Monday, October 27, 2008

Hell House trip, continued

Continued from the previous post...

Room 3
Synopsis: Perils of drunk driving. Two cars are smashed up in an obvious wreck. Very happy demon hops around on both cars like a monkey. Paramedics remove one person from one car, who is horribly disfigured, while the passenger is dead. The driver stumbles out of the other car, obviously dead drunk and ranting about how unfair it is. He stumbles away. Demon continues to feel gleeful.
Most disturbing moment: Actually I thought it was a little weird that the car driven by the drunk was the one that got HIT, rather than the one doing the hitting. But it was plausibly pointed out that he could have run a red light and been at fault. Still, I find it hard to believe that he is the only one completely unscathed.
Ambiguous moral message: God will sort out the bodies, but most people are hell-bound anyway, so the guy in the passenger seat probably belongs to the demons now. Police are pretty useless, though, as they didn't make any effort to stop the idiot driver.

Room 4
Synopsis: Part 1 of the abortion drama. Girl and boy love each other very much, but the idiots do it without protection. Boy assumed girl was using birth control; girl of course was not. Girl announces that she's pregnant, and also that she will have an abortion. Boy is distraught, not wanting her to kill his baby. Girl browbeats boy into going along with her to the abortion clinic for moral support.
Most disturbing moment: Actually this one wasn't particularly disturbing to many of us, as none of us heathens are particularly opposed to a little good old-fashioned lust. I'd assume that these kids are victims of an abstinence-only curriculum, although that's not they angle the actors put on it. Their message is that no amount of precaution can save you if you decide to have sex.
Ambiguous moral message: Women are bitches. Not all that ambiguous, actually.

Room 5
Synopsis: The abortion drama continues, as the hapless boy attempts to sit with his girlfriend in the operating room waiting to kill their baby. The boy freaks out and runs from the room, unable to live with himself. The girl, realizing that she's all alone, has second thoughts about this. However, the doctors won't let her leave, and forcibly perform and botch an abortion on her, causing her to bleed to death. The everpresent demons, of course, enjoy this immensely. Throughout the scene, a tape loops on some overhead monitors, showing some of those scary post-abortion videos with little fetus arms and legs.
Most disturbing moment: Obviously I was most bothered by the portrayal of how abortion doctors act. Because, you know, they're not there to satisfy their customers or anything... you came in for an abortion, and damn it, YOU. WILL. GET ONE. Oh, and as the patient dies the doctors say "Oh well, we lost another one. We've got lots more to get to today!" Too bad there's no such thing as malpractice in the Christian universe, or they could stop abortions easily!
Ambiguous moral message: In case the idea of killing your baby doesn't put you off abortion, we now guarantee that you'll be dead too. Abortion is almost certainly riskier than child birth in that regard.

Room 6
Synopsis: I may have forgotten some by now, but for my recollection the next one is a two part molestation drama. One girl is distraught that her sister died. A friend is trying to console the survivor. The girl reads a suicide note stating that her sister was molested to death by their creepy uncle. It is implied that the mother was never present because she's always spending time with her lesbian lover, so we get a twofer here. At that moment, the creepy uncle himself walks in. The fair-weather friend immediately leaves, despite the next potential victim begging her to stay. The creepy uncle begins making advances. Then the boyfriend barges in on them, and in a fit of rage, shoots the uncle. Fade to black.
Most disturbing moment: Did I mention that the other girl just decided to walk out, leaving her so-called friend alone with a known molester? Who the hell DOES that? She wasn't acting scared or anything, just a fairly cold "I'm uncomfortable with this situation, I have to go."
Ambiguous moral message: So wait a minute, a molesting uncle is a bad thing, that's not much of a stretch. What's up with the boyfriend? Are they applauding his actions? Or is he dancing to the demons' tune too? I don't get it.

