Archive for December, 2003

Are You an Enabler?

December 31, 2003

Something I found at a counseling web site:

Are You an Enabler?
Do You Know Why?
Do You Know How to Stop?

Do you enable others to proceed/progress in their unproductive patterns of behavior? Perhaps it’s your partner, a co-worker, your child (adult or minor), your parent, friend, or sibling [or your cult leader]. Do you understand why you do this, and how you can stop?

The person(s) whose unhealthy patterns you enable may be doing one or more of these behaviors:

  • Drinking too much
  • Spending too much
  • Overdrawing their bank account / bouncing checks
  • Gambling too much
  • In trouble with loan sharks / check cashing agencies
  • Working too much / not enough
  • Maxing out the credit cards
  • Abusing drugs (prescription or street drugs)
  • Getting arrested (you are bailing him/her out)
  • Any of a number of other unhealthy behaviors/patterns of addiction [including being a destructive cult leader]

However you look at it, they are driving you to distraction, and ruin!

Enabling is Very Often Part of Codependence

Any time you assist/allow another person to continue in their unproductive/unhealthy/addictive behavior, whether actively or passively, you are enabling!

Silence condones. So even when you say nothing (such as `minding your own business’), you are enabling the behavior to continue.

Sometimes you say nothing out of fear — fear of reprisal, fear of the other person hating/hurting/not liking you; or fear of butting in where you don’t think you belong. Perhaps even fear of being hit… or worse!

“What are some of the ways enabling manifests?”

  • Sometimes enabling takes the form of doing something for another that they should do for themself.
  • Sometimes it takes the form of making excuses for someone else’s behavior. [sounds familiar]
  • Sometimes the spouse of an alcoholic will call in to their boss to say that person is `sick’ when they are really so hung over they can’t make it to work.
  • Sometimes it constitutes a parent bailing out their child when they have been arrested for whatever:
  • Sometimes it is the parent of a young child who is in denial about that child’s misbehavior at school, on the playground, in the neighborhood; and
  • Rather than recognizing there is a problem, they get into a fighting mode and defend, rather than taking responsibility for correcting the situation in a healthy way. [also sounds familiar]
  • Do you buy alcohol or cigarettes for a user/abuser of these products?
  • Do you cover bad checks for a spouse, a child?
  • Do you loan/give money, over and over, to anyone in your family who hasn’t put forth the effort or the commitment to get their own act together?
  • Do you finish up/do the work of a co-worker, who isn’t pulling their share of the load?
  • Do you cover for another in any way? (There is healthy helping, and there is unhealthy enabling. We have to learn the difference.)

Why Do You Enable?

You more than likely enable out of your own low self-esteem. You haven’t gained the ability to say no, without fear of losing the love or caring of that other person. People who learn `tough love’ have to learn that their former behaviors have been enabling, and that to continue in them would constitute allowing the other person’s pattern of behavior to continue… and to worsen!

One type of enabling that goes on in certain abusive households is so-called codependent enabling. I recently heard a description of Sarah Barry as a “classic codependent enabler” that seems to fit her to a tee: “[Barry] turned into the classic codependent enabler–a role she played to perfection for years, always deflecting criticism from Sam Lee [as abusive father] and acting as a ‘safe’ outlet [‘comforting (spiritual) mother’] for those of us who needed to complain.”

A classic example of an enabler in the Bible might be the priest Eli. You read the passages about him, and he doesn’t seem like such a bad guy, yet God held him, the enabler, responsible for the sins of his sons.

I resolve not to be an enabler this year.

Some related verses:

Leviticus 19:17 – “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.”
Proverbs 28:23 – “He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue.”
Ezekiel 3:18 – “When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.”
Ezekiel 3:20 – “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.”

