Act II: Smile and Smile

Contrary to what some may think, it wasn’t the rules at PCC that started my path away from fundamentalism. Required chapel attendance, lights-out at 11:00, and even white glove may have been cause for some grumbling but in reality they caused no great disquiet in my soul. My whole life I had lived with rules and standards that were often stricter than the ones the college required. I was such a rule follower in those early years my roommates were often amused and annoyed by turns with how conscientious I was. Regarding the righteousness that was in the law I was blameless.

In the end it wasn’t the student handbook that got me, it was the hypocrisy.

Within a few weeks of being a student at PCC there’s a look you learn to spot, a smile of the kind that doesn’t come with teeth. The person in authority with their eyebrows raised painfully high and jaw set in a ferocious caricature of a smile will say the words “Excuse me. Can I get your name and ID number?” This is the PCC equivalent of the Soviet “papers please!?” It’s not a request you can deny.

That smile shows up everywhere. It’s on the faces of most ensemble members who go into the high schools and hedges and invite children as young as six to “come to the school with the water park!.” It’s on display at the front desk of each building where the attendant may just come reprimand you for talking to a girl due to the vagaries of the “chaperoned and unchaperoned” regulations. You’ll also see it on the face of your floor leader as he explains the Tolkien books on your bookshelf (although they’re found in the campus library) don’t “pass check” and will have to be confiscated until the semester ends. I suspect that those who wear that smile too long eventually forget how to really be happy.

The place where the absurdity of this fake cheeriness finally became obvious for me was during the three years that I sang in the Rejoice Choir, the only choir on campus that combined both staff and students to perform on Sunday mornings during the televised service of the Campus Church. It wasn’t the choir itself that was the issue. I actually rather enjoyed Gettys Allen, the choir director and practicing music for two hours on Sunday morning was far preferable to sitting through sophomore Sunday School with some senior preacher boy giving an alliterated lesson on fleeing youthful lusts. That choir would have been a great memory if not for one thing: the ironically named “Rejoice In the Lord” broadcast production team who seemed to think that screaming people into a joyful terror is the best way to make a choir look its best.

The embodiment of this need for manic levels of happiness was an elderly spinster who I’ll refer to only as “Miss W.” would stalk up and down glaring at the choir members as if they personally had stolen away the best years of her life.

“YOU’RE NOT SMILING!!!” she would bellow, completely ignoring that the current verse we were singing was about the crucifixion and probably not an appropriate time to look as if we were having a fit of the giggles.

“YOU’RE ALL TOO PALE!” she would scream (almost always directed at some much younger and prettier female). It wasn’t uncommon to see girls painfully pinching their own cheeks to color them when they spotted her approaching with a rouge brush in hand to “fix” the faces of those deemed unfit for public viewing.

Then, after having been harassed, harangued, and generally howled at, we would tromp out under the bright lights of the Dale Horton Auditorium and sing about how joyful we were to have a God so gracious and loving — although by that point almost none of us were sure that this could be true. If God were anything like Miss W. it was a pretty sure bet that He didn’t even like us unless we smiled and raised our eyebrows until facial cramps set in.

Can you serve a Christ who says “I am the Truth” by perpetuating a fiction of happiness in a place where so many have to fake a joy they cannot honestly claim? I could not seem to find an answer for this or for other even more disturbing questions would soon find me…

154 thoughts on “Act II: Smile and Smile”

    1. I don’t believe it.

      But yeah, I know all about those fake smiles. I had to wear one for years, and I still get pushed to wear one by an evangelical with a Fundy view of happiness. On top of that, I have a huge fear of cameras and a husband who does not like to socialize in groups. I have no idea what my real smile looks like.

  1. Poor Miss W., I know some of them. They are the Beulah Balbrickers (Porkys) of Fundyland. They are miserable, sexually frustrated old bats, possibly lesbian. They are so filled with hatred and guilt, that they want everyone else to be miserable too.

    1. Let’s not all start stoning the spinsters, ok? And no, we are not all (or even mostly) lesbians. Believing in chastity doesn’t make you gay. There are plenty of miserable married women in Fundamentalism who resent young ladies and are a terror to anybody who is vulnerable. Ask any BJU girl who worked on Security or at the Print Shop about Mrs Christine Donnelly.

      1. Bassenco, there is a HUGE difference between a single woman & a spinster. HUGE.

        We all have our moments when we are less than pleasant, but if dour & miserable is the single woman’s default setting, she’s a spinster.

        If she’s married, dour, & miserable, then she gets called a shrew.

        1. It is rumored that Jaw Bones required its Dean O’ Wimmen employees to be single. The reasoning is that they should be dour, sour, misanthropes who would be jealous of any girls who were given second looks by any guys, and would thus be harder on everybody involved. No milk of human kindness. No tender mercies toward any who were touched by the tender passions.

          Anyone know if there was any truth to this?

          One old hag who prowled the “dating” “parlor” bore a more-than-passing resemblance to Gollum. If she weren’t so smilingly nasty so much of the time, I would have thought of her as a “Poor Unfortunate Soul.”

        2. Women are so often defined,singled out and name called when they don’t fit into the “pleasant” mold society has carved out for them. You, Kreine, are doing the exact same thing PCC and other fundy Us do: You expect people to conform to your ideas of how they should behave so as not to offend you (or be called a shrew or a spinster).

          Oh, and I get that this post will define me as a shrew, so save it. ๐Ÿ™„

        3. PP, I said “she gets called a shrew.” Not that I think dour married women *are* shrews. I am dour, occasionally! And I get angry and sad and I was tired and frustrated at the grocery store today with a screaming 3 yo, a 5 yo pestering the 3 yo and asking to buy every flipping thing in the store, while carrying a 1 yo b/c she refused to ride in the cart. I almost told the man who shot us a dirty look to feck off.

