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KIT Staff U.S.: Charles Lamar, Editor; Vincent Lagano, Assistant Editor; David E. Ostrom, research.
EuroKIT: Linda Lord Jackson, Carol Beels Beck, Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Benedict Cavanna
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K e e p I n T o u c h
Table of Contents
Joy (Johnson) MacDonald
Johanna (Patrick) Homann
Ruth (Baer) Lambach
Susie (Zumpe) Braun
Nadine (Moonje) Pleil
Miriam (Arnold) Holmes
Nadine (Moonje) Pleil
Hilarion Braun, Inno Idiong - 'The Bruderhof in Africa, Pt II'
Errata: In Matt Ellison's piece about his mother published in June, some words were ommitted from what should have been the ending of his second paragraph and the beginning of his third. The text should have read:
"... Jack was particularly fired up and wanted to visit immediately, which they did, and they were soon ready to give up their new home to join the small band of seekers after a better life.
Jack had had rheumatic fever as a boy and as a result suffered reccurring heart attacks throughout his life. He could have avoided conscription on health grounds..."
In Barnabas' piece dated May 3rd, also published in June, the last sentence should have read, "I hope you will interpret my contempt for the Folly of Faith in that light." (long dash) rather than reading, "...my contempt for the Folly of Contempt in that light."
Heidi Strickland new address: 39 East Main Street Apt. 2B, Ayer, MA 01432 tel: 978 772 6621
Joy Johnson MacDonald, 6/25/00: EuroKIT 2000 (Rhön KIT) Here is some information to help you find your way to the German EuroKIT gathering at Oberbernhards. The gathering will begin Saturday mid-afternoon, 22nd July 2000, and run until Tuesday morning, 25th July. All meals are included at a cost of DM150, or £50, or $75, with reduced prices for children.
The address of Jugendherberge Oberbernhards is: Oberbernhards 5, 36115 Oberbernhards-Hilders. Telephone number: 06657 / 240 The youth hostel is situated to the east of Fulda. If travelling by car, take the road towards Hilders through Kleinsassen. Jugendherberge Oberbernhards is just before the village of Dormbach and nestles at the foot of the Milsburg, an 835 meter-high local landmark. There are good rail links to Fulda. If you come by train you will need to telephone the Youth Hostel so one of us can collect you from Fulda Station. Ask to speak to Bette Bohlken-Zumpe or Isolde Brummeloh.
Remember: we are booked from Saturday night, with our first meal being Saturday evening until after breakfast on Tuesday 25th July. If you want to stay Friday or Tuesday night, let Isolde or me know as soon as possible so we can book it for you. Looking forward to meeting lots of KIT people next month,
Judith Tsukroff, 7/1/00: The date for the KIT Autumn Picnic in Connecticut is Sunday, September 24. We found a pleasant site near Norfolk with nearby restrooms and shelter in case of strong breezes or unexpected raindrops. Food will be pot luck. Hike can be organized according to your preferences. Biking, anyone? Let us know what your interests are and what food you can bring.
Hope many from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey can come, and whoever can come from further afield is warmly welcome! I am looking into camping information and local motels. Looking forward to a lively gathering!
Charlie Lamar, 6/4/00: Folks will remember that Dave Ostrom, having led a life of caffeine and sugar doughnuts was removed from the heart transplant list some months ago, being greatly improved by diet and medication.
Having recently experienced a few problems, he was in again for tests. They are watching to see if they should ream out his heart arteries or do a bypass operation. They will decide in the next few weeks. He is supposed to take it easy. He can read KIT, but calmly.
Blair Purcell, 6/12/00: This must be the 7th or 8th year we've held a spring picnic and reunion for former Bruderhofers and their families. First, in western Maryland and now, this year and last, in southwestern Pennsylvania. We had Pavilion # 3 at Tharp Knob at Ohiopyle State Park. Much warmer this year than last. Just as the chill a year ago was barely tolerable, any more heat would have been distinctively uncomfortable yesterday (June 11th).
Still, we had a nice turnout with folks from northern Virginia, Pittsburgh, Somerset, Latrobe, Washington (PA) and, even, Sioux Falls in SD.
And therein lies an amusing story -- but, perhaps, tragically typical of those involving the Bruderhof.
Andy Bazeley was with us at the picnic -- who is now an over-the-road trucker based in Sioux Falls. Andy grew up in the Bruderhof, was expelled, and was discovered by a Hutterite woman living in a homeless shelter -- with no job, no money and, literally, no shoes during a Dakota winter. The KIT network was informed and a long process undertaken on Andy's behalf. He was taken into the home of another former Bruderhofer for a period, a job was found so he could earn his keep and, before long, Andy had his own apartment. He's moved around a bit since; surely he is not fully settled yet. He seems to us to be a bright young man with a great deal of promise.
Andy had never known his father. The KIT network found his dad in Maine and they met again for the first time since Andy was an infant.
At any rate, Andy won the award yesterday for coming the longest distance to reach the picnic. He left his trailer with a load of gummy bears parked behind the Pizza Hut in Farmington while he drove the tractor unit up to the picnic grounds.
In mid afternoon, a couple of Bruderhof families arrived to pick strawberries on a nearby hillside. We've often been the subject of "inspection" by Bruderfolk at our picnics and weren't surprised to see them. On reflection, though, it appears they didn't know who we were -- because they didn't leave nor did they approach us as some have done in the past.
A little later, however, another Bruderhof family arrived and took up their location at an even closer picnic table -- but still far enough away there would have been little chance of "contamination."
Alas, some of the big boys in the group walked from where they were towards Andy's big semi tractor. Perhaps they just like big rigs or maybe they noticed the South Dakota license plates. Andy spotted them admiring the big shiny black tractor and walked over. Surprise! He knew at least one of them. They talked a bit and then two of them cut away from the conversation and meandered back to where the adults in their picnic party were just about to unpack the boxes and start the picnic festivities.
It didn't take long, The unpacking stopped and at least one of the adults disappeared for twenty minutes or so. It seemed to us as if he had gone to find another picnic ground OR to report our presence to whomever such an occurrence must be reported. When he returned, however, the conclusion had obviously been reached: it would be dangerous to remain in such proximity to former Bruderhofers and/or their families.
In spite of the fact we were already in the process of tidying up and departing (if they could only have waited another ten or fifteen minutes), they backed the truck up to the picnic site, reloaded everything and departed. Just prior to their disappearance, the three boys again walked past the tractor rig -- studiously ignoring Andy. We have come to know that Andy is held in contempt by some of the folks at the Bruderhof -- even those who don't know him -- who seem to derive their opinions from others (sounds like gossip to me!). Perhaps Andy's biggest sin was insisting (as his mother's only child) on attending her funeral at the Bruderhof. He was told her dying wish was that Andy not attend the funeral. Takes courage to convey/create that sort of message to/for a bereaved child -- but the Bruderhof had that kind of courage
What a sad commentary.
Last thing -- as we left and our little station wagon approached the crossroads at Farmington (just a bit north of there) on our way back to route 40 east, a great big wild turkey hen crossed the road in front of us. It was a big turkey -- looked as tough as nails.
We'll be back next year -- we'll be sure to write ahead so we don't get another family in hot water. And we, at least, had a good time.
Rhoda Dorrell, 4/28/00: A short history of the Cocksedge and Dorrell families: The Cocksedge family, Edmund and Amy, together with their nine children, left Paraguay for England in 1960 and settled in Gloustershire. All the children married. Ian had four children but divorced and remarried a few years later. He now lives at 54 Medow Leaze, Longlevans, Gloucester, Glos. GL2-OPS UK.
We have photos of Ian when he was in Forest River, because he was involved in an accident and ended up in a wheelchair with a broken hip. Hugh has three children and came to Australia in 1972. He was diagnosed with cancer of the bone marrow just over a year ago, but with the best treatment is now in remission, thank God! (Phlegon) Jeff as he calls himself now, lives in Cheltenham, England. Rhoda (myself) married Francis Dorrell in 1965 in Gloucester. Francis' family lives in Devon UK. We immigrated to Australia three months after we were married and have two adult children and five grandchildren.
We love the life here. The Welham and Chatterton families came here also in 1964-65 and all settled near Brisbane, the capital city of the state of Queensland. The Welhams have since moved to the New South Wales. Jennifer, the youngest in our family, came to Australia in 1972 and met a lovely man, Alan Stoneham, and she also settled here and has four children. Our father, Edmund, moved to Australia around the same time, because the English climate was bad for his health and he needed a change after Mum's death. The rest of the family is still in England.
I have just recently come on line and have enjoyed making contact with old friends from all over the world. I joined the Religious Society of Friends, 'Quakers,' in 1964 and have been involved in our small Meeting here in Brisbane ever since. It is through my work for the Quakers that I got involved with computers. We must keep up with the times! Greetings to you and your family,
Arthur Lord, 6/20/00: The sad news of Annie Ellison's passing away reminds me that I must get off a few comments about Wheathill. When in 1944 Mildred received the pamphlets she had requested, there was a short letter with them from Jack Ellison, whom I had known when we were members of the St. John Ambulance Corps. It's a small world!
Although my wartime duty as a Conscientious Objector was mainly spent with the National Fire Service in Cumberland, I had in summer 1944 been transferred to Headquarters about five miles from our home. We decided that I must spend a weekend at Bromdon.
I took my bike on the overnight trains to Ludlow, from where I cycled in the dark the seven miles up to the Community. An oil-filled hurricane lamp lit the kitchen at Lower Bromdon, in the centre of which was a red-hot stove, surmounted by a huge aluminium pot of lumpy porridge and a big kettle of boiling water. I was greeted by a short, cheerful, blackbearded man called Norman Price, who presumably wished me well in his heavily Welsh-oriented speech.
After breakfast with Owen and Alice Humphreys, I went to work with a group of brothers, in the drizzle, a thoughtful sack over my shoulders, sorting out a clamp of potatoes which had started to rot at the lower end of the Seven-acre Field. Dinner was held in the communal dining room, which was then a wooden building on the left of the road where it levelled out behind the cottages. The Mother House was a bit further on, opposite Thomas Jeffrey's workshop; our Stephen was born there -- the only one of our family at whose birth I was present,
The Saturday afternoon was free to wander round and chat. I especially recall talking with teacher Audrey-Ann, who was dressed in blue and wore a spotted kopftuch, or head scarf. The kopftuch was not strange to me, as many of the millworkers where we lived in Lancashire wore them. This conversation was very important for my report to Mildred, who then visited and we became clear that we must go.
We had often discussed what to do after the war. My superior had offered to place my name on the register of a subsidiary company making munitions, so being in a 'reserved occupation.' Instead, I registered as a Conscientious Objector and did not know how long the conditional exemption would go on. Mildred had lost her teaching post at Blackpool because she stated she was a C.O. We married on 18th September, 1940. Linda was born the following year, and Norman Anthony in 1944. Mildred had been teaching the family of a Civil Servant from Gibraltar, and wanted to start a private teaching practice. I felt it was wrong to hold private property, but hoped we could overcome that problem. I mention these things as an indication that we were already thinking along lines of which community life was a progression.
Charles Headland warned us about the many problems to face in communal life, but we were adamant. In April, 1945, we sold up our home, to the horror of our parents, and threw in our lot with the Bruderhof at Wheathill.
Things were not easy. Nonetheless there was a steady cheerfulness in all activities. I soon got myself allocated to emptying the buckets of the men's toilets. Two big containers hooked each side of a yoke were taken across the dingle and the contents added to the garden compost. Mildred helped Mary Cawsey in the kitchen for a time. She recalled going with Doris Chatterton to collect dandelion and nettle leaves. Before long, Mildred was working in the children's departments, and I was helping on the farm. Our food improved as Fred Kemp got the garden in better shape.
