Monday, April 18, 2005

Random thoughts on growing up in UBF

(Related: 1, 2)

Some random thoughts on growing up a UBF 2ndgen:

Date Posted: 14:51:23 04/16/05 Sat
Author: Joe
Subject: Re: 2nd gen situation
In reply to: Chris 's message, "2nd gen behavior" on 06:33:06 04/15/05 Fri

>And actually, there are many other 2nd gens who left
>UBF, including the son of the "UBF president" ...
>Why did they leave
>and others don't? Maybe Joe can elaborate a little bit
>more on this. I'm not a 2nd gen and only speculating

Just some random points:

I think 2ndgens in larger chapters are under more peer pressure from loyalist 2ndgens in UBF than what I grew up with. I'm 37 years old. There are very few other 2ndgens, former or otherwise, that are that age. The 2ndgens today have a large social network of UBF 2ndgen friends that I did not have. I think this tends to keep them loyal to UBF. It's probably the same in the "Children of God" group.

Even without the social network, I was loyal to UBF. I was angry and defensive when a TV news report came out about UBF or when students editorialized about the "wacko Korean cult recruiters" in the student newspaper. I thought we were being "persecuted." So I can identify with (and doubt the honesty of) the general 2ndgen defensiveness about UBF.

I experienced abuse and neglect, including some of the worst that Sam Lee had to dish out, but I always "got over it." I always dealt silently with my initial anger at being abused and could always come up with some justification for accepting the abuse. I had no choice. I couldn't leave UBF, so I learned to deal. This process didn't make me a better Christian or a better person.

Part of my loyalty to UBF came from my natural loyalty to my parents in spite of their neglect and emotional distance. Children can be so loyal to their parents, even when their parents don't reciprocate. I wrote frequently of my admiration for my "great and sacrificial" parents in sogams, and people frequently reinforced it by telling me how "great and sacrifial" my parents were. I'm not sure now whether I really admired my parents or whether I was conditioned to admire them. In any case, my loyalty to UBF was tied to my loyalty to my family.

[I guess we needed constant reminders of how "great and sacrificial" our parents were, otherwise we might ponder the truth, that they were neglectful and distant. They get points for at least providing for us. (I remember us feeding ourselves a lot of uncooked Ramen noodles for dinner, the Sapporo Ichiban brand.) But we had no family life to speak of. As another former 2ndgen member wrote: "My relationship with my family was purely functional."]

Fear of conflict with my parents, particularly my father, played a large part in keeping me in UBF. When I expressed dissatisfaction with UBF the response from my parents was so fierce that I didn't want to go through the conflict again. Fear is a major factor in keeping 2ndgens in UBF, fear of parents and fear of an uncertain future once we leave. Most of us take the easy way out and stay in UBF.

UBF was my extended family. I was supposed to see Lee and Barry like grandparents or godparents, senior "missionaries" as my uncles and aunts. I was never very comfortable with this, but I guess it might serve to increase the loyalty of some 2ndgens to UBF. probably doesn't represent the views of all "Children of God" 2ndgens. The views of a few vocal 2ndgens on the Internet probably doesn't represent all UBF 2ndgens either.