Pining for the Leeks and Garlic


When talking about leaving fundamentalism there are two movies that people reference more than any others. One is The Village which I still have not watched since I’ve already had it spoiled for me by people eager to tell me that at the end of the movie you find that after discovering the half-buried Statue of Liberty, Luke’s father can see dead people. So rather than spoil it for you too, I’m going to talk about the other one.

The other movie is, of course, The Matrix. After spending years living in a computer simulated world, our hero awakens to find out that in the real world humanity is enslaved to machines. Then he learns kung fu and bullet dodging. There’s some other stuff that happens but those are the really important bits.

There is an incidental plot line in the movie, however, involving a relatively minor character who, although he has been awakened to reality, cannot stand the ugliness that he sees in the real world. Eventually, he betrays his comrades for the promise that the machines will put him back to sleep and he will be able to enjoy the fake world blissfully unaware that it’s all a sham.

In scene of his betrayal he sits at a table eating a steak and proclaims that “ignorance is bliss.” The movie paints him as weak and despicable but if I’m being honest, I have to say that I know how he feels. Sometimes I wish I could forget too. Even though I love my freedom and know the truth of the emotional and spiritual slavery that exist back where I used to live, there are sometimes when I wish I didn’t know.

Those moments of nostalgia and longing can hit you when you least expect it, even years after you depart from fundyland. I had lunch with an old friend this week, someone I had known from missions camp and hadn’t seen in a dozen years. She talked with my wife and I about raising kids and the various trials and blessings of the last decade. She and her husband are still fundamental Baptists although a decidedly saner strain than most. They’re in full time ministry now but she’s still gracious enough to be my friend even though I’m the SFL guy. We all talked smiled and invoked the half-forgotten names of people and places that I haven’t thought of since another lifetime. It was hard not to wish in some part of my soul that I could go back to those days again.

Back there I know the culture and the people. I know how to fake it with the best of them and be as publicly pious as anybody. I know how to read the Scriptures that affirm my superiority and ignore the ones that don’t. If I went back I could have friends again, and maybe two or one of them would actually be what they seem. I could have a church again, at least as long as I walked the line. Most of all I could have the certainty of knowing exactly where my place was in the world and the assurance that all was well as long as I did as I was told.

But I can’t do that. I can’t go back there again if I want to keep my soul. There’s no way to un-see or un-hear the things that I’ve shared here over the past years. I know the truth and no matter how much I pine for the leeks and garlic of Egypt that truth will force me to be free. But I’ll beg your pardon if for a moment I grieve for days gone by for friendships made and lost and death of the life that I once knew. I’ll ask for your understanding if I should shed a tear or two for distant dreams that life has killed.

But though I grieve I cannot ever go back. The steak is a lie.

135 thoughts on “Pining for the Leeks and Garlic”

  1. And if I were to be honest, I can identify just a little with this post only from so long ago it is only a memory of feeling this way at times in the past. I do, however, revisit my Fundy upbringing by slipping into judgmental legalism at the most inappropriate times. I don’t want to be *that* woman (who is always noticing the negative of things) but I sometimes feel like that part of it will never fully leave me. So I guess I brought some leeks and garlic along in my pockets when I left.

  2. This totally resonants with me. We just left our fundie lite church not a month ago. We fortunately left on good terms because of a temporary move that was perfect for breaking ties. We are going back to the area but planning on going to a different church. When ever I think about the return it scares me. It is all I have ever known. I am loving the freedom that we now have, but find myself longing for the familiarity. Then I remember the mental anguish that I would go through every Sunday, and that longing totally disappears.

    1. Same here…moving back after living in England for over 3 years. The old church isn’t crazy fundy, it’s GARBC which I guess is what is called fundy lite. Lots of people there are excited for us to come back and “take our place in service.” Good people, we love them. And the familiarity runs deep in me because I’ve been in this church, off and on, since I was in Bible college…in the 70s! I met my husband there about six years ago. He was a widower, we hit it off and were married just months before moving to England. He hasn’t quite shaken off the ties to the old place like I have. I know he wants to go back. Well, at least the sequestration may have delayed our return by causing him to rethink early retirement. He does have a job, and his superiors seem to want him to stick around. So, I think I’ve dodged this particular bullet for the time being.

  3. Oh, well put, Darrell! Now that I have scrambled to claim my “first”, I have gone back and chewed on your leeks and garlics and steak imagery. It has been 3 years now that we have been attending the base chapel here in the UK. I have expanded my evangelical palate and love the spices of true liberty in Christ! Thoughts of going back home to the old church leave me feeling like I’d be walking into the corner McDonald’s. Yeah, I can get fed. And it’s familiar. But I don’t think I can pretend that I’m happy with a Big Mac and fries when I can go down the street and enjoy a balanced meal from starters to dessert!

  4. Honestly, after 4-1/2 years, I’ve never missed it, and certainly wouldn’t want to go back and believe what I did. Or, at least SAY that I did.

    No, at this point I couldn’t go back even if I wanted to. And I don’t.

  5. Darrell, I completely understand. But I am still forced to eat the leeks and garlic, and believe me, they don’t taste that great. Blessings to you, my friend.

