There are few topics on which Dave D, whose blog “Ramblings of a Godless Heathen” (highly amusing — and profane – the Tim Minchin Pope song, not for the easily offended, almost made me choke with laughter) probably agree wholeheartedly. (Oh I see I get a mention on Dave’s blog!) One of the few things i think we might agree on is the Hell House movement, perhaps one of the weirdest forms of religious child abuse out there, and hey, it’s pretty topical right now, as we move towards Halloween – so let’s talk Hell Houses!
I saw a Simpson’s episode a couple of days ago where Ned Flanders creates a “Heck House”, and laughed out loud, but I wonder how many of my predominantly British readers know what a Hell House is? From Wikipedia
Hell houses are haunted attractions typically run by American, fundamentalist Christian churches or parachurch groups. These depict sin, the torments of the damned in Hell, and usually conclude with a depiction of heaven. They are most typically operated in the days preceding Halloween.
A hell house, like a conventional haunted-house attraction, is a space set aside for actors attempting to frighten patrons with gruesome exhibits and scenes, presented as a series of short vignettes with a narrated guide. Unlike haunted houses, hell houses focus on occasions and effects of sin or the fate of unrepentant sinners in the afterlife. They occur during the month of October to capitalize on the similarities between hell houses and haunted attractions.
The exhibits at a hell house often have a controversial tone focusing on issues of concern to evangelicals in the United States. Hell houses frequently feature exhibits depicting sin and its consequences. Common examples include abortion, suicide, use of alcoholic beverage and other recreational drugs, adultery and pre-marital sex, occultism, homosexuality, and Satanic ritual abuse. Hell houses typically emphasize the belief that anyone who does not accept Christ as their personal savior is condemned to Hell.
If this does not worry, sicken, and disturb you, well you can read the rest of the wiki article here. You can even buy Hell House kits — but I don’t want to advertise them, so here is I mockery’s parody – and I find it hard to find the difference to be honest, which is extremely depressing.
So I thought I’d invent my own… (originally for the Richard Dawkins forum, a few years back: and my fellow Anglicans at least got the joke it seems :))
Introducing the Anglican Hell House Kit!
Scenes available include —
Homosexuality – watch as we equivocate and TEAR OURSELVES APART as we feud over whether Gay Bishops can have sex or not! See self-righteousness, condemnation and anger play out in the General Synod! Watch as no one listens to anyone!!!!
Gay Marriage – in which the Reverent Gaz Lavender expounds on how best to find a nice church for your blessing ceremony. Watch traditionalists foam at the mouth in horror! Sponsored by Little Whittering LGBQT alliance.
The Occult – listen to a short speech on Esoteric Christianity and the Eastern Occult Tradition before joining with Wiccan High priestess Skyclad Fluffyjugs for the traditional well blessing ceremony and an evening of New Age music and meditation in the Church Hall!
Spiritualism – the Reverend Jerome Tedium will test you to the limits of your endurance with his amazingly soporific speech “Psychical Research and post mortem existence: an Epistemological Enquiry.” Followed by palm reading with Madame Zara.
Drugs – can psychoactive drugs generate mystical insights? Can the monistic and encounter experience be reconciled? Why do so many priests drink heavily — are they storming the doors of perception? Followed by Rave Worship at nine o clock in the Leary rooms.
Hell – the Bishop of Barchester will discuss the issue of Hell, and will manage to avoid mentioning it at all. He will say that Hell may or may not be real, and may or may not be hot, and may or may not be relevant to the problems of today’s post-capitalist society, but we can be sure that God is Nice.
OK it’s a parody, but I think it has elements of truth. Rather depressing, but better than the alternative? I dunno! 🙂