When did religion begin employing telemarketing tactics?

Standard

During the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year of college, I decided that I wanted to chill out, go home and just find any old summer gig (in lieu of pursuing an internship or some other intense program).  It was a mistake, one that to this day I regret.

Try as might the only job that I eventually could find was working as “customer service” for a prominent cellular phone company.  But this was back in 2003 and the thing that was all the rage then was home phone service that offered unlimited calling to anywhere in the country.

My colleagues and I were not actually equipped to answer customer service concerns. Instead, we were trained how to try to coddle (angry, sometimes irate) customers who were not happy with some aspect of their bill or service to … Yup, you guessed it- offer them the chance to enroll in more phone services.

You’ve all been through it.  You get the telemarketing call, you tell them you are not interested.  What do they do in response?

Give you a thousand rebuttals, usually prefaced with a man “Ma’am/Sir I understand your concern with X but (insert sales pitch here)”

It was awful.  I don’t have a sales bone in my body, so I just tried to pass people on to the real customer people as quickly as I could while not being penalized for lack of “sales.”

you know how many times I got responses like these?…ha ha

Today on the bus, something happened that, like those telemarketing pitches are annoying. I was texting my friend who was waiting in the airport trying to catch her flight.  A girl sitting next to me saw an opening.  She tapped me on the shoulder and offered me a flier invitation to attend her church.

I’m hip to the game at this point, and am not in the mood to even try to be polite.  But I see that the flier is expensive it’s in color, on glossy stock paper and embossed.  I tell the girl that I probably will not attend so don’t give me the flier, save it for someone who will come.

But wait, there is more.  She is no satisfied with what I have to say.

At this junction can I ask something, why the heck do people, particularly “religious” people who want to smack you over the head with their jumbo Bibles, keep going.  It’s like when you politely decline it’s read as an invitation for even greater glory as they bring you over to their side.  Sigh.

Her rebuttal was “But the event is not even for today”

Um, ok, but I just told you without even reading the flier that I am not going. So, I told her point blank, I don’t care when it is, I will not go.  Please save your flier for someone else.

I then go back to texting my friend.  A normal person who respects a person’s personal space would leave it there.  I think Jesus or one of the apostles said something like if people will not receive you, then leave and shake the dust off your feet as you go out.  (In other words stop trying to force yourself on people).

But oh no, she was not done. Her next tactic, to ask me, “well, what church do you go to?”  Um what? I was angry at this point this shit (excuse my language) was straight up out of those how to “witness” (bka prosletize) video.

I just told her point blank with a very firm tone and without looking away from my phone, “I don’t want to have this conversation.”

She was apparently shocked that I should dare rebuff her encroachment on my privacy, peace of mind and conversation with my friend- finally put the darn flier away and started chatting on her phone, probably about me…. ha ha….

Maybe I should make fliers with these and hand them out to every Bible thumper that comes my way…ha ha

Can I just declare that I hate effing incidents like these?  They didn’t bother me so much before, but I hate them now!  Leave me alone, leave everyone alone! Stop trying to cram your religion down my throat!

I don’t want to go to your church!

As I told my friend in the text explaining what happened: I know that God loves me, I don’t need to attend your church to find that out!

I’m sorry but it seems to me that this rise in the number of randos handing out church fliers, trying to talk to strangers about their particular church or “Jesus” in particular tends to be a numbers game.  The cheesy scripting “Hey, what would you do if you died right now?”  “Do you feel alone, sad or depressed?” “What do you want God to do in your life today?”  —- all of which I have heard used on yours truly—argh!

It just smacks of naivete and insincerity.  Yes, you sincerely want people to believe what you believe, but are you really thinking about that individual’s state of being right now?

Ok, maybe this is what I need to do next time?… or is the picture saying that this what Bible thumpers do?…hmm… let us reflect..ha ha

Are you actually listening to what their concerns are?  Or are you so busy trying to tick of the next thing on your list of tactics that you miss the point.

If your “witnessing” reads like something that came out of a can of Spam, I would suggest that you reexamine yourself.  “Winning Souls” is not a numbers game and people can tell that you are indeed treating them like just a number.

… ha ha

I’m not a fan of proselytizing, but I usually can deal with it in smaller doses.  I know what some people respond to this kind of approach, and are grateful for it.  That is fine for them.  I respect that. But, I also think that when someone politely declines your advances, I think it’s just a matter of respect and courtesy  for them and for yourself, that you drop it.

It seems to me that if you continue, then you are “starting something.” Anyone who believes that God is the one that converts people/changes hearts, knows when to shut up and go about life because GOD is in control of everything.

I am picking on the Bible thumpers in particular today, because quite frankly I am only ever approached by strangers from Christian sects.  I think when we talk about religious discussions among family members, then we are talking about something totally different (just an ending caveat).

