Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Strangers on a Train

Typing this morning from LaCrosse, Wisconsin. I'm here to speak tonight at the town's annual Knit in Public Day. As the place is just close enough to Chicago to make it practicable, I came up by train.

Barring bandits or cows on the track, the trip is about five hours. We chugged along smoothly and I got a shocking amount of work done. Of course, there's not a lot to look at on a train and so five or six passengers, in passing by, stopped to ask about my knitting.

The most interesting conversation was with a woman who looked to be in her early twenties, and who began our dialogue in the usual manner.

"I've never seen a man knitting before."

To which I gave my standard reply, which I always deliver with wide-eyed surprise.

"You haven't? How odd."

She blinked. "Well, no. I mean, it's something women do, right?"

I smiled. "Not in my house."

"Oh," she said. "Well, I was brought up old-fashioned."

"So was I."

"Well, it's just surprising that you would do it in a public place."

I opened my mouth to say that, by coincidence, I was en route to an entire assembly of public knitters, but she went on.

"Don't you think about how it might look to the kids?" She indicated a few who were seated nearby in the coach.

"I don't follow you."

"Well, it might confuse them. The boys especially. A man doing something a woman does."

"I don't follow you."

She laughed. "Forgive me," she said. "I'm in the ministry, so it's second nature to me to minister. I'm always thinking about setting a good example for the young people."

I wondered if the window next to my seat could open, and if I could throw myself out of it.

"And you know,"she continued, "I have seen for myself that young boys need grown men to be role models of strength."

We were, figuratively speaking, at a crossroads. I could a) ask her why she felt a man peacefully doing something creative was not a strong role model, or b) feign narcolepsy and hope she'd go minister to the lady across the aisle.

Before I could do either, she asked, "Do you ever stop and talk to Jesus, and ask what He would want you to do?"

"I'm a Buddhist," I said. "Jesus and I don't usually go to the same cocktail parties."

"Oh," she said, stiffening. "Well, I guess there's nothing I can say to you then, is there? Have a good trip."

And she walked away.

Now, before some of you (you know who you are) start kvetching about Christian missionaries, let me ask you (firmly) please to not do that. We don't bash anybody's religion in here.

And as it happens, I have been just as annoyed on many occasions by Buddha-pushers who feel I am insufficiently Bodhi-fied because my practice is Zen and not Tibetan or Vipassana, or because I eat meat, or because I reflexively say "God bless you," when somebody sneezes. No single theology holds the monopoly on faith-based douchebaggery.

No. I wrote this conversation down because lately I worry (as you well may) about how we're ever going to climb out of the mess the world's in if folks won't talk to each other. Or rather, if folks won't listen to each other. Here was a textbook example of this large problem, shrunk to fit two people.

Missionary Lady and I had quite a chat but in the end, she didn't want to hear from me and I didn't want to hear from her. If we had kept talking, I doubt I would have been able to keep my cool well enough to be persuasive rather than combative. The end result: stalemate. If she and I can't speak and listen, how are opposing politicians and entire countries going to reach accord?

I hope you're not expecting a tidy wrap-up to this post, kids, because the heck if I can figure it out.

On the other hand, I did finish the knitting. So that's something.

459 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 400 of 459   Newer›   Newest»
Lisa R-R said...

Seems to me that a creative adult publishing cartoons, books and articles, as well as making art with their knitting, is a good role model to boys or girls.
Not to mention choosing to take the train instead of being one person in a car for 5 hours!
Love the cocktail party comment BTW.
Lisa in Toronto

westminster55 said...

Wow, I've never thought of knitting as a radical and subversive activity before. Cool!

Emily said...

I'm with the one who pointed out that the woman was in a "male" profession; if I'd been in that situation, though, I'd have been too stunned to think of it as a retort. That you managed to defuse her so gently (& get rid of her!) fills me with awe. There's no possible conversation with such sheer stupidity.

Laura said...

I think you listened, and it was the lady who didn't and drove the conversion into the ground, if it was indeed a "con"versation. I am a woman knitting in public if the situation arises, mostly in waiting rooms, and I often get the reproachful question, whether I think it appropriate to knit in a doctor's waiting room. It is sad to see how structured our perceptions have become. Three cheers to you for knitting -

Mary said...

And here I thought you were going to talk about someone approaching you to kill their wife.

As for men knitting, my grandfather taught me how to knit. If you didn't knit, when he was growing up, you didn't get socks, or hats, or mittens. His mother and aunts were busy spinning the wool and knitting the big things like sweaters. He also did "fancy work" like embroidery. My aunt Dorothy has a tablecloth he embroidered for her wedding which is beautiful. He was recovering from a broken back received while tearing down an old house.

And my husband knits, having been taught by his father. He doesn't knit often, choosing instead to weave or to do needlepoint so as not to try and compete with me for the good yarn. :)

So, as the mother of sons, thanks for being a good example in public.

Sandra said...

"faith-based douchebaggery". So well put. As a heathen, I can't understand any one faith as being better than the rest. If we were all just good people, why would it matter who we worship? And you're right, there is no tidy end to this - it is what it is, and it will always be that way.

Bonney said...

You know many people have commented that they think this conversation was sad. I feel differently. I think she had closed ears and was afraid to hear her beliefs questioned. (let's all be sheep) BUT when she lays down at night and thinks about her day she may come to realize we're all people that live our lives the best we can. She has a few issues to work out and maybe you helped her start thinking about them.

Elizabeth L in Apex, NC said...

Wow, ignorance really is everywhere, isn't it? First of all, she isn't a minister, she's a judge with not one clue of which she speaks. (And I mean knitting as well as Jesus.) As for asking Jesus what you should do, I assume she thinks the answer is condemning others in an effort to twist them around to your way of thinking. (I think that's called torture in some situations.)

I'm a Christian, too, and in the midst of studying a book called "The Jesus Creed". The focus of the book is the 'greatest commandment' - love your God, love your neighbor. I'm wondering how she is doing either in this situation? She needs to go back and read that book again. I hope someone can set her straight before she does any (more) real damage...

As for you and Jesus at a cocktail party, you'd better believe he'd be right there with you. Jesus wasn't one to hang with all the "right" people, or only ones who "needed saving". Jesus actually Lived with people, of all sorts, in an effort to demonstrate love and kindness. I think he and the Buddha would have gotten along beautifully.

Leigh Witchel said...

I'll be less polite than the other commenters. The woman was a fucking idiot and it has nothing to do with Christianity.

Being more polite, I'm sorry I'll miss you in NYC!

Miss Sandra said...

It's true. How many times has someone asked you a question and kept babbling while you try to answer. People don't listen anymore.
Maybe the next time you knit in public you should wear plaid flannel shirt with a cap that says "git r done" burp, create other bodily noises and scratch yourself so the kids don't get confused.

Kelly said...

I've heard conversations like that before (and had them given to me) and they always make me feel like the other person is, deep-down, very insecure about their beliefs (ones they developed on their own or were taught) so they need to "share" them constantly in the hope that someone will validate them.

I feel sorry for them because rarely do they ever get that validation, and that must be very lonely. I wish, more than anything, that I had a magic wand that I could wave and people would become open-minded.

But then, maybe that's me trying to push my beliefs on others.

Cynthia said...

Not much fun for you, perhaps, but that was one of the funniest conversations I've heard of! Don't set a bad example for the kiddies, now.

Ragnar said...

Ugh, how frustrating, and what restraint you showed in not shoving her out of the window.

You can come by my house and model positive male roles for my son any time. We've got plenty of strength and hitting things with hammers, we need some good sitting quietly and concentrating on something.

And I always say "congratulations" when someone sneezes.

Dorothy said...

Franklin - I have been lurking for ages and don't think I've ever commented before. You and I could not be further apart on many issues, but I wanted to tell you "well said!" Why can't we agree to disagree but carry on civilized conversations? I always kind of laugh when people say, "What would Jesus do?" I think they might be surprised that he might be knitting along with you!

