Had another close encounter at my gym today. The facility I use is owned and run by Orthodox Jews but is also heavily populated by black Baptist women. This means its not only closed for Simchat Torah but for Good Friday too. Holiday closings can get irritating and I am always on the verge of quiting and finding a new gym.
This morning, as I was leaving, a Christian woman (evidenced by the cross necklace and church group sweatshirt) flung “Have a blessed day” at me. The problem is that not only is this a religious ambush, but its also insistent. Not “I hope you have”, or a request like “God bless you today”, but a command – “Have A Blessed Day”. When someone says it to me my impulse is to say something snappy in return like, “Make me” or “Not if I can help it”, but that seems unnecessarily antagonistic. It is after all a casual religious intrusion rather than a formal one. The kind we are supposed to ignore in the polite society. I may have to write Miss Manners about this one so I can get one of her socially appropriate, cheeky answers.
If you follow the standard that you are the religion of the vagina that expelled you, I would be considered a lapsed Catholic. I usually just say I was “raised Catholic” because that’s where it began and ended, but even when I participated in all the functions and folderol, I would never impose my religious beliefs on anyone else. That’s downright rude if you ask me.
That brings me to another bizarre moment. Some people higher up on the food chain than me were going on about how impressed they were that Romney did his mission work in France and had to speak French to try and convert people to Mormonism. As if it is somehow remarkable that he could be annoying in more than one language. Didn’t speaking French help label John Kerry an elitist? I sense a double standard in play – its OK to speak another language if you will use it to bend others to your will.
I am glad Mitt Romney speaks more than one language, everyone should as citizens of the world, but I draw the line at admiring his proselytizing for the Mormon Church. We are constantly being subjected to formal religious ambush. Our house is regularly visited by the “elders” from LDS that would like to engage us in hearing the word. And the Jehovah’s. And the Baptists from the church a few blocks over. You’d think we were a bunch of heathens or something to attract so much attention.
I do my best to get us off their lists by informing them that we are Jewish (my husband and daughter), and by stringing Tibetan prayer flags across the front porch. But in the atmosphere of the election, with Mormons living across the street from us and Pre-Vatican II Catholics on the other side, I can’t predict how long it will be before I counter-attack some hapless bearer of Good News with a big ole Sez You.
I’m sure my manners and religious tolerance will return on November 7th.