The KIT Newsletter, an Activity of the KIT
Service, a Project of The Peregrine Foundation
P.O. Box 460141 / San Francisco, CA
telephone: (415) 821-2090 / (415) 282-2369
KIT Staff U.S.: Ramon Sender, Charles Lamar,
Christina Bernard, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom;
U.K. : Joy Johnson MacDonald, Susan Johnson Suleski, Carol
Beels Beck, Ben Cavanna, Leonard Pavitt,
Joanie Pavitt Taylor, Brother Witless
(in an advisory capacity); Europe: Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe.
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and
opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from within
and from outside the Bruderhof. The opinions expressed in the letters we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflects those of KIT editors or staff.
Although sexual issues normally are considered private in nature, occasionally they may need to be discussed in KIT. This may offend some of our readers, and for this we apologize. But as long as sexuality remains a part of life and KIT an adult forum, we will continue to publish whatever is relevant and people need to say regarding sex -- or any aspect of their lives. However we also will attempt to place a warning before any articles that we deem to be potentially disturbing to some readers.
The Children of the Bruderhof International's home page has moved to:
December 1995 Volume VII #12
--------------"Keep In Touch"--------------
(dd)Although this is the season for rejoicing in the birth of the Divine Child, it does not seem very joyful from the vantage point of those of us threatened by the Bruderhof's legal tactics and maneuverings on several fronts. The Bruderhof continues to threaten their own children with the lawsuit that the Bruderhof leadership has filed in Albany, New York, federal court against Children of the Bruderhof International. Recently they amended the complaint so that now it names eight individuals, the original four (Ben Cavanna, Mike Leblanc, Blair Purcell and Ramon Sender) plus Andrew Bazeley, Joel Clement, Margot Wegner Purcell and Faith Tsukroff. At the same time, they claim NOT to be suing COBI and the various individuals named, but just, as they so euphemistically put it, "asking the court for an injunction" against COBI's use of the names "Bruderhof" and "Hutterian Brethren." This is the same slippery language they used when they filed a lawsuit in Nigeria against the Palmgrove community. They describe as 'overly scrupulous' and 'moralistic' the occasional concern raised within the brotherhoods. If you have not contributed recently to KIT, now is a good time to do so. Also, please send a donation to the "K-8 Legal Fund" and mail to COBI, P.O. Box 183, Highland, MD 20777. Happy Holidays! Quoting from a 1960s poster, "May the Sweet Baby Jesus shut your mouth and open your mind!"
-----The Whole KIT and Kaboodle-----
Roger & Heidi (Kleiner) Strickland
News from B'hof/Hutterites
Gerald Renner in The Hartford Courant
Prof. G. E. Denckenlos
Inno Idiong, Palmgrove Community, Nigeria
Staughton and Alice Lynd
Arny & Judy Tsukroff - CAN Conf report
Hans Zimmermann - Imogene Pass Run
Sam Hofer and Hannah Friesen
Jere Bruner - Century XX - a poem
Susanna Alves Levy - Manuel
Norah Allain - Life Story
New address for Dave Waldner: Barley Cottage * Oakley Lane * Oakley nr Basingstoke * Hampshire * ENGLAND
Joyce Hazelton passed away peacefully on November 9th. She had been doing very well recently, so it came as a shock to everyone. Donald could not wake her up to give her her medicine and called to a family member, who said, "Say what you have to say to her, because she's going."
Phil Hazelton, 11/16/95: Mom left watching a sunset from the couch with Dad by her side. When she did not speak, Dad realized she had snook off. We are so happy that she did not need to struggle for life in the end. We had a real family celebration of her life last Monday and many people came and spoke. Heidi and Roger made it there. Not one call from the Hof and no attendees, not even a relative. Incredible, given the years they had put in and the relative degree of conciliation both parents had arrived at over the last year.
Jane gave a sweet and long call to Dad from Darvell, and Darvell apparently had a sharing and remembering time for Mom. Seems like Darvell is the most compassionate of the hofs. It's certainly the one I like best.
Also I had the news that Stanley Fletcher had died a couple of weeks ago. He will be grieved by many of us. I loved him so very much, as did Dad and Mom. Dad will need much support over the next years in order to carry the burden of grief at the loss of Mom. They were together since they were 19 and 20 years old. Love to you all,
Roger and Heidi (Kleiner) Strickland, 11/23/95: Happy Thanksgiving to all. We went to Joyce Hazelton's memorial service last Monday. It was a wonderful, very moving event. Joyce was a truly wonderful woman. She was described as 'a feminist,' 'a woman who had a mind of her own' and someone who loved unconditionally.' Muschi wants me to list the songs sung: Philip and Collin sang 'Green Grows The Holly,' Philip sang a piece from Elijah called 'Oh Rest In The Lord.' We sang 'Morning Has Broken', 'Praise We The Lord', Evening Star Up Yonder', 'When He Cometh, When He Cometh, To Make Up His Jewels', 'Tochter Zion'. The Hazelton men are a great group of people who have nurtured their parents for many years. They have had the privilege to truly know their parents. Jimmy wrote and read a wonderful piece that I hope he will share in KIT. Donald is bravely bearing up, but it is a terrific loss for him.
To Bill Peters, a very HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY! Bill and Liz have returned to Florida after Bill's 'engraftment,' the replacement of his own bone marrow, on October 19, 'took.' Bill reports that Multiple Myeloma is understood to have been caused by Agent Orange, so the Feds will cover the costs. He has a check-up in 100 days to get the green light,. He says, "There have been seventeen other guys ahead of me who made it, so it looks good!"
ITEM: Welcome to the four new KIT readers from the Rosendale/Tillson, New York, area!
Mike LeBlanc, 11/18/95: The new and improved home page location for COBI on the Internet is now:
We would love to have more submissions by KIT/COB folk, especially anything specifically relating to visitation of families.
Barnabas Johnson, 11/22/95, Dateline Kazakhstan: Upon returning from a trip to Kyrgyzstan Wednesday afternoon, it took a while to grok the full significance of the mess at home. On Sunday night, there had been no gas, so Lowry turned on the electric radiators. These overloaded the wiring at the junction of the ceiling and wall, upstairs, above the porch exit and the stairway to the first floor. Lowry happened to be lying in bed awake around 1:00 A.M. when she heard pops and crackles -- and, upon investigating, found the house on fire, and pitch dark except for the flames. The fact is, we had been living with this ticking time bomb for almost two years, but fortunately it "went off" while one of us was at home and awake. Careful investigation has revealed that all our wiring was a sovietskii soyuz tangle of copper and aluminum invitations to fire.
By heroic efforts, and "breaking the rules" by tossing water on an electrical fire (the first two buckets missed the flames and drenched her), Lowry got the fire out within five minutes. If she had been sleeping, and had been awakened by a much expanded fire, she might not have been able to exit, as we have the obligatory steel mesh over all our windows, and the crowbar that is usually under the bed -- to aid in prying out these reschotkes -- had not been replaced by yours truly following use on the car the day before. So I suppose the full significance of all this mess that I am grokking is how fortunate I am to still have a wife, cats, and home.
No electricity. No telephone. Gas seems to be back for the time being. House is still standing. Wife and cats are well. The house will need complete rewiring, no small job. We hope the phone will be back soon, and that our neighbors don't mind being bothered by our e-mailing visits.
My trip to Kyrgyzstan was interesting, including driving my Niva through deserts and mountains. I minced no words in criticizing Central Asian officials at the conference regarding the mess they are making of things with rampant election fraud, kleptocracy and lies. Someone has to tell the truth. Of course, my main criticism is of the U.S. role, regarding which I have a long article appearing soon in the Central Asia Monitor, blasting USAID and the State Department for subverting and betraying America's Rule of Law Project for the Central Asian Republics... We shall see how things go. Today is Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Mike Boller's court appearance on the trespassing charges brought against him by the Deer Spring Bruderhof has been held over until December 12th to give his attorney time to prepare his defense.
Lou Scheggia, Wharton Township, 11/26/95: In the recent election for the Supervisor's seat in Wharton Township, [where New Meadow Run and Spring Valley bruderhofs are located - ed], there were three candidates. Gary Crayton, Joseph Henning and John Jack Lewis. Gary Crayton garnered 265 votes. The race between Henning and Lewis proved to be more interesting, mostly because Henning, a previously unseated supervisor who had voted favorably for the Bruderhof on various issues in the past, was trying to win back his old job. However it didn't work. The people's choice of Wharton Township turned out to be John Jack Lewis with 490 votes surpassing Joe Henning's 432. We cannot demonstrate for whom the Bruderhof's nearly 180 registered voters voted, however the following chronology gives one something to think about:
(1) Loud opposition was expressed to the Bruderhof's blanket rezoning request, and their request ultimately was denied by the Supervisors last February [see KIT VII #2, p. 2 ITEM - ed]. Two things need mentioning here: (a) Henning was unseated prior to this vote. (b) The Bruderhof did get permission to build their new woodshop by a special zoning exception. Nobody deprived them of what they wanted, unless the Bruderhof had some sort of hidden agenda.
(2) Subsequent to that event, a massive (relative to the alleged population of the Bruderhof) voter registration was instituted by the Brothers. They registered over one hundred new voters, added to approximately seventy that they already had registered. To this writer's knowledge, this is the largest political presence they have ever had in the nearly forty years of their existence in this township.
(3) To the question "Does the Bruderhof believe in democracy," Christoph Arnold publicly answered "No!" as I myself viewed on the 'Chronicle' ABC Channel 5 video. Yet I stood at the polls and watched Bruderhof members arrive in droves to cast their votes in the great American spirit and tradition of the secret ballot. There they were, taking part in what I consider to be one of the last great liberties that we really enjoy, participating in the very thing that Christoph Arnold says they do not believe in, the democratic form of government.
In light of their recent massive registrations following the denial of the zoning request, one wonders whether the Bruderhofers voted for their candidate-of-choice any more independently than they chose to register to vote. This writer ponders the following glaring inconsistency: how can Christoph Arnold say "No!" to democracy while the local Bruderhof membership registers themselves in such a fashion?
(4) I will leave it for the reader to speculate for whom the Bruderhof members voted, and how this was viewed by the rest of the citizenry of Wharton Township.
Regarding the matter of the Bruderhof's appeal of their property tax assessment in Fayette County, there is nothing new to report locally. However this writer has been informed that the Bruderhof is attempting a similar ploy in two New York State townships -- i.e., appealing their property tax assessments, and the townships have instituted a lawsuit to stop them. The result of my conversations with various individuals in our township has given me the idea that we should check into other areas for possible abuses. Hopefully I will have something new to report soon on the Bruderhof's possible use of social programs such as Welfare, Public Assistance, Social Security, Medicaid and government subsidies. Best Wishes,
NEWS from the Bruderhof/Kleinsasser/Schmiedeleut front: A November 19th fax was sent from New Meadow Run by the Bruderhof's 'United Brotherhoods in the East' to 'The Ministers of the Schmiedeleut Colonies.' It seems to have been an attempt to open up communications between the various groups. In the fax, apparently sent both to the Gibb and Oiler colonies, the Bruderhof protested "with great urgency" Jake Vetter's decision to confirm Inno Idiong in the Service of the Word in Palmgrove, Nigeria. According to the Bruderhof, to do so would be to "confirm a man who has given in to evil, arrogant and lying spirits." They accuse Inno of slander, deceit, hatred, and then state that they will not recognize his appointment as minister.
The following day, November 20th, Woodcrest sent a second fax, signed by Andreas Meier, to the Elders of the Hutterian Brethren. He protested an election for a minister in Starland Colony, Minnesota, where the candidates allegedly had to make a public statement that they rejected the Bruderhof communities. "Where is God in that?" he asked. "I also believe that the confirmation of Inno Idiong does not come from God but comes from the desire and choosing of men. I could not imagine for us to elect a minister on the grounds that he rejects the Western Church. This would be terrible... Dear brothers, where are we heading?"
The next day, November 21st, another fax came from Andreas Meier saying that his previous fax had not been strong enough. He now had heard that the candidates had to be "one hundred percent against the East. When some whose names were in the hat said, 'What about the good fruits in the East?' they were told that there are no good fruits in the East." He ended the letter with "May God give you recognition."
These faxes make it obvious that the Bruderhof is still trying to involve themselves in Hutterite business, this in spite of Christian Domer's recent letter stating that the Bruderhof now considers itself excommunicated because of the Hutterites' letter to the Vatican. This letter informed them that Christoph did not represent the Hutterian Church. There are some people among the Oilers who are of the opinion that the Bruderhof is now making overtures to the Gibbs.
