The movie Saved is a satire, sometimes good, sometimes
awkward, about evangelical Christian
|Nowhere are those wings considered cool|
As we watched the movie I kept noting things that seemed completely inauthentic to my experience of evangelical subculture. "They would have a picture of Reagan, not Bush," I told my husband (then fiance). And we all laughed at the idea of "Christian yoga." With few exceptions, the people we grew up with thought yoga was a New Age cult, not an exercise form that could be Christianized.
"But you didn't grow up in an evangelical subculture," my fiance reminded me. "You grew up in a fundamentalist subculture."
I was a little taken aback by that (a big part of my identity was that I emphatically was not fundamentalist). One can argue all day long about what Christian fundamentalism is, but he had a point. The school I attended, while affiliated strongly with the Southern Baptist convention, had shades of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist running through it, not to mention fundamentalism in a broader sense. The evangelicalism in Saved is a different animal.
Where I went to school we used KJV (King James Version) only until I was in middle school - then we progressed to the New King James. I count it a point of pride that I managed (with everyone else in my 3rd grade Bible class) to memorize Hebrews 11 in the King James Version with all the thees and thous. (Look it up - the chapter is massive and has a lot of names. To this day I have no idea why we had to memorize the whole thing).
Our curriculum was either Bob Jones University Press or Pensacola Christian (A Beka). Both are flagship fundamentalist Baptist institutions, and both have a history of spiritual abuse of their students. I'll do a post later on how Pensacola "science" textbooks handicapped us in that area, because it's worth its own post. It wasn't just Creation science though: the vitriol infested everything. Our grammar sentences to diagram were things like "Liberal Christians are like modern-day Saducees because they deny the resurrection." Among other things, we learned that:
|A+ in brainwashing|
- For that matter, only a tiny percentage of Christians were really Christian
- Baptism only counts if it's immersion of someone who can make a "believer's baptism."
- True Christians believe that God created the world in literal 24 hour days. We never thought to wonder why Genesis has two creation stories, or what it might mean poetically.
- When Jesus came back, those who "believed" would be raptured, while those who did not would suffer for 7 years in the tribulation. During that time, the Holy Spirit would be removed from the Earth, yet somehow new Christians would be born again. That mechanism was never explained.
- There is nothing we can learn from "false religions" because Jesus is the only way to the Father. There was no understanding that other people groups could discover truth unless white people (um, I mean missionaries) taught them.
|Different book, but we had this one too|
The curriculum understood that stories are one of the best means of brainwashing. I still remember a "chapter book" created by A Beka or BJU in which a little pioneer girl has to cope with her father (a widower) remarrying and their move to a new home. The book had promise, actually - the daughter clearly had a mind of her own and an independent spirit. But of course, this independence was rebellion against God. The most hysterical part of the book was where she joined a square dancing team in town. Now, fundamentalist Baptists are still anti cards, dancing, etc. But in this text they were more subtle. The girls' father and other men determined that dancing was against their Baptist faith and had it disbanded, a sort of "Footloose on the Prairie." The girl was bitter for a time, until she realized that she hadn't been doing her nightly prayers because she was so absorbed in preparing for the next dancing get-together. Quite a move, A Beka - you taught that men are natural leaders, that religion should rule the state, that dancing is wrong, and that hobbies are suspect, all in one go.
Some day I'll have to do a deconstruction of this curriculum, but I think it'd give me nightmares right now.
Our school followed suit by having "no dance" proms and homecoming "banquets," which is just as lame as it sounds. For some reason the cheerleaders were allowed to shake it; on the other hand, we couldn't play "We Will Rock You" at basketball games because it "promoted homosexuality." When my eleventh grade teacher wanted us to read The Great Gatsby, all the "bad words" had to be covered in white out. This had the opposite intended effect, since everyone would hold it to the light to read it.
So no, I didn't go to a school like Saved. That school would have been a bastion of liberalism compared to the world I lived in.