Norman Price was one of the brothers who drove the horses; Alf Withers was another. Ploughing was done with horses, as was mowing, even corn-cutting. We tossed the hay by hand and then it was carted by horse-drawn wagons and ricked. Grain was stooked by leaning six sheaves against each other, then stored in barns when possible until it could be threshed.
I do not know when we acquired the threshing box, but with an old Fordson tractor we made a little income by going round the district to places like Deuxhill, Stottesdon, Farlow. Sam Withers usually took the machine behind the tractor, which then acted as a stationery power unit for the box. In due course, a nearby farmer got a combine harvester, and we sold the threshing box. It was also taking two brothers away from, the community for long periods.
Our farming was mixed, and we grew much of the feed for our dairy herd: hay, corn, straw, swedes, peas, etc. Potatoes were a main crop, and we produced splendid cabbages which at almost 1000 feet above sea level were not attacked by grubs as could be the case on lower farms. We sold them on the stall in Birmingham market, where we also sold eggs and other garden produce. Our succulent strawberries were very popular.
Bette Zumpe has written a very good account about 'Wheathill in the June issue of KIT, though wemay differ on minor details. Llewelyn and Bessie came from Primavera, and they were rather looked up to as being from the main community. Llewelyn was made servant. Stanley lived for a long time in a caravan on the 'fourth bank.' Sin was seen in the children's community. On one occasion, Anthony was put in a room without food with a guard, and when Mildred found out she rescued him and spoke sharply to Llewelyn, as she did to Bessie concerning a similar procedure which was adopted to Linda. Anthony would only be three and Linda six years old.
We had severe weather. The army came to dig a way from the main road and we tunnelled through to Cleeton Court. Bette writes joyfully about the country, and I thoroughly endorse all she says. When spring sunshine broke through, one heard singing -- oh! -- she expresses it much better then I. As the sun shone forth at lunchtime, we could open the double doors on the men's side of the dining room and look over the valley towards Wolverhampton and sing carols, wandering songs, joyful songs. It was wonderful.
When necessary, everyone available joined in the farm work. On one occasion, a field full of docks had been ploughed, and the long tap roots lay on the surface. The heavy soil needed breaking up. It was the field on the lower side of Silvington Lane. A new set of discs was put in, and it not only broke the soil but it chopped up the roots and all the bits grew.
So we had a communal work day, and lifted the roots by hand. The schoolchildren were expected to spend some of their holiday working on the fields or helping with the livestock, Just like any other farm children. Some of the evacuees from Germany found their niche helping with the sheep which were based near Cleeton Court and on the moors around Cleeton St. Mary. Owen and Alf were very much involved.
It would be unfair not to mention the 'crisis' which developed early in 1948. People were sent away. Some brothers were housed in a marquee. Furniture was piled outside the Lower Bromdon kitchen. Boys and girls were taken from families and separately grouped. Mildred and I were moved with Aendel to Cleeton Court. We were still in the novitiate and fairly free to move around, so as things became short for the group at Cleeton Court, Mildred and I went to Bromdon to get whatever was needed. She would not take 'no' for an answer.
Word was eventually got to a number of brothers who were working in Germany, and Balz and Guy came hurrying over. They had a meeting with the brotherhood members at Cleeton Court, and then they all went to Bromdon leaving Mildred and myself in charge of Cleeton Court; they said they did not know what may happen. We do not know what took place at Bromdon, but Llewelyn was deposed, and finally he had a nervous breakdown. Hans Meier eventually became servant, and (this is important) all those who had been sent away came back, all except a guest who we later discovered had not received his mail.
Before I would become a member, I asked whether the Eberhard Arnold thinking and writing was superior to the teaching of Christ. I was assured that this was not so, and was not so regarded. So, a quite big group of us joined a brotherhood in which women and men were able freely to speak without fear. In fact, the sisters asked that, when questions were to be discussed, the witness brothers should not take the lead. I think maybe that is one of the differences which Mildred found when we moved to Primavera. She certainly found a difference between the women and the men. It is unfortunate that she is not here to write her own experiences, to describe the work in the kindergarten, and the school.
We had a good relationship with neighbours, people like Paddy Murphy, Tom Broome, and Cecil Pearce who caught rabbits for us and for himself. We used to go up Brown Clee (Burf) at Eastertime, where a fire had been lit and we ate our goodies. The fire was needed to counter the cold wind, but the wind did not prevent some of us going for a naked swim in the freezing water of the pool higher up the hill. Br..rr..r!
Mildred has often referred to the help she received from Barbara and Buddug with whom she worked. The kindergarten was below the steep hill road from Upper Bromdon. In front of it was a path which lead past the cobbler shop and across the strawberry field, thus avoiding the roadway to Upper Bromdon. The strawberries were an important source of income, and we agreed to make a certain distance from the path available to everyone.
I will have to call it a day, because not only do I want to get this off in the mail, but I have to be up early in the morning. All sorts of things have been omitted -- the arrival of the group of children from Germany, my various escapades with the tractors, the arrival and departure of Stephen, the rest of the children, our parents.
Sufficient unto the day...
Johanna (Patrick) Homann, 5/29/00: Things have been really crazy here lately with long hours at work (I'm sometimes gone for 14 hours, which includes the one hour drives each way), then Katie's family graduation celebration on Saturday which we combined with Chrissie's 23rd birthday celebration.
Her dad reserved a club house in his apartment complex and he and his parent's, sister and husband and aunt took care of all the food and decorations. I put together two photo collages of the girls throughout the years. The official graduation ceremony was on Sunday and Katie graduated with honors, a Merit scholar finalist and Class Valedictorian in a graduating class of 500. I am very proud of her, not just for these achievements, but also because of the kind of person she
is. The same goes for my older daughter Chrissie. She is also doing well in her studies of Commercial Art and just started a 40 hour a week summer internship at a prestigious realty company while working another part-time job 20+ hours a week and taking summer classes too. So, I am very proud of both of my girls and thankful that, despite the breakup of their parent's marriage, they still turned out so well. All the best. Love,
KIT: Most of the next several articles come from the Hummer, a notorious e-mail list for (semi) computer-literate ex-bruderhofers.
Name Withheld 5/16/00: Tim what you wrote about what kind of sex is allowed or not allowed is only too true. Once when we were still there in the community, the men had a meeting and Heini discussed oral sex with the men. Another time we all together, both sexes, had to have a meeting and Heini laid down the law about sex in a marriage. It was absolutely devastating apart from being disgusting. After that meeting, I personally felt that there was always a third person in the bedroom and that person was Heini. We had to give our souls, our marriage, our children, everything to Heini. Of course he said we have to give it all to God. However, we were forced into giving everything to Heini. Something snapped in me when I realized just how Heini took control of our lives and got his henchmen to make the rules so that he could, in the end, not be accused of having done any damage. It was absolutely horrible, to say the least. We were so subdued by all this stuff and in the end did not dare stand up against these awful rules and regulations. We were in prison, there is no other way to describe it. Greetings,
Name Withheld, 5/21/00: Does not a lot of the stuff about women being at a disadvantage come from the Bible? I have read many times where it says that the woman has to do as her husband decrees, she has to submit etc... having many children? Well I did not find that in the Bible, other than that the woman has to submit. This submission bit, which is always very much stressed in the community used to get to me so much that I hated being a woman in the community. To the question of whether a female could gain control like the men did, yes it started with ____ and _____, but when Heini caught on what was happening, he had those two women and their husbands slapped into exclusion so fast that they didn't know what hit them. So it is not so easy for a woman to gain control. The chauvinists reign; they definitely reign in the community. We women were kept very busy with having to submit and having one child after another so we had no time to think of being insubordinate. However there were a few exceptions, and some of these exceptions made the great mistake of going to confess their thoughts to Heini. I had, at an early age, made up my mind that I was not going to go and confess to such thoughts.
Name Withheld, 5/21/00: Phil, I was very interested in what you say about women cult leaders in the June KIT. I have heard that some of the women cult leaders have ruled or still rule with an iron hand, and have the men under control too.
So all this thing about the men being superior must have started right from the word go. Does it not state in the bible that woman was taken from the rib of Adam? That is what it says. Whether that is so is another question.
There is another point that bothers me. It is this: when a girl gets into trouble she, the girl, is always at fault. Never the man. It would be a matter of the girl flaunting herself in presence of the man. The community also adopted this same attitude. I will say here that now, of course, things are different. So often a girl nowadays just does ask for trouble.
Greek men always wanted to marry a virgin. However it was all right for the man to have extramarital affairs. Women are measured (or were) by a different standard than men. I feel we are all human beings and all received a brain to be used, so why were there restrictions for women who wanted to be doctors, architects and lawyers. If women have been given a good and normal brain to work with, why were they discriminated against? I am not a women's libber, but I do feel that women should be allowed to function in a profession in an equal way. Of course today, that is more and more the norm. I am referring to the time when women were completely barred from any kind of profession. They had to stay at home and be the nurturing person. They had more or less to be the slave in the home.
If you ask one of the community men today about women being treated like second class citizens, well they would very quickly inform you that the woman is honoured in the community. I know differently about all that honouring.
I am actually glad that we can have this kind of discussion, I have, so far, kept all these feelings to myself. I am glad I can air them now.
Ruth Baer Lambach, 6/1/00: All this talk about appropriate sex on the Bruderhof!
I am announcing that as a result of a sexual activity on my part over thirty-one years ago, a new life has entered this overpopulated, polluted world. While her mother and I both come from Ontario, Canada, (the second most polluted area in North America -- Texas being number one) neither of us live there now and she, Emma Louise, was lucky to be born in Zurich, Switzerland, where the air is clear, and the water pure, and the streets are clean, and you get fined for throwing garbage on the streets, and you can't do your laundry in the evenings and on holidays because it would make noise for your neighbors. Yes, Zurich has welcomed my little granddaughter, Emma Louise Steinke, born at 8:35 Wednesday morning May 31, 2000.
She weighs 3410 grams and is 52 cm in length. Neither of these figures give me much concrete knowledge about how big she is. I can visualize a pound of butter and I want to know how many pounds of butter I have to stack up to know her size. My son Karl and his wife Neera were both raised in families that professed to be atheist. Karl is German, Swiss and Swedish and Neera is Welsh and East Indian. Her grandmother was a devout vegetarian Hindu. Sex moves the world. Sex changes ideologies. Sex is the true life force and that's why religious leaders throughout history get into your sexual activity in order to control your life.
Matt Ellison, 6/25/00: Some thoughts on Carol's, Barnabas' and Charlie's contributions and the Tooth Fairy, the Beanstalk and walking on water: The latter is easy, all you need is to know where the stepping stones are.
Carol it seems is looking for the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow: Barnabas would disabuse her, she'll find it's just a crock. I don't believe the Bible, but I think there are universal themes that repeat themselves through history, and since it is the culture in which we are steeped, it becomes the yardstick by which we can judge and compare. This is true also of Shakespeare and for instance we find Romeo and Juliet adapted to NY in West Side Story. It struck me that B'hof elders modelled themselves on biblical leaders. EA styled on Abraham -- a bit of nooky with the serving wench ordained by God. HZ follows suit but misses out on the approval. Heini is Noah -- with God's assistance destroy all opposition and then, with close relatives and a boatload of lower life forms, set sail for a new world; indulge in homosexual child abuse, blame your victims and condemn them to lifelong slavery. JCA is Herod to a tee -- work it out yourself.
