Category: Fundie Stuff

I was raised in a funadmentalist Christian group that on nice days I call ‘a small insular church’ and on nasty days I call a ‘cult.’ Sometimes this means I have a really weird intersection of faith-based experiences or stories about my past, or translations of current events based on that.

Little Foxes

Unpleasant talk ahead. In lieu of that, and to keep it from being too easy to read, here is a video of a wombat playing with a zookeeper. If you’re not in the mood for unpleasant talk about violence, consider going elsewhere and not reading this post.

The rest is after the fold.

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Identity

As a child I was raised to never – never – identify myself.

This may sound weird, so let me clarify.

You didn’t own yourself. When you introduced yourself to anyone, you could tell them your name (which your parents gave you) and maybe what you did (though as I was a child, what I did was ‘be a child’), and that was pretty much it. The lesson that was ground into me, deep and hard during my schooling, through numerous morality tales, was that any person who declared about themselves was being selfish.

This makes it pretty strange now to realise that identity drives most of my friends’ lives. I think I took the lessons of my childhood too far, and now there are worn grooves inside me, where my fear of sin creates an abnegation that can probably be harmful.

I don’t really have anything more to say on this. But it means that the identity driven I-life of my friends sometimes sits at odds with what I was raised to think of myself, and of how people work and are. I find myself feeling uncomfortable in a room full of people who care deeply about the labels they attach to themselves, and how other people related to them don’t have or deserve their labels. I feel like it’s wrong to put labels on yourself, you need to act in a way that other people will see, and label that way.

Now imagine how most self-declared ‘Ally’ folk look to me.

Especially since now, the act of declaring yourself an Ally is often the only act I get to see of a person.

Pirate Radio (Not The Fun Kind)

When I was a kid, there was this media form I listened to a lot that I never really got until I was an adult. They were tapes, tapes of stories, usually interspersed with songs. There were a few that were classics of older forms, particularly a few different reinterpretations of the story of Pilgrim’s Progress, or old children’s stories interspersed with hymns. The most common and odious of them in hindsight were the Patch the Pirate series.

I’ll level with you, Patch The Pirate is creepy-ass Christian kid-targeted propoganda. It flat out promises to be, with its notions of ‘instilling good values’ and ‘wholesome family fun’ which are cloakwords for a fundamentalist Christian perspective on values and relationships. It preaches against Evolution, against Public Schooling, against a non-literal interpretation of the Bible, against ‘Mixing With Worldly Elements,’ against self-interest and holy shit it preaches against the idea of youth independence. How creepy is it? Check out this trio of girls singing one of the enduring memories of the Patch the Pirate legacy, to me, “I Wanna Marry Daddy When I Grow Up.

I won’t blame you if you don’t click the video after an intro like that.

Anyway, this sort of thing defined my youth experience. We’d be allowed to listen to these little records, on tiny little record players, we’d transcribe them to tapes, we’d learn the songs and sing along with them and that was acceptable and permitted ‘popular culture.’

I didn’t realise it until a few years ago but the reason these things even exist is because you have one person with some talent, a bunch of people who work for cheap (the cast of Patch the Pirate was Ron Hamilton’s family – so yes, his actual daughter sang the above song), and limited assets. The low cost of audio production gave this mass media form a low barrier to entry.

I guess what I’m saying is it’s kind of inevitable I was going to try out podcasting.

That Ace Comics Storify Link

Last night I meant to sit down and talk about curation as expression, and I didn’t, because somehow I wound up finding the comics in my old schoolwork, and so I tweeted about that, at length.

Here’s a link to the storify.

Really, this is as much for my benefit as for yours. Archiving things on my blog is embarassingly easy to search for future reference.

Putter Mayhem – Why Five Iron Frenzy is Surprisingly Good

Hey kids, wanna talk about some CHRISTIAN ROCK AND ROLL?

What hey wait where you going.

Look, the religious subjective experience of an artist may inform or illuminate their work but that doesn’t taint it. As an atheist there are plenty of musicians whose music I love who I am pretty sure think I’m going to hell, or at least shouldn’t be trusted around kids (and I shouldn’t, but that’s its own rant).

