The Impossible Dream

Go out into the world and do the impossible — it is your sacred duty.

Go win the lost world whose culture you don’t even begin to understand with antiquated materials and sales pitches that have been gathering mold for decades.

Go tithe and give since God had opened the windows of heaven on you and blessed you with $11,000 a year in income from your ministry job.

Go hold to standards that are both illogical and onerous and convince your friends, your neighbors, and your children that they are the only possible way to live.

Go live a life of perfect adherence to rules that constantly flex and change to suit the needs of fallible leaders — who will always claim that they have just been following their unchanging and infallible Book the entire time.

And when you falter, when your faith is weak, when you throw up your hands in despair and say “this is impossible!” then they will smile sweetly and tell you that you serve a god of the impossible. If you aren’t managing to eke out daily miracles to help resolve the paradoxes of fundamentalism then that must be YOUR problem. No doubt there’s something about it in the book of Genesis.

Dream and dream and dream the impossible. The altar awaits the penitent who just can’t seem to make it work.

97 thoughts on “The Impossible Dream”

  1. I’ll settle for fourth.
    FWIW, there’s a loopy truth in the topic, and it’s not necessarily what it said. 🙄 😕

  2. Hey! Isn’t that a scene from Inception?

    Anyway, I was reminded of all of this yesterday when I attended a fundy-lite church. It was just a kinder, gentler version of the same old thing.

    Are you doing enough for God? You could do more! Here is a list of things you could do to make him like you more. Soulwinning, bus visitation, give etc etc etc.

  3. Over the weekend one of my fundie friends on Facebook wrote this:

    “As a Christian you are lying if you tell yourself and others “I’ve given it all I’ve got! I can’t do anymore!” When in truth, you have not given all you’ve got because you didn’t ask God to help you!”

    In FundieLand on that $11,000 salary, if you get tired after a 90 hour work week, apparently your not letting God take control and your doing it on your own.

    I’m go glad I don’t have to be beat down with that krap anymore.

    1. What a sec, you’re not doing enough AND you’re not letting God do enough? Now I’m really on the horns of a dilemma. 😡

    2. There’s really no such thing as a “work week” in fundyland, ’cause we all work weekends too!!! More on weekends than on weekdays….and no days off. There definitely is such thing as working 90 hours or more a week though. :/

      And remember, you’re not a real Christian if you don’t spend AT LEAST an hour to two hours per day, without fail, (rain or shine, sick or healthy) reading your Bible and praying first thing when you wake up in the morning, even if that means you get up at 3 AM. (Yes, I know people who did this.) And this must be done first thing in the morning, regardless of whether you are at your best to communicate with God later in the day, because That is the Way We Do It.

      Um…..sorry about the rant.

      1. No apologies necessary. You hit the nail right on the head. The earlier you got up in the morning and read your Bible, the more right you were with your MoG and of course you had to brag about it on Facebook so everyone would know.

        I eventually got a message scheduler and had it post for me automatically at 3:30 AM of a random verse that I faked reading that morning. Scored some major fundie points there.

      2. The funny thing is that the Bible tells us not to make a display of our devotions – we’re not to pray loudly in public like the Pharisees; we’re not to look mournful during a fast so as to get people’s attention or admiration for our “piety.”

        Sometimes it’s OK to share your own personal schedule to encourage others, but in general I’d say most of the “I got up at 3 AM to pray” is nothing but bragging.

        1. Thing is, I knew that verse, and I knew what I was doing was not Biblical, however, if I wanted to become Music Director Supreme it was just another act that must be performed.

        2. I know what you mean! The Bible says one thing, and sometimes even the preaching says that too, but the actual way politics worked in the church was often something else altogether.

          It’s very frustrating when one realizes that the very people haranguing the church to be more godly (and to give up things like movies or jeans or Saturday mornings for visitation) were themselves behaving in ways that were not biblical. Sometimes to get along one has to just play the game, but the hypocrisy of it all eats away at one’s soul.

      3. I knew someone who believed, without any irony, that a person’s moral goodness was measured by how early he or she got up and got to work in the morning. The earlier, the better a person you were. 😥

        1. I know someone like this. He loves to proclaim how early he gets up in the morning, but he doesn’t take into account that he takes a long nap in the afternoon! Since I try to be gracious, I don’t in turn state any belief that the person who goes the longest without naps is the most spiritual. 🙄

        2. Well, I am getting more spiritual, PW! It’s been almost a month since my last nap! :mrgreen:

          I was right when I said I could quit anytime. Of course, my coffee consumption had gone way up & I look like this 😯 constantly. 😆

  4. This is one of your finest posts Darrell. You’ve succinctly described the first 25 years of my life.

    I’m a blessed man to have been delivered, by God’s grace, from that quagmire.

