Two Crazy Rooms in the Church Lady’s House

So this morning I find email chastising me for yesterday’s Remembering the Fundamentalists’ True Love of Christ.

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that you are now trying to make us love and respect the same people who DENY US OUR CIVIL RIGHTS!” said one.

“Please don’t try to play fair with people who only want to repress and hate everything and everyone they think is against their ideas of who God is,” said another.


First, I don’t try to play fair. I do play fair. With everyone. What kind of dinkwad doesn’t?

But more to the point: fear not, friends, for I haven’t gone fungible on the fundies.

It’s like this. To my mind, most fundies are like 50’s-era, ranch-style, single-level suburban homes.

They’re neat, dependable, sturdy, comfortable, spacious, there’s a gazillion of them, the plumbing usually works. They’re great. It’s just that they also contain within them these two bizzaro-world areas where insanity is the norm.

It’s like you’re at the Church Lady’s house on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. The two of you are sitting in her sun room, sipping sweetened tea and nibbling Cheese Nips, or whatever, having a lovely chat.

In the course of the afternoon you ask to use the restroom. “Why, it’s just down the hallway there,” says the Church Lady. So you go down the hall, find a door, open it, and instead of a bathroom find this:



“Whoa!” you exclaim, and yank the door shut again.

And then you open another hallway door, and find:


So that room you pee in.  Because, you know: fire.

Then you stumble back into the tea room, crying, “Church Lady! Church Lady! You’ve got serious craziness happening back there!”

“Whatever do you mean?” she asks.

“Back there! In the two rooms! One’s got some gay guys being rounded up by Nazis, and the other’s got people being burned alive! C’mon! We’ve got to do something!”

“Oh that,” she laughs. “Oh, you don’t need to worry about that. That’s nothing.”

“Nothing? It’s horrible!”

“Why dear, no it’s not. It’s perfectly fine. That’s just the way it is.”

“But how you can you live in a house that’s happening in? How can you be comfortable here?”

“I don’t understand what you’re so upset about, dear. Those rooms, and the people in them, were here when I moved into this house.”

“But that’s so crazy. And why would you buy a place like that?”

“You’ve seen the view from my living room, haven’t you? It’s wonderful; you can see forever. Now stop worrying your little head about all this. We can’t change all the things in the world that aren’t exactly like we’d like them, now, can we?”

“But you could change this! You don’t have to live with this! You could open those doors, and — ”

“Would you like a little more sugar in your tea, sweetheart?”

See? Like that.

It’s not like the Church Lady is a bad person. A tad dense, perhaps. Not as empathetic as she might be. Definitely too stuck in her ways.

What she’s mostly doing, though, is ignoring the fact that between the roaring fire, and the gays and lesbians who will not be content to remain in her little room back there, her house — and sooner than she realizes — will be destroyed.

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  • HeatherR

    *cough cough* I would not say that Teh Gays in that photo are being tortured, per se.

    But that picture actually does fit into your metaphor. As long as Teh Gays are locked up back in their room with their debauchery and licentiousness, then that’s perfectly acceptable. But as soon as any of them comes out of that room and starts hanging around with The Proper Folk out in the living room, and start asking for things such as politeness, equality, and marriage, well that is Just Not Done. The Proper Way Of The World is that The Proper Folk are the normal people in the front room, and Teh Gays are locked up back in their Sex Pit.

  • You sure have a way with the illustration there John. Excellent as usual. But then I wonder what this house has lurking in the crawl space.

  • In my years of blogging, I’ve never spent so much time trying to find a picture I could use. I spent FOUR HOURS looking for a more suitable photo. Could not find one. A: I MUST clear out my Google search cache; and B: If you know a better photo, lemme know. (No butt cracks. As it IS I had to — so to speak — crop this one.)

  • HeatherR

    Oh, I completely sympathize with the image search issue. I would be happy to help out, but I don’t think my HR would approve of the Google image search string: Gay +torture -S&M -leather +whips. Of such things copious HR policies have been written.

  • denver

    I literally LOLed over the images… but harder over the note to self about your google cache.

  • Lauren

    I would agree with HeatherR – The picture does work, but it’s not because they’re being tortured. At least, not in th traditional sense. I’d bet money that the people in that picture are enjoying themselves immensely.

