Waking up from fundamentalism

05 Sep

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The following blogger enters the confessional and shares a sad list of insensitive and abusive interactions she had with those around her while still a fundamentalist.  While it’s not about women’s ordination, it’s about what happens when individuals take Biblical texts literally and impose the consequences on others. While having the best of intentions, fundamentalists are out of touch with their impact on others. It all seems rather too close to the rigid adherence of LCA social conservatives.

Wordgazer’s Words: My Wish-I-Hadn’ts.

I have, over the course of years that I’ve been a Christian, changed the way I think about a large number of things.  Some of the beliefs I used to hold caused me to treat people (or even myself) in ways that I’m sure now were not what Jesus wanted.  Though I’m sure I have His grace and forgiveness for these things, that doesn’t change the harm I now believe I did.  So here are some of my regrets.  Some of them, as I look back, make me laugh or shake my head; others make me very sad.  If anyone who reads this was affected by any of these things, I hope you already know how truly sorry I am.

So here, in no particular order, are my Wish-I-Hadn’ts:

I wish I hadn’t kept bothering my Catholic co-worker with invitations to my church’s events, even though she had told me she had her own faith.  I thought I was trying to get her away from a false religion.  She thought I was just plain annoying.

I wish I hadn’t had my pastor preach a how-to-get-saved sermon at my wedding, to the captive audience of relatives and friends who had only come to see me get married.

Read many more.

The post, “Don’t talk about it”, tells some of her story of living in Maranatha Campus Ministries, an authoritarian Christian community.

Are you a recovering fundamentalist, or perhaps you have a story of being mistreated by fundamentalists or fundamentalism?


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9 responses to “Waking up from fundamentalism

  1. krwordgazer

    September 7, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Thank you for linking to my blog and these two posts! As I read your other posts on the LCA’s top-down silencing of voices supporting women’s ordination, I can’t help but see parallels between that and some of Maranatha’s practices. Authoritarianism is authoritarianism, wherever it is found– even in established denominations.

    • Katie and Martin

      September 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      Thank you, Kristin for your honesty in sharing something of your journey. Authoritarians in the church discourage debate and questioning, but present their view as somehow reflecting the hidden, singular view of God. In so doing, they are claiming personal revelation and personal authority over others – a dangerous position, often defining sects and murderous regimes throughout the world, such as,
      * Maranatha Campus Ministries,
      * the loveless Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod,
      * the Jim Jones and The People’s Temple mass suicide and murders in Guyana,
      * the nation wide Nazi regime described by Goebbels as “authoritarian democracy”,
      * the resilient authoritarian regime in Syria of Hafez and Bashar Al-Asad,
      * Pol Pot’s Kampuchea

      They all supress(ed) dissent and are unable to accept and grow from criticism or divergent thinking.

      • Wally

        September 10, 2012 at 1:10 am

        I can’t believe I am reading such comments – they are bazaar! Certainly nowhere near the truth!
        “Discourage debate” – wrong!
        “reflecting hidden, singular view of God” – wrong!
        “claiming personal revelation and personal authority over others” – wrong, insulting and evil!
        You need to stop this scaremongering tactic based on imagination. It simply does your cause endless damage.

        • Katie and Martin

          September 10, 2012 at 3:30 am

          Wally, lets look at how Pr Semmler operates:

          * Letters to the editor of The Lutheran on women’s ordination banned,
          * Time to Soar conference barred from lodging an advertisement in The Lutheran
          * Pr Semmler writes to national congregations distancing the LCA from the Time to Soar conference (so much for open conversation and debate)
          * General Convention debate on women’s ordination only allowed to reference Scripture, barring reference to contemporary revelation on justice, equal opportunity, other Lutheran churches that ordain women … Such a debate is weighted towards the conservatives, and maintaining the status quo.
          * manipulation of the debate, sidelining CTICR, which twice concluded that there are no Scriptural impediments to women’s ordination. (He is currently sidelining CSBQ as well – assigns them tasks and then ignores their deliberations.)

          Wally, for Pr Semmler to maintain this approach clearly suggests that he believes that the membership of the LCA
          * are not competent to take part in (or should not take part in) an open conversation
          * may be misled by those supporting women’s ordination
          * do not have the theological or hermeneutic skills required
          * need to be guided by a strong president
          This is in contrast to Pr Steicke, the previous president, who understood that the move towards women’s ordination was significant for all and encouraged an open conversation.

