The other day The Flatties and I watched the HElL H0u5e documentary. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.... There are some days that I question why I call myself a Christian, simply because of the assumptions that people make about the whole of Christendom based upon the actions of a minority of
And insomnia can kick in for days or even weeks at a time. At least now I can howl at the moon in company...
Hallowe'en is just behind us and it is about my least favourite time of the year (along with 5th November). The eve of All Saints' (All Hallows) Day should be a time when we are preparing to remember ALL the heroes of the faith, and yet All Hallows Eve (Hallowe'en) has become a riot of commercial insanity. I was walking past a card shop on my way to pay my rent the other day and was astonished to see "Happy Halloween" cards... In the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, the Eve of any major festival is always one of anticipation and preparation. Now we are plagued by kids dressed as witches, pirates, goblins or whatever crying "trick or treat" and expecting money, generally. Gone are the days when a few sweets and an apple made a good haul...
Doubtless many people that have been knocking on doors this weekend will actually have no idea of what the 31st of October and the 1st of November are really about. Similarly, the 2nd of November is the day when we (the Church) remember all those who have died this last twelvemonth and all those who have gone before (The Saints): in the Roman Catholic church, for example, there will be prayers said (and Masses held) for the departed, throughout November. Indeed, next Sunday, my Pater's name shall be read out in The Mother's Parish Church's Service for the Departed, since he slipped his mortal coil on 8th March this year, may his Soul Rest in Peace.
|Mordechai & Esther: heroes of my faith|
Copyright: Yale University Art Gallery
|St Julian(a) of Norwich (1342-1416)|
So why, then, when the church should be focussing on observing the important task of honouring the great men and women of faith that have come and gone and indeed, are still here, would a church think that it is good to try to win souls for Jesus by frightening people into the kingdom with ridiculous dramas about real-life events? None that I can think of that are SaNe!... However, this is precisely what IS happening in some super-conservative (fundamentalist, imho) churches, even some in the UK I believe. Let's examine what such a church hopes to achieve through such an event.
|Oh yeps, I know I am a sinner...|
|Westbo'ro': enough said.|
Jesus Weeps for these loons.
lifted from google images
|Just because God can use somthing, it doesn't mean it's right|
for us to pull a stunt like this...
Image lifted from mikeduran.com
It was the final room that disturbed us the most: a man talking earnestly (aka shouting) AT, not to, each group that had just gone through the House and explained that they were all sinners, but that if there were things they wanted to get straight with God or give their lives to Jesus, there were people in the next room waiting to pray with them. The door opened, and then they guy said "it will only be open for 6 seconds. After that, well, you might just have missed out on getting straight with God"... Um...OK, that might seem harmless enough to some... except: it sends a totally screwed up message about God!!! What, is God only available at certain times? Is there a limit on the amount of patience and love that God has? It doesn't say anything like that in MY (NRSV) Bible... It seems more like couched judgement to me...
Watching HElL H0u5e (filmed at a church in TX) the other day just made me ask "Where, here, is Grace?" "Where is Mercy?" "Where, dammit, is Love?" In Short...
|Even He hasn't got a clue...|
borrowed from the BBC
Yes, Jesus is in the desert groaning and sighing...
"Oh you foolish and perverse generation"...
"Oh you foolish and perverse generation"...
Watching those scenes of a young man acting as a gay man dying of AIDS whilst he was hearing words saying that he was to blame and that God didn't want to know him, or that a young girl who had taken an abortion pill was a Murderer etc, just made me so angry, because here was a fabulous opportunity for the church in question to speak of the Great Mercy and LOVE that God the Father pours out like oil upon us and they totally missed it!
That is in grave danger of straying completely outwith the bounds of Jesus' teaching.
|The grey-ish mist of a reflected nebula cloud (NGC):|
V380 Orionis and NGC 1999 in Orion
|Mars' Devil Dust trails caused by surface twisters...|
Credit: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA
In defence of my fellow Christians that run the HElL H0u5es I understand what they are trying to say. It's not the entirety of their message that is flawed, but the presentation leaves a lot to be desired. There is a lot of ambiguity and there are just too many conclusions can be drawn - the message of hope they desired to communicate was - in effect - completely lacking, and buried behind ugliness and gore and ignorance. Those things are dangerous and do more to keep people away than they do to draw them in. I felt angry, but also betrayed, because once again, one part of the body is trying to be something that it is not meant to be. It is groaning in agony under false impressions of the gospel message. The essence of the gospel message is simply that
Everything that we do must be underpinned by and done in LOVE. If there is not love, there is not God.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if Love is not present, then Jesus has left the building...
* This is a difficult argument. Suicide is often lumped in with murder because it is the taking of life, but this line is incredibly... ...