Tag Archives: Fundamentalists Are Crazy

Sassy Is: Wondering What the Hell to Do about Her Facebook Account

“Are you on Facebook?” Nearly every friend I have has asked me this question in the last year. The answer is a very hesitant “Yes…” followed by qualifiers like, “I haven’t completed my profile yet,” or “I haven’t logged in in ages,” or “The whole thing just overwhelms me.” My friends give me advice for how to manage my Facebook life, and I always tell them I’ll follow it. And then I don’t.

The reason why it overwhelms me can be summed up in two words: high school. My parents sent me to a tiny (my class at its height had nineteen students) Christian school where my life was a living hell from fourth grade on until I went to college. The school discouraged honest intellectual thought (I actually was taught creation and creation only in science classes, and history was referred to at times as “His Story”), and from the time we were but little children, teachers taught us that we were essentially sinful creatures and that without a “solid grounding in biblical values,” we would be lost to “The World.” Our bodies were our mortal enemies, and teachers spanked us when we did something out of line. We girls were taught that we were to submit to our future husbands and that the only reason for us to go to college was to either become teachers or suitable “helpmeets” for our husbands. Girls who got pregnant were expelled.

I never fit in at this schoool. My mind was an active one, and skepticism came naturally to me. Although I didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, engage in fornication, or admit to anyone but me that I wasn’t a Christian until after high school, my inner rebellion must have triggered suspicion from teachers and fellow students (not to mention my parents, who treated me as though I was just chomping at the bit to do all of these things at once, every second of every day).

In such a stifling environment, I went from being a happy, friendly popular kid to a sullen, painfully shy outcast. It did not help matters any that I had a woman’s body and look from the time I was twelve years old, and between that and what one teacher describes as “wisdom beyond her years” (along with the slam, “I hope she isn’t ‘Worldy wise’”), boys stayed away from me. Until my senior year, when some other classmates realized that our school was a bizarre and unhealthy place, I had nary a friend. It truly amazes me after that experience, two of my closest friends are from that school. Even still, we didn’t become close friends until we went away to college.

Those two friends, however, are it. Except for a couple of reunions, I haven’t seen or spoken to most of my high school classmates since 1991. And that’s fine with me. High school was a long time ago, and I have moved on. I wish my fellow high school classmates nothing but the best in their lives. That doesn’t mean, however, that I want to be friends with them on Facebook.

When I joined Facebook, at the behest of one of my high school friends, I listed only my college and graduate school, hoping to avoid the alumni of my high school. I tested the Facebook waters gently. My real name is a very common one, and so I didn’t post a picture, thinking that it would keep most people from finding me. I filled in my religion as “Agnostic,” not meaning that I still held out some possibility of the existence of the Christian god, but instead that I was not willing to rule out the existence of a spiritual world beyond the physical one. My limited profile done, I friended the one high school friend, and a few other close friends, and figured that if that went well that I would then fill in the rest of my profile and join the wonderful world of Facebook in earnest.

My plan didn’t work. I logged back into my Facebook account the next day and found that I had two friend requests from high school classmates. Not wanting to be rude, I accepted their invitations, and that’s when all hell broke loose. I’ve gotten invites from so many alumni that I’m afraid to check the account again.

Here’s what I don’t understand about Facebook: Why do these people want to be my “friend” now? We weren’t friends then, and I highly doubt that we would be friends if we were to meet up again in “real life.” That’s OK. I have no need for these people’s acceptance now, and I’m sure they are doing just fine not knowing my relationship status, what I do for work, or how I pass my time. I’d rather let them fade gently into my past than have to contend with their strange offers of friendship in my present.

All of this is to say that I’m in a bit of a quandary. There are people I’d like to keep in contact with on Facebook, including old college friends, and friends I know now whose updates would amuse me. I know that a presence on Facebook can help me professionally. But I don’t want to rehash high school over and over again. I don’t want invitations to join “All the Christians on Facebook.” I don’t want to read endless updates from people who spend all day doing quizzes and finding Easter Eggs. I already blog, twitter, meet dates, e-mail friends all day, and network for jobs online. Even if I didn’t have this dilemma, I think that adding Facebook to the mix could send me over the edge. So what to do?