Ramon had you not got hung up on the Freudian overtones you might have realised that I had you painted as Our Saviour from darkness and sexual bigotry. Perhaps you did, however, over the years, despite our differences over your editorial style, I have had no reason to waiver from that view. When you joined Wankers Anonymous, I knew I had not been a million miles away. Your quiet courage, determination and tenacity in bringing together so many lost souls and giving them hope is little short of miraculous -- and that is no bull!
Barnabas and Charlie, you extend lengthy missives on the Beanstalk. If I weren't a trusting character I'd suspect the pair of you were cooking up a trap for me. As it is it seems to me you have created a series of circular arguments in danger of disappearing up their own orifices. What you suggest might or may have become, has been and is in actuality exactly so and whether you know it or not I cannot tell. So I will babble on, although I think you'll see not as part of a failed Beanstalk sect, and square the circle.
From my memory of Jack and the Beanstalk, I would say it is a satirical take on the Church's interpretation of Original Sin, the evil of sperm wasting and its dire consequences. The central story line is the battle between Jack and the Giant; I believe Jack gets the Giant's gold in the end -- a pleasing notion. As we all know the B'hof are experienced Beanstalk bashers and have been Fe Fi Fo Fumming ad nauseam. Grinding your boners is their daily bread. Had I been more artful in concealing my metaphors, B'hofers might have been reading my fairy tales to their children in a hundred years' time.
Having said all this, I feel a compelling need to get something off my chest. It all started when I was two in the toddler house where comely lasses would coo-chee-coo me and tuck my little stiffies into my nappies. They never expected a wee chappie to notice but I discovered those B'hof harvest festival knickers (all is safely gathered in) and they became something of an obsession. When I was ten I developed a crush on the House Mother with her massive wobbly bosom and size eighteen HFKs. She knew I was stuck on her and when she found me hanging around she would give me a big hug and pull my face into her cleavage, then hold me out; I would go beetroot and she would tweak my red hot ear and send me off with a pat on the bum. I used to sneak into the laundry on the pretext of collecting the family wash and find her HFKs to do it in: it was quite easy as everything was labelled and pigeon holed. I think she must have guessed it was me, but she never split on me even though things must have got quite sticky for her at times.
When I was twelve my dad told me I should save it 'til I got married, but when I'd filled a quart jar it started to curdle so I threw it away. Over the years I have not been able to shake off my fantasies with HFKs but now, at age fifty-four, I have arthritis in both wrists and I have managed to cut down to only five a day; I am hoping with my present rate of progress that I should be fit for Gemeindestunde by 70.
Ladies and gentlemen I stand before you in the hope that you can accept me into your inner circle and give me a helping hand with my problem. My name is Matt Ellison: I am a wanker.
P.S. Please would you all pray to God to:
1) Teach me humility
2) Make me less critical of the B'hof leadership
3) Send me a large sum of money. A negotiable bearer bond under my pillow will do nicely.
Hilarion Braun, 6/1/00: Some African tribes mutilate young women to prevent them from experiencing sexual pleasure. A very similar psychological mutilation goes on in many homes where parents interfere with the very natural infant development of masturbation.
Anyone who has raised a child will have noticed two reflexive infant activities: thumb-sucking, and fondling genitalia. What warped mind would discourage such reflexive and natural activity?? The fact that such barbaric nonsense is still tolerated shows how sexually repressed our society is, and how much religion is allowed to perpetuate unhealthy concepts. Not being able or willing to discuss sex perpetuates the many pathetic myths about human sexuality and child rearing.
I'm sure the African tribes that sexually mutilate their women have some idiotic religious "justification" for such barbarism, just as the SOB and other religions have their idiotic concept of purity as their justification for their psychological castrations. It's strange how long science has remained under the fat thumb of religion!! Ironically there is no mention of auto-eroticism in the Bible, and yet many Christians consider it a sin. Probably because it's fun. Sei lieb! Love,
Charlie Lamar, 6/4/00: Hilarion writes: "Some African tribes mutilate young women to prevent them from experiencing sexual pleasure... What warped mind would discourage such reflexive and natural activity??"
A human mind.
It is said that Man is made in the image of God. As it turns out, to start with, God is made in the image of Man.
One difference between people and animals is that humans are conscious that they are conscious -- as opposed to the animal being conscious but not aware that he is aware. Along with the consciousness that one is conscious comes the possibility of an imaginative concept of other consciousness, even a possible other consciousness divorced from corporeality. At the same time there are, in the natural environment, thousands of things to make men afraid. These factors of fear, imagination and the consciousness of consciousness combine to produce a universal primitive proto-religious reaction -- overwhelming and supposedly supernatural ghost fear. The ghost is the first human god-concept. Made in the image of man, but embodying only the worst human characteristics, ghosts are the jealous and spiteful sponsors of all calamity.
The first human religions are attempts to design insurance policies to be taken out against the malevolence of ghosts. The coin in which the premiums of these anti-calamity, primitive religious insurance policies are paid is Ritual. Because ghosts are supposed to be mean and jealous, in primitive religions you therefor see the cult of all sorts of ritual renunciation: dietary renunciations, renunciations of sex, bodily mutilations, all kinds of self-induced suffering -- all designed to ward off the jealousy of ghosts. Christianity is nowhere near the first or the only religion to exhibit these primitive birthmarks of the origin of religion among human beings. Neither is the Judeo-Christian God-concept the only one contaminated by the semblance to a mean and nasty ghost.
Hilarion then continues: "The fact that such barbaric nonsense is still tolerated shows how sexually repressed our society is... I'm sure the African tribes that sexually mutilate their women have some idiotic religious "justification" for such barbarism... Ironically there is no mention of auto-eroticism in the Bible, and yet many Christians consider it a sin. Probably because it's fun."
Exactly. However, this analysis omits the potential benefits of all these primitive religious manifestations, among which are all the possibilities of human culture which presuppose human self-control. The one concept which, in potential, will carry over from primitive to advanced religion is duty. At first it may have been merely a duty to perform traditional rituals of renunciation and self-abnegation, at last it becomes a duty of loyalty to the highest concepts of ethical and ideal conduct one can grasp.
Between the primitive and the revealed lies the entire spectrum of the evolution of human religion.
Barnabas Johnson, 6/5/00: Excellent commentary, Charlie. The evolution of language played a part in this, as we could -- and can -- "hear in the mind's ear" our father's or Elder's or God's voice, and hence instructions, even after they have died (as a consequence of which, of course, they never truly die, whether for good or ill). And, predictably, my God speaks English superbly, with dear old Dad's accents. To Susie, the Divine speaks as Bach, but that is because she and She are more evolved.
Come to think of it, the God we are co-creating (with the help of all the gods that went before), speaks Code. Cryptography is possibly the most important human invention since ... law: the art of projecting global experience into distributed intelligence, DI into democratic choice, and DC into Equal Normative Justice Under Law (ENJUL). But then, God always instructs through angelic Code -- pixy messengers dancing in hyperspace, the laws of quantum and astronomic physics, the prescriptions and proscriptions of genetics, and the seemingly-chaotic rules of weather-generation by which our planet's circulatory system converts internal and external energy into chemistry, biology, Einstein, and the Mass in B Minor.
With next-generation cryptography, plus a little luck, each of us will be able to communicate freely with precisely those "communities" we choose, thereby eliminating feedback "noise" and enhancing peer review, reliable feedback, parallel processing, and good governance. As we approach infinite bandwidth, we must approach infinite cryptography -- and some day soon we will do God the favor of converting this insight into a new global religion.
Nadine Pleil, 6/2/00: August has just reminded me of the children's novitiate. Heini arranged this under the heading, Sunheart group. Children had to ask to become novices in the gathered household meeting -- children as young as our daughter was at the time. She was 7 years old. Our sons were 9 and 12 years old. So, under a lot of pressure and the enticing plate of candies which each child received after being taken into the novitiate, they all succumbed and got themselves taken into the novitiate.
Here are the questions Heini put together for the children to answer in the Household meeting, a meeting which took place over the phone so that all three places at the time could take part.
The Sunheart Group
1. Do you desire to give yourself with all you have, all your heart and soul, to God and His Son Jesus Christ?
2. Do you desire to keep the Ten Commandments and especially the fifth commandment to honor father and mother? This also means obedience to your parents and teachers and to all those who are appointed to educate you. Do you want to keep your heart completely open to your parents and to those who educate you, to fight against all that is evil in yourself and in your group? That means that if there is something evil in your group or in yourself you reveal it.
3. Do you desire to fight for a Jesus-atmosphere in your family, to fight for peace with your brothers and sisters, and rather to turn your cheek for a second blow than to hit back at your brother and sisters?
4. To follow Jesus and to be close to Him does not put you above others or make you better than other children. Do you want to follow in this lowly and humble way?
5. Do you desire to fight for this Jesus-atmosphere in your group and not to give in to evil?
Put together by Opa Heini and Oma Annemarie at Darvell, February 1978.
I asked my little daughter afterwards, "Did you understand what those questions mean?" She answered, "No Mama not really. What does desire mean? Can I have my candies now?" I thought, 'OK, that is answer enough for me, and I gave her the candies.'
Our two sons, being a little older, said they did know what the questions meant. They said we are supposed to tell on the others when they do something wrong. I thought, 'Oh my, oh my, now what?'
Later when these two sons of ours said, "Mom do you remember when Heini said we should turn the other cheek and take a second blow?" I said, "Yes I do." The boys said, "Well if we do that in school, then we could just about get killed if we do not stand up for ourselves."
Well, so much for that little gem. Greetings,
Susie (Zumpe) Braun, 6/2/00: Hi Nadine! God, that brings back memories. I answered 'yes' to all of those questions on the eve of my ninth birthday. For about a week or so thereafter we self-righteously fought for the Jesus atmosphere, and then promptly forgot all about it. In my time it was never referred to as the children's novitiate, but merely the sunheart troop. For me it was a joke... I just wanted to get up and see what it would be like to speak into a microphone, as I had never done that before. Thanks for reminding me about that. I had totally forgotten. Even though it's probably not funny, I remember many a nervous giggle from my fellow sunheart troopers, all of whom were eyeing the candy plates... Love,
6/2/00: Hi Everyone! Hila here. Christ converted water into wine, and Heini converted children through candy...
Nadine Pleil, 6/4/00: Yes, the children's novitiate was a real ploy to get children to tell on their peers and on their parents. That actually happened, I mean the telling on parents. Then the children put themselves above their parents, and at the same time Heini was telling the kids to honor their parents. Everything was upside-down. What an awful mess it all was, and as I previously posted, our young son, who refused to continue to go to the "Gemeine Stunde," as August called it had more courage than we did.
It all shows how Heini had everyone under control. Deep down it angered me that Heini wanted a life long commitment from children as young as our little daughter was at the time. These children did not even understand the wording of the questions let alone that it was to be a life long commitment.
One of our young sons experienced what it meant to be tattled on. Two other kids went to the teachers and to the DAW (Servant) and told untruths about our son, and he was severely punished for things he had not done. Our son said that was the end of community life for him. He vowed to himself that as soon as he was finished with high school he would hightail it out of Hell. That is how he put it.
Our youngest son who is almost 30 years old is so fed up with the commune that he does not even want anything to do with ex-members. I will say here that there are one or two of the ex-members who have been here whom he has talked to. He has been polite and then left the house.
Our oldest daughter wants nothing whatsoever to do with ex-members, her experiences in the commune were such that she feels she has to break with everything that pertains to the commune. So you see what damage has been done through this awful control exerted over children and parents.
