I never get approached by Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s one of my life’s sad truths. I see them often enough, standing outside of my local subway station, clutching copies of Watchtower and Alive! magazine. I’ve noticed them strolling around the neighborhood in pairs, ringing doorbells and attempting to spread the gospel. But somehow, I always get overlooked by these well-meaning weirdos, and honestly I can’t help but feel like I’ve been snubbed. Am I that obviously doomed to eternal damnation that I’m not worth their time? Or perhaps they don’t want me in their exclusive little club because I look like I’d be too difficult to shame. I know I dress like I’ve got nothing left to lose, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear the Good Word. Because honestly, that shit cracks me up.
There’s a tendency among smug assholes like myself to view the devout as a bunch of brainwashed rubes. It seems like the more fanatically followers adhere to non-secular rules, the more bizarre those rules are. It makes sense, I suppose: you can’t exactly half-ass snake handling or self-mutilation to please your ethereal alien masters. Spaced-out diatribes by Moonies and Hare Krishnas lead us to believe that behind the barricades of your average religious compound are a bunch of vapid airheads who have completely lost touch with reality. But that’s not necessarily true, as I learned from Kyria Abrahams’ memoir I’m Perect, You’re Doomed, which describes her upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness in late twentieth-century Rhode Island. You can be a wackadoo who believes that Jesus Christ is fascinated by your masturbatory habits and be really into The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The two things aren’t mutually exclusive.
I learned a lot about Jehovah’s Witnesses from this lively and hilarious book, and the culture of shame that keeps meat in the Kingdom Hall seats. But I was more interested to learn of the familiar dysfunctional aspects of the author’s upbringing. She had a lot of the same stupid thoughts and feelings that any kid has, but all couched in this belief that these were the trappings of the mortal, and therefore inconsequential world. Where one kid might anxiously worry about their grades because they wanted to secure a good future, the author felt that it didn’t matter since she’d inherit the earth eventually anyway. However, she still experienced anxiety over the stuff she didn’t have, the friendships that were at once tenuous and vital, and the inability to actualize. These are things that all kids feel, whether they think that a hundred and forty-four thousand chosen people will sit at God’s right hand in Heaven or not.
And maybe that’s why I haven’t been approached by any Jehovah’s Witnesses, because I come across as an unapproachable jerk who will probably make trouble. Which, incidentally, I would. I mean, these people believe that they’ll inherit the earth and live in peace with lions and bears, for crying out loud. How awesome is that? One of my favorite parts of I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed is when the author was cruising around the neighborhood, looking for homeowners to pester with the True Word, fantasizing about which homes they’d occupy once all of the non-Jehovah’s Witnesses vanished after the Apocalypse. So essentially, after the Rapture, they can traipse into my apartment and see the copy of Answer Me! and various morally stumbling influences that would have made me a poor candidate for eternal life in the first place. Your sins always find you out.
Besides writing a worthwhile book, Kyria Abrahams also writes for http://www.streetbonersandtvcarnage.com/ and tweets hilarity from @KyriaAbrahams. Check her out!