Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Generational Curse

The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,

yet by no means clearing the guilty,
but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children
and the children’s children,
to the third and the fourth generation.’

   - Exodus 34:6-7

I know there’s a lot of controversy among Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists about whether or not the idea of a ‘generational curse’ has any scriptural or doctrinal validity. Being neither an evangelical nor a fundamentalist, I find it’s best not to engage in such debates.

However, I am here today to tell you that GENERATIONAL CURSES ARE REAL.

My evidence for this bold pronouncement? Raiders of the Lost Ark.

No, seriously. I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark with my family the other night. My son, who I knew would find it too scary, lasted halfway through the opening scene before retreating to the safety of my bedroom to play computer games. My daughter, on the other hand, LOVED it and was prone to yell “COOL!” and “SWEET!” and “That was AWESOME!”

I was relieved by her enthusiasm. I hadn’t seen the movie in years and there was quite a bit more graphic gore than I’d remembered. And lots of dead people. Lots and lots of dead people. Dead, half-decomposed, cobweb-draped, misshapen and moldy-looking dead people. One with a large snake coming out of its mouth.

Yeah, I know. SWEET!

But then it was bed time.

“Mama, I’m freaked. Can I sleep with you?”

“Too many scary things in the movie?” I asked with a sinking feeling.

“Yeah. It was great. But that part after the snakes with all the dead people…”

“But we made you close your eyes during the melting faces part,” I offered. “Can’t you just sleep in your own bed?”

“I’m too scared.”

What, you might be wondering, does this remotely have to do with Exodus 34? The answer is that my daughter’s being freaked out by Raiders of the Lost Ark is all my grandmother’s fault.

Flash back, if you will, to 1953. My grandfather was not a big movie fan. His wife, on the other hand, adored movies, especially science fiction movies. Since her husband would not go with her to see these films, she would bring along her son, Marty. My dad. He was only 10 in 1953 and my grandparents were careful not to let him see scary movies like Frankenstein or Dracula. But apparently, Invaders from Mars was okay since it was just science fiction. Invaders from Mars scared the knickers off little 10-year-old Marty.

For the record, I watched the trailer for the film in preparation for this blog entry and I was freaked out. At 37. See for yourself here.  If you dare.

So the curse began and was carried through to the next generation. Apparently permanently unhinged by his early movie-going experiences with Grandma Hilda, my Dad developed a love for the same sorts of science fiction as his mom. He loves the Twilight Zone, subscribed for YEARS to Asimov’s Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, and just seems to have an affinity for the weird and unsettling.

So now it’s the late 1970s. Marty has four kids of his own and a TV set with local channels that show lots of old movies. In complete innocence he shares his passion for science fiction with his children. His eldest, Danny, is haunted by Day of the Triffids (and in an ironic twist, my dad doesn’t even remember seeing that movie.) His second child, Kathy, is traumatized by Hitchcock’s The Birds, particularly when a young, beautiful woman named Kathy is mobbed to death by a flock of deranged birds. To be fair, his fourth child, Peter, was already well on his way to insanseville at birth so I’m not sure if Dad really contributed much there.

Me? The Incredible Shrinking Man. A movie he still insists was “neat.” I have distinct memories of sitting in church, looking down at my feet, and actually seeing them start to shrink. (The mist! The mist!!)  I was convinced I would slowly disappear into a world where spiders were as big as monsters and no one would be able to figure out how to stop it.

And now, in 2009, shaggy spear-pierced Nazi corpses covered in tarantulas are going to pop out of my daughter’s closet with the ark of the covenant.

I already feel bad for her children.


  1. Anyone else find it ironic that Nazis have appeared in the past 2 posts, both with references to disturbing Eileeden? (I probably spelled her name wrong...sorry.) I am a BABY when it comes to scary movies - yup, Raiders freaked the HECK outta me. (So did Goonies, among others...) Ugh.


  2. Fascinating family history or should I say "curse." Invasion of the Body Snatchers was my undoing.

  3. Cool! Neat! Awesome! I was freaked out by Wizard Oz when I was her age. The monkeys got me.