Spreading what you believe in …

Usually, I am all for spreading what you believe in. However, I do not believe in brainwashing, Bible- or any other ‘Holy Book – bashing, ringing people’s doorbells at impossible moments, crusade type activities, (un)Holy wars and crimes against humanity …

Why? Predominantly, because that is the way I was brought up … My mother initiated me in various ways used by mankind to justify/explain our existence on Earth. When I was a little girl, I even accompanied her to Church on Sunday. I liked Church, mainly because I liked singing … Never mind God …

All the same, my mother told me that other people revered God in other ways than attending mass in a Catholic Church and that some people even believed that there was no God and had found other ways to explain why there were humans on Earth. As a result, at a very young age, I already knew about polytheism, reincarnation, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, atheism, agnosticism, New Age without knowing they were called that way.

I also was told that any belief providing an explanation for the existence of mankind is to be considered equal to any other belief serving the same purposes.

Up until today I am convinced I have never felt threatened by someone’s religion. Not by the religion itself that is. Sometimes, the way some people think they have to preach God’s word, may even give God grey hair …

Many of us are familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses and I suppose most of us have closed their front doors in front of many a Witness’s nose … And yet, as an early teen, I remember having Mormons over at my parents’ house during the late seventies. How did that come about? I recall my dad coming home one summer’s evening. He was not looking too happy because he had lost his wallet and reported the loss to the police, just to be on the safe side. Half an hour later, the doorbell rang. Two young American students had found my father’s wallet and returned it to its rightful owner. Of course the two young men were thanked and invited in for drinks, since it had been a hot day and apparently they had walked all the way from the city center in order to return the wallet.

We soon all engaged in conversation, a very philosophical, spiritual and theological discussion it was. At the end of the evening, the book of Mormon, or rather a copy was put upon our dinner table. As a way of saying thanks, my dad bought the copy. No, we did not want to become Mormons, but the way those boys engaged in conversation about their religion and beliefs had been both entertaining and respectful. Moreover, we had a lot of different Holy Books on our bookshelves, but we did not have the book of Mormon yet, until that day that was. We made it clear to the boys that we were not going to convert, but told them that they always would be welcome in our house, as long as they would remember we were not interested in converting.

They became regular visitors during the next four summers. After that, we have never seen them again. If only more people were able to engage in conversation the way they did, even if we did not share the same beliefs.

A year later, two American twin girls landed on our doorstep … Without any introduction they started to spread the word of Mormon … They just rattled away … My baffled dad ran into the house and exclaimed: ‘Not only am I seeing things double, I am hearing things double too…’ I remember being in the garden at the time and wondering what the commotion was about. I emerged to the front door where I found the girls, still rattling on … At that point I stopped them and asked what the purpose of their visit was, since I had understood that they were Mormons, I asked them about the boys. They claimed they did not know them, they were on a mission and had no other interest than spreading the word without getting to know the locals and their sensitivities …

When I explained that they were welcome to come in to have a drink and a casual conversation, they soon lost interest and virtually ran away …

Some things never seem to change. Only yesterday I spotted a few members of the local Advent Church in our neighbourhood. I was outside, but it seemed as they were lurking around to find out who would be at home. Since it was a nice day, I stayed outdoors. The moment I came in to pour myself a drink, they were ringing my doorbell. Honestly, how do you expect people to listen to you if you start off by … stalking them?

Denise Hendrikx
Brasschat, Belgium

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