Room 7
Synopsis: In part 2, the girl goes to her sister's funeral. She's distraught, so another friend (not from the last scene) offers her sleeping pills to help her relax. Next, dear old lesbo mom shows up, and the girl tries to embrace her mother, only to be snapped at for telling lies about her brother and trying to break up the family. Mom leaves, girl cries. She takes some sleeping pills... AND THEN DIES. (Well, I assume.)
Most disturbing moment: Um, well, dear old mom was kind of a ringer for Hillary Clinton, I guess.
Ambiguous moral message: It doesn't matter how much pain you are in... if you attempt to seek help through medical prescription, YOU WILL DIE.

Room 8

Synopsis: We got herded into "coffins": little narrow rooms in a line of four each. They locked the doors and told us what happens when you die.
Most disturbing moment: Some of our members are particularly uncomfortable with small spaces, and others are averse to being touched much. I didn't have much of a problem.
Ambiguous moral message: None yet, but it's obvious where this is going.

Room 9
Synopsis: It's heaven! Yay! We made it! The room is brightly lit and covered in cotton. TV monitors play happy messages interspersed with graphic scenes from "The Passion of the Christ" to show who made it possible for us to get here.
Most disturbing moment: Well, it's the Passion of the Christ. I mean, seriously.
Ambiguous moral message: Heaven is kind of boring and plays bad movies.

Room 10
Synopsis: Hell! Oh noez! A very dark dungeon with demons banging on bars! One of them freaked out some kids by coming out of the dungeon and getting up in their face.
Most disturbing moment: The message is, of course, that all the dead people from the previous scenes ought to be here. That includes the girl who got shot by the rampaging kid, and the one who was molested by her uncle, and the victim of the car crash.
Ambiguous moral message: In case you haven't noticed by now, Christianity is all about buying the religion and has nothing to do with whether you're innocent or guilty of anything in particular. In fact, the molested girl deserves hell no less than the creepy uncle.

The final room

Okay, so finally we get to The Conversion Room™ so we can all make "The Choice." A spunky twenty-something woman was on hand to tell us all about the opportunity of Christianity. There were two doors, one unmarked door on the left, and one in front of us that said EXIT. Spunky McCurlyhair told us that if we wanted to accept Christ as our savior now, we could go through the door on our left and sign pledges.

Unfortunately, Spunky didn't have very good crowd control skills. For starters, there were seven very rude people in the back who kept on quietly cracking jokes. Be quiet, you people! I'm trying to learn about Jesus! But never mind about us, few people were paying very close attention, which prompted Spunky to tell us all, "Ok, it's really important to focus, people!" IMHO, when you get to that point you've already lost the battle. I felt kind of bad for her.

We were, of course, really hoping that we seven would be the only ones standing on our own. Sadly, though, fewer than half of our group of fifty went in the door on the left. Undaunted, Spunky said, "Okay, now you people are still left here for one of two reasons. Maybe you're already secure in your faith in Christ and don't think you need another affirmation. But let me tell you, it's important to go out and spread the gospel..." She droned on like this, and by the time she was finished explaining possibility A, she either forgot or was too rushed to acknowledge possibility B: "Or you're all hellbound heretics! What is WRONG with you people?" That remained unsaid.

I had heard that in previous years, ACA members have wound up getting in arguments with members of the cast after the show, and I for one was really looking forward to that... only it never happened either. With the ginormous crowd, the girl was forced to keep herding us along after our time was up. As a result, we wound up having to go through the door on the left anyway, rather than approaching the one marked EXIT. It made no sense to me... surely it would be symbolically powerful if us heretics got unceremoniously dumped outside and separated from everyone else. But no, there was a big guy standing right in front of the exit, and we just decided to leave quietly on the left. Mustn't slow down the conveyer belt.

As we went out, we of course got to march right past all the deer-eyed people who were busy signing commitments to Christ. ("By accepting this agreement, you are explicitly granting the right to 10% of your lifelong income... offer not valid in California and Norway.") It was kind of goofy, really... they're sitting there trying to recommit to their god, and all the rest of us are filing past staring at them, as if they were the last skit for the evening.

Final ambiguous moral message, which sums up Hell House neatly:

No matter how much you might be terrified of hell, no matter what they may have in store for you, just rest assured that being there can't be nearly as bad as the long wait to get there.