Emily said...

I'm still shaking my head in disbelief at the conversation but want to say "thank you" for not leaping to the conclusion that so many leap to, that this woman represents all of Christianity.

And yeah, I know it's been covered, but any woman who identifies herself as a "minister" has no business saying she believes in "old-fashioned" gender roles.

Rev. Emily (Julianscat)

Mathilde's rokk said...

I am a middleaged woman from Norway. Just wanted to tell you that my father was a good knitter and he did beautiful embroidery too. I teached my husband to knit,when we were just married, and he has knitted several sweaters and have done some embroidery as well. I also teached both my sons to knit when they were small boys. The youngest one knitted hats and a sweater when he was about ten years old. My grandson, now 5 years old, is very interested to learn spinning yarn on my old spinningwheel. And I am teaching him more every time he is with me :)

Stacy said...

Wow. I'm really struck by how often people cross your path who believe they have a right to change who you are or what you do. Either I live in a saner part of the world, or my differences from the norm are harder to spot (sadly, probably the latter.)

I commend you for keeping your cool. And, I'd like to remind you that folks like that are the exception, not the norm. I imagine a vast majority of the people in this world will be able to communicate and get along just fine, despite our quirks. Yes, I'm an eternal optimist, why do you ask?

spacemaurader said...

"faith-based douchebaggery." Ha! Been there. I agree with everything you said. I try very hard to be open minded even with those that I want to pop in the kisser.

Lisa/knitnzu said...

You could have told her that back in the day, women were not allowed to knit because men controlled the guilds...

Anonymous said...

It's altogether hopeless.
Maybe if we were all more like dogs -- sniff each other out and then remove ourselves to opposite sides of the yard -- or commence a wonderful romp!

Fluzz said...

Que?

I'm a woman and I fully support men who knit and do other "feminine" things.

I'd rather the rowdy boys round here sat and knit than threw stones at my window.

*sigh* well, atleast she didn't say it was only for old women.

Ginaagain said...

I'm confused... she was old fashioned enough to think that men shouldn't knit but modern enough to believe women should be in ministry? Hmm...

I used to try and talk around the religion issue when I met someone closed minded enough to preach at me but lately I just don't have the patience. I guess I'm a classic example of exactly what you are worried about.

scienceprincess said...

I couldn't agree more about speaking and listening between people, as well as larger groups. It is hard to talk to people when both you and they have made up their mind. It doesn't sound like anything you could have said (althought I liked the witty comebacks in the comments) was going to change that woman's mind.

I have had conversations with very religious people before but they were difficult, and in my experience, only possible between friends, where there is enough trust and common ground that deeply held beliefs can be examined without ridicule. Friends are also much more used to listening without judging.

I don't know know how to solve the problems, but not throwing her or yourself out the train window was probably a decent start.

Have a nice weekend among the knitters.
Sarah

jackie said...

it's interesting to me, this misconception about knitting. so many men historically and present day have knitted, so why inthe world is this viewed as "something women do" in the US? i don't get it. a couple of years ago, i taught my boyfriend's (he knits) little brother (who is 22 years younger) how to knit. he asked to learn after watching me for about a week. when he went home after his stay at our house, his father had a bit of a fit. actually made fun of the boy for working on his scarf. to the kid's credit, he kept going, but how awful to have to defend something so non-offensive as knitting to an authority figure in your life! where did this thinking come from??? anyway. just sayin'--i feel your pain.

tychoish said...

I like the "jesus and I don't go to the same cocktail parties," line. I'm going to have to use it.

MIQuilter said...

I would have loved to be your traveling companion on this trip (for many reasons). I would have asked her if she preferred you bring some wood and an axe on the train to occupy your time. I'm sorry you had to deal with such a closed minded person :(

Gail said...

Too bad you weren't wearing an "I learned to knit in prison" T-shirt. It might have protected you from her. Speaking of gender roles,doesn't she know that The Ministry is a male domain? She should have asked herself what Jesus would want her to do. Jesus would have sat down next to you and asked you where you got the pattern.

beanchild said...

i admire you for keeping your cool; knitting is totally beyond gender.

Anonymous said...

I have read your blog entry several times now and continue to be struck by your "calm". And I clearly remember the young cartoonist (male)that you had such a good conversation with during your visit here. I'm guessing the young man will remember your kind and encouraging words for a long time. Role models are not male, female. they are caring, listening folks who take a moment to share with others. You do that just fine! Thanks for writing this experience so beautifully.
from MT,
Suzanne

Patti said...

at least the dicussion ended peacefully. No one dropped a bomb on the others village, I gather. BTW, I love train rides. I took the Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide.. 3 wonderful days of knitting and watching the outback go by -- and a bar with adult beverages -- it just doesn't get any better than that. One lady did walk over and watch me work on my sock in progress, then she volunteered to teach how to knit the right way. I wish now I had taken her up on it, it would have given me a great opportunity to talk to another knitter.

Heidi said...

Magnet! "Please, Jesus. Protect me from your followers."

http://www.fridgedoor.com/pljesamefr.html

maxine said...

My standard reply, and usually before this conversation goes too far, judge not lest ye be judged...

WWBD?

Toni said...

Thank you for realizing not all Christians would've agreed with the young missionary. I'm glad there weren't any bandits or cows to hinder your trip. A few years ago, I travelled by train from Chicago to Flagstaff AZ and had a great time and many conversations (none quite like yours!) along the way. Wish I was in WI today.

Julie said...

I've been thinking about this since I read it yesterday, because oddly, I'd had the same-sort-of thing happen to me (someone 'on fire for Jesus' wanted to discuss my 'lack of belief'). I'm a pantheist/Taoist in the Bible Belt, so... yeah. You know.

I think the difference, the vital difference, is that we've studied Christianity. We've made a reasoned choice with the facts before us, and are able and capable of talking about the choice we've made. And we're willing to talk, and to teach, and discuss, whenever possible, with whoever possible, so long as there's a true exchange of ideas going on. At least, that's what I cling to, when conversation after conversation goes down the tubes and people tell me pantheism is a cult (??!??) and huff away.

I don't know how to fix it, either. But I try to remain, always, willing to discuss. That's all I can do. And it sounds like you're doing it, too.

Hugs.

Julie said...

PS. You need to make tee shirts.

WWEZD?

Maybe we should ask permission of Meg Swansen, first.

But I think it says it all.

Erica said...

Going to add my voice to the crowd. As a Wisconsinite, I hope the rest of your time here is better. I admire your restraint. I probably would have told this douchebag to frak off.

I don't know what progress can be made until such people get a clue. Trying to talk to her would have been futile.

I also love the phrase "faith-based douchebaggery". Funny +1

rons_pigwidgeon said...

That... doesn't make any sense. Regardless of one's religious beliefs, how does one come to the conclusion that a man knitting sets a bad example for young boys? It sounds to me as though her problem has less to do with her religious affiliations and more to do with the fact that her beliefs about the social roles of men and women haven't evolved from the 1950's. And, as someone already mentioned, she seems to have cast a blind eye on the fact that it used to be a requirement for men in the military.

Anonymous said...

You said: “If she and I can't speak and listen, how are opposing politicians and entire countries going to reach accord?”
Someone else quoted Ghandi “Be the change you seek in the world”
You might enjoy this: Amazing Faiths project, dinner dialogues, quoting from their website, http://www.amazingfaithsproject.org/FAQ.php:

Once a year on a set evening the Amazing Faiths Project hosts an evening of dinner dialogues in various cities. From 6:30-9:30 pm people gather in small groups in private homes to have a meal together, and to share from their lives about faith, religious diversity and common human values. The dialogue is highly structured and directed providing a "safe space" to share and communicate about your faith and spirituality. The purpose of the dinner dialogues is to build relationships with your neighbors who may be of a different faith than your own as a way to promote peace, tolerance, understanding and respect in our world.

