January 22, 2021

Klasie Kraalogies: As Mist Before the Sun: The Slow Relief of Unbelief (1)

The Harrowing of Hell, Follower of H. Bosch

Note from CM: I invited one of our faithful readers and commenters to tell his story. Welcome Klasie today as he tells part one of his own journey into the post-evangelical wilderness.

• • •

By Klasie Kraalogies

Part 1

If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.

• Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I still remember the time and place, but not the date. Dates are not important when you are 3 years old. Unless it is your birthday, or Christmas. But this day stuck. It was a sunny morning in Brockett Street, Vereeniging. And it was the back corner of the house – why the back corner, I won’t know. But there we were, praying. Something along the lines of letting the dear Lord Jesus into your heart. Me and my dad.

My family was God-saturated. My parents had been missionaries in Zambia before my birth (they met there). Dutch Reformed. Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk. There are 3 major Dutch Reformed denominations in South Africa, the NG Kerk being the largest of these. Dutch Calvinists are prone to splitting. But anyway. Not long after the experience related above though, they would leave Calvinism for a journey into the Charismatic movement (it was the seventies!) and end up in a curious sect/cult. More about that later.

My grandparents weren’t extremely religious – my one grandfather became atheist as a young man – but if you go further back my family history is filled with religious men way back to the Reformation. One ancestor was saved from being killed by Bloody Mary by falling off his horse after being summoned to London to face her – by the time he had recuperated, she had was no longer a factor. One of his descendants came to the Cape as missionary of the London Missionary Society. Another fled France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, preferring to face the unknown rather than renounce his Protestant faith. Yet another got called to the Dutch colony at the Cape as the first Lutheran Pastor sanctioned by the Dutch East India Company serving the few German settlers there.

I grew up in this religious household. Being different from the other kids in the public school – for instance, I had to sit in the classroom when the school organized a movie at the end of Term. No nasty worldly entertainment. And somehow, there was no desire to rebel. I hated the entertainment, not the restrictions.

I mentioned a sect. By the time I was nine years old, we were immersed. These guys were different. They were Strict! With a capital ’S’! No dating! No worldliness! No TV! No worldly hairstyles! No music with a beat! (?) They had a Mission Station, which became our main holiday destination henceforth, where one would enjoy the wonder of 3 services every day. Being harangued from the pulpit. Being told to confess your sins. Being told you must be perfect! But you can only really be forgiven if you confess your sins to a councillor – James 5:16. As in the Kims’ Korea, wrongful thoughts were the most prominent sins. Especially thoughts about the opposite sex. If you don’t confess them, you will burn in hell.  And if you happen to die between thinking them and seeing your confessor – you’ll still burn. “Want to know about hell? Let’s watch this movie about hell.” Estus Pirkle’s “Burning Hell” was shown at least once a week.

And so I grew up – in perpetual fear. Religion was fear. Fear was religion. The world was a snare pit. A 6000 – year old snare pit.

And then I went to university and studied Geology. And decided to start reading other types of theological thoughts.

Until next time….


  1. Oh yeah…..Estus Pirkle’s “Burning Hell.” I attended one of the churches in Dalton, Georgia that used members as actors (?) in that blockbuster.

  2. So that’s how ‘wilderness’ takes on a connotation of joy, relief and freedom as opposed to lost and nowhere and directionless.

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    “Want to know about hell? Let’s watch this movie about hell.” Estus Pirkle’s “Burning Hell” was shown at least once a week.

    Estus Pirkle flicks made it to South Africa?

    Outside of the Christianese Bubble (whether American or Afrikaaner) Estus Pirkle movies — Burning Hell, Believer’s Heaven, and If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horsemen Do? — are well-known among Bad Movie fans and Aficionados of the Weird. The guy who actually made the movies for Reverend Pirkle is known as “The Ed Wood of the Christploitation Genre” and footage from the movies is viewable on YouTube.

    Personal anecdote: some time ago, I forwarded the YouTube link for Believer’s Heaven to my writing partner. He still says he’s “going to get me for that”. It was the Singing Midgets — the Singing Midgets in Heaven were what did it.

    • I don’t recall seeing or hearing of Estus Pirkle back in my youth group days but the stories were the same. It’s funny, reading the YouTube comments, I’m more inclined to agree with the skeptics and their criticisms of this version of Christianity than with those who defend it.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > this version of Christianity

        Perhaps because it barely is.

        Every day I am more convinced Evangelicalism is to Christianity what fan-fiction is to any popular TV show. You realize why those authors do not have writing jobs – but there are prolific.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I’ve been involved in MLP:FIM fanfic for a couple years, and can attest that it varies all over the map. Sturgeon’s Rule applies, though the good stuff is definitely less than Sturgeon’s 10%.

          If done right, fanfic can also give beginning writers a chance to practice writing. As well as providing a midrash exploring areas and alternatives not touched by the canonical source.

          To say any more would be to go off-topic. (Like panels at SF cons tend to go.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says
      • “Just like Ed Wood, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”


      • And, Ron Ormond sounds to have had a very interesting life. No snark.