    I do have a question though. What about the picture suggests that anyone in it is LGBT? I see kink, and while the kink world is full of LGBT folk, it’s also full of non-LGBT folk.

  • Lauren


  • I’m glad you’re trying to love the “fundies” despite their crazy rooms! It sets you apart from a lot of progressive Christians who, in actuality, are making the same mistakes as fundamentalists. Only, their hatred is directed toward homophobes rather than homosexuals.

    homophobia is an awful thing. But hatred is still wrong, regardless of who it is directed toward. I need to constantly remind myself that Jesus died for homophobes.

  • Right. I know. As I said above, best picture available, for the purpose of this post, that I know of.

  • I’ll look around DC for a good LGBT torture photograph. I’m sure there is one. Brandon’s gay and they make him work in a cubicle… I’ll ask him if he’s game.

  • Can’t someone photoshop Fred Phelps’ head onto the bald woman in the middle and give here a sign and a taser?? That should do it.

  • Remember: PG-rated!

  • Yeah, I was thinking of going back and commenting on the previous post… but I’ll just do it here.

    Barna has done some studies on charitable giving by analyzing IRS charitable giving data and correlating that to religious affiliation. He discovered that those who claim to be born-again/charismatic/evangelical are the most generous (or, possibly the biggest liars to the IRS? i dunno) of those in his study.

    Most churches in the US allocate only 10% of their budget to missions, which covers a broad spectrum of activities. However some churches give away much more. Francis Chan’s former church, which he planted, strove to achieve allocating 50% of their budget to charities (the beautiful view out the front window that John speaks of in this post).

    My therapist once told me that the good is still there despite the ugly. Acknowledging the horrific abuse growing up does not require me to deny the good that also occurred. The good is still good. The horrific is still horrific. The fact that they coexist is bizarre and dysfunctional.

    I think the good news is such a coexistence is terminal. They cannot survive the test of time.

  • Suz


    Excellent analogy, (plus I almost choked over “Because, you know: fire.”)

  • Charlotte

    I agree, we cannot hate or we are as misguided as the fundies are!

  • Charlotte

    lol! Me too!

  • Charlotte

    Growing up in a very fundamentalist church, I had to watch movies on a regular basis like the hell picture and they even had sound effects. Talk about abuse!

  • Molly by Golly

    The hipocracy of the progressive Christian is not “hating the haters” but of allowing Christians who actively work against justice to dominate the public discourse unchallenged. You don’t really love what you are unwilling to fight for.

  • Dirk

    I find it increasingly hard to feel anything but fury, rage, anger and pure, unadulterated hatred towards those Christians who deny me my human rights.

    There is no single, solitary reason for their behavior apart from the joy of oppressing me.

    I am not alone, with each passing month, fewer and fewer gays, lesbians and transgender are willing to see our human status denied, our Constitutional rights abrogated.

    These Christians want us dead. First, they want us tortured.

  • Oh, well, sure, there’s that.

  • DR

    Wow. Very true.

  • Susan

    Love. This. Mind you, I HAVE broken Christ’s law and loathed a lot of fundies in my time, but I also love a lot of individuals who ARE fundy. This helps me get a handle on it a whole lot better.

    Still hate the whole “God hates Gays” and “Wives submit” crap…but you’re right, it doesn’t make hating THEM right….

  • DR

    I think it’s a tremendous amount to ask of someone to “love” a Christian – someone who represents the love of Jesus Christ – who calls them an abomination. I just think it’s too much to ask of anyone. If God provides that Grace? Then awesome. But this is far, far different from Fundamentalists disagreeing with a “lifestyle”. It’s a total rejection of one of the most intimate, essential things about us. Not only a rejection, a declaration that it is “unworthy” of God. That’s intense.

  • DR

    I think this is a pretty normal response, actually To ask anyone who has been called “an abomination” by a Christian – regardless of that Christian’s education, moral or ethical evolution – is a lot to ask. Personally I think it’s too much.

    If it’s better for someone who is part of the GLBT community to find some kind of compassion or understanding regarding Christians? If it creates a more peaceful, healthy life for that gay, lesbian or transgendered person? That’s awesome. But to suggest there’s some kind of coin to flip and homophobes deserve as much love as anyone else? Sorry – I can’t do it. Maybe that’s something about me but I can’t do it.

