been incredibly alluring, the challenge of making these non-believers see the light, bigger than if we practiced another religion. You have to understand that at the time I was growing up, there were not that many people openly displaying their atheism on the island. And I may be totally wrong, but I believe that even nowadays there aren't that many avowed atheists back home. So to "bag the atheists" must have been the equivalent of being drafted to play in the big leagues of religious proselytism. They always kept on trying. Over the years they left their magazine "La Atalaya" (the English version is "The Watchtower") every time they came. Sometimes they left little comic books, obviously targeted at us little kids, full of stories of the horrible fate in store for the people who did not heed the word of the Lord. Some of these were drawn in what can only be described as sadistic glee, and scared the crap out of me.
As a grown up, when they started courting me back on the island (I was living next door to the house I grew up in), I usually resorted to the standard "No thank you, we're Catholic", even though my ex definitely wasn't and the only thing Catholic about me was the fact that I had been baptized. Usually that line got them to lay off me, although for some of them saying you're Catholic is like saying I'm ripe for the taking. Or maybe they still remembered me as one of the Heathen Bunch.
Nowadays I live 4,000 miles away from where I grew up. But they found me. Lately they have been sending the Hispanic contingent to pay me visits in the hopes of breaking down my resistance, and of course leave "La Atalaya" behind when I complain about now not being a good time. Arg! How did they find me? How the hell did they know I spoke Spanish? I guess it's not that hard to figure out. We're in Texas after all, throw a rock and hit a Spanish speaker. Plus, the phone is listed in my name, so all they need is a phone book and a dream.
So as I write this, every now and then I glance at the "Atalaya" sitting on my desk, a memento from this morning's failed attempt at saving me. It's opened to a page where they answer questions submitted by readers. I can't help but chuckle. The question submitted is:
¿Tenía patas la serpiente que habló a Eva? (Did the snake who talked to Eve have legs?)
Unbelievable. Who the f$#@&^ cares! And why is that important?