The next event is 11/13/09 and I believe there will be dinners in Chicago.

Julia

Yarnhog said...

Wow. There's probably nothing I can say that hasn't already been said. But...wow. I think I would have been tempted to point out that a) traditionally men were the knitters, back when hand knitting was the only knitting there was and it was a way to make a living, and b) traditionally, women do not minister (Eve being evil and all). But I don't suppose that would have been all that productive, either.

constantknitter said...

WOW! I just read your message,what a wonderful story. It just goes to show that opinions are like skeins of yarns, if you don't like knitting with one type, move on and try another one.

I don't know if I could have been that gentle with her evaluation of my role in this world. As a female knitter, I raised my son (who is now 6' 8') to do what he enjoys. He never quite got the knitting bug, but he was more than happy to make things with the yarn.

I am going to be sure and keep your blog on my list of favorites.

I hope all went well with the outside knitting event.

Keep knitting in public. Shelia V, Richmond, VA

witch1 said...

Minister is not necessarily a licensened church clerics. Many churches encourage members to go forth and minister to the needs of those in their community and those you feel can use help. The danger of course is the personel agenda that maybe underlying. More hostility is done in the name of religion then in all of our wars. We can only hope that we can forgive the person's ignorance and stay dignified as you did and not perpetute the ignorance. Great job.

Anonymous said...

"I wondered if the window next to my seat could open, and if I could throw myself out of it."

Why would you throw yourself out instead of her?

Flavaknits said...

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made"

Y'see even God himself does knitting!

She's young and green , and wisdom has not arrived yet.

Although , if you could have said " Perhaps next time we meet you'll be knitting and I'll be preaching , if we're keeping to gender types here!" lol

Mx

Liz said...

I seem to recall the perfect cartoon that a talented artist created that would have been perfect for the situation. Something about taking their Victorian mores back to the other side of the playground.

Oy.

FWIW, my father helped me learn how to knit and he also taught me to check my oil, rotate my tires and mow the lawn.

RobinH said...

I can't believe that no one else suggested this. Why didn't you introduce her to Dolores and suggest that they go out on the town together? I think the young woman would have found it very educational.

(Also, I feel very sorry you had such an unpleasant experience. May your return trip be filled with fellow knitters, who only stop to admire your project.)

knittyliljen said...

well women in the ministry is not accepted in many minds either, so if anything, she's a walking hypocrite. knit on my friend.

feathermar said...

I think you're awesome.
Also, my friends are embarrassed of me when I knit in bars. I tell them I'm going to start doing something really obscene and see if they can tell the difference.

Jan said...

"Jesus and I don't usually go to the same cocktail parties.":
Gosh, that's the funniest line I have heared for months LOL :-))))

Artnitter said...

Ahhh, Franklin. Bless you!
I know I couldn't have kept my cool as you did. [I'd probably have had her by the throat down in the aisle, screaming, "Listen to me!" -- or would have liked to.]
When you wrote that you were wondering if the window would open, I expected you to say you might help her out of it! [smile]
Cheers!

BTW, today's word verifications is 'faugused'.... now that out to mean something...

Laurie in Mpls. said...

All I can say is that I'm glad you had to talk to this young woman, and not me. You actually got some words out -- I would have been likely to just boggle at her. O_o

On the flip side, with me being a woman and all, she would have either been praising me for keeping to traditional roles (SOOOoooo far from the truth) or chastising me for not wearing a skirt. :/ Or not having any kids. =:O

So sorry to hear about this. At least you got a blog entry out of it. And several lines which are too good to ever die. :)

Helen said...

When you think how many religions don't allow women to become priests or ministers or whatever, it's quite amusing that she sees gender distinctions this way.

And to start by pretending she was being friendly and then give you a telling off, what a cheek.

But I'm laughing so much at the idea of you setting a bad example to young men, that I can't take too much offense.

Cristi-Lael said...

I want to thank you for this post. Your ability to see her comments as not an attack on you per se but evidence of her lack of the ability to be accepting gives me hope. Too many people come in contact with the closminded and take it as a direct, personal attack and respond in kind. Unfortunately, that solves nothing.
It always makes me sad when I see it and I always wonder why we can't be more accepting as a whole. I think we would all be so much more happier if we weren't trying to "fix" the person next to us. Being a Christian myself, I'm very grateful for your ability to rise above and not damn us all as pigheaded sexists.

Cathy-Cate said...

Oh, Franklin, if I'd read this before last night....

well. I would have had a LOT to say. But you would have thought or known most of it already.

But I have to tell you my own 'stranger on (that) train' story.

While taking that very train TO Chicago from La Crosse, the last 3 times (it's my favorite way to travel to Chicago, and I've had 3 meetings there in the last 18 months): once I sat by a young Amish girl whose parents were across the way; she was shyly fascinated by the knitting but wouldn't talk to me; once I didn't have a seatmate (yay!); and the last time, going to Chicago, a woman about my own age of mid-40s sat down next to me. I was already ensconced with lace knitting & lace chart on my knee, and iPod (coincidentally, it was Cast On podcasts I was listening to that day, and one of your essays was on the second one! But I digress...); I don't like earbuds, so I had obvious headphones on. Anyway, this woman nodded pleasantly at me, I at her, and she sat down and read her book. Life was good. I got a lot of lace done. And then she got off somewhere shy of Milwaukee.

And a woman in her 60s or 70s came by and overflowed into the seat next to me. Now, something important to be aware of is that this woman HAD a seat elsewhere. She was just bored. And instead of going to the lounge car, she chose to sit next to me. Ignoring the headphones, she began talking loudly to me with all those questions that you hear about and people rarely ask me, despite all the KIPping I do:
"Is that knitting or crocheting?"
"Huh."
What are you making?
A shawl? Why?
Is it for you?
Who's it for?
Is that acrylic?
What is that yarn made out of, then?
Can you get it anywhere?
Where did you get it?
You can buy that with your computer?
Why?
Somebody dyed that? Did you?
Why would you want that?
How much did it cost?
Why are you using those needles?
*I was knitting on circs*
What are you reading? (a chart)

*Oh, my.*
She went on and on and on. Until finally, I screwed up the pattern while answering one of her truly inane questions. She did finally shut up as she watched me tink: well, she asked me what I was doing, of course, and I told her.

After an hour, she wandered away, which is when I realized she had a seat elsewhere. Dang, was I pissed. I believe she was sent by some imp of Hell purely to plague me.

Your encounter was worse, though. I hope some nice inoffensive Amish bachelor or somesuch sits by you on the way back (or no one at all, ideally, of course!)

There are not a lot of missionaries in La Crosse itself. We're mostly reticent Lutherans.

Cathy

Robin said...

Me thinks she's a bit narrow-minded -- to say the least! AND, she needs to get out more!

badmommy said...

Just like real life - NOT tidy. In fact, generally kind of messy.

Rachael said...

I work in the engineering department of a university and recently one of the people in the office (a woman, a fashion grad student to be specific) was teaching an engineering student (male) to knit. He was completely mesmerized, and after 6 inches or so of perfect knitting he turned to me (not the teacher) and said 'it's just soooo scientific, it's fascinating!'

It was fabulous.

Gayle said...

There's several threads to this:
1) She's in a nontraditional role herself,
2) She's defending sex-role sterotypes
3) 1 & 2 have nothing to do with religion.

Somehow, the confusion of appropriate role models with religion confuses me. I'm a female that has always been working in a "men's world". When I took computer science classes I was usually the only woman in the class. When I worked in a building at Goddard Space Flight Center, I was the only non-clerical female in the building. That didn't make me any less female or any more male -- it just made it harder to be a human on some days.

I think the world would be a far better place if people spent more time trying to be decent humans rather than trying to be "male" or "female". If you enjoy doing something then it's okay -- other than giving birth no job/role is limited to one sex or the other. In point of fact, interest, ability, and physical fitness/strength are the only requirements and some job tend to go to males and some to females but .... oops fell of the soapbox.

