Thursday, November 16, 2006

Interfaith



The other day I went to a concert at the National Washington Hebrew Congregation in DC. Its a concert they hold every year where groups from different faiths perform music in their cultural or religious tradition. There were traditional Buddhist dancers, gospel choirs, Zulu choir, Baha'i, Sikhs, traditional Kirtan, Temper Chai, and a Muslim rap group.

I volunteered to be one of the run crew- meaning that during the show (which is being recorded) I help put the mics in place, time the performances, make sure the performers enter on time, etc. I have never done this kind of work before, but since I used to be a set painter for theaters they assumed I would know what I was doing and insisted that this should be my job. right.

Actually, it turned out fine. Though, it was a fly-by-the-seat of your pants kind of thing and the sound system wasn't the greatest.

The rest of the run crew I worked with were Mormon. I don't know why all the Mormons happened to be on run crew- because they seemed to be the only Mormons there in the building (some 3,000 people were there).

I don't go to church on a regular basis, and I don't adhere to any particular religion. I feel that spirituality for me is a very individual thing and I haven't found any one religion that suits me... Though I was raised non-denominational Christian, so I culturally identify with this.

One of the Mormon's asked everybody in the group "So, what church do you belong to?" Everyone said LDS, and I quickly said (because I didn't want to open up an invitation for him to try to convert me) "I'm non-denominational Christian, but I haven't found a church in DC yet because I just moved here." Then I quickly changed the subject by asking a question about one of the sound Q's.

So the concert goes on somewhat smoothly, and ends. It was actually quite a moving event. At the end, all of the performers got up on stage and sang a few songs together. It was quite a sight to see Muslims, Baptists, Mormons, Buddhists, Sikhs, Protestants, and Hindus all singing together.

So then its time to say my "goodbye's, nice to meet you's" to my Mormon run crew friends...

The same guy who asked what church I belonged to leaned over and said to me as I was leaving, "You know... you should come be a part of the Mormon church. The Mormon's have the answers to ALL of life's questions. They really do!!!" I am not exageratting. That is what he said, verbatim.

Hmmm.... didn't I just tell him that I was non-denominational Christian? Wouldn't that disqualify me from being a prime candidate for being a Mormon convert? Shouldn't he just have left me and my assumed religion alone? Shouldn't he have held back any urge to advertise his religion since we were at a inter-religious event? What did he think this was, a free for all? Did he come to this thing just so he could try to convert all the good ol' fashioned Christians, Hindu's, Muslims, Sikhs, etc to Mormonism? I found it very offensive that he said this to me.

Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough to come up with a good response. I just smiled and said "It was nice to meet you, have a nice evening."

Damn I wish I would have said something smart that would have stopped him in his tracks and made him feel foolish for saying that. It was entirely inappropriate.

I could have just been very direct and succinct by saying, "This is an interfaith event, please don't bring your agenda to events like this."

2 comments:

Mom said...

Anna-O,
Your response to the Morman was "just right." Without creating a scene, you definitely let him know it was none of his business and that you weren't interested. Your right....this was not the right environment for the subject.
You actually did do some quick thinking with your answer.

Mom said...

The event must have been very interesting with so many various backgrounds. Wish I could have been there to see you "fly by the seat of your pants." :-)

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