Friday, December 6, 2013

Seeds of Doubt part 2: Foibles

As I said at the end of my last post, the Foibles article and the blogs contributed a great deal of information and questions. They also validated my doubts and reassured me that I wasn't going crazy. They are valuable beyond words in helping along this process.

The Rick Ross forum is the first thing I found on the Internet, probably about 4 years ago. I was searching for the Foibles article. I don't remember what triggered the search at that point, but I had always wondered about the article. I had heard rumblings about the "blow up" as I was growing up, and knew something had happened. I had heard of some article here and there, and it was no secret that Jack had taken off out west. I remember lots of people were leaving. Friends were around one day, then gone the next with no explanation and never to be heard from again.
The only explanation I ever heard at the time was that there were some people who were saying some very bad things about Abba that weren't true. I remember thinking "poor Abba!"

I was always curious about what those "lies" were, and about what was in the article. Asking about it was met with resistance, or shock that I would even ask. There was never a "right" time, and there was an unspoken air of disapproval for asking at all. Whether it was a parent, a clan head or an elder (and I asked all three), I never got a straight answer, and each of them made it clear they didn't want to discuss it.
Some people claim they never read it and had no desire to read lies about Abba. They trusted him, and that was that. It was all lies and rumors. They said people shouldn't believe things they read in newspapers, and the author had an agenda.
It's like they all memorized the same talking points:  Don't forget  that it was all a test, a winnowing of the unfaithful, that those who left were never meant to be a part of the family. Abba planned it this way. It was orchestrated.

I don't know how they expected that such stupid, half-assed responses would satisfy our need for answers. It only led to lingering questions for a lot of us. Though some did accept what they were told, and there are the ones who are so steadfast in their beliefs they never thought to question at all.
A winnowing indeed. The leadership would be quite pleased to be left with only those who never ask. Even now, they believe that we are going to continue to be tested as Yeshua's family, and those who are lacking will fall by the wayside until there are only the most righteous left to bring in the kingdom. It's such a cop-out.

 So I was playing around on the computer, searching different keywords and phrases. I was very surprised to find the Rick Ross Forum, surprised and horrified. Pages and pages of stuff about the Family!  This stuff was supposed to be secret.  So much depended on all of this information being kept secret. I could not believe it was out here, on the INTERNET! I felt like Chicken Little, the sky was falling! And we were being called a CULT. What's going to happen?
I mentioned it to a few friends (in the cult), and they responded with equal surprise and horror. A couple of them said "don't read it!" Because of how we grew up, we all have this irrational fear, or at least expectation, that even our deepest thoughts would somehow be "found out".  it was ingrained in us that the "watchers" see and know everything about us, down to our deepest motivations that we may not even be aware of ourselves. We were also taught that our thoughts create energy just as our actions do, and negative thoughts create negative energy, which has consequences. Of course, doubts and questions are interpreted as negative. So even our thoughts aren't safe or our own, and we mask them just as we do everything else.

A brief mention of the blogs is as far as any conversations go with our friends in the cult. It is extremely awkward to bring up or talk about, so it is left alone. I continued to read, with relative apathy. I didn't feel defensive of the cult, even when reading things that were very negative, and that surprised me. I didn't really feel or think much of anything. But I kept going back to read, and I finally read the Foibles article.  Again, I was surprised. Based on what I had been told, I expected the article to be tabloid-ish and unprofessional. I expected a lot of inflated lies and unverified rumor. It had none of that. It was very well researched, contained real quotes from real people, and information that I was astounded by. I just could not believe that this information was available and KNOWN by all of our parents, hidden from us, and THEY STILL BELIEVED!?

But it still wasn't enough. I didn't have that smack-on-the-head moment of clarity, and no sudden anger or motivation to call my parents and confront them. It was numbing more than anything. Things became sort of surreal, for several months. My participation in things became robotic because I could not accept the supposed realities we were supposed to believe anymore, but I also could not yet accept that it was all such a complete and utter sham.

Around this time I also began reading the other blogs, by Pnina, Freckles and Modern Doomsday. I had  had doubts for many years, and now I was seeing them actually put into words by other youth. It was validating and empowering. I allowed myself to think and question more freely, and there are certain truths that just CAN NOT be denied. The range of emotions in the months following have been extremely powerful and varied. There are periods of intense anger, and periods of sadness where I just want to cry. And the days I ask myself  "what's the big deal? Get over it already!"  It is such a mix of paranoia, fear, confusion, freedom, and even the lingering doubts of maybe I'm wrong. But most of it makes me feel impotent to actually do anything. The anger is the only thing tangible enough that I can actually hang onto it and motivate myself with it. I can barely stand to look at certain people, my parents included, because my anger at them is so raw. But I keep the smile and grind my teeth through it, and avoid contact as much as possible. The other option is just not an option right now. Confrontations will open a can of worms I am just not ready or equipped to deal with.

I think the leadership and our parents have created the slow demise of the Family on their own, and don't even realize it. The fact that Jack had sexual relationships with young men, and the fact that he exposed the "passing of the seed" ritual to young men, and participated in it is indisputable. Jack admitted it himself. His reaction to the exposure in the news was to admit it, admit no wrongdoing, and give a spiritual explanation while staying calm and matter-of-fact. It was all bullshit, but it was acceptable to a lot of people who believed him and stayed.
The "mistake" they all have inadvertently made was their reactions and responses to us. It would have served them well to follow Jack's example, and answer questions with honesty (ie, BS spiritual explanations), and not appear to be hiding things. Instead, they claimed it was all "lies and rumors", and many of them would not admit that jack did the things he did. Those who did admit the passing of the seed took place showed great discomfort and difficulty being asked about it.
By claiming something was a lie, when it so obviously was not, they showed us that they were themselves uncomfortable with the truth. They didn't expect that there would be something called the Internet, and that the article would be accessible. They didn't expect there to be a forum for people to anonymously tell their stories. It renders them powerless. Their own claims render them powerless when the proof states otherwise.  They can call the bloggers "liars", but they forget that we know each other (even if we don't know each other's identities). When the bloggers share their stories, we were there, at the same retreats, meetings and events they were. We saw and experienced the same things. Calling them liars is stupid when we saw enough to know the truth behind the words.When they respond to our questions with anger, reproach, discomfort or dishonesty, they are showing us that the questions are valid and the truth scares them.

It's all an ongoing process, but once the seeds of doubt are planted, it's impossible to go back. I think that's true for everyone, though the process may be different for each of us.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Seeds of Doubt (Part One)

This is in response to some questions posed by "anonymous" (one of the many) on my post from last week.  He/she wanted to know what made me leave, what information caused me to question things, and what the experience of going into the "mainstream" has been.
These are complicated questions that I haven't yet figured out myself. Not completely anyway. But I will do my best to answer them.

By nature I have always been a questioner. I am not content with a plain answer unless I know and understand the how and why. I analyze everything, always have. Even as a little kid. At the same time though, I was painfully shy so I didn't openly question anything. I was compliant, quiet, watchful. I did believe everything I was told and taught, I didn't know there was any other option. But I think that my analytical nature helped later on.