        1. No bashing of leeks, either! Leeks and potatoes make some of the best soup ever. 🙂

  6. The sense of order, feeling of community and commonality, the idea that we were right- that we ‘got it’, and every outreach/ministry/Christmas pageant was of great consequence…we knew the truth (even if it didn’t exactly set us free.) The simplicity of it all makes me sometimes envy and always feel sorry for those who are so sure and sincere- not the least bit disillusioned.
    Great post.

  7. After leaving the IFB and being disowned by my large family, (which I always hated having so many people around, because all the “fellowshipping” was just the buffer between ego fluffing and being alone with thoughts of doubt or reality) I have enjoyed my mostly solitary existence. Sure, I have a spouse and a couple of kids, but the pangs of longing and nostalgia get me too. But then I remember that as a kid, I HATED the weekend. Why? In America, the weekend is holy to children, at least it should be. It started out that Saturday night I would get bummed out because all of Sunday was taken from me against my will to wasted in church. Then my dad decided that I alone had to go bus calling with him on Saturday, so I lost that too.
    Now, the only thing I have hanging over my head on weekends is bagging the coupons for newspapers, and delivering the large Sunday editions. I am free, and thankful.

    1. Darrell raises some valid points, so don’t be so quick on the “mock” button. It sounds melodramatic and all that – unless you’ve witnessed and experienced it yourself. I, too, remember my days in Fundistan with some fondness and a sense of security. You knew that everyone else was wrong. You knew what you were supposed to do and believe. Meanwhile, you didn’t know that the married youth pastor was making moves on your teenaged sister. You didn’t know that the pastor was willing to cover up for the guy so as not to destroy the church. You didn’t know that a deacon’s wife was boffing a trustee. Eventually, you’d learn that some of your fellow “priesthood of the believer” contemporaries were more equal than others and could skate on offenses that would get others beaten down. And to think – my church wasn’t as hard-core fundy as others in town; still rotten to the core, though. Years (and several pastors) later, that church is still rotten.

  8. I wonder if part of the longing we feel is just that it was part of our childhood. In other words, we aren’t missing just IFB, but being a child or teenager. Before mortgages, taxes, children, etc.

    1. I think that might be part of it, especially if someone left fundyland right after college.

      I stayed in the IFB until just a couple years ago though, and mine was fundy-lite, nowhere near as abusive as I’ve heard others describe, and I do long for the sense of connection and family, not just at my own church but when we traveled and went to other churches. Now the evangelical churches we visit may or may not be friendly, but nobody welcomes you with the warmth of “Oh, you’re a BJU grad too?” or “You served with Pastor So and So!?!”

  9. There is nothing I miss from my old fundie life, even the few friends I had there. I view every moment I spend in fundieland as a waste of my time. Time I could better used to learn about art, literature and science.

  10. Darrell,
    I occasionally have the same feeling, especially now that I’m a parent and I desperately want to raise my kids in a clean, safe, wholesome…sterile enviroment.
    I think a big draw of Fundyland is to fathers. In my opinion, wrong as it may be, i believe it’s often tempting to “enroll” one’s family in Fundylife and tell everyone to just be good and listen to the MOG so that if kids ever stray we can tell God the excuse, “Well Lord, I did what Your MAN said would work so don’t blame me.”

    Was that too bare-boned of a confession? :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

      1. Completely agree about Tangled. Mother Gothel is Fundamentalism personified, in my opinion. She’s the creepiest Disney villain ever, because she’s so insidious.

        And yes, we sometimes long for Fundistan because it’s familiar. It’s home, in a sense, and while those of us who have left have found freedom, we have not all been so successful in finding a place of belonging.

        1. Great point! It’s easy to fight back against a wicked witch or a loomingly monstrous Ursula, but when evil is disguised as a caring, loving mother, how much more insidious!

      2. Gott in himmel, that movie gave me a sick feeling inside. Rapunzel’s emotional rollercoaster in the field outside the tower mirrored mine when I saw it. It was hard to watch. That was around the time when thinking about leaving left me, if it was a good day, completely overwhelmed, and if it was a bad day, fetal and hyperventilating in my bed.

  11. This resonates with me really hard. I actually came across this while reminiscing about times at BJU.

    You know the book “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse”? I own it. I’ve read part of it. I couldn’t finish it. It hurt too much.

    I didn’t grow up IFB. I grew up Plymouth Brethren. You know, WE were really the ones who were right. I mean, IFB tried their hardest, but it was still a MAN-CENTERED denomination. PB, we were all about Jesus and the Bible, not our pastor! Not rules! So I thought. For years. I mean, YEARS. Even after starting to leave fundamentalism, I clung really hard to my denomination, because I believed so sincerely that we. were. RIGHT. And we meant well, you know.

    But that book…that book shattered a lot of that thinking. And it hurt. It hurt really bad. And reading here, and being part of various FB groups, I realized that the same rhetoric that was at BJU, PCC, HAC, Crown, etc…it was the same thing I was taught, just slightly more extreme. It’s all fundamentalism. It’s all damaging. It’s all abuse, frankly. And it’s so hard to come to terms with that.

