Friday, April 17, 2009

Book shelf shuffle amid Barkin' Dogs and Bible Thumpin'

Yesterday I must have been out of steam when a couple of Mormon missionary boys wound up on my porch. I had been organizing my large collection of books on evolution and primate behavior when I was suddenly jolted out of my task, which was entirely pleasant and all-consuming.

My task found me revisiting all the material I've read over the years, well, at least that in book form as there are still a good thousand or so paper articles currently residing in files in the baby's room (where will those go once she realizes it's not cool for her mama to store academic paraphernalia in her closet?).

I got to admire the completeness of my collection and revel at the thoroughness of my margin notes marked in red ink. I always use red to help me immediately see my thoughts vs. those of the author. I was especially struck by the apparent joy I had while reading a certain critique of the field of Evolutionary Psychology. I made it something like 400 pages into the book, writing and arguing back on nearly every page the whole way. It made me wish I still had that kind of time.

Then the barking dogs. Zounds alive! I thought perhaps Mr. Field Notes was home early so I opened the door prior to hearing any knock. And there they were, hopeful, standing before 2 humongous barking dogs and a pregnant lady — missionaries come to spread the good word of the lord.

The last thing I apparently was in the frame of mind to do was invite them in to talk, let alone be a decent human being. I simply smiled, put my hand up in an ambiguous wave/no gesture and shut the door. That was about all the humanity I could muster up. And with two giants mouthing their concern in the background, nobody would have heard anything else anyway.

I have nothing at all against Mormons. In different circumstances I may have invited them in and made them non-caffeinated tea and asked if they wouldn't mind helping me move books while we talked. I'm sure they would have happily helped. And, I bet they would have had a very interesting experience on account of exactly which books they'd be shuffling.

But, I didn't have the time or the energy for that. I just wanted them to go away. Yet they knocked and said plaintively, "Uh, hello?"

I ignored them and went back to my evolutionary book shelf shuffling while the dogs barked — wishing I hadn't been such a butthead.


Unbalanced Reaction said...

That made me laugh out loud!! I wonder if I could get away with that (me being sans dogs or baby bump).

Virginia Burnett said...

The boys will be fine - they get much less civil responses all the time and Mormon boys tend to generally be in awe of pregnant women anyway. :) While they certainly would have been willing to help you move books, they probably wouldn't have been allowed to actually come inside without Mr. Field Notes home with you - new mission rules.

BTW - some readers may be interested to know that Mormon scripture leaves ample room for evolutionary theory to work during the process of creation. It's pretty nifty. We have a much more comfortable relationship with science than a lot of more conservative Christian denominations.

SleightGirl said...

I wish I had more books on evolution just to pile up in case any of them came to my door...I think I even have some decaf tea in the cupboard too.

Your post made me smile.

Field Notes said...

Very interesting about the 'new mission rules' Virginia. Interesting. It seems so... Saudi Arabian.

Also interesting about leaving room for evolutionary theory. Is the notion basically that god created the process/mechanism behind evolution.. i.e. the 'intelligent designer' who came up with evolution? I could see that.

I do know that Jane Goodall is quite spiritual herself and sees no incompatibility with Christianity and evolutionary theory.

Sycamore Moon Studios said...

Mwahhhhh! We have all had moments like yours. It's nice to know it is not just me.....

Alasdair said...

I know exactly what you mean.

While waiting for a bus in Appleton, Minn., a woman a few years older than me pulled up some space on the public bench I was sitting on.

I was reading "On the Origin of Species." She was a Jehovah's Witness.

We figured it out and had a really nice hour or so passing the time of day while attracting severely dirty looks from the few passers-by who apparently knew who she was.

Later, it made me think of Joey, always on the outside of whatever side there was, and living in society with a shackle on your hand.

It's a tough row to hoe, the one those boys in black pants have chosen. I'm sure Virginia's right, but I know exactly how you feel. I would have had the same response if approached six hours into a flooring job, and I would feel the same way for turning them away.

Virginia Burnett said...

The LDS stance is not one of "intelligent design" as some are using it right now, though it does come close. We believe that God uses natural laws in the process of creation and that He is orderly and logical and must allow for chance and choice in order for humanity to reach our full potential. Evolutionary processes fit right into that scheme. Plus we believe that the word 'day' as used in the Bible's creation story would be better translated as 'phase' or 'period of time' - no seven day picnic for us.

As far as the mission rules go - they exist to protect the reputations of the missionaries more than anything. We call it "avoiding the appearance of evil" but we could just as well say "don't set yourself up to be duped or blackmailed." There have been unpleasant incidents in the past.