Thursday, February 19, 2009

Two Questions, or, Heaven Can Be Yours, Inc.

Today I had scheduled a field trip for my composition class, based somewhat on my McDonalds espionage experiment. I gave my students various roles that they were to assume before we went to the Student Union food court to do our field research.

Once we got there, a table had been set up by some religious group, touting that "Two questions" will let you know whether or not you will go to Heaven. Their table was covered with various swag items--CDs, stickers, the usual promotional crap. I set my students loose, letting them know that I'll be checking to see how they're doing. I pass by the table again and this rather aryan-looking kid with a clipboard finds it his business to ask whether I believe I'll be going to Heaven. I look down at his wipeable-laminated poison green questionnaire and see that the possible answers are:
[]I Think So
[]I'm not sure

I try to see what the second question is, but he notices that I'm looking and cradles the clipboard closer, much to the potential detriment of his shirt, considering the marker residue. I never am asked the second question. Before I turn around, I see that one of my more attention-challenged students has been snagged. Five minutes later, she is still there, with the guy on the flipside of the laminated questionnaire (as there are more than two questions, naturally), and he is sweeping his hand over the table of swag. I go up and remind my student that she is here to do research, not to talk. "But I am doing research," she says. I reminded her that one of the strict prohibitions of the project was not to talk to the people in the Union. Notes and observations only. I had to state explicitly that she was there on my time and that she needed to get to what the project required. There were distinctly non-Christian looks from those that ran the table.
Honestly, I find it insulting that three undergraduates behind a folding table claim to have such grand powers to confirm whether or not one will be going to [their] heaven, and combining it with some prefab way of gleaning personal information and email addresses for marketing/proselytizing. I wanted to go back and tell them that explicitly. I was especially irritated that they were targeting my non-eating students in the food court. I patrolled the area with my own clipboard, looking to move the students onward to the seating areas so they could actually get material for decent essays for Tuesday.
And only those that go to Heaven get a sticker.

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