The first time I was approached by a stranger on the street and asked that question, I had no idea what was going on. I was just surprised by a random, smiling man on the street addressing me in a warm tone that legitimately made me wonder if I knew him, because he sure seemed to think he knew me based on his demeanor.
My cynical nature would ordinarily lead me to ignore his question all together, and instead ask him who the hell he was. “Do I even know you, man?” “Whatever you’re selling, I’m not buying, Bozo.” That kind of thing. I’ve never been very good with people.
This man’s approach took me off guard, and I simply smiled back and replied that, no, I had not heard what (based on his beaming, Aqua-Fresh smile) HAD to be some pretty freakin’ sweet news, and continued smiling at him as I waited to be enlightened.
His smile never changed, as if it were painted on, or a very life-like mask. Which made the words seem all the more unsettling. “The End-Times are upon us. He is Risin. The Lord Jesus Christ walks among us even now,” he said as he handed me a small pamphlet and walked away. David Lynch couldn’t have made it weirder if he wrote this exchange himself.
I looked through the tiny booklet, and was shocked at what I saw and read there. It was all bold-printed, oversized statements about how angry God was at humanity for the very existence of things like abortion, homosexuality and pretty much every other religion, even the more liberal sects of Christianity; alongside partial quotations from scripture meant to bolster their points about all of the above. Crudely drawn depictions of Hell and demons and such were also included, though they were difficult to make out given the size of the booklet and due to the number of times copies had been made of copies at the nearest library.
Although, I shouldn’t say the demons and devils were “crudely drawn.” The original drawings may have been bad-ass, like a Dio album cover. I don’t want to cast aspersions on the artist whose work was no doubt used without his permission by the church in question. Poor guy’s probably tattooing a dragon on some idiot’s fat ass right now, dreaming of what could have been…but I’m straying from the point.
The memory of this whole experience with the Church of Hate Everyone Cyborg and its ghetto pamphlet is as clear as if it were only yesterday, but, actually it happened when I was twenty-two years old, about nine months after 9/11. I was working security in the tallest building in a bustling, modern U.S. city. The pay was shit, the hours were long, and the stress was very, very high. My only relief from that stress during work were my smoke breaks. I was having a smoke the first time I met the Holier Than You Are Cyborg, but it would not be the last time I spoke to it.
I would go out every day, and there it would be…passing out fliers until no one would take one or it ran out, then walking all around the area holding placards in the air with similar slogans and images as the literature. Its smile was just as broad and bright as could be. Every. Single. Day.
Occasionally, an especially hateful new placard, my youth, and my temper would conspire against me, and I would try to engage the Cyborg in debate. It just kept marching. Marching and smiling, and spreading The Good News. It wanted me to lose my temper, I realized even then; maybe I’d even shatter my hand punching it in its smug exoskeleton. Wouldn’t THAT trigger the laughter response-programming protocol? I would not be going to jail or the emergency room for a Cyborg, so I would eventually leave that job for less stressful and infuriating environs.
All these years later, I’ve learned not to engage the Cyborgs of Christ, and there are a hell of a lot more of them than one old T-800 model with a stack of leaflets and a truck full of propaganda placards. That is how I avoid the red-faced frustration of having the same circular arguments over and over and over again. I just ignore them. For my sanity…and because it’s f#cking pointless to argue with programming.
However…the problem is, that first Cyborg…the one with the doll’s eyes and the plastic smile and the placard featuring an aborted fetus wearing a turban and beard…That thing’s more than likely at least a city councilman with realistic aspirations for the Governor’s Mansion now. That droid could absolutely get elected in over half the states in this country.
Because we’re outnumbered, you and I. We reasonable few. We’re at the mercy of people who believe their particular religion’s holy book is the only instruction manual needed for an ICBM, or even a hyper-realistic humanoid cybernetic religio-propaganda android…So, Holy Shit, right? That thought will keep you up at night. I recommend one glass of warm milk mixed with one bottle of cold medicine. Sweet dreams!