          All that to say, I obviously wasn’t clear my response was tongue in cheek. And you are the furthest thing from a shrew in my mind, for the record. Strong, capable, opinionated, human? Absolutely! ๐Ÿ˜€

        4. @MSK, the BJU Dean of Women was required to be single so she could be fully devoted to the University.

      2. Just because they’re married doesn’t mean they’re not sexual frustrated… I mean look who they’re married to.

      3. I didn’t say they were all lesbians, but some might be (but can’t admit it because you can’t be gay and a Christian). However, the spinster/shrews are all miserable, and don’t want anyone else to be happy/enjoy life because if they can’t be happy – no one else should be either.

        1. You know, people complain about stereotypes and fall right into them. There are plenty of lesbians among married women in the IFB. Gosh, if all those IFB survivor groups on Facebook have shown us anything, it’s that. Again, the name calling is ridiculous, and the stereotyping is pathetic.

          Once upon a time, virgins in Christianity were elevated as more pure than others. Now we are called shrews and lesbians. Both extremes are just that: extremes.

          As has been pointed out: there are plenty of sexually frustrated married women in Fundamentalism. And there are plenty of women, married and unmarried, in Fundamentalism who commit sins of fornication, including lesbianism. And yes, it is a sin.

          Is stereotyping a sin? I’m not sure. But it is a reflection of ignorance.

        2. I doubt it’s as well thought out as all that. I’ve known some truly bitter people, and they aren’t deliberately hurting anyone. They are just so filled with sadness, anger and negativity that they simply cannot contain it anymore and it spews out (think: projectile vomit) on anyone unfortunately enough to be in their vicinity.

          It’s not that they don’t want anyone else to be happy. It’s just that their own unhappiness is simply overwhelming, and they don’t have the tools they need to handle it appropriately (God knows fundydom doesn’t adequately equip people for life as it is).

          A little sensitivity towards others can go an awfully long way. We really *don’t* know what other people are going through.

        3. “Itโ€™s not that they donโ€™t want anyone else to be happy. Itโ€™s just that their own unhappiness is simply overwhelming, and they donโ€™t have the tools they need to handle it appropriately (God knows fundydom doesnโ€™t adequately equip people for life as it is).”

          ^^^This, absolutely!^^^

        4. I know some very happy single women, both gay and straight. Everyone doesn’t have to be paired up.

          On another topic:
          My own opinion is that we have no right to refer to homoerotic relations as “fornication” until same-sex partners are free to marry each other. Feel free to disagree.

        5. BG, does that mean we can still the heteroerotic ones fornication all we want? ๐Ÿ˜ˆ
          Just trying to make trouble, that’s me. ๐Ÿ˜›

        6. Panda, sure, you can if you want to.
          I call it “fun,” but whatever floats your boat …

        7. BG, I just try to remind people that both “fundamentalist” and “dysfunctional” are spelled with F-U-N.
          “F is for Fire that burns down the city.
          U’s for Uranium Bombs!
          N is for No Survivors!” ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

    2. I don’t think Miss W’s main problem was her singleness; I think she was just mostly miserable all the way around. I mean, the singleness was probably part of it in the sense that she’d done all the things she was always told would make her a “godly woman” and was thus guaranteed that “godly” marriage, and it didn’t work because there is no magic formula. But I think it was beyond that. I think she was vocationally frustrated as well–all that training, all that talent and knowledge thrown into an institution that frowned on actually using those skills in the “real world.” She’s in a dead end career but trained to look at it as a ministry and not complain. Her singleness was/is just one aspect of plain, old miserableness from what I could see. When she looks at those young girls in the choir or the speech department, she’s seeing her past opportunities in the light of her desolate present. No wonder she lashes out.

      1. To say that she’s mean and small-minded because she’s a spinster would be to say that there aren’t a lot of mean and small-minded married women (and men). There’s far too much evidence to the contrary.

      2. Look who she worked for! If everyone on stage didn’t have the plastic smile when the cameras started rolling there would be hell to pay. Aunt Beka would be all over her.

        Old saying in business: sh!t flows downhill.

  2. don’t think for a minute that the fakeness ends at the doors of fundytown.

    I’ve experienced similar levels of this phenomena from Evangelicals too….

    In any environment where “spiritual” codes of any kind exist that are different from wider societal norms you’ll get this pressure to conform. It’s not necessarily tied to theology either, and should not be confused with the law/grace debates that arise from readings of St. Paul.

    It’s just good old fashioned human tribalism, mixed in with the need to “look good” to outsiders, whilst rejecting the norms of the outside.

    1. It is present in corporate culture and new agey spiritual cultures, too, in the “positive thinking” movement. I had a boss obsessed with a “positive thinking” guru who came in to lecture us for eight solid hours on how we should look happy and never complain or acknowledge problems and then everything would be perfect in our lives and workplace. My yoga obsesses sister-in-law preaches “happy thoughts” at us all the time and tells us that problems and illness are caused when we “stop smiling and start thinking there are problems”. This demand for fake happiness extends far out of fundamentalism.

      1. People just get sick.
        I don’t think it’s because of their state of mind.

        Clams and sea slugs get diseases, too, but I don’t hear many people claiming it’s because they don’t have a positive attitude.

    2. The charismatics/word of faith are equally as bad. Heaven forbid the look on your face might become a negative confession or hint at a lack of faith. For those of you who have never been exposed to the word of faith, they believe that your words have the power to create what’s spoken. So having an expression on your face that might indicate there was something wrong could mean you lacked faith in the positive words you spoke over your situation.

      1. I fairly recently met a woman I hoped I could become friends with. We both have large families, and we both have backgrounds in homeschooling. It seemed like we would understand each other well and be able to support each other.

