Don’t get left behind! Catch up on the Devangelical 11-Step Survival Guide first:
* Step 1: Admit It, You’ve Got Issues
* Step 2: Sanity Is An Option…Right?
* Step 3: Make a Choice to Get Over It, Why Don’t You?
* Step 4: Make a List
* Step 5: Share Your List, or Why I Love Whores
* Step 6: Be Willing to Forgive, or Please Suffer from Diarrhea
When I was 16, I went to visit the SpaceMan.
To be fair, he did not know I was visiting him as my “visit” was through the tinted windows of a rented church van. But I was there and he was there. I saw him.
He, however, did not see me. He also did not see the other dozen teens staring wide-eyed at him from behind the dark safety glass. He was far too busy staring at the sky through a homemade pair of binoculars with lenses the size of mayonnaise jars for that.
As we were high on a diet consisting largely of God and bottomless Hot Tamales, we were not exactly prepared to meet the SpaceMan. We were in Idaho to rock Regionals in volleyball, basketball and Bible quizzing. The fact that there was a SpaceMan in Idaho was just bonus.
The first thing to catch my eye was the fence. Being a neighborhood built on the theme of the pre-free love bungalow, none of the other houses’ fence lines came close. But the SpaceMan’s house could not be ignored. The SpaceMan’s house was surrounded by a 6 ft.-high chain link fence, and then topped with 3 more feet of extensions and tightly swirled razor wire. The SpaceMan’s house was in no mood to buy Girl Scout cookies.
Inside the fence was a mound of dirt, in which was presumably enclosed the house. I deduced this by a metal roof clamped on with large metal brackets, visible in patches at the top of the miniature mountain. Also, there were thick iron chains crisscrossing the summit in several places, and held fast into the ground by enormous iron bolts.
Somebody in the van piped up at some point and said that the SpaceMan had said in an interview with either That’s Incredible or Real People that the aliens sent rain clouds to hover directly over his house—and only his house—causing a strange mold to grow within. He said the aliens came at night sometimes to try and steal him away. But he was smarter than they were. He had thought of everything. For all of the high security of the house, it was more of a decoy than anything. At night, he slept in the back of the red pick-up truck on the street so he could see them coming and get away.
When the mail came, the courier dropped any letters or packages into a special mail chute on the street. This chute ended within the house somewhere. The SpaceMan would not be tricked into getting his mail by an alien disguised as a US postal worker.
Inside the house, he had stockpiled food and water in case he was ever driven into the house by aliens and could not leave.
The space man had thought of everything.
As a person who enjoys writing lists, I imagine his was a mile long: what to do to prevent the aliens from coming, what to do if the aliens come during the day, what to do to if the aliens come at night…. By the look of his house, my guess is that he had to do some prioritizing, too—first the razor wire, then the roof clamps, bury the house—but before he got to that point he had his raw list, which would have itemized everything he would like to do within the realm of possibility.
Which brings me to Step #7 in my Devangelical Guide to Recovery: Make a List of Possible Amends. Now, while it may be a bit of a jump to get from the SpaceMan’s “What to Do in Case of Alien” list to your “What Can I Do to Make up for Any Havoc I May Have Caused to My Fellow Human While Under the Influence of Uber-Righteousness”…actually scratch that. It isn’t that big of a leap, after all.
Here’s an example taken from my own List of Possible Amends, just to get your creative juices flowing:
* I could apologize to that Goth girl for trying to exorcise her. Possibly send her “Life is Emo” podcast series, or jumbo pack of cigarettes.
* I could find that one guy who I told was definitely going to Hell because he was Catholic and had the audacity to believe he could confess his sins to a priest.
* I could send a note to all my friends from high school Bible class and apologize for acting like I understood just what the heck the Bible was saying while they all had it wrong.
* I could stop making my gay friends feel weird by assuring them over and over about how I believe God loves them, too.
* Next time a telemarketer calls, instead of lying to them I will tell them that I, so-called ‘lady’ of the house, would rather shovel dog poo at an inner city doggie day care than talk to them.
The idea is to simply list out any possible action you could take in order to make up for any religious assholery in which you may have once partaken. After all, you’re smarter now. You’re older, leaner, wiser, and quite possibly a different person. Chances are that if you have managed to keep some measure of faith, you have learned to do it with a little more grace to your fellow humans. But whether you’ve kept your faith or not, it is good to remember that you yourself are only human and deserve a little grace, yourself.
On a related note, you also deserve some Girl Scout Cookies. (Yes, you do.)
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