When I was raped a lot of things changed. It deeply affected everything that was me and my life. I don't want to delve into that now, but in part, I think that experience contributed to my ability to look for the truth about the cult. It definitely created some misgivings.
I already knew how to keep secrets and live a "double life", but until that first time he had me alone, I didn't realize that the people in the family could also live a double life with each other. I didn't see it coming, and I learned from that day forward to distrust appearances. And to distrust authority figures, especially men. Everyone wears a mask. Everyone. Taking things at face value wasn't an option anymore, and neither was trusting myself.
I already knew to wear the mask "in the world", but I didn't know how easy it would be to wear it with my parents, with my friends and family members. I couldn't say anything, but I thought someone would look at me and know. At least my parents. But no one ever did. They didn't want to. We had been taught that the world, our society, is illusion created as a means of control. But everything is illusion created by our own ability or inability to see truth. They wanted to believe I was a happy normal kid, and so I was.

Looking back, I know I became even more watchful. I was always very aware of everything around me, trying to gauge every situation and every person. I also became overly aware of my own actions, and was always worried something I might do could be misinterpreted. For a long long time I did wonder what I did, or what is was about me that caught his attention. At other times, I could be very detached. In very stressful situations or emergencies I become completely separated from my emotions. That happens in highly emotional situations in the Family, like at retreats when everyone is praying, yelling and crying. Everyone gets swept up in it and I freeze. I'm not complaining, I'd rather freeze. In those situations I feel completely separate from everyone else and myself, and from that viewpoint it looks so ridiculous.

So moving forward, I believe I had a basis for questioning things that others may not have. I have to think that the experience of growing up in this cult hasn't been such a bad thing for some of the youth. Maybe it is possible to believe in the rubbish Jack taught and still manage to parent appropriately. I don't know.

Beyond what I already explained, there were some specific instances that made me think, WTF!?
I'll explain the ones I can without giving away identifying details.
At one of the retreats in Colorado, things took an interesting turn. It was evening and everyone was gathered in the big gymnasium in Estes Park. There were the typical guards at the door (watching for what, I don't know. There were some precocious elk in the area). The whole atmosphere was emotionally charged already, so I was expecting something interesting to happen. Everyone was listening to Jack start to speak with complete attention an adoration as they always did. He seemed a little bit more serious this evening. He said he had a great revelation for us, he was going to reveal who he really was. At about this point I was feeling a little skeptical. I expected him to announce that he was yeshua himself. I remember thinking "if he says he's the messiah, I'm outta here". Then he announced that he is Jacob. THE Jacob. People literally fell all over themselves. I wasn't sure what to think, but it seemed a little, I don't know, predictable, arrogant, dumb. That may have been the same night that he announced angels were there in the room (invisible to us) placing marks on the foreheads of the righteous among us.
That whole thing didn't sit particularly well with me. That was the first big seed of doubt that I can isolate. Though I would push it aside and continue to be the good little adomic soul I was meant to be.

Another seed of doubt was also planted at a Colorado retreat. I don't remember which retreats were which, or if was even the same retreats. They all blend together. At this one, the youth had already been consecrated into the dynastic line of David. We were now divided into three families, and the first name of the male lines is "David". For each of the three lines, that boy in the "David" spot is the son of the Super-clan Head. When that boys father, the clan head, leaves his position for whatever reason, the "David" becomes active in that role. Well, at this retreat, The head of one of the superclans stepped down in order to pass the position to his son. This son was M. Van. Since he was actually consecrated into the Davidic line (the parents were not), he became the first youth to become active in his position of "The David". He basically became the King. Okay, so that didn't bother me. But then we were all gathered in the gym again, and in walks M Van. Someone places a king's robe on him and he very ceremoniously walked down the aisle, like a newly crowned king.  I don't remember, but I think he may have even had a crown. It was like a medieval coronation. Again there were the oohs and aahs, and tears of reverence. It was seriously just too much.

There were some other things. There was the retreat (in CO) where everything seemed to focus on sexual stuff. Jack talked about the Torah representing a penis. There seemed to be a lot of teachings about stuff like that. I don't think that's a mainstream Jewish concept, but I have never heard that since.
As I got older, I noticed more and more things that Jack said were just plain incorrect. And no one would think twice. He would answer questions people had without actually answering. He would have that twinkle of amusement in his eye while giving some ridiculous answer that everyone thought was profound.

Jack's death was eye-opening also. For a period of time, people seemed lost and directionless. They needed someone in the position Jack had for guidance. So people started seeking out Gary for the same things they sought from Jack. I noticed that a lot of people in the Family wanted to be told what they should do. It was a little bit unnerving.
I also began noticing how useless the covenant and political structure actually was when the Family was faced with real issues or questions. Despite the touted "structure" we were to live within, and the system in place to deal with problems, the leadership was surprisingly ineffective in many situations. Especially without Jack for direction. They would act according to what they thought Abba would do.
For a long time, there was a lack of coherence in the group. Clans were off in their own directions, and there were lots of talks and prayers about being unified and loving.
 The lack of coherence was taken care of by the Vans. The prophesies and the words of the king applied to everyone, and gave a clear direction for the group. There was a clear shift of "power" to that particular group, as they are the prophets and Gary gave up his position of high priest to the king's brother. This period was the real turning point for me. The prophesies were bizarre. The behavior was bizarre. And the "king"s" declaration that everyone needed to come personally meet with him, and bow before him and lament, well, that was a little over the top even for some of the fiercest believers. That and the prophecy that everyone had to move to Maine.

And of course, there was the Foibles article, and the blogs written by youth. They were huge.
I have more to say, but will continue with a part 2, for the sake of time and other obligations.



Friday, November 22, 2013

An email asking for advice

I received an email several weeks ago from a young woman, (I'll call her Em) who is concerned for a friend who is involved with Jack Hickman's group.
She asked for advice. I've been mulling over a response for some time, and nothing seems adequate.
Without divulging any personal info, the situation is this: she is friends and neighbors with a family. One member of the family has divulged some info, but the other kids, who she has been quite close to, have never shared anything with her.
Em is concerned after reading some of our blogs. She is worried about her friends' involvement, and askeed what she should do, if anything.
I don't know if I am the best person to give advice here, as I am still in limbo myself. What I will say is this,
 Before anything else, if your friend discloses anything that is illegal or a threat to their welfare, report it. If you witness anything that worries you, report it.  You would be doing them no favors by keeping quiet.
Other than that, tread lightly. Don't confront anyone with information, or in a way that will result in them feeling defensive. With the friend who has told you about the cult, point her towards the info, namely the Foibles article and the Modern Doomsday blog. It is written concisely and provides a lot of history and information without having to wade through a lot of pages.
But don't argue. Don't drive a wedge between you. Don't try to convince them of anything. Be there, be supportive, and make sure they don't feel personally judged by your opinions of the group.
I remember being in the defensive position here. I was angry at what I perceived to be the ill intentions of the people speaking out against the cult. I wanted to defend them, my beliefs, and the people I have known my entire life. What helped me, honestly, was knowing the info was there, and being left alone. I sought it out on my own terms, in my own time. I listened and I watched. It takes time to accept the truth, and it happens little by little. They may never accept it, and you have to be ready to accept that yourself. Remember that it's not the beliefs that are at issue (as wonky as they may be). It's the actions. It's the pattern of behavior (illegal, unethical and abusive) that creates a bad or potentially dangerous situation.

I wish I had more advice, but as I said, I am not the best person for this.

