Written by: Emma Florez
Art by: Izzy Dickey
It all started on move-in day. Elliott Friedrichs was the last member of his quad to arrive at McDonald Hall, so he was left with the bed no one wanted— the one in the dead center of the room.
“Hm,” he thought. “I don’t want to sleep in the middle of my room. Let’s move my bed.”
So they did. Upon doing so, they uncovered the Holy Stain.
The Holy Stain is a relatively unassuming color, just a shade darker than the surrounding carpet. Its strength is not found in its saturation, but in its size. The thing is huge.
When Elliott and his roommates saw The Stain, they jumped to the most logical response and began worshipping it. Over the first few days in McDonald Hall, the residents of room 100 created a church, complete with prayers and practices for worship. The religious customs used by the Church of the Holy Stain are largely borrowed and adapted from Christianity and meme culture. If you go to The Stain in prayer, you must put your hands in prayer position and rub them together. The contents of your prayers follow the birthday wish rule; they won’t be answered if you say them out loud. When you’re done praying, you must T-pose around the Holy Stain and bow to any fellow worshippers.
For the first month or so of college, the Church of the Holy Stain spread through McDonald Hall, but the lore was not well established. That’s when Cedar came in.
Cedar, also known as The Messiah of the Holy Stain, was a resident of room 100 at the birth of The Stain. He says that The Stain is composed of milk, olive oil, or Mountain Dew. The Holy Stain works in mysterious ways, and the fact that no one knows what it is made of proves that. According to the McDonald RA, Cedar spends time at the hall because they’re friends, but I think The Stain was calling him home. Every time the followers of the Holy Stain see The Messiah, they T-pose and bow.
In McDonald Hall, a variety of religions are represented. Most residents who are not members of the Church of the Holy Stain are agnostic or atheistic, though there is a Pastafarian minister. When asked why he decided to become ordained in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the minister answered, “I thought it would be a good meme.” Unfortunately for other Pastafarians, he does not conduct worship services. He has, however, baptised unsuspecting passersby by throwing drinking water at them. The minister may or may not officiate a very real (though not included in the Pastafarian ordainment process) wedding between two McDonald Hall residents.
McDonald Hall also has a self-proclaimed “Catholic Whore” who always wears a cross around his neck, even when he has to condense his list of kinks to three items.
And then there’s me.
I grew up in a very sheltered Christian home. Because I was homeschooled, I met very few people who weren’t Christians before leaving for my first year of college. Deeply ingrained in me was a sense that if people were not Christians, they were doing something wrong. That didn’t go away when I arrived at a secular college campus. I knew I would be surrounded by people of diverse backgrounds, sexualities, and other identities, and that excited me. College was an opportunity for me to explore my identity and beliefs. I was still left speechless when two of the other McDonald Hall residents said that they grew up going to church but stopped “because science.”
The made-up religions of McDonald Hall provided a link between me and my hallmates. We couldn’t relate when it came to our actual religions, but we could bond over a fake one. Champlain’s campus and the culture of McDonald Hall have made me more comfortable around people of other (or no) faiths. The ability to joke about made-up religions spilled into the ability to talk about real religions without being afraid of God’s judgement. Learning not to take myself too seriously has given me confidence in my beliefs and the ability to listen to people with completely different worldviews from mine. I’ve learned to accept, embrace, and celebrate the diversity the world has to offer, and it all started with a mysterious stain on the floor of McDonald 100.