Anyway, it's best she walked away ... longer and it might have been harder to be polite.

'ish said...

Sorry to hear about this, Franklin. Listening is hard for people when they think they already know everything. And of course, so many of us do. Our differing experiences should enrich us, but instead we spend time twisting them to separate us. Christ knew better in his teaching and ministry, and the Buddha too, in his work as Bodhisattva. This is why we revere them. Perhaps one day we will learn from them too.

Rev. [Sem.] Aaron Decker
The Preacher Boy Who Knits

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between your viewpoints, even though neither of you wanted to listen to each other. She seemed to think that she had a right to an opinion about your activities due only to a very vague "bad influence" that could only affect her in the most indirect way. Why does anyone have a right to an opinion about another's hobbies?
Bobbie

Aidan said...

Douchebaggery is my new favorite word.

Anonymous said...

There are many roads to find spiritual contentment. The journey is the important part. Perhaps that woman was meant to find you to gently open her eyes. Words did not do that, nor did actions.
She may, if at all intelligent, reflect on the experience and find her own interactions lacking. If not, she may run into other situations that confound her notions of what ought to be. My own belief is that we are here to learn and to teach. Some will not be taught, but that is not usually the fault of the teacher, the lesson or the experience. I learn more from my mistakes than when I get it right. I also believe that learning is attaining knowledge, wisdom is what you do with that knowledge. Good choice, you chose to keep knitting.

junior_goddess said...

Well, it's better than the kids who thought you just got out of prison....or maybe it's not.

Admit it-you threw the Buddist card because you WANTED to watch her flail. You WANTED to stand on the seat and yell "Go Fish for THAT, Sistah!"

Anonymous said...

If there really was a Jesus he would probably have said:"Hold on I'll have to finish this nupp first, then we can talk."
As long as men are rolmodels with guns, you get shootings like in Germany shortly ago.

Robin said...

Not all Wisconsinites are like her! She must have been from another state. :-)

Even though it wasn't the most productive conversation, reading about it made me really happy: she wasn't too pushy, she especially didn't outright bad-mouth you or knitting or Buddhism. And when she found out you were Buddhist, she civily ended the conversation.

I'm just glad that she was able to be right-wing weirdo without the anger and yelling, and thus you could respond in a calm, non-threatened (well, not much?) way. It's a step in the right direction.

Be sure to come up to Wisconsin's Island of Liberalism: Madison! (I live there.) It's usually attributed to the University, but it goes for the whole city: "90 acres surrounded by reality"!

robinreinke at yahoo dot com

bronchitikat said...

Since when has being quietly creative been a woman's monopoly?

Or perhaps she'd have preferred a macho, bullying image to be projected? Gah!

Sometimes I despair of the Church, & not just cos I'm a member!

Shell said...

Franklin,
I am not sure what to say. That was so abrupt of her. I would have been tempted to mention something about her preaching and how that is only something modernly accepted.
I admire how you handled it, with poise and dignity. How sad that there are so many close minded people today.
You are such a wonderful knitter, I hope that later she ponders on the meeting and finds that her opinions are wrong.
Hugs.

dawn shen said...

Franklin, I am a white, conservative, christian, republican in East Texas and I think you rock and I wish my 12 year old son would learn how to knit but he thinks I'm weird to knit myself. People like her give christians a bad name.

Knitting Granny said...

Thank you for being a man willing (and able) to KNIT IN PUBLIC.

As for the young woman? Well, for one thing, she is young. And pretty full of herself I'm thinking.

And really...get to the point. What were you knitting?

Diana said...

You should have reminded her that knitting was widely practiced by men in European history. Shepherds would knit warm sweaters while tending their sheep. After all someone needed to do something with all that wool. Wasn't King David a shepherd?

You should have also reminded her that fisherman would knit their fishing nets and make warm sweaters to keep them warm as they went out to sea. Weren't some of the Jesus apostles fishermen?

Would she call them bad role models?

Lastly, a gentle reminder that Jesus taught "Judge not, lest you shall be judged" and "Love your neighbor" would have been appropriate in this case. This is real ministry.

Janet said...

Have you ever had so many comments? Well done to maintain your cool with this woman.

Cat said...

Franklin I so agree with you about talking and it is unfortunate the some if not most of us are stuck in our own ways or thoughts to listen and be open-minded to someone else.
In Europe (which I am sure you know) boys are taught to knit, sew, etc. I find her thinking tends to be the mainstay of America. My Dad who did work in construction knows how to knit and sew, my youngest son was taught finger knitting in school (here in the US) LOL I could go on and on but won't.

Hugs from a fellow Buddhist!!!!

Cat said...

Ok, gilding the lily with all the comments, but whatever...

Let's see. My grandfather was a heavy drinker, loved guns, and fished like a fiend. He also won first prize in the state fair for a rug he had hooked. (And it had to be put in the WOMEN's side, this was the 40's, they didn't HAVE a guy's catagory...)

I am a girl who spins, knits, crochets some lace, I have also helped rebuild cars, I love to fish, and have worked at a machine shop, as well being a amateur "ham" radio operator. How badly do you think I would have blown her mind?

Franklin, creativity is a blessing, I don't care what gender is doing so! (Adding here, my father asked me how to knit. As soon as I can figure how to work out the right handed/left handed thing, I am going to try!

Much love,
Knitcat

Anonymous said...

Oh, Good Grief!!!!
Doesn't she know that "knitter" is/was a man who knits. A woman who knits is a "knitster", as in "spinster"= a woman who spins.
I'm afraid I might have said "Oh, sit down & shut up." Or offered her a knitting lesson-

Mama Llama said...

What should a Buddist say when someone sneezes?

Tiggywinkle Knits said...

What bothers me the most about prosteltizers (this includes pretty much all religions) is that they're so intollerant! I always want to ask, "If your religion/faith/belief is so open and accepting, why are you putting me/somebody down?"

BTW, I sat next to a man the size of Shrek last week on the train; he was knitting a scarf - his second project ever. He, his wife, and 2 teenagers had taken knitting classes together. They knit together one night per week, with the tv and radio off, in the same room; and guess what? It was his idea do to this so they can actually TALK TO EACH other! How freakin' brilliant is that as an example for young men!

Jess said...

The cocktail party line is absolutely amazing, I'll have to keep that in mind in the future, so much better than those I've come up with.

Libbie said...

Did you know that men have been knitting for centuries? On long sea voyages, miners, and fishermen.
My great grandfather knit waiting to go in the mines after dynomiting. As for the preaching, it is what it is. Finally, watch what kids are watching,talk about warping :)) Boys should not be confined to stereotypical roles.
Sorry to sound so preachy, but I wish there was an open window you could have pushed her out

Sue J said...

Franklin! You should have told her your minister taught you to knit in prison...............

Shannon said...

Good post. Thank you.

Corrina said...

I find that so sad. I just finished up a 6-week knitting club at my children's Catholic school. And there were 2 boys who took the lessons with me. The idea that someone would tell them that they shouldn't when they really enjoyed it? So sad.

contagiousyarning said...

I am so jealous - when I knit in public people either ignore me or smile at me. I never encounter weird people who provide fodder for my blog.

Emily said...

Wow. Just wow.

I would think Jesus (like Buddha and all the rest) has bigger things to worry about than men knitting in public. But what do I know?

Melanie said...

Great post. I can't say I'm any better than you at listening and talking to people who hold views I find anathema to my soul. I will have to try harder.

Anonymous said...

Your conversation first made me wished you'd thought of pushing HER out of the window. But thinking about it, I wonder whether it expanded her restricted world view - perhaps you have let in a chink of light through the dark window.
Penelope

Charminglochie said...

I live on a (very) religious Scottish island and being an athiest I am used to people trying to talk to me about God. But it sounds to me like this woman was using her religion as an excuse to bash you with her opinions regarding men knitting more than anything else.