On Nov 22nd, a missive came from Christoph Arnold to Jake and Elias Kleinsasser, Crystal Spring. "Dear Brothers: Today, believe it or not, I greet you all with very much love on behalf of the East," he began. He then protested the election of Inno Idiong, and expressed his admiration for Jake Vetter's willingness to travel to Nigeria where the political situation has deteriorated so badly. "Your journey will be on our hearts and prayers," he continued.
The rest of the fax demonstrated that the two groups are still at odds over financial matters. "Eli Vetter, thank you for your letter about the phone calls. It pains us that you called brothers 'thieves.' It seems like you're looking for anything negative about the East. You blow it sky high in the end simply to justify your opposition against us, and especially against me.
"You are shocked about us possibly abusing this money, yet at the same time you have never addressed Inno Idiong's crookedness and misuse of money, and you even want to confirm him in the Service of the Word now. Don't you see that he misused your money too?"
After mentioning that the Bruderhof happily paid for Jake Vetter's long distance calls from Europe that ran into thousands of dollars, Christoph writes that he is sending a check for two thousand dollars to reimburse the phone credit card billings. "The rest you can use to give to the brothers going to Nigeria to see that our beloved Nigerian brothers and sisters have a nice Christmas."
In a postscript, Christoph described how joyful life is on the Bruderhofs despite 'the painful separation.' They were about to celebrate the engagements of two East-West couples, and there were two more 'in the making.'
"Our beloved brothers and sisters in the West, you cannot stop us from living together in joy, East and West. It is possible, and is a particularly wonderful gift, that in this last year we have experienced in the strongest way, that East and West do belong together."
Meanwhile, Inno Idiong has written a scathing letter to the Gibb leaders insisting that they return to Jake Kleinsasser's fold. He scolds them for not being in submission to Jake Vetter, and writes that they should accept Jake unconditionally as their leader. They should get on the phone right now and repent. "He refers to scriptures that are in reference to Christ and uses them in reference to Jake," someone commented who had read the letter. The Gibb leaders are preparing a response.
Highlights of the October 12th business meeting held at Starlight Colony in Manitoba, with 42 ministers and stewards attending: the Gibb group requested that 10 representatives from each side meet. The Gibbs wanted to resolve some outstanding problems with individual colonies (to see if they can come to resolution without having to resort to legal battles), but the Oilers thought it was to be a 'unity' meeting. Although nobody held out much hope for any resolution, it was suggested that three of each side meet to explore the issues.
Rev. Jakob Kleinsasser told the group that Woodcrest is suing some "KIT (actually COB) members" for using the name "Hutterite" or "Bruderhof." It also was mentioned that Christoph Arnold wrote that they should stop arguing about money and property, but that Crystal Spring would not get any money from them. He denied that that the Bruderhof owed them any.
The lawyer for the Oilers presented the Gibbs' lawyer with an agreement that they are requesting both sides should sign. In effect it would establish two Hutterian groups. Group One would be known as "The Hutterian Brethren Church, 1950 Constitution," and the second known as "The Hutterian Brethren Church, 1993 Constitution."
Bruderhof Leader Defends Close-Knit
Community Against Outside Critics
by Gerald Renner
Excerpted from The Hartford Courant 11/12/95
RIFTON, NY - Autumn frost hadn't yet killed the mums blooming in the gardens of the well-kept homes in the commune where the leader of the Bruderhof movement lives. So it was natural for the leader, J. Christoph Arnold, to cite a flower to make his point.
"Take a flower in the field. Break it or take it apart and you can explain all the parts of the flower. But what happens to the flower? The flower's dead." he said in his distinctive German accent.
Arnold said he won't allow anyone to pick apart the movement he leads of 2,200 pacificistic Christians banded together in six communes in the United States and two in England that support themselves with business grossing about $20 million a year. Social scientists, with their probing secular values, are as unwelcome at the Bruderhofs as are a newly organized group of former members who say the Bruderhof has turned cultist, dominated by Arnold and a small group of leaders, an allegation that Arnold vociferously denies.
The 300 acre commune here in rural northeastern New York state is the central Bruderhof -- a German word meaning common household. Arnold is the top leader, directing the spiritual and commercial life of the Bruderhof communes, including Deer Spring in Norfolk, Conn. Trucks from the five other communes -- New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut -- shuttle back and forth to the warehouses in Rifton that store specialty items for the disabled, toys and furniture that the Bruderhof members make to support themselves.
The Bruderhof also owns a Gulfstream jet airplane that can carry 12 passengers and a crew of three and is leased out when it is not being used for the community's commercial or church business. Christoph Arnold's 20-year-old son, also named Christoph, is the pilot and captain of the plane, which is based at an airport at Teterboro, NJ.
The 75-year-old Bruderhof movement has gone a long way beyond the lifestyles of its 400-year-old Anabaptist cousins, the Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites, who rely mostly on farming to sustain their communal Christian life. The movement has also been garnering a growing chorus of critics in recent years, including academics who say the leaders shut them out, and former members who complain they are not allowed to visit their relatives.
Antagonism between those critics and the people in the Bruderhofs has become vehement. Last summer, former members banded together into a support group called Children of the Bruderhof and publicized a toll-free telephone number. It was flooded with 1,700 harassing calls. After an investigation traced many of the calls to pay phones in the vicinity of the various Bruderhofs, the calls tapered off.
Christian Domer, an aide to Arnold, acknowledged that many of the calls had been made by Bruderhof members, but denied that the leadership orchestrated them. Members were just outraged by the former members' "lies and slanders," he said.
Among the academic critics is Julius Rubin, a sociologist at St. Joseph College in West Hartford, who is working on a book about the Bruderhofs called The Other Side of Joy. He argues that intense religious pressure coupled with repeated emphasis on an individual's sinfulness and inadequacy results in an above-average incidence of clinical depression and other emotional and mental ills.
Rubin was not allowed direct access to the Bruderhofs, but based his book on interviews with former members and psychologist and psychiatrists familiar with what they called the "Society Syndrome."
"I wanted to study religious melancholia, and instead I got trapped in a world between apostates and true believers," Rubin said.
Another critic is John Hostetler, an anthropologist at Temple University in Philadelphia and an authority on Anabaptist groups that grew out of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. Hostetler, who once was close to the Bruderhofs and wrote articles for the group's magazine, "The Plough," said he ran into a "militaristic wall of hostility" when he wrote an article critical of the leadership several years ago.
"I think it has turned cultic in the sense that the leader has absolute power," Hostetler said in a telephone interview. That power vested in one person is unlike anything in the Hutterite or any other Anabaptist communities that rely on 400 years of tradition and Scripture to protect them from one-man rule, he said.
Some who left or were expelled from the Bruderhofs agree. "We feel they are heading -- I know they don't like the word -- but toward a cult-like goal," said Margot Wegner Purcell of Gaithersburg, MD. She grew up in the Bruderhof movement having been born in a commune in Paraguay and having lived later in Bruderhofs in Farmington, PA, and Rifton. She left the Rifton commune after high school in 1967. She is one of the leaders of Children of the Bruderhof.
"We don't want to destroy them. We want them to change some of the things they are doing," Purcell said. "We want them to change their attitude towards us and let us visit our families."
Purcell's parents, who are in their 80s, have lived in the Bruderhof movement since its founding in Germany in 1920. But neither Margot Purcell nor her four siblings, who also quit the movement, are welcome to visit their parents or other relatives who remain in the community.
Such talk comes from a disgruntled few, said Christoph Arnold, 54, whose grandfather, Eberhard, founded the Bruderhof movement in Germany in 1920 and whose father, J. Heinrich Arnold led it for 25 years, until his death in 1982. Christoph Arnold and his aide Domer denied that they put obstacles in the way of people who want to visit their relatives. "But there are cases where families have requested that their [relatives who left don't come," Domer said.
"What the critics miss," Arnold said, "is that the Bruderhof is based on a radical vision to live as the early Christians did -- with "one heart and one mind and one soul and hold all things in common."
"It is this that the Children of the Bruderhof hate," he said.
Domer said that unity in the community is paramount, and that the people who left or were expelled never accepted that. The Bruderhof is not a democracy, he said. For unity's sake, decisions must be unanimous, but no formal votes are taken, Arnold said.
But that demand for unanimity means that people who raise questions when the leadership proposes something are called divisive, Purcell said. If they keep raising questions, they are disciplined or even expelled, she said.
Domer disagrees. "They feel we should be governed by a democracy and they are trying to impose on us their principles," he said.
Ben Cavanna, 11/7/95: Winter is here! The last two nights we have had heavy frosts -- everything white in the morning. Very beautiful in fact. Quite a change, as last week the weather was in the 1960s. I took another exam today for my horticulture course, so I have that lovely sense of virtuous relief of having studied well and done the best I can and the next exam a relaxed 3 months away.
Sunday was Guy Fawkes night and we had a barbecue and bonfire and major fireworks display at the garden centre. It was freezing cold and a lovely clear moonlit night -- perfect. My boss and owner of the company is Bart Patrick, Hanna's brother. Bart and Nancy have just come back from a four-week trip to Paraguay and Argentina and brought me back a faja to complete my Paraguayan outfit. Joanie, Cathy, Jo and I went to a fancy dress party on Saturday. I wore my bombachas, white frilly shirt, faja, poncho and cowboy boots. Joanie went as a pumpkin Pie, and Cathy and Jo went as brides of Dracula, complete with blood dripping from the side of their mouths. We had great fun!
The more I deal with what was hard for me in my past, the more I notice the good things about our Bruderhof heritage. I remember all the gardening skills that my mother taught me along with what I picked up from working with Delf Fransham and Alfred Gneiting in the garden at Evergreen. These skills that I thought I would never use obviously are now crucial in my job. I learned from my dad, about the law and justice and truth. He told me "Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done."
I learned how to cooperate with others to achieve a task that needed doing and, in the process, have a good time doing it. And how to be flexible, and accommodate my wishes with those of others, by negotiation. I also grew up with the absolute certainty that I could do anything that I set my mind to and that I could figure out a solution to any problem. Any piece of machinery could be taken apart to determine how it worked, and reassembled with the broken part repaired. I could -- and did -- learn how to do almost anything, including cutting down trees with chainsaw and axe, building a log cabin, building tree houses, catching fish, dancing, singing (quite an achievement in my case as anyone will attest who heard me prior to 1965). I have Don Alexander's patient teaching to thank for that.
I learned how to build a canoe. We adapted an ex-navy lifeboat into a sailboat called the Moby Dick, and learned how to sail it. I found my way round the heavens with Tony Potts and George Burleson; I built a motorised tracking mount for our telescope with John Bazeley, and photographed a sequence of the 96 percent eclipse of the sun in 1970, which got a mention in 'Sky and Telescope.' We tracked Mercury across the face of the sun by projecting the sun's image on a white screen, and I endlessly experimented with a camera and in the darkroom, and documented many high school trips using my new found skills.
I became the photographer for 'Northwestern News.' the high school newspaper, and Alan Johnson and I wired up a philodendron so that we could electronically "hear" the plant's responses to various stimuli. We fired sparklers into space atop corks blown out of bottles containing a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, and photographed the results at night. I could go on a lot longer, but the overriding memory is that we had a great deal of fun and I got my unshakable sense that I could do anything. It was also wonderful to be a part of a large loving family.
You have heard me speak of the difficulties I experienced, and those do need to be aired, but I also wanted to share what I loved about our heritage.
Prof. G. E. Denckenlos, Klapsmuehle University, Klapsmuehle am Rhine, Germany, to Leonard Pavitt, 11/24/95: Having heard from a friend of your interest in cooperatives, cults and groups of various sorts, religious and non-religious, I thought you might like to hear about one called The Klapsmuehle Kommunity which I visited recently in our neighborhood. They appear to be mainly a mixture of English and Americans with a few Germans.
