Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Godfather of the Adult Missionary Kid Bastards?

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on March 23, 2011

Giving Xians an offer they can't refuse

Despite the fact that most of my friends on Facebook are adult missionary kids (AMKs), for the most part, I am out of the loop when it comes to the Evangelical, fundamentalist missionary community. This makes sense, since I myself would likely be a topic of missionary circle gossip, being a lapsed Christian. Still, I have always found it hard to imagine that folks would find me an interesting topic for a conversation (or gossip, as the case may be). Sure, I find myself interesting, but what person with a (semi)healthy ego doesn’t? I don’t find the vast majority of my AMK friends in the least bit interesting. In fact, almost all of them are the most boring people I have ever encountered: most of them don’t care about literature, art or any music other than the kind that serves the utilitarian purpose of worshiping their god. Most of them pathologically read their Bibles and parrot verses and platitudes as a way of life. They are all the same–they have become sheep for the shepherd.

I had always assumed the feeling was mutual on the other side, that I would be seen as uninteresting due to my difference, so it came as a big surprise when I recently discovered I had been discussed in a missionary circle by someone I didn’t even know. What was said about me was not something I was expecting. If I had to imagine what Christian AMKs would say about me it would go something like this:

Sheep One: “Have you heard about Clamence?”
Sheep Two: “No, what about him?”
Sheep One: “Well, he’s turned his back on God and is this really arrogant atheist, and he even has this website where he talks about everything that’s wrong with God and Christians.”
Sheep Two: “Oh my goodness, that’s terrible!”
Sheep One: “I know! He was always so funny and friendly. It just goes to show how much energy Satan will put into attacking the children of those who carry out God’s most important work.”
Sheep Two: “Amen! So tell me more of the evil things he does…”

Since some variation of the above dialogue is what I expected, I steeled myself for this when a Christian AMK friend of mine (currently living in Africa) offhandedly mentioned that I had been a topic of conversation. Instead of reporting what I expected, he told me a Christian missionary had expressed admiration at “how you’ve taken all the ICA bastards under your wing,” and have “become the godfather for all those who have finally escaped fundamentalism and were rejected by their own families.” I received these thought-provoking comments a few months back, and I really didn’t know what to make of them. Here is what I said in response back then:

That’s interesting what you said about my being the Godfather of the fugitives. Haha! It’s interesting to hear about me when things trickle down the missionary grapevine. From my perspective, I’m just a guy who is shameless and outspoken about my worldview. Most MK non-believers I have observed have decided to simply extricate themselves from missionary and MK circles–they seem a little cowed into silence, from my perspective. I have always thought I have just as much of a right to hang out with MKs and missionaries as anyone else. The non-believing minority of MKs shouldn’t have to feel like they are social pariahs because they aren’t passing the missionary circle’s litmus test. I do realize some missionary circles will never be welcoming to a secular minority, but that just helps to emphasize their lack of tolerance. I don’t know about the accuracy of the mother hen metaphor; I don’t really know too many non-believing MKs, and I haven’t ever felt like their leader, or anything like that. I’m also not aware of anyone I know who was rejected by his family (unless “rejection” is meant in a less severe manner than I am imagining).

I think some of my confusion, resulting from all the “Godfather” and “ICA bastards” talk, was due to why this person (a missionary) who had admired the role I was supposedly playing had seen it in such a positive light. It took me awhile to figure out that this person is self-identifying as a moderate, non-fundamentalist Christian. In other words, this missionary is agreeing with me that fundamentalism is a negative thing, and he thinks that his form of belief is non-fundamentalist and (therefore) healthy. It was difficult for me to recognize that he was implying this, since I make little differentiation between types of Christians. To me, if you’re a Christian, the very root of your paradigm is absurd; any house built upon the sand of a falsehood will result in a way of interpreting the world that will collapse at the faintest wind of reason. The only real difference I see between a liberal Christian and a fundamentalist Christian is that the liberal ones have more of a live and let live attitude (and they’ll drink a beer with you); the fundies, on the other hand, have much more of a Hitler complex: they know the way the world should be, and they are damned sure going to try their hardest to force others to share that vision. To summarize: 1) Liberal Christians=enjoyable to hang out with, but preposterous ideas about upward-sky floating zombies and invisible creatures, 2) Fundie Christians=assholes.

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16 Responses to “Godfather of the Adult Missionary Kid Bastards?”

  1. JN said

    Thank you, Jean-Baptiste. I knew your name looked familiar. I haven’t read The Fall in a very long time.

    In college, people were always trying to find the voice of God. A common problem among young(ish) adults is feeling like God is not speaking to them, that he is not close. That feeling is only a hop skip and a jump away from concluding that God, or at least the God they are looking for, is not there.

    Sometimes Christianity becomes more of a language or a metaphor that people use to try to make sense of things. It’s like trying to put a puzzle together by looking at the box, not realizing the puzzle had been in the wrong box from the start. It’s kind of a cheesy metaphor, but whatever.

    And since I’m feeling rather chatty (and bored) today…Aren’t most adults at least semi-uninteresting? Maybe I’m just cynical. I had few friends in college, fewer as an adult. People seem to find me as uninteresting as I find them.

