Editor’s Note: Trusty TCP blog associate and reliable commenter, Mason Lane, cleverly re-interprets my Vacation Bible Story assignment to his own liking. /Linda LaScola, Editor
By Mason Lane
Editor LaScola’s assignment was for a Bible story remembered from Vacation Bible School, with a secular twist. Vacation Bible School: as if I needed another week or two of three hours a day learning how to say stupid things about and to a non-existent God? And what a heartless way to waste my priceless summer vacation time. My memories of VBS lessons are lacking because it required me to use the daydreaming skills I’d developed at Muessel elementary school (pronounced like the disease). But I liked Muessel School, not VBS.
While patiently waiting with writer’s block for one of the daughters of Zeus to arrive with inspiration,
three vivid memories did occur to me: the lousy snacks, the gospel magic show on Friday night of the last VBS day, and what happened to new kids over the first few days of VBS.
At the hour-and-a-half mark, we VBS captives, all under mandated parental attendance orders, were given our daily cheap snack consisting of an animal cracker cookie and a plastic glass of sickeningly sweet orange Kool-Aid. A bitty bite and stingy sip were all I could stomach. Such training might have served me well as a Jim Jones Guyana survivor, had circumstances brought us together. (We were both Hoosiers).
The magic show was good – it was done by a paid professional who knew how to invade credulous kids’ brains with a toxic mix of magic and theistic blood sacrifice false dilemma dialogue. I know it sounds disgusting, but this guy somehow made the scam believable.
Every trick ended with an emotional plea about how we needed to get blood washed or else our dirty little selves would bake in hell like clay pots in a 2400-Fahrenheit kiln. It was terrifying entertainment at its best! An excellent tutorial for watching horror movies.
During the seven years that I suffered through VBS, I noticed a pattern. When VBS started there would always be two or three kids in my class who did not attend our Baptist church – mostly strangers, but sometimes someone I’d seen at school. Then, after the second or third day, they mysteriously disappeared, like transient alien visitors.
One day, the case of the vanished children was solved when I overheard some teachers talking:
“Oh, they won’t be back. When their parents learn we’re teaching them the real true gospel, they’ll never let em’ attend anymore.”
“How terrible that these kids would end up lost and be tossed into God’s extra-large kiln for all eternity.”
All eternity was a very popular Evangelical phrase that never made sense to me. Can there be a half of eternity?
Years later, after I’d deprogramed my fundamentalist Christian brainwashing, I imagined how the scenario went — how the alien kids would go home and excitedly say things like,
“You know Mom, Dad, we have to get saved by Jesus’s blood or we’re all going to burn in hell!”
Those sure were good parents who yanked their children out of the Baptist VBS classes and promptly stopped the brainwashing.
Evangelical mental abuse of children still continues summer after summer. There are kits available for sale to make the VBS brainwashing more entertaining for the victims.
But there are also groups and individuals who are finally pushing back and exposing VBS and Child Evangelism International for the potential damage they pose to a young human brain.
This is truly “Good News” and I await more of it, while I continue to suppress those bad memories and wait for inspiration.
Bio: Mason Lane: As a credulous child, I was raised Christian fundamentalist Baptist. I later became a glory-shouting Pentecostal and was ordained by the Christian Faith Church Pentecostal in Mishawaka Indiana. I ceased believing in the irrational and supernatural at age 30, thanks primarily to reading the Bible while thinking. At the time of my de-supernaturalizing, I was General Manager of WHME-FM radio station, a Christian radio station, and Pastor of Christian Faith Church in Mishawaka, Indiana. I resigned both positions and moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I became dean of students at DeVry University.
I’m still a person of faith. My faith is now in science, nature, love, friends, family, music, humor, art, The US Constitution, the 5,000 year old Golden Rule and Separation of Religion and State.
>>>>>Photo Credits: By Wolfgang Sauber – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6555488; By Unknown – Universal Studios, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17161363