  5. Well written as usual! It’s interesting that my wife and I had a discussion about this topic just yesterday.

    She doesn’t quite understand what the version of IFB that I grew up in was like, so this was one way I was trying to get her to understand it.

    I guess you just have to live it to get it. (I wouldn’t wish that on anyone though)

  6. Let’s not pretend this kind of thinking (albeit without the explicit reference to the supernatural) is the sole domain of fundamentalism.

    All throughout my secular (primary and secondary) education we go the same message rammed into us. If you just “believe”, anything is possible etc… You know the rhetoric.

    The political philosophy behind my education system was (and still is) that humans are economic units. Each unit must fulfil its maximum economic potential, and the way to do that apparently, is to start with education.

    What the above approach does it, is smooth out all the unforeseen risks of life that can instantly scupper someone’s dreams, no matter how “hard they work”, at the same time as handing amazing opportunity and success to others at random.

    Fundamentalism is just a perversion of that same kind of thinking, except in fundamentalism the absurd, random successes are put down to “faith” and the absurd, random failures are blamed on “sin”, whereas in the secular world described above it’s more common to blame “hard work” or “laziness” respectively.

    1. The think system!

      There’s also “The Secret,” which pretty much blames you for anything that goes wrong in your life because if you’d just think right, you’d get everything you ever wanted …

      1. Hay-men, sister; that is one system I detest, no matter how much Oprah praises it. 😡

    2. Phil_style… I agree with you and so 2 questions:

      1. When and where have these philosophies originated?


      2. Are these philosophies world-wide, inherent or intrinsic in nature?

      Living under such physical and mental burden is a ever constant mindful desire to gain but only by sacrifice and then solely in hopes of some uncontrollable “unmerited favor” that the fruits of your labor is rewarded! While in the mean time others around you are making their dreams come true by “slights of hand” and thanking God for showering them with blessings, making themselves appear to be in His favor!

      It’s warped and wrong!

      I was under that teaching tooooo long! I struggle and constantly shake my head at many of my initial reactions to issues at hand and then re-think in a normal approach! Ggggrrrrrr….. In time I have reconditioned myself but I would wish no one to live under these terrible teachings!

      A friend of mine says…”Work hard & Play harder!”, as he indulges himself and his family onto another mini-vacation, of the many. It always strikes me because, I remember many vacations before and after “Fundamentalism” but not during!

      Damn it! I’m living my life with a personal relationship and respect for a Higher Power that gives me breath. Meanwhile, as I am able, I will work to my own potential to gain, invest wisely, love lavishly, give generously, respect where respect is due and at the end of the day I will live with my choices, sleep well and begin anew having learned from the day before!

      Enough of the (Just like ICAMEOUT boldly stated) …. Krap!

      ~~~Heart 🙄

  7. Love the artwork! Kinda M.C.Escher-ish. It does remind one that other people’s perspective on things will be different than your own. Like exOBCstudent wrote, “I guess you just have to live it to get it.” So many Christians not from IFBdom that I’ve met, think it’s a bizarre and Twilight Zone form of Christianity, too weird. They can’t imagine living that way.

      1. I don’t remember seeing that one, mostly seen the birds, fish, butterfly scenes. His style is unique, easy to identify.

    1. It’s an Escher. As we often consider the IFB use of others’ music and film without proper licensing, I wonder if this image is in the public domain.

  8. Was this ever a trigger for me after having spent nearly 30 years teaching in Christian schools for their ministry pay. It was interesting too how the pastors or administrators always seemed to be “blessed of God” way beyond me as they could afford their lovely homes and fancy cars. Sometimes I would hear someone being critical of the pastor for driving a Cadillac or Lincoln Continental, only to see the critic soundly rebuked. If God saw fit to give them the money for such things then they are entitled to enjoy them. Quit murmuring and complaining; God smites such people! So I went home on a guilt trip fearing that I might be smitten and at the same time praying for God to provide for our needs that we just could not afford to pay for . . . so we did without. After all, when someday we measured up enough, God will give us a Lincoln Continental . . . IF . . . IF . . . we measured up to that level of blessing. IS that a warped concept of God, or not? It is just another tactic pastors and leaders used to control the “followers.” Twilight Zone Christianity is such an apt description.

    1. Yep, I heard a former pastor preach once that God had given him a Lincoln for all the years he pastored obediently. Geez…I would hope God could manage to give out more than a LINCOLN!