I’m not an atheist, but this might be a nice change of pace…ha ha…

Advertisements

For the Firebrand…. In case you haven’t heard this already

Standard

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127239913

I listened to this piece on NPR on African-Amercan atheists and their experiences in the  U.S.  It is certainly something that I haven’t really thought about much.

It was interesting to hear the woman, Jamila Bey, I think her name is, just beause I’ve never heard a black person speak like that, really, I’ve never heard that.   And her background was interesting too– a non-practicing Black Muslim father (I’m guessing that means NOI? that really isn’t clear) and Southern Baptist convert to Catholicism.

But it’s also interesting that atheism/humanism(the distinction is not all that clear to me unfortunately) as an anti-belief system kind of functions as a religion, with people seeking out other “non-believers.”  and that W.E.B. Dubois was a humanist.

Life is so confidently complicated.    There are a lot of black/ people who aren’t particularly practicing religiously.  I suspect the numbers are a lot higher than we think.

I guess the last thing sort of touched on at the beginning of the program and what I think about in the context of some of the classes I have taken.  I learned that “black religion” is such a central part of the black experience and regardless of the religious path taken many black people develop a theology that speaks to the central question of human suffering. I wonder how atheism fits into this paradigm.

hmm one more thing, “science is good”  I was a bit chaffed by Jamila Bey’s comment that suggested that people of faith don’t believe in science.  tiresome.  It’s like for some people at least, faith and science can’t co-exist.

Ay, I have to deal with the extreme right wingers on one side who believe their sacred practices texts tradtions are THE WAY and everyone else is just doomed.  Then I have to deal with people on the extreme left.  It’s getting tiresome America!   will probably have to blog more about this later.

Fi al-Khaleej: Clothing

Standard

So I have been in Qatar a whole week and am getting acclimated. So far Alhamdullilah its been good. Qatar is such an multinational place that you don’t feel stifled by one culture/set of rules, well most of the time.

After being in Developing Middle East countries being here is a somewhat refreshing change in many ways. For one thing there is Air conditioning Everywhere! but that is a must since it’s like 105 every blessed day. I thought I was going to melt the first few days, but I think the body is getting used to it. I guess it doesn’t help that you kinda have to cover up more here than you would in the states but that’s the breaks… So many thoughts have been running through my mind as I sort out how I feel about all of this, I don’t know where to begin… I feel like I should try to write about this anyway, just to remember if nothing else.

ok here are some major themes:
clothing- I definitely broke out my cultural clothing when I got here. Unlike that Yemen heat which was dry Qatar’s seems to be humid to me at least, or maybe it’s because it’s so intense. I sweat really easily, so all of my clothing has to be washed each time I wear it, which will be a bit cumbersome if I don’t plan ahead. AC is lovely but you go from extreme cold to extreme heat several times a day, and that messes with my body temperature regulation.

Jeans are a total wash, I wore some the other day and was soaking with sweat. I brought too many pairs though… oh well. I want to get an abaya, but the really nice ones are pretty expensive, I don’t think it’s wise to drop $400 bucks on one item of clothing that I probably won’t wear in the US. Sigh.

Although I, as a foreigner,  am not held to the standards of modesty as Qatari women here are, I still try to cover up more than I would back home.  Right now, I am dealing with fitting long sleeve shirts under short ones, wondering if I brought enough long, flowing, breathable shirts.

It’s true Qatar has most of the shops that I know and love in Europe and the US- Zara, Mango, Bershka, Marks and Spencer, the Gap, Banana Republic and even a Pimkie among others. Too bad Sephora does not sell makeup for my skin shade. Too bad everything costs way more than it does back home. I wonder if it has to do with importing all of this stuff, or if it’s just because Qataris are pretty well off… sigh…. the woman who took our ID pictures had Burberry stationary, and it looked pretty fresh to be fake… who knew Burberry made trash cans!…lol.

I met my first sub-Saharan African hijabi my (ex)roomate (this is another post entirely… I think i will have to title it things that are a hot mess about Qatar, but that will have to wait) is from Nigeria and a very sweet girl MashAllah. Actually most of the girls that I have met really are wonderful people… actually most of the girls here, even the Bosnians, Mauritanians, Sudanese, Eritreans, Somalis etc. are hijabis… not weird, but something to note I guess.

As for me, I am rocking the dress that I bought in Yemen (not an abaya btw), along with a Bouba that was given to me as a gift a while back, a caftan like dress that was a gift from a Qatari a few years back and a lot of my thigh length shirts. I decided to reserve my djellabah for Friday— This Friday at least, I will go to Ju’muah– Friday prayers, it will be interesting to see how much of the Khutbah I understand.

Ok, It’s almost 3 am, time to go lights out!.