Saturday, March 6, 2010

Student Missionary

A student came to ask me if he can miss a week of classes because he is going to the beach. But not to have fun (which I would have totally understood and encouraged even in this very weak student). Rather, he is going to "approach people on the beach to talk to them about God." Of course, I let him go and allowed him to write a midterm we will have that week after he comes back from his missionary activities. Far be it from me to prevent students from doing whatever it is they feel they need to do at any given moment in their lives.

Still, I had to wonder, what makes young, energetic, fairly intelligent people want to participate in this kind of activity? Why would they go to the beach not to swim, play, flirt, sunbathe, dance, and drink, but to bother people with religious conversations? I'm going for my spring break to the same area where this student will be proselytizing and I cannot imagine how annoying it will be to be approached by somebody who wants to discuss God in such an inappropriate setting. What is it that these young missionaries are getting from bothering unsuspecting sunbathers and making themselves look ridiculous?

I hope nobody tries to convert me to any religion while I'm on the beach. I think I'll take my Star of David with me to protect myself from unwanted proselytization efforts.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...
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tinceiri said...

lol

Izgad said...

Are you familiar with Kevin Roose’s Unlikely Disciple? The book is about him spending a semester at Liberty University in an attempt to understand Evangelical Christianity. There is a great chapter there on missionizing during spring break. One has to keep in mind that the real reason for missionaries is not to convert people. Cold calls do not work in business and they certainly do not work in religion. Putting kids on the street to talk about their religion forces them to actively identify with it. In essence they are there to convert themselves.

Clarissa said...

Izgad: that's a really profound interpretation of their motives. I have to confess that I haven't thought about it like that. Your input is highly appreciated.

Izgad said...

The Mormons actually once did a study on the effectiveness of their own missionaries. What they found, just going based on the numbers, was that stopping random people on the street was worthless. While people were unlikely to convert to Mormonism and stay Mormon if stopped by a missionary on the street, there was remarkable success if the person agreed to meet with a Mormon missionary in the home of a Mormon friend.

Anonymous said...
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Clarissa said...

Izgad: wow, religious conversions do seem to share a lot with the world of sales. :-)

Joy-Mari Cloete said...

Clarissa, I actually met a missionary some weeks ago! It was the weirdest experience ever. What makes it worse is that I would've been attracted to him had I not known he's a missionary.

I guess most of us just want to do what's 'right', and for this guy, it's to convert people to his god. Sigh. It's such a pity those beach goers have to put up with his proselytisation efforts.

Clarissa said...

This particular student would have benefitted a lot more from dedicating his time to going over the Imperfect Subjunctive. In the long term, this would allow him to convert Spanish-speaking people as well. :-) :-)