01 November, 2006

Something Positive on Hell Houses

I don't think this webcomic is too appropriate to post here (considering I'm getting linked to from Myst Blogs which AFAIK tends to aim towards being family friendly) so you may wish to skip this post. However I found the storyline starting on this page and continuing for 8 pages to deal with a touchy topic in a very thought provoking manner (although it's got the requisite tasteless jokes so be warned ;)).

What it deals with is a phenomenon called a Hell House where (typically evangelical) Christians create a haunted house showing the horrors of sinning with the hopes of convincing people to convert. I'd like to think that such attractions can be done tastefully and in an enjoyable manner, but if they are the Something Positive storyline doesn't feature one of those. Instead it shows how people who have the best of intentions (and the strip does show them as having good intentions. It would have been easier to villify the people running the hell house) can be misguided.

I felt that the strip showed why it's important to have compassion and patience with people who have differing beliefs (even if those beliefs would force you to convert if they were made law ;)). What I liked best though was one of the "victims" of the hell house was a Christian themself. But although he was Christian he disagreed with pretty much every single belief held by those running the hell house. I also felt the last strip was very good. It shows that not all Christians have the same beliefs, and they'll go about their beliefs in completely different ways.

Although one point I didn't necessarily agree with was in the final strip someone comments on how Christians don't typically admit to being a Christian unless they're also saying how much better they are then non-believers. As a non-Christian I haven't found that to be the case, although it is a common portrayal of Christians in recent times. However even with that page having that point, I'd say the final panel made that page the most enjoyable for me. I don't think the character in the final panel is praying in the hopes that all Christians would stop behaving in such a manner. But instead praying that the minority of Christians that do, will "see the light" and instead go towards a closer version of Christianity that the character believes in. Or at the very least that the misconception that Christians are typically people that always go around saying how much better they are then others will be replaced with something that's closer to the truth. And given the comment by the creator of Something Positive's on the main page, I'd say that interpretation is correct (although I don't agree with the tone of the comment he made. It's fairly standard fare for Something Positive ;)).

2 Comments:

Blogger Jamie said...

Regarding The Comment you mention from in the last strip in that story about how "Christians don't usually admit to being Christian unless [they're prostelytizing]" it is important to note the context:

1.) The character phrases it as a "me" phrase - that people don't normally admit that they're Christian to HIS face, unless they're trying to convert him. This is a bit different from stating that all Christians, ever, are like that - it's noting a personal, anecdotal experience.

2.) The character in question is not only openly gay, but openly gay to the point of wearing a satirical purple triangle "Fear My Agenda" shirt in the strips - meaning that in the American south, he's basically walking around wearing a giant neon sign saying "I'm a sinner! Convert me!".

3.) Meanwhile, I would suggest - if nothing else, then from personal experience and observations - that the Christians who have no problem with gays (or evolution, or the idea of an Earth older than a few thousand years, or a number of other things that the mainstream society currently deems either accepted or at least acceptable), are less likely to be pushy about the conversions, even if they're an "evangelical". Thus, the kid has probably known quite a few Christians without ever realizing it, simply because they weren't pushy about it. (But, I'm in Florida, not Texas, so you never know, the culture could be slightly different on the conversion front)

4.) The strip/story is set in Texas; I have not been to Texas, but I have family and friends from there and my understanding is that most of it (aside from Austin) is fairly "conservative"; which means for the most part, they're not fond of homosexuality. Again, character in question is gay and wearing a shirt that invites controversy on that point. In a conservative region. Of COURSE he's going to have had a lot of people try to convert him. He's also young, so he's had less actual time to talk to Christians (and I doubt he's gone out of his way to do it, either).

5.) And finally, the most salient point: that that comment is used so that Fred, a devout and tolerant Christian who got stuck in the Hell House with them, could show that not all Christians are like that kid thinks they are.

Also of note is the little text note at the bottom of the strip, a quote from the author's father (who as I recall, also lives in Texas and is the basis for Fred): "Don't confuse the faith with the supposedly faithful".

Which is a wonderful point. I'm not actually Christian myself (agnostic, at this point in my life), but I have Christian friends, so I know not all of them are the kind of Bible-thumping jerks and idiots mocked in the strip - but at the same time, I've met a few like that in real life, so I know they sadly do exist. It's always, always worth it - especially for those of us non-Christians - to remember that the faith in general =/= "all of the followers".

2:30 am  
Blogger smiley said...

I have to side with the kid saying he's never heard a Christian admit that without using it to belittle him. If Texas is anything like Utah, the Christians I have met only bring up their religion for one of three reasons.
1). To prove that they fit in with the crowd (oh yeah, I'm in the 33rd Ward, I love Bishop Liddle, which Ward are you in)
2). After finding someone who is not part of the crowd to prove that they are better for being Christian (well, as a Christian, I'm taught to help my brothers and sisters in Christ who are less fortunate... what were you taught)
3. In rare (though not rare enough) cases, to justify horrible acts (God hates fags, so it's nothing personal, but the Bible says that you must be beaten).

Are they a vocal minority or a majority? I will never know... I've only met maybe a dozen people who will bring up their religion who don't do one of those three, and maybe a total of 30 who I know are both Christian and aren't rabid homophobes.
As the author says, if you are tired of being grouped with the groups like Fred Phelps, then YOU need to speak up, YOU need to show that it is possible to be Christian and not be a bigot and a homophobe, YOU need to set the example... otherwise YOU have no right to complain.
As I've told my fiance's mother, she can start claiming that Christians are open and accepting only after equality bills stop failing at the ballot box in predominantly Christian areas... until then, the votes have spoken.

1:35 pm  

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