Jesus is a Swimming Pool
On BoingBoing today, there was a link to some pictures of the dillapidated Heritage USA. For those of you unaware, HUSA was Jim Bakker's christian theme park, in the great wide plains of South Carolina. It's pretty much falling apart, and the pics are a great tour of something kitschy gone to seed. It reminded me of some stuff, though.
When I was a kid, I was different. I don't mean different from my friends, exactly, though I was. I mean different than you. I didn't have the normal childhood. I didn't get into the regular trouble, I didn't have the regular dilemnas. I didn't get to be a regular kid. Cuz my parents, love them as I do, are religious nuts.
Nuts isn't really a fair word. My mom is nuts, in the absolutely, clinically verifiable form of the word, but I suspect that's a much more common thing. Let's just say that my parents are very religious. My dad's a theologian. My hometown is a retirement community for presbyterian missionaries. Think about that. My neighbors, all of my neighbors, were people who had completely committed their lives to living in third world shitholes in order to spread the name of christ. Having held the torch high for thirty or forty or fifty years, they came home and settled down in this rural nook. Can you imagine how extreme these people were?
I went to christian schools. That is not a normal childhood experience. Since then I've divined that most kids were doing other things, like listening to rock and roll and making out with girls and sneaking cigarettes behind the gym. I remember, as a fifth grader, getting into arguments with my friends about when someone should be baptized. The big topic in junior high was millenialism. I'll bet you don't even know what millenialism is, do you, punk?Postmillenial, historical pre-mil. Amillenialism? That's how I rebelled in junior high. I was an amillenialist. Drove my mother crazy. Crazier. Whatever.
The point is, I went to Heritage USA. On vacation. With my parents. I had a great time. Looking back, I wish I had had a cynical view. I wish I could have looked around at the place when it was at its peak and been able to think "Man, how fucked up is this?" But I didn't. I couldn't. I drank the fucking kool-aid, all the way through high school, into college. Things started to fall apart in high school, but it was a long time before I got that programming out of my head. Years. A decade, maybe. Almost thirty years before I was my own person. Before I could think, really think, on my own. Why? Why would you do that to your fucking kids? Why would you take a child and make them into that. Why would you take away a childhood.
Anyway. They had a theme park. It fell away, and now it's weeds and cracked cement, and the rot is creeping in.