I would appreciate any ideas from you readers. Any input would help. Those of you who have been disconnected from this group longer may have a better sense of what may help.
Don't hesitate to tell me I'm wrong and offer different advce, because I just don't know.

Good luck, Em. And they are lucky to have a friend who cares.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Interesting

Jack Hickman and his followers tried very hard to stay out of the spotlight after the Foibles of Abba article. Cult activities became a secret, no more recruiting, no more admitting you were a member. Even so, they still managed to garner unwanted attention.
Here is an article I stumbled across and haven't seen posted on anyone's blog yet:

Murder of Lisa Steinberg
I hoped to be able to find the original article from the NY Post, but unfortunately,no luck.

The article is from 1987, the same year little Lisa was beaten to death by her parents. I remember this case making headlines nation-wide, even years later.
There are a few interesting things about this article:
For one, it refers to the Family as a "kid-beating cult" that advocated "strict discipline of children". So it was known, even then, that child abuse occurred. Why was it never investigated? Whoever wrote the article must have gotten that information from somewhere, or someone. How many people, ex-members included, are complicit in the continuation of abuse?

Secondly, what the heck are the "cult-like" things they found in the apartment? That is just odd. The cult members were Lutheran, then pretend-orthodox Jews. Judging by their last names, I am assuming these two were Jews. The only "things" I can imagine them having related to the cult are Sabbath candlesticks, yarmulkas, a cross or two and
maybe a mezuzah on the door post? Being in NY, those things can hardly be called unusual.

Lastly, the article states that according to police, more than 50 cult members still existed on Long Island. So by 1987, most of the members were doing a really good job of hiding their involvement. About 50 still had some learning to do.

I am curious if any former members from back then remember seeing these two at services/activities, or any investigation about this.

More likely than not, there is no verifiable link to Shoresh Yishai. Still, though, that name pops up in the weirdest places.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bet El Yehoshua

Bet El was the cult-run school in Massapequa, NY. I believe it operated from the 70's until the mid-late 80's. Children in the cult would start being educated from age 3 on. At 3, children would start ganon (preschool). Kindergarten through the sixth grade was taught in the Massapequa building. The teachers were all cult members.
A few years after the " blow-up", the school was reduced to only k-2. A couple years after that, it closed altogether.

I have gathered stories from several youth who were students there. Their experiences in that school were strange, to say the least.
To be fair I want to acknowledge that there were many positive memories expressed also. It was a very close knit community, and all the kids knew eachother. Family friends and often our relatives were the teachers. Some of the people I talked to expressed that they felt loved there. It wasn't "just a job" for any of the teachers or administrators, they were truly invested. Some youth felt there was a safety net that didn't exist in public schools.

I don't want to minimize the positive experiences, but for many other youth, that "safety net" was a double-edged sword. It served the adults more than the children. Just like every other situation in this cult, there was no recourse for children who may have been abused, at home or at school. There was no one who would report suspicious marks, bruises, or statements by kids. By report, I mean to outside authorities. Someone might express a concern to Abba, or the person's parents, but it would stay "in the family". Everything was kept quiet and private. Especially after the Foibles article. The family wanted no attention from media or authorities of any sort.

This is some of what the children learned about, (oh, and the teachers strongly believed in experiential learning.)

Sacrifice. In order to demonstrate how to kill an animal the kosher way, the school aquired some chickens. One nice sunny day, all the students were brought outside along with the chickens. A teacher (I believe Bob F.) produced a knife and akwardly slit it's throat while someone else held the chicken still. Once the head was off, they let it go, and it ran around flapping it's wings and bleeding until it fell over. Kids were fascinated and horrified. They next killed the second chicken.
The kids got to watch them feathered and gutted. A class made chicken soup. For some strange reason, the chicken feet were kept in a freezer and handed out as prizes for games.
I get that there are farm kids everywhere who may see animals get slaughtered for food without being disturbed in the least. But these were city kids. They had no prior experience with this sort of thing. And for so many of them, this is the first story that comes out when reminiscing about Bet El. It made an impression.

There were lessons about the Israelites being slaves in Egypt, and being forced to build the pyramids. Being the experiential learners they were, they were led outside where there were bricks and baby dolls. The kids had to act out being the slaves. The baby dolls were their babies. If anyone was too slow while building the walls, they were forced to put the baby into the bricks, being killed as they were crushed and became a part of the pyramid.
Honestly, I don't even know if this is historically accurate. I don't believe there is any evidence that the pyramids were built by Jewish slaves, but I might be wrong.
I have some pictures of this fun little activity, I smudged the faces that might be identifiable.




And who can forget the paddles? Paddling was a part of life at Bet El. Corporal punishment was not just tolerated, it was encouraged. Jack taught that you had to hit the children until they cried. Otherwise you were not breaking them, and it was important to break them.
The paddles were wooden boards. If a child did something wrong, the teacher would bring them to another room where s/he had to bend over their knees and get paddled.
There was one particular teacher who apparently had the "Godzilla paddle". It was a large cutting board with a handle. He had it hanging on the wall so all the kids could see it, as a deterrent for misbehavior. He would take it down off the wall and carry it to the other room with the offending child. I was told that he didn't actually use it, he had a different, smaller paddle that he actually used. But the effect was the same. The child would be shaking in fear on their way to the paddle room.
The paddling was a way to assert control through fear. The random, nonsensical rules they made, like not being allowed to go to the bathroom more than once or twice a day also served this purpose.

Someone told me there was a lesson on kosher bugs (eww). A class went down to the kitchen and fried grasshoppers or crickets, then ate them. I have heard of restaurants that specialize in different cricket recipes. Maybe these guys were onto something.

A normal part of school, mainly after 1982 according to most, were the drills. They weren't always formal drills, but they would practice being under attack, or in a survival situation. The kids would have to scatter and hide. There were lessons on foraging (the bugs were part of this), winter survival, etc. There were lessons on using your senses, like having the tractor trailer brought in. All the kids were put inside the trailer, told to go to the far end. Then the doors would be shut leaving them in complete blackness. The doors would be opened again when the children could get themselves calmly to the other end, leaving no one behind.
Supposedly there are still lots of drills and games meant to prepare the kids for "survival". The cult school practices hiding and being silent while the teacher searches for each kid. There are games of manhunt in the dark to hone their skills. Families also practiced (in the past and currently) their own drills at home; where each person is to hide, who is in charge of the guns/ready packs, meeting spots to regroup. Everyone in the family is required to have an emergency "ready pack" which is always stocked and ready to go at a moments notice. There is a man called the "Ephriam" who is in charge of ensuring that every person and every mish is fulfilling their responsibility in these matters. He will actually demand a printed inventory from each group and sometimes travels around to inspect progress.

Most of the Bet El kids had a rough time transitioning into public schools after it closed. There was a lot of effort, with mixed success, to keep the kids together for teachings weekly. Some kids stayed in contact until the regrouping. Others only had loose contact, and rarely spent time with other Family until 1996.

Presently the cult runs a school in Corinna Maine, as well as a preschool. People are strongly encouraged to send their children, though logistics make it impossible for the lucky ones. I do not know if corporal punishment is still used there.

Feel free to share any experiences you have had with Bet El Yehoshua, good, bad or indifferent.






Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Political Procedure of the "Three Families"

Posted below is the last section of the packet outlining the political procedure of the Family, for anyone who is interested in their inner workings. The first big elder election took place on Long Island back in the late nineties. The Family as a whole (from all areas) meet once a year, in Maine. The "January Meeting" , as it is called, is considered mandatory. When Jack was alive, he would read "The Letter" which was supposedly written for the whole family, all the tribes, worldwide. It was a long cryptic message that would be read twice (so all the people furiously taking notes wouldn't miss anything). It would be read twice and twice only. Never printed or distributed. It was considered very sensitive information. For months afterward people would get together in groups and discuss it's meaning, trying to analyze and interpret. Whatever.

Since Jack's death, the meetings still occur every year. There is no longer a letter for the whole family around the world, or if there is it doesn't reach our tribe out here in the US (um, I thought we were special?) but a message is still given by the "king" (Mike V.), or the high priest, (Gary, now Adam V.). Inexplicably, the "message" is still only read twice, and never printed or distributed, just like when Abba was alive. The Ephraim (Obed F.) or one of the priests may speak next, or a "Miriam", which is the girl-equivalent of a priest, sort of, but not really. According to Jack, the "Miriam" is the title given to the eldest daughter of the High Priest. Since the high priest for us was Gary, and he had no children, this had to be altered. Jack named a Miriam for each "superclan". They are consecrated into the priestly line like the male priests. One Miriam is active in their role at any given time. Their role is to deal with the woman-stuff. They would choose topics for the monthly Rosh Hodesh gatherings, and will speak with a message for the women at the big January meeting. They are the go-to person for women in the family with questions concerning, well, women. In reality, the role is mostly in title only.

The rest of these January meetings consist of cult "business"; updates on money/tithe, big projects, etc. The three Superclan heads will give a summary of their groups' activities, projects and ideas. "Business" also includes filling any positions that are vacant. A couple years ago, Gary stepped down as high priest, and it was transferred to Adam V. A Miriam was removed from her position, and another was named. An elder was also removed and the position filled.
The political procedure outlined below is what is used currently.






Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cult-Speak: The Three Families

Before one of the spring youth retreats, a packet was sent out to all of the youth of the Family. This was the time when we were being introduced to the idea of the "Three Families" which we were going to be consecrated into now that we, as a group, had "passed the test". We had proven ourselves, according to Abba, and we were finally being accepted into the fold of this ancient family with the fate of the world in it's hands.
The packet consisted of a preparatory lesson by Jack in which he tries to instill the meaning of servitude upon us. Here is the cover:



Pages 1 through 19 are Jack's "Message to Family" which is his analysis of the Parashat. He talks about the two ways we can relate to God, the nature of our servitude, how Abraham broke the cycle and become God's first true servant. Jack talked about being a Zaddik, and the difficulty of suffering for the sins of others, namely the Jews of the world who are somehow doing it wrong. He told us we would all someday pay for everyone else's crimes as well as our own. He spoke of the 36 Righteous who hold the balance of the world in their hands.


I have included the last two pages of it which sums up the nature of the teaching:





That was all to lead us into the knowledge of how the "Three Families" worked, their structure and political process. This was to be read before the retreat. At some point there was also the preparation for the consecrations. Prior to that retreat, each CH, or clan head, was called and told which name each youth in their Mishpaha would be consecrated with. They were also told which boy was chosen to be consecrated into the line of priests. There is at least one priest from each Mish, or clan. Preparation for this consecration included very specific instructions for a process that had to be started weeks before the actual consecration. That will all be included in a future post.

The following, as it says, is the physical structure the Family would adopt from that point forward. This is the present structure the group works within. Of course, they now have some self-proclaimed prophets in their midst, but that doesn't change the basic structure Jack implemented then.







This is all familiar if you left after this point. If you have friends or family in the group, hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the structure they are adhering to, and what they believe they are accomplishing. The next and last section of the packet describes the political procedure of the group. That will be posted shortly.




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Musings

I spent too much time mentally outlining my response to the most recent anonymous comment on the "Martyrs, Zealots and Death " post. Finally I decided to not bother. What's the point? Is it really possible to have a rational debate with someone defending this group, and who is obviously a member? I doubt it. And I just don't have the energy. Besides, once I get going past the ability to calibrate, I'd probably end up calling him an asshole. And that would make me immature and irrational.
So, forget it.

Last Friday evening I went to a beautiful Shabbat service. I do gravitate towards Judaism still, even if it's just that I long for the familiar, and the ritual. So once in a while, I go to something, just to see. Some of my warmest and most comforting memories are of Shabbat. They aren't even memories, per se, but remembered feeling. The warm glow of the flame as the candles were lit. My mother's voice reciting the blessing. The smell of the Challah, mixed with the wax. A feeling that was almost peaceful surrounded me. I absolutely adored Havdallah. Watching for three stars so we could begin, then the sweet smell of cinnamon and cloves. Someone would shut off the light as my father lit the Havdallah candle, then we'd watch it glow in anticipation for him to put it out in the wine. I loved the little drops of wax scattered on the page in the siddur from all the prior sabbaths we said farewell to. For just a few minutes, every week, I would feel real light all the way to the center of my being. It was warmth. In those moments I was sure I could feel Hashem.
 Shabbat was also one of the few things that was predictable in my life as a child. I could always count on it, and it was always sweet. I miss that.

So anyway, I went to a service, one I hadn't experienced and I was unsure what to expect. I said I gravitate to Judaism, but there are periods that I want nothing to do with it also. Times when I completely cut out anything that I associate with Jack Hickman. But then there's nothing left. He managed to incorporate just enough from different religions and philosophies to make it all seem a little bit polluted. Really, though, the core of it is that my belief in a God at all has been shaken. The foundation was a lie. It was a warped interpretaion. Nobody was seeking God, or knowing God for themselves, they were doing all that through another person, Jack. It was him along the lies they believed about themselves and their "special"purpose, that is ultimately what they worshipped. They would deny that, but it's true. If your relationship with God is your own, if He's there with you, wouldn't He still be there, with or without the cult? But he isn't for most people. They lose the Family, and they are lost. So what is it we were worshipping, God? Or is it something else altogether, something that we slap a label on that says "spiritual" because it feels good? I get it. I've been right there reveling in the warm fuzzies of being together, the intense bursts of emotion enveloping us all. Being together for services, prayer, worship- the love and joy in the room was palpable. It was spontaneous song, dancing and surrender. All in the name of God. When people surrendered themselves to it, and most of us did, it was spiritual and it was real. Except it wasn't.

