Religion and Spirituality

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

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Elizabeth is a professional belly dancer, a flaky computer scientist, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She lives in Georgia (the state of the U.S., not the country) but is nonetheless somehow not a combination of stereotypes from Gone with the Wind and Deliverance. Her personal blog is Coffeefied. Operafied. Fluffified. Beglittered.


  1. June 5, 2016 at 3:50 pm —

    “I want to read a short story which features supernatural beings gambling with souls.  That would be a great scene.”

    This is the plot of the Book of Job. It is a pretty compelling story, but the ending is kind of a cop out, in my opinion.

  2. June 5, 2016 at 5:33 pm —

    The problem I have with your street preacher is his card that asks if you are going to heaven.  The gospel (or good news) is that Jesus Christ is Lord. When we believe this and follow him that is when we see “thy kingdom come, will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  The “rapture-mania” mentality is looking to escape this earth rather than being co-creators with God and building his kingdom here.

    • June 5, 2016 at 5:53 pm —

      That’s your problem with street preachers?  When they aren’t your particular flavor of Christianity?

      • June 7, 2016 at 12:04 am —

        As someone that has “seen” some of the stuff his followers think should be in his kingdom, never mind the endless contradictions between what they think are a) sins, and/or b) cause harm, and what actually prevents it/doesn’t cause any.. pretty sure the refusal of some Christians to try to “build his kingdom here”, is hardly the first thing that comes to mind. They are, in some cases, actually *less* scary than the ones that spend all their time hoping for the afterlife.

        That said, if they could get their heads out of their backsides and actually try to figure out what works, instead of relying on, “Oops, didn’t work. But the Bible says it should, so.. Lets try again, even harder!!!”, I would love to see Christians “helping” build a better world. lol

        • June 7, 2016 at 8:12 am —

          I don’t think they’re really concerned with what “works”.  I think they want to score some cosmic brownie points with their god, and also want to be publicly seen scoring cosmic brownie points with their god.  If they actually were interested in changing minds they wouldn’t be out on street corners shouting nonsense.

          • June 7, 2016 at 9:56 pm

            Yeah, suppose you might have a bit of a point. On the other hand.. its historical fact that, even up until pretty dang recently, people did crazy things like leaving out milk for the faeries. To assume that they don’t think that any of this counterproductive, often isolationist, divisive, and even, at times, rampantly delusional stuff “works”, and they are only trying to win some sort of points… either constitutes some of the most vile behavior known to any species, or shows a degree of lack in self awareness and common sense on the level of a rotten tree stump. (Never mind the absolutely lack of real social awareness or interest in their fellow human beings that it might imply). Oh no.. I have absolutely no doubt that *many* of them really think that practically bending over backwards to be as far from truly human as possible, to satisfy some long standing traditional standard of, “God’s intent ™”, is absolutely what they are in fact doing. That I also know bloody well that, where ever there is any sort of large scale market for pet social theory, pet punishments, pet sins, or even pet rocks, there will be whole multilevel marketing campaigns in place, run by people trying to convince you that the latest pet social solution, that relies on sinning with your pet rock, should be yellow this year, instead of blue, doesn’t at all change the reality that no one would be buying it, if there where not already people clueless, and gullible, or just ignorant and illogical enough, to demand they latest model, or check out the new brand from the shiny new church that opened up in town.

            So, yes, you are unfortunately quite correct, and.. sadly, terrifyingly wrong, at the exact same time.

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