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Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Justin wrote Iceland, a blog about his band’s American tour. Justin isn’t on tour anymore, but Iceland continues, twice a week, on City Desk.
“Good afternoon, sir!” exclaimed the woman at my front door.
“Good afternoon,” I replied. Though it was Saturday, the woman wore her Sunday best and held a pamphlet called “Racial Harmony—-Myth or Possibility?” This pamphlet sported a Watchtower imprint. Thus, I intuited that the woman before me was a Jehovah’s Witness.
“Sir, let me ask you,” the Witness inquired. “Have you considered that recent natural disasters—-the South Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, et cetera—-are the work of our Creator and a sign of the End of Days?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I have often wondered whether the South Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina were the work of God and signs of the Apocalypse. Who can survey these terrible events and not wonder whether the End is coming? However, I cannot help but observe that you are a Jehovah’s Witness. For this reason, I am unable to listen to your rhetoric at this time. You must understand—-I have nothing personal against you. I am in no way ‘anti-Jehovah’s Witness.’ However, I had a memorable experience as a youth which will force our conversation to prematurely conclude. Let me tell you about this experience.”
I inhaled, then exhaled. The Jehovah’s Witness regarded me suspiciously.
“At a very early age,” I continued, “I was taught that I should never to open the door to a Jehovah’s Witness. When I was five years old, a Jehovah’s Witness knocked on my family’s door. I was a helpful child and ran to open the door to the prospective visitor. As my little hand clutched the doorknob, my mother—-intuiting that a Jehovah’s Witness sought entry—-screamed my name.
“‘Justin!’ my mother shouted. ‘Do not answer that door!’
“‘But mother,’ I replied. ‘The person at the door has already seen me.’
“‘I don’t care!’ my mother screamed. ‘Do not answer that door!‘
“I was an obedient child—-I immediately dropped to the floor and scampered beneath the dining room table. The Witness, who had indeed seen me, knocked a second time, and then a third time. Though my instincts screamed ‘Answer the door!’ I obeyed my mother, and slid farther beneath the dining room table. After an eternity, the Witness sighed, shrugged his shoulders, and walked away. My mother crept to the window and peeked outside to confirm that the Witness had gone.
“‘The Jehovah’s Witness has gone,’ my mother informed me. ‘Emerge from beneath the dining room table, but remember this—-never answer the door when a Jehovah’s Witness calls. Hide if you must, but do not answer the door!‘”
I inhaled, then exhaled. The Jehovah’s Witness squinted at me.
“So, you see,” I conclued. “I cannot converse with you at this time. The power of my youthful training is, as Freud postulated, all-consuming. I have already violated it by opening the door at all. I will take your pamphlets, though.”
The Jehovah’s Witness gave me her pamphlets and began backing away.
“I will review your pamphlets in my spare time,” I assured the retreating Witness, “and formulate an appropriate response via e-mail. My youthful training did not address e-mail. E-mail was not yet available when I was a youth, but that is another story.”