A Cost-Benefit Analysis

I opened the door to 2 smartly dressed men in suits, the younger one standing behind the older. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses the older one said, and they were both smiling. These were very friendly men. They handed me their pamphlet, an invitation to a question and answer session at their church. I would be helped with questions I might have about God and Christ and Heaven. I listened and then I asked them:

“Gentlemen, do you know what a cost-benefit analysis is?”

They nodded. Of course they did. These men were wearing suits. These were professional men and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“Gentlemen, it will performed in this way. Will being an active Jehovah’s Witness and believing in its tenents get me into Heaven?”

“It will certainly do that,” said the older man.

“Are Jehovah’s Witnesses required to tithe some amount to their church?”

The older man paused. The younger stopped smiling. “There is no requirement that you give money.”

“But does the church ever receive money from its members?”

“It does. Like most churches,” added the older man.

“And would it also be possible to not be a Jehovah’s Witness and to read the Bible and accept Christ as my savior and also be granted the eternal life? And to do this by studying on my own, without any church?”

The older man paused again. “Yes. I suppose it would be.”

“Then why join your church when at some point I might feel pressure to contribute to it with a portion of my income? Why would I choose to possibly have to pay for eternal life when I could access it without ever having even the thought of paying for it?”

“That is a very cynical view you have,” said the younger man. He did not like this line of questioning at all.

“Furthermore, gentlemen, maybe it is time we rethought the whole idea of worldly payments for an eternity with Christ. Maybe it is time to rethink the idea of physical churches?”

“I think you should come to our meeting,” the older man was smiling again.

I handed his pamphlet back to him. “Who paid for this pamphlet?”

“The church did.”

“I assume by that you mean its membership.”


“Can you guarantee I will never be asked for money or hear about tithing should I become a Jehovah’s Witness?”

“No, we can’t,” interjected the younger man. He had a disgusted look on his face.

“Gentlemen, it appears that this cost-benefit analysis of your religion is complete. I must unfortunately not accept your invitation. There are less costly ways by which I can access Heaven. In fact, I believe I can do it for free, without a single payment. Again, gentlemen, I wish you the best of luck on your recruitment trip and I look forward to meeting up again in Heaven should I choose it as a final destination.”

With that I shut the door and returned to looking at some recently discovered internet porn of a very high quality that I wasn‘t paying for either.


  1. Elder Warren of the CoJCoLDS and I had a little chat the other day as I walked between 16th avenue and Colfax in downtown Denver. I was carrying a value pack of condoms (well, 40 for $20 - but most importantly, the only brand of basic latex rubbers that is worth anything at all - Lifestyles) and some gummi bears. I had just returned from a coffee shop and also had a stack of papers implicating me in an alleged crime. I smiled at him and discussed his mission, and took his business card. This young man was very nice and probably had caught me at a good time, but I still wasn't buying.

  2. You should ask Maximin about the time we had with those Mormon lads in Philadelphia. We invited the boys in, showed them nudie pictures, drank beer, wore our funny ties, and made up a truly wonderful prayer which we gave while all of us held hands. We pledged ourselves to the secret which is no secret and the great tragic indeterminacy which hovers just beyond the horizon. The one Mormon was not such a good sport about it and stormed out. The other held out hope for us. That seems to be how they get paired up: the hothead with the hopeful optimist. Elder Warren was most likely the hopeful optimist type. He would have to have been given the sins you were carrying down 16th and Colfax.

  3. This is such good literature, the first thing I did was share it with someone (my old room mate, who was enamored by it) by reading it out loud. THEN, I commented. That it what you do when read something like this. The poem in the comment section is also the best poem ever written by a famous disciple of Chiam Potok.


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