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The American Caliban

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The Tragedy of the Commas [Dec. 9th, 2004|11:26 pm]
The American Caliban
The other day at D’s a woman came up to a group of us at the end of the evening and asked for our attention. First, she asked if we were “Program” which made sense, since a lot of 12 step folks show up on that night, but we weren’t. Then it was time for the presentation. She gave her name and then launched into a prepared story. She told us that she had spent years on alcohol and drugs, and was also HIV and Hepatitis C positive, and had no doubt given the disease to many people.

Everyone else was uncomfortably silent and I said “Uhh.. Uhh.. I’m really sorry to hear that.” Hard to say what to do.

She then went on to say that she had hurt us all and she wanted to apologize to us for this. I understood what she meant but thought “shouldn’t you be apologizing to people with AIDS or Hep C?”. Not going to say anything though.

She then went into a hard-core fundamentalist Christian conversion script. Unfortunately the script called for her to put people on the spot, so that she turned to me and asked me what I believed, and waited. “That’s kind of personal”, I said. She asked me “Are you positive, though? Do you have a positive belief in your heart?” I had to tell her that was personal, too. There were three or four more questions like that, to which I kept giving the same answer. Finally she blessed us all and left, after warning us that the end was soon and the fire, etc.

I heartily wish her well, not least because she got herself into such a nasty medical situation. And I do understand what she was about, mostly. The canned religious script was really hard to hear, though. It felt as though she couldn’t just go and apologize to the world for the things she felt guilt about; she had to win something too. And in this case, winning meant being right about God and being the deliverer of the Message.

I still don’t know what I think about it, really.

[User Picture]From: bruisedhips
2004-12-10 07:30 am (UTC)
I have a really hard time with situations like that as well.
On one hand I want to feel sorry for people so desperate to do right after so many wrongs and on the other hand it always sounds like they are trying to "prequalify" for heaven or something.
I dunno.
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[User Picture]From: the_silent_one
2004-12-10 07:32 am (UTC)
I've noticed that some of the born again's who didn't live a "good life" pre-revelation, seem to see converting others as their way of making it up to God. Hence, they tend to be more aggressive.
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[User Picture]From: trinnit
2004-12-10 07:39 am (UTC)
Try letting them do the whole spiel, when they ask aa question of you say "Sorry, I don't understand you"

Lisa can show you how to sign that, for bonus points.
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From: redmaenad
2004-12-10 05:32 pm (UTC)
I've considered using that on someone once at work, but stopped when I realized that I'd inevitably have to answer the phone at some point.

I was there for this event. I ignored the woman, but politely told her what my name was when she asked for introductions. My reaction was: How incredibly selfish! (On many levels...) Likewise: Wow--I can't imagine what hell it must be to be you! Neither of these must necessarily cancel or mitigate the either in any way.
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[User Picture]From: trinnit
2004-12-10 05:39 pm (UTC)
I used it just once. A stranger in a parking lot came up and started yelling at me because I had a tire "over the line" and thus was in his space.
I was HOH at the time, and caught that much but I patiently waited till he stopped and said (with genuine confusion) I have no idea what you just said, can you repeat that a bit slower?

He choose to storm off instead.
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[User Picture]From: wrecking__ball
2004-12-10 08:51 am (UTC)
Congradulations! You have just been the recipient of Step Nine!
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[User Picture]From: scromp
2004-12-10 09:18 am (UTC)
You and your friends are amazingly tolerant.
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From: samiamrex
2004-12-10 03:20 pm (UTC)
i wish her well, too. the fact that she doesn't seem to be doing much of the drugs anymore is a positive step.

HOWEVER!! i wish there wasn't a christian carrot dangled in front of the donkey who wishes to help themselves.

sometimes i read street roots, the local homeless population newspaper. it's a good little rag, and the money goes to helping the homeless people who work for the paper. there seems to be a general consensus amongst the newspaper's main contributors that they would rather go hungry than accept beef chili and the "jesus died for you" schpiel at the christian ministries place.

it's totally demeaning. to know you need help, and try to get that help, and have to jump through some religious hoops to get it. and then you don't even get credit for making this enormous life choice on your own. and suddenly it seems to me where you could have once blamed all your problems on the drugs, now your whole life can be attributed to jesus and his omnipotent will. you never get a chance to be strong in you and your choices. this last point is so important for folks, who unfortunately will and have never come from a place of strength and good self-esteem.

disclaimer: of course i'm not saying that religion is bad! it can actually be quite good for folks! what i'm saying is that religion gets in the way of real progress sometimes.

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[User Picture]From: substitute
2004-12-10 03:22 pm (UTC)


That kind of canned spirituality really is a crutch, and sometimes a person needs a crutch. I hope she gets a more mature relationship with the Absolute at some point, though, for her sake as well as ours.
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