Friday, May 22, 2009

Adventures of Wormy

So the day was not even two hours old, and already two nice men of the Jehovah's Witness religion were keeping me company as I put laundry on the line. I know the day was less than two hours old because all I'd done was wake up, have a lovely cup of coffee out on the back deck while the girls puttered away next to me with some worksheets (I know--worksheets? But they have trouble getting started in the morning, and engaging them in something keeps Matt from stuffing them in front of PBS Kids), see Matt off to work, check my email, read a book about kelp and a wildflower alphabet book to the girls, start a load of dishes, and switch over the laundry.

Anyway, it was a fascinating conversation. We started off a little rocky when I was asked whether or not I was "religious" (totally a leading question, right?), but being 1) shy, 2) a teacher, and 3) a writer, if there's one thing that I know how to do, it's change the subject, and so I managed to segue that little convo into a question about the stance of Jehovah's Witnesses on Obama.

They don't vote! Fascinating. They should really work that sort of thing into voting statistics--you know, like, noting the percentage of non-voters whose religions forbids them to vote. But Jehovah's Witnesses, according to my friends, don't want to involve themselves in worldly government affairs. Government money is okay, though, because I asked about public schools, but they register as "conscientious objectors" in the Selective Service. And so I'm all, "But what about Korea, where military service is mandatory? Are there any Jehovah's Witnesses in Korea?"

Yep, and they all GO TO JAIL!

So then my visitors started talking about the Bible, and I don't know, it got a little dicey here, in my opinion. So this one guy is talking about how they retranslated the Bible "from the original" so that they can know exactly what Jesus' word is, and that this translation is the most accurate of the Bible translations, and I think that is very interesting. I'm very curious to know how the translation standards and procedures differed from other very popular Bible translations, like the Septuagint and the Vulgate, and how they choose what texts to include, etc. My friends were unable to help me out on this, which made me sad, and I have to say that I'm a little concerned about their declaration that the Bible is Jesus' word, flat out. I asked how they resolved the dilemma of multiple authorship--I was interested in hearing, you know, the religious decree or something--but we couldn't quite find a meeting place to get that question answered.

But the guy does say that Jehovah's Witnesses try to live as the first-century Christians lived, which I think is very cool. But they're still doing the Jesus' word thing, so I'm all, "What about Peter?" And there's this silence, and then the braver guy is all, "What do you mean?" And I'm all, "Peter the Apostle? The Rock? The guy in charge of spreading the religion and Jesus' message and basically founding Christianity, since Jesus died, you know, abruptly?" There was no Word then, no Gospel to consult--they hadn't been written yet. You had to ask Peter. But Jehovah's Witnesses don't seem to acknowledge Peter, or the role he played in transmitting, founding, setting the guidelines for Christianity--I'm finding that a little naive, I guess. But again, I'm sure if my witnesses knew there would be a test, they would have studied more esoteric knowledge about their religion prior to entering my backyard.

Anyway, then I was finished with my laundry, so I thanked them for a lovely conversation, we shook hands, and they scored me a couple of issues of Watchtower. I wonder if I can request, like, a historian as my new neighborhood Witness? I'm feeling a little academically unsatisfied by that conversation, although really, they were quite amiable--I imagine you learn to be a good sport when you witness in a college town. The people hanging up their laundry keep turning out to be Medieval/Classical scholars and stuff.

So then I went and found the girls--thank gawd they hadn't drowned themselves or fallen down the stairs while I was spending a half-hour getting my comparative religions geek on--and it turns out that Willow had been creating this:
I only sort of halfway admired it at the time, because I was still all "How can you not have heard of the Vulgate if you're talking about Bible translations?", but I did let Will fill my CF card with photos, so I'm getting to admire it now:
I like how it's basically all these animals that have somehow managed to trap a brachiosaurus inside a block fortress, and now they're all just gathered around staring at it and gossiping amongst themselve and saying "Holy CRAP! What are we going to do with that thing now?"

