The Sisyphus Syndrom

Even when I was defending UBF as a Christian church, I admitted that there is always an “oddity” in UBF. This oddity is ever-present, but almost always dismissed or explained away. If UBF is to continue its claims to be doing Christian missionary work, UBF members must come to terms with this oddity, address it and deal with it appropriately. I’m not sure how to go about all that, but I know where to start.

The single most important psychological theme in UBF that needs to be examined is what I call the Sisyphus Syndrom. Simply put, this syndrom is the condition of people who do the same thing over and over again, legalistically and proudly claiming they are right. They see their failure, but refuse to make any adjustments, corrections or changes to have a different outcome. When things fall apart, they simply start all over again, doing the same things. This futile repetition is symbolized in Greek mythology in a king named Sisyphus, who was made to push a boulder up a hill, only to find that it keeps rolling back down the hill. Here is an explanation:

As a punishment from the gods for his trickery, King Sisyphus was made to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill, but before he could reach the top of the hill, the rock would always roll back down, forcing him to begin again. The maddening nature of the punishment was reserved for King Sisyphus due to his hubristic belief that his cleverness surpassed that of Zeus. As a result when King Sisyphus was condemned to his punishment, Zeus displayed his own cleverness by binding King Sisyphus to an eternity of frustration with the boulder rolling away from Sisyphus when he neared the top of the hill. Accordingly, pointless or interminable activities are often described as Sisyphean.


Chapters of UBF around the world have regularly displayed a pattern of collapsing every 5 to 10 years. When a UBF chapter experiences a mass exodus of leaders and/or members, the director of that chapter just starts over, focusing on new students who don’t know the dark history of UBF. This pattern started in the 1970’s and continues to happen in 2011. It has happened in UBF chapters all over the world, such as India, Minsk, Toledo, Germany, etc.

Most Christian churches experience division and members leaving. Christianity is not immune to factions and disagreements. But this destructive pattern in UBF is not a Christian pattern. Christians respond to divisions, arguments, etc. with change, repentance and love. UBF’s response for 50 years has been silence, rejection, closed-mindedness, legalism and more fervent repetition of their same actions and belief system.

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