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Dec. 29th, 2005 | 05:05 pm
posted by: rubberband45 in _discussion

So, the other day Mitch Albom, who's an author and journalist wrote a column that praised all the little religious people for doing their jobs. You know, like the small town rabbies and priests who don't get showered with attention.

You can read the column here: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051225/OPINION01/512250327/1082

In this coumn he told a story that a rabbi he knew told him. This story is supposed to be a metaphor for the rabbi's job. The story is:

"There's a door-to-door salesman. And he had one customer who never wanted to buy anything. "Maybe tomorrow," the salesman would politely say.

But every day he came back, the customer got angrier and angrier. "I don't want anything. Don't come back!" But the salesman always smiled and said, "Maybe tomorrow."

Finally, one day, the customer got so mad, he spit in the face of the salesman.

The salesman wiped the spit from his cheek, looked up in the sky and said, "Hmm. It must be raining."

This story is intended to be seen as some sort of insparational tale of a courageous guy who's doing his best to help humanity in the face of hopelessness.  But that's not what this guy's doing at all. He's just being an asshole. Him going around annoying people doesn't help anyone. It just wastes his time and pisses them off. He's contributing nothing to society and is just feeding off the rudeness of others to make himself feel noble.

For _discussion, is Mitch Albom an idiot?</span>

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Comments {121}

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from: b0rn_lucky
date: Dec. 29th, 2005 11:12 pm (UTC)
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Yes. I don't like this story- it gives the impression of a fool trying to force his religion on unwanting ears. And then like, smiling and shaking his head when they refuse his religion, as if thinking "poor fools- need to be Saved". Maybe that IS what this rabbi is like, in any case it's a very bad reflection on him.

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from: oxnardbrian
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 01:52 am (UTC)
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I don't like the question of him being an idiot based solely on this one colorful allegory that may be out of place. But, it definitely isn't a "heartwarming" or "inspiring" or even "realistic parallel" between Rabbis and the allegorical salesman.

The Jews, however, are a very resilient people, and I think this the most important thing that he is trying to get across. Here's a for-instance:

Presume clergymen of all denominations are going to be knocking at someone's door until the owner has been converted to their faith. The Jew will continue his trek despite adversity, including being spat upon.

This version makes it more universal -- if it is said that everyone is proselytizing, it is more palatable. People of religious faiths tend to want others to believe what they do, or at least hear their perspective on life. And being spat upon is nothing compared to what Jews have encountered across the years. ;) Why else would they kvetch? ;)

But, Rabbis are known for discussion -- and they are some of the most rational ones at it.

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An Experiment in Isolation

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from: i_am_pellucid
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 03:26 am (UTC)
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Good points.

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An Experiment in Isolation

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from: i_am_pellucid
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 03:26 am (UTC)
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Sometimes what you're selling really is good for people, and sometimes people are too stubborn or stupid to realize it.

I consistently attempted to sell people programs at my place of work which only saved them money, but people were so turned off by the idea of the sales pitch that they didn't listen. Sometimes they could have saved $5 or more but just refused because they didn't want to be sold anything.

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oblyvia

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from: oblyvia
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 08:24 pm (UTC)
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Or maybe the 5$ was less important to them than it is to you? Or maybe they didn't want more programs? Or maybe they simply felt their finances were none of your business? Or maybe they feel their quiet time is worth more than 5$? How can you call them stupid and stubborn simply for disagreeing with you? That is what makes people hate religion--that exact attitude.

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from: texan_girl
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 04:43 am (UTC)
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Rabbi is highly symbolic. Modern consuming society couldn't care less for ever-lacking values, such as kindness, wisdom, etc. The rabbi, though, possesses such virtues. It seems to me that the rabbi "sells" them for free but sometimes there's nobody to buy it, even to get it for free. Being offered something by the rabbi, people get mad because things he offers aren't materialistic. He sells things one cannot see, but there is no doubt you can feel them.
I'm not saying that's the only right interpretation of the story, but to me its seems shallow to call the rabbi "an asshole". Calling him that, you automatically become that guy who always got mad. BUt hey, does anger help you deal with tough issues?

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(no subject)

from: rubberband45
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 05:41 am (UTC)
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There people aren't pissed because he's not selling materialistic things. They're pissed because he's annoying them.

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Nova Usagi

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from: nova_usagi
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 05:01 am (UTC)
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Like two other people have mentioned, you interpreted that story wrong.

Another very literal example would be Jehovah's Witnesses. They go door to door, right. But do you know what the chance them converting anyone to their religion is here in the States? 0.1%. They know this, yet they keep doing it. Why? Because they believe that it's their mission, and they believe that as a Jehovah's Witness, they are obligated to try to inform others of what they believe is the right path. They believe that their path of faith is correct and they're trying to help other people get on what they believe is the right path. People can be so nasty to them as well. But they're supposed to shrug it off, not take it personally and continue on.

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(no subject)

from: rubberband45
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 05:28 am (UTC)
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And what I'm saying is that that's dumb.

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(no subject)

from: root_fu
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 10:51 am (UTC)
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There's a door-to-door salesman. And he had one customer...

If the dood was a customer, then wasn't he just doing his job?

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dysfunction junction

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from: entropicflux
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 10:35 pm (UTC)
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yeah, but his job was to be a jerk!

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dysfunction junction

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from: entropicflux
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 04:12 pm (UTC)
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i don't know if he's an idiot persay, but that's a pretty shitty story. it's pretty much why the world hates jehovahs witnesses and mormons, that whole door-to-door salesman attitude.

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(no subject)

from: root_fu
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 07:08 pm (UTC)
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This part of the article was interesting:

"I think of some of the clerics I've had a chance to meet or work with. Many have been at weddings and funerals. But some have been at shelters, dishing out food. Some have swung hammers, building homes for the less fortunate. Some have counseled young soldiers off to war.

If I had to pick one trait that was present in all of these men and women, it would be calmness. A certain serenity that they were doing something that mattered. That can't be easy when people so often, metaphysically, spit in your face, ignore God, ignore ritual.

So on this nontraditional column day, I'd like to thank the group that serves between God and man. Perhaps for a few hours today, they can feel what the world might be like if we paid more attention to the good lessons they try to share."

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oblyvia

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from: oblyvia
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 08:15 pm (UTC)
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I think this story shows that kindness is relative. I, for one, do not see the kindness in bugging me everyday to convert to a religion I dont want.

The story is not being read wrong, it is being taken for what it is.

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dysfunction junction

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from: entropicflux
date: Dec. 30th, 2005 10:35 pm (UTC)
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a-fucking-greed.

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cornered_buddha

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from: cornered_buddah
date: Dec. 31st, 2005 04:10 am (UTC)
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I guess I spit in the wind. It makes sort of a mess, nothing a good hanky can't wipe off.

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gssq

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from: gssq
date: Dec. 31st, 2005 03:20 pm (UTC)
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I wonder if court protection orders can be taken out on those who harass others so.

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