Saturday, October 16, 2004

Institute-Induced Rage
A lot of people who served with IBLP share a common experience of rage. We don't talk about it much on this blog; I suppose because it's not very funny. But it is definitely a problem worth exploring, perhaps motivated by JollyBlogger's posts on dirty laundry and grace.

When I left the employment of IBLP I pretty much abandoned my faith for a while, thinking "If Christianity is about performance-based grace, irrelevant behavioral rules, and power-abusive authorities, I want nothing of it."

In an authoritarian structure where the authority is always right--nay, inspired by God--and where the person under authority is trained to accept all things from the authority's hand, the potential for abuse exists. I'm not just talking about physical abuse, although I have heard vague rumors from years ago. Sometimes emotional or spiritual abuse can be just as devastating. And in the context of IBLP life, it shows up in people using their power ("authority") to forcibly mold a person's thoughts, feelings, attitudes and convictions. This goes beyond being a good influence or giving good advice and rises to the level of abuse in my mind. Telling someone: "I have this conviction and you MUST adopt it as your own because I am your authority" is not how God wants us to motivate others to love and good works. This emphasis on control leads some to conclude IBLP is a cult.

And speaking of love, there is very little Christ-like love on the Institute campus. There is APPROVAL: if you live up to this set of ideals and behavior, we approve of you. But if you differ from the dictated standards and convictions, woe to you.

This is a lack of grace. Call it what you like, Bill, but grace is still God's unmerited favor for us. As much as IBLP tries to distance itself from the legalism label, it sticks when it comes to the expectations on staff, volunteers and families in general to abide by every single dogma. ES has a good testimony about grace when he tried to tell Mr. Gothard he didn't believe contemporary Christian music is wrong.

The rejection and judgmentalism is dangerous. This is how damage is inflicted from peer to peer in the Institute. Scripture tells us "then shall the world know you by the love you have for each other." Not for how high your standards are or what you believed or how loudly you condemned worldliness and poor character.

Sarte said "hell is...other people" and sometimes ATI Christians seem to believe this. Unfortunately, when we think of "the world" we unconsciously assume this includes all of the people who do not exhibit the fine character and high standards upon which we depend.

Of course, it is a lot easier to stand on in the corner and point fingers, and in recent years the Christian church has had quite a few scapegoats: entertainers, shock jocks, musicians.... Larry Flynt, Howard Stern, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Eminem, Marilyn Manson and Tellatubbies.

But ATI people seem to have a corner on the judgment market. I don't know how many people have told me over the years, "I would never join ATI because they are the most judgmental people I know."

U2 singer Bono once said, "There are 2,103 verses of Scripture pertaining to the poor. Jesus Christ only speaks of judgment once. It is not all about the things that the church bangs on about. It is not about sexual immorality, and it is not about megalomania, or vanity. It is about the poor. 'I was naked you clothed me. I was a stranger and you let me in.' This is at the heart of the gospel. Why is it that we have seemed to have forgotten this? Why isn't the church leading this movement?"

Yet confront the Institute with this fault, as some suggest, and they'll tell you it's their DUTY, as bearers of a higher standard, to point out sin in the church. They can't be called on this. They reject the implication that their lofty spirituality somehow damages others. The other defense I hear is "judgmentalism is a result of individual people; it's not IBLP's fault." I'm not going to pin it on Bill Gothard and damn him for the sins of others, but it's my belief that these conditions in the ministry are systematic faults, and not merely individual lapses. This sort of attitude permeates from the head of an organization all the way down to the mailroom.

So when I say that rage is a common factor among staffers and ex-ATI folks, it's not because they're "bitter" and need to repent. Mostly its a response to the judgmentalism and the inability to live up to someone else's ideal.

It manifests itself in many ways, this fury. Many of my music links over on the left are a developed taste from my IBLP days. Some of us fight boiling anger. Others of us start drinking. Many others simply drive the anger under the surface.

It's not bitterness. We keep bashing our heads against all of the "abuses" and shortcomings, wondering what can be done to correct them. We're weary from impotent rage.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do have some anger towards the people who tried to control me and bend my mind into what they thought was right but I think it's more of a dissapointment that I was led along for so long and my life was worse off than if I hadn't even heard of IBLP. My mindset in service to the Institute was open obediance and silent rebellion. I didn't make it up the ranks into the upper echelon of the elite but I enjoyed my time. There was no reason to get bitter or argue with people who were so pig-headed in their ways. Why put yourself through hell to prove ideals to a demi-god who tells himself every morning that he can do no wrong and God has chosen him to lead sheep. I didn't need to waste my life away getting angry, all I had to do was perform a mental flush of everything they taught and start my life on a different path. No wonder their attendance is so low and the ranks are dimishing. The fad is old and the lies are beggining to sink in. My wife and kid don't even know who Bill Gothard is or what ATIA stands for. Consider myself flushed from the system, as Neo was in the Matrix. I mind is free and peaceful.

Here are the lyrics to a Seether song called "Sold Me" that I think apptly pictures some of rage we feel:

Here I stand before myself
I see somethings out of place
You tasted all my purity
Now there's nothing left to waste
The feeling gets so in my way
It's getting lost in my delivery
The feeling gets so in my way
I'm getting lost in your periphery

And you sold me up the river again
(I don't wanna be alone again)
And you made me start it over again
(I don't wanna be alone again)
And you moved me, and you soothed me, and you fought me
(I don't wanna be alone again)
And you left me wondering what the hell
What is wrong with me?

