I had thought that my unpleasant memories of the Campus Crusade for the nice Jewish Boy Frequently Mistaken for Deity were more or less just manifestations of my generally unhappy year trying to fit in at a new university. Turns out my memory is pretty much fine.
I've had two groups come to my house so far this afternoon. They're all from the Campus Crusade and I can see that there are at least two other groups of them out there. Each group of 3 to 4 teenagers is carrying some paperwork and a large package of some sort wrapped in plain brown paper and taped up well. They ring the doorbell or knock and say, "Hi, we're from the Campus Crusade. We're looking for families in need so we can give them this package of non-perishable food for their New Year dinner."
This is so very many degrees of fucking stupid I can't even count them. I want to grab these kids and shake them.
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA, I will shout at them, HOW FUCKING INSULTING AND STUPID YOU ARE?
Who would ever accept the package (which, btw, is sealed up well enough that you can't quite tell what's in it and the shape suggests it's not cans) offered when it's phrased like that? You'd have to be homeless or nearly so not to take some degree of offense at it. Add to that the clear religiosity of it, and it adds up to bad proselytizing.
I'm certain these kids mean well. I'm certain they are doing this because just donating doesn't feel personal enough, even donating actual food. They wanted to see the people they were helping, to know that their work was having a direct effect, and possibly to spread their religious beliefs as well.
The trouble is, they're making fools of themselves and no one (including me) has the nerve to call them on it. I don't know about anyone else but if you're like me it's because you were raised to spare other people needless embarrassment.
And this, I'm afraid, may be at the root of the aggressive behavior many of the more pushy Christian groups demonstrate. No one ever told them how stupid they come across as. And, as time went by, the attitude became their idea of proper conduct.
If another pack of CCC's shows up at my door with their suspicious looking package, I'm going to try. I'm going to really, really try to point out their mistake. I'm going to give them a list of places that would happily take the packages off their hands and distribute the food to those who need it, without the inadvertent sneer. And if I can do it, maybe, just maybe, at least one person will come away knowing that his or her behavior can reflect the good their religion instills in them, without making it into something obnoxious and nasty. Maybe, just maybe, one of these teen-agers will figure out that tolerance doesn't mean being polite to anyone who doesn't disagree with them too much, but means accepting that there is good in everyone.
I suspect, though, that the kids have already pointed out my house and said that they've spoken to me and I don't want their brown paper wrapped packages of charity.