Elizabeth Bohlken Zumpe, 6/4/00: I have all the original letters written by Leonard Ragaz to Eberhard Arnold, as well as some of E. A.'s. answers to him. I was meaning to try and translate all that stuff, but I guess I got a little discouraged. For those who do not know what the Werkhof in Zürich was, it was a Religious-Socialistic community started by the theologian Leonard Ragaz. The Fischli parents were very convinced about this way of life and helped to buy a big farmhouse for all the people interested in staying for a short or long period to live and work together. Hans and Marget Meier were members. Migg lived there a lot and loved it. Peter and Anni Mathis came from there, as did Lini, Margot and others. Christoph Mathis (Stöffeli) was the first child born there. (Actually he was born in the Fischli home as the Werkhof was pretty primitive.)
Eberhard Arnold had a good correspondence with Leonard Ragaz, but felt that the Bruderhof was one step further in the completion of living real community. Many left the Werkhof for the Bruderhof and even the Fischli parents felt very close to joining. Then the Hitler regime got more power and Leonard Ragaz felt very strongly that E.A. should take a real stand against this dictatorship. E.A., though, tried to do everything to be allowed to stay in Germany and compromised a lot, which L.R. felt was, to say the least, "weak." The letters from E.A. are long and theological, trying to tell the German State that we accept the government
as God-given, but: "Please let us live our own faith as we want it." I will try and translate more before the conference. Actually knowing now what happened in Nazi-Germany, these letters make me a little sick.
Sam Arnold, 6/5/00: The Other Side of Joy, my thoughts on Chapter Three: While reading The Other Side of Joy I could not help but wonder what psychological or physiological explanations there might be to help me understand how seemingly normal people can degrade and punish themselves with ultra-religious nonsense, like piety, clearances, psychomachia, and Busskampf, etc. Is this not very similar to other acts of self-abuse, such as smoking, overeating, overworking, or alcoholism? Is there perhaps an addiction factor at work? It would almost appear that humans come equipped with a self-destructive gene which somehow can suppress the ability to use reason and logic, and can even disengage the powerful instinct of self-defense. The only explanation for such a harmful gene that makes sense to me is that it somehow assists with population control.
But maybe the problem is simply that human emotions are so powerful that they are prone to dominate the intellect in actions and behavior, while easily being influenced by others. Religion, and even more so Pietism, exploit the negative emotion of guilt (which they call sin) in attempting to suppress the more positive emotions by forbidding, for example, the listening to certain types of music or looking at sensual art. Under Heiniism and Tedelism these are labeled as satanic or dirty, leading to illicitness. However, this kind of repression is more likely to increase the interest in forbidden music and in sexuality and masturbation, rather than reducing or eliminating it. The continuous conflict between joy vs sorrow and happiness vs sadness, has the intellect constantly being manipulated and regulated by the emotional side. Many religions besides the Bruderhof have exploited human emotions at the expense of personal well-being and balance.
(Page 107) The Bruderhof's ambivalence toward children is most confusing for them. Here Julius presented the conflict between the desired "angelic child" (being childlike) vs. the sinful child, "the fear that Satan used the weakness of children as points of entry for demonic attack." The Bruderhof paid a great deal of positive attention on children and made them the focus of attention in all sorts of activities while I was growing up there. Children were held up to be special and important in the daily Bruderhof life. But the minute they became curious and naughty, which is perfectly natural for a child, the wrath of authority would descend on them. Some children were taken from their groups and placed in isolation for trivial matters for extended periods of time. Sometimes entire children's groups were closed, as was the case in Wheathill and Forest River. The children could not understand what they were being accused of, or what they were being punished for, yet they were the subject of inquisitions and punishment that caused immeasurable damage to their development. The stated fear that demonic attacks can come through children is one of the Bruderhof's worst features, and too many people have been seriously damaged by it.
(Page 116) The marriage testimonial of Stephen King and Lucille Ehrlich is a good example of blurred Bruderhof-speak, where the spoken English used is far from what was learned in school, and the intended meaning suggests a surrender to Heini and the church, rather than to Jesus. Lucille says: "Stephen and I are just very happy in Jesus and we want that Jesus Christ is always first and central, and this is the sense in which we ask."
I wondered what Julius made of this utterance, and how difficult it was for him to get the meaning behind these words. What the meaning here is that the couple are repeating their gratefulness to be allowed to live on the Bruderhof, and that in asking to be married they accept that the church will rule their marriage in every way. Bruderhof-speak is so grammatically faulty that to the uninitiated reader it makes little sense. The purpose of Bruderhof-speak is to help set them apart from the rest of the world.
On page 102, Julius wrote a good description of Heini's appeal to the new American members, whom he wooed quite successfully. Heini appeared to have had little trouble convincing them that Eberhard's Bruderhof had been taken off the true course by Hans Zumpe, and that he, Heini, would put things right again with their help. His timing was ideal, and the Americans embraced Heini's mode of primitive pietism.
(Page 116-117) To Woodcrest, Hans Zumpe represented the despised "Primavera Spirit," while Heini strained for his new "Spirit of Woodcrest," which he was hell-bent to export to all the other communities. It must be noted that Georg Barth was also responsible for the exclusion of Heini and the other conspirators in 1944, as well as the Primavera Spirit, as Hans and Georg were co-Elders during the post Eberhard period. However, Georg was later won over by Heini, thereby giving him some validation for the purge of 1960/61. The Woodcrest Spirit was in fact a rehash of Eberhardism. Heini also revived the first law of Sannerz in order to curb any possible opposition to him, although he apparently didn't see the need to practice the law himself.
Heini had hated Hans Zumpe for many years, and when in June of 1960 Hans' adulterous relationship became known to him, Heini pounced on the opportunity to get rid of his enemy and brother-in-law for good! While Heini preached forgiveness, none was granted to Hans Zumpe. All of Hans' letters of repentance were not only snubbed by Heini, but were deliberately kept from Hans' wife Emi-ma and from his children. Today, Johann Christoph Arnold still refuses to even acknowledge Hans Zumpe's remorse, despite having written several books on forgiveness. Emi-ma has spent the last 40 years as the pitiable victim of Heini's unforgiving hatred for Hans Zumpe. Christoph's continued refusal to forgive Hans is a tragedy and a disservice to everyone, including himself! Christoph does not appear to understand forgiveness at all, or else he is truly artificial.
(Page 119-121) Julius has provided the reader with a solid overview of Heini's challenge and victory over the previous Bruderhof establishment by using the Woodcrest Spirit of Innerland Piety to achieve his objective. The ruthless and vindictive means by which the South American and European communities were taken over and dismantled by Heini and his ideologues suggests the tenacious buttressing by the recent American converts to Heini's imperative renaissance of Eberhard's more primitive Bruderhof ideology in order to guarantee him victory. It demonstrated their great personal loyalty to Heini. Most amazing is that these new members were able to take control and close all the opposing communities with virtually no resistance, while also expelling 600 long-standing members and their families in a mere two years period only to bring about this ideological change! This clearly demonstrates that the motivation for doing so was far more political than ideological.
It needs also to be said that Heini's brothers, Hardy who was older and Hans Hermann who was younger, were both effectively made inert by Heini prior to his power bid, and posed very little threat to him after Hans Zumpe and Balz Trümpi with his family were gone. Sent away as well prior to the purge were the English servants Gwynn Evans and Guy Johnson and their families. Heini's brothers, without allies, were in no position to challenge him and his A-team (Americans), and they were made to carry out his dirty work from Bulstrode. By assigning both of them to England they were out of Heini's way while he concentrated on defeating and closing Primavera. He then thoroughly tested his brothers by demanding the closure of the Wheathill and Sinntal communities as well, and by having his brothers kick out many of the members in the process. After this job was done he brought both of his brothers back to the United States, kept them apart, and excluded them to keep them under his control. Bulstrode was also closed in 1966 to make the job complete.
Heini's takeover of the Bruderhof was brilliantly executed, although he was helped by some good luck, and by the poorly organized establishment that fell apart so easily for him. Where Heini failed miserably was in not thoroughly considering all of the options, such as consenting to a permanent schism in the Bruderhof as the Hutterites had done, or finding other solutions that would have prevented the closure of the affected communities and the terrible harm inflicted on all those who were tossed aside during the purge.
Finally, I do not think that he considered the consequences of these cruel actions very well either, for Heini and his lackeys ignored Karmic law, which says that every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind -- what we sow is what we reap. For the rest of his life Heini had to live with his actions and his conscience, and was clearly bothered by it. His successor and son Christoph continues to live in denial, and still has done nothing to mend the damage done 40 years ago! KIT in so many ways is the returning karma or consequence from the 1960/61 purge. When will he learn?
Timothy Domer, 5/29/00: I have been thinking about the discussion around Hans Zumpe. I was reminded about a story of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. She was brought before the religious leaders of the day, who showed her to a man who had been speaking out against the coldheartedness, corruption and legalism of the "church elders." The elders had been trying to undermine the words of this man and thought that now they had him.
"Teacher," they said to him, mockingly, " this woman was caught right in the act of adultery. The law of Moses ordered us to stone women like her. What do you say?"
The man bent over and started to write in the dust with his index finger. He raised his head and said "Let whoever among you who is guiltless be the first to throw stones at her."
One by one the crowd and church elders dropped their stones and slunk away. The man and the woman were alone. "Where are they, madam? Didn't anyone condemn you?" She replied "No one Lord." The man said "I don't condemn you either. Go your way and from now on stop doing wrong."
That was written 2000 years ago by a disciple of Jesus, named John. I have no doubt the story is true.
This vignette in the life of Jesus shows the stark difference between the true Gospel of love and the corrupt, twisted, moralistic, cold gospel of the Bruderhof.
When Jesus was confronted with someone who had committed adultery, He used the chance to show us that we all err (sin, for those who like that word better). The story is one of the most beautiful in the New Testament and strikes home to everyone who reads it. Even the most corrupt "elders" of the day, who were plotting to kill Jesus at the same time the episode took place, had to admit to the simple truth and leave the woman alone.
The Bruderhof, in contrast, wallows in Hans' "great sin." Years after, they still dredge it up and parade it around. There is nothing beautiful or redeeming about the way they do this.
They do it for one simple reason: Their leaders cannot stand on their own merits. Their words and deeds do not jibe. In order to remain in power they must set up straw men to knock down. Hans Zumpe was a straw man for Heini. The Bruderhof has continued to beat up on him even after they both have died.
Christoph's straw man is "KIT." He needs to knock down "KIT" in order to give himself credibility. On his own merits he has none. "By the fruits you will know." Look at fruits of Christoph's "leading from God":
Severed relations with the Hutterites, the miserable failure of the Nigeria experiment, the failure of Michel's Hof and now apparently Australia. Law suits, money, jets, wanting to be seen with the rich and powerful in order to be photographed and gain fame. Broken families, fathers being kept away from their children, refusal to even meet with his "enemies" to try to find reconciliation, all the while publishing ghostwritten books on seeking peace, finding forgiveness, purity of heart and most recently, protecting children and family. The list goes on.
No Bette, please do not feel badly that the Bruderhof speaks ill of your father and keeps the truth of his repentance from your mother and the membership. Their leaders have gotten too much mileage out of his "great sin" to stop now.
Jesus did not dwell on the "wrong" that the woman in the story committed. He was far more concerned about the souls of those who had attempted to get mileage out of her "sin" for their own corrupt ends.
I do not believe that in God's eyes the "left- handed sins" are worse than the "right-handed sins." They are just a lot more juicy for us mortals. Jesus spent
a great deal more time rebuking the right handed sins. Take care,
Elizabeth Bohlken Zumpe, 6/15/00: In the June KIT, Charlie said on page 6: "I don't believe E.A. got as far as excommunicating anyone, though he did dissolve the Brotherhood a few times; neither apparently did he ausschluß people. Bette was saying that the first ausschluß ... were engineered by Bette's dad and Georg Barth..." This is not quite correct. The first sending-away of a group of baptized members was indeed "engineered" by the brotherhood with Georg Barth and Hans Zumpe in 1944. This, because the same little clique of people tried again and again to "undermine" (as it was put in those days) the unity of the brotherhood in Primavera. After several exclusions small and big, they would still meet secretly in the wood and make arrangements to contact the Hutterites and come into a leading position again. I have a letter to the Hutterites from 1945 about this from Georg Barth which I could post. My father felt that this sending away was totally out of proportion, and possibly the reason for the big crisis in the 1960's. E.A. did exclude, even before he united with the Hutterites.
