WHAT A SHOCK! – Marilyn Armstrong

You think you know someone. You hang out with them, exchange emails, jokes, and anecdotes. Maybe you even work with them. Then, one day, out of the blue, you discover they are fundamentalist Christians who believe you are going to Hell or are a hard-core right-wing Trumpist, conspiracy theorist, or believer in the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

I lived in Jerusalem for almost 9 years. You meet a lot of people who are sure they are Jesus Christ come back to finish his work on Earth. One of them worked at the local pizza joint and seemed perfectly normal, until in the middle of a casual conversation, he would drop a bomb about his mission and there you were, transported to wacko central.

I had a casual friend who was a piano player. He sang and played at fancy hotel lounges, like the Hilton Hotel lounge. He was, like me, an American, so it was inevitable we would meet. We struck up a little chatty relationship. One night, he called and invited me over. He had something important to tell me.

Important? Our relationship consisted of reminiscing about life in the U.S. in the 1960s — and I’d done his horoscope. I was (coincidentally) the astrology columnist and managing editor of a short-lived English-language weekly. Please, let’s not discuss astrology or my psychic abilities (or lack thereof). You don’t want to know and I don’t want to tell you.

Having nothing better to do at the time, I walked over to his house (just around the corner) and we got to talking. Suddenly, I knew. He was going to tell me one of two things: he was an alien and came from on another planet or galaxy … or … he was Jesus Christ.

edward-gorey-donald-imagined-thingsIt was the latter. Another Jesus. He wanted me, because of my brilliant psychic abilities, to be Paul and spread the word. I worked very hard to tell him that his timing was off and I would be sure to advise him when the right moment arrived. Then I fled into the night and home. He was one of several people who convinced me there was no future for me in the psychically predictive arts.

Then there was the guy I worked with at one or another of the many high-tech companies at which I was employed who one day informed me of his intention to quit his job and move to an underground bunker in anticipation of the coming apocalypse. I hadn’t even done his horoscope.

Not surprisingly, a series of these unwelcome surprises has made more than slightly wary of prospective friends. I’m afraid of what will be revealed as we get to know each other better.

The thing about people who believe in cabals, believe they were dropped from an alien spacecraft (or will be leaving on one shortly), are certain that God has assigned them a mission … ? You can’t argue with them.

You can’t point out the incongruities and contradictions of their beliefs. They believe what they believe and that’s that. There’s no point in offering facts. They will ignore all evidence that goes against their world-view.

These folks make me nervous. What happens when they (inevitably) decide I am one of their (many) enemies?

Categories: Anecdote, Humor, Israel, Jerusalem, Sci Fi - Fantasy - Time Travel

Tags: , , , , , , ,

41 replies

  1. I have an old friend who has developed into a Trumpster. I hate to talk with him anymore. The conversation inevitably goes off the rails. You know, COVID-19 is just like any other flu. We need to open the economy. He wears a mask into certain businesses because he has to but it is stupid. And the inevitable: things would have been no better under Obama, or it would have been worse under Obama. That is when the call ends because I say I don’t feel well and have to go lay down.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the Life of Brian clip! I love it!


  3. I did meet some Trump supporters (who volunteered this information without being asked) in Israel, but never these other wackos…I guess it’s good thing I didn’t know that Jerusalem was teeming with them at the time. However, they are a bit like avid Trump supporters.


  4. I’ve never had such an experience. But then, I don’t have any friends. (joke)
    Just once though wouldn’t you like it to be true?
    But it never will be.


  5. I’ve never known anyone who claimed to be the second coming of Jesus, but I have met people who believe that Jesus is literally inside of them or is walking next to them. Fortunately, I have yet to meet anyone who claims to be an extraterrestrial life form.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t met any Jesuses (Jesii?) but I’ve often had to ban/block/cut off formerly normal sounding people who suddenly start ranting about the Illuminati, chemtrails or pedophile rings. Increasingly in the past few years I’ve had friends, or usually acquaintances, who suddenly become acolytes of Jordan Peterson or Milo Yiannopolous or other alt-right Nazis. And don’t even talk to me about all the climate deniers I’ve encountered.


    • For me. It was typically a work colleague or a friend of a friend who seemed perfectly normal until one day, I discover he has a thousand guns stores in an underground zombie apocalypse hideaway. In Jerusalem, it tended to be the new Jesus, but Jerusalem has that effect on people. I know my close friends. They may be unique and oddball, but they aren’t nut jobs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh God, yes. Everyone goes through a political “plague on both your houses” phase when they’re a teenager but if they’re still on it after age 20 they’re probably Libertarians, which are usually crypto-fascists. The problem is those people do vote, usually for some slimeball conspiracy nutter who’s even crazier and has usually committed more sexual assaults than the main candidates.

