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LEARNING DAY

Learning Day: Lost Without a Compass – Neo-Paganism 🌭

The Satanic Panic is one of my favorite times in American History, despite it ruining so many lives for no reason at all. Listen, I know that it did nothing but harm and with absolutely no upside — but it’s the only point in human history where you could scare a church lady by explaining your level 7 Wizard. It wasn’t all about geek hobbies, of course. The Satanic Panic targeted everything from daycare to Heavy Metal, from mild exercise to environmentalism. Christians were completely terrified of the entire world for several years and they were not shy about it. They jumped on television with a straight face and an ominous musical score to warn you about frozen yogurt and tell you the warning signs that your child might be one of The Devil’s Nerds.

The best example of this was the 700 Club miniseries Lost Without a Compass. For our younger readers, the 700 Club was-

Holy shit, it’s still on the air! Their credibility survived this! 

That is culturally invincible. That is TV immortal. The only way the 700 Club survived hours of programming about how scary board games are is if they engaged in secret backstage sword battles to take the heads of lesser TV shows. The Nightly Business Report died so that the 700 Club could broadcast another year of scare specials on Jazzercise.

Lost Without a Compass was hosted by Pat Robertson, who looks like he’s playing through life with bighead cheats enabled. 

That’s not just me being mean. It’s an objective fact that Pat Robertson doesn’t wear hats for budgetary reasons. Amazon, no shit, classifies Lost Without a Compass as a Bobblehead video.

Pat Robertson looks like the vampire that feeds on Keebler Elves and he has the raw magnetism and stage presence of an unwatered fern. Just a dry, droopy, bigoted thing struggling not to die. Yes, I know that weirdly implies that ferns are bigots. It’s not something I can explain, but I feel it to be true. How did this cookie tree nosferatu manage to become the voice of a whole generation of hateful pansies? His impeccable work ethic? His unquestioned credibility? His raw courage in the face of adversity? His none of the above?

Pat says he’s a hardcore marine who saw frontline action, but an actual marine he served with immediately called him out as a rich boy whose daddy intervened to get him easier service. He was actually the officer in charge of keeping the booze stocked at the Officer’s Club. Lieutenant Barback tried to sue his accuser, only to cave at the last minute, pay all the man’s court costs, and publicly admit that all of his medals were for always keeping the mixing station stocked with olives. Courage and credibility are out.

Maybe Pat beefed it on that lawsuit so hard because he only converted to Christianity after completely eating shit on the bar exam and getting laughed out of a law career. Plenty of people fail the bar and retry, but Pat is such a wuss that he abandoned his entire life at the first minor sign of failure and only turned to Jesus to save him from this, the first time he tried something and found it to be hard. So work ethic is out, and credibility is actually out again.

Anyway, that’s our host — a famous coward who lost every battle he ever fought (none). He’s perfect for Lost Without A Compass, which was aired as a miniseries with each episode focused on an imaginary threat that Christianity was still somehow losing to.

Pat opens every episode by telling us that without Jesus we’re flying blind without a compass, in case you didn’t get that from the title. And then, because he’s certain that if you’re watching this, you’re too stupid for metaphors, we smash cut to a long skit about two men flying a plane in a snowstorm — blind, one might say, and they actually do! Repeatedly! Then they crash and start yelling “we’re lost!” 

Get it? 

Like you would be, without a compass? 

You don’t get it.

Luckily they continue to shout “without a compass, we don’t know which way to go!” 

END OF SKIT.

We are four minutes into the episode and we have just explained the title five different ways for viewers presumably so stupid they’re watching this from inside the window display they’re trapped in. That’s the kind of faith Lost Without a Compass has in its audience. Every tape came with a warning not to eat it and then, because that didn’t work, detailed instructions on how to recover VHS from a bloody toilet.

Finally we get to the topic of the day…

This video will be presented to you in stunning 4p. To perfectly simulate the experience of watching a pirated copy of Lost Without a Compass in 1993, I ripped stills from this video using the onboard computer of a Lada, played it on a wristwatch, and then took photos of that screen with a Playskool camera. Underwater. Drunk.

Pat insists America is a Christian nation, despite it being illegal to be that, which is slowly succumbing to paganism. Luckily, that’s his only job here. Pat will now leave the special so he can absorb the essence of several Gelflings to fuel a half-mast erection for nobody. He’s replaced by Chris Mitchell, who would go on to be CBN’s Middle East Bureau Chief, a position exactly as relevant and dignified as it sounds. 

Now, when Chris says we’re losing our country to pagans, your mind goes to goat-masked men sacrificing virgins to old trees, but what we’re really talking about is worse: health fads and dweebs. They can spice up the narration all they want, but they can’t find a way to make this visually intimidating. They cut right from Chris Mitchell somberly intoning that only one side will survive this war… to a bunch of suburbanites laying on the floor in a yoga class. 