In Sannerz, there was a baptized young man and a baptized young girl. When they told E.A. that she was pregnant he said:" Then you have put your will to serve the flesh above the will to serve God; you should leave and build a family first and then see, if you still feel called for the communal life!" One person who constantly confessed to masturbation, was relieved from the "first trial year" to be a Servant of the Word. Another brother had a relationship while on mission journey, confessed, and was excluded in the middle of the Hof. He had to rewrite old Hutterite writings. E.A. said: "We are all guilty, because we did not carry him in our prayers."
The Rhön Bruderhof (Bruderschaft) was dissolved because he felt, that brothers and sisters were too emotional towards each other instead of realizing that with the upcoming Nazi Regime the whole person was needed if they wanted to make a difference. So there were exclusions in various forms, but people were never sent away from their wives and children to fend for themselves in a country like Paraguay. Before he died, my father felt very strongly that this should never have happened -- for the brothers' and sisters' sake -- for their children's sake -- and most of all for the communities' sake.
He told me that if our love had been greater, we would have been able to talk with each other and find a brotherly way in which certainly both sides would have to see where they went wrong for whatever reason. This is just to clarify this matter. Love,
Wayne Chesley, 6/14/00: Someone challenged me about having respect for Christoph Arnold, an elder of the Church. This led me to think about who Christoph really is and what the Bruderhof is.
Anyone can call themselves an elder or bishop or overseer. Any group can confer that title on any man (or woman) whom they choose. And any group can call itself a church (or "the" church). But those claims do not immediately make it so, except to the members of the group.
The behaviors by the Bruderhof and its leaders make one doubt their grounding in Christianity. While no church is perfect, nor are any of its members, the Bruderhof consistently demonstrates that Arnoldism and community are at its foundation, not Christian discipleship, which is, for the Bruderhof, a poorly fitting mask.
So it is appropriate to criticize Christoph and the Bruderhof as a cult leader and his cult. All the more it is appropriate to expose the truth about the Bruderhof, to show what lies behind the mask.
Can the Bruderhof, as a community, "return" to Christ? When we were at the Bruderhof, the attitude (with no foundation in historical Christianity) was that unity was paramount and that God can only lead a united church back. This is probably why many otherwise fine men and women in the communities remain silent or do not leave the Bruderhof. They wait in expectation for things to change, believing that God will lead the whole Bruderhof back. For this reason, they will behave in the most hateful and unchristian way toward members who speak out against Christoph and his unchristian policies. In other words, in the name of unity and in anticipation of God leading the Brotherhood back into His fold, they compound their sins and push the brotherhood and themselves further from God by condemning the prophetic voices among them.
One especially sad thing about the Bruderhof is that it has consumed so many other communities that might have been shining lights in their own place and time. The Bruderhof is like a funnel, or maybe a black hole, sucking up light into its own darkness. For those Christians who might have been interested in community, the Bruderhof has sucked up many to itself, like a giant corporation buying up its competitors. It has done so too with individuals who, seeing only the mask of well-crafted lies, buy into the line, "If you can find a church that is living more according to the New Testament than the Bruderhof, than tell us so we can join them." When the mask is pulled aside, one finds the task quite a lot easier.
I suppose the practice of Christian community of goods is just too good for the evil one to ignore.
George Maendel, 6/17/00: The Bible says: "He who hates his brother is a murderer." That which is murdered is the potential relationship between a daughter and her mother, between a father and his children, between brother and brother. Christoph says they don't hate anyone, while at the same time he and the Bruderhof are responsible for many severed relationships. Using the biblical definition of hate, the Bruderhof "hates" those people whose normal family relationships they block, prohibit and ultimately kill. Until they work to restore those relationships, the Bruderhof is guilty of hate.
However it's good that our laws distinguish between hate and murder. I think that the language used in the Bible is meant to get the readers attention. And, it shows what hate does. Our lives consist of our relationships with others. A person can be locked up in solitary confinement for a lifetime, but if he or she is to survive, it requires believing; it requires faith. A steadfast faith (or belief, knowledge, assurance) that he or she remains connected to people they know or, as a writer in the Bible says, to all the living.
Connection is being. Total severance is death. Hate disconnects, therefore the Bible equates hate with murder.
We need faith, we need to believe that we are connected to one another, a connection that is the opposite of hate, the opposite of separateness. Or, as a modern Torah might put it: Keep In Touch!
Thanks for being my brother!
Elizabeth Bohlken Zumpe, 6/18/00: I do believe, if the Webster definition is right, that "hate is intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger and a sense of injury," that the Bruderhof is afflicted with this feeling towards us. They probably never define it as hate. I think fear of us is the closest description of their feelings. Heini was full of fear. Even as a child he saw all kinds of evil spirits tempting him and his purity. Later, when he lost his Service of the Word in 1942, he was filled with anger, not only towards Hans Zumpe but also the British members, who were sick and tired of him "playing the dying man." They wanted to get on building a life for the community in the backwoods of Paraguay. They were sick and tired of what they called "The royal Family" demanding special rights and favors and, even more, when a group wanted to undermine the newly found unity by a coup for power. Everyone in this "coup" realized that this was not the brotherly way and accepted their exclusion (harsh as it might have been!) and returned home within a short while. Only Heini had great difficulty accepting that what he did was wrong.
Here lies the beginning of the rotten core: to pretend unity, whereas you hate, to go to Gemeindestunde with a heart full of anger and to cradle your sense of injury due to the bitterness in your heart. He did not want the British members in Woodcrest, and sent them off to Forest River and Oaklake. He was afraid that they might look right through him. Balz, who had promoted Heini, was first sent to the States by the joined brotherhood to help Heini keep in balance, was sent to Oaklake and later into exclusion.
Heini was a fearful man, I saw him running out in the middle of the night, because he felt haunted by Primavera evil spirits. To get the trust of the Brotherhood he had to have an enemy -- the evil that he wanted to fight. He had to label this enemy. It was Hans Zumpe, but also the British members, especially those that joined in Wheathill.
Now Christoph is something else. I do not think that he has the same fears as his father. He is cocksure that God is, and always will be, on his side. He does not realize that only a very humble heart can hear God's voice. He is strengthened by the men around him. I would not like to call them "brothers." They write books in his name and, all in all, the chappie gets more and more puffed up. Christoph's letter to Wayne and Betty is arrogant -- unchristian and very nasty.
All the words they use sound so familiar to me. There was a time, some forty years ago, I was convinced of the rightness of the Bruderhof and would have used the same words. They just have not developed since that time. Fear has taken much from the original faith. One could discuss on this theme for a long time. I do wish you the wisdom to answer such a letter, but I also think of Christ, saying nothing at all when he was accused and brought before the High Priests.
Now, a little story of An Opa & Oma In Holland: Eberhard and Emmy were invited for a picnic in the woods by Kees and Betty Boeke. Betty had a basket full of wonderful food, chicken and white bread rolls, hot coffee in a thermos. She spread a pretty tablecloth on the grass and displayed all the goodies with nice coffee cups and everything nicely prepared.
Eberhard and Emmy sat themselves down in the grass and really felt joyful and happy to be there. Before they realized, what was happening, Kees and Betty said, "We want to be one with nature. Man is the crown of God's creation, so we should get rid of the 'textile' cotton wrappings, do away with shame and earthly fears and be proud to show our bodies created by God!
My Oma's mouth fell open, and then a whole group of naked people came out of the woods singing and filled with joy of being free of the clothes that man thinks he has to wear. This was too much for my Oma. She did not want any "Community" with the Boekes any longer. She herself told me the story many times and would laugh until tears would roll down her face. Greetings to all,
6/18/00: The Servants always got a little (in Woodcrest very much) extra of food wine, beer and so forth. In Bullstrode, Ullu Keiderling (the storekeeper) would come in himself on Friday evenings to bring Papa a bottle of wine and a big sausage for working so late in the evenings, all naturally "out of love."
When my father was sent out of the brotherhood in March of 1959, at 11.30 PM, after the meeting, there was a knock on our door, and there was Ullu. He said, "I have come for the bottle of wine and the sausage I brought this afternoon, as your father will not need it any more, and I need this now for Heini!"
I gave him what he asked for and said: "If this was given out of love, then my father would need it now, more than ever, but go, take it to make Heini happy!"
When I was in Darvell, Easter, 1986, I think, I actually felt happy and had a pretty nice contact with my brother Ben and with Marianne and with my mother and Emmy. Kathy Snavely, showed me around the Hof. Near the dining room there was a nice apartment. She said, "This is where Heini and Annemarie would stay, and we have kept the room exactly as it was and nobody -- nobody will use these rooms except Johann Christoph and Verena when they come. This is the window, where we all passed to take the Lord's Supper with Heini, as he was too unwell to come to the meeting room..." She did not realize how sick I felt at
even this kind of material worship of Heini -- everything he had touched or laid his head on was, and is, holy. Like the Pope of the Catholic church.
People in Primavera did the same to Papa, but he at least tried to spell it out to them as wrong and fight it. (He was not always successful in fighting it!)
6/25/00: Ex-bruderhofers have believed too long, that the Bruderhof will change -- see their wrongs -- maybe apologize -- accept our lives in the world -- accept our families -- our children born and raised in "the evil world!"
For years Hans has been telling me that by believing in their Christianity I support an evil (as he has called it for years) "religious Mafia." I guess I wanted to believe in the Christianity I grew up with. I wanted to make excuses for their acts towards us in the belief that one day they will understand, will accept -- will love us as we are. It took me too long to understand this -- too long to find some excuse for their actions towards me Hans and my children -- too long to realize how they left me alone in New York City when I was begging for their help and love!
I do not hate the Bruderhof; I do remember many happy years in Community life, and I do love many people caught up in that system, especially my old mother, brothers and sisters! But it is time to look at the facts, time to realize that we will not help them if we tend to halfheartedly support some of their actions, time to call a spade a spade! To show them, where we really stand, is an act of love, I think.
Life is too short and the need in this world too great to use up our energy for the likes as Christoph. I am not judging everyone on the Bruderhof, but they do accept the leadership for what ever reason. Maybe they are brainwashed; maybe they feel insecure; maybe they are afraid of being sent outside into the cold and evil world! It's the fruits that show what they are, and the fruit is rotten! In Nazi Germany everyone followed the direction of Adolf Hitler and Himmler, maybe for the same reasons. Today if you ask Germans about that time, the standard answer is: "Das haben wir nicht gewußt!" (We did not know this happened!) Why didn't they know? Because they were afraid of knowing. Margarethe Böning told me, "We saw the chimneys of the extermination camps. There were whispers of horrid things happening, but we were afraid to know; afraid to ask; afraid to have our silent questions exposed!" The people that did stand up, were indeed put into camps and killed. We will not be killed. (I hope! I have had some nasty anonymous letters from England!) We can and should stand up any time this evil crosses our way. We should speak out when we hear of untruths they send into the world to deceive those that feel drawn to the life for whatever reason.
