Again, SPOILERS for people who haven’t listened to Episode 5.
Here is the history of the Church of Inanna from the early 20th century to present. This is part of the treatment I wrote to explain the show to Neil Marsh, and follows the discussion I presented in the previous blog post.
Listeners of the show should be interested to read this, as it explains the period between the 1950’s portions of the show, and the present. (This was originally presented in an episode which we are not planning to produce.)
The Church of Inanna has had three major crises in the twentieth century. The first was World War I, in which many of its members were called to war. A vast number of the Church’s men will killed, and those who returned home came with great trauma. These men used their inner-power to heal themselves slowly by doing works for Inanna, and these works kept the Church alive until the next great crisis.
When it became clear that the United States was about to involve itself in the Second World War, the Church’s members feared their numbers would be thinned as badly as in the previous World War. They pledged great works to Inanna in advance, and the members who were not called to fight prepared a great Prayer to devote to Her. As part of the initial pact between the Church and Inanna in the 19th century, the Church was granted the Mask of Inanna, which was similar to the Mask of Warka (http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/09/23/sprj.nilaw.warka.mask/). This mask was a Me (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_%28mythology%29) which contained the wisdom of many rituals. One was a ritual Prayer similar to the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (“A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales”), in which Inanna might be pleased with one hundred nights of reinterpretations of Her favorite tales. In return for this devotion, the practitioners begged Inanna (in the final story) to spare their men overseas the sin of their military service, so that the Church might continue and the soldiers might have the chance to create great works for Her after the war.
Pleased by the Prayer, Inanna sent demons (from the Inanna descent myth) to watch over and protect their men from harm. The demons came in many forms, sought the hearts of those around the men and took those who intend any ill will towards their men to the underworld. However, when the war was ended, the men returned home shell-shocked by both the war and of witnessing the demons who protected them at the cost of terror.
Matt Lerner was one of these young men. He became a heavy drinker to handle his stress. Isabel Huddleston was a friend of his, who had lost her husband in the war before the Prayer had been finished. Both were instrumental in the formation of the third great crisis.
In 1952 when the draft was resumed for soldiers in the Korean War, the congregation decided to prepare a pre-emptive Prayer again (having almost Pavlovian devotion to this response to upcoming war). However, the Inanna community had become greatly decentralized after the Second World War as families had split away to find new opportunities for work. As well, many of the soldiers were still demoralized and hadn’t had time to pursue their works of devotion and to make peace with themselves. So they decided that the next Prayer would be their Work, and that they would issue it over the radio so that all the various Church members could participate in the Prayer. The show was called AfterDark, and hosted by Leonard Allen (discussed next section). However, 93 episodes in, the Church of Mammon seduced Bob Stroud, business partner of Allen, by offering a fast-track to its inner ring in return for stealing the Prayer’s scripts and starting a competing show, essentially putting AfterDark off the air and stealing Inanna’s Prayer for their own. Mammon, being a trickster, enjoyed this and rewarded His followers justly.
After losing Allen, Matt, Isabel and rest of the town were thoroughly demoralized. Fortunately, few members were called to service. The others used prophecy and illusion to avoid service as best as they could. However, coming to terms with 1950’s consumer culture was both a boon to the community, who developed thriving niche business, and a curse, from increased pressure and scrutiny from the other families around them, and from the increasing amount of information spread through media, which threatened to expose them as a “cult”. With communist and socialist hysteria growing, the congregation feared discovery. When their children began to question why their parents were becoming so secretive and strict, they began to use illusion and rudimentary mind control on their children to keep them quiet.
David Lerner was Matt’s son, and Jessie Huddleston was Isabel’s daughter. When they were in their teens in the 60’s, they were stressed, depressed and physically abused. They rebelled as best as they could. Jessie ran from home and David invoked the name of Allen on his parents, turning Allen’s memory into his pet boogeyman to torment them. David began to spend more time with a demon that had returned home with his father, a large amorphous tar-like blob that the community named the “Speed Bump”, and learned basic communication with it. Matt was deathly afraid of the Speed Bump and David also used this to his advantage. David scared his parents into sending him to college, around the time that Jessie returned home from San Francisco, burned out in her early twenties. Jessie’s experiences with hallucinogens had opened her eyes to the vast number of other beings that surrounded her, and she sought balance with them in the Church. David, on the other hand, returned from college and preached a renewal movement, emphasizing that the Church had to adapt to the modern world and that real-paying work was not contradictory with worship of Inanna. He started a schism that split off a large portion of the Church under his leadership.
Near the end of the 1980’s, David’s renewal movement had floundered. Rituals failed to produce any response from Inanna and awakened no inner-power within the practitioners. Many of the congregation, including David, had lost their jobs and were living on savings or in poverty. Dejected, David and his new wife and daughter returned to the main Church and sought to reconnect. Jessie had become High Priestess by then but accepted David back as a High Priest, so that the two branches of the Church might reconnect. This was necessary as the main Church had lost many members to the avarice of the eighties, and was on the verge of collapse itself. Integration was slow and painful for everyone involved, but the Church continued to minister to its congregation, which consisted mostly of close friends to David and Jessie. The remnants of the Church moved to an enclave on Sea Robin Island, where they could practice in peace, be within driving distance of major New England cities, and defend themselves against other competing inner-power polytheist Churches.
In 2003, the Iraq War began. David’s daughter and many of the other children had not grown up as members of the inner ring – rather, they had relied on their parent’s inner-power to help them study, and so forth. With pressure from their friends and the loss of family time with their parents, they were scared about their own job prospects and knew too many of David’s renewal movement who hadn’t gotten back on their feet. They doubted that worship of Inanna could support them in the depression of the 1990’s and the growth and crash of the tech sector in the 2000’s. With long traditions of military service in their families, they joined the Armed Forces for the training, to do good in a struggling nation, and because they viewed their parents as weak, and feared the same weakness existed within themselves.
It is here when the show begins.