They seem to realize this makes them look like huge wimps though, so they jumpcut again to an unrelated third world riot, hoping to imply the unseen dangers of group stretching.

I’m pretty sure that’s a third world riot. It could be a microwave. I guess it might be the opening of an Orange Julius — either way we should be terrified because CBN can barely handle this, or any threat.

To explain these dangers Lost Without a Compass features a variety of increasingly white, milquetoast “experts” like Don Feder…

Who argues that ancient Israel sacrificed their children to Ba’al, just like we’re sacrificing all of our children to the god of “choice” with abortion. That’s why people have abortions – they love the god of choice so much they offer their unborn children to him! Heathens abort fetuses like NASCAR fans shake up and spray a Coors, just a fun sloppy prank to celebrate a victory. 

You need to be prepared for these insane swerves, because it’s like somebody used a broken HAM radio to tell the 700 Club what to hate and the power died before ‘why.’ It’s just wild guesses as to what might be bad about everything, followed by grim declarations of war on diet soda and dry cleaning. 

Next up is Caryl Matrisciana, who was born in India and is therefore an expert on Eastern Religion. Here she is:

Whiter than mayonnaise, sporting a haircut stylists call the MLM and instantly know there’s an expired coupon for. Caryl experienced India from the point of view of an unwelcome invader, where she once observed the locals exercising from carefully beyond spitting distance, and has since dedicated her whole life to a war on yoga. 

That is not an exaggeration.

Caryl made a three decade career out of hyping the yoga apocalypse. Again, not hyperbole — she insists yoga is a literal death cult sweeping the world. It’s like…

You know what? I’ll just let the world’s most coherent source, Amazon reviewers, explain:

Yoga wants you to breathe like they say, and then one day they’ll trick you and say stop! The truth will not be suppressed!

This poor idiot did downward dog so wrong they saw the devil:

They’re not alone! 

Lost Without A Compass later explores Mary Jo Kaiser’s harrowing story, wherein she practiced meditation without realizing the mantra they teach you is not a meaningless sound like they say, it’s actually the name of a demonic entity! That’s the endgame of yoga: gathering enough human energy together, all focused on the mighty lord Om, in order to rip him straight from Yoga Hell so he can walk the earth, contorting his victims into improbable shapes.

Don’t laugh, it actually happened to Mary Jo! She meditated so hard a dark fog of blackness surrounded her and she was nearly lost! Don’t tell her she fell asleep, and that’s what sleep is — it’s far more likely we have a yoga tulpa apocalypse brewing. 

Lost Without a Compass openly wishes we were still burning children for Moloch, because that was easy to root out — just follow the smell of forbidden barbecue. These modern pagans are such a threat specifically because they’re so unthreatening. They’re hiding everywhere, like how Saturday morning cartoons are secretly programming your children to… care about the planet? 

CBN spends an inordinate amount of time being afraid of Captain Planet because Gaia is secretly teaching our kids paganism, when hindsight tells us they should’ve been afraid of SWAT Kats for secretly furrifying a generation. 

Paganism is everywhere! Basically everything the 700 Club doesn’t like is pagan — did you know homosexuals have their own special gay gods? Just ask these lesbian witches…

Chris Mitchell actually says the words “the homosexual movement is laced with pagan practices like that of these lesbian witches,” and it’s the best thing I’ve ever heard. It’s my new smart doorbell chime, in the hopes that it’ll Pavlov me into enjoying houseguests.

Look at this modern world, infested with flexible suburbanites, board game nerds, and gay warlocks. This is it, this is how god dies — not from a huge spear wielded by a 12 year old girl piloting a robot with the soul of her mother, but by a thousand cuts from every genre of melvin.

Chris Mitchell wonders what would happen if we lost this war against everything not featured on CBN. Well, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Commission knows what’s going to happen: Nazis. 

Nazis just like those seen here, in garbled black and white footage that is either a fascist rally or a penguin mosh pit, it’s impossible to say, and I refuse to guess.

For our younger readers, keep in mind this was a long time ago, back when fundamentalists thought Nazis were bad. Now, we all know it’s a hard leap when you imply that your opponents are like Nazis… so it’s a good thing Dickland isn’t implying at all. He says “we’re not doing something like what the Germans did, we’re not doing something similar to what the Germans did — we’re doing precisely what the Germans did.”

Dickland, like almost every single person ever featured on CBN, retired in disgrace. It was only fairly recently, after being called out for his shitty remarks on Trayvon Martin. But not because of the shitty remarks — they loved that — it was because he plagiarized those, and many other shitty remarks, from other pieces of shit. He couldn’t make his own shit, so he crept around to full toilets and stole shit from others. This man is a shit pilferer. 

