Question: Positives Carried Out of Your Cult?

Question: Positives Carried Out of Your Cult? April 19, 2018
The long view from above near Playa Pan Sucre. It’s amazing what you can see once you’re not mired in the depths of something like a Quiverfull church.

Recently I spent a week back in the United States and hung out with a friend from my old Quiverfull church. She and I laughed and cried over many things that happened through the years, like the time the pastor fell through the ceiling of the church and was dangling on electrical wires like a flying Wallenda team member.

One of the more interesting conversations we had was about what we carried out that was positive. So much of it was awful, soul-crushing and just plain old vanilla wrong, but not everything was. Plus there are things that came about only because of the misery that we needed. We both agreed that the pain forced us to become truer versions of ourselves, just like putting flower bulbs in a deep freeze forces an early flowering.

That, and the fact that I learned to bake bread very well.

What did you carry out, or learn, or develop during your time out?

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  • It is not easy to look at it in a positive light but I will try. I still have a couple of good friends from that time who became progressive Christians and accept that my journey led me to atheism as I accept that their journey didn’t.

    My kids get a kick out of the fact that if a gospel song or hymn comes up in a movie or show, 95% of the time I can sing along.

    My kids have an example of someone who is intelligent but through indoctrination learned to believe in mythology as fact, and who denied scientific evolution was true. And that through questioning and study was able to shed those beliefs. Maybe they won’t assume that people who believe odd tho he are just unintelligent.

    Christmas music – I love it, even if I don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus.

    Christian art and architecture – again, I don’t believe the message but I appreciate the beauty.

    I can translate Christianese.

  • texassa

    I wasn’t a part of what I’d identify as a cult, but I did dabble in overboard-christianity as a teen. I’ll call it the Young Life cult, in which questionably-motivated adult “leaders” creep around high school parking lots to befriend young teens outside their parents’ knowledge and invite them to exclusive parties where all the cool kids will be, and later ski trips and summer camps. After some secular song and dance, they ease into christian singalong favorites before delivering a message on how to abandon your sinful teenage ways and life the Right Way™. These enlightened 16-year-olds are then empowered to return to their schools and peer groups, armed with a few key bible verses by which they can judge and spread gossip about their non-Young Life friends under the guise of Loving Jesus™. I’d say the best things I took away from those years were enough Biblical knowledge to know when “christians” haven’t really read it, along with a healthy suspicion of youth groups, youth pastors, “mission trips,” and religion in general.

  • Carra McClelland

    I was not in QF but my marriage was patriarchal. I learned plumbing and minor electrical work because he would start things and not finish. It helps with my old house not to know how to do these things. Old houses have quirks and I don’t always want to call a plumber at 3am.

  • persephone

    From Jehovah’s Witnesses, I learned quite a few things that I’ve carried with me:

    1. No racism. JWs may be major sexists, but racism is not allowed, as we are all descended from Adam and equal in God’s eyes.

    2. There is a bible verse for every argument and choice. It can be twisted and massaged to mean whatever the person wants.
    a. Everybody applies spin. Everybody. Studies have been done since that back this up. Nobody is impartial.

    3. A lot of bible verses are stuck in my head, as well as quite a few arguments. I love to unleash this knowledge on RWNJs. I don’t remember the chapter and verse numbers, but a quick lookup gives me all I need. Hours and hours of study every week–which gave me enough knowledge to realize that the JWs are just another cult–did at least leave me with some major bible knowledge.

    4. Complete disgust with, and avoidance of, people who set themselves up as conduits to knowledge, that they know better, and have a direct connection with any supreme being.

    5. Peace about my future. No more fear of Armageddon or any other apocalypse caused by an angry god. Maybe we’ll destroy ourselves, but I don’t need to waste my time kowtowing to some magical being.

    6. Sympathy and pity for those stuck in the cycle of fear perpetuated by these religions.

    From Southern Baptists, back in the 1960s:

    1. The big thing is I went to church when the SBC was pretty laid back. They left a lot of things up to the person’s conscience and personal relationship with God. So, I remember when the SBC was kinder and gentler, before CPM, forced birth, etc.

    2. Forcing religion on someone does not work.

  • Saraquill

    The closest I have is my time in what I call the Devil’s School. It left me with depression, seizures and friends I’m still close to.

  • B.A.

    My mother warned me about Young Life before I even started high school. Am I ever glad she did!

  • paganheart

    Same here… Lots of kids in my church youth group were also involved in YoungLife and I was invited to some of their events, but I didn’t go because there was just something creepy about the guy who headed our local YoungLife group. A few years after I graduated, he was arrested for child abuse. Can’t say I was surprised.

  • paganheart

    Same here re art and music. I love stained glass and the architecture of old churches and cathedrals (most modern churches are just plain ugly, IMO) and I am a life-long choral music nerd, who still loves to sing the sacred music of Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, etc. as well as modern composers such as John Rutter and Ola Gjiello (I sang in a performance of Ola Gjiello’s “Sunrise Mass” this past weekend, in fact), even though I don’t necessarily share the faith that inspires much of the choral music repertoire. I still sing at an ELCA church with a very good choir, most of whom are surprisingly tolerant of a heathen… 😉 If I got nothing else out of my years growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, it was an appreciation of hymns, which would eventually evolve into a love of “high church” and classical music.

  • Julia Childress

    I was raised Southern Baptist, but my family was way more extreme in our religious practice than the average SBC, which means that we created our own sort of family cult. The things I am grateful for are my knowledge of the Bible, since memorization of scripture was very important to both SBC and my family, and the hymns. The music was the only real thing of beauty that existed in our lives, and to this day I find so much comfort in the traditional hymns. Our family also observed what my mother called the Family Altar, where after dinner each evening, we would read the Bible and have family prayer time. Some of the best times we experienced as a family occurred during our Family Altar time, since it usually also included a lot of laughter and silliness. Unfortunately, our mother’s mental illness and our parents’ miserable marriage always lurked beneath the surface and could turn any family gathering time into a conflagration.

  • MuttsRule

    And those LONG meetings are good preparation for college – no problem staying Awake! through even the most tedious lecture.