I’m not sure, but I’m beginning to feel like I need to make a decision. I suppose if I do want the benefits of Facebook, then the most honest thing to do would be to “un-friend” those high school classmates I no longer wish to know, and restrict the activities of a few others. As one of my real friends said, anyone who knows me well already knows about this weird chapter in my life, and that their presence in my Facebook life doesn’t reflect on me. So maybe I should just bite the bullet and jump in. Or, maybe I should just delete my profile and disappear.

What about you? Do you have people crawling out of the woodwork of your past to request your friendship on Facebook? Are you one of those people who goes looking for everyone you ever knew? How do you handle your Facebook life?

The Sassy Sundries: My Week in Review

Wow, what a lazy week. Friday’s here already, and so it’s time for the Sassy Sundries, my weekly tally of things personal, political, and nonsensical.

The unemployment figures released this week make me feel like a total joiner. There are 5.56 million of us on unemployment the dole in this country. Minus 5,560,000

Obama gives his second press conference. It’s so nice to have a president who can speak in complete sentences. Interestingly, with only a couple of exceptions, every question was about the economy. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t come up once. While obviously the economy is on the front burner, I hope that the wars don’t fade into the background. Even

Speaking of war, Obama is expected to announce that he will be sending 4,000 new troops to Afghanistan, with the goal of training Afghan security forces. This brings the total number of new troops in Afghanistan to 21,000. In addition, more aid will be given to Pakistan for counterterrorism measures. The new focus on Afghanistan will set benchmarks for both Afghanistan and Pakistan. While I can see the point of trying to clean things up in a region where we’ve been fighting a half-assed war in for so long, I wonder if recent history doesn’t have some lessons for us here. Minus One

Went on a bit of a bender and made a bit of an ass out of myself. Oh well. It was great to see Andraste (who wasn’t involved in the bender or the ass-making), and today is a new day. Plus One

The Boston Globe announces yet another round of layoffs. Minus Two

During the presidential press conference, Obama indicated that the Republican criticism of his budget needs to be backed up with an actual counter budget proposal. Today House Republicans announced that they had a budget. The only problem? There aren’t any numbers attached to it. Minus Two

Twilight at Boston Latin? Vampire rumors spread through the school, prompting a memo home to parents about bullying. Gimme your lunch money or I’ll bite your neck? Minus One

Sarah Palin threw a snit this week, saying that she couldn’t find anyone to pray with her before the Vice Presidential Debate. You’d think that everyone on McCain’s team would have laid hands on her. Thank heavens the religious right isn’t in charge any more. Plus One

I have a date tonight. Plus Five

Total Plus: 7
Total Minus: 6

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: -5,559,999

Last Week’s Total: -165,000,00

Fundamentalists Are Dope! Queen, Backward Masking, and Sassy’s Warped Education

Friday night while driving me home from an evening out, Fresh Hell played Lobsterdust’s mashup “It’s Fun to Smoke Dust” (Queen vs. Pastor Gary Greenwald vs. Midfield General) from Best of Bootie 2008. Overlaid on Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” is Pastor Gary Greenwald’s passionate sermon about how the song contains an evil “backward masked” message, saying, “It’s fun to smoke marijuana!” (Thank you, Freddy, for stating the obvious via satanic technology). I’d heard the mashup before, courtesy of Date, but I hadn’t really listened to it. Now that I was listening, it sounded very familiar.

“Wait a minute! I’ve heard this before! Is this from Hell’s Bells: The Dangers of Rock and Roll? We had to watch this movie in high school!*”

Even though Fresh knows I was raised by fundamentalist Christians and had to go to fundamentalist school, sometimes my knowledge of such things still manages to surprise her. I thought perhaps it might surprise you. Here is a tale of an attempt to inoculate me and my fellow inmates against what fundies call “The World.”**

Sometime during my junior year in high school, our Christian Education teacher, who had also been our eighth and ninth grade history teacher (she had an associates in physical education), decided that my class had grown too worldly and that we needed to be aware of the dangers of backward masking and other messages hidden in rock and roll music (aka “Worldly Music”). To that end she had signed out the school’s VCR (usually reserved for showing anti-premarital sex videos) and told us that we were going to watch a movie during class. That movie was Hell’s Bells.

