‘So you make a deal with the gods. You do these dances and they’ll send rain and good crops and the whole works? And nothing bad will ever happen. Right.’…

“’No, it’s not like that. It’s not making a deal, bad things can still happen, but you want to try not to CAUSE them to happen. It has to do with keeping things in balance…. Really, it’s like the spirits have made a deal with US…. We’re on our own. The spirits have been good enough to let us live here and use the utilities, and we’re saying: We know how nice you’re being. We appreciate the rain, we appreciate the sun, we appreciate the deer we took. Sorry if we messed up anything. You’ve gone to a lot of trouble, and we’ll try to be good guests.’…

”’Like a note you’d send somebody after you stayed in their house?’

“’Exactly like that. "Thanks for letting me sleep on your couch. I took some beer out of the refrigerator, and I broke a coffee cup. Sorry, I hope it wasn’t your favorite one.”’…

“It’s a good idea,’ I said. ‘Especially since we’re still here sleeping on God’s couch. We’re permanent houseguests.’

”’Yep, we are. Better remember how to put everything back how we found it.’

It was a new angle on religion, for me. I felt a little embarrassed for my blunt interrogation. And the more I thought about it, even more embarrassed for my bluntly utilitarian culture. ‘The way they tell it to us Anglos, God put the earth here for us to use, westward-ho. Like a special little playground.’

“Loyd said, ‘Well, that explains a lot.’…

”’But where do you go when you’ve pissed in every corner of your playground?’…

“To people who think of themselves as God’s houseguests, American enterprise must seem arrogant beyond belief. Or stupid. A nation of amnesiacs, proceeding as if there were no other day but today. Assuming the land could also forget what had been done to it.

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

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