My guide, an American judging by his accent, was relieved to hear that I, as a professor of Modern Languages, preferred to converse in English as his German was not exactly fluent. The leader is known to them as 'Our Belov'd Welder' because, as he told me with fervour, "He welds us into unity with his spiritual blowtorch of fiery speech." I heard one of his 'fiery speeches' taped by them when he spoke by phone-link to another of their groups, and my impression was that it wouldn't have lit a bundle of straw soaked in petrol. There seems to be some form of hierarchy. Next in line to The Welder are the 'Savants,' the word taken, I suppose, from the French word 'savant' meaning 'a very wise and knowledgeable man.' This seems to be a complete misnomer, judging from the ones I met. The next in the hierarchy are the so-called 'Weightless Brothers,' who seem to be the ones who feel 'called' to asceticism as the way to 'Higher Things.' They have to lose at least one third of their weight before being 'named.' The ones I met must have been of quite substantial size previously, or perhaps, when they had won their way to 'Higher Things,' they found themselves fattening, or should be say, 'engrossed.' In fact, all members looked extremely well nourished despite their plea of poverty.
Apparently the 'Weightless Brothers' support the 'Savants' and they, in turn, support 'The Welder.' On our way round the community, I saw him being supported by two Savants and had the impression that he needed all the support he could get. I don't think they realise, as relative newcomers to our district, just how potent the local Schnapps is.
Later I brought up the question of their presenting themselves as poor when they seemed to be in the possession of a great deal of this world's goods of a very high calibre. They said that poverty is relative, and that in comparison with, say, the De Beers Gold and Diamond Mining Corporation, they were extremely poor but "would bravely bear it for the sake of 'The Cause'."
They seemed immensely proud of the fact that their Beloved Welder had recently levitated to Rome and had blessed the Pope. They didn't say what the Pope had thought about it. Personally, I think it must have been pretty unnerving even for such a man as the Pope, experienced as he is in all sorts of miracles and other oddities, to be blessed from on high by a levitating Welder. Apparently, in order to get to Rome, The Welder had levitated up into the jet stream and was carried there by it, if I understood correctly.
They mention various 'psychic gifts' with which they are endowed. One is the apparent ability to hear voices, especially of those who say unpleasant things about them. They call this 'tapping.' I envisaged them sated around a table with a Ouija Board or something similar, asking questions and receiving taps to denote 'yes' and 'no,' and asked if they would mind showing me how they did it. They agreed, but I was rather disappointed when they took me into their office and merely showed me a little black box with wires coming out of it.
My guide said that they were true pacifists and have forsworn the use of violence, and wouldn't even raise a hand against anyone who attacked them. I asked him how they had managed to bring themselves to take this laudable and truly brave stand. He was very modest and self-effacing about it and took me to see their guard dog training school. I expressed some surprise that a group professing complete non-violence, as he had just done, should feel it necessary to have guard dogs about the place. He assured me that the sole reason for having them was to protect themselves from being bitten by rabid rabbits of which, according to him, the countryside was teeming. I must confess to not having heard of this problem before, and asked if perhaps there was not another way of protecting themselves other than with these rather unfriendly-looking dogs. He said that their Belov'd Welder had tried frightening the rabbits off by firing a 'Magnum' at them (apparently a quite large revolver) but the recoil had knocked him off his feet and made him feel quite unwell.
Like the monks of old, they are very keen on calligraphy and he took me to a room where a number of the brothers were bent industriously over their desks carefully penning manuscripts in a lovely hand, with each capital letter most beautiful illuminated. I did think of asking whether they would kindly send me one, but decided to content myself with simply admiring them when they told me that they were writs, or what are called in the USA "lawsuits."
I hope you find the above of interest. Since writing it, I have seen a video documentary about the Klapsmuehle Kommunity in the "Deutsche Rundfunk.' Would you be interested in hearing about it? In it The Welder is interviewed and I was reminded of that well-known saying, 'He moves in mysterious ways his blunders to perform." Yours respectfully,
Staughton Lynd, 11/22/95: I sent the following letter to The Plough two months ago, on September 21. It has not been acknowledged. It does not appear in the Nov-Dec issue of The Plough . I conclude it has been censored, and accordingly send it to KIT so that it may be published.
9/17/95: to the Editors of The Plough : Dear friends, I am writing to protest in the strongest terms the Bruderhof's meeting with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, as reported in The Plough no. 45 (Summer 1995).
I am not protesting the Bruderhof's desire to reach out to persons in the Roman Catholic Church or in the Israeli kibbutz movement with whom it experiences a spiritual affinity, while at the same time recognizing that you and they will never be part of a single community. I applaud this. Nor am I criticizing (although I do deeply disagree with) the fact that the Bruderhof's approach to the Vatican stressed "the firm stand Pope John Paul II takes on ...divorce, abortion, homosexuality, women in the priesthood."
My concern is that Cardinal Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, persecutes those who seek to practice "liberation theology" and a "preferential option for the poor," and that the Bruderhof apparently met with him without saying a word on the subject.
Cardinal Ratzinger is a worldwide symbol of the forces in the Roman Catholic Church opposed to new ideas in general, and liberation theology in particular. According to what I have read and what I have been told by persons both in Latin America and in the United States, Cardinal Ratzinger bears responsibility for silencing figures such as Father Leonardo Boff in Brazil; for directing Fathers Miguel D'Escoto, Ernesto Cardenal, and Ferdinand Cardenal to leave the Nicaraguan government or cease to administer the sacraments; and for countless other punitive acts directed at less famous persons who have spoken up for the poor and oppressed, or sought to think for themselves. Although Anabaptists are no longer burnt at the stake, Cardinal Ratzinger is a modern Inquisitor.
Sister Helen Prejean has described in Dead Man Walking how an option for the poor transformed her life:
"I came to St. Thomas [a New Orleans housing project of poor black residents] as part of a reform movement in the Catholic Church, seeking to harness religious faith to social justice...
"In 1980 my religious community, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille, had made a commitment to 'stand on the side of the poor,' and I had assented, but reluctantly. I resisted this recasting of the faith of my childhood, where what counted was a personal relationship with God, inner peace, kindness to others, and heaven when this life was done. I didn't want to struggle with politics and economics. We were nuns, after all, not social workers...
"Enlightenment had come in June 1980. I can remember the moment because it changed my life. My community had assembled at Terre Haute, Indiana, to grapple with directions of our ministries for the 1980s, and the chief speaker was Sister Marie Augusta Neal... A sociologist, she described glaring inequities in the world: two-thirds of the peoples of the world live at or below subsistence level while one third live in affluence...
"I found myself mentally pitting my facts against her challenge -- we were nuns, not social workers, not political. But it's as if she knew what I was thinking. She pointed out that to claim to be apolitical or neutral in the face of such injustices would be, in actuality, to uphold the status quo...
"'The Gospels record that Jesus preached good news to the poor,' she said, 'and an essential part of that good news was that they were to be poor no longer.' Which meant that they were not to meekly accept their poverty and suffering as God's will, but instead, struggle to obtain the necessities of life which were rightfully theirs. And Jesus' challenge to the non-poor, she emphasized, was to relinquish their affluence and share their resources with the dispossessed.
Something in me must have been building toward this moment because there was a flash and I realized that my spiritual life had been too ethereal, too disconnected. I left the meeting and began seeking out the poor. This brought me one year later to the St. Thomas housing development."
As a result of moving to St. Thomas, Sister Prejean was drawn into her work against capital punishment.
I believe we should stand in solidarity as best we can with those trying to live out the new impulse toward work with the poor. I suggest that this calls for an approach to the Catholic Church not at the top, but at the base. I urge that we forget about the Pope, and seek contact with the priests, nuns, catechists, Delegates of the Word, and volunteers from all over the world who have chosen to work directly with the poor in base communities.
Hilarion Braun, 11/17/95: We have now seen a pattern of denial by Bruderhof when confronted with information implicating them with either a firearm license, wire tapping, lawsuits or an arrest of a KIT person. Many have asked me whether or not the Brotherhood members know of Tehdel's [J. C. Arnold's nickname as a child - ed] acts and whether they are being deceived. Such questions show the thinking of non-cult people who do not accept a cult conscience.
Let us assume that Tehdel kept his gun purchase a secret. Brotherhood members could then rightly deny the allegation. However, once it become public knowledge, they maintained an attitude of defensiveness, and invented all sorts of excuses that tended to deny even the unusual nature of the type of license Tehdel had acquired. In other words, Tehdel is right, no matter what he does. I am convinced that the institutionalized conscience of Bruderhofers is capable of accepting whatever suits Tehdel best, regardless of the claim that Bruderhofers 'are Christians.'
They will have a way of explaining away the arrest of Mike Boller and the outrageous lawsuit when it all becomes publicly known and debated. There is, as usual, the initial denial: "Oh, we would never file a lawsuit against our own children." Then there will be the official explanation of why such a lawsuit happened and why it is indeed 'Christian.' They will be able to explain why they had to use a policeman against Mike Boller, and how that also is 'Christian.' By then, they will have forgotten their initial denial. It all is so predictable -- and pathetic!
"Surrender to the Spirit of Jesus" on the Bruderhof means to stop having a personal, individual conscience and to learn to accept one instead that is like an institutionally induced hysteria by which all non-reason is glorified and all rational speech becomes suspect. The process is cyclical. Periodic crises drive home the lesson so hard to learn: you are nothing -- the Bruderhof is everything. How you fit in will be determined by the Servants. You don't have a conscience -- all you have is an evil ego. You will be a robot for The Cause!
It used to be that The Cause was a complex of idealistic Socialist Christianity. Over the years it became an Arnold vs Zumpe ego trip and, finally, it has become a millionaire nightmare with Tehdel and his thugs. Our parents and our older brothers and sister chose to make this their life and are fully aware of the abdication of their conscience. One can hardly respect that, but one can feel pity for them and, yes, one can love them. I find that I still love the whole crazy bunch. Most of them are at heart idealists, but they gave up the one important element of psychological health, namely the capacity to have an individual conscience and self-respect. It is the fundamental flaw of the Bruderhof non-think. Whatever makes them believe in God and not realize that He made our brain, our individuality and, most importantly, our capacity to love? Is it love to deny family visits? Is it love to have a young man arrested by an armed policeman simply because this young man, a Bruderhof child, has chosen to associate with other Bruderhof children who were expelled? Is it love to file a malicious lawsuit against those who seek dialogue with the Bruderhof? Is it love to make false statements in such a lawsuit? Is it love to call all KIT writers "liars?" The Bruderhof answer is "Yes, if Tehdel says so!"
11/17/95: Recently, a friend of mine with whom I had begun a long study of anti-semitism sent me an article about Elaine Pagel's work on Early Christianity and the Gnostic gospels. Pagel's point in a book to be published this coming summer is that the invention of Satan in the canonical gospels served to make demonization possible which, in turn, facilitated anti-semitism.
For me, the reading of these materials supported my earlier belief that the ancient writings are simply the thoughts and fantasies of ancient cultures and a history of power struggles similar to those we know from our SOB experiences.
The Gnostics were highly critical of the canonical gospel ideas and, for example, dispute the Passion story amongst other dearly held Christian beliefs. Not surprisingly, the early church persecuted and finally 'exterminated' the Gnostics. Their story was found in 1945 in documents named The Nag Hammadi whose contents date back to the days of the canonical gospels.
"Christian scholars" attempted to have these documents dated such that they would appear to have been written much later than the "New Testament," but it is now agreed that they were written contemporaneously with the New Testament writings.
What was funny about my study was that I came across an elaborate document that attempted to study the historical Jesus as contrasted to the religious Christ. I would have found it far more compelling to have witnessed the grace of the historical Christ as more indicative of his reality than any historical proof of a Jewish rebel. The sad fact is that the historical impact of 'Christianity' has been a disaster, while the impact of decent individuals has been the exceptional bright moment in human history.
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe, 11/17/95: I had another Prednisone infusion, which I receive regularly in an attempt to slow down the inflammatory process that Multiple Sclerosis causes. The Dutch medical authorities hope to have Interferon Beta available by December, but then the specialists will choose their own patients on whom they think the medication will have the best effect. It is a very expensive medication, and I doubt if I will be among the first patients who will be able to profit from this.
The night from Wednesday to Thursday Hans was pretty sick, and we took him to the hospital. The surgeon kept him for observation [Hans is now home, but scheduled for another hospital stay soon - ed].
I do think of all of you, though, and wonder if there were any new developments with the SOBs. I did send you that letter I received from Christian Domer, and feel really that these people are total fools.
Andrea Perterer returned from her visit to the Hutterites and is very enthusiastic about her visit there. Gerhard Schwalm celebrated his 81st birthday on Tuesday. The Michaelshof is not sold as of today, as the only people interested will only buy it with the building permit given to the Bruderhof.