  • Diana A.

    I find it amazing how many gay people stubbornly insist upon remaining Christians in spite of the crap dished out to them in Jesus’s name. All I can say is that the Holy Spirit must be strong within them.

  • DR

    That kind of faith is something I aspire to, for sure.

  • “But to suggest there’s some kind of coin to flip and homophobes deserve as much love as anyone else?” Did someone suggest that? Did I miss something?

  • Are you instead suggesting something more simple: “You can tell people they’re dead wrong, or even that they’re being completely stupid without howling for their blood.” ?

    It’s kind of what I try to say. I used to be a young, zealous teen version of the Church Lady. Having people imply my utter worthlessness and failure as a human being didn’t make me want to change (it made me back into a corner and hiss at them, convinced of “darkness being against the light”) . Change came from elsewhere, within… thinking about things and letting my own sense of compassion and logic guide me. I honestly used to believe some things just because I thought “I had to.” Beliefs are not always a choice. I like to think I was human back in the day – as human as I am now. I don’t think I “grew into being a human” just because I changed my mind on some things. I had some good points, even when I was young and stupid.

    And maybe it’s that people I’ve personally known in the “fundy” camp – the worst I could say about them is that they were misguided, but not kitten-eating levels of pure evil. Then again, the people I knew thought the Westboro people were horrible for what they did, so they weren’t that level of crazy. Some people, quite obviously are. Just not people I knew.

    I suspect most Church Ladies are Crazy Cat Ladies, rather than folks who snack on live kittens.

  • DR

    Your post didn’t. A few of the comments allude to it (to me. I might be wrong).

  • But that would make it look like Phelps is enjoying it! XD

    I think the best bet here would be to look up old timey woodcuts of medieval torture or stuff depicting the Puritain era, floggings and whatnot and just Photoshop “Gay people here” into it or something.

    Phelps….hmm. Currently, I am writing a fantasy/horror short story involving zombies. In my world, zombies arise when people disrespect the dead. If Phelps lived in the world I’m writing, he and his people would have been torn to shreds years ago. So, people who want some vindictiveness – fiction and imagination are fun.

  • No, no, I didn’t think you meant me: I was really asking if I missed something. I hate that it’s happened, but sometimes these days I really do find myself running through these comments a lot quicker than I want to, and I really DO miss stuff, I know.

  • I’ve never had a crazy bathroom, but I did once live in a house with magic mushrooms growing in the basement.

    It would have used some contact with the second crazy bathroom to dry it out.

  • DR

    It could just be me reading into comments. Touchy! I’m touchy!

  • Allen

    Diana, I do stubbornly remain a Christian, but that doesn’t mean I seek out the company of people who hate/fear/misunderstand/haven’t the first clue about me who are also Christians. Basically I don’t think they have the right to throw me out of Christianity! The Holy Spirit does seem to drop by when I’m about to give up on organized religion. No, it’s not always a very fun place to be — but sometimes it is! And I firmly believe that to be a Christian I have to be part of a community of Christians, which I am. We’re not all geographically nearby, but we’re a community. All of us imperfect and doing our best.

  • DR

    And you must have missed the comment where Don and Mindy were paying for everyone’s internet – for an entire year! Isn’t that kind of them?

  • Allen

    Intense indeed, DR. The person who is asking me to love “Christians” who call me an abomination is, well, er, uh — it’s GOD. So ya gotta give it a shot, you know? God/Jesus — well known for asking too much of people since way back when! And it’s entirely to much to ask of me, much of the time, I gotta say. My “lifestyle” of not keeping my apartment picked up is much more of a problem than who I’m sharing the apartment with, which is my life (no style implied). But I’ve never been condemned in a religious setting for being less neat than I could be. Too bad, it might have changed me .

  • (At around midnight Monday [7/11], I changed the picture of the gay room to the one I have now [thanks, Scott Spencer-Wolff, for finding and sending me that!]. What I had there originally — and so about which you’ll see here some comments — was this:

    which wasn’t as good, since these people aren’t actually being tortured at all.)

  • Inspired writing.

  • Jojo

    Uhm, that analogy is straight-up TWISTED!

    If you saw that, you SHOULD think that the church-lady is evil, and if you don’t think she’s evil or don’t bother to go let everyone out of her torture camp, then that might just make you evil, too.

