The following is an imaginary Monday-morning "water-cooler" conversation between two hypothetical coworkers: "Fred" and "John".
Fred: So, how was your weekend, John?
John: Great; I had a wonderful time at my parents' house on Sunday.
Fred: You visit your parents? I never thought you would be into organized visitation.
John: (Puzzled) "Organized visitation"? What's that?
Fred: You know, visiting your parents on Sunday. I never visit my father; I figure I can call him on my cell phone any time I want, no matter where I am: the park, my backyard...wherever!
John: Well, I call my parents pretty often too, but they also appreciate my visits and I enjoy going over their house. Don't you think your father would like for you to go to see him?
Fred: Well, I don't see why organized visitation is necessary when I can call Dad from anywhere whenever the mood strikes me.
John: What about your mother? Sorry . . . is she alive, does she live with your father?
Fred: Yeah, she's still alive and lives with Dad, but I don't need her as long as I have Dad.
John: (Incredulously) You don't need your mother as long as you have your father?
Fred: (Emphatically) Yeah!
John: (Pause) Well . . . what about the rest of your family; do you ever visit them?
Fred: No. My brothers and sisters visit Dad every Sunday but they're a bunch of hypocrites. They only go there because they want to get an inheritance from him when he dies.
John: (Incredulously) Are you sure that's why they go there?
Fred: (Confidently) Well yeah; everyone who visits their parents only does it to get the inheritance.
John: Well, I'm not so sure about that. But I'm curious: are you saying you don't care about getting the inheritance yourself?
Fred: Oh, I'm sure I'll get it; I'm his son, after all. I just don't see why I have to visit him in order to get it.
John: Well, why don't you just visit him because you love him, and because he is family and it's nice for the whole family to get together once in a while?
Fred: Oh I love him; I just don't want to get involved in that organized visitation garbage. I don't need to visit him as long as I can call.
John: You keep saying "I don't want" and "I don't need". What about your father; what does he want?
Fred: Well, . . . I don't think he really cares about organized visitation either. He knows I love him, I don't have to visit him like a hypocrite in order to love or talk to him.
John: You honestly believe he doesn't want you to ever visit him? To have the whole family together every once in a while?
Fred: No, like I said, only hypocrites visit their parents.
John: I think you may be judging your brothers and sisters too harshly. I suppose some people might only stay in touch with their parents because of an inheritance, but I think most people visit them because they love them and want to see them and the rest of their relatives.
Fred: (Defensively) I love my father!
John: But you don't want to spend time with him in person - not just over the phone. And your attitude toward your siblings puzzles me; you keep accusing them of the worst possible motives for doing something which, as far as I can see, is good and natural! There's nothing wrong with visiting ones parents, or getting together as a family with ones brothers and sisters. And I'm sure your father would love to see you, have you ever asked him?
Fred: Not really . . . I just assumed he didn't care about that kind of thing.
John: Has he ever told you so on the phone?
Fred: Well, no; I seem to do most of the talking. Dad doesn't say much.
John: Then does he ever write you letters?
Fred: Oh I don't read the letters he allegedly sends me. I think they're all forged by someone else. Besides, I don't need letters when I can talk to him directly.
John: (Pause) Sounds like your phone calls, and your entire relationship with your father, is mostly a one-way conversation.
Fred: Yeah, I guess so.
John: Look, there was a time when I didn't go visit my parents either. But one day they wrote in a letter that they wanted me to go see them. So ever since then I've visited them regularly, and have a wonderful relationship with them, and with my siblings as well. Now, I know I would not have such a great relationship with them if it were only limited to a few phone calls!
Don't let your personal prejudices and feelings get in the way of a deeper relationship with your father. Talking to him on the phone is good, but nothing can beat visiting him. Think of what you're missing; the time you could be spending in his presence, and in the company of your brothers and sisters. Maybe you should see them and really get to know them rather than judging them from afar. You might even find them quite sincere and likeable. Ultimately it's your choice, so just think about it.
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