Image by Fiver13 via FlickrOne summer, about three years ago, my wife’s brother, his wife, and a couple they knew with their son and daughter, came up to stay at our place for their vacation. The parents, all in their 60’s, and the kids, son 30’s, daughter 20’s, were all fundies. On the first full day, the women tuned into one of those Christian TV stations, and for the next two hours watched Nazi rally type praise and sermons, during which time I thought I’d lose my mind, even though I couldn’t make out the words, only the emotional intensity that came out loud like that of an attacking mob coming at you. They were totally involved.
In the morning, I would arise and find my brother-in—law reading his bible. One time I told him that what he read about the lord commanding the Israelites to cut open the women, take out their babies and kill them, was not “inspired,” and that anyone who claimed so should be questioned as to his motives. Furthermore, I said that on that basis it was all B.S. He just sat there, unemotional. All of these things so far make me think of how they channeled their love, hate, and in general, emotions, into only certain areas, neglecting or being indifferent to the outside world. They all appear to be good people, but disturbing in this way.
We were into day four of a seven-day vacation. The son, who had been without his medication since leaving on the trip a week earlier, was acting stranger than when he first arrived. He had refused to take it, and to say that he was acting strangely would have been an understatement; and when he wasn’t acting, he was a zombie. Here was a person with a mental state beyond our experience.
That evening, at dinner, he suddenly stood up and shouted at my wife and I that she was trying to poison him, and that Jesus had told him then and there that we were possessed by demons. His father and my wife’s brother tried to restrain him, and I pointed out to him that my wife was a churchgoer, but I doubt it did any good. The women attempted to calm him, also. When the men took him onto the back porch, closing the door behind them, I told my wife, “Look, we have large knives in this house. What if he decides to come after us?” We began thinking of going out to a motel, and when her brother came in, we told him about this. Then, the boy’s father came in to say that they had been praying over his son to drive the devils out, and that he’d be okay. I said, “Oh sure, and what about next time?” since he didn’t take his medicine and it was all mental. (I had forgotten that the son had gone on a riverboat ride with my wife and three other people the previous day. What if he had seen her as a “demon” then? Would he have drowned her? And what of the night before, when we locked our bedroom door because he was acting so strangely?)
My brother—in—law started phoning to find a motel, and the three men went there for the night. The next morning, everyone packed up and left early, the son not entering our house.
Perhaps what is most disturbing and tragic is the fact that these religious, righteous people haven’t learned from this experience; they still believe in demons and genocides sanctioned by voices. They still do not realize their emotions are being exploited via massive praise gatherings and channeled hysteria. And it was just a year before that this sister-in-law was in the hospital with her nephew who was dying a horrible, agonizing death from hepatitis C, and of whom she said, “Tom isn’t Tom anymore.” Yet, she still believes in a loving God and an eternal, unalterable soul. May I be so bold as to suggest that they are all suffering from delusions, refusing to learn from experience, and enthralled by mentally ill prophets and the writer of Revelations?
Oh, but not to worry, when these relatives got back home, they promptly sent the son to a Christian Counselor.