I have gone to different synagogue and church services in my life. In contrast to the Family, they can seem very controlled, formal, rote. I don't mean that in a critical sense. It's just that to me they often lacked the unity, love, and just the JOY. I have seen snippets of southern Gospel churches, where the choir and the whole place is up enthusiastically singing and dancing. I always think, they get it.
This particular service was warm from the start. Very informal. People were sitting on the floor. It was serene yet flowing with energy. There was music, and I love love music with worship. It was beautiful. Then people jumped up into spontaneous Israeli type dance around the room in a chain. Children jumped up to join, with that same joy. It was great, but it freaked me out.
Many of the elements I miss were there, except it made me feel very uncomfortable. I could feel myself responding to the energy around me, but would catch myself. It just hit too close to home. I left early.
Writing this blog, reasearching this groups history and piecing together the truth has been a rollercoaster. Things come up that I haven't felt or thought about for years. I have been reevaluating every aspect of my life, my beliefs, my self. My thoughts on one day are often contradictory to the day before. I question everything. I didn't understand the can of worms I was opening when I started reading the blogs, then actively seeking answers for myself. Life seems pretty clear until you realize it was all an illusion. The view from that point is pretty convoluted.
What's the psycho-babble term, flashbacks? Triggers? Whatever it is, this service was an illustration. It pisses me off that something positive, fun, or normal can instantly become marred by these little flashes of memory or emotion that just make it uncomfortable or unbearable. It doesn't even make sense sometimes. It pisses me off even more that THEY still have that power.
And I question that line; what is cult behavior, and what is okay? Like But Seriously's post about Bendigamos. I LIKE Bendigamos, dammit! If I catch myself humming it, is that "bad"? Does that mean I'm slipping back into cult-mentality. I struggle with the separation of what things I need to shun to prevent myself from falling back into the familiar, and what things I can keep, and somehow make my own.

 Shabbat, that is something I truly miss. I am going to do my best to make it my own again. That, they can't have.

I apologize for the rambling, somewhat self-absorbed nature of this post. I have struggled with the aspect of my anonymity. It makes me a hypocrite to be on a quest to expose the truth about this cult while simultaneously hiding. I even revealed my identity briefly (an impulsive moment) in a somewhat public forum before freaking out and pulling it. Being anonymous severely restricts what I can write about. Oh, the stories I could tell! But I would be identified in a heartbeat. At the same time, being anonymous grants me the liberty to write with abandon and reveal things I could never reveal otherwise.

A couple of posts about teachings and info coming shortly.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity.

On a prior post, there was a commenter who seemed incredulous that there are doctors in the group.He was surprised that with all their education they would be members. That struck a nerve. Like, only idiots get caught up in cults, right? Or at the least, the uneducated, emotionally crippled, mentally ill or insecure. People joined cults who "needed" something they couldn't find on their own, you know, like a heart, a brain, courage or just a place to call "home". Cults attract weak people. That has always been my assumption, too. Of course, that was before I noticed that I was in a cult myself. Oops.
But that's just it. When I look at fellow members of this cult, that is far from the truth. Of course there are exceptions... but the large majority of Hickmanites are very well educated, confident, well-adjusted, as Freckle said, they always know just what to say, they're the "beautiful people". They are just so...normal. (I can't comment on the first generation, they have always seemed a little bit odd to me, but the second and third.) But how can that be? This is the part I always got stuck on. 
I am reminded of the scene in Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye plowing his field and weighing which direction to take; accepting his daughter's unorthodox choice, or his inner convictions and tradition. "But on the other hand..."
That's what it is like. On one hand, this stuff is so illogical, Jack was quite obviously a fraud. How can no one here see it? On the other hand, maybe I'm wrong. They don't seem crazy. They are intelligent and successful. They aren't the culty type. Maybe it's me that is wrong...But on the other hand, fish people? Watchers/fallen angels? Jacob reincarnated to hand pick us from guf? "Prophets" going to Denver airport to fight a demon? WTF. They have to be crazy. But on the other hand...

There is a lot of information on cults and who and why people become a part of them. If you are interested, google it. The basic conclusion is that despite common misconception, clinical evidence and research strongly supports that cult members are normal people from every background, educated, uneducated, ceo's, professors, doctors as well as blue collar workers and drop-outs. It doesn't take a certain type to get involved in a cult, it can happen to anyone. 
Cult members may mistakenly believe they are special, but don't be too hasty to think you are special for being "smart" enough to leave (or avoid involvement altogether). We really aren't too different.
So what is it that keeps people involved? I believe it is complicated and unique to each individual. There is no good answer.

I want to clear up a few miconceptions about the current Jack Hickman group. One is, the size. I don't remember how many people were involved before the "big blow up", but I have heard it was a lot. Maybe a thousand or two in the early days.  How many are they now? I sat down and attempted to compute this. I may be off by one or two, but I am in the ballpark. Right now, there are about 72 different families involved. About 8-9 of these are single adults or older couples with no active children. So they are about 64 actively growing families. Approximately 36 families are located in Maine, a group in Colorado, and the others scattered about in NY, NC, NH, FL, CA, GA, etc.
What do they do? I won't bore you with a list of what each member does for work, but just off the top of my head I can count about 6 physicians, and a couple more in medical school, 3 Chiropractors, 6 active attorneys, 3 social workers and a psychologist, at least 12 active nurses, 2 dentists, 5 youth who served or are serving in the armed forces, a professor, about 4 police officers, a few firefighters and emt's, business executives (not counting cult businesses), 8+ teachers, an airline pilot, massage therapists, carpenters and contractors, dental hygienists, you get the picture. They are  varied and from many walks of life. Almost all youth go to college with very few exceptions. Unlike other cults, such as the fundamentalist mormons, everyone has a job or career. No one is on the welfare rolls. The only people who don't work are retired. Oh, and many of the women who are having baby after baby, and staying home to take care of them. Every mother I can think of who stays home also went to college and has, or had a career of their own. They blend in and function very well in society. They disagree with welfare, debt, or anything that makes you a "slave" to the government. Politically they are also varied. There are staunch liberals and staunch republicans, many in the middle, and then those who believe politics are just a diversion tactic to keep us stupid, so they refuse to take part. But they are intelligent, educated people for the most part. Yet they love and follow Jack Hickman, despite every odd or outright ludicrous thing he has said or done. It defies logic.

I digress, but due to their professions, an awful lot of cult members are mandated reporters. Had to point that out.

Anonymous asked if they consider themselves Jewish. That is a difficult question to answer. Some are actually Jewish, but they are in the minority. I am one of them, although I do question the validity of what I was told by my parents. I am presently doing some research to find out for sure.
But most are not Jewish, but consider themselves such. Actually, they believe themselves to be "Israel", that is, that the true Israel is made up of the people, Israelites, who are scattered about the earth which has no relation to the present State of Israel. How many times has Jack referred to Israel and us as the temple built of "living stones"? There are a few who have converted to Judaism through a synagogue, but most believe that conversion is not necessary, as they are the true Israel which is a separate thing from what the religion of Judaism is today.
But there is division amongst family members in this regard. There are those that live openly as Jews (of course, keeping secret their belief in Yehoshua). Others keep their "Judaism" completely secret. They live like the Maranos because they believe it will make them a target of persecution when "The Time" comes. A few belong to temples or synagogues, but it has always been discouraged.

In reality, their beliefs are not very Jewish at all, despite the fact that they observe all the holidays, and follow Torah (with some extra thrown in). Some describe themselves as Messianic. Their main focus is on Gospel of the Nazirines, and the 32 Paths, as well as meditation (the form they practice is close to transcendental meditation). They study Torah, but shun many aspects of halacha, or rabbinic law. They also study much of the New Testament, but shun Paul as a false prophet, and Pauline doctrine is a false path. Like the Seventh Day Adventists, they are preparing for doomsday. If I had to compare it to some other modern religion, I think it most closely resembles a combination of
three so-called Essene or Nazorean orders that exist today:
the Sons Aumen Israel, The Essene Nazorean Church of Mount Carmel, and the Essene Church of Christ.
Despite what most of the youth believe, there is not a single thing that Jack taught that is original or unique to him. It can all be found somewhere else, and it all existed pre-Jack.

