For complete context about why I’m not having a birthday party for my 27th birthday this year and how you can still celebrate with me, read You’re Invited to My 27th Birthday Bash.
Warning: In this post, I discuss religion. Personally, I don’t care what religion you practice or don’t practice. I *know* not all Christian churches have the same philosophy, and I am writing about my formative experiences, not debating theology.
My 7th grade science book had an entire section on how aliens weren’t real and shows like Star Trek and The X-Files were just lying to me. The book went on to disprove the existence of aliens because God created the universe in less than a week and created human beings in the image of himself, a unique creature. Plus, Jesus couldn’t travel in space and save all beings’ souls. (Except an all-powerful being could totally do this.) I sat there reading this page in my science book while wearing a Babylon 5 t-shirt.
And that, my friends, was the moment I lost religion.
I probably should mention that this wasn’t a textbook butchered by the Texas Board of Education. I actually attended a Missouri Synod Lutheran middle school, and my 7th grade teacher, Mr. Young, is something an infamous Creationist theologian. (You can Google him because I am NOT giving him link love.)
Looking back, I think I was something of a project for Mr. Young as I didn’t conform to his and the church’s views of what a good Christian young teen girl should be like. Because of my t-shirt and because I read Star Trek tie-in novels during free read, Mr. Young decided this was a good time to address my belief in aliens.
Yes, I deeply believe there is extraterrestrial life out there and that one day, we will encounter it.
The more Mr. Young tried to convince me (and my best friend Charlie who was probably writing in his X-Files notebook) that aliens didn’t exist and I was somehow sinning for believing in them, the more skeptical I became of everything Mr. Young said. He ended up attempting to forbid us from wearing sci-fi shirts (I retired mine to sleepwear and weekends out of shame) and told me I was not allowed to read my tie-in novels during reading time.
(Instead Mr. Young loaned me some historical “Christian” fiction about the burning of Rome under Nero, which I’m sure I was supposed discern some moral lesson about pious Christians thrown to the lions. However, my teenage hormone-filled brain was way more obsessed about the scenes between Nero and his male and female concubines.)
Earlier this week, when NASA announced they were having a press conference and were being super secretive about their topic, Erica the 7th grader was giddy with delight that they found extraterrestrial life. That tiny 7th grader has been waiting for years to write Mr. Young an “I was right; you were wrong.” letter.
Tiny Erica still does not forgive Mr. Young for mocking her belief in aliens; telling her her skirts were too short and she was tempting men; hitting her in the face with rubber dodge-balls; telling her that even thinking about sex is adultery; scaring her with vivid descriptions of the End Times; trying to make her burn her secular music CDs; skipping over the stories about women in the Old Testament; encouraging her friend who heard voices that they were demons instead of referring her to a mental health professional; being a kid instead of an adult; encouraging students to pick on “different” students; saying that animals don’t have souls; and for making her write 1,000 times the note she’d passed in class which said “Mr. Young is an egotistical jerk.” Okay, the last one is hilarious in retrospect. On the other hand, adult Erica thinks Mr. Young just needs some therapy.
Instead, NASA held a press conference to announce that they discovered arsenic-based lifeforms on Earth. While this still proves there are different life forms, this wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. Not that I believe Mr. Young would believe in aliens without E.T. standing in front of him asking him to use his cellphone. I’m sure Mr. Young would come up with some theological explanation. He always did.
If you believe in extraterrestrial life and enjoyed this story, please consider donating to Geek Girl Con, a convention and unapologetic coming together to celebrate geeky women. Where you will be encouraged to wear your “I Want to Believe” t-shirt.