Friday Challenge: Flashbacks

From time to time every ex-fundy experiences as fundamental flashback wherein they get a nostalgic sensation that that they are about to be either

a) judged (“your hair is too long!”)

b) witnessed to (“your hair is so long that I can tell you need Jesus!”)


c) recruited for something (“once you’ve gotten a haircut you can serve in the puppet ministry!”)

Today’s challenge is to share some of the triggers that send your mind back to the days when life was simpler and thinking was optional.

In no particular order some of the causes of my flashbacks have been:

The smell of hymnbook pages.

People who raise their eyebrows really, really high when they sing.

Anybody dressed in a suit and carrying a cordless phone. (PCC folks will get this one).

The words “and all God’s people said?”

Feel free to list your own…

255 thoughts on “Friday Challenge: Flashbacks”

  1. also, is it just me or does that picture look like every single IFB church auditorium with about 100 members or so? i thought it WAS my old church in south carolina.

    1. I was trying to place which church it was, too, because it looks like so many I’ve been in. (Exception is Hampton Park, which looks more like a mini-Amphitorium than anything else.)

      1. i went there just one time. is that the one with the balcony and the white concrete walls?

        1. yes. And it used to have this horrible rust-orange carpet. It was supposedly a fashionable color when they built it. It’s now blue (I think…)

  2. “Unspoken” prayer requests.

    That and calling someone “Brother” or “Sister” – it has taken me a long time to get to the point where I can call another man or woman by their first name without feeling like I’m calling their salvation into question.

    1. Yes, this is true for me, too. I had gotten so used to calling people my age and older “Bro. & Mrs. So-and-So” or “Dr. or Pastor So-and-So”. It still wierds me out a bit to call people by first name, like I’m being a bit too familiar with them or something.

    2. Calling someone older Brother or Sister was the same as calling my elder sir or mam(not sure of spelling, mind numb.) Also I was taught, to adress people by the title(Pastor, Dr., mayor, ect.), it really boils down to a matter of respect.

  3. References to soul-winning give me an immediate flash-back to the guilt-inducing heavy weight of preaching that says “soul-winning” is the end-all and be-all of the Christian life.

    I continue to struggle with this area; feeling lower than every other Christian because I don’t like telling strangers that they have to do what I say or go to hell.

    And it was never enough with those people. If you don’t go, you should be going. If you go once in a while, you should go every time. If you go every time, you should have someone more often than you do. If you regularly see someone saved, then you should have them in church. The manipulation tactics we were told to use on “our” converts was terrible!

    The feeling that I am wasting my life and time because, no matter what talents or gifts I have, I cannot use them because I didn’t go out weekly with the others and try to con people into repeating a prayer after me.

    You can cheat on your wife, father a child with another woman, but as long as you are loyal to the pastor and “go soul-winning”, your secret is safe.

    1. not only that but they will help you cover it up, even if it involves obstruction of justice!

      1. I love that song. It’s so much of a wake-up call to how comfortable we can get in traditions.

    1. Indeed, I left christianity not just fundamentalism 25 years ago. No. I am not a christian.

  4. The smell of my old KJV Bible. I don’t open it anymore, if I want to see what the KJV said I use Bible Gateway.

    1. Any Bible in any translation makes me queasy but especially the ones with the cigarette paper pages and leather bindings or covers.

      I found that reading short bits online helps me when I want to read but can’t face a physical Bible. For daily meditations, I’m looking into audio bibles, seems hearing it read (especially not the KJV, NIV, or RSV) doesn’t trigger the same voices in my head as when I read it.

  5. Sometimes when I’m in my car going through the presets, I have a flashback to the radio in my parents’ car. A lot of cars have like 3 FM tuners in them so when I was driving the car by myself I had the 3rd FM tuner tuned to stations that were close to the “bad stations” that played the pop or rock.

    I would tune them to static stations like a couple of points down from the real one. That way i could easily press the search button and get to the station I wanted….makes me laugh no a days.

  6. I think fundy FB friends freak me out the most. They are the ones always offering hearty encouragement to follow God and He will take care of the rest of your life. In itself, it’s not awful, but I tried that and my house became complete mess, I had no time with my family, and eventually I had a nervous collapse.

  7. a) judged – Any frown or facial distortion on a fundy’s face.

    b) witnessed to – Anyone I don’t know who looks fundy and tries to start a conversation. Sometimes you can hear a change in the voice (e.g. uncertainty) an see a change in the facial expression (e.g. fear) when the recruiting begins.

    c) recruited – Any phone call from any church.

