We'll get to Dr. Bob in just a moment, because another Sunday morning is here and it's time to visit the Mississippi Baptist Hell of Reverend Estus Pirkle.
Filmed in the early 1970's with the help of B-movie kings Ron and Tim Ormond, Pirkle's "The Burning Hell" scared the daylights out of every church youth group that saw it. I'm posting excerpts from the film each week because I saw the movie when I was twelve or thirteen, believed every minute of it, built a lot of my life around it, and therefore suffered extreme mental, spiritual, psychic, and emotional harm.
Now I'm getting even by parsing it every Sunday morning. This is cheaper than a psychotherapist, and causes less long-term harm to the community than climbing into a tower with an assault rifle.
To recap the previous episodes.... Two hippies, Ken and Tim, have a discussion with Brother Pirkle about the reality of hell. Their preacher has taught them that hell is only a metaphor. Pirkle disagrees. Pirkle vividly paints a picture of non-believers burning for eternity in a massive field of mud and slop. Ken and Tim object to Pirkle's reasoning and leave the church on their motorcycles.
Ken has an accident, and is decapitated.
Rather than wait around for the police or an ambulance, Tim decides to go to church.
You can hit the Pirkle label at the bottom of this post to see each episode in its entirety. Even if you're in a hurry, you've GOT to see episode #4 with the worms.
At the end of last week's clip, Pirkle was telling the biblical story of Dives and Lazarus. Lazarus was a good man who died poor. Dives had refused to give Lazarus any money, died suddenly, and woke up in hell. In the middle of last week's episode, Father Abraham, who has an unlikely "just south of Memphis" accent, was explaining to Dives why he wouldn't be able to warn Dives' family about hell. (Luke 16:19).
If you find my commentary helpful, it continues after the clip.
:00 Father Abraham, on loan from his job as a Memphis Mall Santa Claus, finishes his explanation about why warning Dives' family about hell just wouldn't be fair.
:08 The undead live and walk among us.
:50 Think about it. Let's assume there was a wealthy ruler named Dives. According to fundamentalists, Dives is STILL being Bar-B-Qued without a break for things that happened 2,000 years ago. This puts Stalin, Mao, Saddam and Hitler into perspective, doesn't it?
2:20 Pirkle: "Neither words nor pictures can describe all of (Hell's) terrors". Including that tie.
2:35 The timeline begins. Hundreds, Thousands, Billions, and Millions of years. Then comes the chart. Everyone who saw this movie remembers the decapitation, the worms, and this chart.
3:00 The chart. That's a lot of zeros.
3:40 Now we have a word from Dr. Bob Gray. (Pirkle likes to have guest preachers popping in and out of his movies.) While researching one of the previous guest speakers, Dr. Jack Hyles, I found that Dr. Hyles had been involved in some sex scandals.
What are the odds against Pirkle selecting two preachers with the same problem for one movie?
To read about Dr. Bob Gray dying in prison before his pedophilia trial could get underway, go here. (Gray pled the 5th amendment 150 times during questioning.)
To read about the fifteen women who came forward saying that Gray sexually abused them as children, go here.
To read about the church kinda knowing it had been going on for a long time, go here.
To read the best single page summary of the whole sordid mess this Witch Doctor created, go here.
4:40 In an outbreak of Christian compassion, Pirkle tells Tim that Ken is roasting in Hell, and will be there forever.
5:00 Pirkle digs deep into the Book Of Revelation to find some of the creatures called Locusts that inhabit hell. They have the body of a horse, an iron breastplate, hair like a woman, a tail like a scorpion, and teeth from the Wal-Mart Halloween aisle.
5:50 Scenes of horror as the Mississippi Drama League portray Biblical and contemporary sinners of all ages being tortured forever. Why? Because they didn't, wouldn't, or couldn't agree that Jesus (1/3rd of a single supernatural being) was born to a virgin mother somewhere in Palestine 2,000 years ago and was killed by the Roman army in order to satisfy an obscure requirement in Jewish rituals about animal (blood) sacrifices being required for the forgiveness of sins.
6:45 The story of Cain and Abel.
7:24 Back to Dives, resting with his souvenir from Burger King.
I started posting clips from this movie as a joke, more or less. This thing really did have an impact on me when I was a kid. The more I look into it, 35 years later, the more perverse satisfaction I'm getting from learning that clowns like Jack Hyles and Bob Gray had no more spiritual or moral authority than anyone else.
Never, ever trust authority.