          Pr Semmler uses his office poorly because he does not facilitate the debate. For him, it’s about ensuring that he gets his predetermined results. Pr Semmler has declared that women’s ordination will not happen “on my shift”. It is not the role of the Chair of General Convention to decide what General Convention wants. One must conclude that he believes that God’s word somehow needs protecting. The corollary is that Pr Semmler knows exactly what God’s word means.

          General Convention meets regularly to consider what Scripture might mean for the contemporary Church, but while Pr Semmler works to get his personal interpretation stamped on the Church, we run the risk of losing connection with society, especially with younger generations who aren’t even interested in debating this topic. For them it’s such a dumb topic, considering that women are in virtually all positions of authority in our schools, businesses and governments. They have grown up with gender equality and any clinging to misogynist values is usually offensive.

          We quote from another post, which has the focus of LCMS by an ALC professor, but the LCA under current leadership has certain similarities,

          “It is the mark of totalitarianism in both religion and politics to insist on monolithic understanding to suppress dissent.”

          • Wally

            September 12, 2012 at 2:25 am

            I’m not sure who I am talking to, which makes me hesitant to pursue this to any great extent. Hiding behind anonymity – not the way to go, and something I only take seriously to the point of disdain.
            Sadly, in making each of the points you make in your reply, you choose to ignore other important aspects to the matter. You therefore end up with spurious conclusions based on biased assumptions. While ever you continue to take matters out of context, you will continue in this direction – end result: incorrect assumptions because they are not based on all the facts.
            One question: You quote Dr Semmler: “on my shift”. Please provide the reference, because I have NEVER heard such an utterance from him. In fact I have never heard him state his opinion, so I am not going to assume what it is. You have obviously concluded a view about his position. You therefore write accordingly – not favourably.
            I have also never heard Dr Steicke state his position. Again, you have concluded a view about his position – and you write accordingly, favourably! You have frequently in the past referred to Dr Steicke with his title, but I have yet to see you do that with others with the same title – particularly in respect of those who have earned it. That is low!
            The further comment below refers to the matter of the Internet discourse on “Nazi” comparison. I am glad someone made it – I wasn’t going to do it, even though I am well aware of it. I have already been hailed as a Nazi purely because I quoted Scripture in another forum. Tell me what is Christian about that! Likewise YOUR reference! My understanding of the Internet discourse on invoking the Nazi or Hitler comparison is that you immediately LOSE the debate. I accept that.
            So, finally, please use all the facts in debating issues and be prepared to come out from your anonymity. Anything less will not serve you honourably – and, in fact, discredit your argument.

      • krwordgazer

        September 10, 2012 at 6:45 am

        It is true that discouraging debate and questioning is part of authoritarianism, but I think that the Nazis and Pol Pot are really a different animal from Maranatha and the LCA. The forms and methods of discouragement are so radically different, one set being based on criminal insanity, and the other on simple misuse of religious structures.

        There is a rule of Internet discourse that says that once the Nazis or Hitler are mentioned in a conversation, the conversation has already effectively broken down. I’d rather not see that happen here. Bob Weiner and Pr Semmler and simply not Jim Jones or Pol Pot. I think it’s more than a matter of degree. I think there are certain things that, no matter how much power he had, Bob Weiner would still never do. I can’t speak for Pr Semmler, because I know nothing about him– but I suspect that the same might be true there.

        • Katie and Martin

          September 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm

          Point taken. Thanks Kristen. Nothing is gained by referring to murderous sects and regimes.

  2. Katie and Martin

    September 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Wally, the “on my shift” quote comes from the corridors. Talk with a selection of Church committee members or ALC lecturers and you’ll determine whether or not it’s true. Pr Semmler doesn’t need to use words to indicate his opposition to women’s ordination. He is known by his actions, which have been partially listed in an earlier comment.

    Silencing a debate only increases disunity. It would not be surprising if congregations started to make independent moves in years to come if the women’s ordination debate continues to be stifled.

    We also are unaware of Pr Steicke’s opinion on the matter, but he understood that the debate was something needing to happen openly within the Church, which he then facilitated. This is an honorable position worthy of support.

    • Wally Schiller

      September 14, 2012 at 2:51 am

      Well, if your conclusions are based on “corridor talk”, I am happy to let it pass through to the keeper, as much as I dislike the stirring up of dissent. Assumptions can be wrong – as many of yours are, whether you accept that or not. I’ll let it be at that.


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