06 August 2006

God on the Upper West Side

When I lived in the 70s, the proselytizers I ran into were mostly Jews for Jesus around the Christian holidays, and Lubavitchers in Mitzvah tanks around the Jewish ones. It made a sort of sense. There are a lot of secular Jews in that neighborhood; both sides probably thought a few were ready to be turned in their direction.

In the 90s, there are a lot of orthodox Jews, so neither of these groups probably think it's worth working here. What we do have are Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. The former are invariably middle-aged black women who speak Spanish. The latter, pairs of young white men in suits.

As I came out of the bagel store on Broadway this morning, there were two Mormons, bibles in hand, waiting on the sidewalk. I wasn't trying or not trying to avoid them, but as I passed, one said to the other, "nah," and I assumed they had decided not to pick on me.

Maybe they were just deciding not to go into the bagel store for a coffee, though, because they followed me across the street, to Starbucks. As we crossed, a man stopped at the light said to them, not meanly, "God is dead."

Outgoing atheists are another thing we have in my neighborhood, apparently.


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