Annabelle River's picture

Sexy Violence in the Pentecostal Hell House

For two primary reasons, I generally avoid writing about the American Moral-Majority-type Evangelical Christian movement.  First, I think they already get overwhelmingly more attention than they deserve, and second, I don't want to humor the part of their binary-based ideology that classifies every person as either (a) Christian or (b) sexually liberal, and defines both camps in part by their mutual enmity.  But I'm going to break my own boycott for a moment, because I was that enthralled by This American Life's recently repeated episode featuring Hell House.

As Ira Glass explains about ten minutes into the episode:

In 1999, documentary filmmaker George Ratliff read about a church in Cedar Hill, Texas, which is a suburb of Dallas, that was staging a re-creation of the Columbine Massacre.  That church, Trinity Church, was putting on a haunted house, called Hell House.  They'd been doing it every year for years, each Halloween.  The Columbine scene was just one scene of about a dozen.  There was also an abortion scene, there was a scene where a gay man dies of AIDS, and a scene where a mom meets a man on the internet and then deserts her family for that man...  And the point is: Devils are around us, trying to trip us up, every day.  Sin is real; the devil's real; so you better get right with God.

arvan's picture

Terrific PSA exposing bias and vanity

Holy crap!  This is freakin' brilliant!  It is about prejudice and conceit.  The example is in how Africa is viewed, labeled and manipulated to assuage vanities and other self-serving aims.  However, the same process exists around gender, sex and body identities.  The free-for-all clamor for camera time and print publications that Lady Ga-Ga and Caster Semenya have produced are but two more recent and grotesque examples of people foisting their vanities upon someone else...for an allegedly 'good cause'.

When Bono edited the Africa issue of Vanity Fair, it included an essay written by Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina. Through that, he became aware of another piece he'd written for Granta a number of years ago called "How (Not) to Write About Africa."

Director Jesse Dylan and his company FreeForm worked with Binyavanga and the Beninois actor Djimon Hounsou to create this filmed performance of the essay.


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