    Sometimes I still think, “Well, maybe I could go back. At least to my church camp. At least to visit. It wasn’t that bad.” But it was. It really was. I can’t unsee it. I can’t forget. And now that I’ve written that I’ve left the church (, I don’t want to go back. It’s there, in black and white, why I left. Those things haven’t changed. I didn’t even write a fraction of what hurt, of what drove me away – just a few generics. But it’s all still there. And while it’s still there, it’s not a safe place for me.

  12. The only thing I really miss are some of the people. There were people at my former church who watched me grow up, who were there when my children were born, who were there when my mother died, who were there for some of my life’s greatest joys and deepest sorrows. And then when I left, they disappeared.

    I tell myself it’s because they weren’t actually true friends at all, but I don’t believe that. I think they believe they love God more than they love me. And the loss of their love and kindness stings. More than a little bit. But such is life.

  13. There are times that I think back and ponder “it was not that bad, was it?” I remember my high school friends, the fun we had, what I thought was innocence, then the feelings of massive guilt the mog put on us. The unwritten rules, the works that had to be done and all the underhanded, hurtful things that were done and said. Those days were truly some dark times.

    Then, I consider what I have now. A great wife, a loving family that got through all that mess (more or less unscathed) and I could never, ever go back. Its like stepping onto an airplane after its cold and raining for 4-5 days and flying to a new location where the sun is out, its 22 degrees Celsius out (or 71.6 Fahrenheit for our US cousins) and there is a slight ocean breeze. All is well my friend, all is well…. 🙂

  14. “…there are sometimes when I wish I didn’t know.” Well said. I have hung on to the hope that things will get better, or that they can’t get worse, or whatever. The sting of reality hurts, but it is at he same time liberating. There are many delightful things about fundy churches. If you have a desire to revisit fundyland, do it. Be a “first time visitor” at a local IFB church. You may last through the service, but I’m almost sure you won’t want to return.

  15. Honestly, I don’t miss it. Not one bit. The friends that I had who were true friends, I still have. I used to miss the fellowship until I found a new church. To me, going back would be like watching a movie you’ve seen a million times. I relate to it, at one time I liked it, but now it just grates on my nerves.

  16. Oh, man, I know this feeling. I’ve been out of fundyland for decades now, but it was all I knew growing up and I feel like I’m still adjusting to the Real World. I’m pretty good at pretending, but I never completely fit in because I’m missing so many of the common cultural connections of my generation, and also because I was so isolated that I never learned how to make friends. There’s a thread over in the forums right now about “finding community” and the posters have had excellent suggestions, except I could never bring myself to try any of them because I’m so afraid of being “outed” once I get into a group.

    I don’t miss fundyism at all. I do miss the feeling of having a family (both literal and figurative–I have completely cut off contact with my family over largely religious reasons) and I know that if I stepped back into the IFB, I would have an instant sense of belonging and an instant group of friends. But I would have to play by their rules and toe the line and it would tear me apart. I would lose what meager sense of self I’ve cobbled together over the the years and become just another IFB clone.

    Wow, now I’m really depressed 🙁

    1. This is it exactly. I never bought into the rules and legalism of the IFB, even though I was practically born into it. But, and probably BECAUSE I was practically born into it, I miss the sense of community it brought me. We were so isolated from the rest of humanity that the people in our church were the closest thing to family we had in many ways. When we left, that was it. The loss still stings.

      I have in-laws who are dear to me and extended family who was never involved in the nonsense,but it doesn’t make up for the loss of the people who were there with me for so many, many years.

    2. Left It, there’s a lot of truth to that, and I’ve been thinking about the same things the last few weeks.

      I’m in my late 30s and engaged to a wonderful fiancee who lives two states away. I have one friend here close to my age that I hang out with once or twice a month; the rest of my friends are college-aged, because I work closely with them (and they scan me into the cafeteria for free, lol).

      I’m more than just in between churches — most Sundays, it puts me into a fetal position to think about going to one. Oddly, I’ve felt healed the most by the liturgy at the local Catholic church, the few times I’ve gone there.

      Because of circumstances I don’t want to go into here, when my fiancee and I are finally able to get married, she’s going to need friendships badly. She’ll be moving away from everything she’s known, and the way things are looking now, some friendships will probably die because of their legalism. And I have no community here. Nothing like I had at my IFB church. I’m not even sure who will do our wedding; my dad refused unless I went back to the IFB church.

      I’m starting to think that I should just say “screw it” when it comes to finding a decent church, and go to the one that’s closest, no matter what it is. That’s what Christians did for nearly two millennia. Try to make friends there, and be a stop on the Underground Railroad out of legalism to whomever I meet, because people wanting out are in every church.


    3. After reading some of the stories here, especially today, I’ve been thinking about why some people say, “Why can’t you get over it? Why can’t you move on?” Surely some of that is due to a refusal or inability to empathize, but I wonder if some of those folks may have only an adult understanding of how religious in-groups and cults function. If you join a cult or the IFB as an adult, you bring a lifetime of understanding of the world with you, sort of a gestalt if you will, and if/when you decide to leave the IFB, you may grieve for a while and feel out of place until you find your place again, but it’s doable. But for someone who grows up in the IFB and leaves only as an adult, we bring only our warped and narrow understanding of life with us, and it really is like culture shock to be faced with a world that has a completely different approach to everything from clothing to gender roles to interpersonal relationships. I cannot seem to completely assimilate, even after twenty years out of IFB, a (fairly) happy marriage, a secular college education, two fantastic kids, a successful career and almost five years of therapy altogether.

