I was at my desk, protected from the sun’s rays by curtains that are always closed, when I heard a knock at the front door.
Josée got there before I did, and I met her coming away from the door towards me, “come and talk with them,” she said, “I don’t understand what they’re saying.” So I did, go and talk with them.
There were two of them outside (Josée hadn’t invited them in), two very proper white women with hands full of bibles, clipboards and papers and what as I saw later were brochures. They were talking as I came out, asking or telling me something, and I looked directly at them without really listening to their words, and asked them why they were here, and what they wanted. They weren’t put off by my directness and then I heard in their reply the word angel, and was immediately taken aback, they wanted to talk to me about angels. And I smiled and in fact was delighted. To step outside of my front door (it was Labor Day, a holiday) and meet two ladies who wanted to talk about angels. Couldn’t get better than that!
Evidently angels were showing up more and more in the media, in the movies, on television. I told them I wasn’t aware of this, hadn’t seen any angels, that I didn’t believe in angels, and that I didn’t even believe in God. I could have been more conciliatory. But they were tough and weren’t taken aback, didn’t turn around and leave, but smiled and continued to look at me, interested, and clearly wanting the conversation to continue. Afterall they were on our street, Santiago Street, going from door to door and this was probably not the first time they had heard from others, like me and worse, and were well prepared to respond and endure.
However, I didn’t give them the chance but looked back within the house and brought Josée into our little group standing outside the door. We didn’t invite them in. I heard the mention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, so that was who they were, what they were doing here, looking for more of God’s witnesses like themselves, and right away I saw that Josée had relaxed and begun to listen. For I’ve heard J talk many times about her own contacts with JW as a teenager in France, some 70 years ago, and I think she’s always had a soft spot for them and their message. (me too, or probably not as soft) I left my wife with the two Witnesses, and returned to my desk.
Their visit reminded me of an article, Religion is a constant part of Elizabeth Warren’s life, that I had read earlier today from the Boston Globe, and googled it and brought it up again on my screen, immediately said to myself, why yes, it’s clear from what I read that the Massachusetts Senator is a witness to Jehovah. “She believes in the Word of God, and wants to live according to the biblical teachings.” “She doesn’t have a home church she regularly attends, but she frequently visits a variety of houses of worship — including many African-American churches (maybe even knocking on doors during a campaign).” Just like the witnesses of Jehovah? (In another life, if not in another campaign, the Senator could be out there at my front door on Santiago Street, Bible in hand.)
My two visitors this morning both held Bibles in their hands. I’m sure they would have much preferred that Senator Warren be there in place of me at our front door. For, as I read in the Globe article, “Senator Warren carries her own Bible with her, a well-worn King James version she has had since the fourth grade.” And also, “the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners remembers being struck by the sight of her Bible as he watched her open it on the podium as she started her talk. It was full of underlined passages. It was clearly a Bible that somebody had been reading for a long time.”
The two witnesses wanted to talk about angels, and asked me about my relations with angels. I didn’t have any relations, I thought, malheureusement, for I’d like to! Lately however, I’ve not been reading and thinking about angels, but about evolution, there being of course no place for angels in a world of real life forms and dead things where all life and all heavenly objects in the cosmos are continually evolving, even to the extent of becoming something else, that is, us, for example, homo sapiens, evolving from whatever it was that preceded us.
But I may have been wrong to oppose religion and science in earlier blogs. Why had I not, much as had Stephen Jay Gould, accepted them both as being legit, as Non-overlapping magisteria or NOMA, —Gould’s view that science and religion represented different areas of inquiry (facts vs. values) there being a difference between the kingdoms or domains over which they have each, legitimate magisteria, or teaching authority, and that the two kingdoms do not overlap?
Yet it does seem to me that now nothing remains as it is for very long, that the underlying rule of our lives is not stasis but change. In regard to first religion(s) and then science we made the mistake of thinking that their principles and laws were permanent, whereas the new and more all encompassing evolutionary science sees principles and laws as, at best, way stations on our endless way of becoming. Yes, we stopped along the way with Christ, and gladly so, and we stopped with Newton, and gladly so, but couldn’t remain with the one or the other forever (in spite of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Euclid’s mathematics, both beautiful stations along the way).
Christ and Newton, both, have had to yield to others who have come along. If you don’t believe me about the Christ not being enough, and forever, how many of you have given up everything you have to the poor? When you do that I’ll listen to your point of view.
One thought on “A day in the life, a morning’s ideas”
Nice piece Philip. I too was intrigued by the article about Sen. Warren. I typically don’t look much at twitter, but have tuned in after accidently coming across your tweet. I am glad to see you’ve continued your blog. All the pieces I’ve read are thought provoking. Have you read “Homo Deus”? The sequel to “Sapiens,” it’s filled with thought provocations. Hope you’re well.