Monday, October 08, 2007

bambi vs. the potty monsters (they win)

The Charismatic Catholic prayer meeting we attended was socially divided along a polite, faint, yet very real line. The organizers were on the main thoughtful and spiritual people, most having attended parochial school all the way through college. The lunatic fringe were mainly working class, high school drop-outs, and were tolerated at arms' length. Never the twain did meet... except to act like a bunch of Fruit Loops in a rented hall three times a week. Yes, we were all brothers and sisters in the Lord...and we were all very careful where we sat during Mass so that when called upon to deliver the sign of peace we wouldn't end up hugging anyone icky.

Bambi the high-functioning schizophrenic had been taken up as a cause by the groups' organisers. And I have to say that they did themselves proud. In short order they found her a clean, safe place to live, bought her a bus pass and put her in touch with a social worker and Catholic Community Services. It was pretty clear from the start that this womans' problem was more a matter of failing to take her medication regularly than 'spiritual darkness'.

Bambi's parents were quietly contacted. I felt really bad for these people. The way the laws ran at the time, if a person was over 18 and not presenting a clear danger to themselves or others, they could go run around and be nutty until they fell off a bridge trying to fly. THEN the state could step in, if there was anything left. Bambi's family recounted the problems they'd had in dealing with this woman over the years and how people in her condition regularly slip between the cracks of society, and thanked us for caring and doing what we had.

This move was viewed with horror by the Lunatic Fringe. They saw it as a terrible violation of Bambi's trust. After all, her father was rich and powerful and she was in hiding because her family was trying to have her committed and had poisoned her and the Mafia was trying to find her because her ex-husband had blah blah blah etc etc etc...and to top it all off there were demons in her apartment!

Bambi, meanwhile, was feeding off the attention of the group in general and the Lunatic Fringe in particular. The Fringe bought into her delusions hook, line and sinker. Per their literal interpretation of Scripture, the things that were supposedly happening to Bambi were concrete proof and vindication of the 'Pentecostal Christianity' that they practiced. With the backup of these people and their magical explanations for what was going on she soon 'felt lead by the Lord' to 'refute her medications and claim a healing' and that's exactly what she did.

That is why Bambi never did succeed in chasing Satan out of her bathroom.

A number of exorcisms were performed -but she claimed that the demons kept returning stronger. Then they started speaking to her and writing messages on her walls that only she could see. Finally she started bugging the owner, demanding that as a Christian it was his duty to remove the demon-infested, Island-themed tub surround so she could shower without worrying about Satanic Tiki idols tickling her crack.

The place had been completely and expensively remodeled before she'd moved in (and that aside from the fact that it was a ridiculous demand anyway) so naturally the owner refused. The lunatic fringe took up the banner and started pleading on her behalf and doing 'prayer battle' against him*. He still refused. Which was the beginning of the end.

This issue actually split the group. It boiled down to this: Either you believed that this woman was desperately in need of Thorazine, or you were on "Gods' side" and believed that the fucking bathroom wallpaper was possessed.

What was truly sad was that while Bambi was rapidly losing the last of her marbles, both sides were wasting time agonizing over this issue.
Here's why:
These were Fundamentalists. A 'secular, scientific' explanation was by it's very nature wrong. It was, in fact, even sinful to entertain such an explanation. Born Again, Charismatic Christians utterly refuted the 'false religion' of Science. They believed in the literal truth of demons, angels, possession, miracles, exorcism, speaking in tongues, healing and all the rest of it because it was in the Bible, and the Bible was the revealed word of God! Period! So the explanation that best tallied up with what was in the Bible was, had to be, and could not be other than the right one. Therefore, if you took the Bible literally in this case, a person was not schizophrenic. That's not in the Bible, consequently it is a lie. However a person could be possessed by demons. And how do they take care of persons possessed by demons in the Bible? You prayed over them, rebuked Satan, and the demons were cast out.

But if that didn't work?


It all ended in a pathetic mess. The lunatic fringe moved en masse to weirder (MUCH weirder) pastures, taking their checkbooks with them. The remaining members disbanded when they lost the use of the hall due to lack of funds. Funds provided in large part by my mother, turns out.

Bambi stopped paying rent. Finally she had to be evicted after she'd almost burnt the building down leaving lit cigarettes all over the floor. She eventually went back to living on the street.

I met up with her a couple of years later, though.

Guess where?

Church of Scientology.

* what this amounted to was meeting in Bambi's apartment across the wall from the owner, or standing on his front stoop, or sitting in his driveway in their cars holding hands and praying loudly that he would 'do the right thing and follow the path of righteousness', calling each other up and holding prayer meetings via conference call, bringing it up during meetings...yup.

