A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Twelve – The Pigsty Part 2

church building

by John Ellis

Waking up the next morning, I felt much better. Remembering my phone call with my brother the day before, I cringed in embarrassment. “Whelp,” I ruefully thought, “that’s going to stoke everyone’s desire to see me converted.”

With every intention of disappointing those who would take that phone call as a sign that I would soon be converted, I got in my car and drove to Pensacola.

Since I had “accidently” cut my trip short, I still had over a thousand bucks to blow. From a human standpoint, the smart thing would’ve been to take that money, move to Atlanta, and restart my acting career. Thankfully, I didn’t do the smart thing.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Eleven – The Pigsty Part 1

church building

by John Ellis

The day after I arrived in Pensacola, my parents left town for the next six months. Traveling for a large fundamentalist organization, my dad spent most of the year visiting fundamentalist colleges and churches encouraging young men to pray about becoming a military chaplain. Before leaving, my mom kindly told me that whatever food was left in the house was mine to eat. Except I was a vegetarian and much of the food in the freezer was meat. The jar of peanut butter left behind was appreciated, though.

After my parents left, I was completely on my own.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Ten – The Unraveling Begins

church building

by John Ellis

As 2002 began, I found myself living in Atlanta, GA. Over the previous three years, I had made some minor alterations to my grand plans. Having fallen in love with performing on stage, my goal was no longer to become a movie star. I was now focused on a career as a theatre actor. And from my perspective, I was on the cusp of achieving all my goals. My life was going great.

My Christian upbringing was a distant memory that rarely troubled me. At parties and rehearsals, I would often mention that my dad was a fundamentalist Baptist minister to the great delight of those around me. I would regale them with tales from my time as a student at a Christian school and BJU, and they would chortle at my mocking depictions of people from my past.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Nine – Embracing the Darkness

church building

by John Ellis

In December of 1997, the Oscar winning film Good Will Hunting was released. I watched it three times during the movie’s theatrical run. At the time, I enjoyed the movie, of course, but my fascination with it was mainly driven by the narrative surrounding its journey from page to screen.

The short version of the story goes that buddies Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, both struggling and unknown actors at the time, had miraculously sold Miramax the rights to their script. A true rags to riches tale. Granted, none of that is how it really happened, but I didn’t know that at the time. In late 1997 and early 1998 the tale of two unknown actors plucked from obscurity resonated with me. So, I began writing my own screenplay.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Eight – Pushing Buttons at Bob Jones University

church building

by John Ellis

Safely back in Pensacola with my new life of freedom stretching out before me, I needed a job. Unfortunately, the job I landed was at the tree service company where my brother worked.

My brother and I only worked together for about a week, though. By the time I got the job, the summer was almost over, and he had to be back at BJU early due to his job in the Campus Store. I didn’t describe the job as “unfortunate” because of my brother, but because of the job.

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Rooted: The Christian’s Place

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by John Ellis

My family and I live in the DC area. Our house is approximately a mile and a half from the Pentagon and about five miles from the U.S. Capitol, as the bird flies. We live in the thick of one of the most powerful cities in the world. And we’re not big fans of the place, at least my wife and I aren’t. We’re type-B personalities (on a good day) living in a super type-A personality community.

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A Godless Fundamentalist: Chapter Seven – Fired by the Bill Rice Ranch

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by John Ellis

Image is important in fundamentalism. To be fair, image is important across all subsets of Western culture. We signal how we define ourselves by the ways in which we dress and present ourselves. But, in many ways, especially for the fundamentalism of my youth, image takes on extra import inside of Christian fundamentalism.

Many of the rules about dress were in place to prevent us from looking like “the world.” And, oh, were there a lot of rules.

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