January 28 2003
By Andrew Masterson
Let us now praise famous sheep . News emerged in the South Australian District Court last week of an incident involving a farmer, a Jehovah's Witness, and a ram.
It seems that the Jehovah's Witness, doing the rounds in the Adelaide Hills one day, decided that the caution "Private - Keep Out" nailed on a farm gate did not apply to toiling proselytisers. Entering, thus, into trespass, the uninvited visitor promptly encountered the farm's pet ram, moving at high speed, forgiveness not in his ruminant heart.
Despite mounting a spirited defence with a briefcase full of Bibles, the JW nevertheless got a rude shock, a broken shin and, quite possibly, an urgent desire to take the Lord's name in vain.
Now, it would have been nicer, of course, if the man's injury had been less severe, but it's possible to view the sheep's involvement in the matter as an ovine expression of a human desire.
It is one of life's nagging problems - working out how precisely to deal with the periodic arrival on one's doorstep of people who feel that the only way to secure their own place in Heaven is to try to flog you a ticket for the journey as well. Some folk opt for the smart-arse defence and attempt a spirited assertion of some of the more glaring contradictions in the Testaments. This is a no-win tactic, however, since people convinced of their own salvation are, by definition, blind to the inconsistencies of faith.
Simply slamming the door shut is undignified. My mother, many years ago, used to thrust a poker through the letter-slot and demand the religionists decamp. This was certainly effective, although the possibility of subsequently encountering a personal injury civil action was worryingly high.
Dire consequences, too, were implicit in the strategy employed by two Melbourne men a couple of years ago. They courteously invited their visitors inside and offered them - in the spirit of politeness - some lovely homemade biscuits. They failed to mention, however, that the warm and enticing cookies contained rather a lot of cannabis.
My own last encounter was with two lovely old biddies intent on selling copies of Watchtower. They were polite, but persistent, and seemed unwilling to believe that the nice man on the other side of the flyscreen door really did want them to leave. Only when the nice man declared himself, in suitably Saxon terms, to be an atheist and invited the pair to make closer acquaintance of his bull terrier did they finally admit defeat.
Forced into making veiled threats, I felt diminished by the experience and was depressed for hours afterwards.
If Witnesses, Mormons, and other evangelists, such as mobile phone salespeople, provided some notice then things would be different. Forewarned, you could answer the door wearing a Charles Manson T-shirt, carrying a copy of Aleister Crowley's The Book of the Law in one hand and a dead chicken in the other, with Alice Cooper's Welcome To My Nightmare blaring out of the stereo. Or you could answer the door dressed as a Teletubbie, gently cradling a tissue box full of chopped liver. Either strategy would work.
This is wishful thinking, however. Evangelists never publish their travel schedules. God's shock troops, like all good soldiers, prefer to retain the element of surprise. This, of course, puts the innocent householder at intentional disadvantage, leading to all sorts of regrettable outcomes, such as ruined risotto, missed wickets on the telly, and cold fish and chips.
Perhaps, then, the Adelaide Hills ram has a lesson for all of us. When theology fails, try farm-yard impressions. The next time the Saints come marching in, try to meet them in the garden. Lower your head, scrape one foot in the dirt, emit a fearsome bleat (which is the tricky part), and charge. The chances are they'll be out of the gate, hurling gospels in self-defence, long before you make contact.
Word will no doubt then spread along the goddist grapevine that the bloke at Number 42 is odd, cranky and, quite possibly, needs shearing. With any luck you'll be marked down as an unrepentant bestial sinner and thenceforth left alone.
OK, it's not a particularly graceful way of repelling boarders, but it's a devil of a job, and somebody has to do it.
Original article & discussion: http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/forum/thread.aspx?id=45100&site=3