Don't know how I missed the original story about the ram with a distaste for Jehovah's Witnesses, but a search on the topic did turn up a commentary on the story with some suggestions for turning away the hoards of Holy Johs, Mormons, and other evangelists, such as mobile phone salespeople that will be beating a path to your door this holiday season armed with the firm belief that the only way to secure their own place in heaven is to try to flog you a ticket for the journey as well.
Some folk opt for the smart-arse defence and attempt a spirited assertion of some of the more glaring contradictions in the Testaments. This is a no-win tactic, however, since people convinced of their own salvation are, by definition, blind to the inconsistencies of faith.
Simply slamming the door shut is undignified. My mother, many years ago, used to thrust a poker through the letter-slot and demand the religionists decamp. This was certainly effective, although the possibility of subsequently encountering a personal injury civil action was worryingly high.
Dire consequences, too, were implicit in the strategy employed by two Melbourne men a couple of years ago. They courteously invited their visitors inside and offered them - in the spirit of politeness - some lovely homemade biscuits. They failed to mention, however, that the warm and enticing cookies contained rather a lot of cannabis.
My own last encounter was with two lovely old biddies intent on selling copies of Watchtower. They were polite, but persistent, and seemed unwilling to believe that the nice man on the other side of the flyscreen door really did want them to leave. Only when the nice man declared himself, in suitably Saxon terms, to be an atheist and invited the pair to make closer acquaintance of his bull terrier did they finally admit defeat.
Forced into making veiled threats, I felt diminished by the experience and was depressed for hours afterwards.
If Witnesses, Mormons, and other evangelists, such as mobile phone salespeople, provided some notice then things would be different. Forewarned, you could answer the door wearing a Charles Manson T-shirt, carrying a copy of Aleister Crowley's The Book of the Law in one hand and a dead chicken in the other, with Alice Cooper's Welcome To My Nightmare blaring out of the stereo. Or you could answer the door dressed as a Teletubbie, gently cradling a tissue box full of chopped liver. Either strategy would work.
This is wishful thinking, however. Evangelists never publish their travel schedules. God's shock troops, like all good soldiers, prefer to retain the element of surprise. This, of course, puts the innocent householder at intentional disadvantage, leading to all sorts of regrettable outcomes, such as ruined risotto, missed wickets on the telly, and cold fish and chips.
Perhaps, then, the Adelaide Hills ram has a lesson for all of us. When theology fails, try farm-yard impressions. The next time the Saints come marching in, try to meet them in the garden. Lower your head, scrape one foot in the dirt, emit a fearsome bleat (which is the tricky part), and charge. The chances are they'll be out of the gate, hurling gospels in self-defence, long before you make contact.
Word will no doubt then spread along the goddist grapevine that the bloke at Number 42 is odd, cranky and, quite possibly, needs shearing. With any luck you'll be marked down as an unrepentant bestial sinner and thenceforth left alone.
OK, it's not a particularly graceful way of repelling boarders, but it's a devil of a job, and somebody has to do it.
I've found that telling the Mormons you went to a Catholic school makes them break eye contact and back away slowly. I guess they figure someone else has beat them to the punch on the brainwashing side of things.
It was a little trickier when my Malamute introduced me to a nice young bicycle wielding American man by thrusting her head between his legs and vigorously rubbing her snout up and down. Fortunately, he both liked my dog and mistook me for a Phish fan (dreadlocks, weird piercings, tattoos) and went on to explain that he had recently been spreading the Mormon word at a Phish concert. He didn't put up much of a fight to convert me and his companion just stared at me the entire time like I was the spawn of Satan. I guess the Phish fans may have been a bit much for these guys.
A couple of very young, very eager religious types cornered my partner in the garage once and launched into their spiel on the evils of drugs. Surrounded by motorcycle parts they refused to do what he wanted them to do, he ignored them and went about his business until their whining got too much and he had to final ask them;
If I buy your drugs, will you leave me alone? They ran away in horror.
But my favourite rebuttal is one my neighbour pulls on the door-knockers. He loves the Holy Johs, as soon as he spots them heading his way, he doffs his kit and greets them at the door stark naked. None have been game enough to take up his offer to come inside and discuss their religion further.
If you want to repel evangelists, become one of the flock - The Age, 28th January 2003.