  8. Mid 90’s PCC folks may understand these:
    Receiving that “special” Christmas card from Fundy U.
    Any preacher that pulls a fork and knife from his suit jacket.
    The automatic reflex to “The Doxology”. (This one has caused me embaassment a couple of times.)

  9. Said in an ominous tone,”Well you will have to stand alone and give an account of yourself before God” pretty much paralysed me most if my childhood and young adult years.

  10. The phrase “Extend the right hand of fellowship” or we “don’t count nickels and noses here” when that was precisely what they did, how about “you can be wrong if you want to”, “does a dog bark because he’s a dog, or is he a dog because he barks” Pastor really liked that one. Of course everyone has heard “we don’t judge here, but we are fruit inspectors”

    Wow, I got on a roll there. Need to sit down, I’m dizzy.

  11. In a worship service:
    Just As I Am or Softly and Tenderly or Have Thine Own Way, Lord or I Surrender All
    Every head bowed, every eyes closed.
    If you were to die tonight, do you know you’ll go to heaven to be with God.
    If there’s a doubt, come forward.
    Anything called “special” music.
    Long, laborious explanations of Greek or Hebrew words.

    In youth group:
    “Sword” Drills
    Bible Quiz Bowls (even though I was very good)
    Anytime they brought out the big ball.

    1. LOL…”special” music. Love. it. I was just this past week trying to explain to a non-Christian what “singing a special” means.

    1. My (large) family used to drive around in a fifteen-passenger. That was Gator blue. And beeped when you backed up. And rattled.

  12. A knock at my door. Reminds of the blind house calls we would have to make and ask people to come to our church and if they died today, would they go to Heaven.

    1. Oh, I hate those! No church person knocking on my door has any chance of having a conversation with me at all – no matter what.

  13. Youth Pastor Rev. Tim Tom on ‘The Middle’

    Commercials for Praise music CDs, with video of the crowd with their eyes squinted shut and the hands out with palms upturned in the ‘Is it raining in here? Did I just feel a drop of rain?’ expression of religious fervor.

  14. The Birthday Song. Especially when we sang “Happy Birthday. God bless you” even when it was only one person.

  15. One of my best friends from high school, who is now much more fundy than I ever was. She recently threw out her pants and her daughter’s pants, and she and all of her daughters don’t get their hair cut any more.

    Also, just about any FB post from a relative of mine who is still on staff at BJU. Whenever I post a song that I like, I wonder what her reaction to it will be.

  16. hideous tablecloths, fake flowers / wreaths, busybody gossipy women, fake almost forced smiles, way to friendly behavior, 16 passenger vans…

    ugh…i think i just barfed a little in my mouth trying to remember the horrible memories!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Joshua and Caleb Thompson- two modern day martyrs, in the eyes of fundies who love the “blueness of the wound” teaching.

  18. The Lord calledΓ’β€žΒ’ me… a)to preach, b) to the mission field of Montanna where there ain’t no IIndependent Fundamental King James Preaching Baptist Churches for 2500 square miles. This area don’t go no gospel at all.

    90% of the time that call was either a prank or a wrong number. I really hate self-inflated, hyper-sanctimonious prigs who think they were called to preach. I have more respect and esteem for lawyers, politicians, and used car salesmen than I do these pulpiteers. 😯
    …There’s my 2’ worth… now where’s my change? πŸ™„

    1. Agree with you Don. Another example, “the Lord called me to ___________(fill in the blank with major city in the Bible belt.),because there are no Bible believing churches in the area.”

      It took me a while to realize that there are Catholics, Presbyterians, and Lutherans who believe the Bible and take it literally. It amazes me how many Catholics live out their faith in a quiet and peaceable manner. They don’t count in the eyes of most fundies, because they are not in your face with tracts and annoyingly judging your salvation before they know you. I still think they need to get out of abomination of Rome, but the fact remains that there are real believers in some very unlikely situations who are Bible believers as well.(No trademark symbol needed for Bible believer πŸ™‚ .)

      1. i knew someone who started a church in greenville, sc about 5 or 6 years ago. they must’ve had at least 150 members within a couple of years, and in their church directory, about 75% of the email addresses were “” i’m sure a lot of the other members came over from other fundy churches.

    2. While some are indignant about the sin of others, they are also indulgent of sin in themselves.

  19. Anyone that looks, dress, or walk like Doc Holiday (mid 90’s PCC would understand).

    1. Doc Holiday aka G.M.- Be sure to tuck the tail of your shirt in your underwear to keep a neat appearance. πŸ˜‰

  20. 1) Any reference to “being a testimony” or “hurting your testimony”
    2) The second sermon during the endless verses of the invitation
    3) Any sermon based mostly on illustrations and not God’s Word

    1. *twitch, twitch*

      A lovely lady from my past commented on my blog that she couldn’t believe what had happened to the ‘on fire’ Christian she used to know.

