I’m working on a post about religious retreats and emotional manipulation, but it’s not quite ready yet. I’d like to get a post out while it’s still today, so this one’s mainly just for fun. Here’s a list of the six people you’re likely to encounter at a religious retreat or other large youth-oriented religious event.
1) The Addict
This is the guy (or girl) who says he’s done drugs. Specifically, he’s addicted to alcohol and he smokes weed. Maybe he’s done something else too that he refuses to name for dramatic effect. He’ll get up there at the retreat and testify that even though he’s done all these things, being at this retreat makes him want to change. From now on, he’s going to be clean, because Jesus. Next week, you’ll still catch him cutting class to do pot.
2) The one who Needs Therapy
This is a person who tells everyone there that he or she has been abused in some way. Maybe he remembers being beaten by his father, or she wants to tell you that her boyfriend raped her. Whatever the story, you believe it, but you’re not sure how you feel about hearing it. This person just proclaimed their very damaging past publicly to a group of strangers, and sounds like they need psychological help. Like The Addict, they’ll end their story with “It’s all good because Jesus,” but for this person, it seems even more tacked on. It seems like they’re desperate to tell someone their story, regardless of whether or not this is the appropriate setting. You hope they get the help they need so they can stop confessing to retreat groups.
3) The Pop Culture Preacher
This is the priest/minister/monk/nun, etc. who is totally with it. He (or she) will make references to whatever the latest teen sensation is, and every few sentences there’s a joke. You’re more interested in the humor than his message, so when he eventually gets serious and tries to lead you in prayer, you zone out. You wish more priests/ministers/monks/nuns, etc. were like this guy. He makes religion entertaining.
4) The Purity Pledger
This is someone, typically a girl, who says she’s had sex, but won’t anymore. When she gets home, she’s going to have a serious talk with her boyfriend about sex. Whether that “talk” even happens has yet to be determined, but you can bet your own future sex life that by the time she’s in college, she won’t even remember having made this promise because let’s be honest, sex is awesome.
5) The Purity Spokesperson
Generally female, but sometimes male (or a couple that preaches together). This person’s job is to guilt you into not having sex. “Picture your future husband watching what you and your current boyfriend are doing on that couch,” she may say. “You know you’re not going to marry him. Would you still do it if your future husband were watching?”
Some of her arguments may seem reasonable. It’s certainly good to avoid pregnancy and STIs. But then, right when she has the audience agreeing with her, she takes it too far. “I saved my first kiss for marriage,” she says, “and I recommend that for all of you.”
“Well…that ship has sailed.” a solid three quarters or more of her audience thinks, and her influence over them is lost at that point.
6) The CHRISTIAN Musician
This is the person or group that was hired to provide Christian entertainment. Their songs will be even more repetitive than the majority of popular music. If there were any alcohol on the premises (ask person number 1?) you could make a pretty successful drinking game if you drank every time the lyrics said “Jesus,” “Halelujah,” “Grace,” “Cross,” or “lift up.” If you’re ever forced to listen to the sorry excuse for music that is Christian Rock, I recommend this.
A big thanks to my little brother for corroborating on some of these.
What do you think about this list? Do you have anything to add? Have you experienced a religious retreat? Feel free to comment. As always, all opinions are welcome. Just be respectful and think things through before posting.