I finally watched Hell House this weekend, the documentary about Trinity Church outside Dallas that each year puts on a Haunted House showing the evils of abortion, suicide, homosexuality, etc, and that the Divil is gonna gitcha!
There are many unintentionally funny/chilling moments in the movie for me, probably the best being someone asking for red paint to paint a pentagram, and then painting a Star of David in a circle. The cluelessness of the people in the film was interesting, or perhaps I should say their ignorance of the things they were warning about. They clearly had no experience of most of the things they were dramatizing--at one point, the man who supposedly had been to a bunch of raves talk about the "date rape drug", though he couldn't remember the name. In the Hell House scene, a girl is given the drug, raped, and then kills herself after we find out that she has also been molested by her Father. And, you guessed it, she's going to Hell!! She's not the only one--she is joined by the gay man dying of AIDS, the woman who has an internet affair, her drunk husband, and the boy who was molested by his uncle. But not the girl who took RU485! Although she was bleeding profusely and died (from the pill, supposedly)--she accepted Jesus on her deathbed and went to Heaven. We have to wonder how all the women who will be causing harm to themselves if Roe V. Wade is overturned will fare. I was also fascinated that the one Latino and one Black face we saw in the church were in the Drug Dealer scene. I guess those people from Trinity have been watching some of that evil TV!
The portraits lack any compassion, which one would think is curious for a "Christian group." I suppose it's not, rather it's comforting. If difficult questions are answered with a "because God says so" and any detour is thought to be from the devil, then the world is pretty clear. I heard a woman quoted on NPR recently saying that anyone who questioned Harriet Meiers' nomination to the Supreme Court was from the Devil. Please stop these people from taking office, as there goes democracy, but it does explain a lot about the current administration. Anyhoo.
What interested me most was the infantile theology. I'm calling it the "Jesus, my Imaginary Friend" theology. Why, Jesus thinks exactly like I do. And he hates everyone I hate. And I know as long as I follow HIm, and listen to Him (that is, myself), then I will go to Heaven and I'll my enemies will go to Hell and I am right and they are wrong and I am good and they are bad and if they'd only listen to my Imaginary Friend who is with me at all times telling me what to do and who is good and bad, then they could be Saved! And I love knowing I'm right, I just love it. And I love to speak in my language that only my imaginary friend and me understand. Why he made it up and told it to me himself! Some might have thought it was indigestion, but I knew it was the Spirit! And if everyone thought like me and my Imganary Friend, the world would be healed. Oh, except for those bad people who never will and are going to Hell, Hell, Hell.
Well, you get the idea. I am always fascinated/infuriated by this kind of thing.
I was touched by a Father of five raising his kids my himself. In one of the opening scenes in the film, his smallest child, who has CP, has a seizure. He prays over him while the paramedics come, and as the child comes out of it, he says that it was God that brought him out of the seizure. He seemed to know the seizure was caused by epilepsy aggravated by CP, but I couldn't help think of a friend of mine raised by a super-religious mother with similar beliefs (though Catholic). My friend grew up in the sixties in a small town in Iowa, and his mother used to lock him in the closet when he had seizures, as she was convinced he was being possessed by the Devil. I couldn't help think if God released the boy in the Father's mind, what did he think caused it. The MOther was nowhere in the picture--she had met a man on the internet and had a few meetings with him in the park, so now was not part of the family. I guess the Devil made her do it.