      Thanks, hun.

  21. tapered hair

    Penny loafers and duckheads

    “I see that hand…in the balcony, anyone in the balcony”


    Fat preachers

  22. I can’t believe I didn’t see this yesterday! I was supposed to judge (shuddering just at the word) a junior high fine arts competition . . . we had a foot of snow and my kids were home so I didn’t go and I was SO relieved I can’t even tell you. I guess you know. No dress code. No “judging” the poor pathetic beat down akward junior-highers. No panic attacks at not being good enough for the Christian school employees I’d encounter. No need to pop valium between each contestant.

    There would have been a lot of triggers there.

    1. I hate the whole “Fine Arts” subculture and wish I could get my high schooler out of it! Maybe there’ll be a storm for hers too.

  23. Nobody has said this one yet… “Foreign missions is the heartbeat of God.”
    Chapter and verse, please?

  24. The use of the word “vision” when referring to anything other than physical eyesight.

    The phrase “pillow your head”.

    A group of women wearing skirts will ususally send me running the other direction.

    1. Proverbs 29:18
      “Where there is no vision, the people perish”

      This is one of the verses my fundy pastor twisted to imply we should always follow his lead…Usually involving the constant building projects.

    1. I did, I turned in my hymnal, my King James wide margin, my suit and ties, my IFB membership card and my secret decoder ring. πŸ˜‰

      1. Bahahaha! Me too: along with my Keds, cullotes, and choir membership. I’m officially an apostate.

  25. Also,
    Any and all “gospel tracts”–I throw them away when I find them laying around in public places.
    Street preachers.
    Church signs and bumper stickers that say offensive things like “Eternity: smoking or non?”
    Really, even driving past a church sign with Baptist in the name will make me cringe.

  26. I guess the thing I remember the most is the fear…The fear of being skinned alive in the fires of hell if I committed a sin… πŸ‘Ώ

  27. “Full-time Christian service”. As if being a “regular” person was somehow part time. Eff you.

  28. I literally have hundreds of these, having attended Bible school for five years. Charity Baptist Bible Institute, Dayton, Ohio, 1989-1994. Ugh.

  29. Long invitations…where the pastor prays for 10 mintes before the invitation starts and preaches his sermon again. I had many good naps at times like that.

    A pastor saying “be in the Lord’s House on Super Bowl Sunday.”

  30. Only came across this site today, but had to add one of my triggers, even though it’s already been mentioned: women/girls in ankle-length denim or khaki skirts. I was at the grocery store recently with my toddler and saw a woman with several of her daughters with her (I assume daughters, though I could be wrong). My daughter and I were, of course, wearing jeans (it’s the middle of the winter, for goodness sake!). I could feel my heart drop and my stomach churn as the they walked by: the mom with her holier-than-thou look and the daughters with the “I’m-so-trapped-I-don’t-know-what-to-do” look. I almost get cold sweats just thinking about it.

    And I have to agree with the jacket-dress comments posted earlier. One of my very difficult memories has to do with a jacket-dress, a twenty-first birthday, and my mom not only refusing to let me return said dress, but reducing me to tears because of how “ungrateful” I was (and worse). No jacket dresses for me EVER AGAIN, thank you very much!

    1. My mother used to go the Unitarian church in Savannah until she grew tired of their “I’m more enlightened that you!” attitude regarding blacks, gays, handicapped, etc, it got absurd after a while. πŸ™„

  31. A lady who takes her child to the same library story time that my daughter and I go to had her preschooler give me a tract one day when we saw them at Wal-Mart. I smiled, thanked her, and said that I was already a Christian. I felt she didn’t believe me: I said I attend a “Bible” church, and I was wearing pants.

  32. One of the triggers for me is the situation where I *have* to wear a tie to church. When I was growing up, in Morthern Ireland , those who did not “look like Christians” were severely judged by the self-appointed Holiness Police in my Church, which was not Fundy but, at that time subscribed to all the cultural norms that came with Christianity. Males wearing shirts and ties to church, was one of those norms. even if they were too young to tie the ties themselves. My old church is no longer like that thankfully, and the church I go to now certainly never was. However there are still churches like that, and I’ve occasionally had to tend them. I wear a shirt jacket and tie to these churches but even then I have had the feeling that my faith is suspect because I’m not wearing a suit

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