The books of JCA are rubbish, because he never wrote them. The adoration of Heini is evil because he paved his way on lies and coldheartedness to many a member who had given everything they had and owned and would receive in the future to build the "Kingdom of God on earth." This in itself is arrogant I feel, as even Jesus said: "My kingdom is not of this world". All the words like love, loyalty, faith, humility, 'seeking for the right way' are and were so much misused that they give you a bad taste in the mouth.
Maybe we should try and see much more, that we are the lucky ones. We can choose every day, every hour, what we want or do not want to do. What was good in the past will remain good, and what is and what was wrong should be expose. And who else can do this but we?
Joy Johnson MacDonald, 6/25/00: At the time KIT started, I, and many others no doubt, had such a longing for an acknowledgment from the Bruderhof that their abusive, cruel treatment towards people they sent away and cut off from the Bruderhof and their family, had been wrong and unchristian and inhuman. I so needed them to validate my own experience that I naively and idealistically clung to the possibility of redemptive dialog long after the reality of their unwillingness to address the past should have been glaringly obvious. Only after I'd accepted that the Bruderhof never had any intention of meeting us openly and honestly, was I able to understand that I did not, and do not, need to depend on the Bruderhof in facing and coming to terms with my own painful memories and demon nightmares. It was a tough realization, but ultimately a liberating and logical outcome.
Miriam Arnold Holmes 6/23/00: Here is a poem by Eberhard Arnold about bees:
"See how the bees swarm out together!
What deep, deep oneness they display !
They want to serve, to work and labor,
With "mine" and "thine" they do away.
"Then they return and nurse their children,
Living as one united whole.
And what they glean from every flower
They share, and no one is alone.
Bees know the impulse of true oneness-
A wondrous symbol of the Church,
In love they toil, one people always,
And none, yes none, is left alone."
Eberhard Arnold, 1921 "For Our Children."
Barnabas Johnson, 6/24/00: Brotherly Beehives, Bruderoafish Anthills, and German Overalls!
Eberhard's poem perfectly captures the problem: Unity. It could have been written by Hitler to the youth of his, and Eberhard's, dictatorial Zeitgeist! German, German Overalls!
Oneness! Unity! Hell!
Those who assert that I have no "religious sensibilities" should know that for me the greatest "mystical truth" is that, by constitutionally "ordaining" a pluralistic society focused on securing individual liberty and promoting the "pursuit of happiness" for each according to his or her unique lights, humankind allows a healthy "social organism" to come into being; it is synergistic, not causal; it allows much, and then allows cybernetic or self-corrective feedback processes to "weed out" what is synergistically allowable but not evolutionarily viable. Its meta-intelligence is an Ecology of Mind, impossible without freedom of inquiry, expression, and association (the very antithesis of "seeking Unity" in the Bruderhof sense). It is the scientific method, properly understood -- the fundamentally humble advancement of learning that recognizes how little we yet know. It is based on a reverence for "peer review" that is far more deeply grounded than the idiotic First Law of Sannerz comes close to comprehending ... and therefore daily destroys. Zap!
And here is the fascinating mystery: By focusing on creating that social organism -- the Unity of the Church -- we immediately dissolve the "mystical glue" holding it together. That glue is our freedom, and hence responsibility, to exercise individual judgment and conscience. Oddly, perhaps, it derives from our unique human capacity to (a) see the world from others' perspectives, (b) know that others can and must do the same, and (c) together form a Meta-mind -- a Meta-consciousness with a Meta-conscience -- by which we can each see and judge ourselves as this Other sees and judges us. This third-order Consciousness of Self within Society is what makes the Social Compact possible. But only free humans can enter into that Compact. "As I would not be a slave, so I could not be a slave-holder" said honest Abe. What leader could enjoy the unanimous consent of those whose dissent is forbidden? Only a lunatic!
Note that "pursuit of happiness" is no simple matter; I'm informed there are more Ph.D. theses on its meaning than on any other subject catalogued in Harvard's Widener Library holdings. Thomas Jefferson knew of what he wrote when he plugged "pursuit of happiness" into the Declaration of Independence! Seek ye first the wise pursuit of happiness and all else shall be given unto you. Seek first the Unity of the Church and you land in ... Hell on Earth.
Hilarion Braun, 6/26/00: A bee's point of view: Yesterday the Queen told us that those weird, hairless animals who steal our honey and wax and blow smoke in our faces, treat their women the way the drones treat us. No wonder we kill these lazy fat males after they have done their duty. I used to get so angry seeing the drones eat so much of what we bring to the table, but now they are gone! It's also so ridiculous that the Queen thinks she's special or even royal. What a joke! We fed her royal jelly, which when she was a larva converted her into a breeding bee, nothing to brag about, I might add. Royal my ass! She doesn't even realize that we laid the eggs from which she got her fat drones. Isn't there anyone out there who can see how crazy this cult is??!! Every time I hum anything but party propaganda I'm threatened to be thrown out. We're never allowed to visit other hives. It's positively sickening. Sometimes we have these crises, and an entire swarm is expelled. It's so unfair. They are never allowed to take anything with them! The young bees don't have a chance. All day we have to hum to them about the wonders of self sacrifice. No wonder they grow up spiritually crippled. I just wish one day we'd stop humming propaganda, and instead had a sensible chat! It's rumored I'll be in the next swarm. A witch hunt is already underway. A new queen is coming out of her cocoon, and will probably be expelled along with all those who have not been humming to the older queen's tune. She looks so pathetic with all her little sycophants around her, forever feeding her the best we have. Love,
Nadine Pleil, 6/28/00: I would like to share a little story that will show how cruel the commune is.
Our cat died on Monday. We had taken her to the Vet Monday morning and he treated her for anemia and fleas. He told us that it could go either way with Kitty Cat. Well, Kitty Cat died in the evening the same day. I phoned on Tuesday to let the Vet know, as he wanted to know how things were with Kitty Cat. Well, on Wednesday we received a card from the Vet saying how sorry he was that Kitty Cat did not manage to make it. I thought, and August and Nita too, how kind it was of the Vet to send us a card. When Mother Hilda died I did not even get a phone call to let me know that she had passed away. I did not receive the memory booklet which was printed about Mother Hilda; nothing. Here a cat dies and we get a card from her doctor. Then we got some other messages from friends too. Just unbelievable!
The commune will not let us know when a mother or father dies. They do not want to have us present at the funeral
Our eldest son was classified as, "The Enemy Of The Life." When our son got that title, I told my brother-in-law Josh Maendel that he had lost his title. Josh was very glad to know that, but not so glad for our son.
The commune likes to play games with us; it is like a cat playing with a mouse to prolong the agony. Playing games with the commune is never going to
help anything, and JCA just laps up every bit of attention he can get. He virtually enjoys it when the ex-members try to contact him and cannot get through, and he wants people to praise him for his books etc... What good does it do? I have no desire whatsoever to play games with JCA.
I read a book by Wiesenthal on forgiveness. A Nazi officer was dying. He asked Wiesenthal to come to his bedside and asked Wiesenthal to forgive him for what he had done to the Jews. He had set fire to a village in which many Jews lived and they all died a terrible death. Wiiesenthal told him that he could only forgive what the Nazi had done personally to him; he could not forgive what had been done to others. Wiesenthal told the Nazi Officer that he would have to make his own peace with God. This is how I feel about the commune. I cannot accept what I call blanket apologies. I used to accept that kind of apology when I was still in the commune and thought I would have some peace. But there was no peace. Also, after such an apology we were told that now we should repent.
One of our sons said to us one day, "The commune can never just simply apologize; they always have to find some reason as to why they did not really have to apologize." Or they will say, "We apologize if we hurt you, or if we really did such and such." Well I have no use for such apologies.
August and I have apologized for what we felt we were guilty of while living in the commune. We also knew what we were apologizing for. We did not say "if we," or "perhaps," etc... We called a spade a spade!
Hilarion Braun, 6/29/00: The fundamental theology of the Bruderhof, namely that true Christianity cannot exist outside of a communistic lifestyle, makes all of us non-Christians in their eyes. For us to try to reach the Bruderhof through biblical quotations would look like an insult to them, since they are the only "true Christians."
It was EA's idea to be in conflict with "the world," an example to the "world", but in no way be part of it. Over time, there have been twists of this theology, which is to be expected because it is a twisted theology to begin with. All of us who have lived on the Bruderhof, and especially those who were baptized know this very well.
I think confronting the Bruderhof with biblical quotations is counter-productive. It's like challenging the pope about his Christianity when he believes that St. Peter was the first pope, and the Catholic church inherited Christianity directly through this connection. If we leave the biblical quotations out of our admonitions, we overcome the barrier that they think separates them from the rest of the world. As long as we quote the Bible to them, we are nothing but blasphemers, in their view. Love,
The Bruderhof in Africa, Part II
by Inno Idiong
(continued from KIT February, 2000)
Unprepared Baptisms And Weddings
In a bid to circumvent the Palmgrove leadership and prepare Woodcrest for future maneuvering, four young teenage boys from Palmgrove were hastily sent into Woodcrest's hotbed, presumably for preparation for baptism. Each was forced to recite baptismal vows they never understood. Like ducks, they were bathed and talked to, and encouraged into marriage, something they never knew at all. These arrangements were not made in good faith or with regard to God's will. Between April 1992 and April 1994, the Bruderhof had arranged and performed five marriages between Palmgrove boys and Woodcrest girls. Ebong and Christa Meier and Aniekan and Susand Mason were married in 1992. Joseph and Anthea Oct.10, 1993; Basil and Laura on April 9th, 1994 and Utip and Kathryn Dec 5th, 1993. To be honest, we in Palmgrove supported these marriages but we knew nothing about their timing and the way they were conducted. Should we be blamed if these marriages do not survive the test of time?
Mary and I attended Utip and Kathryn's wedding just by sheer luck, at Woodcrest and in April, 1994 witnessed the first wedding in Palmgrove, uniting Basil and Laura in matrimony.
If someone asked, "Were Palmgrove people in agreement with these marriages?", we would be dishonest if we said "No," but, we were not quite happy with how these marriages were haphazardly prepared. Palmgrove was not consulted, with the exception of asking permission for the boys to wed.
The mystery of interracial marriages is not our concern. God has no color and sees no color. It is the heart that God sees. Our credo is, "That which God of creation and love has united, let no culture, religion or color put asunder." We support these marriages and pray daily for their survival through faith in the Lord. Sad to say that most of these marriages hit the rocks, not over the question of color and culture but because of propaganda and machinations by the Woodcrest leadership.
The women believed more in faithfulness to the leadership of the Bruderhof than in the sanctity of marriage and the supremacy of love and unity of family. These wives' minds were poisoned against their Palmgrove husbands as well as made to look down on their husbands as inferior. Their family lives are being watched and monitored by other people, and the wife's job is to get the so-called husbands brainwashed and influenced by the use of church vows.
Palmgrove people have found something different from one of these white wives. Kathryn Hofer is a wife that is free from manipulation, as far as her love for her husband and the people are concerned. When she defied Woodcrest orders that all whites should move out of Palmgrove, she was abused and insulted by the Bruderhof leaders. She was accused of suffering from mental imbalance and being a wreck. They described her love for the Palmgrove people as "soft."
The crux of the matter is that any failed marriage among the group is plainly and purely a result of Woodcrest's insinuations, although faults might also come as a result of human weakness and frailty. The problems facing baptized brothers and sisters at Palmgrove were quite similar to the problems experienced by marriages in the Bruderhof. Once you are baptized you are finished, chained and subjected mentally and physically, with the wrong dose of baptismal vows used constantly as the "big hammer." All others in the Bruderhof must be lower as far as the leadership is concerned. Strict Bruderhof dictatorship led to human bondage and created a man made hell for the so-called faithful.