And your point is so right. If two Jo Publics on a train can't talk to each other and see each others points of views (which is so often the case all over the world) there wouldn't seem to be much hope for the people with the power to change things.

Ros Ritchie said...

I have a very strong Christian faith but would no more dream of suggesting you were wrong for having your own faith or indeed that you were setting a bad example by knitting than fly to the proverbial moon! I agree with one of the earlier comments - her attitude has little to do with religion (at least, not the Christianity i know) and all to do with a narrow-minded approach to life. Sadly, she seems to have confused the two!

Can I come to your cocktail party???!

Ros Ritchie said...

PS It was my dad who had the time and patience to teach me to knit. He also liked making rugs and sewed on his own buttons. And I thank him daily for the inspiration that has led me to a lifelong passion.

meezermeowmy said...

Franklin, I am proud of how well you handled your end of that conversation. She didn't stand a chance -- you were like a feline playing with his dinner. LOL!

I was waiting for you to add the tidbit that men have historically been the knitters. Oh well, she wouldn't have heard that, either.

Anonymous said...

"Practicable"

Knitting dictionary: That what is done to sustain you over life's bumps and grinds.

"Practicable"

See you at Knitty City on Sunday.

theprofessionalaunt

PlazaJen said...

I think it's admirable you were willing to fling yourself out the train window. I would have thrown her out, instead.

My. I'm just always surprised by the control others want to exert on people under the guise of their faith/belief system. To each their own and enjoy the variety!

Pat said...

and aren't you glad the knitting in your hands kept you from committing mayhem?

Su said...

When I was growing up in the Protestant Church, it was pretty unusual for women to be ministers - about as unusual as it is for men to be knitters perhaps? Lucky for her, some gender boundaries have changed, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

google the "RANSBERGER PIVOT" it is a PERFECT MODEL for dealing with people closed to your point of view, (even BEFORE you give it) and could BRING US ALL TOGETHER! And I have to say that I personally have never seen a man knit it public........my husband only does his crochet at home for relaxation.........but I think the first question out of my mouth would be "OOOOOOO what are you making?" and then next "Can I TOUCH YOUR YARN?" ha ha ........hang in there the world is slowing catching up to us! ha ha
HEIDI

cate said...

Oh...pish and tish, as Stephen Fry would say. Men have been knitting since knitting began.

By the way, I was googling the King Charles brocade pattern, and came across your version of it (which, incidentally, got me started reading your blog, which, incidentally, has caused me to neglect work and doing the dishes because I'm having an enjoyable time reading it). Anyway, I should have read your other post about how irritating the pattern is before I embarked on it for a scarf. I may set myself the task of doing 12 rows a day (1 repeat), and that should get me a completed scarf by next winter without losing my mind.

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ellen in indy said...

when the "radical knitting and subversive lace" exhibit was at the state museum here in indy, i volunteered several times to demonstrate basic knitting to visitors. One of the exhibits was a series of machine-knitted enlargements of soldiers knitting -- some in a hospital as rehab and some, i think, on a train.

we demonstrators knitted pieces for "afghans for afghans," and let visitors stitch on them also if they wished. in most school groups, boys were as eager to try the needles as girls were.

look on the bright side, franklin:

having been scolded for "nontraditional" male behavior (that's actually VERY historical) by someone earning her living in an occupation still off limits to women in many denominations, you've gotten your recommended daily allowance of irony filled for WEEKS!

Souhair said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Souhair said...

The ignorance of some people! Both my grandfathers knit - one from New Zealand one from Canada. They were both decorated WWII vets. (And both pacifists.) One learned to knit as a child out of necessity - no knitting - no clothing - when you were the youngest of 11. The other learned to knit when he was recovering from war injuries - he and the other soldiers were taught to help them recover and so they could still contribute to the war effort. Knitting is 'people's work' not just 'women's work' and has been for hundreds of years.

Well done for keeping your cool! And thanks for being a GREAT example for my son!

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2ply said...

I think she needs to have a little look in a dictionary as to what 'minister' means. Because it doesn't mean 'tell other people they are wrong and you are right'. Even if she was right, which she wasn't, the silly moo :)

2ply said...

Plus... I think she might want to take 'judge not, lest ye be judged' to heart and keep her mouth shut a bit more often.
I'm proper angry on your behalf.

Cat said...

If she was REALLY old-fashioned, why is she approving of female ministers? Honestly?

I hope that you can be encouraged to try to engage people like that in conversation in the future. I mean, I know you felt judged, but maybe some gentle explaining of the craft, and sharing your POV with her might have helped enlarge her mind.

Although she seemed poorly intentioned, her approach to you and attempt to engage you in conversation might have been her way of trying to understand a larger world. (don't laugh!)

Just as you are unlikely to "change your ways" because of that encounter on the train, she is never going to change her opinions if kind, well-intentioned modern men don't try to disavow her of her belief that men knitting in public is somehow "dirty" or "evil."

ella at the river said...

Franklin,

I am coming to Chicago and wondering if you have any must see yarn stores you can recommend.

Ellaattheriver

FLknitguy said...

Civil rights awareness was advanced by a woman who had the courage to sit at the front of the bus; maybe male knitting awareness will be advanced by a man having the courage to knit on the train to LaCrosse. Thanks Franklin!

lizbon said...

If she reacted like that to seeing you knitting, one can only imagine how she'd react to finding out you're gay. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

A man knitting in public...oh, the horror! When I was younger, my aunt had a yarn shop. All of us, my siblings and cousins, boys and girls, were encouraged to create something. We all became adept at needlepoint, crocheting, knitting, and counted cross stitch. Thank goodness no one discouraged us or labeled it as girl's only.

Emily said...

I've had time to think this over now. If I had been in your place, in a good mood (essential) with time to kill, I might have encouraged her to expound on the subject of male roles (not the Jesus bit, people like her REALLY don't actually discuss religion)because I suspect she feels unheard in some deep way. People do need to feel they're taken seriously...and reminding her, gently, of the need for tact could have been worked in there.

I once had a workman here who suddenly asking if I'd been saved, etc.; it was as though a recording had been started & there was no way to get a word in. To get rid of him, I gave him a birthday cake that had been in my kitchen, left over from the day before. It surprised the dickens out of him & rendered him speechless. I was pretty pleased with myself; I had gotten rid of him with a loving act, plus removed temptation from my kitchen at the same time.

Still, I'm impressed that you handled this with such grace & sweet humor. I'm an old lady, so I get more options with this stuff.

Linda L. said...

I spent a semester in France, and the most useful thing I learned (other than some really good swear words) was that the French define a successful argument as the ability to state an opinion rationally and thoroughly, not to "win" by convincing the other person that you are right and they are wrong.

I think Missionary Lady could use a semester in France.

Carma said...

Thank you for providing me with my new favorite word... douchebaggery.

Anonymous said...

You GO Franklin!

You are a man's man (or just
a great human being) for this
post...BRAVO for the high road!

Rabbitch said...

Tsk. It is clearly your fault that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

But at least it's going wrapped in lovely shawls ...

Knitting Painter Woman said...

If you ever get to see "Family guy," in this week's segment the dog, Ralph just announced he's an atheist. Talk about Hell breaking loose.... You're so right about conversations.

sol said...

Good thing she didn't see me changing tyres on our car, then. ;)Must really make me a bad role model for my daughter.

sarah-jane said...

Take the baby with you next time for protection

MLJ1954 said...

Fortunately, she was a stranger on a train.

So, as a woman in what is typically considered a "male" role, isn't she concerned about the message she is sending to those to whom she ministers?