  1. I'm a little surprised there wasn't a scene focusing exclusively on the "evils" of homosexuality, since so many of today's fundagelicals focus so much effort on their hatred and fear of that alone.

    I think a good project would be for atheists to make a "hell house" of our own. The focus would be on the negative elements of throwing away your life believing in the bunk that is religion / Christianity.

    One approach would be to take typical hell house room scenarios and turn them around to show the other side of the coin. This could be done by showing contrasts;

    A typical abortion scene as Russell described shown as what can result from abstinence only education. While the next scene just shows what happens when you use safe-sex practices, with emphasis on how sex is nothing to be ashamed of, and can be enjoyed without fear of it being "sinful", and a punishment needing to be metered out.

    One room could show a child dying of a curable disease with his highly religious parents praying over him instead of seeking treatment..the child dies of course. Then the next room could show the kid graduating from college years later. In this version the kids parent were secular people and sought medical attention. (Yes I know this is extreme, but this is an atheist hell house after all.)

    The whole thing would not have to be sour, it could be done in a parody-like atmosphere which I think would allow people to enjoy it while still getting the pro-secular message across. Maybe people could be escorted by the ghost of Bertrand Russell or Carl Sagan, hehe? This would be a great project for the ACA for next Halloween!

  2. I was really looking forward to joining you in this year's Hell House, since I'm already up here in Dallas. But my 11-year-old son had a birthday party Saturday night.

    I didn't realize the Hell House was such a big draw.

  3. Feel free for any of you to check out my blog. I defend the Christian faith, and post blogs regarding issus within Christianity and society.

    Comment any time


    Innovation Apologetics Research

  4. Thanks... This was the first blog post I read here. So as bad a time as you may have had, your report of the event is appreciated.

  5. I checked your blog and it seems to be a lot of defense of Bible verses. No offense but I find that kind of boring. Please see Star Trek Rule.

  6. Sounds like it was fun, even if the wait was boring. I'll have to see if there are any hell houses around upstate New York and organize a trip.

  7. Robert: Maybe people could be escorted by the ghost of Bertrand Russell or Carl Sagan, hehe?

    I love the idea; it reminds me a lot of this old Onion article. I think the best thing would be for the people playing the ghosts of Sagan, Russell, Asimov, and the like to continually remind people "I'm not a ghost; ghosts don't exist. I'm just a person playing a part."

  8. robert, the Evangelical Atheist blog actually made a post about an atheist hell house. It's a great read.

  9. Anything with someone portraying carl Sagan would be a major bonus in my mind. I have a crush on him! Yeah, I know he's dead. So what?

    I'd love to work on an atheist "hell house" next year. Who knows, it could become a regular event around halloween.

    On a technical note, about the car crash scene. That woman was pulled from the back seat of the car that was supposed to have been hit (the cars were not arranged properly, that's true). The person in the driver's seat was arranged laying through the windshield, while the front passenger was crouched down with the top of her head against the dash. Those were apparently the actors who couldn't deliver a line worth shit but at least knew how to keep motionless. Anyway the survivor who was badly burned was welcomed to "a life of hell" by one of the demons. he seems to think that she will turn bad now that her "spirit" has been crushed by the experience and now that's she'll be horribly scarred for life. The driver (at fault) from the other car was drunk and only had a superficial cut to one side of the forehead. The cops simply asked how he was and said he needed to go to the hospital, too, to be looked at.

    One thing (among many) that annoyed me about the abortion scene was that the two women shown performing the abortion were not dressed as doctors but wearing brightly-patterned nursing scrubs. having worked in a hospital for several years, I can assure you that doctors (male or female) do not wear that *type* of scrubs. Either the idiots at Hell House think that's how to portray female doctors... or they are trying to suggest that these operations are being performed by clinical staff other than a doctor.

    What's with the commenter for the pro-Christian blog? Get a load of that name: Innovative Defense. Innovative Apologetic Research. Well, I suppose they have to find innovative ways, don't they? haha.