I hope all is well with Johannes Zumpe. I have not phoned back as they were not home last time... Much love for now from a very tired,
Inno Idiong for Palmgrove to Christian Domer & Joe Keiderling, from a copy sent by the author to KIT, 10/6/95: Please permit us another chance to break once again the dead silence. Dear Chris/Joe, remember we are at loggerheads prior to your discordant voices and diverse interests ingrained in materialistic and empty pursuit on the part of your business empire (Bruderhof).
Our attention has been drawn not by the Elder nor anyone else in the West to a letter written by you on June 16th, 1995, to Jacob Kleinsasser, our Elder and your Elder, in which you accused him of hijacking (taking over) Palmgrove from the Bruderhof. You further stated that your business empire had invested about US $2 million in Palmgrove and that your indebtedness to Crystal Spring, which amounted to the tune of $718,962.67, is a swap. That's garbage and a stupid statement.
Remember, you had already failed woefully to prove that the Bruderhof had transferred the said amount into Nigeria, even before a Worldly Court of Justice. We wholeheartedly and unanimously decry and protest against your attempt to dodge the settling of your Crystal Spring debts by using such antics and excuses. Please, please, leave Palmgrove and her people in peace. Try to console your group to admit the fact that Palmgrove was built through charity and contributive efforts. Stop being selfish and hoping that Palmgrove will be another Oakwood, which you stripped naked.
We therefore view your propinquity and attitude to the Elder and the debt question as unfortunate. We would like to refer your three years' domineering stay and painful story in Palmgrove to the "Amnesty International" and other humanitarian organizations. It saddens us to know that your past presence in Palmgrove was harborages, businesslike and socially oriented rather then religious, loving and supportive to the weak and the needy. No wonder your structure and administration are based on discrimination, suppression and racial bigotry. We hardly realized that you came with a colonial spirit and mentality to invest in business as you claimed. We thought you were Missionaries who had counted your 'costs' already before following Jesus.
You are now thumbing your hearts and calling us names, and also accusing the very Elder who came into regroup the very people you fleshly had dismembered, the good-hearted Elder who embarked on this rebuilding venture in order to save your faces as well as the Hutterian Brethren Church in Africa. You should not be so ungrateful for his efforts at cleaning up the mess that you left. He is not taking over Palmgrove, as you and your unloving assigns intended. As a devout and honest Christian, he is trying to show the jungle people Christ-like love.
What, after all, is in Palmgrove for him to have taken over, apart from the people's love through his voluntary and unconditional love, which the Bruderhof lacks, defies and despises? Your persistent claim over Palmgrove has exposed your conscience and intentions. Especially it has abused the very people to whose property you wanted to lay claim.
Christian and Joe should note that the Bruderhof will pay Palmgrove reparations in this generation or the next for human rights abuses. Your Bruderhof broke up our families; proscribed education for our children; introduced strange and cultish style of religion; introduced moral decadence among our young people; introduced deadly culture by coercion under the disguise of Christian belief; forced ignorant Palmgrovarians into hasty Bruderhof oaths -- oaths they never understood, as a yardstick for baseless judgement and condemnation afterwards; abused our children by taking their nude pictures for fund-raising in Western countries as well as raising funds in Palmgrove's name to enrich and enlarge the Bruderhof's business empire.
Your Bruderhof also eloped with our young people, only to abandon them mercilessly in the middle of the road in strange and unknown countries like the USA and England without support and love; enslaved Palmgrovarians and subjected them to three years of inequality, mistrust and suspicion; pushed Palmgrove young men into unfruitful marriages and later snatching off their wives and children; bugging rooms of Palmgrovarians living in the Bruderhofs as well as pilfering and censoring their mail and phone calls from homes. Indicting Palm–grove and abusing the Government of Nigeria with subversive statements.
Christian and Joe, please, your Bruderhof owes Palmgrove four million dollars as damages. We shall ask for this money and so also shall our children and grandchildren, dispossessed and stripped of their clothing. Their burdens will be on your heads, should anything happen to them due to your threats. Think about this. Nunc Dimitis,
Staughton and Alice Lynd, 11/6/95: In the October issue of the newsletter, Bette Bohlken-Zumpe comments on two articles that appeared in the August-September issue of the newsletter: "How I Escaped From The Bruderhof" by Ramon Sender; and a piece by Ethan Martin under the title "Chapter of a Life Story."
Both Ramon and "Ethan Martin" write about masturbation. Ramon experienced masturbation as a wisdom of the body that helped him to deal with the Bruderhof when his mind was at a standstill. Ethan Martin considered masturbation sinful when he was at the Bruderhof, and left because he was unable to abstain. Today he feels that he is recovering from a kind of love and sex addiction (of which masturbation was a symptom, not especially important in itself) and has experienced an indescribable joy in marriage to the same young woman he fell in love with at Primavera.
Bette writes in response "that the difficulty we all have about the Bruderhof sex education should not be aired in this manner," and that if "we want to create a forum that will be heard in the world... and find a better relationship with our families on the Bruderhof," then "we should refrain from elaborating on sexual feelings and sexual experiences." She is particularly hard on Ethan Martin. She is "sorry and ashamed" for him. She says that the unraveling of sexual problems is "not Problem Number One at the moment." She concludes, in the face of Ethan Martin's glowing affirmation of his healing path, his relationship with God, and his marriage, that "a story like Ethan Martin's has no strength in it to help any person, nor do I feel that a battle for life -- future -- wife and child -- faith or idealism is won."
First of all Bette, I think you know who "Ethan Martin" is and I wonder why you did not write to him personally, in the spirit of direct speaking in the community. But since you have chosen the forum of the newsletter, let me say: I find your comments ironic. Your Torches Extinguished, for which I was happy to write a Foreword, was powerful precisely because you did not shrink from telling how it made you feel as a little girl when you and your friend Evi were accused of "look[ing] at each other's bottoms" (pp. 56-58); or how, in your innocence after leaving the community, you "became drunk and was raped" (p. 219); and how the Bruderhof brutally punished your father for his adultery and obstructed his effort to seek forgiveness from your mother, and accused your husband of homosexuality (p. 215).
Bette, surely what you wrote about the alleged sexual exploration of children, about rape, adultery, and supposed homosexuality, can be characterized as "elaborating on sexual feelings and experiences." Is there something that sets masturbation apart from these other kinds of sexual expression, so that it should be unmentionable?
You express concern that elaborating on sexual feelings and experiences may cause KIT to lose credibility and make it more difficult to improve relationships with families on the Bruderhof. I can tell you this: Writing the Foreword for your book caused me to lose credibility with former members of the Macedonia community to the extent that friendships Alice and I had somehow preserved for over thirty years are now, seemingly, irretrievably broken.
But does this mean that I should not have defended your book, or that Ramon and "Ethan Martin" should have concealed their stories? I don't think so. I knew what standing beside community meant to many of us, it meant looking for truth, the Whole Truth, the truth that would set us free. It is presumptuous for you to tell another person what should be Problem Number One to him or her. Each of us must seek truth with our whole lives, as light is given to us. In the exchange and celebration of these trajectories we can still find a kind of community.
Renatus Kluver, 11/6/9: The double issue for August and September (Vol. VII 8-9) I read with great interest. I have to draw your attention, however, to the contribution which Hilarion Braun made in this issue where he snipes at my brother Konrad for the latter's contribution on Constantin Mercuocheffs' death and a short resumé of Constantin's life after the SOB left Paraguay.
Hilarion writes, amongst other things, that "it does no 'good to drown in sentimental adulation the TRUTH about someone's life with the implicit assertion that a life, other than a 'saintly' life, would not have been worth describing -- " ...Yes... Hilarion knew Constantin by sight when Hilarion was a boy in Primavera. He certainly did not know Constantin over the past thirty years afterwards, when Constantin struggled to survive to raise a second family, living and working in various parts of Paraguay. My brother Konrad, on the other hand, knew Constantin well after they became brothers-in-law, their wives being sisters, sharing and agonising about such diverse topics as philosophy, politics, third world development, helping the poor and needy. Who the hell does Hilarion think he is -- maybe a self-appointed TRUTH DIVINER? -- writing in such a scathing way about my brother's article and in such an arrogant, uninformed, supercilious and aggressive way, Does he, maybe, have an axe to grind regarding my brother? If you think I'm angry about Hilarion's article... you are right. I flipping well am!
Constantin never got over the heartbreak of being separated from his first wife and children from this marriage. It was many years later that he married again, and was struggling to survive when I met him in 1975 when he was living in Puerto Rosario. On this occasion he invited me to spend the week with him and his family while I was collecting data for the organisation United Nations International Service (UNAIS) which I was working for at the time. The organisation places qualified volunteers into primary care, health and nutrition as well as advising on improving agricultural output and intermediate technology. Constantin was very helpful, giving me background information on the local economy, of which he was very much a part since his patients often had no money to pay for the dental treatment which they received from him and he would often waive his fees. Paraguay has no social benefit system and everything has to be payed for by the patients. This meant that his own family often went short of the basic necessities of life. He had a good heart and a soft spot for others in need, and because of this he was often taken advantage of. It is a pity that Hilarion bases his assumptions on a third hand report from his father about Constantin and did not bother to find out for himself on the odd occasions when he visited his parents in Paraguay and what actually made the man 'tick'. Obviously none of us is a 'saint,' but that should not deny the obvious positive sides of a person. I'd like to know how Hilarion would react if people started writing about his father in a similar vein. I find it 'interesting' that he feels called to 'tell the TRUTH', since this is not the first time that he has contributed to KIT writing about his 'TRUTH'. I'd like to know where he gained his superior knowledge on the life of Constantin after Primavera was closed down, and who the people are who felt compelled, out of the blue, to write to him. Why did not he, or his informants, write to Konrad about his, in my view, unconfirmed 'misgivings' ?....
"I find it silly to try to paint a picture of someone's life that he (Constantin?) would have considered nonsense ..... "
It is obvious that Hilarion has information here which only he seems to be privy to, from where I'd like to know, but to call someone "silly" is an affront and implies that the person so labelled does not know what he is talking about, and that he, by definition therefore, must be not quite right in the head. Hilarion goes on to accuse Konrad of "inventing history". I think that Hilarion should publicly, i.e. through KIT, apologise for calling Konrad a liar, since, as I have stated at the beginning of this letter, Konrad, besides Cyril and Margot Davies, had a far better insight and knowledge of how Constantin 'ticked' than anyone else I know. What is Hilarion trying to achieve anyhow by attacking Konrad in this supercilious way?
I would like to have this letter published in the next KIT in its entirety and will send Hilarion a copy of the same to give him a chance to vindicate himself. Greetings to you, Ramon, all the KIT staff. I wish you all the necessary energy and perseverance to carry on with publishing letters from Bruderhof children and others. Lots of love to you all,
Hilarion Braun, 11/15/95: Good to hear from you, Renatus! Too bad your salvo has to be in terms of such indignation. I never called Konrad a liar, nor did I call him silly. I was writing about a style of writing that I felt omitted important aspects of a person's life that ends up painting a dull picture of a colorful life. I don't know Konrad, but wish him well, and love the fact that he contributed to KIT! Thanks, Konrad! I think it's great that we have this forum in which DIFFERENCE does not have to mean being mean.
Vince Lagano, 12/3/95: Open Letter to Charlie Lamar, to whom I've often expressed these sentiments: Say what you will about liberalism and your preferred conservative realism, I would not have left Roman Catholicism when my age of reason set in, nor steered a middle course in the progressive movement in the late 40s and early 50s, without a liberal fix on life. The army got me for two years, but I found myself antipathetic to all but its basic living-togetherness. And the Community got me on the rebound as an answer to living such a life openly and for the sake of goodness only. I became a late-brother under Heini Arnold's, Gwynn Evans' and Stanley Fletcher's guidance, and kept a liberal stance until conflicting emotions left me wide open to The Grand Inquisition of 1960 before the Witness Brothers, and eventual exclusion. After that I kept in tune with Civil Rights struggles in the 60s as I found my liberal Libra birthright in library pursuits.
Charlie, thank you for resolving the conflict between liberalism and conservatism in your letter,
1995 Cult Awareness Network (CAN) Conference
A report of our Saturday attendance.
by Arny and Judy Tsukroff
We attended the CAN National Conference, Saturday, November 4, 1995, in White Plains, New York. The books that Ramon sent, along with the Peregrine Foundation brochures and KIT Newsletter samples, were waiting for us at the registration desk. Because of the lawsuit brought by someone who was forcibly deprogrammed, CAN has been forced to declare bankruptcy while they appeal the verdict. However, we were given free registration scholarships due to our circumstances. Throughout the conference, the focus was on general techniques used by all cults. People only mentioned specific groups to identify where they had been cult members.