My hubby is a teacher. He teaches first grade. The kindergarten teacher also happens to be a man. They are both excellent at their jobs but every year, every single year, there is some parent (usually a mother) who says stupid things like "I've never heard of such a silly thing . . . a man teaching first grade (or kindergarten)." As my husband says, sometimes it is tough to not say to these same ignorant women "and I've never heard of a mother who has five kids in the same school, all with different last names." Instead, he smiles and does what he does best, teaches and acts as a role model (including never dressing down . . . a real sacrifice for someone that abhors wearing a tie).

Keep smiling. There are ignorant people everywhere.

Judy in Indiana said...

You could certainly call me a Missionary Lady too, but my Christian opinions are vastly diferent from hers. I know you do not lump us all together, but some might. I have more in common with you than i do her. If I had been there, I would have loved to sit down and talk to you and learn from you.

Denise D. said...

It always saddens me to hear things like this because I consider myself a Christian. I cringe when I hear things like this because to me, that is who I have chosen to be my higher power, yet others have the freedom and the grace to chose their own spiritual paths. Manly things? mmmmmmmm that one is very confusing, what exactly are manly things, mowing the lawn, I do that, using tools? I do that too. The only thing that truly matters how we truly love and accept each other as we truly are!

PJ Kite said...

I'm so sorry you ran into this attitude. I can't help but wonder what she would have thought about my teaching my boys' Scout troops to spin, knit, crochet, sew and tat...probably better not to know!

NC Knitter said...

Franklin, you were a perfect gentlemen! I work with ministers 6 days a week and I would have let her have it! My siblings and I are all boys and my mother made sure we would be well equipped to take care of ourselves in the world on our own (and two of us are totally on our own) with her curriculum (I don't use that word lightly) of dishes, laundry (we all know how to do hospital corners --- does anyone remember those?), cooking, balancing the checkbook, playing the piano, sewing on a button, knitting or crocheting. And we all are especially adept at not saying stupid things to people we meet on a train!

knitalot3 said...

Wow. That's pretty small minded and amazing.

Babbs said...

I believe the "Missionary" clearly has a very different view of role modeling for men than many do.

Modern Men knitting, reinforces a skill that was once male dominated.

I am really disappointed in that 20 soemthing young woman. I am sure glad it wasn't my daughter.

KiminAK said...

I guess the question for me would be, what could I have said that would start a real conversation? I love Namaste, the God in me greets the God in you. How could I have acknowledged the God in her? It's like the saying about tug of war, it only works if both people pull. Would there have been a way to stop pulling? What could I have said that would flipped the situation into something more meaningful?

I am Taoist and I became friends with a Mormon doing his missionary, with the question "What has God shown you today?" He answered from his heart and It started a conversation that lasted months and was a delight for both of us.

This is a good topic for me to think on, and I'm traveling a lot in the next 3 weeks so I'm sure I'll get a chance to try out some replies. Thanks for making me think.

Anonymous said...

So Navy men and Artic/Antarctic explorers aren't man enough for her, eh? -Allyson

LoriAngela said...

I'm a United Church Sunday School teacher and all I can say is
"What would Jesus knit?"

Joyce said...

Whenever adults behave in a gender liberated fashion, they are setting a good example for kids.

Anonymous said...

I think we should all ask ourselves, What would Jesus knit?

Sandy said...

I agree with sara-jane. Take the baby with you for protection next time. I'm sure she's a lovely child and all, but she is obviously a very particular baby and one stink eye look from her and that lady would have been sent a packin!

It's taken me days to try to formulate a witty response to what was said to you...and I still can't come up with one. As a Christian I am still absolutely flabbergasted at people who "know it all" like they are God themselves. Like Jesus was their high school boyfriend. Really now. Whatever happened to "more shall be revealed"?

That lady is lucky that I wasn't sitting next to you when she said that. You might have taken the high road and oh, I so would hope that I would follow your example, but I fear I would have told her exactly what I was thinking. In some VERY un-Christian like words. Starting with douchebaggery and moving on from there.

Seriously. Most people in this world are just wonderful...and then there are those...(sigh)

Toni said...

The kid needs a strong male role model? How about a man juggling a ball of yarn and 2 sticks on a moving train WITHOUT poking anyone--not to mention the cool knitting being produced at the time? Doesn't that count for anything?????????

TheBunny said...

Actually, some of the other comments have reminded me that when I worked at the knit and needlepoint shop I had lots of retired Navy men as customers. They needed something to do when they were serving on the boat. And note that these men were retired, they didn't have the boat anymore but they continued the hobby.

The epitome of masculine is the military man. That poor gal is just too unworldly to be an effective advisor.

Renee said...

Dear Franklin, Not so long ago, right here is America, every man woman and child had to do a lot of things, including knit. Here is a letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 28 May 1777

http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/aea/cfm/doc.cfm?id=L17770528ja

Proof positive. If these American men aren't role models, who is?

Nancy said...

Franklin,
You always get the most interesting comments from strangers. By "interesting" I mean outside of what I would have ever imagined anyone could possibly think of saying to another human being.

thanks for sharing, and I will try to be more tolerant of others (at least for the rest of the day - it's been an "interesting" day).

does it help if I say it's about her, not you? I didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

If someone else hasn't already said it, and if you haven't already thought of it, your faith-based douchebaggery quote needs to be on some of the Cafe Press merchandise. I'd buy...
Nancy NeverSwept

Anonymous said...

I guess it's best that my husband and I did not have children lest they think their father (former green beret that he is) is not manly enough because he does the dishes every night, mops the tile floors and cleans the bathrooms.

Some people need to grow a little...

grannynanny said...

You likely knit as brilliantly as you write. How fortunate!
Thank-you for sharing with all of us.
Keep writing. Keep knitting.

TracyKM said...

YEs, it used to be that only men got paid for knitting, while women did the boring house/family knitting.
I find it odd though that she is 'in the ministry'....when I was little, I only knew of men that were ministers/reverands, etc. Weren't only men supposed to be preachers, while the women were to be the silent, obeying ones?

momimi said...

ok, in another tone entirely
werent you the least bit tempted to say, would you like to see where I can hold this cone of yarn....

bettlejuice said...

wow is the sum of what comes to mind this am with no coffee in my system. She is so lost in her narrow view of how the world works. There is great strength in entertaining yourself. Male of female . I will attempt to listen more today while at working wishing I was home knitting.

Shay said...

And she thinks she's setting a good example????!!!!I did notice that she said she was "in the ministry" not that she was actually a minister. Let us hope.

Indianafuji said...

Thanks for your post, Franklin. (Especially for your call to not bash religious folks...I'm a chaplain, so I'm sensitive to that.)

If I'd been there, I'm not sure I could've held back when this woman chastised you about the dreaded crime of knitting-while-male. I couldn't keep my mouth shut the other day when the man who just taught me how to double knit was being fawned over by ladies at my LYS.

"You must be secure in your manhood."

"Oh...that's not a very manly bag you carry for your knitting!"

Etc. Etc.

At the second comment above, I had to say, "what'd you expect, camo, or something?"

I don't think they really got that I was mad, but I wanted my double-knit dude to know I had his back.

Yay for strong men and women :)

Saz said...

This is so sad. I would have loved to have run into a man knitting on a train. It would be delightful!! But I'm a knitter... Even a man that was... I don't know... what do women do... my, she's old fashioned.

And I certainly don't see how a man knitting in public is going to ruin anyone. That's absurd.

As a Christian myself I disagree with her very much. I would encourage any young man to knit, just like I would encourage any young girl to... learn to fix cars. So depressing. I'm sorry you had to deal with her.

And she blew a fantastic opportunity to have a very good conversation.

Sharon said...

Late to the party as usual, but I loved this post.

Rock on with your amazing self!

Sharon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I think you are a *great* role model for boys! Too bad some peoples' minds are . . . anyway, knit on brotha! (and thanks for your insight on listening)

Allison L. said...

hmmmm, so, if I understand this person correctly. . .

blind follower=strong
peaceful, free-thinker=weak

Still can't wrap my mind around that one. I thought history was full of examples proving exactly the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you should have been waging war, or masturbating, or killing an animal, or playing football on the train. Much more manly.

