Monday, March 16, 2015

The Margaret White award for zealous Christian witness goes to...

Yes, you know who it is.


Specifically: Stephen Pettit, head flunkie in charge.

Back when Pettit "took over" BJU (and as we see, he didn't really), I wondered aloud if this was going to be a Soviet-style puppet regime with the Jones faction still running things behind the scenes, or if Pettit might really be an improvement.

Alas, now we have our answer. (I wonder where they put the gulags? Wait, getting ahead of myself.)

First, let's have the AWARD CEREMONY.

Stephen, you have hereby been SELECTED for Dead Air's very first and highly coveted MARGARET WHITE AWARD FOR ZEALOUS CHRISTIAN WITNESS. As one not permitted to peruse popular culture (although I know you secretly do), you will undoubtedly feign ignorance and pretend you never heard of the infamous Mrs Margaret White. Well, I have a quick tutorial below. Let's just say, the Mrs Whites of the world do not waste time with politeness and southern pleasantries, they just get it done, people.

Mrs White, the famous Mrs White. The one who uttered those immortal lines, I CAN SEE YOUR DIRTY PILLOWS!

I refer to legendary actress Piper Laurie, Carrie White's mother, one of Stephen King's most amazing, enduring and (as we have learned from the Jones boys) REALISTIC inventions.

Eve was weak! Eve was weak! SAY IT!


I don't have the time or patience to delve into the theological question of whether Christianity is misogynist at base. That particular case was already made a long time ago, by Mary Daly. Is there even the possibility of respect for women in a religion that constantly reminds us EVE WAS WEAK? The Biblical literalists are among the most deeply-sexist of Christians, because after all, it IS right there in the text. They didn't make it up. Mrs White is offering the interpretation that I basically grew up with, only she's doing it with ZEAL. And hey, aren't all Christians supposed to witness with ZEAL??? Because (I wish I had a dollar for every time one of them SPAT this one out at me): IF YOU ARE LUKEWARM, HE WILL VOMIT YOU OUT OF HIS MOUTH (and ohhh how they love that verse.)

The G.R.A.C.E. report, about the treatment of sexual abuse survivors at BJU, came out late last year and laid out BJU's sins in detail. The Greenville News (finally!) excoriated them on their editorial page (its only taken 67 years!) and the internet was abuzz with accusations and counter-accusations. I deliberately took a hands-off approach, because I have tried hard not to join the nasty internet habit (that I once had) of kicking people when they are down. That ain't nice, I decided. Give peace a chance! And so I did.

About a week later, I drove past a BJU-affiliated church here in town (they got dozens of em), amusingly positioned right across the street from some "liberal" (compared to BJU) Baptist church... and the marquee on the "liberal" church just read, simply: GRACE.

I instantly recognized this as an in-your-face gesture. Obviously, these liberal Baptists didn't expect SHIT from BJU. Hm, I thought... these Baptists know the BJU-people far better than I do. And I decided this was NOT a good sign.

The liberal Baptists called it. Credit where it is due.

Stephen Pettit has finally spoken. Its mostly in the Christian vernacular, so some of you may have trouble understanding it. I will therefore translate into standard American English that you will easily understand:


Yes, that is the gist of Pettit's speech, one long, gooey preacher-boy, grinning FUCK YOU.

I have not actually decided if this is one loooooong fuck you, which would be FUUUUUUUUCK YOOOOOU!!!!! -- or is it a series of small, nasty little fuck yous?

Make no mistake though. It is a big, giant, brazen, nasty, vicious FUCK YOU.



G.R.A.C.E. stands for Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.

I like the acronym and the name, because it reminds me of one of Christianity's greatest moral strengths: in humbling ourselves to admit our faults and face our mistakes, we are granted grace. Everything changes, everything is made new. It takes GRACE to admit you are wrong, GRACE to admit you need help. And in doing so, the light dawns, the clouds clear.

The old hymn AMAZING GRACE sums it up: I was blind but now I see.

In other words, preacher Pettit, you had an incredible opportunity given to you, an opportunity for what you claim to want: GOD's GRACE. This was your chance. You could have stood up, taken a deep breath and apologized. You could have. I was hopeful that this crisis might make a lasting impact. Like we used to say in Alcoholics Anonymous, you were provided with a priceless, clear MOMENT OF CLARITY. These moments, these realizations are usually regarded as GIFTS from God, in most religious traditions. This is the meaning of the acronym G.R.A.C.E., which I thought meant you might actually PAY ATTENTION this time, and do the right thing.