The Saturday conference opened in the main ballroom with Paul Martin and Margaret Thaler Singer as speakers. The topic was: "Influence Techniques in Society: Their Potential for Harm" -- i.e. thought-control/brainwashing and how it can affect people adversely. They took us progressively through education, advertising, propaganda, and clear into thought-control.
Martin explained that society is reluctant to deal with victimization, because it is easier to do nothing and blame the victim. This is why there is so little public concern about controlling groups. Public debate about mind control is avoided. Also, our government was reluctant to refer to mind control and brainwashing in official statements about Waco so as not to offend religious sensibilities. Although far more people are infected by cults (join) than get most common diseases, almost no money is spent on research about how to protect the public from cult influence. He showed us that much cult control comes from the principle of reciprocity, where individuals respond to favors they receive by "returning the favor." Cults convince members that they are receiving so much from the group that they constantly feel indebted and constantly work to pay off their indebtedness.
Dr. Singer deplored the fact that there are no education courses today on propaganda and other subjects that teach critical thinking. Because of lack of education on these subjects, cults are able to get away with all sorts of information distortion. The purpose of propaganda is to influence the public to accept the propaganda as their own ideas. She described how cults discredit their critics by funding research and conferences to save tax dollars, and giving their critics trips to lovely places. Cults use apologists (professional people who advocate for the innocence of cults) by giving them special tours of their places so they can publish accounts of what the cults are "really" like. She was gleeful over the four professionals treated to special trips to observe the Japanese AUM cult before it released poison gas on the subways in Tokyo. Their published glowing reports of AUM were discredited by evidence reported this week in the world press that the cult aimed to take over Japan and then nuke the U.S.
Singer went on to list the ways cults attack their critics. Parents and ex-members are discredited with derogatory labels: like 'traitors,' 'hysterical families.' Then they attack the mental health professionals. Next in line are researchers who produce evidence of deceitful recruitment or report how the cult harms its members. Then journalists are frightened off. One of the cults' main arguments is that thought reform does not exist, despite historical evidence starting in 500 BC, and continuing through recent research. Singer, with Lifton and West, studied thought control in Korean war veterans.
At 11:15, Arny went into the session with Steve Hassan and John Wick on: "Avoiding the Abuses and Pitfalls Along the Spiritual Path". They spoke of the dangers of following a cult figure who claims super powers, such as the ability to know what people are thinking, or in the case of the 'computer guru,' Lenz, the ability to generate light around his body (which, incidentally, is a phenomenon that anybody can do, believe it or not !).
Judy went into the session "Family Communication" put on by a panel of parents and children, former cult members. The speakers pointed out how parents must smother their natural nurturing and follow the parenting rules of the leader in order to remain in the cult. A mother gave a heartbreaking account of standing by while her little son was emotionally abused repeatedly by the leader and those supporting him, The mother had wanted her son to "know the truth," which she believed the leader had a monopoly on. The cult so twisted logic that she felt her natural parenting instincts were evidence of what a bad mother she was for wanting to protect her son or be close to him emotionally. A father pointed out how the leader/group has to replace the natural loyalty of family members to each other with loyalty to the cult in order to control the parents and their children, who represent the future of the cult.
At 12:00, we broke from the sessions and set up the books, pamphlets, etc. on a table vacated by Friday's session. We were lucky that the computer on that location was not needed. We sat there and told people coming by about our small cult. (I hope, that by this time, EVERYONE of us realizes that the SOB is a cult. If anyone has any questions, please contact us [politely] and we will tell you why.)
After lunch, we attended the 2:00 P.M. session on: "Free Speech and the Internet" given by Dan Leipold. His point was that the Internet is presently free and may be accessed by anyone with anything to say. This condition is under attack because it seems to threaten so many powerful groups, such as Scientology.
A workshop on cults and the legal system was our last of the afternoon. Herb Rosedale warned the audience of the futility of pursuing legal redress against cults as cult issues are not recognized by law. Rather, successful suits have been to repair personal injury or to restore rights. For example, parents who have had late teenage or adult children lured into cults have no legal redress. But legal action can be taken about being defrauded of money, for being coerced into a contract which the person wanted to void, for not being paid minimum wage, for job-related injuries, and for the practice of medicine without a license.
Rosedale warned very clearly against people suing cults in order to get even. Not only is there no body of law about cults, but the cults have deep pockets and the expertise to manipulate the legal process to their advantage. Cults have been successful in scaring off many attorneys from pursuing grievances against cults by: 1) Making silence a part of out-of-court settlement agreements, 2) Filing numerous harassment suits against active legal advocates until they can't afford to take on new clients, & 3) Paying off attorneys who agree not to accept any more ex- member clients. For issues not covered by law, such as control and influence of family members, Herb stated that the most effective remedy is to expose the abuses in the public media and to educate people to the truth about what they are doing. Joel Greenberg reported his successful suit in small claims court which fulfilled his purpose of being heard in a court of law and gaining the ability to think critically (by preparing his own defense under the guidance of an attorney).
At 4:00 P.M., we broke off early again, and went to cover the book table. We were there all the time the "Marketplace" was open. At 5:00 P.M., Arny covered the book table the rest of the afternoon till 7:00 P.M., while Judy attended a meeting of professionals. This was a first at a CAN conference, and very popular. At least 25 attended, and about 1/2 of those mental health workers had started or continued training after leaving a cult. There was helpful discussion of how to approach cult issues with clients, when Exit Counseling is indicated, how to continue therapy, etc. Other important points were: how to listen to the client, to research their cult and provide appropriate validation, to empower the client to do their own research and come to their own conclusions, and to empower the families in the same way.
We packed up and left before the evening program without stopping for supper. (We should have known better!) After I managed to lose us in the boondocks of New Jersey and spent another hour retracing our steps, we had a productive discussion on how to deal with the stresses that come up for us when we attend ex-member events. A stop at a pleasant restaurant completed the restoration of spirits, and we got home at 10:30 for a good night's sleep and some enjoyable time the next day with our son Nathan, his wife Susan, and business friends of theirs.
Norah Allain, 10/18/95: Many thanks for the October KIT... I read all, and confess that the first part was beginning to send me to sleep -- admittedly it was evening -- but no sooner did I get to Charlie Lamar's article than I was delighted and sat up and took notice. I share, to quite an extent, his enthusiasm about airplanes, but above all he provided quite a lot of ideas upon which to chew. I shall go back to them. I registered one or two questions, but mostly found myself agreeing.
I find that you were very courageous to publish as you did [re masturbation - ed], but we also have to do that if we are to fulfill any useful purpose, and so that others can gradually get their minds opened. I know that 30 years ago I was as conservative as the Bruderhof on the subject of homosexuality, and my guru dealt the first blow at that prejudiced attitude. As for masturbation, I'd never heard of it until Roger became a Servant and had to deal with it. I'm sure he agreed that it was a bad habit, but clearly he didn't really consider it a sin and felt that single men who indulged in it should not be so humiliated and expected to confess... Basically, I always had rejected the idea that there was anything bad about sex, and I had no patience with the elaborate precautions at the Bruderhof to not even allow young boys and girls to see one another in a bathing suit -- and not a bikini, mind you! Much Love,
Hans Zimmermann, 10/7/95: Imogene Pass Run, 1995. A year has gone by and I find myself in Colorado again. With the possibility of relocating to this beautiful state, I could not wait and arrived at the end of June. It did not take long -- and Eck, my younger brother kept needling me -- to try this year to run the full 18 miles of the Imogene Pass Run [see KIT VI #11 for Hans' report of the 1994 run - ed]. I have to admit it did not take much prodding, but to do it would take a lot of training, both for longer distances and, more than anything, the altitude.
One of the most demanding but one of the best trails on which to train is the Bar Camp Trail that leads up to Pikes Peak. The lower part of Mt. Manitu is very steep, and after a quarter mile I'd be totally winded and had to slow down to a walk. Only on the less steep sections was I able to jog again. Over the next six weeks, I slowly increased my distances from first 6, then 9, 12, and 18 miles, each time working myself higher up until well over tree line at 12,000-plus feet. In addition, we climbed a few 14,000-foot mountains (of which there are 54 here in Colorado) for altitude training.
I missed the running of the Pikes Peak Marathon because I was back in New York for Cocoa Grading, so I couldn't cheer along any of our Onteora Running Club members from New York. But by September 1st I was back in Colorado Springs with only one week's time to get re-acclimated to the thin air of the Rockies before the Imogene Pass Run. We drove up Pikes Peak and then ran down to Bar Camp and up again for our high altitude training. Pikes Peak's altitude is over 14,000 feet, while Imogene Pass is only 13,114. On September 5, my wife Bettina came out to Colorado and joined us on our trip to Ouray, but not to hike or run the race. We arrived around 3 P.M. on a cool, cloudy Friday the 8th, with occasional rain showers which, at the higher elevations, would become either hail or snow. We were preparing for the worst, because several weather systems were menacing the area. That night was very cool with frost on the mountains, but when we got up for an early breakfast, the sky was clear with very little wind, somewhat on the cool side. The weather was ideal for running, perhaps still cold at the higher altitudes where there was frost but no wind.
The race started promptly at 8:30 A.M. My plan of attack was to stay within my abilities, not go out too fast and burn out within the first 5 - 6 miles, after which it began to get steep -- around the 10,000-foot level. I concentrated on the race and pacing myself so that the natural beauties I had observed the previous year were totally lost to me. I ran (jogged) when not too steep, and otherwise kept to a brisk walk which, at over 11,000 feet, can become quite torturous. After 8 miles, Eck and his friend were long out of sight and I was moving with a group where I was not making any advances nor falling behind. I was hoping to make my move on the down side.
At 2:37 into the race, I reached the top, had a good drink and headed down the steep upper part. I made very good progress, passing many people, and it just didn't seem very long before I reached Tom Boy for another water stop. I needed to drink and tighten my shoes which were too loose. My feet had started to feel hot in spite of the double layer socks we were using this time to prevent or minimize blisters. Trying to re-tie my shoes with gloves and cold hands plus aching legs and feet took a little longer than anticipated, so I lost valuable time that had to be made up. Running became more painful and I was getting tired. The midsection is nearly flat for about 1/3 of a mile, and I actually came to a walk, which was very frustrating.
Because this was the longest distance I had ever run, I was uncertain as to how well I would stand up, considering that last year I crashed -- running out of blood sugar and, with that, no more energy. There was little else to do but give it all the effort I could muster and see what would happen. I started to run hard again and was able to overtake people one by one. The challenge now became "Can you overtake the next one -- and the next?" My feet were burning, and blisters were a certainty. There were still many steep and rocky sections where other people slowed down, but I took the chance and kept running as fast as my tired legs would go.
I must have passed at least twenty or more people in the last 1-1/2 miles. They were strung out along the trail, each fighting their own pains and troubles. Finally the last turn in the trail and the finish line was in sight about 150 yards down the street into Telluride. I gave it a last big push, glancing over my shoulder and hoping that no one would have the audacity to pass me in the home stretch. But no one was even in sight. I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:31 and virtually collapsed because my feet were burning so much. It was painful, but also a sense of satisfaction to have finished. Eck finished with a time of 2:46, his best ever, and Bev finished with a 3:04. Let's ignore adding on the seconds!
It should be mentioned that the Imogene Pass Run attracts a large number of top mountain runners from all the Rocky Mountain states, so the competition was very tough. We, Eck, Bev and I placed 5th, 6th and 7th respectively in our age groups. We headed for the showers and then to a sports bar where we had lunch and a few beers. As we drove back to Ouray, the thunder clouds came rolling over the mountains with lightning, hail and snow pelting the peaks we had just left behind -- a close call! Of course, once back in Ouray, we all congregated again in the hot springs and reminisced about the race and all the ups and downs that went with it. I only had a small blister on my left heel that was soon forgotten.
Any one coming to join us next year???
Sam Hofer and Hannah Friesen, 11/14/95: It has been said many times that every person has a story to tell. Each of us has a song, a poem or story inside -- maybe even a whole book. A good part of our growing up is imprinted on our life experiences, taking us away from or toward the values of the past, but often leaving us searching for ways to make the past and the present coexist for a meaningful future.