  9. How many sermons and Sunday School lessons have been taught about the finished work of Christ, only to be followed with 45 minutes of instruction on how we need to pick up where He left off? “Finished”: I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    1. I agree with you Marc. His grace is sufficient.
      No, wait, really.
      Seriously… stop with the guilt game!
      It is indeed finished.

  10. And when that dead altar does not save you, Jesus Christ is waiting for you. He will give you the rest you long for.

    1. Yup, cause in Fundystan Jesus’ yoke never really seemed to be easy or light. Quite the opposite.

      Free at last!

  11. I love the art – but the words written underneath made me feel the sadness and emptiness of the IFB lifestyle all over again. No matter what I did, it either wasn’t done correctly or it wasn’t enough. Play the piano for church? Teach Sunday school, too. Play the piano and teach Sunday school? Why aren’t you out on Saturday morning bus visitation? You tithe? You should be giving to “faith promise missions.” You’re at church every time the doors are open? Why aren’t you helping cook for the bus breakfast? Oh – you have a toddler, a baby, and you’re pregnant? So what. We’re to be busy about the “Lord’s business.”

    It took years – and damage done to my children – to realize that God was not in that whirlwind.

    1. Daylily…

      Here’s a huge hug!!!! ( £O¥€ )

      Don’t be sad, be done with it and never go back!

      You are worthy of a wonderful life! Live it up and enjoy all of where God really is!

      ~~~Heart 😀

    2. “God was not in that whirlwind.” — Beautifully appropriate allusion.

    3. What makes me so sad is that I wasn’t raised IFB like many of you were. I chose to join – and gave up going to a good college so I could attend a Bible college (therefore, no degree…) to become an unpaid church pianist.

      But my kids didn’t have a choice. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, Thursday ladies’ visitation, no Smurfs, no Masters of the Universe, no Disneyworld or Disneyland, and on and on and on. Teachers scaring them to death at 3/4/5 years old about Hell (what 3 year old goes to Hell?).

      God was good and we got out before their teen years. But there are scars that only God can heal.

      1. Ahhh! Evil Disney! I remember secretly going to Disney without approval from the MOG. We told them that we had rented a cabin on our own private beach on our own private island.

        I’m surprised at the number of Fundies who are able to afford this. But I guess its the only way to go on a beach vacation as a fundie. I wonder how many missionaries could have been sent to the field for the amount fundies spend to get their private beaches.

    4. @Daylily; I can identify – I remember endless “whatever you’re doing is not enough”

  12. Very accurate and succinct summary of the country of Fundistan. I believe that each of these churches(and Christian colleges) were started by well meaning people who really wanted to make a difference. After a while, however, the primary goal became self preservation and promotion. And they will use anyone up to promote that goal.

  13. Illogical and onerous standards – yup. And, as you point out, not only were we expected to live by them, we were supposed to convince other people that THEY should live that way too.

    I do know though that a very, very early step away from fundamentalism for my husband and me was seeing the lack of logic in the anti-movie theater but pro-video store stance that most fundies had. So I may not have been able to see “Star Wars” in the theaters, but most of the good stuff that came out after I was 25 or so I was able to see on the BIG screen with surround sound (and now 3D sometimes!)

  14. These sound like the ingredients for a nervous breakdown. How can people live according to these bleak precepts for years without cracking up?

    1. By projecting and extending the load of guilt and heavy burdens on those around them with fierce judgment.

      And then when they see a fragment of light, and start climbing out, there’s another form of nervous breakdown, or ‘cracking up’, as they feebly attempt to reevaluate and then fundamentally (pun intended) change their entire way of thinking and living.

      Speaking from personal experience, of course.

  15. The man-o-gawd will preach about how it’s only required that we be found faithful, then preach about how you need to do more and get more “souls saved.” I guess being faithful means working yourself to death. “Burn out for Jesus!”

    1. “Better to be tired and happy than rested and grumpy” said my former fundy pastor after the annual Big Day / Open House Sunday.

      As if those were the only two possible options 🙄

  16. It sounds like a pyramid scheme.

    The more people you convert, the higher you rise in the church, the fewer stupid rules apply to you, the freer and happier you become.

    To become free within the church, you must stamp on the freedom of many others.

    The obvious solution – to become free from the church – is an option you must make seem impossible for those lower, as those higher do to you.

  17. As a graduating senior at BJU, I went to the job fair to look for jobs in Christian education.

    I found one highly touted as a great opportunity in New Jersey. I saw the pay offered. My heart sank. It was not even enough for a one-bedroom apartment in the area! The position also required that my wife work at the Christian school (no mention of any extra salary).