Ha. Dream on.

In the weeks that followed the release of the report, The Greenville News talked with one of the survivors, blogger Cathy Harris. I was so profoundly disgusted by this article, I went on the radio and announced the Margaret White award was imminent, and I would be taking nominees. "But so far," I said, "there isn't any contest."

WHAT made me decide on Margaret White?

[BJU counselor Jim] Berg also asked whether [Cathy Harris] felt any pleasure during any of the [childhood sexual] abuse and, if she did, she needed to repent, she said.

During one session, she said Berg told her he wanted to do a trust exercise. He pulled a rat trap from his desk, set the hammer and put a pencil on it. The trap broke the pencil into pieces.

She said he then told her to put her finger on the trap. When she refused, he got angry and put another pencil in. The trap did not snap shut.

If she couldn't trust the people God put over her, how could she trust God? she recalls him asking.

"I kept being told how unspiritual I was," she said.

The counseling ended when he told her he couldn't help her and God couldn't help her either.

"His counseling was more harmful than the abuse," she told The News.

In his interview with GRACE, Berg acknowledged that his counseling was often hurried due to his heavy workload and that he did not have extensive training in counseling sexual abuse victims. He said he did not know until 1992 that South Carolina had a law that required certain professionals, including educators, to report abuse, despite the law having been passed in the 1970s.
Really? Because *I* knew, and I think most people know, due to LAW AND ORDER SVU reruns... which I forgot, they are not allowed to watch over there.

That finger-in-the-rat-trap game is something worthy of Carrie's mom, doncha think? (ASIDE: Cathy, if this scene ends up in a horror movie, as it surely will, you could probably sue for copyright violation and make some bucks.)

This passage, Cathy Harris' harrowing horror-movie counseling session, is like Bette Davis serving Joan Crawford a rat for dinner in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE; it is definitely in the same neighborhood as Margaret White yelling that Eve was weak! Eve was weak!


Stephen, if you ever want this done up properly, let me know. We might be able to take some donations and rustle something up, like a plaque, certificate or whatever, you know, for your wall. I am sure you are proud of this award and will want to show everyone, so I will do my best to make it pretty. I mean, you do want to impress your new right-wing politician friends, doncha?

Just remember something.

The end of the film instructs us: "Carrie White burns in hell."

And whose fault was that? Will Margaret White burn there too, for driving her daughter crazy? I think that's an easy call, even for you.

Take heed and repent, Pettit.


Warnings for graphic violence, probable heresy and so on.

You knew I couldn't resist posting that... dirty pillows at 20 seconds!



1) Please see Camille Lewis' refutation of Pettit's lies/fuck yous. As usual, Camille is the go-to on this subject, as one who knows where all the bodies are buried.

2) All photos in this post are from THE ORIGINAL Brian DePalma version of Carrie--except no substitutes, especially inferior remakes of perfect horror movies.

Unbelievably, I started writing this just as AMC decided to show CARRIE, which I take as a sign of divine intervention, just so I could get some good shots.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

50th Anniversary of Selma: All Lives Matter

Below, my photos of yesterday's upstate South Carolina march and rally, honoring the 50th Anniversary of the famous Civil Rights march in Selma, Alabama.

The Greenville rally was called "All Lives Matter"--building on recent events and the popular slogan "Black Lives Matter"--with a deliberate emphasis on inclusion highlighted by organizer Traci Fant and participants from the Empowerment Zone (host of the galvanizing yearly event Voices Against Violence, that we have sponsored at Occupy the Microphone).

It was Traci's hope to include active law enforcement in the march, and many decided to attend the march on their own time and brought family members. Other rally speakers familiar to our radio listeners include repeat-guest Reverend Jack Logan of Put the Guns Down Now, Young People.

This event was huge and well-attended, quite a contrast to the NAACP's small but prayerful Spartanburg event on February 7th, also attended by radio personnel.

As I have said countless times, Traci is a human dynamo. She did an outstanding job. Her upstate radio show REAL TALK is on every Sunday afternoon on WOLI FM (our station!) at 3pm, so don't miss it.


First photo features my fabulous radio co-host, Double A, on left, and that's me on the right. (His sign got him into almost every video, including the Fox Carolina footage linked above.) You can click all photos to enlarge.