LO! - a fierce people
October 11, 2004 9:23 PM   Subscribe

The Hell House Outreach Kit Behold : "in-your-face, high-flyin', no denyin', death-defyin', Satan-be-cryin', keep-ya-from-fryin', theatrical stylin', no holds barred, cutting-edge” evangelism tool of the new millennium!....Outreaches average a 33% salvation and rededication decision rate!...Churches are using this resource as a dynamic evangelism tool!.....Churches use realistic depictions of sin's consequences to send message of hope to the nation's youth"....Domestic Abuse, Rave Scene (" hell's demons rejoice "), Teen Suicide, "Mother's Womb Abortion", Drunk Driving, Gay Wedding ( "Satan wouldn't have it any other way" ), and "Hell — The eternal fury and fire of hell is portrayed as the hell-dwellers, gate keeper and Satan declare that every person there is destined to burn forever in constant pain and agony."

Bonus - 2.5mb flash cartoon : Elisha the Cruel's curse brings she-bears to eat the 42 little children ! (2Kings:24) Disturbed ? Behold Saint Clinton : "His timeless sympathetic words, "I feel your pain", echo in his reassuring expression!"
posted by troutfishing (20 comments total)
hold that christian still whilst i bash him some, willyuh?
posted by quonsar at 9:47 PM on October 11, 2004

Xtra bonus : "There’s something about the word “obsessed” that I love. It smacks of fanaticism and focus. And that’s exactly what I believe most youth ministries need.

Walk into the average youth ministry and that’s exactly what you get…average. Average music, average teaching, average games, average kids, and average impact.

But if you sneak into a youth ministry that is obsessed with anything it’s exciting. It doesn’t matter if it is obsessive worship, obsessive prayer, obsessive fellowship or obsessive whatever.

Obsession spices things up. It creates catalytic discomfort with the status quo. The legalist and the lazy alike point fingers and accuse the obsessed ones with imbalance, insolence and ignorance. Perhaps they are right-but at least the life of the obsessed is fun!..."

posted by troutfishing at 9:48 PM on October 11, 2004

Oooohhhh.... In scene seven, the tour meets Jesus. And I betcha he works for scale, being Jesus and all.

A bargain this kit is, at only $299.00 US.
posted by jokeefe at 9:54 PM on October 11, 2004

Or watch the documentary.
posted by donovan at 10:14 PM on October 11, 2004

Hardly a new idea, this goes back to [the original] Jonathan Edwards (a stauch if slighly improbable opponant of persecution on grounds of witchcraft, and whom I can reluctantly claim as a probable relative, if not ancestor). We are all, after all, sinners in the hands of an angry god, at his will cast into the ETERNAL flame...

Ennui and cynicism aside: I got this crap leveled at me about two or three times a year as a kid in a suburban Methodist congregation. It constitutes fucking child abuse to those who are susceptible to it, pandering to those who are suscepitible as its brownshirts, and an annoyance to young members of a congregation with a strong and conscientious minister like the one in my church. Peace be upon you, Ron Conklin.

BTW: Anybody seen the documentary on this topic? Having a hard time renting it, and thinking about just buying.
posted by lodurr at 10:30 PM on October 11, 2004

Yes, I saw that, lodurr - got it on netflix a year or two back. It was well done; the filmmakers kept their editorializing subtle and mostly let their subjects speak for themselves.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:47 PM on October 11, 2004

posted by mr.marx at 12:00 AM on October 12, 2004

There's a "haunted house" type of thing in the suburbs of Kansas City. I've yet to subject myself to these horrors, however friends who have say it's mostly irritating and not really scary at all. I think I'll just wait for the movie or something. So I can miss that as well.
posted by damnitkage at 2:53 AM on October 12, 2004

Everybody sing:

In the afterlife
You could be headed for the serious strife
Now you make the scene all day
But tomorrow there'll be Hell to pay
People listen attentively
I mean about future calamity
I used to think the idea was obsolete
Until I heard the old man stamping his feet.

This is a place where eternally
Fire is applied to the body
Teeth are extruded and bones are ground
Then baked into cakes which are passed around.

Beauty, talent, fame, money, refinement
Top skill and brain
But all the things you try to hide
Will be revealed on the other side.

Now the D and the A and the M
and the N and the A
And the T and the I-O-N
Lose your face, lose your name
Then get fitted for a suit of flame!

posted by Smart Dalek at 2:57 AM on October 12, 2004

"Outreaches average a 33% salvation and rededication decision rate!" - Yeah, I got saved for about 45 minutes once. It sloughed off, and so I question those erstwhile statistics as probably full of shit or rotting bone cake meal :

"Teeth are extruded and bones are ground Then baked into cakes which are passed around." - I think that people who spend their time dreaming these grotesque fantasies up are psychologically ill. The only other contexts I know of where such imagery is discussed are :

1) Holocaust studies and a related field - narratives from victims of torture and witnesses to large scale massacres of civilians, as described in James Waller's Becoming Evil. And - in fact - some of the language coming from the American far right and religious right now bears an unsavory resemblance to the sort of rhetoric which Waller has identified as preceding genocides, and mass political violence - "nits make lice". But on the other hand, I don't think those who engineer or goad on genocidal violence tend to talk so much beforehand, in such graphic imagery, of methods : they don't want to tip their hands too early.