Reading Jonny Scaramanga‘s article on Bunch Of Believers (who are every bit as awful as you’d think), he namedrops Five Iron Frenzy. FiF are one of the few lasting spurs of Christian culture I grew up with that has endured, because I found songs of theirs legitimately stuck with me, songs I liked even when they weren’t being artificially favoured by social regulation.

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Cabbage Patch Dolls

I have to tell this ~spooky~ story every now and again, and it’s always been one of my go-to-narratives for how messed up my views on popular culture were as a child.

Most things we weren’t allowed as a kid were, coincidentally, popular and expensive things that parents would want to buy their children based on marketing malarkey. While boy toys were generally left alone – I was still allowed Transformers and toy guns and GI Joes and whatnot. Well, I was allowed the cheaper knockoffs of those (and some branded ones, and some secondhand ones). Anyway, weirdly, the toys I remember the most blatant weirdness about were toys I can only really think of as girl toys.

One of the toys we were told you cannot have, you could not own, you could not let your daughter own, was a cabbage patch doll.

Why not?

Because, in America – and in America was a catchphrase you knew could justify any lie no matter how ludicrous, because that place was so very, very odd – a cabbage patch doll had been witnessed floating across the room, and strangling children. It would whisper to you in your sleep. The doll would strive to open your daughters’ heart and possess her.

You see, it was about how the dolls were made. All cabbage patch dolls were distributed with a little tag that indicated the ‘birth day’ of the doll. The thing is, that date marker was a lie – that wasn’t the date the doll was manufactured, that was the soul of the unborn baby that was trapped in the doll was aborted! It was, it was! And all the dolls were manufactured, in one day of the year, on Halloween!

I remember sitting under a kitchen table, playing with my transformers – quite scared – as I heard the adults talking about this, ardently. Seriously. Basically I grew up reared by people who thought Child’s Play was a documentary.

Ex-ACE Survival

Yesterday, if you missed it, I contributed a guest post on Leaving Fundamentalism. If you haven’t read it yet, I must exhort you, my friends – since that’s mostly who’s reading this – that story is full of horribleness. You don’t need to read it if you’re sensitive, or to understand me.

On the other hand, if you have read it, and you’ve decided to come here and check my stuff out… hi! I don’t write much about my experience as a religious abuse sufferer, because I find it’s not very respected and mainly just upsets people. What I try to do instead is entertain people with my words. There’s a Web Serial going on right now, called One Stone, and there’s a pile of game reviews, creatively called the Game Pile. Please, check it out!

Who Gets To be Christian

Okay, Christians, I’m sorry, we have to talk.

I know you don’t like Fred Phelps. I know you don’t like the horse-ass Americans who interpret the Bible to say the world’s only six-thousand years old. I know you don’t like the Americans who use the words of Jesus while they slash benefits for the poor and threaten military brinksmanship in the Middle East. I know you don’t like those people.

They are still just as Christian as you.

Find me one of those people, and chances are, they can justify their position with quotes from the Bible. Hell, odds are they can justify them with quotes you didn’t know existed, but there they are. I’ll bet whatever it is they believe, they can find as many verses that support them as support things like the trinity or salvation.

The nature of the Bible is a work of constant interpretation. It’s actually one of the reasons I dismiss it so readily as any kind of ethical model, because you can interpret any book to gain life lessons, but this one just seems to have some sort of strange public prominence despite all the nasty stuff in it. The thing is, that nasty stuff means that when someone comes up, wearing your club shirts, you can’t say they don’t count. If you want the power that comes from being a cultural hegemony, with all the weight and value that brings, then you have to own all the parts of it.

The strangest thing is, this sort of thing is practiced by the people who also want to tell me that Atheists are all Reddit Atheist Fedora Men, with their transphobia and biological essentialism and sexism and rape culture, but that they are not in any way connected to the other people who hold up their own holy book as a source of inspiration. Ignoring for a moment that atheism does not draw from a common source, isn’t that trying to have things both ways? Unique context for thee, but not for ye?

Amalekites

1 Samuel 15:2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
1 Samuel 15:3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

The language we use to discuss art and culture is shaped by that same art and culture. There’s nobody alive who doesn’t know a few Shakespearean words even if they can’t tell you where they came from. There are idioms and turns of phrase we have that owe their genesis – ohoh, there’s one now – to one of a tiny number of literary works that are just so old, and so foundational, they helped shape our very language. These are fountains of our culture – places from whence words flow, change, and are reshaped by the surfaces over which they run.

