A Situation in a Coffee Shop: The Bible versus The Tao

ImageSo I went to this coffee shop this morning, ordered my latte and bagel, sat down at the only table that was open, and pulled out my copy of the Tao Te Ching. A few minutes in, I start to notice the two groups of people I’m sitting between getting a little loud. I look up from my book and see one of the groups staring at me. I shrug, go back to reading and brush it off.

Then I notice the staring group’s topic of interest. They’re a prayer group. So is the other group, but they can’t see my book. One of the people from the staring group finally leans over and says, “What are you reading there, miss?” I tell him, and he says, “You know that’s one of the Devil’s books, don’t you? You should try this one instead. This book will bring you religious truth, not lies.” And he holds out a little bible.

I look him dead in the eye and I say, “What makes you think I’m reading this in a religious context? I’m reading this book because I want to, not because I want religious guidance. I’ve read the bible before, I was raised on it. I know it and I appreciate its message. So thanks, but no thanks. I’m good.”

This proceeds into the whole group trying to tell me there can be no other reason for reading such a book than for religious guidance, and that I am falling into a trap of Satan. I proceed to ignore them, which doesn’t do a damn thing.

Finally, I’m about to just walk out when this little man from the other prayer group hobbles over and says, “Would you all just shut it? Have any of you even read the Tao before? It is a very wise and spiritually calming book, even if you don’t believe the spiritual context. She’s a nice girl, and all you are going to do is drive her away with your Satan talk. Leave her alone.” He then proceeded not only to apologize for the other group, but invited me to talk with his group about the Tao for a while.

A really bad morning turn into an enlightening discussion and a moment of appreciation and hope.

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9 thoughts on “A Situation in a Coffee Shop: The Bible versus The Tao

  1. Sounds like that was a little intense! I assume you’re in the US, but I just don’t know where – are you in what would be considered “the bible belt”? I don’t need to know the exact place obviously, but it would just give me some context. I live in Northern Ontario, Canada and I can’t imagine a scene like that going down in any coffee shop or restaurant in my city or any city I often visit. As a matter of fact, although I am reading the bible (obviously not in a religious context), I feel too embarrassed to bring it with me to a public place, because I don’t want people to get the impression that I am reading it in a religious context.
    Any who, this ties in with our earlier discussion about devoutly religious people. Their religiosity lead to a point where you almost couldn’t sit down and enjoy a bagel and cup of coffee. THAT’S the reason I am so anti-religion. Are all religious people like that? Of Course not – to the contrary as you’ve discovered. But what we can take from this is that religion CAN AND DOES make people do and say evil, wicked, hateful things – to complete strangers no less! I could see any person reading any book and never in my wildest dreams would it occur to me to say anything to them. Even if I saw someone reading a Kevin Trudeau book, it would never cross my mind to run up to them and tell them that he’s a fraud and a crook and liar.
    The only other question I have is – where was the owner and/or staff during all of this? That kind of thing isn’t good for business and I would have expected someone there to say something to those people, rather than relying on another patron to do that for them. Surely, you can’t be the first person this has happened to? Or maybe it is? But still, those people shouldn’t be under the impression that what they did was ok then and will continue to be ok in the future. I’d complain if I were you – if you haven’t already. You just want to go to the coffee shop and enjoy your bagel without the preaching and threats. The owner should be on board with that. If he/she isn’t, time to find a new coffee shop I guess!

    • You’re not kidding! I’m east coast US, so it’s no wonder something like this would happen out of the blue and wouldn’t be spoken up about by the staff. I have the feeling that those two prayer groups get together there every Thursday morning, so the staff is probably used to the two groups going at each other from time to time. The fact that one group went after a complete stranger, a new customer for the store no less. Honestly, though, everyone has to be careful not to offend anybody down here, it’s obnoxious.

      I have no qualms with reading a religious book in public, as (you know me) I enjoy an interesting discussion on the topic. This wasn’t a discussion, though, it was a conversion attempt, and it was ridiculous. I can say, though, that is was also a very good representation of both good and bad kinds of religious people. The second prayer group that invited me over very politely listened to what I had to say, actually asked me to read a passage from the Tao, and discussed very kindly the parallels and differences between the passage and their own bible. They made no effort to say I was wrong, or that they were more right than I was. They genuinely just wanted to learn from me, and so I was interested in learning from them. Sadly I didn’t have time to sit with them for too long, but the little chat we had was very much worth my time.

    • πŸ™‚ Yeah, who would have thought such a thing would happen to little ol’ me! (insert dripping amounts of sarcasm here)

      I think I may sit and work out a post regarding my interests in Taoism. The more I think about it, the more I find parallels with my way of thinking and Taoism. I’m just programmed from being raised Catholic to refer to god instead of calling it the Tao. XD

      • The thing I love about Taoism is that it’s based on common sense. It’s simple. And yet it allows for any possibility. I mean, who knew one could be accosted in a coffee shop for reading about Satan? *rolls eyes*
        I look forward to your future posts πŸ™‚

  2. Wow, what a stark contrast between obnoxious and tolerance.

    We could use much less of the former and much more of the latter. If all people under the influence of religion, and not just yours RT :)…but all of them, were just a little more evolved, the world would be so much more a better place.

*Insert your thought here*

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