(BTW, I’m adding the video as an afterthought because I thought it was appropriate)
I was just enjoying a warm (OK, towards the hot end…) day in downtown Decatur, GA when I was approached by a woman who looked like she may have been homeless, but after conversation she was just unemployed and struggling to keep afloat. She was asking me if I may be willing to help her out because she wanted to get a burrito. We were, after all, just outside the Raging Burrito, which is a great little place to get some good food and good ales.
In any case, we started talking, and ended up talking for quite a while. She is a Christian, and through conversation I told her I am an atheist, and so we talked a little about religion. The conversation was average, so I won’t bother relating it here, but one thing that stuck me was the fact that this discussion was not unlike what Socrates would have done during his time; talking with people in town about philosophy, religion, whatever. And it struck me to ask her if she had read and Plato in her life. She said she had, but it had been a long time. And I said to her that if I had my copy of the Modern Library (you know, those old cloth-bound books that you see in old used books stores…I love them and have a collection of them on my shelf), I would give it to her since I have a larger collection of all of Plato’s works. I told her about how Socrates would sit with people in Athens and they would talk, sort of like we were, about all sorts of things.
So, then,after a while, I thought that there was this great little used books store a few blocks away, and so I hopped over and bought a copy of the same book (The Works of Plato) that I have on my shelf at home and rushed back to the square to hope to catch her. I found her, sitting outside of Raging Burrito enjoying a soda and handed her the book. See, I believe that books are precious, and to be shared, and the book only cost me $5. She took it, thanked me, and then proceeded to thumb through it. I went off to read my own book (currently reading The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins for the first time–and enjoying it).
When I was done reading the chapter I was on, I decided to head to the Raging Burrito myself and get a Belgian Ale and maybe a burrito (where I sit now, as I type, enjoying a Leffe). As I entered, I noticed that the table where she had been sitting before was unoccupied, but she had left the book there.
She did want it.
And then I re-played some of the conversation we had earlier. She had said, several times, was that all people needed was Jesus. Does that translate into all people need is the Bible? So, even if I were to give her a book with interesting ideas for free that she might enjoy now, later. or maybe even in a few years, she could not take it?
Had I insulted her in some way by giving her this book? I’m just not sure. The cynical part of me thinks that she rejected it because it may challenge her beliefs. Perhaps because it was recommended by a heathen like me, someone obviously in league with Satan, it could only be bad. I had heard Christians before say that all that they needed was the Bible.
Nietzsche said once (in Beyond Good and Evil) that when one is cynical one should pay attention, for they might be onto something (OK, seriously paraphrasing from memory here…).
I hate to think that a Christian, especially one who was imploring me to be open-minded, could not accept a gift of Plato’s dialogues. I was especially hoping she’d read the Euthyphro.
So, now I have an extra copy of Plato’s works in a nice cloth-bound volume. The next person I run into who seems like they would like such a gift is free to take it.