Wednesday, 6 August 2008

an anecdote of great pathos and irony as Grace learns of how her alleged evangelical credentials almost precluded her from getting a job

GRACE is at an appointment with the head of HR at her Place of Future Employment, discussing terms and conditions and various contractual and day-to-day practicalities of her New Job.

HEAD OF HR: ... and we were wondering, Grace, whether it'd be helpful for you to know why we chose you for this position?

GRACE: Um, yes, that'd be encouraging.

HEAD OF HR: Well, it was all in your interpretation of Question 4... you took it to a depth that none of the other candidates had grasped... and with such originality, creativity and confidence. You obviously have quite a mind.

(GRACE opens her mouth to tell HEAD OF HR that she was actually merely applying a method of analysis developed by a certain form of theology, and decides instead graciously to accept the unwarranted compliment.)

GRACE: Thank you. That's kind.

HEAD OF HR: ... though I probably also should be honest and tell you that, of all the candidates shortlisted for interview, you were the one I thought probably least likely to have been chosen.

GRACE: Er, go on.

HEAD OF HR: I mean, your application was outstanding. Not the very best, but impressive, nevertheless, and by the criteria we'd devised, we'd never not have shortlisted you. It's just that, when the form asked for your personal and academic interests, you'd written, I thnk, "theology", "faith communities" and even the Bible... and I can only be honest in telling you that it really made a few of our team quite wary of you. Especially as you've just come from working at a very, ahem, no-I-shouldn't-say-that church.

GRACE: Oh...

HEAD OF HR: Yes, we sort of worried, or were perhaps concerned that you'd maybe use the job - or use the interview even - as an attempt to, maybe, share or impose your religion on us. Which honestly, wouldn't have been appropriate.

(GRACE is very tempted to launch into a bitter tirade about how and why all such Bible bashers hate her. She composes herself, and smiles gently.)

GRACE: That's not really my style.

HEAD OF HR: And in a country as free as ours, you wouldn't need to, would you? Nobody needs to take a job as a pretext for proseltysing. I mean, anyone can stand on street corners or knock on doors and preach.

(GRACE resolves not to tell HEAD OF HR that, many years back, the street corners and doorsteps was exactly what she used to do.)

I mean, my goodness. One minute I'm the devil's spawn to Christians, the next minute I'm some earnest Bible-thumping praise-the-Lord-er to the rest of the world. And to think that I feared discrimination on the grounds of being a bit mental, too. To have been employed on account one's evangelical credentials is obviously far, far worse. Oh dear. Thank God I've actually got a job. Otherwise my future prospects would by now be entirely dead.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I find that people like to pigeonhole others into what recognizable "type" of Christian they are, . . . and if you don't fit the stereotypes or if your past includes what they consider contradictory posittions, they're flummoxed. Sounds like that's a bit of what you're encountering.

grace said...

Good, good point. But still, the strength of their reaction amazed me. Especially as Place of Former Employment has a (largely well deserved) impeccable and beyond-all-suspicion-or-reproach public image as respectable and genuine. What sort of experiences of Christianity or faith or church did the selection panel have to feel such terror at the prospect of me doing a bit of proseltysing at them?

(Next time, I may downplay my theological interests a little, though!)

Anonymous said...

Oh, the irony.

Kate Morningstar said...

I'm glad you got the job. That is funny -- you never know where you're going to run into prejudice.

I found the snake handling interesting too. If they can survive drinking strychnine, I wonder why they're not allowed bourbon.

Grace, in the comments at my place, I left the address to Jesus Wept. One of these days I'll get a blogroll put up. I've been saying so since April. Sigh.

lilwatchergirl said...

I get this a lot. Non-Christians generally don't know that there is any type of Christianity but intense-Bible bashing, and certainly don't have any concept of Christians who are considered less-than-acceptable to other Christians. If I attempt to explain the whole situation, I mostly get met with disbelief. Which rather shows how appalling the whole situation is in our postmodern, equal-opps society...

grace said...

Yes, maybe all of us who are Christians should schedule some regular time devoted to listening to how the rest of the world perceives us... and vise versa! Would be many eye-openers, I think...