        She is Messianic + word of faith/charismatic, and it was just too much for me to handle. I think she’s an awesome individual, but so many things she said or did would trigger me & I’d spend the next week recovering after spending a few hours with her. ๐Ÿ˜

  3. That’s how I felt every time I walked through the doors of our IFB church. The “Smile and “Smile” cheerleaders were in full force just prior to and during special events such as “Friend Day”, cantatas, school plays, etc. Pretending to be uber happy hour after hour got old real fast, especially when I was anything but. (In general, I’m up beat and appreciate the many blessings God has given me. When it became evident that my mood would plummet when at church or serving, I knew something was terribly wrong.)

  4. Mrs. W. elementary school style: our children attended fundy elementary school. Practicing for school Christmas and end of year programs were especially brutal. Those unfortunate enough to be in the lowly choir and not granted a speaking part would have to stand quietly for what seemed like hours while the chosen few rehearsed their lines. Any movement, giggle or fart was cause for demerits and a stern reminder that the Gospel would be presented during the play and if he/she didn’t take it seriously souls would not be saved. Quite a burden to put on children whose aging ranged from 5 to 12 ๐Ÿ˜•

    1. I shudder to think of the pressure those teachers were under, though. When I directed my first drama production in a Christian school, I was told by the principal that it had to be perfect because it “presented the face of the school to the public” and would “damage the ministry and mission” if there were mistakes.

      1. I agree with you that the teachers were under great pressure. Many of them were friends of mine whom I still love. It a good example of how that dysfunctional system causes people to act irrationally and ungodly.

    2. I don’t have many, if any, current IFBers on my Facebook friends list. I do have a couple people from high school who are charismatic. I don’t really see much difference in tone. The specific theological hangups are different, but the behavior patterns are the same.

  5. Yea verily.

    I wonder what these people would have said to David, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jesus…all of whom grieved publicly, or acted in other ways that were not in keeping with the preferences of the Indy Fundies.

    I would rather see some genuine emotion than to be confronted always by these people with their rictus grins.

  6. Ooh, ouchy. As an MK, I remember my mother scowling at me from her seat in church while I was up on stage singing with my sisters. She was always inspecting to see if I looked joyful enough. And, if I couldn’t fake being happy enough, I would get beaten or have some of my favorite clothes deemed “worldly” or I would lose a friend because they were suddenly deemed a “bad influence.” Wonder why it was so hard to fake that joy?

    Why can’t I remember ever being truly happy until I left all of that? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    1. yeah…..i remember being told from ages 9-18, from family and teachers etc, that when i sang I did not have the “joy of the Lord” on my face, and clearly this was an intentional display of rebellion. Which, we all know, is as the sin of witchcraft. And, as we also know, witches are amoung those who have a place in the lake of fire. Which is where I was constantly told i was going….all because of a look on my face while singing (or lack thereof) I was a CHILD!! SMH ๐Ÿ™„ ๐Ÿ™„

  7. John McDonald’s sneering smile (sneerile? Smileer?) was classic. Loved watching him in action.

  8. Don’t those “smile warriors” just drive you nuts?! You can be deep in thought about something and they will tell you to smile. I live in “la la land” so I’ve had this happen to me many times. When it comes to singing, they often often forget about the subject matter. It is inappropriate to sing about Christ’s suffering on the cross with a smile. Aren’t we supposed to be communicating when we sing? I’d rather that facial expressions came about because the singer really got the message.

    Another things these “smile warriors” need to realize is that we never know what someone else is going through at any given time. To tell them to smile when they might be going through a deep valley in their life is “adding insult to injury!”

    1. The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Some fundies replace that with “Smile! No matter what – smile!”

      Not very authentic. Not very biblical.

      1. If you smile enough, maybe someday you’ll actually believe you’re happy… or at least trick other people into thinking you are.

      2. Most Sundays during the worship service I have tears running down my cheeks, simply overwhelmed by Jesus love for me. I’ve come to realize that he made my emotions and they also belong to Him.

    2. >Another things these โ€œsmile warriorsโ€ need to realize
      >is that we never know what someone else is going
      >through at any given time. To tell them to smile when
      >they might be going through a deep valley in their
      >life is โ€œadding insult to injury!โ€

      Yes.

    3. Occularis occuli!

      I know, it sounds like a Harry Potter spell, but it’s the muscles near the corners of the eyes that involuntarily contract when someone flashes a genuine smile versus a fake one. Only a small percentage of people can consciously control them. It’s a great way of identifying insincerity in emotional displays.

      In my case, there was this right-hand guy of the pastor with the handshake and smarmy grin of a used-car salesman who would greet everyone. And everyone knew how totally fake he was. His eyes never really had that honest twitch. Then again, he also compared me to the devil for referring to the Greek in Sunday School, but that’s another story.


      The Ear

  9. Give me an honest heathen 8 days a week over an inauthentic PCCer telling you they have your best interest at heart. The honest person can be trusted, reasoned with, find common interest, and relied upon, etc.

    1. This is so true! That was one thing I quickly learned at PCC… you could not really get to know people there on campus. Everyone had to be someone else besides themselves. I was determined to be myself and I paid for it in demerits and trips to the deans office , etc.

  10. Several years ago I lived in Louisville. During lunch one day I pulled into a quick service restaurant and saw the A Beka van. After eating, I bumped into the driver on the way out.

    I told him I was a graduate of that college. He asked what I were doing in Louisville, and I said I worked and attended the South Baptist seminary. He said “Oh, you should be back at PCC now– they have a waterslide.”

    I tried to keep my composure but was at a complete loss for words. I was in my 30’s, an IT manager, and attending an (accredited) and once-prestigious school… and he said I’d be better off at PCC because of a water slide? The conversation ended abruptly.

