Harvest Fest was in full flower as Greg and James staggered about like drunken bees, tippling every keg and toppling the occasional co-ed.
Tucked away in a corner of the fraternity quad, an unlikely booth beckoned. A large wooden cross adorned the patch of grass at its entrance and one word bedecked its ample awning:
As the two circled closer, they could see one bespectacled man seating inside. Whatever he was selling, clearly the market was down.
"Confessional?" James mouthed to Greg. "Isn't that some Catholic thing?"
"Yeah, s'posed to be good for the soul," retorted Greg. "You think he's got any liquor in there?"
At their approach, the man rose from his chair -- more of a stool, really -- and met them at the door.
"Welcome, welcome, gentlemen," he gushed. "Please come in!"
He motioned them towards two upholstered chairs somewhat hidden in the shadows of the booth.
Greg shrugged while James, more in touch with his wits, began to question the man.
"So, what is it you expect us to confess?" he asked. "Drunkenness? Guilty. Cussing? *^$% yes! Sexual immorality? Well, we wish..."
The man smiled, raising his hands. Clearly he'd heard such rants before.
"No, no, nothing like that. Please sit and I'll explain."
As the paired collapsed into the chairs, the man pushed his stool aside and, to their consternation, knelt on the ground at their feet.
"It is I who must do the confessing," he said.
"For hundreds of years, we Christians have at times forgotten ourselves; have lost track of the love that Jesus Christ died for.
"You've seen it and heard about it, the charade of religiosity that led to the Great Inquisition, to the murderous crusades, to witch burnings.
"Even today, it is a rare individual who doesn't bear scars from a brush with the religious establishment."
Greg, his face reddening, said, "Tell me about it. I remember when our church told my mom she couldn't attend anymore when she divorced my dad. And he was having an affair!"
James nodded sourly. "One time a Christian lady told my aunt she must have sinned greatly to have been cursed with my brother. He's retarded."
The man nodded. "I know you've been hurt. And I'm here to repent of all the damage done in the name of Jesus.
Here he looked up at them and asked, "Will you forgive us?"
Greg, sobered by the question, tentatively nodded. James followed suit. Then each breathed out a sigh, as if a weight had been lifted.
"You don't mind if we send some of our friends over?" asked James. "I think they need to hear this."
"Not at all," said the man. "It's what I'm here for."
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