      I’m glad so many posters here have been able to leave the IFB and find happiness, or at least peace. But I wonder if they grew up in that environment? I would be really curious to know, and if so, what have they done to facilitate their entry into the world (that I have been so fantastically unsuccessful at doing)? I do wonder if growing up in a cult-like environment, particularly when it is abusive, shapes a child’s personality development in ways that are very difficult to transform and overcome as an adult.

      1. I think this is true. My parents were sort of first generation in the IFB, but my brother and I grew up in it, 13 years at the church school, then Christian college. My parents who didn’t grow up in and heard sermons as an adult had the wisdom to discern and simply reject what they didn’t agree with, or at least not fall into the same guilt traps. And I doubt they could have possibly known everything that we were told constantly as children and didn’t have the wisdom to “filter.”

        As we talk now and I reveal some of the struggles I had as a child, they wonder how I could have thought that or why did I live in such constant fear. And yes, it does take a while to change the patterns of thinking. Much of fundamentalism seemed to be a “point of decision” in which things would change after that point, whereas the more I grow and learn, the more process I see, not just the one time point.

      2. My wife and I grew up in it. I am glad that she grew up in it too. She “gets it”. I have tried to describe what it is like to people on the outside and they do not get it at all.
        On the outside I feel like an anthropologist sometimes observing a people group. I note their language, customs and manner of dress but I know I will never be a part of them.

        It makes it hard to make friends. At least for me it does. My entire world was made up of fundy friends and for the most part they abandoned me after I left the compound. It makes me deeply suspicious of anyone who wants to be my friend now.

  17. I think too if what you’ve moved on to is better in every way, of course you’re not going to long for the past. If you’re in the Promised Land, you’re not going to long for Egypt. But while you’re wandering in the wilderness, Egypt can start looking pretty good.

    For some of us, leaving the IFB has brought us inner peace and freedom but outwardly we’ve experienced tremendous loss that has not yet been mitigated. When you’re struggling without the friends or the finances you once had, looking back is more of a temptation.

    1. Yes, thank you, PW. That’s exactly what I feel–like I’m lost and wandering around, unable to find a place for myself in the Promised Land but unwilling to return to slavery in Egypt.

  18. Thanks so much for posting this. I feel the same way sometimes, especially when I visit home. It is not like those people are all not part of my life anymore. I still am around many of them and my family when I go home. But it is hard having that distance from people I still care about.
    And the future doesn’t seem as solid and certain now that I am away. Going back does seem like a good idea sometimes.
    However, I know I couldn’t stand myself if I did go back to before. And it feels like there are not many people around me that understand this at all. So I am glad you write these.

  19. There are a couple of funny things about that scene with Joe Pantoliano, the guy who wants to go back into the Matrix and not remember… first, he says, “I wanna be someone important, like an actor,” which… he is in real life. Not all actors are important and he had struggled his whole life for good roles, so that was sort of intended as ironic.

    The other thing, during this same period of time, Joe Pantoliano played Ralphie on the Sopranos (and got an Emmy after he was wacked on the show and cut into pieces–consolation prize!) and there is this scene in the Sopranos where Tony Soprano’s kids come back from the theater and Ralphie asks what movie they saw, and they say “The Matrix”… Ralphie answers, “Yeah? Haven’t seen it.”

    I love stuff like that. 😎

  20. I miss the black-and-white aspect of right and wrong. The countless times I heard, “Don’t ask what is wrong with it, ask what is right with it.” I still think that is valid, but since leaving the Fundy movement, I have not heard that phrase once.

    As a Youth Pastor, I miss the respect that ministers received. I know many of you have probably had terrible pastors and there are some terrible pastors out there, but mine were great. I still talk to my 1st youth pastor and get advice from him.
    I was booted out of the Fundamentalist movement for being Calvinist and using modern translations. . .and not being a Landmarkist. . .and not being a dispinsationalist. . .and dating a girl with tattoos. . .and not going to Fundy U. . .and other things that I could defend my position on better than they could. Hahaha! I will never go back, but I do miss those 2 things.

    1. Greg, I didn’t have a terrible pastor, either. He made some serious mistakes over time, but I firmly believe that my pastor was (and is) a very good man.

  21. My experience with leaving Fundystan was more like Braveheart. Edward Longshanks is the spitting image of my old fundy Mog. The scene with William Wallace near the end is very much what leaving our church was like.

  22. Great analogy, Darrell. I have often thought of my time in Fundyland the same way. I have also come to think that there may be some Stockholm Syndrome at work there as well. Even though I knew that the teachings in my IFB church & school were wrong in so many ways, I often felt empathy towards them. It took me a long time to fully purge that feeling and realize that anyone who was guilty of subverting Biblical truths to bring people under subjection was not worth caring about.

    1. I was going to mention Stockholm Syndrome. Thanks for bringing it up!

      I cannot relate to any of the specifics in this thread. I loved my Catholic childhood (except for the Mean Nuns), and I am happy as a clam at my current parish.

