Remember those guys you used to see wandering up and down the main street with sandwich boards on which read "the end of the world is nigh"? You don´t see them much anymore, except as extras in disaster movies. I´ve always been curious about those guys, do they make the boards themselves, do they have a genuine theory about the end of the world, did they once live like everybody else and something in their life turned out wrong skewing their brains a little out of sync and causing them to embark on a life of parading around trying to spread their message to people who are convinced they are mad. What constitutes a good day for someone like that?
It is disappointing to find that they are generally religious and so just another individual in the group madness belting out the same tired old lies about the kingdom of heaven. I can understand some guy who´s endured a difficult life and failed by society standards buying into the idea that he might get another chance, that the next life might offer some glow of hope, but in reality he just wastes what remains of this life spreading a lie. He miserably wanders around amongst people who desperately try to ignore him never stopping to wonder that people might not want to take advice from a guy who spends his whole day as a walking slogan. I mean it is hardly the best advert for becoming religious, and while I´m sure these guys see themselves as missionaries they are the only ones who do.
I´ve only ever seen one guy who fits this description in Edinburgh and he caught my attention one day by handing me a booklet about "Bad Bob" the long haired sinner. Needless to say it was crude church propaganda about how if you smoke, drink, listen to good music, have sex or just generally try to have any fun at all then you will go to hell tomorrow. In "Bad Bob´s" case he fell asleep on a mountain of porn with a lit joint in his hand and burned in hell for eternity.
I was offended by the implication in him handing me this booklet and so I went back and started to argue with the guy. At the time I had long hair and I figured he had made a bunch of assumptions about me on this basis. He was the classic sandwich board wearing, bearded, wrinkly and intellectually bereft born-again Christian. He explained about his life of sin and how finding god had saved him and it could save me too. I pointed out by his logic that I could do whatever I wanted until whenever I felt like it then repent like he had done and still go to heaven, he had no answer for this.
A friend of mine also had a few questions for him about the rules for admission into heaven. One of the rules was that you had to be a Protestant Christian; in fact if you weren´t then you would go to hell. He asked about people born into other cultures who, through no fault of their own, have never been exposed to his particular religion and we were both horrified by the answer that they would go to hell too. This kind of thing always makes me realise how pointless it is to argue with religious freaks, their belief is unsupportable by any evidence at all and if it were true then how could you not think god a spiteful evil being?
This particular guy believed that the building up of sin was going to cause the apocalypse, he had a real thing about what he termed evil thoughts and he claimed any time you had a sexual thought about a woman that you were demeaning her. I find this laughable, I will accept a certain amount of control, as all of us have to, but the idea of policing people´s thoughts makes me sick. I don´t think people can or should censor their thoughts the important point is that you don´t act on inappropriate thoughts, everybody has them.
I always take it as a sign of weakness if someone has to threaten you to try and convince you in an argument and that is exactly what religion does. I have no quarrel with the basic moral code which preaches peace and tolerance and forgiveness but I don't see any of the organised religions as good examples of that code. As for the sandwich board guy, his religious belief has condemned him to a mundane existence and by the time he finds out there is no heaven it will be too late.Return to Top