Strange experience at the backyard party yesterday as it was winding down. Our friends who host the party every year are active in their church (Presbyterian), and many of their invitees are fellow church members. But they mix well with those of us who are not, whose connection with the hosts is through other interests, mostly fantasy literature. In fact my friendship with the husband was originally cemented when we took a class on medieval history at university together.
What I'm saying is that the fact that most of the attendees are Christian doesn't mean that Christianity as a topic dominates the conversation. But this day ...
Most of us remaining were seated in a circle on the back porch. A man I'd seen around here before, with a slight I think Russian accent, plopped himself down in an empty space. He started talking about how wonderful it was that we were all friends of the hosts and each other ... and then he started talking about how we should all also be friends of Jesus.
Even the two other Christians in the circle looked embarrassed, and declined his invitation to speak about what the friendship of Jesus meant to them. Then, after having elicited everyone else's religious identity, he rounded on the one person who identified herself as an open agnostic. "Why don't you let Jesus be your friend?" he demanded. "Don't you ever use your mind?"
That was a bit much for me. I get rather tired of the professional atheists who presume that anyone who uses their mind would be an atheist just like them, and getting the same nonsense from the other side was equally ripe. And I said so, as mildly as I could. Then I added that there's a word in English called "proselytizing" and it referred to something that was to be avoided.
Good thing he didn't get to me and try to make me a friend of Jesus. I would probably have declined by reciting the Sh'ma.
After that we hurriedly broke up. I've told evangelicals this before: you'll win more friends by demonstrating that you practice a religion of love than by browbeating unbelievers.