Pat has drained enough life essence for two more limp sentences, so he interrupts our program to warn us that “what we’ll see next will never appear on the news, because the people who succumb to evil don’t like cameras filming their dark rituals.” 

Oh man, what kind of evil shit are we going to witness? Baby sacrifice, satanic orgies, Dungeons and Dragons? It’s Dungeons and Dragons, isn’t it?

Not only is it Dungeons and Dragons, it’s basically just Jack Chick’s Darkest Dungeon tract as a short film. Uncredited. Maybe they got permission from him and didn’t list it, I don’t know. I don’t have the hard evidence to call them shit pilferers, like Dickland. But even if I give them the benefit of the doubt that means CBN is as, at best, a shit-recycling station. 

You already know the major beats of the story: This nerd…

Steps in a trap and his character dies, which in Fundamental D&D means he’s exiled from the cult. Cults love that, they’re always looking for excuses to kick members out. Then this nerd…

Lands on the right space on the D&D board, which isn’t how any of this works, and becomes Lord of the Little People, which must be cooler than it sounds because it’s literally impossible for it not to be. But his very next move puts his character in peril, and the only way out is to kill a child in real life! Only tastefully implied, of course.

That’s how evangelicals thought Dungeons and Dragons worked: you rolled dice and if you hit a critical failure you had to kill a kid. Every campaign ate through a kindergarten. I played a level 15 Bard and I butchered a daycare for Otto’s Irresistible Dance. I’m not saying I regret it, I’m just saying I do appreciate the rule changes in 3rd edition.

Heavy metal was another blight upon society, and definitely not just music for dorks who could “pass.” This poor teen reflects on his time listening to rock by explaining “I had to carry around little vials of blood and I… I drank the blood. I craved the blood.” 

There is zero chance that haircut listened to anything harder than Air Supply, and if you went vampire for Air Supply then you’re only going to Remedial Hell. It’s like a Denny’s that’s always 86 degrees and they don’t have the whipped cream to do smiley face pancakes. You’ll be all right. Well, you… you might be all right. 

Andrew here fell into the occult and went on to become the head of his high school witch’s coven, like other kids might head up a 4-H Club. But then he began “throwing up blood for no medical reason.” 

Like fuck “no medical reason,” Andrew. I know an Air Supply haircut when I see one.

Lost Without A Compass: Neo-Paganism closes by explaining that, even though wizards run the public transportation system and your kids are eating yogurt for the devil, it’s going to be okay. The 700 Club themselves are on the front lines of this war, which is illustrated by a quick cut to a tired woman sleepdialing through her shift at the phonebank.

And Chris Mitchell promises us that these mighty warriors will not stop until they defeat the terrible forces of the occult. Which is illustrated with a screengrab from a psychic hotline commercial.

So that’s what the moral battle for the soul of our nation is – the heartland’s least effective cowards versus mild exercise — and that’s how the great war between heaven and hell will be fought: rival telephone scams. 

I know which phonebank I’ll be manning… do YOU?

10 replies on “Learning Day: Lost Without a Compass – Neo-Paganism 🌭”

Nice, Brockway. I was subjected to waaaaay too much 700 club growing up. Probably explains why im drinking a 7 am next to a file cabinet full of 12 years of homebrew campaign material.

Welp, they DO come out and say that Satan cat is scandalously tricky.

Well this was an amazing start to my birthday. Thanks, 1900hotdog!

Happy birthday Daniel. Sounds like you found your compass. May all your die rolls be perfect charismatic 20s. Sorry, don’t know the DnD terminology, I’m more of a gay, tree-hugging Heroquest guy.

HeroQuest fuckinv rules. And thanks, all!

Brockway responded to me! Eeeeeeeeee!!!

Pat Robertson must have taken a page from Fredrik Wertham’s “Seduction of the Innocent” Using Batman logic to prove that all nerd activities are gay deviltry.

Orange Julius is a reference to Julius Caesar, who was killed by Brutus, Brutus ended up in the 9th circle of Hell. This was from Dante’s Divine Comedy, which was illustrated by Gustave Dore. Comedy…Illustrated, means comic book. Comic books lead to the devil, who is gay

ALL HAIL ORANGE JULIUS!

I’m always fascinated by the go-to of EVERY moral panic that “this is how Hitler got started”. Both radical feminists and Pat Robertson types also said it about BDSM. And then they got actual Orange neo-Hitler and they loved him.

And yet they never say that about art school rejection, severe flatulence, or distrust of foreigners. Admittedly, some of those may be more important than others

Vegetarianism leads to Nazis. Go without steak for long enough and you start hating Jews. That’s just a fact.

This is the good hatred right here. Lancing the boils on our collective souls. Pat Robertson’s snake oil career will end soon enough, but the damage he’s done will endure.

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