So then I got to sew a little and we read some more books outside on our He-Man bedspread and the girls ate apples and pineapples and I sewed yet some more and then Sydney showed up with a worm and asked if it could be our pet, and I said yes. Enter Wormy, Will's new soulmate:
We are only keeping Wormy until tomorrow--I'm pretty sure the only way this will work is if we switch Wormies VERY often. So--jar, holes in the lid, dirt, mulch, greenery, a little water.

I tried being all natural and put Wormy in an old applesauce jar, but this was STUPID. Wormy's house lasted through lunch, through more goofing around in the yard, through a trip to Joann's and Matt's work, but on our way into Barefoot Kids to buy sunscreen and bug spray Will was so excited to spot a bumblebee sniffing around a rose that she dropped Wormy right on the sidewalk and smashed the jar into a billion bits. Of COURSE. Then freaked out that Wormy was hurt. Then wouldn't sit on the steps like I told her to while I cleaned out the glass. Then cut her hand on the glass. Etc. etc.

Fortunately, Barefoot's proprietor, my buddy Scott, gave Will another GLASS JAR for Wormy, so, you know, yay. And Scott and I got to do the whole townie thing where a lady came in from out of town, asked for directions somewhere, and Scott and I fought about the best way to get there. I LOVE that. We're all, "So then you take a right on Walnut. Is it Walnut? It's the one that goes South. And it's one-way, but it'll turn two-way and then you take a left. And the building you're looking for, it's brand-new, blah, blah, blah."

I know, I know, you'd think the day would be almost over, but it's not. First we have to go home and watch an episode of Planet Earth (on account of I am exhausted), and then do some more laundry, and then go on a nature hike to pick wildflowers and get super-excited to see this ladybug--

--and then go home and I go out shopping (I bought 16 Kashi frozen pizzas. They were on HUGE sale) and Matt feeds the girls dinner and they con him into letting them watch Land Before Time, and NOW they're finally asleep, and I'm trying to figure out if I'm too tired to make myself a smoothie, or if I should just watch Step Brothers with Matt until I fall asleep, too.

And tomorrow we're going to garage sales, baby.


Gina said...

Hello! Haven't commented on your blog before as I only just came across it a few days ago, I like your eco-crafting approach. Interesting post. I like that you talk to the JWs and don't just wave them away. In general they are not encouraged to be scholarly in their understanding of their faith and basically learn a lot of answers by rote, so probing doesn't get you the low-down. If we were in the same country, I'd join you for some nerdy chats about church history, Bible translations etc...

julie said...

Aha! That totally explains it! I thank you for that, because it was just so weirdly troubling to me that they would bring up early Christianity and then not seem to understand it. They seemed well-enough informed about current events, though, so when they come back I'm dying to ask them about their apocalyptic beliefs and their low retention rates.

See, this is why I blog--to meet awesome people like you.

Abby said...

i heard all about wormy. and thought, while it was nice scott gave you a pretty new glass jar, i wondered why he gave you another GLASS jar. :) but of course i didn't mention that to him.

i found the whole JW interaction awesome. i love that you were totally nice, interacted with them, asked questions, challenged them, etc. i would have just hid. i hate people coming to my door unannounced.

julie said...

I, too, get really unhappy when solicitors of any kind come to my door--I hide, too, just like I remember my mother teaching me how to do when I was really little (the fact that my mother is pretty definitely crazy with a capital C is beside the point, because this is perhaps the ONE thing she taught me that actually makes sense in the world at large)--but, you know, we were outside, I was hanging up laundry, might as well have some company.

The glass jar still lives. It's so far been home to a caterpillar, and now a dead bee lives in it (started off dead, don't worry). I will possibly punch some holes in the cap, plant a terrarium inside, and give it back to Scott at Barefoot. Because every store needs a little Bell jar terrarium.

Tina said...

I know this is an old post, but I tend to find on your site for hours at a time reading all your old posts.

I think I need to brush up on my religion. I would love to be able to hold a legitimate conversation with religious type people without feeling intimidated or stupid.

And so that maybe they won't come knocking. Of course, the "No Soliciting" sign on my front door usually works just fine.

I love the dino pictures!

julie said...

Funny thing is, I have never had a Jehovah's Witness come to my door ever again after that! Is it coincidence, or am I on some sort of troublemaker's list? Perhaps they're waiting for that historian that I asked for...