    1. And no doubt the PCC hack went on his way rejoicing that he had silenced the heathen. Clearly, you were not ready always to give an answer, nor were you instant in season and out of season, nor did you think not what to say but in that day allow the Holy Spirit to shew thee what thou shouldst say.

      1. Actually, I think he realized was embarrassed by what he said. In fairness to him, when I’m clean shaven I can pass for ten years younger than I am.

        But even still, if I were 24 instead of 34, and worked at Target rather than in IT, would a waterslide be the best selling point?

    2. Don’t most academic advisers agree that you should study at a regionally accredited school OR one with a water slide? ๐Ÿ˜•

    3. Ryan, If you were “right with the Lord” you could be enjoying that water-slide even now.
      I’m sure you will come to regret not considering that a high priority.
      Decent pay, potentially fulfilling work, benefits, and sanity seem so insignificant when weighed against such refreshing fun! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        1. I want to know this too.

          I’m pretty sure men and women are never allowed to use the water slide area at the same time.

        2. When I was involved in the youth ministry, we encountered a church that did require their girls to wear culottes while swimming (segregated, of course) at summer camp. I was stunned. The safety issues alone were enough reason to question the logic of such a paranoid and ridiculous rule.

        3. No, women can wear one-piece bathing suits. But like PW surmised, the sexes are segregated. Women and Girls (And male children up to 6th grade (I believe) at one time and then men and boys another time.

    4. Actually he was responding within the very parameters of the PCC mindset: treat adults like children. We used to say that we were treated as “adults in responsibility but not in privilege”.

  11. Sheesh, it sounds like a game of Paranoia.

    Paranoia was a mid-80s cult favorite RPG (sadly, not THAT kind of cult) where the setting was a post-apocalyptic underground complex run by an insane computer. The computer wanted you to be happy. The computer was always looking for traitors. Traitors were unhappy, because they opposed the will of the computer, which only wanted them to be happy. Therefore, if you were unhappy, you were a traitor. After all, the computer was perfect. The only way you could be unhappy was if you thought the computer was not perfect. Also, your job, as a PC, was to hunt down traitors. Being a mutant was treasonous. You were a mutant. *All* the PCs were mutants. If you turned in traitors to the computer, you were rewarded. However, the computer assigned the troubleshooters. If the computer assigned a traitor, that would mean the computer made a mistake. So if you report your fellow troubleshooter as a traitor, you are criticizing the computer, which means YOU’RE a traitor. BUT… if the computer sees you interacting with a mutant and you do not report it, that is also treason.

    You may see why the game is called “Paranoia”. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You weren’t supposed to survive; you were supposed to have fun dying in hilarious ways. (You had 6 clones.) One adventure, focused on getting to some particular point to solve some problem, actually said, “If the players have made it this far, you’re doing something wrong. There’s nothing actually here.”

    1. Sounds like Landru on Beta III. “Are you of the Body?”

      “You will be absorbed. Your individuality will merge into the unity of good, and in your submergence into the common being of the body, you will find contentment, fulfillment. You will experience the absolute good.”

      The Return of the Archons 1967, Star Trek Episode.

      1. “And don’t forget, you all have — The Red Hour!” My brother and I always got a kick out of the Red Hour, where you can run completely wild. :mrgreen:

      2. Hands up for Star Trek reference. “Landru” was sufficient to evoke the memories of the Body. (Oh, so now I get it. Was that episode a metaphor about Fundamentalism?!)

    2. Citizen, the Computer requests your IMMEDIATE presence in the debriefing room. And no attempting suicide with your Red laser – that’s treason, and ineffective anyway.

  12. My friends and I used to call PCC “Pencil Cola Christian College” because that’s how the name sounds when you say it with one of those hideous smiley faces. (Not to mention that everyone there ends up talking like they are from the hills of Wiscaaaahsin after awhile.)

  13. My spouse is a thoughtful, serious person by nature. I am gregarious & outgoing. It is normal to see me with a toothy grin. It is disconcerting to see me spouse with such an expression. He opens his mouth to laugh, but his natural smile is with closed lips.

    I was one of the smile police @ Fundy U. It’s a wonder my spouse even dated me, let alone decided to get to know me & later propose!

    When he was a pastor, one of the parishioners asked me why Pastor never smiled. I responded that he wasn’t upset, he just didn’t normally walk around grinning. Her response? “But we’re supposed to have the joy of the Lord inside AND out!”

    I wanted to smack her! But she showed me how horrible I was to people all through college.

    I humbly apologize.

    1. One girl at PCC was unbearably gregarious. It was largely a false front, and if I’d known her story early on I’d have been far nicer to her.

      But I can remember one morning in the breakfast line around 9:30 AM (was up at 3 AM for work, on a couple hours of sleep), she told me to have a nice day. I told her I wasn’t planning on it. She said “You should, be cause this is the day the Lord has made.”

      I said, “Yeah, well He made the Devil, too.”

      I think I ruined her day.

      Exceptionally silly and cheerful people have no idea how obnoxious they are when they demand that serious and melancholy personalities join in their act. I guess it’d be like me going up to a peppy girl and telling her to wipe that d@mn smile of her face and frown. It’s intrusive.

      1. Well played. I remember falling on my bed to pray for a friend that I had just learned was near death, when my room mate walked in. His first words? “Is there sin in your life?”

        I replied, “Yeah, I have this deep urge to punch you in the face.”

        Its still one of the most effective means of explaining boundaries to fundies ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. >Itโ€™s a wonder my spouse even dated me, let alone >decided to get to know me & later propose!

      “Yes, I certainly did notice those delightful aspects”
      James T. Kirk, _Spock’s Brain_

      It’s often true that that which attracts us is unlike us. That can be a really good thing, IMHO

  14. Their answer is always the law, isn’t it?

    If you’re not doing what they want, why can’t they just encourage? Instead they so often use the old-fashioned lion-tamer tactics — a bull-whip and a chair and sharp commands — to get their students to comply.