      However, I can relate to the Stockholm Syndrome stuff, via my workplace experiences.

      For the past 13-plus years, I have reported directly to a micro-managing control freak, a rigid, inflexible martinet, who has done her best on a daily basis to crush my spirit, beat me down, keep me in my “place,” and micro-manage me into a state of constant stress. It is triggering even to write about this — it makes me hyperventilate!

      Recently I was switched to another assignment with a different boss. The new boss is laid-back and FLEXIBLE. (Must be all that yoga she does, LOL.) I cannot believe how relaxed meetings are now, how much less stressful. It is like night and day. Yet at first I balked at the new assignment. I didn’t want to switch. What was I thinking? (To be fair to myself, I loved my old assignment, felt that I had a personal stake in it, and didn’t want to leave it. It was the work, not the boss, that gripped me.) Nonetheless, when I look back now, I cannot believe I had the slightest hesitation in switching.

      My colleagues tell me it’s Stockholm Syndrome. I think they’re right.

      (I also have a TON of guilt about my feelings toward my former boss. I know she is not a bad person. Control freaks cannot help themselves. But that doesn’t make the effect they have on their subordinates any less horrible. She doesn’t do it on purpose, but she makes her people’s lives miserable. I can forgive her and love her, but I’d rather not report to her!)

  23. How much nostalgia we have is certainly influenced by …

    1. How abusive our IFB church/family was – those who experienced less will have fonder memories

    2. How fulfilling our present lives are – those who have replaced lost relationships with new friendships will probably experience less grief than those of us still feeling like Marius singing about “empty chairs at empty tables.”

    3. How far we left fundamentalism – for those who’ve abandoned Christianity altogether or who now embrace a much more liberal or progressive view, they may see IFB beliefs as utterly repugnant. But for those of us who are conservative evangelical, we see how many areas in which we agree with fundamentalists, and we grieve that they refuse to fellowship with us although we share their belief in Christ as divine, virgin-born, physically resurrected Savior of the world. To be so close yet so far is sad. They see us sometimes as little different from atheists; the inaccuracy and unfairness can be very frustrating. If they were truly “fundamentalists” (as in caring for the fundamentals of the faith), why could they not be in unity with us over those things instead of holding our worship style or clothing choices against us?

    1. Yep.
      We stay in our church, because of the benefits of the community. And our sincere desire to know God.
      But the stomach churning moments are increasing. How long can we sit through it, service after service?
      Are the lies becoming more pronounced, more defensive? Or are we only noticing them because our eyes are open?
      I don’t know. But I am anxious to get through this phase and on to the next – and will always have some fond memories, even if they are tinged with so much guilt and burden.

      1. We stayed in our church for about 2 years too long before we left. We knew we needed to leave, but were waiting for the right time. The longer we stayed the more miserable I was. Every Sunday after church I felt like I had been put through a wringer. The emotional stress of listening to preaching that was so shallow and so legalistic it was brutal. I would spend days pondering the message and realizing that it did not line up with Scripture. What kept us there was that my family is there, and the true love that the people showed was amazing. The preaching was suffocating.
        Now that we are free from that and attending a church that has a pastor who practices careful exposition of Scripture I feel like I am finally able to finally heal.
        Don’t put yourself through the torture!

    2. YES! “If they were truly fundamentalists” exactly! It’s a matter of record that adherents in the beginning of the movement were wonderfully diverse; it can’t be called a Baptist, Presbyterian or Methodist initiative. Much like the Reformation, disparate God-followers recognized a common theme of heterodoxy and abuse that demanded a response from true believers. Their unity was found in their reclamation of orthodoxy, not identically extreme “standards” of dress and music.

      The Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy was Belief vs Unbelief. That fight has largely been decided. Who can’t see the line between conservative evangelical and mainline liberal? That horse died a long time ago, and nobody’s even kicking it anymore.

      I was thinking just yesterday that refugees from Fundystan are the True Fundamentalists. We insist on the unifying orthodoxy of the Fundamentals (sola Fundamentalae?) over the heterodoxy of separation from the true Body over extra-biblical “standards” upheld by the nekkid emperor of proof-texting eisegesis and his sheeple/lemming followers. IFB -> IBF = It’s Bastard Fundamentalism. Much as Protestantism was hijacked by the liberals, True Fundamentalism has been hijacked by the Revived Order of the Pharisees with more than just a tinge of Gnosticism mixed in.

      What hurts is knowing that so many of the nekkid emperors truly mean well; I wonder if it’s possible/how to smack them hard enough with a Nathan-like “Thou art the man” that penetrates the defensive shield/veil enough to make them think. If only it were as simple as a red pill.

      Two weeks ago our fundy-lite (GARBC) church rescinded their 18yr position of being our sending church. Years on the mission field have revealed that our best partners are true non-fundy believers of other denominations just as desperate as we are (perhaps more) to get the light of the Gospel to unreached people groups. We have the identical goal with the identical message true to the Fundamentals, yet apparently “possible confusion” over secondary (or tertiary, but who’s counting?) doctrines should be cause for dividing our efforts and perpetuating the message that the hand must have no fellowship with the eye or foot. We also lost our Greenville, SC FundyU supporting church last week due to the same issue.

