My twice-weekly trip to university includes a short walk across London Bridge for a connecting train, which allows me the chance to take in the sights. The nearby historic Tower Bridge, the modern skyscrapers of the City of London…. homeless beggars, traffic congestion and a strange little Asian man who hands out free newspapers with a persistent inane grin. Just what the hell has he got to be so happy about?
Nothing really changes. Except one day this week, when a rather large black man obstructed my path, looked me square in the eye, and shouted “REPENT!” Well now, did he see me pretend not to notice the charity collectors outside the station? Surely not.
“HELL IS REAL!” Yes, I know that. I’ve been to Delhi. “HEAVEN IS REAL. TIME IS RUNNING OUT!” Yes, I’m aware of the famous gay nightclub, but I’m not interested in any promotion big boy. I’m sorry but I don’t bat for that team.
“JEEESUS IS WATCHING YOU!” Oh, I get you. You’re not Apostle Jack are you?
Now don’t get me wrong. I realise that the big guy’s motive’s are pure and altruistic. Sure, a cynic may say that he is only street preaching to gain brownie points with the big boss in the sky. But not me; the thought barely crossed my mind. Honestly.
Though what I really fail to grasp, is why he sees fit to bellow randomly at passers-by, and how he thinks it could possibly result in anything but a parting of the on-rushing crowd of commuters, like Moses and the Red Sea, as people navigate a route around him, free of flailing phlegm.
In what other scenario would someone think it a good idea to attempt to convert others to his viewpoint by randomly shouting snippets of information to complete strangers? Putting the shoe (or sandal) on the other foot, how would you react if an environmentalist who was seeking to convince people to live in a more planet-friendly way, stood on a street corner shouting out: “AL GORE IS WATCHING YOU!” or “YOUR GREENHOUSE GASSES ARE CAUSING OTHERS CONCERN”?
Naturally, you would probably think that (a) Al Gore is a stalker; and (b) you really shouldn’t have had that chicken vindaloo last night. You would never think that it was a good idea to fetch a rug and a bottle of Pimms and sit crossed-legged discussing the merits of An Inconvenient Truth and ways to reduce your carbon emissions.
Clearly there are better ways to evangelise, if you feel so inclined. How about leading by example, for instance? Or by only giving advice if people ask for it? Rather than trying to force your views down people’s throats, bible poised as if about to be used, weapon-like, to bring thou to thy knees. Otherwise one day I may just stop, for a laugh, and say: “I REPENT! I once killed a man.” Well, you did ask…