    My rebellious heart seized on such verses as “the workman is worthy of his hire” and “thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.” I saw a book on Christian School ministry written by one of the (then) deans at BJU, suggesting that a teacher make half the salary of the Pastor.


    I decided to go to grad school and look at public education instead. My rebellious heart looked at such pittances as slavery. Funny, it still does.

    When I voiced an objection to someone, I was told that greed was not welcome in the ministry, and that ministry required “sacrifice.” Apparently, the Pastors are not required to sacrifice nearly as much as the teachers under his employ!

    1. I’ll never forget a school I looked into at the BJU job fair. They were looking for an English teacher (yay!) and were located in Virginia Beach, VA. One of their rules was “no mixed swimming.”

      I knew they wouldn’t be paying me enough so I could afford a private pool, and I thought it utterly unfair to expect me not to go to the beach if I were living in Virginia Beach. 🙄

      1. Absolutely. I agree.

        Frankly, I am not a slave. I do not believe my employer should be able to tell me what I can or cannot do on my free time — and that includes Christian schools or churches. If they don’t pay me for 24 hours a day, they don’t own 24 hours a day.

        1. Jack T. made a very strong “suggestion” that the staff and sheeple not take trips during Spring break. Of course it was in a “sermon.” The control he exerts and desires is mind boggling. Does anyone know the salary range of his slaves? ❓

    2. rtgmath wrote, ” I saw a book on Christian School ministry written by one of the (then) deans at BJU, suggesting that a teacher make half the salary of the Pastor.

      Half would have been quite nice for the teachers at our local fundy christian school…that would have put them around $125,000 back in 2001 – but I know they only got a fraction of that.

      How can a pastor justify earning so much more than his staff and the average family in the church?

      All with a very questionable masters and totally fake doctorate!

    3. Apparently, the Pastors are not required to sacrifice nearly as much as the teachers under his employ!

      Apparently, only half as much! (couldn’t resist that comment!)

  18. “No doubt there’s something about it in the book of Genesis”

    What is it about the emphasis on the Old Testament anyway? I’ve rarely heard any messages on Apostolic teaching at the Fundamental Baptist church I’m attending now.

    1. I think it’s partly because the OT is, overall, a lot harder to comprehend, therefore the MOG can get away with more.

    2. I think it’s because it’s much easier to control people with rules than it is with grace.

    3. “The Law of the Lord is perfect,” you know.

      You can’t get a wrathful God out of the Gospels or from most of the New Testament, with the exception of the book of Revelation. Most of the New Testament is about living right and treating others as we want to be treated. There isn’t a lot of hellfire and hatred.

      To get the hatred part, you have to go to the Old Testament where the Law put people to death for more things than the Taliban does today. And remember, God was *that* harsh to His Own People. So fundy pastors think that God should be that harsh to us.

      Nothing says offering money like the fear of God.

      1. Fundies actually worship a form of Zeus.
        They paint a picture of a vengeful god who is sitting around waiting to hurl lightening bolts and crap thunder on any who dare disobey his self-anointed messengers here on earth. Which is rather ironic considering they also preach a weak, anemic, frail grandfatherly god who can do nothing without the Man-O-god’s help.
        It all depends on which side of their mouth they are talking out of… if they can’t get enough support for dear old grandad then scare the hell out of them with a lightening bolt from the pulpit.

        In the end it is all about the M-O-g and what he wants, not Christ. Jesus is merely a prop, a marketing tool for the M-O-g to advance his own agendas.

  19. The Impossible Dream
    (An IFB interpretation)

    To dream the impossible dream
    (That everyone would show up for visitation night)

    To fight the unbeatable foe
    (Just like Billy Sunday did)

    To bear with unbearable sorrow
    (it’s just too unbearable to bear)

    And to run where the brave dare not go
    (Trying to get in the buffet line ahead of the M-O-g… he has been known to eat people who get in his way)

    To right the unrightable wrong
    (You questioned the Pastor’s sermons on “The Rapture” and “Why it’s a Sin to be a Calvinist”?!!)

    And to love pure and chaste from afar
    (Just like Pastor Jack preached about with his Arrow)

    To try when your arms are too weary
    (Pastor needs a Hur, and sometimes a her…)

    To reach the unreachable star
    (just get your picture taken with one on a plane and tell how you led them to the Lord with your ready supply of Chick Tracts and the Roman’s Road.)

