An Ultimate Supernatural Guilt Trip

1 December, 2009

One of my frequently frequented grocery stores is closing.  Sunshine Mart, which has been around since the 1940s or earlier (Chappie, did you ever shop there?) is in the process of shutting down. 

 The store was a popular one in the valley.  One woman (((Wife))) knows remembers shopping there when she was a kid.  The family running the store understood tight budgets (nine kids in the family and dad had died in a coal mining accident) and, if mom was a little short that week (or month) they put it ‘on her tab’ which, oddly, never came due.  Good people.

It was also a fun place to shop just because some of the overheard conversations were, well, interesting.  Today, I overheard another conversation which brings up the old question as to whether religion does more harm or more good.  Over at the Spanish Inquisitor  is an article about the Catholic Churches problem with child abuse and child rape.  Crimes which, if done by any non-mainstream-religious group, would have seen people in jail rather quickly.

Even on a personal level, religion can cause harm.  Today’s overheard conversation is a case in point.

A yuppie mom was walking through the store with her 4-year-old daughter.  Cute kid.  Red hair (there may be more redheads in the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys than anywhere else in America), green eyes, freckles, cute dress, and she was wound up with a typical preschool temper tantrum.

Mom sighed loudly, told the person on the cell phone, “I’ll call you back.  She’s at it again.”  Then she turned to her daughter and told her, “Stop it.  Now!”

Being a typical 4-year-old, she went right on with her tantrum (which really was not that bad (my kids have pulled far worse)).

Mom then got down on one knee and said, “You are bad.  Baby Jesus hates it when you are bad.  Do you know why?  Because when you are bad, it hurts Jesus.  You are twisting the nails holding Him to the cross.”

At which point my jaw fell and the little girl cried harder.  Mom looked at me and asked, “You got a problem?”

I said, “Yeah.  I have a problem with religious zealotry masquerading as parenting.  Why not just threaten her with Santa?”

“Because Santa is a myth.  And the pain of Jesus is real.”  And she glared at me.  Then she took her little moppet by the hand and walked out, whipping out the cell phone and dragging the girl along.

Weird.  Beyond weird.  I know some of you grew up in Christian households (of various levels, of course).  Do any of you remember a threat like this one?

So how many therapists and psychologists and psychiatrists would be out of work if little parents actually dealt with the child rather than feeding them a supernatural guilt trip? 

And, more important than that, now that Sunshine is closing, where will I get my smoked hocks and scrapple?



  1. I have an employee (who is older than I am) who shuts his grandchildren up when they are crying (sad or throwing a fit) with a similar lie:

    “When you cry you make the baby Jesus cry. You don’t want to make the baby Jesus cry, do you?”

    Of course, the sobbing child doesn’t want to make a baby cry, so they get themselves under control.

    Something non-religious, but in a similar vein: I wear a uniform for work and it looks like a police officer’s uniform. When children are having temper tantrums parents will often tell their kids they are going to have me “arrest them for being bad.” I hate this because not only are they not bothering to parent their child, but they are now making the kids afraid of people in uniforms.

  2. Answer to question #1 – I don’t recall my family ever shopping at Sunshine Mart.

    Answer to question #2 – While I don’t recall ever getting dressed down in quite the same fashion as this little girl, I do remember being told that lying, etc., made God/Jesus sad (I was never told that I was crucifying him all over again). That seems to have been the formula when I was fairly young.

    When I hit my teens and wanted permission to do something or go somewhere with my friends – “everybody” would be doing that thing or going to that place – my dad’s final word on the matter was usually, “Everyone else is going to hell, too. Are you going to go with them?”

    Experiencing it wasn’t as bad as it sounds/reads, but I guess it was pretty bizarre.

  3. You’re in Wilkes-Barre. You’ll have no problem finding scrapple.

    And “…twisting the nails…”? That’s a good one. How long before the kid realizes that the actual crucifixion (assuming it happened) was 2000 years ago. If Jebus is still hanging on the cross able to feel the effects of twisting nails, that truly is a miracle.

    • And, I should think, if someone were crucified, undying, for 2000+ years a little nail-twisting would be pretty low on their list of problems. Present Traumatic Stress Disorder pops to mind.

  4. Amanda: Thanks for stopping by. I have also had parents point to me, in my uniform, and have them threaten to have me arrest the kids. I just smile and say, “Oh, no. The kids are yours.”

    Chappie: I’ve heard the whole lying hurts baby Jesus, I’d just never heard it put so bloodily.

    SI: You’d be surprised. Scrapple is more of a south PA/Maryland thing. We can get the standard bland scrapple at Wegmans, but Sinshine has a really good sort of local brand.

    Maybe the whole twisting the nails thing is an allusion to how badly the sheeple get screwed by the various churches.

  5. Wow, that is truly horrible. I don’t remember being threatened with things like that but as children we were told that they (parents) would nail us to the ceiling by our toes….

    • That’s pretty bad. The worst I ever got was “…I’ll give you something to cry about!”.

      • My Mom’s big threat was “You’re gonna get a good German beating!” Oddly enough, we never found out just what that was, and now it has become family-speak for “you’re pushing it, kid.” I use the threat regularly with my sons, who are around 6’5″.

      • My (((Dad)))’s standard was, “Knock it off or I’ll belt you into the middle of next week.” Of course, if he had, a week later he would be over whatever had made him angry.

  6. They really are the most screwed-up people on the planet. Pound for pound, more dysfunction than any other demographic group, bar none.

  7. Jeff: I dunno. Have you listened to Palinistas recently?

  8. Well, I think they’re largely the same group, don’t you?

  9. There is some crossover, but the social ‘conservatives’ and the fiscal ‘conservatives’ only really agree on the authoritarianist stance.

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