    I'm also surprised homosexuality wasn't the major topic of any of the plays, but if it had been... I wonder how they would have set up the plot. Either way it would have been horrible. Pentacostal freaks....

  10. This interactive Hell House floorplan is pretty funny, and there are no lines to wait in!

    Much more interesting, too....

  11. I bet Carl Sagan would not mind is name being used for such an enterprise, plus you could always ask Ann Druyan. Most people probably would not know who Bertrand Russell was. Some people in my WoW guild didn't even know who Isaac Asimov was actually...then again they ARE from Kentucky. (Being from West Virginia I know I can't claim any sense of superiority from this fact.) Maybe I can move to Austin someday...then I can point and laugh with more legitimacy.

  12. Dammit, to live in or around Austin.

    You folks have the ACA and fun jaunts like this. We have nothing like this in NY.

  13. @Arran Walker
    or they are trying to suggest that these operations are being performed by clinical staff other than a doctor.

    Which is pretty idiotic, as they know perfectly well that abortion procedures are carried out by doctors like Barnett Slepian.

  14. Did anyone else think it was pretty rude for Jeremy to come in, leave what was essentially an advertisement of his blog, not contribute at all to the discussion or even comment on the topic at hand, then leave?

  15. Yes, it was rude. he must have thought that the contents of his blog would speak for themselves and be enough to help us see the light. Boy, was he wrong. Sure, it speaks VOLUMES (and volumes...), but it's a load of crap. The part I read had something to do with trying to put people and books in the "correct" time line. Sad.

  16. Could be worse. He could have started proselytizing.

  17. Sorry for interrupting the conversation. I saw one of your comments on another site and followed it here. Im looking for intelligent conversation between both sidea. I can see it won't be with any of you, since most of you have acted unpleasantly. I hear over and over that this world would be better if we were all nonbelievers in a deity. I don't see that being the case, as you guys show the example of how you attack others without merit to do so, as like it could somehow strengthen your own beliefs.

    I will not continue conversation here, I can't learn anything from others who act ignorantly.


  18. ^
    Perfect example of why we reacted negatively.

    Your actions here are akin to coming to someone's house where there is a garden party, putting flyers into their hands, then leaving.

    Then when we call you out on your rude behavior, you call _us_ ignorant and unpleasant.

    We didn't call you rude because you believe in god. We called you rude because you're rude.

    Now I can't speak for the people who run this blog, but I certainly don't hate open discussion. I just like it civil, you know, like normal people. If you had read any of the rest of this blog you might have seen that.

    The world would be a better place if everyone (yes, even atheists) would stop being so self-righteous and narrow. I don't hate religion. I hate what religion does to people (Proposition 8 is the freshest example I can think of)

    You're perfectly welcome to stay and have, as you describe it, intelligent conversation. We're all about intelligent conversation.

  19. ^ "We're all about intelligent conversation."

    I like turtles.

  20. I'm more a hamster person myself.

  21. I will not continue conversation here, I can't learn anything from others who act ignorantly. - Jeremy

    I went to Jeremy's IAR website, wherein listed among the "recommended sites" I found... Answers In Genesis.

    Should Jeremy deign to return, he should start the "conversation" by answering this question:

    How old is the Earth?

    His answer - more properly, the answer I suspect he will give - should show us nicely where he stands vis-a-vis "ignorance."

  22. The last time Jeremy posted on this site was in response to the blog post "Chuck Colson's insecure little God". His last words were:

    "Because in your opinion something is "made-up" does not make it true. I am no longerarguing on this site. Email me"

    So if we're fortunate he may grace us with his presence again in the future despite our ignorance.

  23. I've been of the opinion, after first hearing about this farce of a horror house, that we should have something more historically accurate. As in a recreation of the torture chambers of the inquisition and the pyres of Salem. Teach the kids where devout ignorance can lead them to, which would be condoning hell on earth.

  24. I'm with otakursed. This is what Christianity led the human race to. Now drink of the wine.


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