Oh, Hell’s Bells. Made in 1989 at the height of the satanic cult scare, it saw the Dark Lord’s sooty fingerprints everywhere. The early middle-aged narrator, still sporting a mullet (all the better to appeal to “the youth”), left no stone unturned. From the usual heavy metal suspects to the Bauhaus, XTC, and the Cure, according to him every genre had but one, singular goal. To turn young people into knights in Satan’s service (yeah, Gene Simmons. We’re onto you).

While degenerate rock musicians peddled messages of sex and drugs as a matter of course, far more insidious was the phenomenon known as backward masking. Hidden in certain rock and roll songs, were messages discernable only when the track was played backwards.*** The subject of these messages? Pure evil. Groups like the PMRC blamed backward masking for everything from suicide to Satan worship. Listen to rock? Become a zombie for the devil.

Most of the examples of backward masking in Hell’s Bells had to do with worshipping Satan, but Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” announced that it was fun to smoke dope. So I guess when I was bopping my head, skating around the roller rink, I should have been thinking about toking up instead of shooting the duck. Sigh. I’d always misheard lyrics.

Thing was, when mullet guy played the backward masked message to “Another One Bites the Dust,” it didn’t sound a bit like “It’s fun to smoke marijuana!” It sounded like this:

Eetssss nnn te kehhh erijNAH!

Excuse me? Don’t you think Satan would make himself a bit clearer? I was trying rather hard not to laugh, but some of my classmates couldn’t help it and started snickering. That pretty much did it for the effectiveness of Hell’s Bells. We weren’t going to be burning our Led Zeppelin albums and replacing them with Steven Cutis Chapman any time soon.

When our teacher left the room to return the video player, Queen was all we talked about. We tried to figure out what the heck was going on. “That didn’t sound anything like marijuana!”

A number of us tried, but the young Smokestack imitated the backward masking best. She’d grunt and yell, and then someone would follow with “Hey hey!” and we’d bop our heads to the tune in our head. At some point, someone (maybe it was me, but I don’t remember) realized that the backward message sounded a heck of a lot like “Another One Bites the Dust” written backward:

TSUDEHTSETIBENOREHTONA

That clears things up. Of course it says, “It’s fun to smoke marijuana!” Hail Satan! Pass the bong!

Among other oddities, Queen’s supposed backward masking has become a symbol of our warped education. So when I got back home after hearing Lobsterdust’s mashup, I immediately sent the following e-mail to Smokestack:

Run. Do not walk. Google directly “Best of Bootie 2008,” and download the Queen song. You will laugh yourself peeless.

She replied with the suggestion that we use it as a theme song to our next reunion.

*The particular sermon in the mashup was not drawn from the documentary, but the message is the same.

**“The World”—To fundamentalist Christians, existence can be bifurcated into two groups, Christians (meaning born-again fundamentalists—no Catholics or “mainline” churches welcome) and everyone else. Everyone else = “The World.” The customs and music of the others are viewed by fundamentalists as the slippery slope leading directly to the Bad Place.

***It is indeed possible to add a “backward masked” message to an album track. The new wave band the Waitresses added a backward masked message on “I Could Rule the World if Only I Could Get the Parts,” and then slapped a warning label on it. I’d heard the story, and when I was in college, I convinced my computer science geek friend to feed it through his computer. The message? “Anyone who believes in backward masking is a fool.” Genius.

The Sassy Sundries: My Week in Review

Well here we are again—another lovely Friday. It’s time once again for me to tally up the events of my week. If you’ve never checked out Boston’s Weekly Dig before, you should. There’s a link on my sidebar. I’ve copied their Bean Counter column.