**I am not being flippant and I am not making this up... this is honestly what they believed and how they believed.

You can take that line of thinking as far afield as you like, too, and it still applies. Modern medicine is evil, electricity is a lie, Buddhists worship Satan, fossils aren't real; they were created by Satan to deceive the faithful.
Now, that's far, far to the right...and also far, far from being as extreme as I've been exposed to. Think of it as 'middle of the road' far right.
That is Christian fundamentalism.
Welcome to America.


  1. I wouldn't mind being one of them fellas who casts out poltergeists.

    I'm used to females chucking things at me for no apparent reason so I would be perfect for the job.

  2. Garfy: young man i ought to put you over my knee. where HAVE you been? i was worried!
    meanwhile, i see you more as a Linda Blair than a Max Von Sydow. at any rate its got to be more fun to be the chuck-er than the chuck-ee in that situation.

  3. Kristy11:03 AM

    I was going to guess that you caught up with her at The Meadows'. What the heck were you doing at a church of Scientology?

  4. oh sweetheart, my ex-husband was a scientologist. i'll look for a backlink.
    what, were you hoping my life was going to take a sudden turn for the
    'normal' or something? sheesh!

  5. i'm so glad you're revealing this. i don't think people over here quite grasp how dangerous christian fundamentalism is. they're starting to get a toe-hold in the schooling system over here and it scares the crap out of me. when i try to tell people why they should be more concerned they think i'm exaggerating.

    any chance of you writing a book and publishing this stuff in print? i would buy a million copies and give them out to everyone i know.

  6. Isn't it the Christian Scientists that don't believe in modern medicine?

    And since when do Fundementalist Christians smoke?

    Better living throught chemistry...(sigh). Seems to be the (correct) answer to a lot of things (too many, methinks).

    FN, you rock.

  7. i'm possessed by demons??

    do they respond well to prozac, do you know?

    *nods out*

  8. that was me, by the way.

    i am schizophrenic now, too. w00t!!

  9. I believe that depends on the demon Surly...if it's the kind you'd normally see on an episode of 'Angel' or 'Buffy...', then they respond quite nicely to Lithium.

  10. This is probably the only time I'll ever be serious with you but...heart warming to hear how your lot tried to help. I never diss religion, even though I'm an atheist. STB EW is a left footer and it gets her through the night so good for it, I say.

  11. FN, my God, I read your two exorcism posts in like 5 minutes flat! Fascinating,weird yet fascinating. When you write your book, you have to dedicate at least a couple of chapters to Bambi and the Charismatics.

  12. cb: the thing is, its so over the top that even when people see it stated in black and white they just laugh it off. nobody would really believe in anything that stupid, right? but it's EVERYWHERE. and theres more of them than there are of us. just because it's stupid doesn't mean it isnt real.

    'shot: them too. your standard fundamentalist believes that modern medicine is essentially a lie since all healing comes ultimately from God. how far they take that varies. and re smoking? like fricken' chimneys! and prayed for forgiveness all the while!remember the bumper sticker: 'christians arent' perfect....just FORGIVEN.'

    surly: clinical depression and panic disorder! pleased to meet you, schizophrenic! sweetheart, i am thinking about you. i've been saving up abandoned building sites for you too. nothing like an abanodoned building to cheer a person up. ya want 'em? meanwhile, i'd check the bathroom. particularly the tub area.

    'shot: not Spike! NOT SPIKE! let me have Spike before you start hosing everything down with lithium, dammit!

    reg: thank you! X! i only dis stupid religion. and i think most of it is stupid, so there ya go.

    yeah, i'll let that statement stand just as it is. bring it, rimshot.

  13. What'd I do?!?!? Have I, in any way, implied that, in general, organized religion on any order isn't stupid? You'll get no argument from me, missy.

  14. That's got to be Spike pre-last couple mopey, ineffective seasons, right? Before one apt reviewer started calling him "Spicule."

    (As an aside, it seems James Marsters will be appearing on Torchwood this season. Captain Jack + Spike = Holy Exploding Gay Geek Underpants!)

    Ahem. Great post, as usual, and I believe every word of it. I still want to hear more about the Scientologists, too, sometime, if you don't think they'll track you down for it.

  15. 'shot: well crap. are we on the same page? how did we do that? i thought you were...actually i was beginning to suspect you were a catholic clergyman. i'm so confused. well, crack a tiny Jack Daniels and come sit next to me at the bar, dog. we'll figure it out.

    Danator: right up to the episode that opens with him slouched against the window all sulky and rough trade, smoking a cigarette...and then the buffybot stands up and zips his pants. *fanning self briskly* gracious! the humidity! getting warm up in here!