I don't know what happens when people leave. As for me, I am distrustful of any organized religion. I don't know what I believe, except that I know that most of what I was taught was fairytale. Someone on Facebook, under  religious views, said this: "There is a God, and it's not me."
As far as where I am with regard to religion right now, that says it perfectly.



Monday, October 28, 2013

Hiatus

I haven't gone away (sorry, culties. I hope you didn't get your hopes up). I needed a short hiatus. I have been reading, researching and attempting to unscramble all of my thoughts and feelings into something at least somewhat coherent.
Really, I just needed a break. It is easy to put a lot of time and energy into this stuff, and trying to keep up with my life at the same time...I was neglecting some things that are more important. And literally making myself sick. I made the decision not to allow the Family to integrate themselves into every aspect of my life any longer. I see that I was still letting them in a way. There needs to be balance. I'm getting there. As soon as I'm ready, I'll be back at it.
Once in a while, when I refuse to slow down and see reason, my body has a way of giving me a swift kick in the ass. It makes me slow down, and not very pleasantly!

Thank you for all of the input that you readers have put into emails and comments. A lot of gaps in the story are being filled. The whole picture makes more sense than it did. It's nice to get actual answers once in awhile instead of the dancing and dodging around the truth that has become the norm in the cult.

Oh, and just an extra little observation; All those mysterious people from Europe that are keeping records and surveillance on us- you know, the priory of zion, templars, blah blah blah... Well, they suck at it. There's a neat little tool that shows me which countries, states and metro area hits on the blog come from. Not one view from anywhere outside of the USA. None at all from Europe. Actually, most are from Maine, Colorado, NY, NC... places where current Family members live. Is anyone surprised?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Old vs. New

The stuff I posted are teachings from over a decade ago, as someone has pointed out. What about now? What is being taught now that is different from before Jack died?
Well, mostly just more of the same. Since 1996, the focus has been on the "youth".  John H. periodically teaches a series which are open to every member, but since the first generation has fullfilled their purpose by breeding, the youth are the important ones. The priests are in charge of teaching/educating the 2nd and the ever-increasing 3rd generations. The priests run and teach the weekly religion class that the kids are required to attend. The priests run the youth retreats and meetings. The priests are all youth, as far as I know. At least one priest is consecrated from each mishpahah. They are consecrated into their own line, the "Cohenim", while the rest of the youth are consecrated into the Davidic line. They believe that they are the priests who will be serving in the new temple after Yeshua/Metatron/Messiah comes. They now have to follow all the old rules of the biblical priests, like only marrying virgins, staying pure and what-not. Their children, as long as they are the spawn of a priest and his virgin wife, are also members of the priestly line.

It is mostly Jack's teachings that are being retaught. Video of his teachings are played for the youth at meetings and retreats because they believe it is important for them to hear his righteous voice.  There's a problem now, most of the 3rd generation has no memory of Jack. While their parents and grandparents revere him as a Tzaddik and prophet, the kids, well, he could easily become irrelevent. They can't let that happen. Along with the framed picture of "abba and his dogs" that is prominently displayed in like every members house, his voice must be heard. When you read your lesson packets, they want Jack's voice in your head. The little cult school kids take walks to his grave. Everyone does their best to instill the same reverence for Jack that they have, but I cannot say they are quite as successful as they wish.
The priests do their own teaching too, but the big stuff is left to Jack. Priest teachings are mainly commentary on Jack teachings or their own interpretations of the weekly Torah portion.

Recently, (like 3 years ago-ish) someone compiled a whole slew of Jack's lessons into a book on "Marriage" that was/is to be distributed to every youth in order to ensure they adopt their proper roles in creating a spiritual household. The lessons include several on  niddah, and couples lessons from 1975, as well as the 1970's "directions on marriage to the princes". It all reeks of underhanded mysogyny, but that is fodder for another post...

With Jack gone, the leadership and dedicated followers have been fervently seeking ways to ensure a 3rd generation as devoted as they. Transitions were important, namely the first generation stepping back and allowing the youth to slowly become the leaders. Many of them had a hard time with this, but things did take a turn. Jack always spoke of the youth's energy being different, stronger, newer, more driven. That has proven to be true. Prophets started springing up (some actually believed to be the reincarnation of biblical prophets, seriously). Just like Jack said, God was speaking through the special Adomic souls.
I obviously believe these "prophesies"are the product of delusions, mass hysteria, mob mentality, exhaustion and lack of oxygen due to hyperventilation. But they are also the product of fear. Things would reach a plateau, tithe would go from flow to trickle. Kids seemed to be going down the wrong paths. Suddenly, something big happens, relevent abba-lessons would be dug up and handed out. Someone would prophesy about destruction being close. Everyone needed refocusing. The biggest fear among many in the Family is that their children, or their children's children will fall away.

I am unaware of how people were advised to marry in the 70's, but I believe that at the time, bringing more people into the group was encouraged. Not anymore. It is very strongly encouraged to marry "inside". There is a greater effort to ensure everyone knows the  rules about getting permission to marry. The fear of assimilation is so great that they are excerting their control any way possible. Kids are told when and where they can go to college. They are told which career paths they are allowed to take. They want them to remain in Maine, hoping their choices will be restricted. They want there hand in every decision you make because every thing you do must be for the greater good of the family, or at least not bring any negativity or shame to it. And, in my opinion, they want the youth restricted to Maine because it lowers the likelihood of friendships and romantic relationships developing with outsiders. Lots of cult kids go to the Maine university in Orono. They stick together because they are already friends. Kids who have gone out of state tend to marry outside of the cult. That's a sure way to lose members. There are spouses from outside who have come into the family, and are fully adopted, but many keep their distance.
Jack and G did a lot of teaching from 1996 until Jack's death. They have all been printed and distributed. The list is long; here are a few titles:
*Youth Retreat may 1996 + Abba's teaching to youth, 7/96
*It's your turn to make a deposit: a study of the first several verses of the Parashat Balak Haftorah
*Israel series
*32 pathways series
*Prayer (abba's teachings compiled by Bob F.)
*Awakening (song of songs series)
*Spanish Jewry (printed from 1979 teachings)
*Rosh Kodesh series (for the women to learn how to be)
*Toldoth
*Lessons and information on marriage
*Come Dance With Me (Carlo Suares, song of songs)
*The Clan
*The Politics of God (David lessons)
*James
*Genesis, *Exodus, (you get the idea...)

There are more, lots more. There were also audio tapes and cd's distributed. The Enoch series comes to mind. And every once in a while, we would receive a copy of something from decades past, like an Easter Sunday sermon, or prophesies Abba and others had in Massapequa or East Meadow, or teachings by youth Pastor Jack. These tend to pop up whenever they are deemed relevant by current leaders. Once the Van Clan started their prophesying a couple years ago, some of Jack's teachings on prophesy started floating around, as if to have him legitimize it from the grave.
(You know, the grave he was buried in after this Tzaddik/prophet/reincarnation of Jacob/teacher of the Way died a natural death, and from which he did not rise after 3 days, AND where I venture to guess his body still lays, not perfectly preserved, and not smelling like roses. But I digress...)