      In truth it’s a relief to finally be out from under having to be super careful we don’t write anything fundy-offensive in our update letters. It’s a relief and a peace having God superintend a move we wanted for years but didn’t want to make ahead of His timing (or lose support). What hurts is having parents/in-laws and dear friends in both churches some of whom will understand and others who will assume we have “gone Neo-evangelical 😯 .” (Neo-E being of course the very definition of eeeeeevil.)

  24. Honestly, when I do pine for my old IFB life, it’s because I feel I was much better at it than I am at my new one. I know how to be a model fundy, but living in freedom an grace is scarier because I don’t know all the right answers.

    1. Yes! Once I had more of a sense of confidence that I was right and holy and superior (though even that was often just a mask and not reality). Now I am humble and life with its many gray areas seems more challenging. But when I am weak, I am strong, and God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

  25. This post hits the nail on the head, as usual. What I really miss so often is the culture of the IFB. I miss knowing all the inside jokes, knowing everybody’s basic history, knowing the songs. I miss the food and the fellowship and knowing what the rules are. It really stings sometimes, knowing that I don’t have enough cultural reference points to make it in the secular world, and I don’t have enough non-fundy Christian reference points to make it in a more liberal church. At the same time, I know too much to be able to ever be comfortable enough going back.
    In a lot of ways, trying to navigate outside the full blown IFB (my school is fundy but leans toward the Pentacostal side) reminds me of the immigrant experience – just because I can generally make out what is going on does not imply that I have a deep understanding or that I feel like I belong.
    Thanks for this post. I needed to be reminded that I’m not the only one who misses the leeks and garlic, even when steak is sitting in front of her.

    1. fHACg,
      You’ve mentioned in the past that you teach at a school in Korea…doing something similar was the last step out of fundystan for my wife and I. We worked in SE Asia for 5 years – an experience that allowed us to blow the cracks we had seen in the IFB world wide open. I don’t know how long you’ve been there, but give it some time.

      I think the fact that we were in an area where there were no IFB missionaries (because church planting wasn’t allowed) helped immensely – an advantage I’m not sure you have as much in Korea. 😐

  26. As a BJU grad, the last 2 paragraphs resonated with me. I have found that besides myself, my training at bju has been the biggest hinderance to my pastoral ministry. I hesitate to tell people where I went to school. I now have the privilege of pastoring a group of people, who by in large, have had not connection or experience with IFBism. What a joy to be part of a church family who doesn’t care or even notice what the Pastor wears to church, or what version is being used, or what denomination the guest speaker is from, and where more than a handful of times, I have heard people express their opinion that everyone in the church should be allowed to worship with the music that they enjoy. Monday-Saturday is just as important to these people. I cannot go back. I will not go back. I have lost friends. I have strained family relationships. But I will not deny Christ, by denying the freedom that is found in the gracious Christ.

  27. I know exactly what you mean, and reading this today felt like you had a window into my heart last weekend. I don’t miss Fundy Land for the most part. Towards the end it literally made me sick just thinking about going to church, and it was completely necessary to medicate up with ulcer meds to be able to walk into church. Who can miss that?
    Who could possibly miss bondage? Knowing and experiencing the freedom of true Grace is amazing. It is what I wish for all my former Fundy friends.

    However, that being said, when we were in Fundy land we had a network. For 10 years we had friends that we spent Sunday School, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Tuesday night ladies meeting, Wednesday night prayer service, Friday night youth activities, and Saturday night young couples night out together. As crazy as that is (being busy for “God”) you end up having deep connections with people. You know their ups and downs. We were in a not-so-fundy church until a new pastor came, so we actually had a lot of fun and great memories over the years.
    Fast forward through statutory rape by one of the youth leaders, children’s ministry workings wife swapping ending in one getting pregnant with the other husband’s baby, and a horribly divided congregation that once again treated the victim as one that should repent of his sin, and a new pastor and things became miserable. Add in the certain people/families that could do no wrong and the people/families that could do no right and it was really miserable. Eventually we were literally kicked out of the church and a bunch of lies were told about us, and not even because of a “sin” but because we were not submissive enough to authority (an accusation also based on lies). However, the wife swapping couple (the married couples ended up staying together and raising the baby as their own) are still in a position of leadership and ministry there.

    Even 2 years later I still shake my head and cannot quite grasp that!

    So here we are 2 years later. All of our “friends” are gone. All of our efforts to build a network or have someone to call in case of emergency have been pointless. When I had to go to the emergency room on Christmas eve, we had to take our child with us because there was no one. My parents drove from 2 hours away to come pick him up, even though we drove past the home of several “brothers and sisters in Christ” on the way to the hospital. Although we have been attending a different, grace-based church for 2 years, it is still not the same. After 2 years we still had no one to visit with at “pot-luck” on Sunday. When I needed a babysitter over the weekend I ended up making about 25 calls before I found someone (a stranger recommended by someone else) to even babysit. That was never the case before. There is a certain “draw” to going back that a person cannot understand unless you have been there.