The word philistine is typically only used in modern culture by people who are either very cultured, or parodying people who consider themselves very cultured. It’s a term that was more popular in the past to refer to uncultured people, others, people who did not respect God, or beauty, or culture. It was a fancy, Biblical way to call someone a Barbarian, or as we might say it today, a redneck or bogan.

One word that is similar in its origin but less popular in its use – ie, I don’t think anyone uses it at all – is Amalekite. I’ve written about the Amalekite Genocide before, but it was in passing as part of another, larger work, and honestly, it was probably the weakest, most confusing part of that story. If you’d like an acquaintance with the text itself, here is one of the most readable versions of it you’ll find, which doesn’t do the normal Biblical retelling of hiding the fact that this was about the wholesale slaughter of a civilisation. Modern Biblical critics often refer to this as The Amalekite Genocide.

In summary, at some point leaving Egypt, Amalek and his children – possibly a tribe – attacked the Israelites as they fled Egypt. Since we know that no, that didn’t happen, we can just as easily project that Amalek’s attack probably didn’t happen. This didn’t stop the Biblical God – or more likely, Samuel as the figurehead of religious power – from using that attack, four hundred years later, to order the absolute genocide and destruction of the Amalekite people. Biblical apologists like to point out the Amalekites are once again mentioned, many hundreds of years later, suggesting that the genocide wasn’t successful, which of course, makes it all better…? Anyway.

The Amalekites were numerically inferior, they were swept underneath Saul’s army so easily as to avoid even mentioning the fights. Saul acted without even the strength of the Lord on his side – some say – which suggests that from the Bible’s perspective, this genocide was truly an oppressive act against a weaker people.

The Amalekites did not die.

Think about that. God himself, supposedly, wanted these people dead, and they did not die.

“Be not,” said God.

“No.” They answered.

Innocent/Stupid

As a child I was so convinced that telling the truth was a universally important value that I assumed it in all media surrounding me. Nobody ever created a misleading advertisement, nobody ever made a story ‘based on a true story’ that wasn’t true, and nobody ever, ever made something up for a song. I imagined there was a very clever authority group that oversaw the release of songs onto the radio that I was allowed to listen to, the songs that my parents would let me hear, and that they were all, in some basic way, true. I believed because of Indian Outlaw that Tim McGraw was actually part-Cherokee, and that Alan Jackson once was married for no good reason to a waitress (who he probably divorced, and was probably a sinful, filthy adulterer, unless he’d asked Jesus for forgiveness, not to be too sure either way).

Raised on this diet of hymns and country music, you can imagine how shocked I was when I finally pieced together the narrative in The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia.

Fans

They say they like this collection of short stories, writings, poems and books, though they don’t know what’s in them. They have a vague, somewhat memorable impression of what’s important to them. They know a few of the major figures by name, they have a vague impression of him or her or them. Maybe they remember their values, maybe they can remember the names of the stories they’re from.

They consider themselves devotees of the work, so who are you to judge?

I cannot decide if I am thinking of Lovecraft fans or Christians.

Double-Edged Sword

It’s come to my attention that Christians really don’t like talking about their faith in concrete terms, in any environment that is not primarily composed of other Christians talking about the same subject. Like they don’t like the way their religion is judged by people outside it, or the way people who aren’t part of it consider its moral and ethical sentiments, or its historical accuracy, or the many people who have done things using it as a justification.

I think, fellows, that you should think very hard about why that is.

What A Twist!

I’m thinking about the short story project and wondering just how much room I have to work with in terms of a typical, three-to-five stage story structure. I notice that I overuse the trick of twisting expectations, and I say overuse not because there’s a quota on it, but rather because I’m not so good at it that the changes are unexpected.

The story of Shamgar, the Son of Anath, was written so that the reveal at the end was deliberately massively obscure and meaningless. The structure of the story was one where the revelation at the end was of information that transformed the narrative before it, with the retrospective thoughts of Shamgar about the story of Samuel, Saul and David from the Bible being recast as realistic political fiction.

Tricky thing was, Shamgar was so obscure that nobody realised the point.