While making the 3.4km trek between the train station and my house today, two foreign men stopped me near the park where Nozomi and I often go for our walks. They rode bikes, wore helmets, and spoke heavily accented Japanese. I live in a part of town that has very few foreign residents, let alone people who are caucasian, so when I first saw them I thought they were lost. When they saw that I was not Japanese, they switched to English1 and asked a simple question that triggered a momentary flash of rage: “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour?"
I understand that these people are on a self-assigned “mission from God” to bring as many new people into the fold as they can as a means of earning their place in their version of Heaven. I understand that these people are ultimately harmless and will typically leave a person alone if asked to. What I don’t understand is why anybody thinks that a random person on the street would be willing to pick up a religion they know very little about because somebody asked them if the penultimate prophet of Abraham’s God was in their heart.
Jesus wasn’t a hotdog, and religion is not a passing fancy that we can buy and consume on a whim from every Bob, Rob, and Todd that happens to have a cart full of goods with them.
People who truly seek spiritual enlightenment will do the legwork and, if they’re lucky, find the religion that speaks to them. People who are pulled into a theology after a chance discussion with a stranger on the street are probably just as likely to be pulled into a cult that worships a sleepy-eyed dog of a man who hates shoes. Although, admittedly, there are many people who are more than happy to join an obscure denomination in an attempt to find the belongingness or spiritual enlightenment that so many of us seek throughout our lives.
Have You Accepted Backups as Your Personal Recovery Plan?
If random strangers on the street wish to enquire about my religious affiliation2, I think I will throw a question right back at them. I strongly believe that people in the 21st century should have recent backups of all their data. All of it. From the contents of our laptops to the bits and bytes stored in various cloud services. We never know when catastrophe will strike, and it’s better to be prepared than not. Starting now, if I am interrupted by a person I don’t know for the sole purpose of inquiring about my thoughts on God, I will ask them deeply probing questions about their computing habits.
When was the last time you backed up your computer? Have you ever tested those backups? Do you use any ad-blocking software in the browser to keep your computer devoid of potentially smutty images? Are you aware of how much Facebook and Google know about you? Do you know what corporate and government agencies can do with that information? When was the last time you manually backed up your phone? Have you checked all your USB sticks for unwanted files?
When it comes to this particular topic, I can go on for hours. Most of the religious people I’ve met and interacted with over the last 30 years have never given the safety of their data a second thought … or a first one for that matter. If the salvation of my soul is so important to a stranger then one would think that the salvation of their data should be just as important to me.
Sadly, I think this tactic will do little more than encourage people to try harder to convert me away from my own concepts of enlightenment.