    • Clamence said

      JN, whether adults are interesting or not, IMO, depends upon which circles I find myself in. In my work life, I find myself surrounded by many academics who are pretty fascinating people. In Christian circles, or in the business world, I find most of those folks to be devoid of original thought and wit. Obviously, it’s just because I’m not one of those people that I find them not in the least bit entertaining. I hope it’s obvious I’m generalizing, since there are always exceptions. I met some pretty smart and entertaining people in Christian circles and in the business world. They were the exception. Are you not meeting interesting people in grad school?

      • JN said

        Classes haven’t started yet. My program is a bit unconventional. We have two 10-day blocks of intense study followed by 6 months to work with a faculty mentor. I’m sure I’ll meet some interesting people in the process.

        Part of the reason adults are uninteresting is that I rarely make an effort to get to know them. I stay at a distance and create their histories for them.

        • Ann said

          A psychologist I knew once said he was perpetually disappointed in people when they opened their mouths since they looked so much prettier and interesting from afar. As a therapist, hearing complaints about other people gets tedious. I’d say it is what the vast majority of people prefer to talk about. At least you are a perpetual self-critic as well. It can get tedious hearing about how uninteresting you are too though JN. I suspect you aren’t as boring as you like to tell people! lol

          • Clamence said

            Let’s psychoanalyze JN! Puhleeeezzzeeee!!! Ha ha! I think it’s like this: JN gets depressed at work and starts feeling down. We are the lucky beneficiaries of his pity parties–of his sad distance from others. He creates the histories of those people who “Just don’t get me!” (He is an odd little MK, after all.) We are forever grateful to him for sharing his parties with us, the privileged.

            • Clamence said

              All joking aside, I had a good round of drinks, good conversation and some decent Arabic food hanging with JN. I don’t remember feeling bored. I suspect it’s the other folks surrounding you who are the uninteresting ones. If you lived in Africa, you are automatically interesting. Period. Why do I suddenly feel like a motivational coach?

          • JN said

            It’s not fair really. You can’t always tell when I’m kidding and when I’m serious. Sometimes I’ll write something because I feel like writing it or because it sounds interesting. I can assure you, the self-deprication is almost entirely narcissistic. Ha!

            • Ann said

              Yeah, and it’s me too, probably more sensitive to this stuff because of my job. Working with kids who are depressed, I get tired of hearing self-depricating remarks. Working with kids who are bullies, I get tired of hearing BS. I have adolescent clients who act out with verbal or physical aggression due to their history of verbal or physical abuse and mental health issues and adolescent clients who become suicidal due to their history of verbal or physical abuse and mental health issues. When the bullies bully depressed or anxious kids, sometimes those kids get worse–and the bullies often have little to no remorse except when they have consequences themselves (in itself, they care little if they hurt people). Had two kids admitted to the hospital who were being bullied–one was hurt physically, one was suicidal. With the depressed kids, I sometimes wish they would get a backbone, you know, without becoming bullies themselves (which frequently happens). But people have to learn (change) or not learn on their own. **Although research does indicate talking with a caring person who is trained to help people think (therapists) does improve a person’s prognosis

  2. Paulo said

    “… a Christian missionary had expressed admiration at “how you’ve taken all the ICA bastards under your wing,” and have “become the godfather for all those who have finally escaped fundamentalism and were rejected by their own families.”

    Typical thing for a Christian to look at a group of people and right away assume that there is a “leader” (pastor) while all the others are “followers” (flock, congregation). That’s the group dynamic they’re used to.

    Makes it sound like you, Clamence, are the leader of an online anti-fundamentalist cult… lol.

    Oh, and “rejected by their own families”? Where does he get that? I’m still very much a member of mine…

    • Clamence said

      Yeah, I found the comments confusing. Like I said, I don’t even know the guy who made those comments, and I’m not sure you do either. I highly doubt the comments were in reference to any of us ICAers on this site. I have an idea of who it might be in reference to, but don’t want to say in this particular forum. But the comments are generalized as if they apply to a whole group–also typical of Xians to overgeneralize based on one example. If I am the “pastor” then you’re right, all non-Christian MKs are automatically part of a cult. Anyway, I found the comments confusing and amusing at the same time.

    • JN said

      Now let’s all get our therapist caps on and analyze Paulo.

      • Clamence said

        Hmm, Paulo’s more difficult. He’s never said anything like “Part of the reason adults are uninteresting is that I rarely make an effort to get to know them. I stay at a distance and create their histories for them,” so he doesn’t make it easy to mock him. Ha ha!

        Paulo’s like the Man With No Name. Only, I kinda doubt he’s the fastest draw in the West to back it up. Maybe if you decorate your saloon with his friend, he’ll reveal his true calling in life:

        Really though, if anyone has to worry about being psychoanalyzed it’s me. I’ve put way more of my internal thought processes and opinions online than all the rest of you have. On the flip side, I know who I am, and I know how what I say will inevitably be misrepresented and misinterpreted by believers (or non-believers, for that matter). It doesn’t bother me to know that. I’m not afraid to admit to my strengths and weaknesses in the same breath. Also, as I look through all that I have written and said, I see that I am no longer the same person who wrote some of it. To me, that stuff stands as a representative of who I used to be, or what I felt or thought in a specific moment. It’s not a reflection of who I am at all moments and at all times. Identity is not a static thing, and I find the inability of non-believers to understand that to be one of the most interesting things about them. I guess that concept of god’s immutability makes them think humans must be static, always-consistent creatures.

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