I do have a question, for you old-timers: when all this was beginning, what did Jack explain as the purpose? Did he tell you all that you were to bear the 2nd generation who would be consecrated into the house of David to become sacrifice's for God? Were members actively recruited? Why did membership become closed? That's one thing that makes this group different from others out there there is no wooing involved.
Did you see Jack breaking the rules he preached? I have heard many stories of his love for lobster, cheeseburgers and all things unkosher. I have also heard of his obese and gluttoness lifestyle, and that he would often break chairs when he sat down. Anyway...I'm curious.

Like I promised, here are a few more pages of Jack talking about death and sacrifice. There are so many more, but these convey the point, I think. Again, these are a partial transcript of a Path lesson.











Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Martyrs and Zealots and Death...oh my

Maybe I am delving too deeply into these past lessons and coming to conclusions that are false. I don't know. I don't trust my own ability to think critically right now. I found several old teachings that, when looked at together, points to a frightening conclusion. My perspective is quite different than it was at the time we first heard and then read these lessons. Then, I believed everything, and accepted it as positive, right, true. Presently, I read it all from a place of anger and betrayal. Am I using skewed logic, like they do? Are the things I am reading in these lessons, do they say what I think they say? Those reading who grew up as I did, you remember the things we were told, beyond these printed teachings. Another perspective would be appreciated. I want to know. I admit my mind goes to some dark places during these past months.

That comment "sicarii" reminded me. I knew I heard it before. After some more time spent rummaging and speed reading through books, I found it. The Family printed books of  the lessons for each grade, taught at Bet El Yehoshua, the cult-run school. In the book of fourth grade lessons, there is a section titled "Zealots, Qumran & Masada". The first several of these lessons taught us what it means to be a Zealot, and why it was okay to kill people if god told them to. Interestingly, Jack always used the word "us" when speaking about the zealots. In the first lesson, Jack talks about the zealots who were called "Sicarii". These "dagger men" would hide little daggers under their clothing, go into crowds, and stab Jews who they felt cooperated with the Romans. They also go to people's houses, kill them and steal their children. This was because they were teaching the children things the Sicarii believed were Roman. The lesson continues with the zealots going to Qumran, their activities, scroll writing, and their holiness and preparation for a coming battle in which they would fight for God.
The next several lessons progresses through the history of the zealots, setting the stage for the last lesson, for what Jack referred to as the terrible, yet very brave thing that happened at Masada.





What is being taught? 1. That zealots were justified in killing, they were carrying out God's work.
2. The actions in Masada brought unity among the zealots. 3. They didn't do anything wrong. Jack said they offered themselves up as a sacrifice. Death before slavery. 4. This one is most worrisome, that a "true prophet" can command the people to temporarily lay aside or break the commandments.

We wanted to be zealots. We should be zealots. What happened there was good. After Abba came out of hiding, he spoke of being "fanatics" for God. That this is what we should strive for. He also taught us about martyrdom. We were to strive to be martyrs. Do you remember the tape that was passed around after 9-11? Jack talked about Bin Laden carrying out God's work. he said that yes, Bin Laden was evil, but God told him to do what he did. he said the terrorists did what God told them to, it is what he wanted. Those terrorist believed they were doing what God ordered them to do, and they were right.
Is there really a "Law of the Prophets"? I don't know. This I do know, the Family now has prophets. People they believe to be true prophets. What if one of them commands the family to set aside a commandment, and become martyrs. Will they do it? Could something lead to that? A few short months ago, I would have said "No Way". I am no longer so sure.

I would like to post everything. There is so much here. So many references to being Martyrs. Statements about being sacrifices, about dying or being killed to complete our walk on the "Way".

Here is another, a partial lesson on the 32 Paths.

 
There is one more I would like to post today. It is also a part of the 32 Path lessons, and will be posted by this evening. Please, if there are any people who remember the talk about being fanatics, sacrifices and martyrs, please share. Hopefully I will have the time to read more and post what I discover.
Are these things taught in this way in Christianity? Judaism? Catholicism? Lutheranism?
 
 



Monday, October 7, 2013

paranoia

The paranoia is difficult to shake off. It follows every step and causes my thoughts to recirculate with different conclusions. It's the paranoia and fear that keeps so many of us paralyzed from taking those incredibly important first steps. Some one called me courageous. That is far from the truth. Really. I am not being humble. I am a chicken, and my anonymity is self-serving. I am sheilding myself behind a veil of secrecy while demanding transparency from others. Because I am not ready for a life altering change, a change that will affect others beyond me.

It is this fear and paranoia that led to my decision to pull my blog this weekend. I let it get to me. The emails and messages seeking info, and the ones I interpreted as veiled threats. Was I being impulsive or reckless by writing these things in a public forum? Did I give too much detail? What if there is a way to trace this back to me? Maybe I don't know enough about technology to be truly anonymous? What if, what if, what if...

Then there are the "what if's" that I don't want to admit. The ones from "them". I like to believe I am able to separate the bullshit we were fed from reality, but those creepy little thoughts linger still, casting doubt on my conclusions. Then I have more questions than answers.
I have been rummaging through old boxes and reading old teachings. I am looking forward to posting more as they get scanned. The ones from the 1996 May Retreat are particularly unnerving. This is when Jack told the youth that the Family in Europe were going to be surveilling us, and keeping records.

A youth asked the question, "What happens to my standing in the family if I marry my Christian boyfriend?"
Abba's response,
"It would not affect your membership in the family, but you are not doing him any good by marrying him and not bringing him into the family. You are not being disloyal to the family if you marry outside, but it puts a wedge between you and your spouse. He will feel excluded and it can begin the cancer that leads to divorce. Records are kept in Europe on all family members and all of this would be known to them. If the spouse wants to come into the family, they should be brought to the clan head for instruction."

Later, in the next session, things grow almost creepy. The following are pieces of the sessions from the 1996 May youth retreat. The booklet contains 60 pages, therefore posting it in it's entirety is prohibitive. I scanned the parts in which Jack refers to surveillance of the family, and records being kept.







This didn't end here. We were reminded regularly that we were being watched. And tested. The members of the "Three Families" were going to appear unannounced and test us. They could be a new coworker, the person behind us in the grocery store, the friend of a friend, there to "get a sense of who we are", there to see what kind of lifestyle we are living. (You better put that hamburger back on that shelf! They could be watching!). Jack wanted us to be paranoid.
We were even informed that our phone conversations were likely eavesdropped on, and nothing electronic is secure.
It went further. During one teaching, we learned that when the "New world" came into existence, we would each have to stand up before God, and in front of every other member of the family. At that time, each single transgression would be announced publicly before all of our peers.
The youth were taught that revealing secrets, even to our family members (on the outside) would make us traitors. People who left the family were traitors. But they would still fulfill their role. All of them are kept on a list which would be given to our enemies during persecution. The list would be falsely represented as a list of current members of the Family. They would be a sacrifice, and they would be killed so the rest of us may survive.
It sounds so very illogical and fantastical. Even as I type these words, I am astonished that I believed these things. But when this is what a person is taught from childhood, the paranoia becomes a normal pattern. It runs deep. My brain knows these things are not real, but my body still responds to the same fear.