2) Case histories of mental illness.

3) Occasionally in very black humor - but always then with a redemptive component which makes clear that those acts are very, very bad.


"It constitutes fucking child abuse....." - lodurr, so how far does this have to go before it sets off warning lights in the sensibilities of wider society - as truly deranged ? The use of fear as a method of conversion, in Chrisitianity, has a longstanding history. Yes [ is it truly the case that Jonathan Williams' famous sermon, or a related one, was responsible for a suicide ? ], and perhaps it will take a few teen suicides (or they've happened already) to focus more attention on this.

How far can the religious right push such methods ?

Perhaps the societal warning light will go off when cute little diaromas of luridly fetished hell-torments start to include graphic depictions of sexual acts followed by bizarre punitive violence - disembowelments and so on.

"Teeth are extruded and bones are ground Then baked into cakes which are passed around." - this is the Devil's fancy - to encourage time spent dreaming of such torments, and I have to wonder about the possible connection with the almost unspeakable (but very real) torture devices concocted by the Spanish Inquisition.

So much mental energy spent envisioning hell can bring, inadvertantly, a sort of hell to Earth.

I thought Christianity was supposed to be about love.

At least, I got that idea from reading the Gospels.
posted by troutfishing at 4:37 AM on October 12, 2004

Correction : Elisha's story - of how he calls the two she-bears to rip the 42 children limb from limb and gobble them up, as punishment for taunting God's prophet, was from 2Kings 2:24.
posted by troutfishing at 4:41 AM on October 12, 2004

I saw this subject covered on King of the Hill.

That is all.
posted by asok at 5:20 AM on October 12, 2004

Saw the documentary last week. It was handled pretty well, although I found it pretty boring overall. The impression we all came away with was how sad, small, and scary are the lives of the people who believe that going to a rave is going lead to you being gang-raped, and that Harry Potter is the first step on the road to Satan worship.

Favorite line: "People start speaking in tongues. Which is a lot like speaking in German... or French."
posted by papercake at 8:21 AM on October 12, 2004

The only other contexts I know of where such imagery is discussed are :

Dante Alighieri

John Kessel's Good News From Outer Space is still one of my favorite satirical treatments of religious obsession. It's satire as sharp as Vonnegut.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:48 AM on October 12, 2004

oh, boy. from the FPP: "Mother's Womb Abortion — A young mother is miraculously given the opportunity to learn from her mistake upon being blessed with a visit by her aborted daughter at four different ages of life."

and "Heaven — This particular heaven scene also has an angelic rescue which brings all the attention to glorious eternity. A wonderful connection also occurs between this scene and the abortion scene with a surprise reunion in heaven! Jesus explains restoration and gives everyone the chance to pray the prayer of salvation."

so lemme see if i have this straight. aborted fetus pulls a charles dickens and visits the tormented mommy (ooh, the ghosts of abortions past? real nice, that). mommy, upon being faced with evidence of her horrible "sin", repents (of course she does, look who's running this?). and lastly dear mommy is forgiven and rejoins her dead baby in heaven? am i reading this correctly?

'cause if i am, aren't they forgetting children who die unbaptized are destined to burn in hell forever?

i love how the fundies can selectively ignore the parts of the bible that aren't relevant to their current message of hate and intolerance.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:08 AM on October 12, 2004

Hell — Hell is not an eternal party place. It is the home of never-ending torment, anguish and permanent damnation and separation from God.

"Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God's infinite love... believe or die; thank you for giving Lord, for all those options" Bill Hicks
posted by DrDoberman at 9:50 AM on October 12, 2004

As a Christian, I see these things as a summation of everything that's wrong with the church today. Rather than depending on God's word alone to change people's hearts, we feel the need not only to scare them into heaven, but to make the sale. The worst part about Hellhouse is at the end, when they cram everyone in a room, make you bow your head and close your eyes, and then say, "Those who know you're going to heaven, raise your hand." It's at that point that, depending on the particular venue, they'll tell you that you need to get saved NOW, or they might even go so far as to pull you aside immediately, and pressure you into doing something that, as troutfishing makes clear, usually isn't very authentic.

When I was led to Christ, it wasn't because of a hell house, or good salesmanship. It was because God had call me to himself and I couldn't refuse. All my youth pastor had to do was ask.
posted by superbird at 10:56 AM on October 12, 2004

Classic book and film by Richard Matheson, by the way.
posted by Shane at 11:45 AM on October 12, 2004

Apologies in advance: I'm not sure how different the "Hellhouse is Christian" perspective is from the "God called me [personally]" perspective.

While they have different kinds of legitimacy, they are essentially 1) arbitrarily interpretive of scripture; and 2) derive most of their legitimacy from faith based claims rather than arguments.

Again and again we come up against this: Love thy neighbor. But what is love? Do unto others, but what if they don't want to be done unto that way?

-Mthw 6
posted by ewkpates at 1:27 PM on October 12, 2004

Homosexuality — No one is born gay. Genesis 1:27 says that God created man in His own image. Homosexuality is sin and is not just an alternative lifestyle.

BBC 3:16
posted by DrDoberman at 1:06 AM on October 13, 2004

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