      • Headless (off topic but you may be interested):

        My husband’s parents met in Ed Wood’s office in the San Fernando Valley in 1948. They were both aspiring actors (he was 20, she was 16), and Wood sent out a casting call for a play he wrote and wanted to produce, so they were there to read for the parts. They didn’t make it into the play – which was a flop – but they did end up getting married in 1951, which was successful 🙂


        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Ed Wood – a legend in Hollywood history (though not for the reasons he wanted). And the equally-colorful characters who hung out with him.

  4. Look forward to reading more of your story Klasie.

    While the particulars are unique, I can relate to the fruit – perpetual fear. I have to imagine that your studies of geology are going to create some extreme cognitive dissonance and anxiety.

    • This is one of the YouTube comments:

      “It speaks to the fragility of what you’re trying to sell….that the only way to get people to buy it is to threaten them with pain and suffering.”

      Regardless of where we come down on hell, annihilation, and ECT, where is the Good News in this presentation of the Gospel? Oh, I know “escaping eternal damnation is ‘good news'” but, like you say, the perpetual fear portrays God not as loving but as bullying, manipulative, and abusive–not qualities we admire in earthly fathers much less in a heavenly father.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        … but, like you say, the perpetual fear portrays God not as loving but as bullying, manipulative, and abusive–not qualities we admire in earthly fathers much less in a heavenly father.

        But that Christians DO seem to admire in Pastor/Gurus and Presidents.

        (The initial reaction image I got when I read that was “A Cosmic Donald Trump?”.)

      • Yeah.

        Associating that sort of malevolence with “good news” creates and perpetuates a paralyzed existence.

      • To your point, Scott, here’s a YouTube video that – in a way – is about the Estus Pirkle approach/theology, it’s effect & it’s effectiveness.

        “The Flaming Toilet of Death”

        • “Fearing Him, you’d see you have nothing to fear.”

          That’s a good word. What I see over and over again, though, is pastors keep returning to fear. I’m convinced that one of the major cornerstones of Evangelicalism is fear.

        • Re: “The Flaming Toilet of Death”…you know, elements of that are pretty good, but then it goes too far, gets all preachy. Oh, well.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          “The Flaming Toilet of Death”
          Just that title…

  5. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Thanks for all the kind comments. Unfortunately I am dealing with a major event right now which is taking a bit more of my time than I could have foreseen – so I will comment and respond as I am able. The next installment is in the works, but will take a little while.

    • Thanks, KK.

      Boy, I never realized that Calvinists (at least some kinds) outdid the Catholics in terms of imbuing people with “Catholic guilt”!

      (No offense meant, Christiane, but I ended up with it, as did many others I know.)

      Hope things work out okay for you.


    • Interesting. Glad you’re putting it out there and looking forward to part 2. Your story reminds me of the old song by Crash Test Dummies- Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.

  6. William H. Martin Jr says

    Oh well

  7. William H. Martin Jr says

    Yes Klasie. Empathy is something I have. I was raised and at 12 I was something they said. At 15 I was found on top of a case of elephant beer and what they didn’t find was a pound of weed under the front seat and a 4 ounces in my jacket and coke in my wallet as my head was launch to an oak tree 6 feet across. When I woke in the hospital my father asked me how much I had to drink and I said just a swallow before I past out again. Night of the Frazier Ali fight in the 70’s. I got in a car that had been through corn fields and such and now was being driven by a guy who just didn’t care. After I chased the priest who came to administer the last rights out of my room with threats I would kill him they put me in emergency surgery to save my life. He came back after and asked did I remember him Which I said I didn’t. I only put it together later.

    It was later as I asked again and again why would you do this to me that the answer came in the blackest thunderstorm while being alone that this voice said to me I didn’t I am the one who saved you and I love you. I could never explain the pain I experienced till then. I cried and cried and it wasn’t sad it was joy as I had never experienced. I actually had to ask my mom would she take me to church so I could thank him in His house. She did.

    You see no one understood me and I went back to what I had known and it was years later till I needed Him again to get me out of the hole I could not see out of, He did and I raised my children clean and it was wonderful truly. They left and my wife who was what ever always was mad at me, Every week I went to a bridge and dreamed of diving off and wondered if it would be just black. No one knew.

    New’s ear Eve I sat with a loaded 45 with a hair trigger in my mouth pulling when I put it down and said I’m done this year it’s got to change. So it did. Left got an other place and met someone who never gets mad at me. Confusing at best. Another story as this is to long……..

    I was so poor at one time. I had nothing to sit on and an old round black and white that rolled with one channel and a mattress. I was on welfare getting food stamps and I felt so bad all the time as it was early 80’s and no jobs where I was. I can remember walking all day in snow storms and making 3 dollars. Really won a 30 pound turkey from a store and it kept me alive for a month. You know when someone calls me something I’m not I see red. For that I sincerely apologize.

    I have good ideas that would work. I really do. You see someone at church said one time that if everyone got the same grade no matter how hard they work the grades would go down. I saw in the Kingdom those that could would work all the harder to bring those that lacked up a notch just because that is how love works. Enough eyes are to misty.

  8. William H. Martin Jr says

    I spill my heart and it isn’t if it was really there!!!!

  9. William H. Martin Jr says

    I hit post 3 times and all I wrote not…….. Why????

  10. William H. Martin Jr says

    Sorry best of luck Klasie

  11. Michael Bell says

    Klasie Kraalogies is one of my kindred spirits on here. My parents met in Zambia as well, and we both ended up in Canada.

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