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Wretched Urgency — The Grace of God or Hamsters on a Wheel?

I’m pretty sure we discussed this article already, but it deserves being remembered:

Wretched Urgency — The Grace of God or Hamsters on a Wheel?

The article explains so very well what’s wrong with not only UBF but all of these high pressure evangelizing groups.

The point is that even if UBF would really engage in evangelizing people, i.e. making them followers of the pure gospel, and not of UBFism, there is still something wrong with this if they define themselves, the meaning and purpose of life with mission, making it not only their own top priority, but also teaching others that they are condemned if they do not make it their top priority as well. This is the infamous teaching of Samuel Lee “man = mission” that makes people end up in the UBF hamster wheel. Please don’t fall for that. Even if UBFism would be more in line with the gospel and less abusive, even if their leaders would be willing to be held accountable, this is still a bad and unChristian teaching that destroys people inside and outside UBF.

On the veracity of UBF sermon examples

A short note on the veracity of the examples given in UBF sermons. I mentioned how Samuel Lee used to flavor his sermons with examples of what good things happened to people who obeyed him and what horrible things happened to people who disobeyed him. I also mentioned how I believe that this kind of drawing connections is dangerous magical thinking, and also that these stories are usually plain wrong anyway (today you would call them “fake news”).

Some hardcore UBF members may wonder how I know that Samuel Lee was making this stories up. Well, there are two reasons. First, Samuel Lee contradicted himself. I collected several sermons which such horror stories and noticed that various details varied from year to year. It was the same story, but for instance, one year it was about a man, the next year it was about woman. If it had been a true story, Samuel Lee would have remembered the details. But if it was a made-up story, the details would vary. This is a way of investigators to detect liars. It’s very difficult to remember all the details of a story and retell them exactly every time if you made the story up.

Second, I know that the truth was not important to Samuel Lee. For instance, he used to even “photoshop” conference pictures, adding balconies of “clone attendants” using glue and scissors. We have several examples of this, and it happened not only in one year. He just had the habit of making up his own reality, and he was a notorious liar. The words didn’t mean anything to him, only the achieved goal was important to him. The stories were not intended as a real-life example, they were only there to achieve a well-calculated psychological effect in the listeners.

One friend in UBF once told me how he confronted Peter Chang, the notorious UBF Bonn leader, about a factually wrong passage in his sermon. Interestingly, Chang’s response was blunt: “In a sermon, it doesn’t matter whether a story is true. It only matters whether a story is effective.” So here you have, it the UBF leader mindset in a nutshell. Truth doesn’t matter. There only goal is to manipulate you, to alter your state of mind. It’s about mind control. They know this, and they use stories as a powerful tool. It all works, because UBF is full of naive people who believe everything from the mouth of the dear leader (the servant of God) must be true. When they hear these horror stories, they believe they are true, and start to fear. I know many UBF Koreans who stayed in UBF for decades, only because of the fears instilled into them by such stories.

The Danger of Magical and Wishful Thinking

Magical Thinking

When I reflect back on my time in UBF, comparing it with the time before and after, one thing that stands out is the custom of magical and wishful thinking, something that is not my normal rational way of thinking. Recently I remembered one such occasion and started understanding the psychological mechanisms at work. I thought I should write this up, even though I generally don’t want to write much about UBF anymore.

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Move on with your life – don’t blame the Church

This is the typical advice you get from a cult that does not want to change.

Leah Remini, one of my favorite actors – though I actually only know her from “King of Queens” – got the same advice when she started to speak out about her experience and tried to warn and help others:

Dropouts are pushed to move on so that the cult can also move on undisturbed, exploiting the next generation of victims.

Luckily, there are always a few who don’t just move on, but also care about revealing the truth to the public.

It’s difficult. You will lose your former “friends” in the cult, and even worse, you may lose family members still stuck in the cult. People outside the cult will not understand what you’ve gone through and why you stayed in that toxic environment for so long, they may think you’re crazy. But leaving the cult is the best thing you can do, and telling others about your experience is even better.

Thank you, Leah.

(See also: Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath)

Parenting – you’re doing it wrong!

Recently I read an article titled “A Manifesto Against ‘Parenting’.” It starts by claiming:

“The idea that parents can learn special techniques that will make their children turn out better is ubiquitous in middle-class America—so ubiquitous that it might seem obvious. But this prescriptive picture is fundamentally misguided. It’s the wrong way to understand how parents and children actually think and act, and it’s equally wrong as a vision of how they should think and act.”

The article goes on to explain how we should just be parents and think about what being good parents mean, instead of trying to transform our children into what we believe they should look like in that process called “parenting”.


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Are marriage meetings a good idea?

Recently I read an article recommending weekly marriage meetings:

Holding a weekly 30-minute meeting with your spouse that’s broken into four parts: Appreciation (expressing gratitude to your spouse), Chores (making sure to-dos are getting done), Plan for Good Times (scheduling date nights, as well as individual and family activities), and Problems/Challenges (addressing conflicts/issues/changes in the relationship and in life in general).

I thought that might be a good idea, because, as the article continues to explain:

The structure of the marriage meeting is designed to rekindle your romance, solidify your friendship, nip potential conflicts in the bud, and help you smoothly run your household economy. If you’ve already got a great marriage, then marriage meetings will enhance it. If your marriage has been struggling, the meetings can help you get your relationship back on track.

A young couple sit talking in a garden.

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