Wednesday, December 11, 2013

EMT ~ Judgment Day house

"Give 'em hellfire and damnation!" my Uncle Jeff said over the phone, when he learned about seminary and ordained ministry.  I replied that wasn't how I saw it.  He repeated himself, "Give 'em hellfire and damnation!"  Nope, never did, and now I'm retired.  I consider the dogma of hell as a place of eternal torment to be an appalling idea about a God whose main attribute is supposed to be love.  So I was totally floored by the idea of a Judgment Day house in chapter fifteen of Evolving in Monkey Town.
"Every October, as the days grow shorter and the hills light up with color, talk in East Tennessee revolves around two things:  football and soul-saving.  While communities across the region open corn mazes and host bluegrass festivals to draw tourists from the city, churches in Dayton and nearby towns prepare their annual Judgment Day houses.  In contrast to regular haunted houses designed to scare teenagers into one another's arms with trap doors, fake blood, and miorrored hallways, Judgment Day houses are designed for a higher purpose:  to scare people into getting saved" (p. 161).
What?!?  I live in East Tennessee — unless we say something odd, like Chattanooga is in SOUTH Tennessee — and I have never in my life heard of a Judgment Day house.
"Most Christians I know have had some kind of Judgment Day experience.  It might have been a skit at summer camp, a puppet show at vacation Bible school, or a dramatic encounter with someone ... in a chapel service or on a street corner" (p. 166).
Activities in this chapter seems grotesque to me, with the new "converts" soon getting bored because all that's left is to wait around until you die and go to heaven.  Just as I said above about a loving God, Rachel wrote:
"My own doubts about Christianity centered around conflicted feelings about heaven and hell as I struggled to reconcile God's goodness with his wrath" (p. 170).
So tell us your thoughts about this chapter or pick a question or two or three.
1.  What do you think about Judgment Day houses?  (pp. 161ff.)
2.  Is salvation something that kicks in after death?  (p. 173)
3.  Was Jesus "born to die"?  (p. 173)
4.  Was Jesus's purpose simply to alter the afterlife?  (p. 174)
5.  Do you agree with Rachel that "Jesus also lived to save us from our sins"?  (p. 175)
6.  What's the difference between that and "Jesus died to save us from our sins"?  (p. 175)


Bonnie Jacobs said...

Shirley, MaryZorro, Alison, and Donna, you are getting this comment automatically. Click on the blue link to come to the blog and read my latest post.

Shirley said...

The only note I had made for chapter 15 was Judgment House?? Never heard of them; odd! I even grew up in a hellfire and damnation Baptist church and can't imagine that this would have been very acceptable to the church members.

I believe that Jesus was sent (John 3:16) to the world to be our savior through his death and resurrection.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

The Judgment House idea seems weird to me, trying to scare people (what?) into heaven?

Bonnie Jacobs said...

MaryZorro said...

please post this while I figure out how to sign in - new computer.

I have never heard of Judgement Day Houses. I think these are for the kids in these congregations to have the fun of doing a haunted house without dealing with the 'occult' elements of the haunting (which they are against). The houses are an event these churches are making to 'allow' their kids to have a little Halloween fun without exposing them all the 'sins' of the occult world. Just like they can dress up like book characters, but not like occult characters. Most people like to be scared! of something. And Hellfire and Damnation is what they are scared of.


December 12, 2013 at 1:09 PM EST

Bonnie Jacobs said...

MaryZorro said...

I managed to get signed in, but I posted my comments in the wrong section. please fix this if you can, Bonnie. Thanks.

2. Is salvation something that kicks in after death? (p. 173)
Our salvation is for heaven and for earth. We are saved here and now.

3. Was Jesus "born to die"? (p. 173)
In the mythology of the Jesus story, he was born to die for the sins of the world.

4. Was Jesus's purpose simply to alter the afterlife? (p. 174)
No, his purpose is to show me how to live and love others.

5. Do you agree with Rachel that "Jesus also lived to save us from our sins"? (p. 175)

6. What's the difference between that and "Jesus died to save us from our sins"? (p. 175)
His life is the example of love for us. We are saved from our sins so that we can live a life of love.

December 12, 2013 at 1:23 PM EST

Anonymous said...

Jesus lived and died to 'save' me from the eternal suffering from the guilt of my sins. I could not accept heaven on earth and the forgiveness of God's grace without this graphic story of Jesus' life and death for me. If I 'get it' and accept it, I am saved now and forever, and do not have to live in the shadow of my sins.

alisonwonderland said...

I first heard of the concept of "Judgment Day houses" in 2011 when I read the young adult novel Small Town Sinners by Melissa C. Walker. It's not something I've personally experienced.

alisonwonderland said...

Chapter 15 of EMT is one that I highlighted extensively. I have long had great interest in the theology of atonement and in what atonement and redemption mean in my daily life.

On page 173, RHE says, "Perhaps being a Christian isn't about experiencing the kingdom of heaven someday but about experiencing the kingdom of heaven every day." For me, salvation is just as relevant in the here-and-now as it is in the afterlife. RHE's example of the Indian woman Laxmi (introduced in chapter 12) whose "entire life was transformed into something new" through her encounter with Jesus, as she was saved "not just from the eternal ramifications of sin but from the ugly everyday ramifications of sin: the caste system, poverty, despair, anger, victimization, worry, and fear" (page 173) is perfect!

I also love RHE's statement that "Jesus also lived to save us from our sins." There is a Mormon sacrament hymn that states:

As now we take the sacrament
Our thoughts are turned to thee,
Thou Son of God, who lived for us,
Then died on Calvary (emphasis mine).

I do believe that Jesus lived for us - and I believe that we are called to follow Him, to become His disciples or apprentices, learning to become like Him. This is not because we can save ourselves through good works but because as we strive to become like Him, we engage in community, the interconnectedness that at-one-ment is all about, and we participate in transformation, changing ourselves and the greater world in which we live, creating good out of evil.

Shirley said...

The re-syllabication of at-one-ment certainly helps amplify its meaning.