I never felt like i had felt
Until the day you came undone
I never felt like I was lost
Until the day you killed me again
The feeling gets so in my way
It's getting lost in my delivery
The feeling gets so in my way
I'm getting lost in your periphery

And you sold me up the river again
(I don't wanna be alone again)
And you made me start it over again
(I don't wanna be alone again)
And you moved me, and you soothed me, and you fought me
(I don't wanna be alone again)
And you left me wondering what the hell
What is wrong with me?

Are you stronger
For cutting me open
Are you stronger
For leaving me broken

And you sold me up the river again
(I don't wanna be alone again)
And you made me start it over again
(I don't wanna be alone again)
And you moved me, and you soothed me, and you fought me
(I don't wanna be alone again)
And you left me wondering what the hell
What is wrong with me?

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite part was the quote from Bono.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an x-ati girl, I must say that I totally relate with what you are trying to communicate through your website. As I struggle through the same feelings of anger and frustration, it helps to remember that nobody can make me feel inferior without my permission. (I think Eleanor Roosevelt said that). I have to acknowledge that I put myself through a lot of misery while involved in ATI, just because I had been made to feel that it was the right way, and that I was not a good enough Christian if I did not comply with ATI rules. Gotta take personal responsibility for this....it is not ATI's fault that I believed that lie!

Work through your feelings, but don't stay mad at "them"...it is not worth your time and energy! Deal with your past, but get on with your life, and don't get stuck in a "victim" mentality. Get over it already!

Keep the great website up though...provides much needed comic relief and group therapy.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Princess Leia said...

Excerpt from X-er:
It manifests itself in many ways, this fury. Many of my music links over on the left are a developed taste from my IBLP days. Some of us fight boiling anger. Others of us start drinking. Many others simply drive the anger under the surface.

It's not bitterness. We keep bashing our heads against all of the "abuses" and shortcomings, wondering what can be done to correct them. We're weary from impotent rage.

** I thought this was good. The common thread amongst the X-ATI I know, including myself and my hubby is the amount of rage the simmers or simmered under the surface.
I got tired of people who had never been through the Gothardized lifestyle telling us to forgive and forget.
That rage has served its purpose in my life. It has made me believe what I believe and protect what I believe and cherish with a ferocity that is a bit scary to mainstream Christianity.
So, I raise my rum and coke to those of you out there who struggle rage. You arent alone.
Thanks for the post X-er.**

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that you quoted Bono...nice thoughts but not completely biblical. Be careful that you don't become unbalanced in your thinking just because those you were involved with were wrong. Many of those you mentioned as "scapegoats of the christian church" are obviousely lost, and it shows. That's not judgement, thats discernment. That doesn't necessarily have to lack love, but should provoke us to pray for thier salvation!

I am not an ATIer by a long shot, but I do get concerned when I see you and many of those who write into your site promoting bands/music that are not going to encourage one onto maturity, and that do not focus your attention to God and His glory. We are called to holiness in all areas of life, and are told in the Word to avoid even the APPEARANCE of evil. I would be careful who you endorse...and that it is not merely a reaction to the bondage you experienced in the ATI movement. Sift everything through the Word of God and prayer. Don't react. Just as there is error in Bills teachings, you could still be walking in error by embracing whatever is opposite of what you knew.

3:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are not and ATIer perhaps you were spared the pain, ATIers went through and are still going through. I think unless you are in the same situation you can't offer remedies to people - they are theoretical. Prove your theory on yourself first, and if it works, we'll try it. Otherwise it sounds just as preachy and patronizing as all that rubbish from ati.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are not and ATIer perhaps you were spared the pain, ATIers went through and are still going through. I think unless you are in the same situation you can't offer remedies to people - they are theoretical. Prove your theory on yourself first, and if it works, we'll try it. Otherwise it sounds just as preachy and patronizing as all that rubbish from ati.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that there's absolutely NOTHING unbiblical about being angry and expressing your anger! In fact, if you expressed no anger whatsoever after these gothard atrocities, then either you are delusional or *truly* bitter. God does not say anger is mine, thus saith the Lord, but rather, he says REVENGE is mine. In psalms, I believe, is the poetry of the man asking God when he's going to kick the shit out of his enemies, and even dash their babies against the rocks. Here is a man in anguish wrestling with the realities of the offenses having been committed against him.

At the end of the day, you should perhaps see a psychologist to help you to direct your anger and frustrations into correcting the problem and using your anger also in other productive ways. Maybe hit the weight room, grab a beer (which scriptures do not forbid, incidentally, only drunkkenness), attend a university. Ultimately, with your faith in the Christ of the bible, not pharisees like gothard, you will determine that there is no profit in exacting revenge. There is profit in defending the innocent, such as mitigating the influence of gothard as through channels such as this website, but surely all of you understand the distinction between revenge and practical defenses as dictated by individual circumstances. Scriptures do not call us to be pussies. In fact they call upon us to correct these wrongs with all our passions and efforts.

1:13 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

X-ATI Guy

about

recently

archives

approved books

approved music

exits

censored words

credits

contact