It is always said that you can not argue with a zealot. No matter what you say, no matter how you phrase things, if you say anything contrary to their world view you are instantly outside, and its doubtful that you'll ever get back on the inside. You'll forever be an outcast. Religion is one of the most divisive. I knew that at some point Jessi and I would have it out about Faith. The fact is that I was hoping to avoid the . . . discussion, for as long as possible. Unfortunately she delivered to me an ultimatum. If there is one thing that will get me hot under the collar it is being dictated to. In that sense perhaps I inherited too much of the old Irish spirit.
Whatever the case she said quite clearly and plainly, "I'm going to the Congo on a missions trip in 2010, you're either ok with it or we need to re think this". I can not begin to tell you how absolutely flabbergasted I got. How outrageously angry I got. My problems with this are many but I'll try to stay with just a few.
1). The Congo, such as it is, is no place for missionaries of any type. It is a violent turbulent region, due in part by the influence of European and Asian influences. Lets face it, pretty much anywhere you have Islam and Christianity together (with Judaism somewhat included in there) they're pretty much guaranteed to fight. And the undue influence of colonial European powers on Africa have left it in a state of near constant civil war. The sad truth is that the Eruo-Asain conflict of ideology, and the theocracies involved are being fought out in Africa, where nobody actually cares who wins, gets killed or how many times "ethnic cleansing" (see GENOCIDE) takes place.
2). she has neither the training, nor the mindset for either A). an active war zone or B). a survival situation. While it is true that people can be resilient, modern miracles are few and far between. and "being ok with dying" shows a complete ignorance of just how truly terrible death is, and can be. Were her group to be taken hostage she, as a white woman, and a good looking one at that, would be tortured and rapped, if she were lucky, she would die shortly after that, but seeing as white women are a comidity in the black market slave trade, chances are she'd see only the darkest side of humanity until that death came. learning what plants to eat and which ones not to, for certain regions takes months and lets face it, the Congo is crawling with things that will leave you in a bad way. were she to become separated from the group I doubt very highly that she'd have the knowledge to survive and forage.
3). She is going for the purpose of spreading religion. While I personally believe the spread of Islam has become problematic in recent years, the simple fact is that the spread of a sort of Christianity should also be taken with a grain of salt. Conversion is a strange and tricky business. If one is not careful, one will force people into things, and faith, is one of those things you just can't force! aside from the resentment you eventually engender, you lay down a host of new problems. Not the least of which is that the message you spread has a life of its own once it leaves your lips. The easiest way to put this is "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"
But perhaps the worst part is this was my girlfriend talking about doing something I wouldn't do with anything less than a rifle company. Worse the more blindly Reassuring about her Ecuador trip she got the more visceral my reaction got. How the hell am I supposed to feel about the GOD DAMM CONGO? It put me into turmoil and anger. Not even a week before our planned weekend in Chicago. Meet my mom, spent time together, yadda yadda.
I think the thing that scared me most is that when we got to talking about when we really talked about it, I realized that she was a fanatic! She doesn't chant to the tune of the Imam, her tone of voice was the same. That almost unreal joy at her faith really disturbs me. Is it because of mom? Or is it because of the Insurgents? I don't know but a person without Doubt really REALLY scares me! Worse, she would propagate the same willful ignorance in whatever children we might of had, and taught them a narrow view of the world that, sadly, would make it all to easy for them to go along with whatever the Church, State, or whomever else. Nothing scares me more than willful ignorance.
I tried (futilely) to explain that Islam and Christianity worshiped the same god, and that "allah" is not a different entity, but really just the Arabic word for "god". Big Mistake. Apparently she and I do not worship the same God. I later, trying to be clever about it, said "I never knew Christianity was a multiple choice religion". Simply put things ended there. I apparently don't have strong enough faith to be her man. So I got dropped like a bad habit.
My thoughts and feelings on Religion are. . .complicated. As am I. I was willing to change my wardrobe, my outlook on a lot of the shallower things in life, and really pretty much everything. If she'd been patient, I would have changed a lot for her. But the one thing I wouldn't couldn't change was my faith. Some one said and I don't know who "we walk by faith" and I certainly had to.
In Iraq (ironically pretty much "bible town") if you don't have some kind of faith, the doubt, fear and uncertainty will eat you alive. If I wasn't devout in my belief that God had a plan for me, then I would have been [more of] a wreck. The simple fact is that I really do love Jessi. I really do want to marry her, and I really do want to spend the rest of my life with her, but I can't change who I am. No matter what anyone else tells me my mom was right in one thing: I will regret letting her go.