Certainty, Christian Street Preachers, and Assumptions
I recently attended an anime convention, as I sometimes do, and at this one, upon leaving one day, I encountered that bane of the urban landscape, the Christian street preacher. They were hanging out accosting convention attendees, which I thought was really quite rude. It is not as though I go to churches, in cosplay, to inform those attendees that according to the good news of Full Metal Alchemist, Ed lost an arm and a leg to teach us that people coming back from the dead is not a good thing.
Rudeness aside, I never quite understand all the assumptions street preachers make about who is a Christian and who is not. This is Georgia, odds are good that a nontrivial percentage of people you meet are either Christian or highly familiar with Christianity. There’s nothing about anime specifically that would preclude Christianity, or specifically suggest that all attendees are likely to smoke marijuana, which seems to be the current drug of choice in street preachers’ testimonials about how they used to do drugs until they found the lord. There was a large soccer match going on the same day, with hordes of people in jerseys mingling with the hordes of people in costumes, but the street preachers were not targeting the soccer fans. What is it that these Christians are assuming about anime fans as opposed to other fandoms? I’m really asking; I don’t know.
Of course, to me the fun part of this is getting a little business card-sized tract. I love poorly reasoned tracts. This particular tract, given in business sizes that make the text difficult to read, wants to know, on a scale of 0 to 10, illustrated with a thermometer, how certain I am that I will go to heaven. I think filling a thermometer might be a better graphic for their hell, but what do I know? I started to read the back and got as far as “If you answered 10, why are you so confident? If you answered anything less, you are gambling with your soul.”
I don’t believe in heaven, so this is a bad question, but as far as confidence goes, I’m not really 100% confident about anything. I’m not 100% confident that I’m not a brain in a jar. Extreme example, but reserving room to be wrong in your confidence is a good thing, not a gamble. One of the most powerful things humans can do, intellectually, is admit to ignorance. I don’t know stuff necessarily, and I can be wrong. Always. Being 100% confident means that I stagnate in my own rigid thinking. Probably. I mean, maybe being 100% confident would be good for me. I doubt it, but maybe it would make me a happier person at least.
Side note: I want to read a short story which features supernatural beings gambling with souls. That would be a great scene.
The rest of the tract seemed to be Christianese, and, like most proselytizing speech, starting with the assumption that adding the location in the Bible where stuff happens in parentheses is enough proof you need that what is said in the Bible actually happened. I didn’t read more until I found it online, because 219 words is way too much text for the back of a business card. It’s just hard to read.
I’m still not convinced by Christian tracts and I wish they would at least think the assumptions in their gotcha questions. What about you, darlings? Anyone worried about gambling with their souls now?
Featured Image: Sandwich via flickr