  15. I have a naturally chipper disposition. I can’t say I ever bugged anyone about smiling, though. First, because I can’t say I ever really cared what other people did. I also had no idea this was a “thing.” I guess because my sense of humor carried me through the nonsense. Something for which to be thankful, for sure. I’m sorry so many people suffered from this. ๐Ÿ™

  16. My first semester of Bible college (not one quite as conservative as PCC), one upperclassman would tell us to “be real. Don’t fake it.” I didn’t understand what she meant until I had been there a year. There was an overwhelming pressure to act as though you’re super happy to show you’re right with God.

  17. ^^I also don’t annoy people about smiling. Besides, smiling while singing makes everything go screechy “eeee” I did an observation of a (public) junior high choir teacher who also ran a very tight ship and was getting after the students for forming a smile and getting all “eee” and nasal. I went to a presentation held off-site by our former church, and sure enough, Ms. Smile was smiling while singing about why our Lord came to earth. I realized how strange it would strike someone from outside the subculture.

    1. Poor Captian Kirk!!….Do you think the writer of that script once attended a Fundy church? Really though, it was common practice at my old fundie church to think and behave that way towards members who left, no matter the reason. They were not to be associated with again, and most people refrained from mentioning their names as if they had never existed. Unless of course, they were being used as an example of disloyalty and backsliding.

      I know, I’m getting off the post’s topic, sorry.

      1. Talk about being programmed! I still fight the urge to put on a ‘happy face’ every Sunday before walking into the foyer of my current non-fundie church. I de-program by preaching the Gospel to myself, that the love of Christ and His grace is why I am coming together with His saints to worship, not to put on a show. No matter what kind of week I’ve had, or how I feel physically, spiritually speaking I find great peace and joy focusing on Him. That can put a genuine smile on my face, not a people-pleasing one.

      2. I think the intention of the Star Trek episode was to represent a totalitarian society, like those in the USSR and the PRC at the time (the 1960s).

        But it works as a portrait of a Fundamentalist college, doesn’t it?

  18. I hope you all have a wonderful day. And I mean that sincerely! Sometimes people smile and say nice things because they actually mean it. <3

  19. That smile shows up everywhere. Itโ€™s on the faces of most ensemble members who go into the high schools and hedges and invite children as young as six to โ€œcome to the school with the water park!.โ€

    PCC was the only school allowed to send its recruiting singers to our church when my daughters were in the youth group. After the oldest one, 25 now, had seen a few, she asked me if Pensacola had any academics. All the smiles ever talked about was the water park, skating rink, climbing wall, and how inexpensive it was to attend there compared to other Christian Colleges. One of the girls may have even asked them once if they were trusting God to provide, why was cost was important.

  20. Dear Darrell:

    In the end it wasnโ€™t the student handbook that got me, it was the HYPOCRISY [emphasis mine].

    Ding — Ding — Ding — Ding — Ding — Ding — Ding!!!

    Ladies and Gentlemen, WE HAVE A WINNER!

    And at Snob Clones Perversity, NOwhere was the hypocrisy more evident than when presentation of a position more Biblical than that of the reichadistration was met with discipline, merely because it had no better answer available.

    Christian Socialist

  21. All the fake smiles at pcc, its been 21 years since I went there for 2 semesters and then left for a school that was accredited. I was 23 when I went there and was already my own person. Being from western Canada and having all these people doing their fake smiles to me and asking me how I was as I was not smiling all the time, weirded me out. Up here, we smile when we’re happy and don’t when we’re not. The plastic happiness smile that some/certain people had made me uncomfortable.

  22. correct me if I’m wrong but I remember PCC making a big deal about “Eye pregnancy” and how looking at girls/boys will “get you pregnant”. I’m not sure if its PCC but I know of an IFB school that was made fun of for it.

    Also to you PCC grads, how do you guys like the “Great” Jack Hyles? From reading other fundy websites, Hyles didn’t like PCC. Just curious if any of this is true.

    1. Eye babies! You know, I’d never even heard of them until I encountered SFL… I still don’t entirely grasp the concept. So… looking at each other too hard gets you babies?

      Like a reverse Enderman from Minecraft. Instead of attacking you when you accidentally make eye contact, it gives you a baby…

      1. Ha!

        I know my former Pastor Trieber always said “Spring Break is ungodly on Pensacola Beach”. I don’t know if that’s just Trieber warning people not to go to the beach for “mixed swimming” or if Trieber didn’t like PCC. I go to the beach all the time now and I’m thinking about sending ‘ole Jack a post card this summer.

        Also, wasn’t the campus Pastor at PCC a real d-bag. I’ve heard his name mentioned at NVBC and they don’t like him to much. Is his name Craig Mench?? Help me PCC people.

        1. I think you are referring Greg Mutsch?? Jim Schettler was the pastor for a long time. They have been through several pastors since he left. Mutsch was on administration when I was there. Schettler was a good guy. Although I don’t agree with his positions now, he was a breath of fresh air at PCC.

        2. you are probably thinking of Dr. Greg Mutche. He was not a nice guy and he was fundy-famous for making those KJVonly videos with Dell-whats his name called “the leaven in fundamentalism”. Also, Schettler was a terrible “preacher” in my opinion. His voice was grating and I remember some real doosies where he proof text to pontificate on some fundy made up false teaching and completely butchered the scripture.
          Just because he was a good story teller or was more animated than the other speakers there is probably why he sticks out in the minds of the student body from that time period.

    2. I attended PCA and PCC, and never heard of Hyles until I was out of college and we were attending a church that had a Hyles grad. as pastor. We did hear about the evils of BJU because of the Bible version issue. We had to attend required class meetings and chapels in which we had to watch videos about textual criticism and why the KJV was superior to everything else.

