Thoughts of a former evangelical Christian

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Child Evangelism Fellowship on Genocide

In Child Evangelism Fellowship, Good News Club on October 30, 2010 at 10:02 pm

The animation below faithfully illustrates another one of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF)’s favorite Sunday School/Good News Club/Vacation Bible School lessons — “Saul’s Disobedience.” Namely, Saul’s disobedience in failing to finish his genocide of the Amalekites, after God had instructed him to kill everyone, including “children and infants” (1 Samuel 15).

As I wrote a few months ago in “Good News Club” on the Slaughter of the Amalekites, CEF uses this Bible story to emphasize the importance of “total obedience” to God’s purported commands. Even when the commands are troubling and seemingly Nazi-like (like the command to commit genocide) and “we don’t understand them,” the Christian duty is to carry out the commands without hesitation or reservation. As with my previous two animations, the female audio script is genuine — directly excerpted from the 1973 version of CEF’s appallingly authoritarian “Life of David” teaching script:

1 Samuel 15 is a favorite argument (legitimately so) of skeptics of Christianity against the inspiration and authority of the Bible. Most Christian adults know nothing about this story. But many Christian children do. I learned about it at a Good News Club when I was seven years old. This, and many other disturbing lessons like it, are designed to instill authoritarian values (such as “total obedience”) in children.

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Uzzah — a sketchup animation

In Child Evangelism Fellowship, Good News Club on October 23, 2010 at 2:27 am

Swift off of the heels of my “Parable of Child Sacrifice” animation, I generated this animation of the appalling, morbidly fascinating story of the divine homicide of Uzzah.  God slew Uzzah in anger for reflexively steadying the ark of the covenant with his hand after the oxen pulling the cart stumbled.  The story is told by an animated Child Evangelism Fellowship teacher, reciting the script provided in the 1973 version of Lesson Nine of the Good News Club “Life of David: Vol. 2” teaching manual.

The “good news” is that Child Evangelism Fellowship has removed this narrative from its Good News Club materials.

Save the Children: A Parable of Child Sacrifice

In Child Evangelism Fellowship, Christianity as Tribalism: Cultivating a Tribal Identity on October 7, 2010 at 9:34 pm

This week, I created a sobering musical 3-D animation (7.6 minutes) that illustrates a modern-day tale of Genesis 22 — Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac — as a parable of the soul murdering message of the “good news” so frequently inflicted on children.   I used Google Sketchup to generate the 3-D animation, and then video editing software to add soundtracks, fades, and textual overlays.

This is not a satire.  I do not scoff.  With this animation, I visually and musically dramatize the very real horror I felt as a child, when being relentlessly reminded about my utterly sinful and inadequate nature and God’s authoritarian nature.

Please take note: the audio script of the animation is taken verbatim from the Bible and from Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) teaching materials.  Because I did not want my own voice to convey satire or exaggeration, I took excerpts from CEF’s favorite “gospel” script and several lessons from CEF’s “Life of David” flannel graph series, and — using ISpeech — computer-generated audio versions of those excerpts.  I repeat: the audio script is not made up.  In fact, the brevity of it cannot do justice to the relentless and overwhelming repetition of these spine-chilling exhortations in almost every CEF lesson.  In their lessons, CEF relentlessly emphasizes (above any and all humanitarian values) the supremely important value of obedience — absolute obedience — to God and our “God-given” authorities.

My dramatization is in the animation visuals, the background music, and (to a small extent) textual overlays.

CEF repeatedly reminds children of their horribly flawed, intrinsically worthless sinful human natures; how God’s holiness cannot tolerate the presence of sin; how sin — even the smallest sins — has to be punished by death and hell; and how the only way of salvation is to believe and obey what they say about God.  On top of this, they instill an anxious fear in children by reminding children to check their hearts — to make sure that they are not just pretending.

The cumulative effect of all of this is to wreck a child’s self-image.  It encourages depression and provokes vulnerable chidren to suicide.  With their lessons, CEF re-enacts, in a very disturbing way, the near-sacrifice of Isaac. Read the rest of this entry »