  • And all the neighborhood kids inherently KNOW NOT to go to the crazy old ladies house. Some have never been there for themselves and have only heard about it, some have been there and would NEVER go back. She needs a renovation and I am one offering to come in for free and help her. Kind of a Habitat for Humanity Program.

  • Dirk

    I think the new picture much better portrays reality.

    Following the news over the last weeks, it has become obvious that conservative Christians are determined to torture and murder us.

    The pact signed by Bachmann and Santorum this last week – practically tripping over each other in their rush to be the first – is not an extremist paper from a small but vocal group.

    It is the majority position of Christians.

  • Dirk

    The end of my over 30 year attempt to work with the Christians came the 10 days I helped my parents and their community recover from those awful storms and tornadoes this spring.

    The sheer hatred leveled upon us gays, the clear assignment of guilt upon us – God had punished America because of her tolerance of us was one bridge too far.

    They may not be torturing kittens, but they are doing everything they can to maintain my sub-human status, to strip me of the few pawltry rights I, as a second-class citizen ‘enjoy’.

    I’m not sure yet how to fight back, but I do know that the next church lady who makes the mistake of complaining in my presence about gays is going to get an earful.

    All this talk of how these ‘good’ Christians are struggling with their ‘conscience’ is nothing but a lie. They know they are wrong, they know they are violating the human and civil rights of us gays and the transgender and they truly enjoy the battle. It is ever so much easier than actually feeding and clothing the poor and comforting the elderly. That takes real work and a genuine wish to follow Jesus’ words.

  • It is! I’ve already billed them!

  • DR

    This is one of my favorite comments I’ve ever read on this forum.

    A friend of mine was after me about why I remain a Christian with all of its injustices. He said “You have two options, option A is to remain and be exactly like the horrible people who do such damage there, Option B is to start thinking rationally, leave and join the human race where people think critically. There is no other option.”

    to which I replied, “Yes there is. Option C. Which is my faith. It’s mine to choose and none of your business (if it’s not hurting anyone, which it is not).

  • I like that. Anti-black-and-white thinking. Also brave.

    I hate when people give you ultitmatims. It shows their own prejduice (and lack of imagination).

    I could say I’m the same but I’m not a part of “community” outside the Internet. I’m just not a social person. I’m the kind who might one day up and go off to pray on a mountain alone somewhere or something.

  • Humor can make an effective point because it lets down the reflexive defenses. Well done!

  • Out of curiosity….

    As you were helping people out – rebuilding, doing the volunteer work that you did – did you get into conversations with people? If they brought up the “judgement for tolerating the the gays” spiel, did you tell them, as you were helping “Hey, I’m gay, bub, and I’m HELPING YOUR ASS?”

    It seems to me like that would go a long way to showing them that “the other” are human.

    Then again, I’ve also known a depressing tendency with some humans to selfishly take whatever help they can get – even from people they normally hate – then just go right back to hating them. I suppose such *individuals* are so thick they’re beyond help. Keep being more “human” than they and maybe they’ll see that and shame will turn them around – or just avoid them altogether.

    Just know that the ones capable of change…. probably will eventually.

    I just know, with me, screaming at me that I was a horrible person didn’t work. It just added to the feelings I have even now (that I’ve grown and changed) of wanting to die.

  • Another thing… when I see the A and B option brought up…

    What if a person can’t – and I mean, *just can’t?*

    For me, it seems like God/the idea of God and of Jesus – *won’t friggin’ leave me alone.* It’s like, I had a conversion experience years ago and I’ve been trapped ever since. It’s like, even when I don’t want him anymore, Jesus is just “there.” I know I’d make a bad atheist because I’d have to *try* at it. As much as some people say it’s the “natural state of people that we are all born with” it’s not natural *to me.* It’s like, whenever I am concerned about something (or even really happy about something), I catch myself sending a silent mental prayer. It’s an instinct with me.

    I remember on a forum reading the experience one atheist said he had when things when his wife had an accident and how he had this feeling that he wanted to pray/cry out to something and he had to actively supress it and tell himself it was a stupid impulse. I feel that impulse and in such a way that I’ll give in every time. I have a defective brain, perhaps?

