Tag Archives: memories

Things Remembered

They say that our sense of smell is most closely connected to our memory and I’m inclined to believe it when I find myself transported on the wings of some transient olfactory flight of fancy and I remember…

Hairspray, cold cereal, and the sweet disinfectant of thrift store suit jackets: getting ready for church before the sun comes up.

Ancient carpet, Pledge furniture, ink and paper of worn hymnal pages, and just a hit of the sour scent of guilt: any one of the church buildings from which I’ve come and long since gone.

Sawdust, pine boards, and summer evening sweat: the “Tabernacle” where camp meetings where held in in a wooded lot when I was a child.

The chemical tang of Elmer’s glue, laminated cardboard of stories and songs, and Kool-Aid served without irony: VBS.

The smell of weariness and expectation, the “foreign” and “exotic” smell of salsa in a casserole in the fellowship hall, the dust and oil of much-handled artifacts from the display tables: missions conference.

What of fundamentalism does your nose recall?

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.

Telling Tales Of The Glory Days

I recently found a Facebook group dedicated to people sharing tales of their memories and exploits at my Fundy U. After spending a few hours reading of hands held, kisses stolen, and beer hidden (yes, hours. people love to tell their stories) I came to the conclusion that apparently my Fundy U is Sodom and Gomorrah in khaki pants. Who knew?

Now far be it from me to stop anybody from reminiscing over their youthful shenanigans. I broke my share of rules along the way and have fun laughing with my friends about it now. But the reason I’m laughing is mostly aimed at how ridiculous the environment was that made me care about doing those things at all. And more to the point, I think that if a decade later you’re still trying to establish your cred as a Fundy U Rebel then you’re missing the big picture: you’re still living with the rules firmly lodged inside your head.

At some point we all realize that people outside of these kinds of institutions don’t care how much you got away with. It mostly just looks silly that you were having to “get away with it” in the first place.


Lame. Lamer than lame.

Another fact of which I was mostly unaware (you hear rumors about a lot of things) is that there was also a thriving gay community at my Fundy U who evidently bedded 9/10 (give or take a decimal point) of the male population. I’m actually little offended at learning that. What am I, chopped liver? Four years and nobody ever made a pass at me. Harrumph.

But of all the things that I’ve taken away from the train wreck that is the public and full disclosure of every last sin and transgression, there is none great than the realization that if even 10% of of the tales being told are based in reality then why exactly was I being harassed for having a few CD’s that “didn’t pass” ?

“Excuse me, Mr. Floorleader, there’s a Roman orgy two floors up. Why don’t you go deal with that and leave me alone. Thanks.”

There is one other possible motivation for posting these sorts of true confessions and that is to show the fundy U administration and deans exactly how much they didn’t manage to stop. But in order to get a thrill from that, you have to still be emotionally invested in caring about what the administration and the deans are thinking. And really, who’s got that kind of time?

Personally, I’m at a point that if my Fundy U toppled into the much-farther-away-than-advertised ocean tomorrow I would pretty much greet it with a grunt of surprise and an inquiry into what was for lunch. That part of my life has been over for almost a decade. And perversely, complete disregard is the sweetest revenge of all — for fundamentalism can stand anything but being made irrelevant.

So by all means. Post your memories, I’ll post mine and we’ll all get a chuckle. But if anyone thinks that their brags of fundyland wine, women, and song are impressive in general then they need to get a little perspective. The most outrageous and perverse Fundy U student…is still a student at Fundy U.

Rules on the Remembrances Of Things Past

And when it shall come to pass that thou and thy kindred and thy manservants and maidservants (or “church staff” as they are now called) shall think upon the good old days that thou shalt in no wise remember the bad things that have happened and remember only the good. For in the day that thou shalt call to mind any scandal or heresy or really funny blooper committed by a fundamentalist then shalt it be known that thou art bitter and “stuck living in the past.” And they shall shake their heads at thee and their tsking sounds of displeasure shall be loud in thine ears.

But if thou shalt recall only those things that are good, and funny, and that one time when we had a great time at that youth outing playing Chubby Bunny then shalt it be said that thou art right and just and a real good sport. And nobody shall in any case accuse thee of being a rabid sycophant who is obsessed with days gone by nor shall they tell that thou needest to just move on with thy life and probably go soulwinning more or something. For to remember only the good is the best choice of all.

And if thy church or thy college or thy family or thy fundy friends hath lied to thee or stolen from thee or done thee grievous injury then what is the big deal? Shalt thou dwell upon it for all time? Are not there lost people who need rescuing from the very fires of hell this moment? Nay, if thou value thy fundy cred and thy very soul thou shalt join the happy few who have decided that bad things never actually happened and that the good times were extra especially amazing.

So shalt thou rewrite the past and move on with thy life and thy manservants and thy maidservants and their children’s children shall rise up and call thee blessed (if a bit clueless).

Independent Baptist Book of Everlasting Rules and Requirements, p 97