Woodcrest control of married life is more serious than meets the eye. We may be wrong in our observation and assessment, but God does not command young couples wishing to have children to conform to leadership [demands] before they can be allowed to produce young ones. In the Bruderhof, having a baby is a big deal. You have to take a vow of submission. You must ask for permission, and prove that you are capable and ready to be parents. This arrangement is wrong, and is born out of sheer ignorance as a result of the absolute power that corrupts the hierarchy at Woodcrest.
We respect Christoph for many things that he does, among which is his ability and strength to change about 2,000 people into robots and pry incessantly into their private lives. We commend Woodcrest for the usurpation of personal responsibility and the leadership's ability to monitor what is happening in the membership's bedrooms, thanks to modern technology and creative religious systems.
We are not getting bitter against Woodcrest by telling these stories. We just have to tell this story for our children and posterity to know why we said "no" to Woodcrest's control and extreme policies. It is not an attempt to return evil for good done for us by Woodcrest, but rather a deliberate effort to avoid another round of colonization in the name of Christian religion.
Change of Direction
The equivocations of the East still linger over Palmgrove. You hear them say, "We are here to support you; we don't need anything but to support you." How long did we trust them, and how soon was the cat let out of the bag?
The true meaning of "we come to support" turned out to mean, "We came to suppress." Don Alexander told me that Woodcrest first decided to send support "only" to let Palmgrove remain as African as possible; the support could be either financial or human. Palmgrove's vision as expressed by me to Don was that it would be a down-to-earth community, simple in buildings, in ideas (at all), and much more Bible-believing and supportive of the poor.
Don did not tell us there had been a change of direction on the part of Woodcrest. He read scripture but treated it all like fairy tales, putting more emphasis on Eberhard Arnold's writings.
Conference at Darvell
Before Steve Wiser left Palmgrove, June 18th, 1994, he gathered Palmgrove together and announced that they were going to Darvell for a conference. Some people knew absolutely well that there was no conference, but that they, the whites, were in great haste and confusion, pulling out permanently. Assessing the whole episode, one could see a move towards disengagement from Palmgrove and the future was pretty well charted.
We would not like to point an accusing finger at Steve who accused our brothers and sisters of looting. Remember, we are the people he repeatedly claimed to love.
Before Steve recommended to Christoph that Woodcrest pull out or disengage from Palmgrove, Steve had dismembered Palmgrove spiritually by constantly holding meetings of the white brotherhood only regarding the status of the Nigerian brothers and sisters. Steve made it so exclusive that even the Nigerian brothers who were married to the white sisters were not allowed to attend the meetings!
At one such meeting, Zack Waldner protested that the holding of these meetings was one-sided. He said that he was in Palmgrove to serve the people and not for such meetings. Kathryn Hofer wondered why her husband Utip Ebong could not attend the meeting. Jeremy Hindley and Larry Mason who also expressed concern and displeasure with this exclusion were later persecuted for their stand. Some even received church discipline for sympathizing with the Palmgrove people and making a stand against un-Christian acts committed by the Woodcrest people.
In his letter of December 23, 1992, Christoph complained about Palmgrove. "You cannot milk us like a cow, dear Inno, he wrote regarding money spent to pay school fees and medical expenses. He continued, "The money that we are collecting needs being put into the building up of the Palmgrove community and not for school and not for medical, I am sorry, but this is how it is and there needs to be more thankfulness."
To be candid, this letter saddened the Palmgrove people. A decision was taken in the Woodcrest Brotherhood for the Palmgrove Brotherhood. No one in Palmgrove was notified, no need to carry us along, but how can people who claim to be so caring decide to change the conditions for support and not inform the people they are supposedly trying to help? Also, if Woodcrest was so clever, how come they did not understand the conditions and needs of the Nigerian people?
The statement, "..you cannot milk us like a cow..." was like a nail in the head. I replied to Christoph with the following:
Dear beloved Christoph Vetter,
It was a big relief to receive your faxed letter to Palmgrove via Deer Spring. First and foremost, we give God all the glory for your effort to support Palmgrove which has been a great burden to you and the Church. It has never been the wish of the Palmgrove people to drink all your milk, but that of God if you feel so.... if you feel you are the cow, then the calves need milk, all depends on whether the cow wants to overfeed or underfeed the calves. We appreciate everything done in Palmgrove if it is done in love. We never heard about stopping the schooling in Palmgrove; it was your church who started the educational sup
port. My people have great enthusiasm for this life but need wisdom to understand our feelings. Otherwise it will look like we are being pushed when actually it is not so. We stand to listen to the church and remain obedient and faithful forever if Christ will support. Please, if you hear anything wrong about me or my people, please feel free to put it clearly before me.
Signed, Inno Idiong
The above letter was read to the brotherhood before mailing. Discussions and letters like this brought a lot of discordant feelings into Palmgrove.
Steve Wiser's conference report to the Brotherhood June 20th, 1994 is another piece to the jigsaw puzzle. The report was contradictory, full of gossip and half-truths. The presentation of the report provided more clues as to how Woodcrest uses deception, confusion and misrepresentation to delay and avoid solution of the puzzle.
Something was pushing me hard to say something and take a stand, but I feared that it might signal the beginning of a breakup for the young community. I knew the problem was not caused by the people of Palmgrove, although the consequences would be suffered by the innocent Palmgrove people.
I wept and my heart bled for the seekers of a new-found life and love in Christ, all one in the community of love. I found the gap between the community of goods and that of love. I found it empty and good for nothing without Christ's type of love practiced for one another. I found it deceptive and incomprehensible.
When my conscience pushed harder into my thoughts, emotion helped to drive my conviction and I realized that walking away could help me comprehend what needed to understand and properly grasped.
For two weeks I struggled both inwardly and outwardly to bring Woodcrest to reason on the questions of legality, immigration, education, infrastructure, finances, stability, fund-raising, family differences and other virulent day-to-day behavior as a result of policy shifts form Woodcrest.
At first Steve Wiser did try his best to help peace return, but his wife in Palmgrove and Christoph in Woodcrest seemed too sure of their faith and wisdom. Often times Martha wished I would walk away from Palmgrove and hand it over to them.
When the black brothers and sisters met to deliberate and carry the problems and needs of the situation in their hearts, they all came to a conclusion: the solution was not walking away from Palmgrove. That would bring destruction to the community and their souls. Then they all decided that we should take a break for three days, to fast and pray for peaceful coexistence amongst the blacks and whites claiming to be sons and daughters of one God.
Sunday June 5th:
Today the struggles have reached a crescendo, plummeting from the pinnacle of unity. I decided to step aside awhile by asking the brothers for some days off. When I shared it with Steve, he felt reluctant at first to say yes as he needed time to consult and inform Woodcrest. I did not like the spirit of having to contact Woodcrest on every small matter. This was a horrible practice, a remote-controlled spirit that sanctified the Woodcrest leadership and places that leadership above God's will.
Steve went away to his house and then returned with his wife and warned that I should be careful not to bring the spirit of cultism. The word "cult" sounded alarms in my mind and I saw clearly how the system, structure and formation of Steve's Society of Brothers, now the Hutterian Brethren East, led to a method of operation which is the very spirit of cultism.
Martha challenged me for threatening to resign and for not informing Steve that I wanted a break. I asked Steve, "How do you do it back home? Do you make a written application submitted for Woodcrest leadership approval? Is not a verbal request sufficient?" The fact was that the trust and love for me was gone. They felt they were in a race with me for the leadership of Palmgrove.
Finally we decided to have a meeting of the brotherhood after the Sunday service. There I hoped to tell the Brotherhood I needed to go for a few days of quiet and solitude. I saw some confusion amongst the brothers and sisters. Some time ago Steve wanted a break after Christian Domer had brought trouble to the Palmgrove brotherhood. Steve asked me to send a FAX to Christoph, asking him to let Steve go for three days to Obudu Cattle Ranch. He did not consult with the local brothers, he just left.
I also told Steve that I have decided to resign from the Hutterian Brethren East under the provision in the By-laws of 1994, Section 12 that states, "Membership in the Brotherhood may be lost by voluntary resignation in writing when a member is no longer willing or able to carry the responsibilities of membership." I found myself no longer able to accept the Bruderhof's policies and the stand they had taken in Nigeria. It is totally different from and not compatible with the basic teachings of Christ.
When we met in the Brotherhood after the service, I was moved to read a letter written to Palmgrove and directed to us, the blacks, by Christoph and how that letter nearly tore us apart. There was another letter that restored trust of love, which we hoped to uphold but Steve Wiser interrupted me more than once saying, "Why haven't you asked my permission before you read anything? I am the minister in charge!"
At this juncture I could no longer hold my temper. I told Steve that if I could not speak, I would walk out. Martha escalated by challenging me to go ahead, walk away. I left, and everyone else except Enobong stayed behind to hear Steve and Martha. They started challenging me to quit, also extending it to others who felt they were in the community because of me.
When John Jacob reminded Steve and his group that it was Inno who invited them to Nigeria, they replied that it was not Inno but Jesus Christ. Yes, they were right but, they ignored the fact Inno was following Christ's will, extending Woodcrest an invitation to assist in God's work building a community to the glory of God.
The pro-Woodcrest group was so happy after the meeting because they thought that I did not have the support of God and the people. They were proven wrong the next morning, Monday. We declared 3 days of fasting and prayers -- no work. The white brothers and sisters were astonished when there was no work and the kitchen was closed down. No one was seen outside between 6 am and 12 pm. The children were involved in the fasting and prayers and God came into our hearts.
When Steve could no longer mobilize the people to go out and work, he decided to walk away and he sought the advice of Christoph who hastily asked them to leave Palmgrove, either for a short time or permanently.
Monday June 6th:
Strongly reassured after yesterday's meeting I was challenged inwardly to weigh the love of the black and a few white brothers for me. Of course I would not find any measurement for it. I was surprised by their love and how they bled their hearts for all the struggles facing us. I quickly realized I needed help and direction. I also realized how weak and weary I was.
They said to me, "Inno, you can't walk away. If you do, we shall go with you. If you need a quiet moment to go to God in prayer and fasting, here is the place (community) and we all need prayers and fasting. We want to do it with you. We also need to grow out of this despair and find complete unity with God."
We started our fasting this morning. All the committed brothers and sisters took it very seriously. I was amazed to see how enthusiastically the people responded to the fast. We fasted and prayed for peace, understanding and unity among the black and white brethren in Palmgrove. We had thought of fasting for three days, God willing.
Following the afternoon Brotherhood, there was pandemonium as a result of mistrust of the Palmgrove leadership. At about 5:30 PM, rumors started circulating that the white brethren were packing their suitcases in preparation for leaving Palmgrove. We learned there was a fax from Christoph commanding them to leave Palmgrove. We were quiet and waited patiently to hear from the white brothers.
At about 10 PM, Steve Wiser and Danny Meier came to see me. They sat me down and in a brotherly manner explained why they had decided to quit. Steve started in this way, " Beloved Inno, it's hard for us, but we have to leave. This comes as a longing for you to put Palmgrove brotherhood back together again, leading them to repentance like Henry Vetter, the minister at Oakwood colony, did in his community. Your people followed you and deserted me as their minister." He continued, "My heart is breaking and I can't stand it any longer."
Danny added a few words like, "Inno you have rejected Steve as your minister," etc. I responded citing scripture, challenging Steve and Danny, where does Christ permit such a radical break of relationship between the shepherd and the flock. I asked, in their opinion, what would Christ do?
Steve said missionaries leave the people like that and I pointed out, "Not without preparing them to step into their (the missionary's) shoes and they were not coming out of love to teach about Christ and His love for mankind.." I compared their action to that of a father with a rebellious son or a king with ungovernable populace. How wrong it was for the father to pack up and walk away, leaving the house and other children just because they don't listen? Steve said, "Yes, the son needs a hard spanking before he can turn around, and walking away will be the punishment for Palmgrove."
