The docuseries “The Way Down" on HBO Max glibly examines the horrifying nexus of diet culture and fundamentalist Christianity.
I saw your comments on Twitter last night and then after reading this I feel awful. The stuff about beating children is awful to think about and brings me to tears.
Amazing how there's scientific evidence of the real harms of hitting kids, but a segment of the population doesn't care. I wonder how many of those same people think abortion is murder and should be illegal?
Thank you, Talia, for shining a light on this. I grew up in a similar toxic fundie culture and at age 46 I am still coming to terms with how much my parents damaged me. Over the years I've tried to have a good relationship with them, but it's so hard when i'm told "we were doing what we thought was best" and other minimizing handwaving. To know that others see the pure misogyny and physical abuse of that culture for what it is, is very cathartic.
Thanks for watching it and reporting back so I do not have to.
I knew a family that moved across country to join Shamblin's cult in 2001. The mother got looped in through the diet plan...
JHC. That's insane. Pray yourself anorexic? I swear part of the reason it's so hard for me to lose weight is that I'll end up looking like that! And don't even get me started on that prosperity gospel b s.
You're amazing Talia. I don't know how you do it.
I grew up in Nashville in the Church of Christ bubble. (As I write this, I'm mentally retracing the route from the house I grew up in over to Franklin Road, all the way down to Brentwood and past the Remnant building, to my cousins' house about a mile away.) Growing up, my friends in my youth group and I always joked about "Gweesus"" (who all of our parents had known to one degree or another because the CoC bubble in middle TN was and is small) and her cult--she was a weirdo, but she was kind of our weirdo since pretty much no one else cared about her after the heights of Weigh Down in the early 90s. I never, ever thought she'd be the subject of national attention again.
When the Smiths murdered their son I was in college, on my way out of evangelicalism, and yet it was chillingly close to home. It was all over the local news. I attended performances in a theater on my college campus that was built with Gwen's money and named after her. That had been the subject of some controversy, but not nearly as much as you would think. Universities, after all, are notorious for being willing to take money from anybody and stick anybody's name on any building.
It was so surreal watching this documentary series and seeing a world just a breath away from my own being portrayed for the eyes of the world. Just so surreal. But I was ultimately frustrated with it because it was, as you say, so facile. It didn't grapple with anything, really, except Lara's custody disputes. I was glad to hear from some of the victims of the cult, but it should have done more--gone deeper, explored more, centered the experiences of the victims more.
It was startling to me to see you describe the CoC as "overtly misogynist" because I just...never thought of it that way growing up. Of course now I see that it is overtly misogynist to say that women have to be absolutely silent in church worship (except when we're singing with the rest of the congregation a capella). Of course it is. But you don't think about it that way while you're living it.
Anyway, all that to say: I found much more substance and empathy in your corporal punishment series than in The Way Down.