Or, you know, since the big JC was a carpenter, maybe you should have had a circular saw and lathe on the train with you. You could have made some needles and a drop spindle or two.

Sarah S

Spinneret said...

gawd is all knowing and all loving. Do not delimit a gawd with a small mind and limited imagination.

Knitting is used in school to teach math skills, no? Addition, subtraction, patterns in numbers etc. No one should be segregated from learning these basic skills.

graybastian said...

You don't have to be religious to be narrow minded.

Susan said...

ok, I'm coming in late, and am probably redundant, but I just need to comment that the reason that "no single theology holds the monopoly on faith-based douchebaggery" is because douchebaggery is in the person who spouts it, not the theology/religion. In fact, very few religions (none of the major ones I know of) actually encourage such in their scriptures/teachings - rather, it is what happens when people try to put God's name on their own ignorance and arrogance.
I'm a dedicated Christian, myself, and often lament such behavior when I see it. Right now, I'm wondering what her response would have been, had someone mentioned to her that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female"...

Litknitgrit said...

Actually, one of the things I don't understand about organized Christianity is proselytizing. Luther, building upon St. Augustine, decided that God had predetermined the salvation (Calvin said damnation, too) of every soul beforehand; nothing that one can do can change one's fate. Nothing. Not even knitting, or other sin: either you're saved, of God's grace, or you're damned, nothing to do with you anyway. So why is it necessary to witness, or testify, or try to convince anyone of the truth of your conviction? Either God gives them the ticket, or he doesn't. Similarly, nothing that I do can affect anyone else's chances of salvation negatively; that is, my being a bad role model doesn't matter to the saved. As, of course, her poor children must be. But this is a conversation that makes most Christians uncomfortable: it doesn't really make the "Jesus loves you, love Him back" concept doable, and it goes against the American dream--anyone can be saved! Just work at it, right? Except, not.

Michele said...

Franklin,

The point of this entry is well taken. If parties cannot talk and listen beyond "stalemate", how can differences be understood, resolution attempted, minds broadened? However, it takes both parties, willing to step beyond stalemate.

The following is among my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies
hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction."

But here's the rub... there absolutely is no way to derive anything good from the lady on the train's thinking--men who knit in public (or private, for that matter) are not being good role models or setting good examples for children, mainly boy children.

I am not sure that there is anything you could have said to this woman that would have rendered her willing to find out more than she thinks she knows. Some people are that ignorant, not because of their religion, but because they arrive at such absurd ideas.

I do applaud the fact that you ask us not to judge the stranger on the train because of her religion--a tall order at times. The fact that you, Franklin, came away from the incident less than satisfied with the outcome says a lot about you. I am not at all sure this fine, ministering, young lady would have been open to any "light" or "love" you might have attempted to bestow upon her? But you never know unless you give it a go? However, I can't for the life of me think of any response from you that would have caused her to look further?

Michele

Anonymous said...

Franklin, you got off easy when she decided that she didn't have anything else to say to a Buddist.

The minister involved with the After the Rapture book series crossed paths with the Dahli Lama and asked if he had heard the story of Jesus. (One of the DL's entourage said, yes he already had).

Some people have difficulties accepting that other view points are as valid as their own.

Debbie said...

I would be so happy to sit down next to you on the train in order to discuss knitting, not religion. I'm pretty sure Jesus was never pushy or judgmental like some of his followers have come to be today.

"Faith-Based Douchebaggery," ah yes, now I remember, I think I met this "minister" somewhere before -- she called me "unladylike" because I've been known to change my own oil.

Knit on!

Anonymous said...

Hey, you look great in Tzarina Lace!

Leah

Raveller said...

You are very brave. Just wanted to acknowledge that. Knit on!

nessie said...

Dearest Franklin,

While reading the 354(!!!) comments I could clearly visualize Bhudda, sitting side by side with Jesus, while knitting, slowly shaking their heads...

Knit on, proud man!!
Nessie in the Netherlands

Anonymous said...

Off topic... from another blog reading, Do you have a book coming out on the History of Lace? Did I miss something?

Eileen said...

Franklin...you handled it so well.

Wish you could have had my last train knitting experience. I talked with a woman all the way from Providence, RI to Baltimore, MD. (She's planning on taking up knitting again. And I finished a pair of socks.)

That poor, close-minded creature. (Your little minister, I mean.)

You took something valuable from that unpleasant encounter; she did give you a gift after all, though certainly not the one she intended.

She allowed you to look at yourself and see something that though upsetting, is something you have the power to alter for the better.

That "closed" mind of yours will be even more open now. Mine will too--thank you.

Lety said...

I would have leaned in and purred, "My boyfriend LOVES it when I knit in front of him!" Mwah ha ha

Isabel said...

Sad, sad, sad. How can a woman think Jesus doesn't want boys to see grown men knitting? That is just so weird. I mean, of all the things to worry about, that's what crossed her mind. What a staggering lack of imagination.

Here in Japan, Samurai knitted socks with their fingers. I think.

Emily said...

Franklin, could you please post again soon? Every time I look you're still stuck on that damned train with that annoying young person. I wish you better times than that!

sahara said...

Gee Franklin, I came here looking for the name of your stole.

I feel sorry for her. She is too young to be locked into such a mind set. It's the sort of thinking that renders women unable to take care of themselves. I wonder what she would do if put into a situation, where there were no men to help her do anything "non-traditional" insuring her survival?

A 150 years ago, she'd more than likely be living by herself on a rural farm, the only man crossing her path?––the mail carrier, or itinerant salesman. Would she wait for them to come and chop her wood for the winter, because women should only cook and knit? Ancestors knows, if she had kids what'd happen to them.

I'm amazed she was allowed to ride the train. I'm glad you at least opened her eyes. We can't go backwards.

Elizabeth said...

Dude, I totally had a run-in on a train with someone who wanted to minister to us too.... sooooo awkward. I JUST remembered. Sad thing is... I was that girl, some 20 years ago. People do change.

alala said...

Since there are 362 comments before mine, I'm pretty sure someone else has already said this, but: I talk to Jesus, and He definitely wants you to knit.

Anonymous said...

...and God didn't strike you dead. She's too openminded for that.

Susan in Elora, ON.

Anonymous said...

I normally read and run. I hate people who have to point out to me that they are good christian folk. Good Christian folk don't have to announce themselves, you see it in how they live their lives. This is why I'm so lapsed. The J-diddy hung out with tax collectors, harlots and sinners. I bet one of the apostles knitted what with all of those fishermen who made their own nets and such. There are many men who knit and the more of you who do it in public the better. I live in a mountain resort community and it is a badge of honor for our teen and twenty-something young men to hit the slopes in hats that they knit or crochet themselves. I love those boys.
Sincerely,
Nikki the Lurker

Christy said...

How sad that she didn't even know who she was sitting next too. I can only imagine what amazing conversations she could have had if she had opened her mind instead of her mouth.

Still Not Goin Quietly said...

I guess you should have been sitting there cleaning your gun??? What a... wench! My son decided to learn to knit when he found out that I was knitting for Newborns in Need. He met his wife because of it. I ended up teaching her to knit too. Bad example! What a loada hooey.

Amy said...

oh holy crap. I´ve heard some doozies in my day but this kind of BS takes the cake. What the f&%/ was she ON about? I am sorry you have witnessed what you did.

Amy said...

btw, all Peruvian men knit. The women spin the wool. This is still considered masculine and traditional. She was just on crack.

unravld said...

Dear Franklin, I've missed your posts. Hope you and Delores and the Gang come home soon! Lisa Pile

Ellen said...

As a Christian, I am heartily ashamed of people like her. I'd like to think she meant well, but sadly people of my and every faith too often use their religion as a mask for their own intolerance.