I pleaded that they should not just walk away in a hurry. That it would be a mockery of the Church in America and Canada as well as in Nigeria. I thought for a while how impractical a black and white community could prove to be because of the domineering spirit of white brothers and sisters.
Finally, we decided to call Christoph Vetter in Woodcrest. We waited for five minutes and called again. We caught up to him and I tried to apologize for whatever they (the white brothers) felt motivated their sudden decision to leave. I assured them we needed and wanted them very much.
Christoph started blaming me and accusing me of "spiritual pride" and for listening to Enobong. I disagreed with Christoph about my having spiritual pride. I pointed out this was totally false and I would not accept the blame for all Palmgrove's troubles. I knew the charge was trumped up to hide the white brother's biased feelings, jealousy and hatred for the black brothers in Palmgrove.
I said I needed time away from Palmgrove for reflection and prayer. Steve jumped for it and suggested Woodcrest for me. He was excited and started lecturing me on penance, repentance, humility and subsequent Church discipline to follow. He felt superior, like a winner with great prejudice.
We retired to our houses with the resolve to meet again in the morning and get back to Christoph.
Tuesday June 7th:
This was our second day of fasting and prayer for peace and unity in Palmgrove. We met by 5:30 am for our usual morning prayer. Steve came, then John Jacob, Okon Sampson, Josiah Amos and I met briefly after prayers and promised Steve our support and solidarity. We also decided to meet by 8 o'clock with the whole community so that everyone would know what was going on.
By 8 o'clock we all met again, except Enobong who had gone to the bank to stop any further withdrawal from the church account by white brothers leaving Nigeria. The action was initiated by the previous night abrupt packing up, by the white brethren, of food stuff from the communal kitchen without any consideration for Palmgrove brothers
and sisters or even the children. Files and many other things were secreted by the white brothers. Stephen Wardle, the steward, was seen hurrying to the Mercantile Bank in Abak to close the Palmgrove account.
Jeff Kipphut was the first brother to take up his boxes and stack them in front of the office porch. For Jeff we knew his heart was still at the Ransome House and not yet in the Bruderhof. He said in the church that Ransome House, a small community of people living together, crumbled because of an argument over toilet paper and how best it should be placed in the bathroom.
Jeff's testimony sounded very shallow, empty and he appeared to be the 'old way' Jeff. We saw him haggle with contractors, quarrel with the young men who had complained of degradation in the hands of Jeff and he could offer no explanation other than to blame it on frustration.
When we gathered for the 8 o'clock meeting of the community Steve Wiser spoke first, apologizing for embarrassing me during the Sunday brotherhood meeting. I also took turn to apologize to him for walking away from the meeting room after the confrontation. We pleaded to continue our fasting and prayers. We all sat down during supper for a love meal.
Wednesday June 8th:
Looks like a promising morning. We gathered at 5:30 for our last leg of fasting and prayers and witnessed an encouraging spirit in all the black brothers and sisters. We rested and had a clear conscience. We all felt challenged and strengthened by the prayers and fasting that had entered the third day to which our white brothers and sisters were rather indifferent. They thought we were not serious enough and were joking and not showing proper respect.
The prayers ended with a lesson on the fig tree Mark 11:13 - 14. It was touching to our people but Steve was surprisingly upset and invited me for a walk. He talked about spiritual pride, how I talked and wrote about God in my own way, and how I lured people to come to me for advice and led them to worship me, how I could go to Woodcrest, humble myself and ask for Church discipline, etc. He accused me of standing in his way as a minister sent from Woodcrest to represent the Church.
I asked him to explain what "spiritual pride" meant. I asked him to explain where he would place people who translated the Bible from one language to another and the "original" in order to simplify the divine words for the need and understanding of all Christians. I asked him about the accusations heaped against Christoph by KIT and others who call him names like 'dictator,' 'financial mis-manager' and of running the American communities like his own private reserve and haven. Steve replied, "It's all false, I know they are false (the allegations)." I asked, "Why do you and Woodcrest resort to the same finger-pointing against me?"
Steve felt I was detracting from his power and authority in Palmgrove and so he had to put his foot down and preparing for an escalation of the stakes in the confrontation. I tried to explain that the black brothers would not stop coming to me, not because they disapproved of the white minister but, because they felt closer to me as we spoke the same language.
Another meeting was convened at 10 am. Steve Wiser read a fax from Christian Domer by order of Christoph Arnold stating that Inno and Mary Idiong, Joe Idiong and Enobong Ebong were excluded from the Brotherhood. Steve also told the brotherhood that if there was anyone who was loyal to Inno or Enobong, they should leave the Brotherhood. In other words, anyone who joined the Church because of Inno or Enobong, they should leave.
After some consideration I asked to be allowed to complete my last day of fasting and prayer before I would respond to Woodcrest's hasty, one man decision about my fate at Palmgrove. Another meeting was scheduled for 2 o'clock that afternoon. There were many questions in my heart as well as anger. To the amazement of the white brethren I stepped aside pending notification of the Canadian Hutterian Church. To the white brethren, it was as if they cast out a devil but to the Nigerians, it was something else.
Thursday June 9th:
Today, I witnessed an unbrotherly campaign against me, especially by Steve and his wife Martha. Martha wrote a provoking letter to me and I quote:
"I was sad how you brought Christian Domer into the meeting today. That was not right and will only sow seeds of mistrust in the brotherhood. Aren't you plain touchy and unforgiving to Christian?"
The letter showed how one-sided Steve and Martha were and also perhaps all of Woodcrest, about the Christian Domer affair. We couldn't understand why Christian would fax our exclusion message to us when in fact he was the bone of contention in Palmgrove. Christian thought he could intimidate us using a facade of his expertise in legal matters. That he could force things on us without consulting with us such as hiring a Lagos based lawyer, changing the trustees of the church and the manipulation of Palmgrove Farms business and interfering with sensitive issues like immigration responsibilities.
Christian might have meant well, but he acted with impunity and great disrespect towards the Palmgrove brothers. Christian acted more like the colonial masters standing again at our door in the name of Christ with a fake love. Quoting again from Martha's letter of June 8, 1994:
"I have this question for you, if you haven't let the devil into your heart through spiritual pride. Inno, is it really that you are right (or you think you are) and the Church is wrong? Inno you are a bitter and unhappy man".
This was Steve and Martha's heart, the way they portrayed me in the light of their church. Steve was pushing hard to see that I moved immediately to Woodcrest and Enobong to Baker Colony so we would miss the launching coming up June 25th. Joe and Utip were asked to persuade me to move out. Further, Joe was asked to urge the Palmgrove people not to seek my council, rather go to Wiser.
Friday June 10th
Still out of the brotherhood and out of Steve's way. I enjoyed stepping aside and allowing Steve a free and uninterrupted control. When he returned the following morning from a day's holiday with his family in Uyo, he was informed that the chairman of Abak Local Government Area Council had wanted to see him and the Palmgrove leaders. He couldn't approach me so he delegated John Jacob and Jeremy to represent Palmgrove. The report said the Chairman refused to discuss anything with the two brothers, insisting that he meet with the leadership. So the effort by Zack Waldner and Jeremy to reconcile me with Steve was not successful as I was not in the brotherhood.
Rebeka Domer warned Zack to beware and not be poisoned by me. She pointed to me as a man with the evil spirit. Dorothy Bush also saw no reason why I shouldn't lay down my Service and work in the garden. When she was challenged by Zack that she shouldn't forget who invited them to Nigeria (he mentioned that Eberhard was only a year old in the Church and baptized, ordained and sent back to Germany to his people), she misunderstood Zack and said he was asking for Canadian ministers. I explained to Dorothy, "I am not Eberhard and I couldn't be him. We blacks have been in the church for four years now. We were not asking to be ministers, we had always asked for a minister to come to us. Our problem is not that of leadership but a lack of consultation with us about what the white brethren are doing with us."
Saturday June 11th:
A dull atmosphere hung over Palmgrove. It was difficult for people to find motivation to work. Hearts were broken and people sullen. There was a glaring truth, which the white brothers and sisters (with the exception of Zack and Jeremy) refused to or could not understand: the white brothers and sisters did not understand the culture and needs of their black brothers and sisters. Also, there was a duplicity in the stated interests and concerns of Woodcrest. This was shown by the actions of Steve Wardle and Danny Meier that afternoon when they went to the bank.
In the afternoon Steve and Danny went to the Afribank with their lawyer with the intent to withdraw the church money. The previous Tuesday, the 7th, Enobong had been to the bank and made arrangements with the bank to prevent the white brothers from draining or closing the account. Our true relationship was revealed when Steve and Danny discovered they were denied access to the money. They immediately threatened to go to court and challenge our right to the money. In short, Steve and Danny were prepared to take their black brothers to court to sue them for money. Was their mission to Africa to evangelize or to colonize?
Because none of the white brothers were trustees of the Hutterian Brethren Church of Nigeria, they could not circumvent us and take over the accounts, money or lands. We had welcomed them to Nigeria with open arms, love and trust. We allowed them to sign cheques in trust and allowed them many privileges in Nigeria.
Don Alexander sent me a fax via Christian Domer, dated June 8th, accusing me of splitting the Palmgrove brotherhood. Don was the minister who shaped Palmgrove into a full community. He structured Palmgrove with a divided brotherhood, that of a black brothers and a white leadership and control. When Don left Palmgrove, he was haunted by guilt of what he did at Palmgrove. This was shown by the letter, written upon the Alexanders' return to the USA, acknowledging their misleading spirit over the Palmgrove brotherhood.
Don asked me in his fax message of June 8th, "Are you ready to go anywhere the Church asks you? Are you ready to live at any community for the rest of your life that the brotherhood may send you to, even if it means immigrating to the U.S.?" Don's last question was unChristian in that it has no scriptural basis. No first century Christian, from the Apostles on, had such a 'rule' in the name of serving God. They all longed to return home if they could escape persecution during their journeys. Paul was warned that his life was in danger if he returned to Jerusalem, but because of his love for Christ he refused safety and went to Jerusalem. Paul went in obedience to God's will and not in obedience to man's will, as is seen and practiced in the Bruderhofs today.
The true intent of the Woodcrest proposals was revealed that Saturday when the white brethren tried to retain Charles Apkin, an Abak-based barrister, to assist them in the takeover of Palmgrove. Also, it appeared that the white brothers sent boxes of money out of Nigeria.
Sunday June 12th
Our struggles continue. Steve Wiser announced the visit of Dick Domer, Bill Wiser and Akan Obot. They were all to stop for two days in Lagos. We didn't know why they were coming or what was their mission to Lagos. Zack Waldner and Travis Kleinsasser were asked to leave Palmgrove.
Monday June 13th
Zack Waldner was challenged to leave Palmgrove because nothing was left of it, he shouldn't worry about the electricity and the people until they repented to Woodcrest. He was given till breakfast time the next morning to think about it and decide. I tried to call Canada and seek help for Zack, but could not get through on the telephone. Fortunately for Zack, he succeeded in persuading Steve and Steve to allow him the use of the satellite phone. He was asked to go to Uyo to make the call. Zack called home finally and the conversation was in Hutterisch. Steve Wardle who was there to eavesdrop did not like it as he did not speak Hutterisch.
Tuesday June 14th
The Wiser's and Ebo Moody have left and Utip and Kathryn have arrived. Last evening Steve Wiser asked me why I stopped them from withdrawing the money in the Afribank account. I explained that we also have feelings, and they threatened to pull out of Nigeria, taking all the Church's money with them. They had already closed the Palmgrove Farms account.