Recently, we decided to start a project called Hutterite Voices. "What is a Hutterite voice?" you ask. "Do I have a Hutterite voice?" We use the term to put a working title to the project that we have in mind. Basically, if your background is Hutterite, your reflection on any aspect of life is acceptable, although it goes without saying that addressing experiences from your Hutterite past would be most suited for this particular project.
Most of us are familiar with the literature published about Hutterites in the form of researched studies. These studies, written by outsiders, tried to capture the essence of the Hutterite people. While very important for educational purposes, these writings still do not and cannot speak on behalf of individuals like ourselves. Outsiders to the Hutterite community cannot easily -- and indeed do not have the freedom -- to capture the essence of Hutterite experience from within because so much of life is internalized.
Until recently, very little creative literature has been published by Hutterites, neither by the vekgeloofene nor individuals still living in the colony. Hutterite Voices is a grassroots project through which we hope to gather creative material by writers of Hutterite origin for possible publication. We believe that people from Hutterite background, whether or not they are still living communally, could offer fresh, unique and useful perspectives which many readers across Canada would find interesting.
While it is not our intention to limit the range of topics you may choose to write about, nevertheless, we make the following suggestions for topics that may spark ideas: Hutterite folklore, spirituality vs tradition, rites of passage, coming of age as a man or woman, finding community out in the world, Hutterites in the twenty-first century, leaving the colony, what my parents and/or grandparents taught me, why I am or am not a Hutterite.
Please remember that these titles are suggestions only. Our preference is that you write from your own heart and your own experiences. If you choose to fictionalize your writing, that's fine too. Please send a copy of your material to either Hannah Friesen, 306 Montgomery Ave, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3L 1T4, or to Samuel Hofer, Box 9784, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7K 7G5.
You realize of course that without a specific date of completion in mind, little comes to pass. We specify, therefore, that submissions must be received before or on February 28, 1996. All submissions should be typed, double-spaced and no more than twenty pages in length. You will be notified whether or not your work has been chosen for publication. Please note that we will be unable to return the copy of your submission, therefore, you should ensure that you retain a copy of your material. It is quite likely that there will be some payment for your contribution, although in the early stages we cannot be sure how much it will be or when it will be forthcoming. After all is said and done, your contribution -- unless you choose to take this opportunity to launch something bigger here -- is more a labor of love than a career move. Yet who knows what it could lead to? At the very least, it could mean a chance to have your very important poem, story or anecdote published in a book that many eager readers would get to enjoy. We encourage you to think about it and contribute to the Hutterite Voices project. We are excited about the possibilities, and would love to see what you have to offer.
We, the editors, are both former Hutterites. Samuel makes his living writing and publishing books. His works include fiction as well as cookbooks. Hannah is an instructor at the University of Manitoba. She is a storyteller and sometimes a writer.
P.S. We would be grateful if you passed this letter along to former Hutterites who you think might be interested in submitting material.
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe, 11/28/95: I have had several responses to my contribution in the October KIT, in which I said that I thought the story of Ethan Martin and Ramon about the masturbation problem was not a wise step to be printed in KIT. That is all I really meant. I feel that if you write down on paper all the intimate thoughts and feelings, it is embarrassing for the reader. I do find it courageous to step forward and actually name the difficulties of the past, but we do not have to indulge in very detail. This might be a question of cultural differences, as here in Europe many feel like I do, but this should not be a problem as long as we feel free to air out our feelings.
I do not consider the topic of sex 'taboo' at all, and know that we are victims of a very narrow-minded upbringing. The story by 'Name Withheld' in the November KIT, page 8, filled me with compassion and sadness. How many sisters had babies every year in the heat of Paraguay and never knew the joys of marriage and each other in married life? Always this pointing finger of "No-no!" worked as a destructive and painful force in our lives. These stories belong to life, and can bring a better understanding of ourselves as products of community life.
In my October KIT comments, I did not want to hurt anybody personally or be judgmental. I just feel that the KIT letter is read so widely and by so many different people, that we should be very aware of what we print so that we do not lose our credibility. I did have questions from Germany and also Holland about this, and that is why I responded the way I did. Please do not read more into it than what I tried to say. Love,
by Jere Bruner (1955)
After the cultured gardens of time-beloved villages,
houses familiar, tables worn smooth by hands,
evening myths we loved, songs sun by voices,
came the unwelcome terror.
Trees and horses, food and daylight
were obsoleted by efficiency
and we, poor heart, poor heart, were left to cry
alone among so much convenient steel
concrete and plastic and then not even cry
had forfeited their use.
And the end was this:
white white white white
not of white clouds or marble or white hands
not of white snow and sky
but white like unwritten paper, empty, still.
Oh I was glad to wake and hear
the night wind's somber violin
brushing dry tones through trees and over roofs.
by Susanna Alves Levy
Time moved at a slow pace in Loma Hoby, my village somewhere in the Paraguayan backwoods. Loma Hoby, as far as I was concerned, was the nicest of the three villages in Primavera, the settlement of this Christian community they called "Bruderhof'. I had a lot of time to dream and fantasize, to read, watch and listen to the pulse of the seasons. My first great love, Daniel, had long ago departed for Europe, but I discovered that life went on regardless and that broken hearts do mend.
I was busy waiting for those unknown mysterious things to happen which would signal that I had grown up, and which would finally allow me to enter the realms where, so far, only adults had wandered. It was my honest belief that whatever this mystery moment might be, it would be a sudden occurrence, a waking up one morning to find it staring in my face.
There came that day when I was jolted into the realisation that it was, after all, beginning to happen. I was fourteen years old. I had come home one afternoon to change my knickers. They were soiled. This was strange, but then, such things do happen even to the best of people. In my usual untidy manner I threw the stained garment onto my bed, slipped on a clean one, and promptly left for more interesting matters.
When I returned home at dusk, I was summoned by mother. "Simone," she said in an unusually friendly way, "I would like a word. In your room, please."
It didn't seem odd, as I was constantly in trouble. Her friendliness was strange, though, and the pace of my heart quickened. What had I done this time? There were thousands of reasons I could think of, but which one had been found out?
She closed the door carefully behind us. Then she picked up my soiled piece of clothing and held it up. I winced. Why hadn't I put it away!
On the small bedside table was a white cotton bag bulging with some mysterious contents. She picked it up and pulled out a piece of cloth roughly the size of a flannel. She was also holding some kind of strap which turned out to be an ugly belt.
"Your time has finally come," she said, "and this is how you use them."
She proceeded to show me how to fold the small towel and attach it with safety pins to that dreadful belt. It was obvious that she expected me to know what she was talking about and what to do with it next. I panicked. Did she know that I knew? And if she did, how? No, she couldn't have...
Mother turned and pointed to a small booklet next to the bulging bag. "I think you might find reading this quite useful," she stated matter-of-factly. Then she left the room.
I was dumbfounded. So that was it? But there hadn't been any blood! The stain was brown... Oh no, oh no!
I picked up the pamphlet. It was about flowers, bees and birds! I felt relief. So she didn't know. What a stupid book, I thought. If mother knew what I knew! I sneered inwardly. My friend Martina had long ago told me about all those dirty things that happen to women. We had secretly climbed into the room of the village's nurse and stolen a book full of explanations and pictures of wombs, of unborn babies, about bleeding once a month. Martina told me how her older sister used those towels. And I even knew from Martina what the men did to make babies! It made me feel sick with disgust. With a little snort I threw the booklet into a drawer. What a waste of time!
I threw myself onto the bed and stared at the ceiling. So, now I am a "woman". It did happen overnight, yes, but what was the difference between yesterday and now, apart from this uncomfortable development and these new items of clothing I would have to wear? Where were the breasts? I stared down the length of my body. All flat. Quite skinny. It didn't add up. I felt annoyed with it all. I checked out my underwear. Yes, something was definitely happening down there. I placed the flannel gently between my legs, attaching it to that strange belt-contraption. Yuk, I thought, everyone will see that I have something bulging between my legs!
I practised walking, pacing the room. It felt awful. What was I going to do now? I did not like this at all.
Mother had only recently moved back home, from hospital, where she had been for close to a year recovering from a heart condition. It was difficult for me, hard to accept her being back with us full time. She was, in my view, forever probing into everything. She had taken on the role of a "controller". I had to obey, to do my homework, to help in the house and with my younger siblings. I was expected to behave with responsibility, and I loathed it. I had to keep my cheeky mouth shut but couldn't. I had to wash dishes, dust the rooms, wipe the floors, collect the dirty washing or carry the huge bundles of clean clothes back home from the communal laundry. It all kept me away from my beloved books and from my escapades around the place, which were all so much more exciting than all this stupid adults' work.
During siestas I was expected to sleep. It was the time programmed for everybody to rest, but usually I had other plans. I waited a while. As soon as father and mother snored loudly I slipped out via the window, sneaked up to Frishman's house and scratched gently at Lorraine's window sill. Lorraine was my best friend now.
"Come on, Lorraine," I whispered. "Let's go and steal grapes and watermelons."
"Coming, Simone," was her mouthed reply.
Grinning cheekily, she slipped out quietly and we picked our way on the tips of our toes toward the orchards and plantations. We had long ago acquired the perfect technique of sneaking away without making any noise, and were convinced we were so good at it that we could easily compete with Indians.
Lorraine was a year older but we were in the same class at school. She was not very bright, but I liked her down-to-earth common sense and splendid wit. We were equals when it came to cheekiness and tomboyish feats. So we slipped away down into the banana plantation which was excellent cover at that time of day, to reach the grapevines full of lovely sweet berries that seemed numbered, tagged and counted, intended only for the ill and feeble, the old or the more important ones in the village, and only if there was a bumper crop we, the "healthy", the "common" ones, got a share of this delicious fruit.
The vines grew on a kind of arcade at a height where we could just reach the grapes with our mouths. So, giggling with delight, we stood on our toes, sampling the white ones, then the pink and the black. It instilled a sense of triumph in us to have managed to get ahead of the grown-ups.
Then came the turn of the watermelons. There they lay, round and large, their speckles giving them away, warm and seemingly glowing in the burning midday sun. We sought out the biggest, the ripest. With a sharp downward treading movement of our bare heels we split the fruit, then scooped out just the sugary centre bits, loudly and rudely slurping the glorious sweetness of its juice. Many a good melon was spoilt like this, but we didn't care. It was our revenge on the "big ones", the "forbidders".
If the bell rang to announce the end of siesta, we ran home like hares, slipped through the window back into the room and then walked out of the bedroom door with a facial expression matching that of the most innocent angel. Most of the time we got away with it, but sometimes we were caught.
Whenever I was caught making mischief, mother hit me. She had a loose wrist. It was her way to try and dominate my rebellious spirit. Mother didn't understand that she was going about it in the wrong way. There was hardly a day that she didn't slap my face, pull my ear or yank my hair. I hated her for it. She caused me feelings of such despair, humiliation and anguish that I rejected her intensely and at times vehemently wished she was dead. Once I was driven to so much fury that I screamed at her, "Oh I hate you, you hag! I hate you!!"
It was meant to hurt, and it did. She was so shocked that for once she did not hit again but started crying.
Now it was my turn to be shocked. I found myself sobbing desperately in my hideaway among the brambles and thorns in the thicket behind our house. That day I discovered and understood for the first time quite clearly what it was to feel guilt: GUILT written in capital letters across the skies. Guilt staring back at me. Guilt that I deserved feeling. It was extremely unpleasant. It couldn't be looked in the face.
I had made her cry! As far as I remembered, I had never made her cry before. This was something new with which I couldn't cope. What next, what now? Oh, all this growing up!
It dawned on me that I should be very careful really, that I ought to hide my self, my innermost being, and show only those faces of mine that people around me could handle, and even if only by hitting me. I began to stow away inside of me all those matters that belonged to my heart. I pulled them out into the open only when I was alone. My hideaway was the best place for this, and I was there often.
I realised that I was living out three roles, that I lived on three levels. There was my life with my family, with my difficult mother and all those numerous siblings, and father seeming always so distant from it all. Then there was the daily life away from the family, school for example; time with my friends away from home. In this sphere I got along quite well and felt relatively happy. But there was the third aspect of my life, this "inside" which had to be kept so very very secret. This inner life was very much there too, acutely present and active.
It began with the story of my unrequited love for Daniel [KIT April 1995, p. 7 - ed] and it continued with Manuel. Manuel was about eighteen years old at the time that I decided to hate him with all my heart and soul and being, and I was kept very busy hating him. He continued living in the hut that actually was called "Daniel's hut" by everyone, even after Daniel had left and gone to Europe. Manuel continued living there and it was quite clear to me that he had no right whatsoever to live in those quarters.