  16. Sooo... how was she when you saw her a couple of years later?

  17. heeeheee, Catholic Clergyman. Perhaps you missed the posts about my son? And my quest to find a Mrs. Rimshot?

    Yeah, Scientology...c'mon...we're all jonesing for a fix

  18. Cap'n S: just as freaky and dressed in purple. she had the ol TR's down pat, too. glazed expression and all.

    'shot: i did. i thought you were in the lay brotherhood or something. you know, 'monk lite'?

  19. monk-like, maybe (not by choice), or were we not talking about my 'dry spell'?

  20. P.S. How's the Playboy doin'?

  21. i was a church lady for about 8years. I made my kids and husband go. Pain in the ass. don't get me wrong I beleive in God, I don't have the luxury not to, but I often wonder how screwed up that made my kids. i don't go anymore the ex got the church in the divorce and he isn't even a member. strange.

  22. Recovering baptist here. Love your blog. And these past two have been magnificent! Thank you for sharing it.

  23. Nothing like having fundamentalist neighbours to broaden one's mind! By the way, from them I learned that Roman Catholics are not Christians. Has anyone informed the Pope?

  24. I want to perform an exorcism. ON my estranged husband. Would you like to help?

  25. Obviously, my comment comes a little late to this party, however.....

    brilliant follow-up to the first story hun, I swear if you write a book, it will be on my Christmas list!!!!

    Poor Bambi.....I don't know what else to say really, other than, my view on ANY religion is that everyone has the right to believe what they wish.......HOWEVER, I have issues with something that could cause more harm than good to someone who is obviously mentally ill.......and The Scientologists.....well, let'S just say that anything that is founded by the wacky ideas of a former PULP SCIENCE FICTION writer.....sends me running in the opposite direction!!!!!!!

    As for you dearest woman (who as usual rocks!).......I want more tales, I must have more tales, you gotta...gotta gotta gimme more tales.........please.

  26. I must admit that I looked at church of Scientology cloosely myself, pondering the question if that is the way to go... will it count as an excuse that that was twenty years ago and I was misserable?
    Hahaha, life IS misserable, no matter how hard we try, I know that now!

  27. Excellent piece. What scares me most of all, though, is that the whacko fringe seem to be the ones with the money (and therefore the power) in the story.

  28. I am scouring the local D I Y emporiums for demonic sounds like fun.
    When you met Bambi again , was she still the same ?.
    Great post , I wonder what all the potty monsters are doing now ?

  29. I quite warmed to Bambi.

    I found Jesus once, he was down the back of the sofa.

    Infectious reading there FN, makes me hungry for more. xOx

  30. "First Nations said...
    'shot: well crap. are we on the same page? how did we do that? i thought you were..."

    Unfortunately, sweetness, I don't think we'll ever be on the same page. But on the up-side, that's ok with me. I still think you're aces!

  31. Anonymous7:51 AM

    i knew it! those church of scientology people are freaks to the 10th power. pentecostals and jehovah's witnesses are borderline freaks too - in my opinion.

  32. 'shot: oh come join me on my page. it's a nice page. there's even parts you can color. bring crayons!

    joe smith: welcome mr. smith! the playboy was admitted to the hospital for a few days and now he's in a nursing home recovering from pneumonia. a nursing home where they practically welcomed him back with a catered reception, full bar and male strippers.

    gale: aside from all the nutjobs i met there, i got a lot of good things out of religion. you just take the good and walk away from the rest, i guess.

    joy: welcome! baptists have the best potluck, next to Grange. don't recover too much so that you forget how to make tatertot casserole (drool!)

    dinahmow: ah crap, i thought the pope was the antichrist. but as far as dogma is concerned, your neibors are arguably onto something there. yoiks!

    awaiting: as long as it involved firearms. XOO

    punkie: if you like this stuff apparently theres a book out there called 'Grey Gardens' that makes this stuff look like tea with grandma. i'm scared to read it!

    mone: boy did YOU dodge a bullet! you need to come over and visit and i'll make you dinner and life will not be miserable, ok? (())

    qenny: and THAT was the connecting thread i was going to use to tie this to a future story about the 'weirder pastures' of fundamentalist religion. mind like a steel trap, q!

    beast: try the kids korner..the teletubbies line always scared the crap out of me. //bambi was just as nutty; she just had a whole new vocabulary to talk about it.

    ratso: beloved rodent vermin mine, you are my onliest rattus rattus. thank you. you completely dodged the question about having grown a moustache, btw. ZO CUTE!

    'shot: you a trip, jack. of course, we like trips around here!

    pink: scientology is screaming, vibrant proof that if you say any stupid, made up, freaky ass thing loud enough and long enough people will believe it and give you money. ANYTHING. AT. ALL.