The Perfect Gift – tract 2 day 2

by julie

Day 2 was 23rd December, it seems people understand why you would go shopping this close to Christmas but it is not normal to choose to be in town to give out tracts. Several people asked why I wasn’t at home relaxing, implying it wouldn’t make a difference to anyone if I was there or not. As an artist I fear this is sometimes true. It is my practice but why should it matter to anyone else. The answer is clear to me at points. My themes are everyday experiences which are accessible but this also makes it harder to clearly define it as art when explaining my practice to the wider public.

Here are some of the experiences of the day

1. Free bible giver who regularly distributes from the point where I was standing. He assumed I was Christian then when I explained this was not the case he seemed quite annoyed. Did I have a right to appropriate something that is Christian and what is the point? He inferred Christians give these leaflets out to encourage faith but if I am faithless what is my driving force. I suggested among other things it was a statement about ownership of morality, that we are capable of living with values without the religion.

2. “Oh a tract! God bless you” This man stopped with his family to give encouragement as he was sure I wouldn’t be getting much encouragement. He referenced the title of the tract and said that we must remember that this really was the “perfect Gift”

3. “I just want to say im so glad you are out here today” A girl tapped my shoulder and on her way past and I noticed her jumper was from a church mission as she passed.

Several people also said “Bless you” as they took tracts, as with the last tract I was uncomfortable with them misreading my intentions and found this more difficult than the people who took tracts and seemed annoyed by the religious content.

4. “Oh I’ll take one I really need it” was said by a passerby in a football shirt as he laughed to himself and walked on.

5. A man stopped and asked why was I out here and not at home with my family. I tried to hand him a leaflet but he couldn’t read or write and asked me to explain what it said. I began to tell the story but he interrupted to ask where I was from. I answered Belfast when he continued to say he had been in prison for 16 years for what he called a “religion based crime” and continued to ask where in Belfast I was from. I have never felt more clearly that what was meant wasn’t where are you from but which side are you from Protestant or Catholic. I answered near Stormont and he confidently explained I was from the other side from him. He then said he couldn’t figure me out at all but had one more question – was I married.

So after giving out 90 tracts I headed home. I was struggling with whether to return again on Christmas Eve.