    Some people say “faith is not a choice because I never had it when when I tired” yet they seem to ask me to “try to give up faith” that I have that is likewise not a choice. I suppose it’s only a “not a choice” if it “goes their way” and a “choice” I am morally culpable (and thus judge-able) for if it goes the other way?

    I *have* to have the Option C because otherwise, I feel like what’s left to me is Option D (death).

  • Jack

    There’s a rule in blogging. First person to mention the Nazis loses.

  • k.s.

    I recently read a quote that said “kindness is always an option even when fondness is not.” (Samuel Johnson I think) That has struck a very defining note within me lately. I don’t want to dish out the same hatred and ill-informed aggression at christians as they dish out at me because I’m gay. Now…I’ve failed miserably at this in the past, I’ll admit, but I’m trying to walk a better road than many christians and their frightened judgements of my life. If I can accomplish this transformation within myself, I’d say I’ve beaten them at their own game, eh? That makes me smile and laugh out loud a little.

  • Dirk

    They all know I’m gay.

    They poured out their hatred an filth every single day.

    There is no excuse for this behavior.

    I tried rational discussion for over thirty years. It was useless. Now, whenever a conservative Christian justifies denying me my rights, I am going to be loud and nasty and very very happy to attack them with my profound knowledge of the Bible.

    They have no right to take away my rights!

    Oh, and it’s perfectly valid to compare conservative Christians and Nazis, their goals are identical.

  • There’s a rule in life: First person to quote the rule book loses.

  • dig it. thank, KB.

  • Don Whitt

    Unfortunately, the check is behind Church Lady’s Door#3 where she keeps her herd of peccadilloes. And I’ve seen them stampede, I swear.

  • Linda B

    there’s a rule book? man I am always the last to know stuff around here.

  • Linda B

    Hey guys I think we all have valid points, but let me throw this at you. I have a son, actually I have three sons ( and two daughters) so don’t confuse me with Fred McMurry. This particualar son and I have a history of fighting. We are both dragons and we get dragony with eachother more and more of late. The last straw for me as a mom came on Sunday last. We had it out in our usual way both of us saying things no child and parent should ever say to eachother. I was ready to have him leagally evicted. Had the paper work turned in and everything. In steps the “voice of reason” in the form of my oldest son. He is an old soul at best and an ancient sprit at worst. Anyhoo he asked me to drop the legal action. He explained it to me like this. son 2 and I have been in an arms race for years, yes son ascted like as ass, son should not act like an ass but he pointed out that nothing is ever going to change if we keep one upping the anty on our reaction to eachother’s behavior. One day (and for me that day came on Sunday) the A bomb will be dropped and you can’t take it back. Destruction for all involved. While I may be in my parental rights to kick the little bastard out that is not going to solve anything. I have to think 7-10 Christmases down the road. How do I want those to be, happy family circle or a house totally divided and fighting. He talked to me for two hours; I can be pretty stuborn. In the end I recinded the leagal action. Chosing to walk away from destruction and our “rights” as whoever is hard and it takes a real maturity and guts to do it. Or maybe a real Christ follower. I don’t consider myself anything in the realm of religion but I am a follower of the idea of love. Can we as people just do the same? Please. BTW I am staying in the RV untill Son2 leaves for California to go to school. Hopefully we won’t have the need to tourch eachother before then but I figure it’s best for me to not be where the temptaion would provoc such an action.

    Just sayiin. 🙂

  • Molly by Golly

    Sounds like your friend is unfamiliar with Methodism and the idea that personal experience and critical thinking are as integral to Christian identity as scripture and religious tradition. Of course, the Methodists have only had 200 years to get this message out so perhaps it’s too new to have penetrated secular culture. Maybe they need a twitter account or something.

  • Molly by Golly

    Lyle Lovett, “God Will (but I Won’t)”

  • Don Whitt

    @LindaB: A friend’s #2 son got so mad at his parents last week that he went into the garage, started up the car and took a trip to suicide town. Now he’s an ash-pile in a jar. A stupid, stubborn, and once incredibly handsome young man, but now an ash-pile.

  • Don Whitt

    He sure showed them!

  • Linda B

    I am sorry for your firend’s loss and the loss of a fine young man. I have not lost my son in death but I fear if he can’t learn to love himself and me I may have lost him in life. Just as bad.