        Liked by 1 person

        • She actually hates Trump, but she’s also living in Utah. That’s a hard place to be liberal, but she is. She just doesn’t trust anyone — especially not the government — and maybe she has her reasons. I haven’t lived her life.

          But then there are people like my granddaughter who I hope will decide THIS year that the election has something to do with her. Last time, she thought everything was someone else’s problem.

          They are not necessarily crypto-anything, but they are apathetic. They don’t read books and they don’t watch the news. They don’t know what is true and what isn’t and they don’t WANT to know. Maybe it’s the educational system. I don’t get it. My granddaughter was certainly brought up in a household where news was a big deal. In fact, she grew UP watching Garry give news on the air.

          I think she feels SHE isn’t important enough to matter, but honestly, I don’t know.


      • The sad, and surprising thing is you often find these people to be otherwise very intelligent.., except for that one loose screw.


  7. Your experience in Jerusalem is a bit different from mine, but enough alike that I can easily imagine myself in your shoes. I’ve know a few over the 50 years of ministry. I always wanted to run for the hills, but couldn’t. I was there pastor! It’s so nice to be retired!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Even as a casual friend, you can’t just leap up and run. The “I’m going to be Jesus” people are mostly (usually) kindly-intentioned and in need of better medication, but the guy with 1000 AR-15s in the basement makes me want to wear body armor to work. It really IS good to be retired.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Marilyn, Here and there we are — you in MA and I in MN –in different states with the same state of mind, sitting at the keyboard wondering if there anything anything that might fill that blank page is worth a plug nickel.

        Increasingly, I have the sense that mine is like that — just more yada-yada-yada by an old pastor who confuses the keyboard with a pulpit and www with a congregation.

        This morning I turned back the clock to Cornel West’s “Race Matters” (1994). What he wrote in “Nihilism in Black America” now applies to all of us: “the lived experience of coping with a life of horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness, and (most important) lovelessness.” “The frightening result is a numbing detachment from others and a self-destructive disposition toward the world. Life without meaning, hope, and love breeds a COLDHEARTED, MEAN-SPIRITED OUTLOOK THAT DESTROYS BOTH THE INDIVIDUAL AND OTHERS.” Sometimes, if Mary Trump has it right, this Nihilism tweets at all hours of the night.


  8. I think you handled the situation well Marilyn.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. OMG; you MUST exude a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ or you just couldn’t be alluring to so many different species of weirdos…. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. BEWARE. There are lots of ‘dafties’ around. Do not feed them any scraps or get too friendly with any of them. Somehow, I think you will be OK.


    • I tend to block them if it’s email and fortunately, this is a small town. If you want to meet the real crazies, Boston is the city for it. I think living in cities makes people even crazier. Like too many rats locked in a cage.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve met my share of both kinds. The “I’m from outer space” and the biggest conspiracy theory nut (bad choice of words) was when I spent time in the psych ward. I suppose you kind of expect to find those people in there. I just hope I’m not one of either sort. I try to put “my opinion” or “as I see it” sprinkled liberally throughout any one sided ranting I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You’ve met very interesting people. I haven’t had a run in with either sort. But you’re right, better stay away from them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really didn’t think he was a nutter. He had written “The Elephant Joke Book” when he was 14. He was from New York, like me, and he had a job which was playing piano and singing at the Hilton Hotel lounge. So I had no reason to expect him to be one of the wackos.

      One guy was a coworker, another tech writer and HE was the one with the arsenal in his basement.

      I didn’t go and seek them out. They were right there, waiting for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. that happened to me too –


  14. Marilyn, you have a great voice, great story, sounds all true, as said, there are many impostors in the world, as could be said about many politicians, hope the birds are getting their daily dish, keep well, may the light inside you continue to burn, amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. When you meet people like that, there is only one course of action…….madly run in the other direction.


  16. wow! you certainly seems to have a magnetism to these people. I now hold back from over zealous potential friendships, to wait until I know more about people. Usually I can tell at first meeting if it’s a like! But occasionally I’m wrong.With one particular friend it took me some years to decide to distance myself from their (Self) opinions and beliefs. I never try to convert people or let them try to convert me away from my beliefs, but always happy to hear other points of view.Good post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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