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The Reason For the Season or Why I Am Still a Christian

December 25, 2003

A thought for Christmas:

I’m sure I’m not alone among former UBF members in this. The image of that child lying in a manger reminds me of why I am still a Christian after living through most of the 1990s in quiet anger and frustration in UBF. Jesus is the reason why I am still a Christian. In that manger I see no trace of self-aggrandizement, no ambition, no desire for men’s praise, honor or power. In that manger I see a prelude to a life marked by an out-of-this-world humbleness and meekness. And there is strength in that meekness, strength to draw those who have been wounded, discarded, disillusioned, the ordinary, the nobodies, those on the junk heap, the non-“leadership material,” the lost. And in that meekness is forgiveness, acceptance and love with no performance-preoccupation strings attached. In Him I see what God really is like, and it is so different from the picture of God painted by “God’s servants.” The acts of those who never knew Him and who were nothing like Him do not diminish Him. I believe in Him. I utterly depend on Him. All I want is Him. Thank you, Lord Jesus. I am still a Christian.

"Simple Thoughts During Trying Times"

December 23, 2003

An excellent bit of reading from the Barnabas Ministry that promotes balance among those who have taken up the fight against spiritually abusive systems, especially ones they were personally involved in:

Simple Thoughts During Trying Times

As we move into a period of discussion and change within the International Churches of Christ, I would like to offer some guiding principles to keep in mind along the way, in no particular order.

  • Trust is earned. No leader can command anyone to trust them.
  • Repentance is proven by deeds, not by talk. Repentance may be observed (2 Cor 7)
  • God entrusts leaders to bring about His justice. God cares about justice a lot.
  • Speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15)
  • Forgive; if Jesus can forgive from the cross, we can forgive whomever. But remember, forgiveness does not mean lack of accountability, lack of consequences, or implicit future trust.
  • Leaders, like all people, need to take responsibility for what they have done. Beware of anyone who says “move forward” in the interest of progress or peace when it keeps them from having to take responsibility for their actions in the past.
  • Patience, patience, patience— people come to see the truth at their own pace. If you have healthy boundaries, it’s easier to have patience.
  • The enemy is Satan and sin, not the people who “don’t get it yet” (Eph 6).
  • Do not turn issues into an “us/them” deal. It obfuscates the real issues.
  • Truth is the weapon– not force, ad populum arguments, threats, etc.
  • Be willing to question yourself. Truth will still be truth, no matter how many times it is questioned.
  • In any human conflict, there is usually right and wrong on both parts. Don’t get blinded and fail to see the good in others and the bad in yourself.

If we have healthy boundaries, it helps us put change in the proper perspective. If we have unhealthy boundaries, we will be tempted to push for more change more quickly, for only then will we feel free to live within our consciences. But a healthy boundary allows us to be free to live as we see fit today, without “needing” to see an organization make changes in order to be free or content.

Another good essay at barnabasministry.com that appeals to me is “A Sober Look at Unity”.

What is Spiritual Abuse?

December 22, 2003

“There are spiritual systems in which. . .the members are there to meet the needs of the leaders. . . These leaders attempt to find fulfillment through the religious performance of the very people whom they are there to serve and build. This is an inversion of the body of Christ. It is spiritual abuse.” — from the “Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen, 1991

"Handling the Information Flows"

December 22, 2003

Very astute post by Alexandre Repkine the other day:

Date Posted: 01:29:07 12/18/03 Thu

Author: Alexandre Repkine

Subject: handling the information flows

For many years I was thinking what the secret of UBF power was and I finally figured that out. It’s not the money, it’s not their superior intellectual or spiritual power, it’s the way they isolate their members (including themselves) from the “undesirable” information. When I was a kid I lived in the Soviet Union where information controls were instilled just the way they are in UBF. Because of that I believed the West is all evil, South Korea is a puppet and I’m just lucky to live in the paradise for workers and peasants. When perestroika came it was painful to get disillusioned, but I’m grateful this revelation has happened to me.

There’s been a lot of talk here about how to counterweigh the UBF control and power. Sad as it is, it is impossible to do anything unless the information barrier is broken. But how can one break it in a legal way? Send ’em letters–they won’t even read it before throwing out. Try to meet them–they won’t let you in. E-mails returned unread, phone calls not returned at all, any discussion killed at its conception, no criticism accepted–how can one deal with it? They’ve no links to the sites like this one on their websites, they take up all of the members’ time leaving them no chance to learn of a different viewpoint.

I recently sent an E-mail to my former shepherd here in Korea asking her some questions–foolish me, of course she never answered..