      1. At my church and fundy High School, Hyles is idolized and the Pastor Jack Trieber swears Hyles and his son-in-law were the greatest thing to Christianity. Plus at my school we had to watch videos of Jack Hyles sermons. I liked the ones where he ran down CCM music and girls wearing pants but then again that’s all Jack Trieber ever talks about :mrgreen:

        1. What’s Treiber saying now about Hyles’ son-in-law, Jack Schaap (currently doing a 12-year sentence in federal prison)?

        2. @Heat Is On….I just replied on your recent comment on Act I: Prayer Group Proclamation. You have come out of one of the most extreme IFB/Hyles’ brand of fundamentalist churches in CA. Congrats and thank the Lord! As self-important as NVBC/Dr. Trieber think they are to Christianity, most people have never heard of him, or the church!

        3. Dr. Jack Trieber rushed to FBH right after the Schaap scandal broke to show his support for the church. In typical Trieber fashion (following in Hyles’ teaching/preaching to “publish it not”) he isn’t saying much about it in public, or from the pulpit. This is handled in the same way as most of the scandals at NVBC have been handled in the past, by damage control, cover-up, preach against gossip/talk, and simply avoiding all mention of it as if it never happened.

        4. Despite 1 Tim 5:20… most frequently disobeyed Scripture in most IFB churches.

  23. This reminds me of the Charlie Chaplin song Smile:

    Smile though your heart is aching
    Smile even though it’s breaking.
    When there are clouds in the sky you’ll get by.
    If you smile through your fear and sorrow
    Smile and maybe tomorrow
    You’ll see the sun come shining through
    For you.
    Light up your face with gladness,
    Hide every trace of sadness.
    Although a tear may be ever so near
    That’s the time you must keep on trying
    Smile, what’s the use of crying.
    You’ll find that life is still worthwhile-
    If you just smile.

    1. I detest that song. Josh Groban sings it, and even that doesn’t make it better. When my teenage sister screams at me because I left her fundy church, I don’t want to smile, dang it. I want to curl up in a little ball in my closet and cry my eyes out for an hour, thank you very much.

    2. As Charles M. Schulz observed in a classic “Peanuts” cartoon, “A smile makes a lousy umbrella.”

    3. Although I would never (ever) tell someone else to smile when they were sad, angry, depressed, etc., there is evidence that the mere act of smiling releases endorphins and other feel-good hormones. For this reason, I really do make an effort to do something ridiculously silly or fun when I’m at my darkest, and it helps.

      Again, though, that’s not to say I would tell anyone else how they should feel, act or cope with their own sadness or grief.

      1. Grimacing exercises the same muscle groups and essentially results in the same outcome.

        When you’re sad, grimace.

  24. As a pew-occupant for a number of years, I have seen these Christian “roadies” come in to various churches a number of times. The “smile industry” seems to be a universal endeavor with all these groups. The smile industrialists have that grin on their faces regardless of the topic of the songs. I also detected another trend with these roadies: whenever one of them is singing, all the others gaze adoringly, fawningly, on whoever is singing the solo part. These groups are often herded by humorless, joyless mentors who barked out orders, and insist on the kids/singers/roadies pack up and get on down the boulevard so soon after church is over regular church folks could almost get caught up in the slip stream. Oh, I forgot to mention, these roadies will come to your church to “minister in music” for a “love offering.”

  25. Hypocrisy is just a polite way to say Flat Out Lie. And, the worst thing: often, one had to Flat Out Lie to *themselves*…for Jesus. Combine that with the Women Are a Sin By Definition Doctrine that is seemingly prevalent in every classroom and pulpit in Fundyland, mix well, and viola: today’s modern fundy woman emerges. She can either turn off her brain and stay where she is, or turn it on, in which case, she often becomes angry or bitter or finds herself the antagonist in a new sermon illustration.

  26. I live and work in evangelical circles now, and I have to say: A false happiness is not limited to fundamentalism, though of course it is more noticeable and stressed there.

    Last week, during the faculty devotions at the school where I teach, the speaker addressed the Boston bombings. In the span of five minutes he jumped from, “Yeah, bad things happen” to “Rejoice and trust in the Lord.” Whenever something bad happens, invariably someone tells me just to buck up and trust God. There is absolutely no space given for grief or meditation on that which is truly grievous or tragic.

    I think this false happiness is dangerous. Are believers meant to trust God and have joy even in the most difficult circumstances? Yes, but a false happiness put on for appearances’ sake before someone is really ready for it can kill any possibility of genuine joy or healing in the middle of grief.

    And no, telling someone to be happy in the middle of bad times is not a Christian thing to do. I’ve been going through some difficult times this semester, and there are days when I want to wipe the smiles off a few of my co-workers who seem to feel that it is their Christian duty to be perpetually happy. If they can’t mourn with those who mourn (whether it be me or someone else), then it’s not very comforting to talk to them.

    1. Such an attitude also glosses over the fact that there is a difference between joy and happiness. As Christians, we should always have joy in the Lord–but that does not necessarily translate to happiness. We can grieve and mourn and still have that feeling of joy deep down inside that the Lord is there and has saved us. They’re separate things.

    2. I hesitate to weigh in here, because, well, I’m just a gate-crasher, but I have to say…I live in the Bible Belt, and I too have encountered the artificial Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy phenomenon among my evangelical friends and acquaintances. It drives me buggy.

      My erstwhile boss (the micromanaging control freak, whom I’ve mentioned hereabouts once or twice) provides a case in point. In fact, she took it one step farther: She always had to give the impression that everything related to her church and her brand of Christianity was Perfect in Every Way.