The mocking smile on his face on the day that Daniel had walked up to me to ask about that stupid postcard of mine had never been forgotten. If ever someone hated somebody wholeheartedly, it was me then, hating Manuel, with every fibre of my being, with my whole conviction and energy. It was beautiful, strong, passionate hatred. As nobody knew about this hatred but myself, there were no acute feelings of guilt. God was very distant and was looking after the "good" only. So I could dwell on those beautiful dark feelings.
Ah yes, God. He was there for the righteous, the blessed, those who obeyed and were humble and forgiving. I did not belong to that flock, I knew, so he was no partner to me in my day-to-day living. This at least was a help. There was no censorship coming from those quarters. There was enough censorship coming from the people surrounding me. So I hated Manuel happily with all my heart and soul, and could dwell on this elated feeling as much as I wanted and as often as I wished.
I had noticed that Manuel, since that postcard business with Daniel, had started watching me. Each time we ran into each other somewhere in the village or whenever he passed in front of our house, he looked at me quite openly, with an expression of curiosity. This interest was uncomfortable, I did not like it at all. He should mind his own business. I sensed that it had something to do with the postcard and I could not explain it to myself. This constant discomfort, added to my hating, made me watch his comings and goings, because thus I was able to avoid him and walk around the other way. I began using different paths to reach the places I had to go to, such as the school in the mornings, the dining hall at midday and in the evenings, the play areas in the afternoons or work departments where I helped out now and then. Coming home was more difficult, but there were ways. I had enough imagination.
Manuel continued working on the campo after Daniel had left, so it happened now and then that when I heard the gentle thud of a horse's hoof and the soft creaking of a saddle, I found myself reacting instinctively, stopping to look who was riding past. It was always Manuel, and it infuriated me and filled me with disgust. To make matters even worse, Manuel would sit there on his horse and look at me with great interest on his face. How hateful!
As time went by it became more difficult to avoid him. He was much more around the place than Daniel had ever been, and lately I encountered him more often on foot. It seemed at times that it was useless to try and walk other paths, because time and again he would suddenly appear at places where I least expected to see or meet him. It filled me with anger. It fueled my hatred.
One of the most "important" families of that community in Paraguay were the Zehnders, and around that time the grown-ups, in one of their constant meetings, decided to send them to live somewhere else. Maybe it was Germany, or England. Maybe they just moved to one of the other two villages nearby. It was of little importance to me. What was important was that their house had become vacant, and I was very curious to know who would be the lucky ones to move in. It seemed to me to be the "villa", the "mansion" of our settlement. It was built of real bricks, and had a roof of red tiles. The parents' bedroom had real glass panes in one window, while all the other windows were covered with fine wire mesh to keep out mosquitoes and other unwanted insects and creatures. The three bedrooms all opened directly onto a verandah that ran the whole length of the house, extended further by a trellis running the length of it and continuing around the house on its eastern side. This arbour was covered in passion flowers and winding climbers showing off clusters of pink blossoms during most of the year. Against the eastern side of the house stood a rough wooden table and benches. A few metres away grew an immense cluster of bamboo, its thick stems incredibly inviting, its busy leaves constantly rustling and whispering in the slightest breeze, home to a host of birds, to raccoons and possibly a number of other unknown creatures. The house was surrounded by a small orchard of grapefruit, lemon and orange trees. Lovely mulberry trees dragged their branches, leaves caressing the ground. The whole area was hidden away from the rest of the world by a two-metre high hedge of grapefruit trees kept at that height and which never bore fruit. Other native trees and shrubs spent their time blossoming and humming with insects when it suited them. The path leading up to the house and verandah was neatly lined with flowers and spider plants.
I had only very rarely been to that house, whenever I had "tray duty", which meant carrying trays of food to peoples' homes if they were ill or couldn't come to the communal dining room for other reasons. Emily Zehnder had been ill for a long time, and I heard that this was the reason that the Zehnders' house was different and more "special" than the other dwellings, but it was my personal conviction that they lived in this nice brick house because her husband, Gunter Zehnder, was the most important of the "Servants of the Word", which was what they called the men who called the shots. As far as I could see, the Zehnders belonged to the upper class or higher cast of our Bruderhof community. They were very much respected. The daughters, young women with whom I never had any direct contact, were noisy, assertive and sometimes slightly arrogant, although their younger brother Kurt, my class mate, came across as quiet, respectful and rather shy.
So here was this lovely "villa" standing vacant. Who would be the lucky ones to move in? Well, they decided that my family should live there! I had to pinch myself a few times. What a privilege! It looked as if this pushed us up slightly on the hierarchical ladder of the community set-up.
I loved that house. It was built so solidly, so much better than all the other houses. The space separating us from the other houses was a relief too. I could sit in its gardens or wander around in the small orchard and no-one could see me from the road, but I could see the people walking by behind that hedge. And the bamboo cluster, wow! There I was, like the opossums, climbing and clambering around in it, together with my new friend and neighbour Karina, a girl roughly my age. We sang and sang and swayed to and fro on its flexible branches and we would exhaust our repertoire of songs before finally climbing down again.
There was something else about that house which I discovered very soon: I wasn't exposed to Manuel anymore as I used to be. Formerly, all our outdoor activities were in front of our living quarters where the sandy road passed by, which gave access to where Manuel lived. And Manuel used to walk by so often, much too often for my taste. Now all that was gone, and when I was at home I felt safer, less exposed. Now I just had to be wary whenever I ventured out into the village.
This reduced the time and efforts of my former avoidance exercises, and very soon this in turn led me to another discovery: because I was seeing Manuel less often, because I needed to avoid him much less, I noticed that something vital had changed. I was hating him less! Oh, how sad this discovery was! I still wanted to hate him, I had enjoyed the feelings of hatred so much, this burning, angry, strong feeling coming straight from my heart, but now it was slowly seeping away!
So I decided to mend the situation. I would hide away less in future, in order to revive those beautiful terrible feelings. This I did, but it wasn't as easy as I had hoped. By living in the "villa", I withdrew and became an unwilling recluse during so many hours of the day. How could I avoid him if he wasn't there to be avoided? Now I had to go out of my way to find him, which would then enable me to avoid him...
It was a hard task, and so often things didn't work out as I wished. I really saw him less and less and I missed the game of hide-and-seek. There was no game to play anymore and here I was with all those passionate feelings to be let out, but the scapegoat was disappearing! I knew that his daily routine and routes had not changed, it was the change in my own life which had brought about the new situation. I saw him so much less now, really, this was not nice at all!
One day I suddenly stopped in my tracks. There was something very strange in all this! Something was the matter. What on earth could it be? Manuel's curiosity and interest in me had not changed, this was quite obvious. What was it then?
In a moment of sudden insight, it struck me with abrupt and shattering clarity: I missed him! Oh yes, I missed him -- I was missing Manuel... Impossible! Unbelievable! This could not be true...
It was dreadfully consternating. I had to admit that my hatred had changed, had transformed itself into something quite different, quite new. I suddenly understood it: I had fallen in love with Manuel. I truly missed him, missed seeing him, accidentally running into him. I had fallen in love with Manuel, this boy whom I had sworn I would hate for the rest of my life, with all my heart and soul!
Was Hate then such a close relative of Love? How very puzzling...
As to these newly discovered feelings for Manuel, they lasted for a certain time, then they died slowly, quietly, quite on their own. It was not for the lack of seeing him or any change in daily routines. The strength of the emotion just disappeared, burnt itself out. The ashes that remained are today's memory, the remembrance of this metamorphosis taking place in an adolescent girl; one clear passion growing to become another, one that I had believed was exactly its opposite.
Today I ponder those ashes, and remember fondly and gratefully the very early insights I gained through this exhilarating exercise in hatred.
Norah Allain: Life Story
Roger and I Arrive At The Cotswold Bruderhof
In May or June of 1939 there began to be ominous signs of a war with Nazi Germany. Roger and I had been living almost as hermits with our baby Paulo, unable to earn a living because Roger was a deserter from the French Army. Naturally we were beginning to wonder about our future. Every month we received a news bulletin from the Peace Pledge Union, and the current issue contained an article about the Cotswold Bruderhof. The group sounded extremely attractive to us, so we decided that Roger should go alone and visit the brothers and sisters there. He was away for about five days, hitchhiking both directions, and came back full of enthusiasm. I had been afraid that the religious aspect would put him off, but not so. Hans Meier had assured him that if he really gave himself to the life, this aspect would become clear to him and he would find faith in time. One did not become a full member all at once. Now I should come and visit as well so that we could see if we wished to become long term guests and then, possibly, novices.
Although not interested in conventional Christianity and disillusioned by the Oxford Group, I was essentially a religious person, so the idea of Christianity in such a radical and complete form appealed strongly to me. When the three of us arrived soon afterwards, Winifred Bridgwater greeted us and took us to our room, downstairs in a little cottage not far from the dining room. She took charge of little Paul for whom a cradle had been prepared so lovingly that I felt at once the strong motherly atmosphere. Winifred herself, although not yet married, was already a very motherly person, and evidently I still needed this.
Upstairs lived Hardi and Edith Arnold with four small children, and Edith was in delicate health and had Dorli Bolli to help her. Dorli was a bit crippled in one leg, a very cheerful, kind-hearted young woman. I never got to see much of Edith because she worked in the printing house, I believe, and not in the kitchen or laundry or any of the children's departments where most of the sisters were. But I found her very beautiful, with a gentle manner. I remember 'Mama' [Emmy Arnold - ed] once embracing me in a motherly way, and yet there was something a bit unnatural and assumed about her motherly role. I noted even then, however, that something in me responded, perhaps needing compensation for what I had missed in my own mother who so early had dropped out of my life. The woman who most impressed me as an embodiment of the mother, however, was Margrit Meier because of her quiet and dignified manner. Also she was always connected with babies.
Of the men, Hardi and Hans Meier made the strongest impression at the time. I can still remember going to tea with the Meiers, who had five children then, little boys with their hair cut straight all round in the peculiar fashion prevalent at the Bruderhof. Hans had a fine manly look about him, and a most convincing manner of speaking with guests. Hardi was just too good-looking, and evoked in consequence a feeling of mistrust, which, however, melted away whenever he took the trouble to be charming to one. I remember him once asking me how I was feeling, to which I replied that I was very happy except for seeing too little of my husband.
I did feel that, but was already much too strongly disposed in favour of the Bruderhof to pay much heed. It seemed to be the answer sent straight from Heaven both for our personal problems and for the situation of the world in which we found ourselves.
What very much attracted me also was the singing at mealtimes and meetings, and the occasional folk-dancing. What was said at the meetings had to be translated, either from German into English or vice-versa, as the number of German-speaking and English-speaking members was by now about equal, and not everyone had managed to become more or less bilingual. We were progressing in German, but it took at least a year until we could express ourselves fairly well.
In the meantime, with war looking more and more likely, Roger's presence at the Bruderhof as a deserter from the French army was becoming untenable, and it was decided he should go and find refuge with some of the pacifists known to the Bruderhof who lived not far off. He tried, but after a few weeks returned and said he would prefer to give himself up and take his chance with the British government. After all, they did allow men to be conscientious objectors. So he was put into prison, where, apparently, he was quite well treated, began to study the Bible seriously, and had interesting talks with the prison governor. The Bruderhof had good connections with the Foreign Office, and succeeded after a few weeks in getting permission for Roger to remain in England with a 'stateless document', on condition that he did not leave the Bruderhof. I can still remember going with Guy Johnson, a young lawyer, who, with his wife Eleanor, became very good friends of ours, to bring Roger home, with great rejoicing, from the prison.
I believe it was on that day that he was asked to say something, at a mealtime or household meeting, about his life, and we emerged from our anonymity as just two of the fairly numerous guests, and soon after that we must have been accepted into the novitiate. So far there was no cloud on the horizon. But already I had become vaguely aware that Hans Zumpe, who was acting as steward and gave the impression of being extremely intelligent, seemed unnaturally quiet and retiring. When I questioned someone, I was given to understand that Hans only recently had been 'taken back from exclusion'. This was a rather disturbing idea to me, but I didn't get the full shock of it until I actually experienced someone being put into the Great Exclusion.