Sorry for sounding so angry at the Christmas time, but thanks to the UBF any Christian holiday became a nightmare for me. We went to one of our professors’ home the other Saturday, he turned out to be member of the UBF-like cult. There were muslims and hindus among us, never mind, he and his wife wanted us to sing Christian songs. I got so angry I couldn’t hold it inside of me.

Finally, now that I’ve lived here for almost three years (in Seoul) I can assure you the UBF Koreans have nothing in common with the normal Koreans except for the language (even the language is being screwed up in UBF actually). That last remark is meant for those who generalize their UBF experience to the whole Korean nation–don’t do that, trust me, there’s nothing wrong with Koreans, it’s all the UBF mentality (or rather the lack of it) that makes things look so ugly.

I remember the very angry, fearful and panicked reactions of some UBF people back in early 2001 when they found out I was reading the ugly secrets about UBF and Samuel Lee on the internet.

Why Might People Stay In Cults & Abusive Churches?

December 21, 2003

Something I posted in July on RsqUBF:

Date Posted: 18:45:41 07/20/03 Sun
Author: Joe
Subject: Why might people stay in cults & abusive churches?

Here’s something from the Apologetics Index about why people might stay in cults & abusive churches: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/s26.html?FACTNet

Excerpt:

The first time I saw the parallel between my own experiences in the cult of Scientology and battered women was when I was reading ”Captive Hearts, Captive Minds,” which is an excellent book. It was in the Intro or maybe the first chapter that they cited and quoted the singer Tina Turner who had been in an abusive relationship for something like 10 or 15 years. She remarked how being with Ike Turner was like being in a small cult. The remark jumped off the page at me. Given the success of Tina Turner as an entertainer, one is not prone to say she is a stupid woman but there she was in a marriage where she was beaten constantly and yet she stayed. When she finally escaped, as she tells her story, it was after a beating that left her head so swollen that she couldn’t put on a wig. She wrapped her head in a scarf and fled, taking no money or anything and finally got away from Ike Turner.

One wonders how often she has been asked since, ”Tina, you’re such a talented woman, so intelligent, how could you stay with a man for 10/15 years who was beating you?” Maybe she has an answer in her autobiography. I don’t know. It is on my to-read list. But I know she was asked that question. Every woman who escapes a man who has been beating them must get that question and it is probably the hardest one in the world to answer. After all, it’s not that you don’t KNOW you’re getting beaten. And it didn’t happen just once. Nor twice. It happens week after week, month after month, year after year.

Nor are these women locked up. The husband goes off to work, for example, and she has a car. She gets in the car and she goes to the store, buys food, and brings it home, to the very place where she is being beaten and she makes dinner. She doesn’t keep driving. SHE COMES BACK. To what? More abuse.

It was back around 1991 when I first said to myself about UBF, “I can’t stand this cult anymore. I need to get out.” I stayed 10 more years, and in those 10 years said the same thing to myself several more times after experiencing or witnessing abuse after abuse. I am not the only one who has done that. A certain “spiritual giant” in Chicago has reportedly done that more than once. UBF praises people who “overcome their human emotion” and decide not to “run away.” But each time that we say to ourselves, “I can’t stand this any more,” and “overcome our human emotion,” it does not make us better, it does not make us better Christians, it does not make us better human beings. It makes us worse, it only worsens the hurt, it only deepens the wounds.

"Why Beat a Dead Horse?"

December 21, 2003

“Why beat a dead horse? Isn’t Samuel Lee dead? Why focus on a dead man?” Sometimes I am asked such questions. Of course, the same could be asked of UBF which celebrates things such as “UBF Founders Day” and talks about preserving Lee’s “spiritual legacy.” Here’s a RsqUBF discussion forum post about this subject by ChicagoXile that I heartily agree with:

Date Posted: 14:47:55 06/18/03 Wed

Author: ChicagoXile

Subject: Re: I think we are beginning to love to hate

In reply to: Tony Lang ‘s message, “I think we are beginning to love to hate” on 11:04:25 06/17/03 Tue

Tony, let me first say: thanks for your concern. I mean that sincerely.

