Sunday, July 26, 2015

My Experience With a Crazy Religious Nut

My Experience With a Religious Nut
Chris Costello

As all of my regular readers, and indeed anyone who knows me at all, can attest, I am an atheist. I am also alive during this, the heyday of the internet, so I feel it goes without saying that I am pretty outspoken about that fact. I spend a great deal of time speaking and writing about my atheism, both in person and on the Web. I’ve seen my fair share of religious fundamentalist nut-jobs of all faiths, mostly on the internet. I’m very good about avoiding those types of people in real life.

That’s very hard to do when the nut-job in question is family.

I might share my thoughts on the nature of family some other time, but we’ll table some of the broader questions this story raises for now. The big stuff isn’t relevant just yet.

What is important is that I recently attended a graduation party for a cousin of mine. It was an excellent affair, with a DJ and everything. I had a great time until I was taken hostage by an aunt of mine, who is called Helen. She sells alternative medicine and is a right-wing evangelical Christian. So, as you can probably tell, we have very little in common.

The conversation took a turn for the worst pretty much immediately after she roped me into it. I was born prematurely, and my brother and I spent the better part of four months in the hospital. I ended up with a mild case of cerebral palsy, and I had to work for years to overcome this. I would very much like to forget about that whole section of my life, thank you very much.

Helen missed the memo on that last bit. Every single fucking time I see her, she cannot resist bringing up all of this, along with the idea that God saved me; that I was a ‘miracle baby.’ I was under the impression that it was modern medicine hat saved my brother and I, but whatever.

This grad party was no exception. She brought up the miracle baby shit, as she always does, and I kept my mouth shut and nodded along with her. I’m not trying to start a fight, and Helen is so far gone that all of my reasoned, logic arguments would just bounce off her.

So, thus far, must of her stuff is pretty run-of-the-mill. It’s still crazy, but nothing I haven’t heard before or gotten used to. Whatever, you know? Let’s just move on, Helen.

And move on she did.

Helen knows I’m a writer, as do most of the people in my life. She waxed poetic about the power of writing, and for once, I actually found myself agreeing with her. I fully believe in the ability of writing to unite people and help us repair any wounds we might have.

Then Helen, as per usual, fucked everything up.

She told me a story, which has been transcribed in its entirety below. Here goes.

“I know there’s power in writing because in 1998, I wrote down the kind of car I wanted on a slip of paper and I stuck it in an old bible. Then I forgot about it for a year. Well, in 1999, my husband came home from work in a new car, and it was the exact kind I’d wanted! I asked him how he knew, since I’d never told him anything about wanting it. He’d found the slip of paper in that old bible. God moved him to buy me that car. There’s power in writing, Chris. Keep writing.”

Wow, okay. Where do I even start with this one I shouldn’t have to tell you how batshit insane that is, right? The fact that starving children and murders exist, but your deity was totally able to help you get a fucking car? That’s despicable, and narcissistic, and just...awful.

But never mind that. Helen’s conclusion is just wrong. God had nothing to do with her husband’s decision to buy that car for her. He just found the slip of paper and knew that she wanted it. The bible is irrelevant. She could’ve left it on the table somewhere and the outcome would’ve been the same.

But, as before, I smiled, and nodded, and agreed. There was no point in making a scene.

Helen ended the conversation by saying, “You’re so interesting, Chris. I love talking to you.”

Throughout this whole exchange, I never said a word.

People like Helen actually exist. These humans, if they can really be called that, are out there. They are real, and this is baffles me.

Just something to think about.

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