      Once she and I attended the memorial service for a (Catholic) colleague. The celebrant was supposed to have been the colleague’s pastor, a local Catholic priest, but he’d been unexpectedly called away, so the service was handled by a deacon who’d never even known the dead woman. As a result, it was sort of a shambles. Later, as we drove back to work, I complained about how listless and uninspired the service had been; I felt that Barbara, our late colleague, deserved better.

      My boss took this opportunity to regale me with an anecdote about another recent funeral service (also for a mutual colleague), which she had attended but I hadn’t. She went on and on about how this Baptist service was so inspired and inspiring, so warm and welcoming, so beautiful and fitting, etc. etc. etc. The pastor had delivered a powerful “salvation message,” and he and family members had shared such wonderful stories about the deceased person, and it had all been just perfect, perfect, perfect.

      I felt like retching. I thought, “Remind me never again to share my honest feelings with YOU, lady.”

      There are certainly Catholic triumphalists (usually recent converts) who can drive you crazy with their pretensions that everything is hunky-dory on this side of the Tiber. But most Catholics I know realize that we are a dysfunctional mess, freely own up to it, and, in fact, b*tch about it openly and constantly. “If you’re a dysfunctional mess, and you know it, clap your hands.” LOL, that about sums it up.

      On the one hand, yes, we are to “rejoice in the Lord,” but OTOH this is a “vale of tears,” as the Salve Regina puts it. A fake, frozen Smiley Face has nothing to do with real joy (which is inner)…and the Pretense that All is Perfect does nothing to attract non-believers, IMHO. Just my two cents’ worth.

      1. “Honesty is such a lonely word.
        Everyone is so untrue.
        Honesty is hardly ever heard,
        And mostly what I need from you.”

        I know these lyrics fit in the world, but they are FAR more applicable to the “church.”

  27. Hahaha@ TheHeatIsOn…I remember the “eye pregnancy” thing. We used to also refer to it as “eyeball intercourse.” Let’s see…you can’t touch the person, walk them to their dorm, or talk outside if it wasn’t during “approved hours” in front of the Commons,or the Social Hall wasn’t open, then to top it off, get demerits thrown at you for trying to have a decent conversation with a person as most convos require that you actually LOOK into a person’s eyes every now and then ๐Ÿ˜‰
    And Darryl…I think I remember “Miss W.” I was not in the Rejoice televised choir during the school year (just College Choir and Rejoice in the summers) but was in other musical endeavours, and had many friends who complained about her too. I actually didn’t mind Mr. Allen either. He would only get upset if he thought you were singing off key or not properly enunciating. Common things every choir director should worry about.

  28. That’s where I remember u from, Darrel. I was in rejoice choir the same time u were. I was a year behind u. I only stayed a year. I thought my parents were strict till I went there

      1. FundamentalismWasHellForMe last I heard she was in charge of something with Sunday school. She was in charge of Food Service/Dining services for forever, but right around the time I graduated she was moving out of that position into other things.

  29. Mr. Allen taught me how to drive; it was an experience I will never forget. I worked with Mrs. Allen for many years and at first I was terrified of her. Over the years I grew to love and respect her in part because there were many times I was totally in the weeds and she stepped up and worked side by side with me. Unlike other supervisors who would yell at you the hurry up then stand there watching as you struggle to get things done on time.

  30. In small settings one could see a different side to Mrs. Allen. I think a lot of performance pressure was placed on her by people higher up.

  31. If I had this as my college experience, I don’t I could have withstood it. I went to a moderately conservative baptist college that was based in reality, my takeaway from my time there was quite positive. I Look back on my time there quite fondly and have made many great friends there. We didn’t have the institutional dis-functionality that many fundy colleges have. We also didn’t have an institution run by tyrants building their personal kingdoms.
    Hearing everybody relay the insanity that they had to endure during their time at PCC is tragic, in my opinion. It’s basic human nature to want to call something broken if it indeed is ant bring attention to fix it appropriately. Not being able to fix the obvious is what makes the whole thing maddening.
    Outside of college and going to evangelical churches is where my story changes. I haven’t encountered as fierce of a smile police that roams the PCC campus, but there are those in evangelical churches who try to “encourage” you to cheer up by what amounts to denying what you actually feel. Wether it’s misguided optimism or a way to tow the party line, it still screams of hypocrisy, general BS and one of the most offensive things anyone could ever encounter. A lot of evangelical churches tend to be fundy lite in this sense and expouse a lot of the same silliness that fundy churches do, hence my name.
    The whole smile police thing reminds me of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mbBbFH9fAg

  32. There are many different responses I have as I read Darrell’s post and the comments:

    1) Darrel nailed it when he said that it was more the hypocrisy that was an eye-opener than anything else. Lavish staff parties while the sheeple were encouraged to “give ’till it hurts” for some function. Taking up an offering for someone, and then holding back part of the offering, etc. Exalting staff members that were the most divisive people in the church.

    2) The word “hypocrite” keeps coming up as I read the comments here — so many people here have commented on GOH posts that the people looked miserable, and here they are knocking people encouraging the singers to smile. Sounds a little two-faced…

    3) As good men have said, Christians should be “real” – we don’t have to pretend that everything is great all of the time and we never feel down. At the same time, no matter what happens, we are upheld by the love of Jesus Christ, and the bottom should never drop out of our lives. Of course, it’s much easier to say than to practice. I think, that when in a group, it is good to look like one actually like what one is doing. So, I don’t mind the reminders to smile. It bugs me a lot more when it’s 1-on-1.

    I guess point #3 is just saying that there needs to be a balance. Christians don’t need to be plastic people with fake smiles (the “rictus grin” – great expression), but neither should we be miserable and gloomy all of the time.