Here are the week’s Sassy Sundries:

It was forty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. This was one of my favorite records as a little girl. I scratched it beyond recognition, having learned how to use the record player almost before I could walk. I would stare at the cover for hours, making up names for all the famous people on the cover (I always knew who John, Paul, George, and Ringo were, though). Enjoy the show! Plus Five

Amazing weather (for once) on a long holiday weekend. Emerged on Tuesday relaxed and happy, instead of bleary eyed and pukey. Plus Four

May marks one of the deadliest months in Iraq. The administration keeps saying the name “David Petraeus” over and over again in an attempt to pull a Jedi mind trick over on the American people. Minus Five

I miss having Grey’s to look forward to on Thursdays. Perhaps I’ll start going to the Institute of Contemporary Art’s free evenings instead. Even

In the news of the truly bizarre, the Creation Museum has opened to throngs of illiterate fundamentalists. In this museum, dinosaurs (all vegetarians!) are shown cavorting about with Adam and Eve, both celebrating their creation on the sixth day. The Grand Canyon? Formed by Noah’s flood. Science? The work of Satan. Minus Three

My effing leg’s on the mend. Last night I went to dinner in Chinatown and had me a fun walk about before picking up a book of Alice Munro stories and heading home. I realized on the way home that it wasn’t hurting me to walk. I smiled. Plus Ten

Video of kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston surfaces. The video was undated, and there has been no other sign of him since he was kidnapped in Gaza, but this is something.Plus Three

Feeling better about the whole McI situation. I’m pleased with myself for waiting for the right moment to have “the chat.” Plus Three

Idiot boards planes with a virulent, drug-resistant form of tuberculosis, endangering the lives of hundreds. I don’t know about you, but his pleas for forgiveness would be falling on my deaf ears, had he been sitting next to me. Minus Three

Total Plus: 25
Total Minus: 11

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: +14

Last Week’s Total: -5

The Sassy Sundries: My Week in Review

Well here we are again—another lovely Friday. It’s time once again for me to tally up the events of my week. If you’ve never checked out Boston’s Weekly Dig before, you should. There’s a link on my sidebar. I’ve copied their Bean Counter column.

Here are the week’s Sassy Sundries:

It was forty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. This was one of my favorite records as a little girl. I scratched it beyond recognition, having learned how to use the record player almost before I could walk. I would stare at the cover for hours, making up names for all the famous people on the cover (I always knew who John, Paul, George, and Ringo were, though). Enjoy the show! Plus Five

Amazing weather (for once) on a long holiday weekend. Emerged on Tuesday relaxed and happy, instead of bleary eyed and pukey. Plus Four

May marks one of the deadliest months in Iraq. The administration keeps saying the name “David Petraeus” over and over again in an attempt to pull a Jedi mind trick over on the American people. Minus Five I miss having Grey’s to look forward to on Thursdays. Perhaps I’ll start going to the Institute of Contemporary Art’s free evenings instead. Even

In the news of the truly bizarre, the Creation Museum has opened to throngs of illiterate fundamentalists. In this museum, dinosaurs (all vegetarians!) are shown cavorting about with Adam and Eve, both celebrating their creation on the sixth day. The Grand Canyon? Formed by Noah’s flood. Science? The work of Satan. Minus Three

My effing leg’s on the mend. Last night I went to dinner in Chinatown and had me a fun walk about before picking up a book of Alice Munro stories and heading home. I realized on the way home that it wasn’t hurting me to walk. I smiled. Plus Ten

Video of kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston surfaces. The video was undated, and there has been no other sign of him since he was kidnapped in Gaza, but this is something.Plus Three Feeling better about the whole McI situation. I’m pleased with myself for waiting for the right moment to have “the chat.” Plus Three

Idiot boards planes with a virulent, drug-resistant form of tuberculosis, endangering the lives of hundreds. I don’t know about you, but his pleas for forgiveness would be falling on my deaf ears, had he been sitting next to me. Minus Three

Total Plus: 25
Total Minus: 11

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: +14

Last Week’s Total: -5