Personally, I wonder why she thought she was providing such a good example to them by being so intolerant? I think men knitting and being creative in public is wonderful, but that's not the point- the point is she, by being so excluding and making you out to be some kind of deviant, aside from being utterly ridiculous, is teaching those same young people she was so worried about to be every bit as prejudiced, and as excluding as she is.

You're quite right- this world is going to go nowhere good if we can't learn to be open and accepting of others, no matter who they are, and no matter what they do.

On behalf of my faith, I apologise.

holli said...

Franklin, where are you? Surely you're not still lost in La Crosse? We miss you!

TarheelKnitwit said...

Dear Franklin,

I've read this 4 times and thought hard before I decided to comment on this post.

I am a Christian, but I hope to never be as intolerant as your train missionary. I promise we're not all that way.

By the way--

A mild answer turneth away wrath--Book of Proverbs.

Yours was a better witness to tolerance and grace than hers was.

Peace and grace to you.

Ed said...

I don't know why this surprised me because I do know there are people out there everywhere who never stop to think before they speak. I would much rather teach our youth how to knit and or spin as a means of expressing their creativity in hopes that they will stay away from drugs and violence.
People are people and by nature some are very stuck in the mindset of the past and have little chance of evolving.
Franklin, you handled that better than I would have...I would have told the woman to go set down and mind her own business which by the way is very effective because the person is taken back by the fact that you are not feeding into their banter and they have been dismissed by you.

Anonymous said...

Franklin, are you ever going to post again? Not sure how many more days I can last without you......
Connie

Anonymous said...

Were you supposed to be sitting there flexing your biceps?

Kimberly from SBL said...

(sigh) I would have pointed out that knitting was created by the Viking sailors so as to repair their sails. History has proven this little-known fact, and I would have smacked that information into her close-minded head. But you were MUCH nicer than I would have been!

Bunny hugs,
Kimberly =:8

Michaela said...

Never mind opening the window to jump out of, I'd have been more tempted to push her out of it. But then I suppose that's neither very Christian or Buddhist like. I would love to see anyone knitting on a train - be it male or female. Oh and those baby photos are fantastic - they should be framed!

(Word veri today is 'sockl' Maybe that's what you should have done to minister!)

John said...

Why was she riding the train alone?? Shouldn't she have been accompanied by a man? And why was she, a woman, talking to you? Ignorant bitch doesn't know her place.

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pat@highcountryknitwear.com said...

We are all, at least in theory, advocates of free speech, but the kind of people who give it a bad name by trying to extend their own rights at the expense of others. They are, like this woman those who believe they have the right coerce an audience, even an audience of one, into listening. And then go on--and on--attempting to coerce agreement.

We all have the right not to listen, and we all have the right not to agree.

Kathy said...

Next time I watch Emeril Lagasse on Cable. I'll be wondering if it bothers him he is " a man doing something a woman does."
That is the problem! There is not a man on television with his own knitting show.
Educate the ignorant on Cable!

I feel like I need to warn somebody they still have one like her running amuck!

Tash said...

Just a little gobsmacked (there's a good English term for you!) after reading this.....if the window next to you had opened, I wouldn't have thrown myself out, I'd have thrown HER out...... P.S. In NO way could a man knitting NOT ever be a good example to kids - forget about the sex of the knitter, focus on the fact that you are creating and producing something with your fair hands

Karin said...

Oh, man...

Gerrie said...

Well, has Amtrak hit a new low in reliability? you can not get back from WI?

Hope all is well,

bullettheblue said...

Bless your heart, Franklin. I'm a born-again-turned-liberal-mainliner and I'm embarrassed. It's people like that who make me ashamed, people who are supposed to be my "brothers and sisters."

I know lots of men who sew much better than I ever will, and knit stockings to be proud of. The first person I taught to spin with a drop-spindle was a 16-year-old boy. He did so well I gave him my handmade spindle for his own, because it suited his style better than it did mine, and I picked up my new Ashford lightweight.

However, with your always positive attitude, I'm sure you were able to shake it off and salvage the day. I hope you enjoyed yourself in La Crosse!

winged unicorn said...

wow. i hope that woman never meets my surgeon. he knits because it keeps his fingers flexible.

Xuskagg said...

I live down-state from you Franklin, and I am still getting used to this close-minded bible belt thing. I am not used to this lifestyle of stuffing closed-minded ideologies down other people's throats. ICK! Both of my boys will be taught to knit, spin, and do crafty little things. They are already deeply sensitive and love everything natural and beautiful. People look at me (and them) strangely, because they are not beating on each other, or beating on other children and "acting as boys should behave...". Honestly, men doing calm, peaceful, beautiful things with their hands is a WONDERFUL role model for boys (especially today)! My husband is a potter, so I think that is a wonderful, peaceful influence. I wish we lived closer to you Frankiln, so my boys could see more men knitting!

Anonymous said...

amen.

=Tamar said...

"Charlie couldn't get offa that train...." his wife never handed him a nickel through that window and he wasn't good at panhandling. See you when you get back, Franklin!

texaslacer said...

ACK!!! I'm suffering withdrawal....two weeks without one of your wonderfully crafted posts is too long.

Judy

DeanB said...

My sister once came across a verse from Ecclesiastes, quoted in a Pennsylvania Dutch crafts book. Best I can recall:

Whatsoever thy hand finds to do, do with thy strength.

Seems to me it ties in with Zen mindfulness, too. My point: Bible quote, says whatsoever.

VA said...

Franklin. Please come back to the blog. My little dose of sanity is waning!

Hope you are well.

Deborah said...

Yes Such close-mindedness is so very sad. I have in the past year "crossed the floor" so to speak and gone from a practicing Christian to a practising Buddhist all because of close-mindedness. I'm happy to say I am two little boys who have a wonderfully gently dad, and I have taught my two boys to knit, crochet and sew. And we are all happier for all of it. And I am blessed with gentle, caring, loving children who have strong character.

I love your blog and I love listening to you on Brenda Dayne's Cast-On. Take care!!

Emily said...

Franklin!! You're still on that train! (Seriously, I've begun to worry.)

Schmutzie said...

You are being featured on Five Star Friday!
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Anonymous said...

Bless you Franklin, and bless her as well, as I believe she truly needs it.

sd48 said...

Where are you? We miss you!

Rebecca said...

I know you posted this several weeks ago, but I'm still thinking about it. This is common throughout our country. In a brief foray into vegan eating last year I encountered some rather radical 'vegangelicals' who sound like your friends who don't think you're 'Buddhist enough'. I guess this is what the striving for egolessness is all about, because, suspecting myself of being something a close-minded single-visioned person as well, I have tried recently to watch people like O'Reilly and that slimedog Ann Coulter, just to see what they're saying. Having studied History at school, and having read numerous propaganda tracts, the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' foremost among them, I am a bit more attuned to how people use just enough 'truth' to suck you in and then twist it in such a way that it might be believable, depending on your background and education level. I have tried to open my mind to see things from a more conservative viewpoint, so that I can at least have a conversation with these people.

I have hit the FAIL wall at every turn. I continue to see their thinking as twisted and wrong. :-) I can rarely even ascribe any humanity to them, so I must congratulate you on your attitude of bemusement with this minister; rather than the pure outrage I feel sure she would have invoked in me. Apparently, your Zen Buddhism is doing something for you (even if you're not a very good Buddhist heh heh heh).

As to how we're ever going to live in peace ... well, not to be all jaded or anything, but I think you've answered your own question.

Marcy said...

I find it really bizarre that knitting, which can be all things to all people, could be considered a bad example when being done by a man instead of a woman. Very strange. Knitting offers hand-eye coordination, it strengthens basic math skills, it sparks creativity, etc.

I would like to add, though, that in being respectful to people of all religions, that you extend that respect to women. "Douchebag" is not an appropriate insult. It is an implement for (albeit unnecessary) cleansing of the vagina, and so using female things as insults (whether b*tch, p*ssy, or douchebag) is sexist and inappropriate.

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