    1. On your point #2, most of the criticism I’ve read here on SFL about singing groups looking unhappy comes when they are singing glorious words about our redemption and freedom in Christ and they look miserable. This article states a similar problem: don’t demand that people brightly beam huge smiles when singing about grief and loss and suffering.

      Besides that, even if we prefer seeing singers looking actually JOYFUL when they sing joyful songs, I don’t think any of us want someone behind the scenes yelling at them to “smile or else”. A huge cheesy grin (produced by fear of a threatening director) is inappropriate and uncomfortable for the audience; a glum expression is also inappropriate and uncomfortable. I think some singers look miserable because they’re terrified to sing but have been forced into it or perhaps they think that they should in order to be a good Christian. Others enjoy singing but look stiff and unhappy because they are intimidated by all the rules: don’t close your eyes, don’t hold the mic a certain way, don’t slide on your notes, don’t sway, don’t do anything that anyone could construe as sensuous, worldly, attention-desiring, or pentecostal. Trying to think of all that and remember your words and remember your part can be a heavy burden.

      So I see no hypocrisy from the SFL commenters, just another side of the same coin. We want Christian singers to feel free, not coerced; we want them to know love and grace, from Christ and from their leaders.

      1. Yes, I can see the extreme cases — but a lot of people don’t think about smiling when singing or have a hard time doing it (so I’m told by my musical peers). So, a reminder is good… I’m wondering if the “smile or else” is just a tad exaggerated. My family members have been in plenty of choirs when the choir members were encouraged to look happy, but it was never with the angry or vengeful approach some have postulated.

        1. The difference is a church choir is made of tithing and voting church members who could get mad, leave, or agitate for the music director to be removed.

          Students at Fundy U are at an extreme disadvantage because they’re without power and they’re in a situation where the authority tends to look down on them and either scorn them, suspect them, micromanage them, or baby them. Add to that the heavy responsibility to present a flawless performance to the world and you DO have super-intense choir leaders berating their singers.

          It surprises me that you question this. I know of little league coaches who scream at their players so why wouldn’t choir leaders do the same? It just seems especially egregious to us when it’s done in the name of Christ or to supposed praise Him.

        2. Also, sometimes people just have plain ol’ stage fright. Sometimes they know if they smile, they’ll start laughing. Sometimes they’re just trying to remember the words, or remember where that change is, the one they made just last rehearsal.

          And sometimes your life is being made into a living hell by controlling fundies, and the last thing you want to do, in the choir or not, is smile.

        3. @pastors wife: I question this because as humans, our memory of past events is largely shaped by how we choose to remember them: If someone in a church we’ve left did something kind, and we later leave and hate that church, most people have no problem attributing ulterior motives to the kindness because they have been wounded. I just wonder if some of the tales here about smiling in this post are not just a little exaggerated. They may not be; I remember choir leaders doing various things to get us to smile.

          Granted, when not representing the church or school, it is annoying to talk to such “plastic people”, where everything is fine and they have no worries, and they just smile all of the time. I often wonder if there is any way to “break through” to the real person or not.

          @petrushka1612: I know well that some people have stage fright… I know a couple of people that frown when they are concentrating; even when they are in a good mood, they frown.

          Perhaps I’ve just been fortunate to have been in smaller churches where the “image” was not the all-in-all, but neither I, nor any of my family was ever urged to smile in an unkind way.

          Sometimes people attempt to comfort us in a loss, and don’t know what to say or do, so they provide some platitudes.

          I think IFBs have much to answer for, but sometimes on SFL, they just can’t win; a singing group looks like they’re about to drop from fright, or someone is yelling at them to smile.

          Perhaps it is just two halves of the same coin; sometimes it just looks like plain ol’ bashing.

      2. PW, you said exactly what I was going to say, exactly the way I was going to say it.

        I was in one of these groups, led by the McCauleys from Jaw Bones. We smiled most of the time, singing or not, because we were a happy group of people, doing something we loved. We felt free when we were with them. But when we sang “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” we weren’t smiling. My group was very good at communicating the message of the song. I’m thankful to have been a part of it.

  33. so Guilt Ridden, am I understanding correctly that you are saying that since neither your nor your family members ever had an angry sourpuss of a (supposed to be joyful)choir director or leader than no one else could have. And so then any claims of such must be made up? Because that is a very silly stance!

  34. I sang in Rejoice singers at PCC for 4 years. The third year I sang, it was directed by Ty Thornton, and I noticed that he had chosen singers of every height and description. All of a sudden, doing tv checks became VERY challenging for the powers that be. It messed their camera angles up a bit, but I thought it was wonderful. PCC was at that time (may still be??) notorious for only choosing a certain “type” for traveling groups.

  35. Has anyone else noticed the facebook equivalent of this…. One version is usually posts from your fundy-friends who are still brain washed. They will post on a Sunday or a Wednesday night about how great or convicting the “pastors” “message” was….. but in reality you know that it was just another fabricated fundy pile of poo. A waste of time. ๐Ÿ™„

  36. Every time I see the heading for this post I think of the line by Shakespeare: “one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.”

  37. The fount of all fundy crazy wisdom, Peter S. Ruckman, once described how an experienced street fighter will fake a big grin right before delivering a sucker punch to an unsuspecting victim. The grin masks the involuntary facial twitch that would have tipped off the victim that a punch was about to happen.

  38. I think that there are seasons in life. Jesus wept. Job wore sack cloth and ashes, and didn’t sin in that. There are times when it is appropriate to mourn.

    The smile all the time and pretend things are ok – even when they aren’t – mentality is one way to train an entire congregation to ignore the subtle and not-so-subtle signs that things are wrong in fundyland. Want to know why nobody at FBCH knew that Schaap was doing the wrong thing? Every time someone saw something was wrong, they smiled, smiled, smiled some more.

  39. You are just getting poignant these days, perfect timing with stuff I am dealing with at church.

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