Tuesday, 8 April 2014
A knock at the door
This is my first blog post here, I hope it will be one of many...
Yesterday, as I was giving the house a thorough clean in time for Passover, there was a knock at the door. Who could this be, at 11 in the morning? It turned out to be two old ladies from the local C of E Church. Me being the good Jewish girl that I am, decided to invite them into the home and offer them a cup of tea or coffee. One we'd settled down, they came to the purpose of their visit. They were collecting throughout the Parish for.... a donation to their Church, specifically to repair their organ (that is the musical instrument). Whilst I knew that there was going to be a campaign to repair the Church organ, I politely declined the offer, explaining that as a Jew I did not feel that I could donate money which was for the specific benefit of another religion and its worship. That didn't go down well, 'but' spluttered one of them 'the Church is the centre of the community and a beautiful building; it benefits everyone in the Parish' .
I've got to admit at that point, I sort of saw of red mist. You see I do, as a way of helping a friend in our town, who is also the Secretary of the Church, type up the minutes of the last Annual General Meeting of the Church (I do have sympathy, you see for a Mrs Hubbard type, 70 year old woman with chronic arthritis). I couldn't quite see the logic here given that the membership of said Church is all of 50 people (out of a population of 3,000). And this is where I kinda lost it and told them that if they had more members then they might be able to afford the repair themselves or perhaps if their own relatively affluent membership donated more than 50p per week per head to the Church, then they wouldn't need to beg off others. Needless to say they made a quick exit from my house soon after. I do feel guilty in some ways, but then I do think my point was a fair one.
Shortly after there was another knock on the door. Oy, what is going on. This time a young women in her twenties and a middle aged women, I noticed they'd got Bibles & leaflets in their hands. At this rate I thought, I'll need another kettle. But, I thought it is raining and it wouldn't be very Jewish to slam the door in their faces. So much to their surprised and I think delight they got ushered in to our living room. So what were they knocking my door for? They were Bible believing Christians from a growing (200 members plus) Church from the bigger town by us, from something along the lines of the ' free evangelist church of Jesus the risen saviour'. They were in the neighbourhood, to invite people to a Passover meal & presentation of the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I said, well I am a Jew, who is going to be celebrating the start of Passover next Monday evening, in my own home and therefore had the real deal .I was hoping they'd be a bit more clued to the fact that they were coming to a Jewish household as I deliberately put my Menorah in the window and of course we have a mezuzah right by the door bell (!). I guess they don't teach that at Bible school, I mused. Their eyes lit up and they asked if I had ever considered learning about Jesus in the Old Testament and how he fulfilled all of the Jewish prophecies ? I said that I had no idea why they were knocking on my door, but even if I had of know I would still have let them into my house, because it was cold, wet and windy outside and as they looked like they had already had several doors slammed in their faces , that I should do the Jewish thing and welcome them into my house for a bit of refreshment. I pointed to their Bibles and said that this was as Biblical as they were, in Leviticus 19, 33 to 34 & as to why I could not be a Christian, Deuteronomy 10, 17 to 19 among other places. I did say to them I would be happy to discuss with them at length an essay I had written a couple of years ago whist I was reading my MA : why I am a Jew and not a Christian. Needless to say, we got into a bit of a heated discussion. They couldn't quite grasp the fact that I had as much knowledge about their Bible as they did, which flummoxed them and they left the house as quickly as they could , which disappointed me as we'd only covered Isaiah 53, let alone going on to a critique of 'Hebrews', salvation and St Paul, among other things.
I received visits from two different types of Christians. Musing about this is important because I still live in what is overwhelming a white middle class 'christian' area. I live in what is still technically a national Christian state,so that will always be the predominate culture of the UK*. Therefore to a Jew,who will always be a minority in the UK, important to know what is going on within Christianity as this has an impact upon our faith and fortunes as well. To me I saw that one group seemed to be entirely wrapped up in their own world, but entirely confident that someone else should be picking up the tab for their Church. The other group was outward looking, but again entirely confident that someone else would just automatically accept whatever they had to say at face value and without comment and getting a tad upset at the challenge. I'm not sure whether or not either approach was particularly effective. I do know that Christianity in all of its forms is certainly not dying in the UK. Rather, perhaps it is shifting and changing. As the C of E withers into discussions, often byzantine e.g. 'saving the organ' at a local level, or the obsessions with women Vicars and gay marriage at a national level, there are other, younger and confident denominations that are taking its place. So I don't buy this baloney about the Christian Church dying in the UK. It is merely a matter of change.
*mythology about Islam aside- I doubt that the majority of the English would ever be truly comfortable ever adopting that religion, although I accept it will be a large minority of the population in years to come, which brings problems and issues as well.