When I was young, our hometown put on a 4th of July “carnival” on the town square. I say carnival in quotes because our small town’s idea of a carnival is that the churches in town sponsor booths of food, merchandise, and Booster Club donations. We have an old fashioned cake walk where all the ladies (and some of the guys) bring cakes to win off the turning raffle wheel. The town provides “rides” made up of homemade tractor pulled wagons strung together or “horses” made up of a long round telephone pole laying on its side. The pole was wrapped in carpeting, and was sitting on top of a large cart, again, pulled by a tractor. On top of the carpeted pole and positioned a foot or so apart were saddles for the kiddies to sit on. I kid you not, this was the height of fun when you’re seven years old. They purposely deflated two tires to make the cart pitch and role so we could all convince ourselves that we were on a bucking bronco. YEEEEHAWWWW! 🙂 City Slickers here we come! The rides were similar to Father Ted‘s little town carnival on the island off the coast of Ireland. You know, where they have that porch swing attached to a crane, going up and down for fun. 🙂
Since I was seven or eight the carnival has definitely gone downhill. They still boast the same homemade rides, but most of the town waits for the REAL carnival in August where there’s a beer tent and live bands. Since churches sponsor the first carnival, there are no beer tents. But there are plenty of gospel sings, tai-kwon-do demonstrations, and don’t forget the little girls from the dance studios!
I remember one carnival in particular, only because it stands out so clearly in my mind, when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I usually went uptown with a couple of friends or my sister, but once there, we easily wandered away from each other. I wandered over near the Bingo tent and saw a little cartoon booklet laying on the ground. I picked it up and it was a story about a guy who got in a car accident and was immediately sent to the throne of God, who sat there faceless (in the cartoon that is). Anyway, once the guy got up there, God proceeded to play a film of the guy’s life and showed him every incidence in which he was bad, good, or didn’t do what he should have. The trick ending came, when the guy was feeling pretty good about himself and then all of a sudden, God thunders, “Thou fool, this night thou soul shall be required of thee!” And BAM down he falls dead and goes to hell. I tell you what! That tract scared me right then and there. Oh, I wasn’t scared enough to go find a church, but I remember reading it vividly and have often thought of that since. I wondered to myself whether God’s that merciless to trick someone into feeling secure and then slamming them into hell. Jack Chick would say, “Great! That’s the point.” But Jack Chick isn’t who he claims to be. He uses false means to spread hate about Catholicism and every other brand of religion he deems unfit. He is particularly scathing about pagans and implies motives to them that I’ve never encountered. If you’ve never entered the wacky world of Jack Chick, I suggest you find out. Cornerstone magazine has an excellent expose of “Alberto Romero,” a supposed Jesuit priest hired by the Vatican to infiltrate Protestant churches. Jack Chick loves to use Romero’s exclusive “inside view” of the Catholic church to spread all kinds of vicious rumors about that religion. Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin met Chick at a convention and prints what happened here.
As with all hysterical fundamentalists and their conspiracy theories out there in cyberspace and on television, there is always a hint of truth somewhere amidst all the lies. Those who do not educate themselves properly can be sucked into this hateful propaganda (witness the 9-11 conspiracy theorists). (It works for politics too) I was also sucked into this vortex of religious spew at one time when I was a fundamentalist and thank God I learned to think somewhat critically when I went to college. It’s easy to be handed information and accept it as truth without investigating it. If I learned anything in my years as a believer and as a student, it’s this; always GO TO THE SOURCE and find out the truth for yourself before believing anything that comes out of another person’s mouth. And that includes me. 🙂
oh, my goodness, am I becoming a catholic apologist?
PS. The images from Chick’s site seem to want to disappear as soon as I link them. Sorry, please go to the links and see the booklets. I can’t seem to get an image to stay put. 😦