    This is my quest
    (I seek the Holy Grail… first cranial position in the pastor’s pompous posterior)

    To follow that star
    (Let‘s consult the Sword of the Lord to see who is getting top billing these days)

    No matter how hopeless
    (sounds like most of the sermons I ever heard in the IFB)

    No matter how far
    (The further the better… that way they are less likely to run into anyone who knows what they did in the first place)

    To fight for the right
    (to Lord over everyone)

    Without question or pause
    (“Thou shalt not touch the Lord’s anointed)

    To be willing to march,march into hell
    (With a squirt-gun)

    For that heavenly cause
    (our church growth program)

    And I know If I’ll only be true
    (except when it would be better to just cover it up…)

    To this glorious quest
    (I even have “Industrial Strength Preparation K-Y-H™” hair-gel)

    That my heart Will lie peaceful and calm
    (following the myocardial infarction due to over work and lack of pay)

    When I’m laid to my rest
    (the M-O-g will tell how my passing has created a great emptiness in himself…)

    And the world will be better for this
    (now that he is unplugged all he has been spewing will go out the correct end now)

    That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
    (though if the “Preparation K-Y-H “ is applied properly scarring should be minimal…)

    Still strove with his last ounce of courage
    (to preach about himself to the end)

    To reach the unreachable, the unreachable, the unreachable star
    (some are too high on the Pastor’s pedestal)

    And I’ll always dream
    (That someday all sheeple will be free from Pastoral tyranny)

    The Impossible Dream
    (That some M-O-g will actually read, study and preach on Ephesians 4 past verse 11)

    Yes, and I’ll reach the unreachable star
    (with a ladder for the Ron Hamilton Christmas Cantata)

    1. It was a matter of time before someone brought up the song that’s probably been jingling through at least a dozen heads. 😀

    2. @Don, I’ll never again be able to hear that song without thinking of your version! Or, hear IFB rhetoric without thinking of this song! Great job!

  20. Aha! It finally hit me, what the title reminded me of! It’s the dweam within a dweam from The Princess Bride!

    …doesn’t have much to do with the topic at hand, but it’s been bugging me since yesterday. 🙂

  21. I think I remember receiving a book by Hugh Pyle with this title in Ministerial Seminar… I could be wrong, but seeing the title immediately set off a flashback…

  22. Since the Escher illustration seems to have disappeared after my comment above, let’s help Darrell find a replacement for it. Post videos or links to speakers saying obnoxious things which support this thread. Extra points for having an IFB leader. Perhaps Darrell will want to use his “favorite” (if one may call something whack-a-doodle a favorite).

    1. From the OP:

      “…when you throw up your hands in despair and say “this is impossible!” then they will smile sweetly and tell you that you serve a god of the impossible.”

      A David Gibbs’ overly emotional fundraising “sermon” would do the trick. That guy brings in building fund donations like no other. Don Sisk’s Faith Promise Giving sermons would be another example.

        1. About 15 minutes in and there isn’t any Scripture exegesis. Just personal stories that appear to be highly embellished at best – or totally fabricated (which is my guess).

  23. Just after 16 min:

    “Do you really want to be used of God?”

    “But do you REALLY want to be used of God?”

    Just before the 20 minute mark:

    He uses King David as an example of a man God uses and says God wants to use every man (He thinks we need to prove our worthiness – has he never heard of grace?).

    He us to write down the “keys”:

    Key #1) Be diligent in small, insignificant tasks. After all, if we are not diligent in the small things we will never be given the bigger tasks. Leaving your ministry – however insignificant it is – without having a replacement – means your are not being diligent…and (implied) God won’t use you for bigger tasks.

    How’s your Bible reading?
    How’s your prayer life?
    How’s your witnessing?
    How’s your good works list?

    “God use me!”
    “God says, ‘You are not diligent…'”

    He now asks folks to rate their diligence on a scale of 1 to 10.

    Areas they should strive to be diligent (backtracked during point #2, around 32:30):

    Get to church on time
    Pay attention
    Sing with all your heart

    Just after 30:30 minutes:

    Key #2 – Be willing to serve others who are in a better position than you. More examples of King David.
    (personal story involving a botched speaking gig and Lee Roberson)

    Key #3 – David took offense for the living God. (David and Goliath story)

    Have you ever taken reproach for God?
    (more personal story time)

    I have had enough and am not going past 42 minutes…

    1. Okay, I stayed with it (diligence! LOL!) until I got all five points:

      #4 Refuse to take offense for oneself

      #5 Use God’s power to do His every day tasks

    2. Used-To-Be-Fundy, you’re much more patient than I am. I only made it past the third unconsciously sexist remark. (And I’m not even talking about the self-denigrating “guy jokes.”)

      1. Oh, the “girlie job” comments. Yeah, he is horrible. I don’t think I made it past 50 minutes.

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