>Lee damaged a lot of people, and

>in the letters that appear I can see a lot of hurt. I

>have a kind of feeling that this is the sort of thing

>that will make Lee very happy. Lee was a negative

>influence during his life time and I can see that

>this controling power that he had is continuing long

>after his death.

>

>I ask myself what is the best way to insult the memory

>of someone no longer present? I think it is to forget

>them. That is what we should do with Lee. Think of

>all the pleasure he is getting in hell knowing that

>the very thought of him brings out such negative

>emotion in people.

No one gets pleasure out of anything in hell. It’s just eternal torment in utter darkness. So, no, Lee isn’t laughing it up that people are still writing negatively about him.

Also, I don’t think anybody in UBF thinks it’s particularly funny that Lee’s true character continues to be revealed because Lee’s teaching and his family (including Barry) are still central to UBF.

I find that as Lee’s true character and the facts of his evil deeds are revealed, it leads some people in UBF to start questioning. For instance, see http://voy.com/60734/4121.html and http://voy.com/60734/4165.html, both recent posts. I think they start to question why their chapter leaders and shepherds revere Lee so much when there is ample testimony against him. They may start to see that the UBF “reality” is not reality at all. They may start to see and be disturbed by UBF’s “ends justify the means” philosophy as it is applied to Lee’s life by UBF leaders. They may start to see the personality cult within UBF. (As Andrew S. wrote after he left UBF: “I raced back to UBF and read more of the newsletter, and suddenly the articles there seemed very strange. They came into focus. These articles were praising Samuel Lee, UBF’s late chairman, instead of God.”)

People who wake up to the reality of what Lee really was may not necessarily leave UBF. But they might be more careful lest they prop up another Samuel Lee. Or they may decide that they’re not going to submit so easily to UBF’s destructive authoritarianism that continues in Lee’s name. So even those who stay in UBF might be bettered by the Lee reality check that we try to provide.

>Ubf is a worthless organisation, it is going down a

>road that leads to nowhere. My advice is to allow it

>to travel on . In these days of advanced education

>it will not survive.

Unfortunately, level of education has not been proven to protect people from cult involvement. M.D.’s, Ph.D.’s and engineers abound, not just in UBF, but in many other cultic groups and abusive churches.

>We should allow it to commit

>suicide which it most certainly will. It might take a

>little time, but in the not too distant future it will

>not be around.

Unfortunately again, the Moonies and Scientologists aren’t going away. Neither is North Korea. And neither is UBF. While we wait for them to just go away and do nothing, more lives are damaged.

UBF "Founders Day"

December 20, 2003

Instead of mass marriage, Chicago UBF apparently held a UBF “Founders Day” meeting on the week of Samuel Lee’s birthday in early October. The point of this meeting? To praise Samuel Lee. According to RsqUBF discussion board posts, the organizer of this meeting seems to have been Ben Toh who also appears to have been the organizer of “memorial services” for Lee in previous years. On the program: An opening message in praise of Samuel Lee by “Mother” Barry, followed by three sogams in praise of Samuel Lee by Christy Toh, Alan Wolff, and … my mother. The choice of these three people to share such sogams makes me raise my eyebrows, especially the last two people. I’m guessing they didn’t volunteer to do this, but I could be wrong. If my mother did volunteer to share one of these Lee “praiseologies,” I have to marvel at how different her story is when she’s in front of me and when she’s in front of UBF “coworkers.” If my mother did not volunteer for this, I can only see it as a disgusting attempt to re-educate someone who possessed some shred of independent thinking about the person of Samuel Lee.

More on the beatification of Samuel Lee: The Korean UBF headquarters has dubbed their main auditorium “Samuel Lee Hall” or something to that effect. It’s also been reported that Samuel Lee’s widow has created a Samuel Lee shrine of sorts in their Chicago house that was destroyed by the January 2002 fire and subsequently rebuilt using UBF funds.

