Posted by: johnhourihan | September 26, 2012

I’m OK, But You Need to be Saved

I had been in a metaphysical time warp, a metanoia, a religious experience, a bad movie, a brain crushing hangover. I’m not sure which it was, but it was one of them, I’m sure.
It started years ago. I was getting gas before heading to a friend’s house to sit around a Chianti-bottle candle and throw a glow-in-the-dark superball around the room.
As I pumped 35-cent-a-gallon gasoline into my car, I was startled by the appearance of a John the Baptist look-alike (as far as I could tell, since I’ve never seen any photographs). He was standing between the pumps and glaring through time-tired eyes directly at me.
“Have you accepted Jesus?” he asked from a few inches away.
I turned back toward the back of the car hoping he’d go away, but he pushed around in front of me.
“You need to repent for your sins.”
“Why do you assume I have sins?” I asked, just knowing it was a bad idea to humor him.
“Oh, you are a sinner alright. I was too, but now I’m saved.”
“Yeah, OK, that’s good. Now go away. This is gasoline and I’m about to light a cigarette and  …..” He disappeared.
Now, I’m a Catholic-school boy, born and raised, and I believe my own truth about religion, and recently, with the Republican Party usurping the role of the church, it is back on the front burner.
My revelation came one day when my post-army, pre-college self woke from a bad night out to the timid knock on my apartment door.
It was two young women. One of them was extremely good looking.
“Have you been saved?” she asked me.
“Sure, if that’s what you call it.” I stepped back and pulled the door open. “Want to come in?”
A frightened look flowed across their faces from top to bottom.
“No,” they both said in unison, turned on their heels and left.
I guess they didn’t figure I had been saved, just them.
In an airport years later, my married, twice-a-daddy self was on my way to a sales conference in Atlanta.
And there he was, sitting on a concrete wall leading to Logan Airport. He had long hair, a flower shirt and jeans, but no shoes.
As I grimaced past him carrying my non-rolling big black suitcase, he asked quietly, almost as if we had been carrying on a conversation and it was his turn to speak, “So, have you been saved?”
Not again.
“Read the good book. It will help.”
I expected to hear “If you build it they will come,” but no, it was just this same message, “Have you been saved?”
I stopped more for the chance to take a break from carrying the bag for a few seconds. I looked across the four lanes of traffic, at the building on the other side of the street.
“Why do you feel justified in stopping me and asking me that?”
“Everyone needs a little help, and I want you to be saved, like me.”
I shook my head, picked up my baggage and trudged on towards the terminal.
The sacred onslaught disappeared for a lot of years, but now it is back.
Pretty much the entire Republican Party says we can be saved by voting for them.
The one constant is that these people believe they have all been saved. It is just us who need help.
I disagree. I’ve been told we’ve all been saved. I’ve been told that’s why Jesus showed up in the first place.
The evangelical right reminds me of the Irish guy in Braveheart who said, “God says he can save me, but he says you’re …”  well, not saved.
So let me ask you, didn’t you know, pride is a Cardinal sin?



  1. Weather any of us have been saved or not or if any of us are even savable will not be known to us until the time for spreading the word has long passed. The only word we humans are capable of spreading or knowledgeable enough to spread is be good. I do hope pride in others is not a sin or I’m unsaveable.

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