  • Mindy

    THANK YOU, John – there’s a huge statement inside that little sentence. I’m going to use it on my oldest daughter. Soon.

  • Mindy

    Uhhh, huh? That is my gape-mouthed dumb face. Because at this point in life, I forget more things than I remember, so it’s quite possible someone could get me to say that and I’d forget. But I didn’t. I’m pretty sure.

  • DR

    It’s not just as bad.

  • DR

    What about the Scandinavians?

  • DR

    damn. so close.

  • DR

    Molly you are quickly becoming one of my favorite people here.

  • DR

    I adore you. This is an amazing comment, thank you for being such a great model of a person of *faith*.

  • Don Rappe

    Depends. Swede or Norske?

  • Don Rappe

    Love the sinner, hate the sin!

  • Don Rappe

    So THATs what Methodists are! I didn’t know that. I’m all in favor of critical thinking though. I think the first commandment requires that.

  • Don Rappe

    This is not only a strong criticism, but, a very accurate one, I think. Both ideologies are rooted in an absolute conviction that their bearers are somehow absolutely different from other people.

  • Don Rappe

    Or perhaps at Christ’s game. I would be careful about calling it theirs.

  • skosh

    play fair……..the term ‘fundie’ is used as an insult. If you love your neighbor, don’t use deragory terms to describe him.

  • Don Whitt

    Not even close.

  • I’m so totally not going to comment on this.

  • Annie

    I just “Found” you, shorty after I discovered that I was “lost”. I learned this because I am seriously considering marrying someone who is a fundamentalist. As I was doing the research on this “church” (really a gym with bibles) I found out that it is born of the Christian & Missionary Alliance. I was up for hours studying their website, and finally found their official (PDF) handbook, and there it all was, laid out in black and white, so much hate, intolerence, patent discrimination, sexism, oh! the list goes on and on! They are building a new church, in a real building, and have appointed my beloved to the Building Committee, as he is an engineer and has the equipment and know-how to do just that. He also tithes this church. Today I told him we have to talk this out. He said, “but I don’t go there for THAT”..(meaning the crazy rooms in the church lady’s house). Of course I countered, But now that you KNOW, haw can you stand in allegiance with them?” We have not come to the end of the discussion. He claims he is willing to find a congregation we can go to together. If that means I have to get my lazy ass up on Sundays and get me to the Congregational (very inclusive and well reasoned) church, then I am more than willing to do that, if only to get him away from these Whack Job Fundies. I informed him that as much as I love him, I cannot continue discussions about marraige if the sect/cult he is involved with and donating big bucks to believes that I am of the “Other Kind” of Christian: the LOST. (and as such, cannot be married to a “believer” according the the C&MA hand book. OH! and I am going to Rot In Hell! Awesome)

    For now, I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe he really did not know these things. But I am also not going to wait months for him to leave this group. I am not issuing an ultimatum, I am simply drawing my boundries.

    PS: we are not kids, I am 50, he, 56; we both have grown children, his of course “fundies”, my son, not.

    Both decades divorced, both ready to love and be loved. His beliefs are deep and ingrained, so are mine. I am hoping for a positive resolution to this issue, I know we are at a cross-road. I hope reason prevails and there is a happy ending here, but if there is, it will not include a life with any C&MA church or their ilk.


  • Annie

    OH! I am going to share some of your essays with him… you articulate much of what has been muddled in my head because I am so emotional about this.




  • As one who survived fundamentalism and found her way to a the inclusiveness of the UCC, my heart goes out to you; and I must confess, I breathed a sigh of relief that you discovered this before marriage. Good luck and blessings to you, Annie, as you sort this out.

  • Annie

    Thank you Christy,

    I have good news so far (though I know this is an ongoing process..):

    I did talk to him, showed him what I had learned and told him I simply could not stand by my man for this. He was great about it… I am hopeful we will get through this together. Thanks so much for responding and thinking about us.



  • Annie

    The Episcopals also value reason: Reason, Faith & Scripture are like the three-legged stool you are supposed to sit on, I guess…

    Glad to learn that the Methodists have a four-legged CHAIR: Reason, Faith, Experience, & Scripture. (just made the chair thing up, but…)

  • Annie

    I never thought of it like that, just had this vague seething rage that no one was standing up to them… I could see the hypocracy but never saw that I was part of it.