The Gift of Anger

December 16, 2003

A former cult victim once wrote:

Thank you, Lord God, for the gift of anger. Anger was the rocket fuel which propelled me out of the prison of the cult. Anger gave me the strength to break the battleship chains that once allowed me to do nothing when I knew loved ones were being abused. Anger’s fire consumed all the rationalizations, all the Bible twisting, all the guilting tactics that had silenced me before. Anger melted the scales that covered my eyes so I could see that the cult emperor had no clothes, that his authority was an illusion. Anger was what finally enabled me to say, “No more!” Help me now to harness and focus my anger, to put it to work… Truth and justice are cliches only to those who do not know your gift of anger. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of anger.

It turns out there’s also a book by the title, “The Gift of Anger: A Call to Faithful Action” by Carroll Saussy.

Voluntarism and Victimization

December 16, 2003

The enigmatic FlowerRootPearl chimed in with a RsqUBF discussion board post with Subject: “Voluntarism v. Victimization.” This was my response:

Date Posted: 13:35:31 12/16/03 Tue

Author: Joe

Subject: Re: Voluntarism and Victimization

In reply to: FlowerRootPearl ‘s message, “Voluntarism v. Victimization” on 09:42:14 12/16/03 Tue

>It is the job of parents to shape the beliefs of their

>children. In American culture, as children become

>adults they then make their own decisions. Whether

>in UBF or not, unhealthy oppression of children by

>parents is not uncommon. UBF is not unique in this

>regarding second-generation Korean children, when it

>exists.

This is an interesting topic that you begin with, and it makes me curious why you make it your leading point.

I just want to point out that the unhealthy oppression of children in UBF isn’t like the phenomenon of over-ambitious parents who might oppress their children to perform well in school or music or sports. The problem in UBF is that “spiritual order” creeps into the relationship of parents to children, and the net effect is that the “Servant of God” is the real head of the household, not the man of the house. This was a reality in my household and is a reality in Bonn UBF and perhaps other UBFs that I don’t know about. And this contributed greatly to the tragic death of my young brother-in-law.

As a former UBF “2nd generation missionary” I oppose UBF not so much because I resented the “strictness” of my upbringing, but much more because of what I talked about, the dangerous abdication of parental responsibility to a “Servant of God.” That sort of abdication of responsibility is not at all common in normal, healthy churches, Korean or non-Korean. But it is common in cultic groups.

>As for adults, UBF is a voluntary organization in the

>last analysis. Adults who give their lives in the

>membership of UBF must realize that it is a choice

>made by them to have done so. Unfortunately, when

>that decision was made, “UBF gave and UBF taketh away”

>in many devastating examples. But the original

>decision to belong was nonetheless voluntary. The

>benefit which comes is the freedom to leave, both

>physically and psychologically.

I’m not sure you can take this as an absolute. Can a college freshman, barely 18 years old (sometimes younger) and far from home and having difficulty adjusting, be considered adult enough to have made a “voluntary” decision to not just join UBF, but to get sucked deeper and deeper into UBF through the process of staged commitment? In some parts, the “decision” to join and stay may be voluntary, but you can’t discount the deception and thought reform (mind control, etc) techniques that are used to bring in and keep people.

>The real path to freedom is in Christ and realizing

>this freedom of choice.

The path to freedom also includes realizing that there is life beyond UBF, that leaving UBF will not result in eternal damnation or various punishments, that leaving UBF is not the same as leaving God or “God’s mission,” that there are healthier alternatives to UBF.

But the decision to leave UBF is usually a torturous one, which is the way it is with most people trying to leave a cultic group. I’ve had people tell me that they couldn’t leave in spite of harrowing experiences of abuse over many years because they “invested their whole lives in UBF.” But what do they really stand to lose if they leave? Friends? The same “friends” who will shun them and trash them if they leave UBF? Money? As if they’re ever going to see again the large amounts of money they forked over to UBF on command? I guess what they’re really afraid of losing if they left is some kind of status, power and identity that UBF gives them, as pathetic as that may seem. I guess they’re an example of people who don’t have the freedom and identity in Christ needed to leave UBF.

>UBF is not a monolithic

>structure which is absolutley good or absolutely evil.

> There are individuals in UBF who must repent or

>apologize or make restitution. They require our

>prayers. But God is using UBF for the good, too.

Sure, God produces good, genuine Christian men and women of conscience in UBF and those with the potential to be. Otherwise, nobody would be able to make the difficult decision to try to reform it or to leave.