Friends who never were members of the community often wonder why those of us who felt like this didn't get up and challenge the institution right away. Well, people are not like that; once you have been attracted by the ideal and committed yourself, you have a stake in the life of the community. It took years and years of experience and gradual maturing before I reached the point of being able to tackle the issues and realize I had been a sort of prisoner all those years. The Bruderhof taught you to inhibit your conscience and critical faculties, and turn them onto yourself instead.
Next Roger and I began to make an early acquaintance with the Bruderhof habit of moving people around frequently. First we moved to a room in the old farm house, and then were sent to the second smaller hof, a few miles away, called 'Oaksey'. This had been started more recently, and consisted chiefly, as far as houses were concerned, of an old manor house, and a three-story old farm house. A dining room had been built onto the farm house, a bungalow added, and one or two other old places converted into dwellings. At one time we lived in a room above the stables, and enjoyed the warmth from the animals in the winter. We really had the feeling of being in a farm -- the cows were milked quite close to the farmhouse, and all the fields were immediately around us. A beautiful avenue lined with huge old trees led from the road to the manor house, and nearby stood a little wood with primroses and violets in the spring, and a rather damp field which in springtime was covered with a kind of orchid. Lovely!
The transition to a communal life was a tremendous change for us, extremely stimulating. I was delighted to put Paulo in the baby house to be looked after with the other babies by sisters who worked under someone qualified for this task. I still saw him quite often, and I went there to feed him myself. That way I got to know the other mothers, several of whom were also with their first babies. There were a few somewhat older families, but a large proportion were young married couples about our age, and some single people of both sexes, but rather more men. I was beginning to miss seeing more of Roger, though, as we were both in our separate work departments most of the day, and after supper at 7 P.M. there would sometimes be a household meeting to which guests would be invited as well.
The School Interlude
It turned out that we had been sent to Oaksey because they wanted me in the school there. Balz Trumpi (married to Monica, youngest daughter of the founder family of Arnolds) was in charge of the school. It was still quite small, and I was supposed to teach English to the older group, who were between about 13 and 15 years old, all of them were boys except for Anna Ebner. No one had thought of asking me beforehand if I liked the idea and was prepared to try, and in fact, I hated the idea, but I tried. I wasn't used to teaching English and had never taught boys and was a very young 24,. They could speak German together and I wouldn't know what they were saying. I think they had a lovely time with me, but I didn't feel that I was teaching them anything. Once when we went on a walk I actually climbed up a tree with them, and had qualms afterwards as it dawned on me that this was probably not the right thing to have done. However, nobody ticked me off, so maybe they didn't give me away. But in spite of liking these youngsters, I knew I wasn't getting anywhere and I wasn't happy, so I asked to be relieved of the task. Heini, a brother of Hardi and Monica, was the chief Servant in Oaksey, with Bruce Sumner as his helper and Moni Barth the housemother. I talked with Moni, a really motherly and understanding person. (Her boys were amongst my pupils, so perhaps she realised also from what they related that it really didn't go.) She listened with sympathy and agreed that I should not be forced to carry on if I found it too much. But I had to come to a brotherhood meeting and be admonished by Heini for having 'despised their trust' in me. This was nonsense, but I was so glad to have been released from the task that I made no attempt to argue.
During the next year in Oaksey Roger and I seemed to be taking turns at getting into trouble of one sort or another, but of his troubles I can only remember the Harry and Billy episode. They were slum children, evacuated from London during the war and sent to areas in the West, where they were just billeted upon families. The Oaksey Bruderhof got Harry and Billy (age about 11 and 13), and the brotherhood gave them to Roger and me as temporary foster children. No one gave us any advice and we had no knowledge at all as to how to deal with such children. I don't think they were specially problematic, but they did wet their beds every night, which certainly caused practical problems for me, with our shortness of linen and lack of facilities for getting clothes dry. But Roger was the one made principally responsible for them, and he felt them as a great burden, and became irritable. I guess that made him rather insensitive to my troubles, as I became gradually aware of the fact that our ideal society had its flaws.
When I left the school I was given the job of cleaning all the stairs, passages, toilets, etc. in the manor house, and observed that special food was always brought up for Monica. She was apparently recovering from some illness. O.K. But why was there another young novice mother with a baby the same age as mine who regularly received fruit, butter, cheese and eggs, when I didn't receive anything extra? It seems ridiculous now at this stage of my life to remember how much I minded, but I was like a child, with a child's sense of outrage and inequality. I just couldn't understand why she should receive such attention and not I as well, and this was the first inward blow to cast a shadow on my vision of the perfect life.
The shadow once cast, I began to see other things of the same sort; I noticed how Monica lived a life more or less apart, being something of an invalid, and appeared to be treated almost as if she was royalty. I reminded myself constantly that she was really not very strong and no doubt needed all this attention, but soon I was put to work in the kitchen, from which vantage point I was bound to notice a number of other little discriminations. I worked in the general kitchen with Kathe F. and Else B. and Louise in the sick kitchen, and soon saw that there appeared to be no clear rule about who got extra food, but for the most part it was the older members, those who had been there in Germany, who came off best. In other words, there was some sort of a clique, which existed in spite of all that was continually being witnessed to openly. Those who were not in the clique seemed to me to be my real sisters. The men were all right, except that Balz seemed rather distant, and since I had the feeling about Monica that she was the 'princess' that was natural! However, the only one for whom I had really warm feelings from among the older members was Moni. Annemarie also made a fairly good impression on me.
Oaksey itself remains very strongly in my memory: I loved it because it was old, and had the old manor house and beautiful lawns and old trees, and an enclosed herb garden, and then the farmhouse and farm yard, smelling so strongly of cow muck and straw, and beyond that there were the fields and then a wood. I shall never forget that field which was full of a kind of orchid, of which until then I had only found rare specimens. We lived for a time in a room above the horse stables. It was winter and on our way to breakfast we passed by steaming heaps of manure. Then we had breakfast all together in the dining room which one reached by means of an outside staircase, sang a morning song under the guidance of Balz, and ate hot porridge and delicious brown rye bread, margarine and jam. I loved breakfast.
The other people I remember best from those early days are Fred and Margaret Goodwin. We often had to do washing-up in the evenings with them, and we had some fun together, though I think it was evident even then that Margaret had a terribly strong moralistic strain. I remember that her mother came to visit, and afterwards presented me with a piece of black stuff with flowers on it for a dress, and Marjorie must have given me a length of peacock blue woolen material, and I was given an old blue dress, and was delighted to have the costume of the full members, except for the kerchief.
Pauli was taken care of, first in the baby house, by Monica, who worked mornings, and by young Liesbeth, who seemed very responsible and grown-up at 16. He was weaned at 10 months, and I remember having some trouble getting rid of my milk, and going to Moni for advice. In those days I was extremely interested in the various physiological functions of motherhood, and observed with a certain regret, followed by dismay, how the milk gradually ceased to come in, and finally disappeared rather suddenly, leaving my breasts awfully flat. For a few months I was quite glad to have no baby any more to feed -- all my physical strength was at my disposal once more, and I used to fling myself into the practical work with great gusto, heaving heavy baths of potatoes or cabbage around as if I had been a man.
It was not long before I was pregnant again, to my great satisfaction. I am sure I felt that it enhanced my importance to some tangible degree to be an expectant mother. So after two months I went along to Moni to tell her, and she confirmed it and was kind and gave me motherly advice. Shortly afterwards there was an occasion when there was some folk dancing, in which I joyfully joined in, only to be reprimanded by Else B. This was something that no expectant mother ought to do. I remembered how I had gone tobogganing with Roger down the snow-covered slopes behind our cottage shortly before Pauli was born, and I smirked inwardly, thinking 'These people have no idea what can be done!' Nevertheless, it seemed to add to my importance to have someone watching over me like that, so in a way I was pleased, although disappointed.
Looking back now, it is clear that I suffered from a terrible inferiority complex with regard to the older members, and felt myself rather despised and shut out by some, so that I yearned for anything that would help to boost me up in my own eyes. Unfortunately, Roger was far from understanding this. He had his own troubles, and when I made some attempt to hint at mine, he just said impatiently that I should go and speak to the Servant. The Servants were Bruce and Heini, of whom Heini had already ticked me off severely about the teaching business, and Bruce I just instinctively felt to be much too young to have any understanding. Moreover, I knew that it wasn't just as simple as all that: in some way I too was to blame, because I ought not to be bothered about the kind of trivial things that did bother me. But the other people ought not to be the way they were either, and often it seemed to me that ordinary folk in the world outside behaved with more consideration towards one another than many of the Bruderhof people, and yet there was all this talk about sacrificing oneself and so on. However, it was also said that we were not better than anyone else, and that things could be wrong among us. It was the duty of anyone who found anything to criticize in another to go and say it to him openly. So I ought to go and say what I found wrong, just as Roger said, but I hadn't the courage to do it, especially as intuition told me that I should be worsted and made to appear in a bad light.
We were also becoming very excited about our future, because of the necessity to emigrate. Roger and I had by this time become firm novices and were allowed to attend brotherhood meetings. This also helped us both quite a lot, and we made much progress with our German. Learning German was very necessary for ceasing to feel an outsider.
The war had broken out by then, and the town of Coventry, not very far from us, was being shelled. Once a bomb fell half a mile away. There were air raid alarms in the night, and we had to go down into some sort of underground shelters. I felt frightened -- it was rather exciting, but we never suffered any actual damage. In the evenings we got together quite a bit with our fellow novices Margaret and Fred Goodwin, and had fun while we did the washing-up during brotherhood meetings.
One incident was brought about by the problems I was having and had tried unsuccessfully to discuss with Roger. On the one hand I thought Roger just didn't understand, but a part of me suspected that he might be quite right, that this was all very petty and should be ignored. But somehow I didn't succeed in doing so, and it all went round in my head until one day I couldn't stand it any more, and just walked off the hof and went wandering all day in the countryside without noticing where I was going, and finally it was dark and I far from home. It was pretty awful of me to cause my poor husband so much worry, and there was little Paul whose mother was suddenly missing, but if my world didn't add up, I had to do something to provoke a change. I didn't figure it out at all, but it was a cry for help. At this point a soldier on a motorbike appeared and wanted to pick me up, clearly for purposes of his own. But I managed to touch his heart, and he turned out to be better than he thought he was, and brought me to some police point from where they could ring up the Oaksey Bruderhof. This resulted in me having a talk with Hardi, as I didn't want to talk to either Heini or Bruce, and afterwards with Moni. I only remember that they were both very kind, and Moni became a real mother figure for me, and the issue was, for quite some time, resolved. It had a way of popping up sporadically through the years, but not as such a big issue, and I learned to cope with such things and see them in proportion.
There came the time in the neighborhood, however, when our future was becoming uncertain on account of our growing unpopularity as a pacifist community which also had a large proportion of Germans. We were advised by the Foreign Office to emigrate, or else all the Germans would be interned. So it was decided in this difficult time to take all the firm novices into the brotherhood.
Later, when the Oaksey Bruderhof was given up and everyone squashed once more into the Cotswold, we were duly prepared for baptism in quite a large group by Hardi and then baptised. I remember having been rather disappointed that we were not more closely questioned beforehand about our past lives, so that everything should be confessed and made clear. It seems strange to me now that I could even have hoped for everything to be quite clear, in view of all that I already had experienced in the Bruderhof. But hope I certainly did, and went on doing it for years, the same as everyone else. There simply had to be a way in which people could live together in brotherly love, and if we hadn't yet managed, we had to go on trying.
[to be continued]
ITEM: Some of the Nag Hammadi writings were actually written *BEFORE* some of the New Testament gospels. The Gospel of Thomas, (a favorite of Heini Arnold, by the way), is for the most part, a series of quotations of the purported sayings of Jesus. The vast majority of these sayings are virtually identical to those found in the New Testament Gospels, but there are a few additional ones that do not appear in the New Testament, such as:
(108) Jesus said, 'He who will drink from my mouth will become like me. I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him.'
(113) His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?" Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is.' Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
Once more, a necessary reminder: if you find the KIT newsletter a help, an inspiration, even a unique irritation, or at least thought-provoking, please remember that it is an ALL-VOLUNTEER EFFORT. No one receives a salary to provide you with this service. We rely on your contributions just to pay the printer and the postman, with hopefully a little left over for the phone bill and, now, the COBI attorney also!
If you take things too seriously, it's not funny!"
"WaVy GraVy, Clown-at-Large
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Torches Extinguished, by Bette Bohlken-Zumpe
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