These days, it seems you can’t walk two blocks in DC without a member of Jews for Jesus handing you a flyer. While I’m generally very offended by any form of religious proselytizing, I have to confess I always accept the flyer and I always read it. I don’t do this because I think Jews for Jesus are on to something: quite the opposite, I think they’re full of—how can I put this diplomatically?—excrement.
But I have to give props where props are due and Jews for Jesus get props for being timely and innovative with their material. For example, in the middle of a DC heatwave, one of their flyers was entitled “Keeping Cool,” and it was all about how Jesus (Y’shua) is “the Son who refreshes . . . like rivers of living water.” Now from my reading of the Bible, I know that Jesus has been likened to a shepherd and even a sheep, but the river analogy is new to me. Kudos to Jews for Jesus for taking such an innovative approach to the Messiah. I mean, on a hot, sticky, humid summer day in DC, nothing sounds better than diving into a cool, refreshing body of water. And if Jesus is like that cool, refreshing body of water . . . well . . . I can understand how some people may be swayed. Not me. I’d rather see Jews for Jesus distribute a tract about the urgency of global warming and how to forestall and reverse its negative consequences. But that’s obviously not where they’re coming from.
So anyway, today’s flyer was not actually handed to me; one of my colleagues brought it in and placed it on the kitchen counter. Entitled “Paris Hilton: The Prison Life,” the flyer talks about how the law made Paris do the time for her crime, despite her parents’ hypothetical wish to pay someone else to serve out their daughter’s sentence. The punchline comes when the flyer informs me that, unlike Paris, I don’t have to serve out my sentence because Jesus has already sacrificed himself so I won’t have to. In other words, the sentence—the punishment for my sins—is eternal damnation, but Jesus could spare me this fate. The catch is, of course, I have to ask him to. Or rather, ask Jews for Jesus to pass on my request.
Which is where things get a little tricky for me. You see, I’m an old-fashioned guy who believes in accepting responsibility for my actions and facing whatever consequences may befall me. For that reason, I choose to live a life that conforms to my own personal ethics, doing unto others as I would have them do unto me, and all that good stuff. At the end of the day, if hell is where my immortal soul winds up, so be it. But I’m pretty sure I know where the only eternal parts of me—i.e., the individual atoms that make up my body—will end up. What’s left of me will end up right here on earth, making up the worms that eat the dirt into which I decomposed, and the birds that eat those worms, and the cats that eat those birds, and so on and so forth.
But that’s not what Christian proselytizers (let’s not kid ourselves, Jews for Jesus is a Christian evangelical group) want us to believe. They want us to believe that, as individuals, we are incapable of doing the right thing. In fact, they want to convince us that at the end of the day, our entire earthly existence is sinful and that we are doomed to an eternity in hell. But unlike the people Jews for Jesus hopes to convert, I’m fully prepared to deal with the consequences of my life choices and I don’t need anybody (the Messiah or anyone else) to take the heat for me. That’s how I roll.
But I have to add that, although I have little sympathy for Paris Hilton’s legal predicament, I can’t help but feel a little bad for her that Jews for Jesus is now using her story in an attempt to get people to read their tracts. That makes them almost as pathetic as Paris. I’m also annoyed because until today, I had successfully banished Paris Hilton from my consciousness, having fully convinced myself that she is a figment of our society’s twisted imagination. Now, thanks to Jews for Jesus, I can no longer deny the existence of Paris Hilton. Even worse, I’ve devoted half-an-hour and part of a blog to her.
Come to think of it, if there are no annoying proselytizers giving out flyers in hell, it might actually not be such a bad place.