Tag Archives: family


In fundamentalism, ministry is a family business. The preacher’s wife plays the piano. The preacher’s younger son leads the singing while the elder runs the youth group. The preacher’s daughter manages the nursery. Each one ensures that the leader has a tight leash on every department in the organization.

Some day when dad is finally called home to his reward, one of the sons will pick up where he left off, often regaling the congregation with tales of “what dad once said.” An aspiring preacher boy will be lucky enough to marry this great man’s daughter and leverage that name recognition into his own ministerial conquests. (The other son will get gender realignment surgery and start a band in Hoboken, NJ — but we’ll never hear about him).

A good name may be more desirable than great riches but in fundamentalism it’s unlikely you’ll have one without the other. As for the rest of you rabble, if you’re not blessed enough to have such a pedigree, good luck keeping up with the Joneses.

Awkward Visits With Non-Fundy Family

Nothing can chill the blood in the veins of an ex-fundamentalist than the words “Hey, honey, your fundy relations are coming for dinner.”

The time spent with your fundamentalist relatives can be the some of the most painfully awkward hours of your life. The steps to the intricate dance of fundy social interaction are complex and fraught with peril. For example, whatever you do don’t mention dancing.

Hiding your ESV and books by Dan Brown are only the start. There’s also the way you’re dressed, where and what you eat, how long you should pray beforehand, and above all else, the topics of conversation.

That last item is by far the most dangerous one, for the fundy ear is tuned to pick up the slightest hint of liberalism and compromise. The simplest conversation can turn into a minefield of condemnation.

You: “So we were at the store last night…”

Fundy Relation:  “Last night was Sunday. Weren’t you in church?”

As quick as that a perfectly pleasant conversation can turn into an inquisition that will leave you screaming for the gentle mercies of the torture chamber. Tread lightly.

Among the topics to avoid are: books, movies, music, theology, work, family, friends, politics, current events, television, theater, or the internet. Even talking about childhood memories will only serve to highlight how far you’ve backslidden in the meantime.  In short, if you value your sanity, you’re pretty much stuck with the weather and four hours of making indeterminate noises of affirmation as you hear tales from the heart of fundyland.

Screw your courage to the sticking place and prepare to chit-chat pleasantly for all you’re worth.  Just remember, no matter how awkward it may be you can rejoice in the fact that when your relations leave they’re not taking you with them back to fundyland.