    1. It definitely sounds like you need to find a church full of people who will love you. If you’ve been someplace for over two years and have no one to call in case of emergency…keep looking!

  28. I remember this feeling. There is something to be said about going to church and seeing familiar faces. There is something to be said about the routine and knowing that there is a certain order to the world after all.

    The thing is as you all move into your new lives and make new friends those feelings will eventually fade. Hold on.

    1. I did catch the Portal Reference. I have a song for you, the IFB wrote it in honor of those who have left.

      This was a triumph.
      I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.
      It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.
      IFB Churches
      We do what we must
      because we can.
      For the good of all of us.
      Except the ones who are dead.
      But there’s no sense crying over every mistake.
      You just keep on trying till you run out of cake.
      And the Offering gets done.
      And you make a sweet ton.
      For the people who are still alive.
      I’m not even angry.
      I’m being so sincere right now.
      Even though you broke my heart.
      And killed me.
      And tore me to pieces.
      And threw every piece into a fire.
      As they burned it hurt because I was so happy for you!
      Now these points of data make a beautiful line.
      And we’re out of beta.
      We’re releasing on time.
      So I’m GLaD. I got burned.
      Think of all the things we learned
      for the people who are still alive.
      Go ahead and leave me.
      I think I prefer to stay inside.
      Maybe you’ll find someone else to help you.
      Maybe the Catholics
      Anyway, this cake is great.
      It’s so delicious and moist.
      Look at me still talking
      when there’s Worship to do.
      When I look out there, it makes me GLaD I’m not you.
      I’ve programs to run.
      And manipulation to be done.
      On the people who are still alive.
      And believe me I am still alive.
      I’m doing Worship and I’m still alive.
      I feel FANTASTIC and I’m still alive.
      While you’re dying I’ll be still alive.
      And when you’re dead I will be still alive.
      STILL ALIVE (x2)

    2. I also found the cross-referencing of The Matrix, Portal, and Numbers cool. It’s possible that there’s a deeper message here – we are all slaves to self-deception. Darrell, well said.

  29. Darrell,
    Me too. In fact I recently wrote a mini series on my blog about the things I COULD look back on with fondness and even duplicate…with modification of course…in any future ministry. I live in Nashville now and have for 15 years. Every church here is a mega church. Nobody knows anyone else nor do they care to. My old Fundy church was really like a family. We had our weird uncles but we also had our gregarious brothers. Those folks taught me much about personal piety, loving prayers, a desire to share the gospel (in a sane fashion) and zeal for the Church as a body.
    I spent a lot of years in bitterness…some more in indifference..and finally I have matured to the point where I can extract the good and apply it to my life now. The rest gets poured down the drain with the Kool-Ade. Your emotions and fondness aren’t a sign of weakness or slipping back into the grip of the insanity. It simply means you have advanced quite far enough to be able to honestly assess the good and bad, recall the good with fondness, and be thankful that your maturity prevents you from going back. I went through that in my divorce. I loved my wife implicitly and it broke my heart when she left. At first I grieved her, then I grieved just being married, now I only grieve the family moments my daughter has been denied. I can talk to my ex without crying or screaming. That’s maturity. Sometimes it twinges a bit but it remains in it’s proper place.
    Carry on sir…

  30. Uh oh. Tears. I think the Matrix is poignant in that when Neo’s eyes are opened, the real world isn’t like the land of Oz, it kinda sucks. They are lonely, vulnerable and seemingly bored. It’s not until you see “Zion” where the people are born and live free that you see how happy they are.

    As much as I’ve struggled (years of therapy), as much as I’ve lost (everything) I could never follow the hollow lie of the Pied Piper again. I want my child to be born free of all of that!

  31. This makes me so sad. Brother, why do you continue to grieve the Holy Spirit by not listening to His voice when he calls you back into the loving arms of his fold? I’ll pray that you will not continue to dwell in the world like Lot did but will turn back before you lose everything.

  32. My heart breaks for those who have left and are now all alone. We left 10 years ago and are now part of the the “Rock and Roll” church. Though our transition we have kept all of my family relationships and every friend that I would have wanted to keep. My parents who still are ministering in IFB churches around the country love us and love what they are seeing happen at our church. Though they wouldn’t enjoy the music they love the stories of life change. I feel truly blessed.

    1. Now that’s what I see as true Christian liberty, having separate personal preferences but being able to rejoice that Christ is being preached even if it’s in a different way than they are doing.

      1. It is interesting I didn’t feel the rejection many have faced but then again though I was in IFB world it was never one of the Man-worshiping MOG centric type of churches. Back in the 70’s and 80’s we brushed against that world but fortunately missed the whole KJV-only and other parts of Fundy Crazy world.

  33. If you could “forget”, unspill the milk, double-lock pandora’s box…and more, really want to…

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

    In the movie, two people repeatedly meet, fall in love, and break up, because it’s simply not meant to be. Or it’s meant to always be, in a cycle. In between break-ups and meeting, they are medically treated to “forget”.

    And because they forget why they can’t live with each other, they constantly rediscover why they can so easily fall in love with each other, each time as if it’s a new person.

