Reflections On The Pitfalls of Being Post-Fundamentalist

Tomorrow perhaps I’ll write some happy, silly thing — Lord knows there’s been a dearth of that kind of levity in my posts of late — but tonight as I sit staring at my computer screen I’m reminded of something that my father told his children repeatedly: “put your chair down on all four legs before you break it!” As I recall, we did go through an inordinate number of chairs.

There was, of course, another thing that he used to tell us which bears slightly more relevance to my thoughts tonight and that is this: “Sometimes your enemies will tell you the truth about yourself when nobody else will. It may be a distorted and exaggerated truth but it’s worth considering it nonetheless.” In light of that bit of fatherly wisdom, I sometimes stop and think about the things that fundamentalists say about me and about us. Are they even the tiniest bit true? Is there value and insight to be gained even from distorted and partial truths? Perhaps there is.

For if we have learned nothing else in fundamentalism this truth abides eternal: that we should always hate and fear the other with a deep and fervent passion. But what does it profit us if all we’ve learned to do by leaving the church of fundamentalism is to switch our name tags at the door and continue on as ever we were in that same path of despising the others who are not we? It was no simple command that Our Lord gave us when he told us to love our neighbor and He gave us no exclusion clause for people who will never love us back.

It falls then to us to make their words untrue. If they call us bitter let them find us always loving. If they call us liars let them find us honest to a fault. If they call us quick to wrath, may they be confused by our graciousness and perturbed by our serenity.

So let us each examine our own self. As it is written: “let the one who thinks that he is standing take heed lest he fall.” Perhaps we should put that chair down on all four legs after all.

137 thoughts on “Reflections On The Pitfalls of Being Post-Fundamentalist”

  1. Still working my way through the archives, but enough people have commented here I might as well throw in as well. I’m an agnostic who’s come out of a light-to-moderate strain of fundamentalism (homeschooled, but my parents are college professors, so they taught me what they knew well and had me tutored by people who covered the areas they didn’t know.) And while I occasionally get riled up by the meticulously documented instances of fundy nonsense you’ve got here, usually my result is a rueful grin of near-nostalgia. After all, the community I grew up was nowhere near as wacky as some of the stuff I see here, though I did know of people eerily reminiscent to the kinds of fundies described here. And for the most part, they were nice people in spite of their kookier quirks. And given that I indulged in my fair share of outlandish beliefs as well, I feel hard-pressed to look down on them for not being as dissatisfied with their community as I was.

    So I applaud your self-examination. I only worry that maybe you’re being too hard on yourself. You’ve documented some truly reprehensible human beings on here, people who manufacture and perpetuate ignorance on a horrific scale. These puppet-masters don’t deserve your kind consideration. Have pity on the good people who are wrapped around their little finger and suffer all the consequences therein. As for the ones who use the earnest beliefs of others to bolster their own egos, give ’em hell.

  2. Very good.

    SFL gave me the words and the concepts I needed to articulate what was wrong in my experiences with fundamentalism, especially Fundy U.

    Reading has also trained my critical eye, though. It’s WAY too easy for me to jump all over someone with fundy-lite beliefs or to take pride in the fact that I HAVE changed beliefs, regardless of what those beliefs are. So, this was an excellent reminder. 🙂

  3. I really like what you just posted. I really wish that more people would take the time to thoroughly examine themselves and really be honest with themselves. 💡

  4. This blog helped me over the most difficult part of my “de-fundizing.” I will always be grateful for it because I learned I was not alone, and that was when the healing began. I was heard in my anxiety and pain, and that continued the healing process.

    I won’t say the healing is complete, but I am able to function more days than not, and I can smile a greeting at people who are still in the church that I left. Mostly, I just feel compassion for them because they don’t know what they are doing.

    Now I come by only occasionally. It was when I realized that, that I knew the healing is progressing. Mostly I read because I got it all out of my system on SFL, and it’s safe for people to be around me. Most days.

    Thank you, Darrell. And thank you all of you who helped in the process. <3

  5. Being delivered from the errors of unscriptural fundamentalism and it’s excesses is a good thing. However, as one sage of old said “if you are not doing it better, then shut up”. Meaning, we can reject others excesses, wrong motivations, prejudices, etc. which is a sign of growth in our own spiritual Christian development, but we must not merely 🙂 reject what we don’t like without replacing it with something more Christ like. He, after all, is the One we must emulate. Just sayin’.

  6. Yep. Exactly. I linked to this article from SFL, which I haven’t visited in years for this reason. I think on the healing journey it takes a little while to realize that we’ve been indoctrinated to hate and it affects every aspect of our lives…that takes some “un-brainwashing” 😉 …. And truly processing spiritual abuse and releasing lies about God that we’ve been led to believe. It’s ultimately acting the exact opposite towards those that have abused and hurt us…releasing judgmentalism even towards them. Agreeing with God’s heart and not the kingdom of darkness which would want us to heap their own “confusion and every evil work” back on their heads. God have mercy on religious bullshit (from whichever side it’s coming from.).

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