Progressive Christian blogger Fred Clarke recently called my attention to a worrisome phenomenon taking place in the deepest centre of fundamentalism in the United States.
His post was meant as a parody.
The Harrowing of Hell House
As the Christian Nightmares blog reminds us, it’s that time of year again. October means Halloweeen — trick-or-treating, haunted hay rides, and — at places with names like “Greater Works Deliverance Ministries” — it means Hell Houses.
Hell Houses are an irredeemably bad idea — a combination of the very worst forms of evangelism with the very worst forms of community theatre. The only thing worse than their warped soteriology and eschatology is their stunted, politicized, culturally shaped notion of what constitutes human sin. Or maybe the writing and acting.
They’re so very awful — and, ultimately, cruel — that some might be tempted to respond by, perhaps, Creating a Scene.
Disclaimer: I do not, of course, advocate interrupting, disrupting or otherwise interfering with any actual Hell House production. That would be uncivil and even, potentially, a misdemeanour. So the following suggestions are just a joke. No one should actually do any of these. Certainly, definitely, absolutely, probably not.
Option No. 1: If not for you meddling kids.
Cast size: 4
Props required: purple dress, bulky rust-colored turtle-neck, large-framed eyeglasses, chartreuse V-neck, cravat. (Optional: Groovy van, Great Dane).
Attend Hell House event dressed as Velma Dinkley, Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, Fred Jones, and Daphne Blake.
When the first demonic characters appear, Velma loses her glasses and stumbles, blindly into the performance space. After she blunders into the “demons,” Fred and Daphne step forward to unmask them, after which Shaggy says, “Zoinks! It’s the youth pastor!”
Option No. 2: The Hell House in the Woods.
Cast size: 3-5.
Props required: Short-sleeve white dress shirts, unfashionable ties, pocket-protectors, ID badges, clipboards, lab coat, sweater vest (for optional Roger the Intern).
Attend Hell House event dressed as Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins and Amy Acker’s characters from The Cabin in the Woods. Pretend to be orchestrating the demonic characters of the Hell House and the torment of the teenagers playing humans in the cast, but maintain a business-like, corporate attitude. Calmly explain to other attendees that the torments of Hell may seem cruel and unpleasant, but that we must placate the ancient ones and its the task of these sinners to be offered up to them.
Option No. 3: Who you gonna call?
Cast size: 4
Props required: Matching gray jumpsuits, proton packs, high-tech-looking goggles, four large trenchcoats (to hide the jumpsuits and proton packs), smart phone with Jackie Wilson mp3 cued up.
Attend Hell House dressed as the Ghostbusters. At the first appearance of demonic characters, whip out the proton packs and start firing. As you are escorted off the premises, hit play on “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” and sing along, enthusiastically, on the way out.
Cautionary reminders: Don’t cross the streams. And if anyone asks you if you’re a god, say yes.
Option No. 4: He descended into Hell …
Cast size: 1-12
Props required: White robe, beard, sandals, shepherd’s crook, stigmata. Bathrobe/sandal/beard costumes for assorted patriarchs and prophets (see Acts 7, Hebrews 11 for casting suggestions).
Arrive dressed as Jesus of Nazareth. At the first mention of Hell, shout “Come with me if you want to live” and begin escorting the dead from the Underworld and into Paradise (outside). The gates of Hell House will not prevail against you.
I just discovered hell houses through this post. I’m truly horrified by their wretched theology.
These Conservative Evangelicals worship an evil demon they call God.
He CURSED people with a sinful nature in the first place and will eternally torture them for misdeeds they were BOUND to commit.
Never mind the fact that the concept of sinful nature can’t be found within the Bible.
Any human acting like the Conservative Evangelical god would be seen as a psychopathic monster.
I am also appalled by their focusing on sexual immorality and drugs while ignoring sins related to social justice and lack of charity.
Let’s consider one of their favourite passage for arguing for endless torments:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he
will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered
before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a
shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are
blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for
you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me
something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I
was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you
clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you
came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord,
when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you
something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in
prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you
did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry
or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and
did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
In other words, NON-believers practising charity are worthy of heaven whereas BELIEVERS failing to do it are worthy of hell, meaning irremediable destruction.
This passage does NOT teach that all people dying as non-believers will be eternally tortured. Quite the contrary. It teaches salvation by work , a doctrine Conservative Protestants passionately detest.
I am extremely confident that many loving and humble people DYING AS ATHEISTS will be in heaven where they will gladly accept to worship the good God they did not believe in after having repented for their trespasses.
It would not shock me that much if many religious self-righteous bigots won’t inherit eternal life and will end up being no more i.e. returning to dust.
Let us give the say to the leader of the Church of Rome for a while:
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