In the summer of 1977, I was living in Jackson Heights, Queens (part of New York City), and working 30 hours a week, 6 pm until midnight, in Manhattan (NYC) for this telemarketing company. I was making phone calls all over the country for TV Guide subscriptions and Encyclopedia Americana annuals.
I seemed to have a lot of time on my hands because I wandered through the city a lot. One time I was somewhere around 36th Street when I was approached by this young woman. Initially, I thought she was flirting with me, which was nice because she was really quite cute. In fact, she was talking about her faith, which she did not really identify, and asked whether I wanted to come up to their facility in the Bronx to have dinner. Hey, it’s a free meal, and I’m a bored, underemployed guy.
So a day or two later, I did go up to the nondescript location. As it turned out, it was an outreach center for the Unification Church. I got into some interesting theological conversations with a group of people there. Though by then I wasn’t attending any church on a regular basis, I would engage in debate, using what I knew about Christianity and the Baha’i faith.
At some point, someone, not the young woman I first met, suggested that I take a trip upstate to one of their training facilities. I had heard about the church’s supposed devious recruitment tactics, and possible brainwashing, so I made some excuse not to go.
I did this dance at least another half dozen times, going up to the Bronx for a meal, talking religion, but being too busy, or not ready, or unclear about what that would entail. To the latter, I was assured that it would be SO helpful in my daily living. But no, I was just being a theological flirt myself, giving them hope that they might reel me in, but having NO intention of following through.
Hadn’t thought about that for a while, until I read that the Unification Church founder the Rev. Sun Myung Moon had died at the age of 92 this week. I was at such loose ends in those days, I’m a bit surprised that I DIDN’T make a trip north. My life might have very well taken a totally different trajectory.