    Imagine, discovering the structure and doctrinal confidence of Fundamentalism, as if for the first time. Falling in love with the community. The pastor’s sermons and fiery rhetoric scratching you where you itch badly. And discovering it new, where it seems fresh and comfortable.

    1. You’d be doomed, because erasing a memory doesn’t change who you are, a thinking and rational person. And your doom would be coming to the same complaints, the same frustration, the same eventual loathing, and the same need to forget.

  34. Another great movie that resonates with my fundy upbringing is actually Disney’s Tangled. Seriously, pay attention to how passive aggressive Repunzel’s “Mother” is. The best scene is when Repunzel actually leaves her castle, sings a song, and then beats herself up over actually leaving….I was able to relate so well because that’s how I felt when I was debating on leaving the craziness. Who else has watched this and thought the same thing? ❓ 😐

    1. Waaaah, I haven’t seen Tangled yet. And I’m a major Disney / Pixar fan. Will have to order it pronto.

      I am VERY familiar with the subtle, insidious manipulation you describe, however. Have you ever heard the term “nice-nasty”? Self-doubting people (like moi) are really vulnerable to “nice-nasty” manipulation. Oh the stories I could tell!

  35. Why are you looking to Hollywood for direction? Do their actors ever stay married more than a year? It is a city full of sodomites and drug users. Their wisdom is the wisdom that is from below and is devilish. You should not be comparing your life to movies, but to the Bible.

    1. Well, one time my hair got tangled in a tree limb, but my daddy isn’t a king and no one stabbed me. And I wasn’t on a mule. On second thought, never mind.

    2. So does this mean that if a woman is raped, she should be ground into hamburger meat, and her husband should send chunks of her all over town?

      All righty then.

  36. @Doulos,

    I don’t think Mr. Dow was saying that we all go to Hollywood for direction in our lives. But it is naive to think that the Bible needs to be the only inspiration and measuring stick for life reflection. There are inspiring people, art, literature, and yes, even movies that provide help, comfort, and direction for all.

  37. here’s a q for ya. Exists: a couple in which one spouse lives happily under the influence of the blue-pill (the matrix one, ahem), judging / condemning / discerning all things to everyones exhaustion; the other spouse recognizes the superiority of a living a life in Christ. Any recommendations to the “awakened” spouse? (“Wait on the Lord.” …I know, I know…the waiting thing gets to be a stale answer after 20 years. maybe i’m unrealistically impatient, here.)

    1. If the spouse who has strayed from the faith once delivered to the saints is the wife, then the husband needs to exercise some Biblical leadership and bring her back into the fold because he is responsible to shepherd her heart and watch for her soul. He will give an answer for her spiritual condition.

      If the backslidden spouse is the husband, then the wife needs to always remember him in special prayer and be extra nice and obedient because it may be the he wil be saved by the testimony of his wife.

      1. Way to flex your head-of-the-home muscle Poe. That’s right you men of Gawd! You better whip that dis-obedient wife into shape and drag her back into that insane world of man-made rules and forgotten true Christ-like behavior. You are responsible for her soul remember? God gave YOU her free will.

        so. sad.

        1. well, the husband is the “awakened” one, the wife is still drinkin’ the kool-aid. As you can imagine, it puts no small amount of stress in the home. for the wife, submission is out of the question, since the husband is leading the family down the path to corruption (read-not following the rules). That “head of the household” stuff is great for enforcing obedience, but lousy when it comes to demonstrating the superiority of a life in Christ.

        2. I thank God so often that I married AFTER I got my head on straight. Otherwise, I’d be like so many of my friends 10 babies later in a law-driven marriage. Forbidden(or too broke)to get an education, trapped and broken with no way out without hurting my kids and starting over in a very uphill battle.

      2. @Doulos, Keep it up and you’ll go from Poe, to Troll! As your moniker implies, you’re a slave to something. Is it Christ, or is it Fundystan?

        1. @the_thinker….Sometimes the cross that Jesus calls us to carry is found in our own homes, and marriages. We will be persecuted for His Name Sake from our own spouses, at times.

          If you have Christ as your ‘all in all’, then His love for you, in you, and through you will demonstrate the superiority of a life in Christ to your spouse. His being more to you than life itself, will keep your spouse from stealing your joy, and will keep you focused, comforted, and at peace as you strive to live as a biblical husband. “But the greatest of these is Love” (ICor.13:13) As Jesus was denied, rejected, dispised while living out the Gospel(For the Gospel is much more than salvation from hell, it contains all we need “for life and godliness” II Peter1:3) you can love and live knowing He also suffered by the hands of those closest to Him.

          I’m not preaching to, or at you. This comes from years of experience in an unbalanced spiritual marriage. But, hang-in there by faith, prayer, and trusting that this is working good in you, and trusting God for the cross He wants you to carry for His Glory. God’s Power and Blessings to you.

    2. First let me say that my heart breaks for you. Here are my suggestions: get a copy of Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians, you can get a free copy in Kindle format and it will help you understand what it is you are dealing with. Remind her as often as necessary that Christ’s death covers her sins completely and there is nothing she can do to make God love her more. When she’s ready watch Rod Rosenbladt’s The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church with her. You can find it for free on Vimeo or purchase a copy through New Reformation Press. I’m praying for you and I hope this helps.

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