Paranoia. It can be debilitating. I let it get to me, and that made me angry. Freckle face is right, anger helps. It is the anger that keeps me on this side of the curtain. When the anger ebbs, my resolve ebbs, so for now it is what I need to feel. I will not let the fear they purposely instilled keep me quiet. You cannot shut me up. This is my story. This is what I experienced. Go ahead and try to stop me, I dare you to try. Intimidation, threats, guilt, the cold shoulder, they will not work. Not any longer. 
For those of us who are past, or passing the age of adulthood, the tangible threat ends when you are out of your home: They can't touch you physically anymore. They can hurt you in other ways, but only as much as you let them. It's now the intangible threats we grew up with, those are the things we need to get past in order to take the important steps. The truth is, THEY can't "get" us. The other, invisible "they", they can't get us either. They don't exist. "Abba" taught us that we needed to peel away the "structures" that are ingrained in our beings. For once, he is right. The "Family" made sure we believed and feared with every fiber of our beings. Those are the structures we need to break free of.

It is a freeing revelation. I think I am almost starting to believe it.








Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Invisible

Leaving. Cutting ties. Walking away and not looking behind... I wish it was as easy as it is to write the words.
I used to read the Rick Ross forum occasionally. Posters there often attacked each other with accusations of spying, fishing for info, etc. One person stated that some one had to be either "in" or " out", that you cannot be out of the family but still be " involved". That's just not the truth. It is a very gray area for some. An ideal situation would be a person: living in a location isolated from Family, immediate family who already left, a network of friends who have no involvement. A life separate from the cult. Sadly, this is not reality for the majority of members. For those employed by the cult in some fashion, the difficulty is more complex.

When I was a kid I remember being rather confused about the prohibition from speaking about such a large part of my life with friends and relatives who were not a part of the Family. Later, as I pursued friendships outside of the group I was admonished for it. While I was not prohibited from spending time with them, I was reminded rather regularly that outside friendships would always be limited. One elder in particular in addition to my family told me that those relationships could never be as close as relationships within the family, because those friends would never really know us. We were different. Our souls were different. I would have to hide too much of my life from them, and any "closeness" would be superficial. I was told it would be unfair to them, and selfish of me. They said that only people in the family could ever fully know each other, be open, honest and trusting. These were our real friends. These people were spiritually our siblings.

Unfortunately, they were right.In part. I had several "besties" at different points in my life growing up; friends that thought they knew me as well as I knew them. I hate this about myself, but I lied to friends regularly, because I thought it was right to, or at least because if I didn't I thought I would be in big trouble. In addition to lying, we constantly had to hide things, hold back, and as I spoke of before, put on the figurative mask.

But with other "Abensurs" it was all just easy. We could be ourselves. We understood each other, the way no one else could. We shared beliefs, principals, values. We were FAMILY. They were the ones that loved me. They were the only ones who haad the ability to support and guide me along the proper path. The rest of the world was illusion, "drunk" was a word often used. Jack loved to reference the movies  The Matrix and Star Wars.

The truth was quite different. Us spiritual kin, we still hid from each other. We were still not allowed to divulge many details about our lives.  While unspoken, there were rules about what was ok to ask or voice. We did not want to appear unrighteous, or need to be given special attention to get us back on the "right".

This is one of the more difficult aspects of "leaving". As I began to distance myself from relationships in the Family, It became apparent how few real relationships I had outside of the group. Most of my close friends are cult members. For all of the childhood experiences shared and close bonds we feel, there are some things still unspoken. I may suspect someone has doubts as I do, but I don't ask. What if I am wrong? There would be consequences. The f...king paranoia! A group of us can be out together, talking, laughing, and there is always the elephant in the room. The questioning glances, the "oops" if something is said that isn't quite right.

Then there are my friends on the outside. They are good friends. They are awesome people. A few of them I have known for years. I want to be open, honest. But when someone asks how it's going, it is hard to look at someone who thinks we're close, who I've known for years and say,  "well, see, I've been a part of this cult which has permeated every part of my life since I was born, and well, now I want to leave, and um, I'm struggling with it. What? You mean I've never mentioned this before?"
Not sure how receptive I would be if I were on the receiving end of that.

So there isn't really an outlet, or someone to bounce thoughts off of. It kind of sucks. It also annoys me that all this probably makes "them" happy. It's by design, I am sure of it. Resulting is this blog, and other blogs, and posting in forums, and people commenting anonymously. It isn't ideal, but it's an outlet. Every person has their own invisible struggles I suppose. Thankfully there is the internet. Thankfully, there is a way to reach out to people who are still "in" and at least give another perspective. I never would have seen the Foibles article otherwise. I don't know if I would have asked myself the same questions without the other blogs and forums. I hope that at some point the struggle doesn't need to be so invisible.


Monday, September 30, 2013

UMI (somewhat) current activities

I was provided with this letter by an old friend who is a current member of Shoresh Yishai. It is a general letter to the Family providing updates on the goals and activities of UMI. I refrained from including the schedule of events as it included names addresses and phone numbers of members which I am not comfortable publishing publicly. However, if this non-profit organization is valid, there should be no issues with the letter. Any person interested in donating time and money, or participating in an organization's programs has a right to full disclosure of its philosophies, goals and activities.


 
 



 
 
Readable?
This illustrates the "spiritual preparation" aspect of the family currently. This differs from the physical preparations currently underway,  handled by the other "organizations", such as NERT. Both aspects are given equal weight by the leadership as necessary to survive in the future. Upon consecration at age 12 or 13, youth are trained in meditation, and assigned a personal "teacher" with whom you participate in one-on-one sessions. This teacher serves as the person you seek with any questions or issues you have regarding meditation.
I am not knocking meditation. I've tried it. It can be fun and useful, I suppose, given the proper circumstances. In this context, the cult, and applying it according to Jack's teachings, is it still useful? Or does it put people, young teens, in a very vulnerable or suggestive state?
 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Temple Rock

A month ago or so, I dug through old boxes in the attic and found many papers and booklets that we (youth/Family) received through the years. I had recently been having stronger doubts and felt the necessity to read it all from a fresh perspective. I discovered some long-forgotten newsletters from soon after the big 1996 retreat and meeting. Do any of you remember these? There were just a few issues printed. It was an eye opener this time, years later, more than even the some of the teachings. It's interesting to see the mindset the youth were in. Or maybe it isn't so interesting, but it illustrates the "high"  that was experienced, the effort to keep it going, and even the paranoia of information getting out.

I will refrain from commentary so that you can read for yourself. I am curious which articles strike a cord with other people.





It does seem I am rather clueless here as I try to post this. Suggestions would be helpful. If it is as unreadable posted as it appears in the preview, I will attempt to correct it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Where's the Money?

I have been thinking about the money. I am not certain what I think about this aspect of the group. I am not convinced that just money is the motivation, even for the leadership. I believe Jack enjoyed the sense of authority and power he had over people. In fact, I believe he had an inherent disdain for the members of the family. Even as a young kid, I had the impression he didn't actually like most of us. It was a game and we were mildly entertaining, though utterly predictable. Then there was his attraction to young men, and what a perfect position to be in, a youth pastor. As his ego grew to the point of delusion, and his followers grew more obsessed and devoted, well, I think the money was a perk for him. Not the original motivation. THAT I think was himself, and easy access to boys who were vulnerable.
Jack obviously lived on and enjoyed the cash flow. At times I think he was delusional enough to believe his own lies, and was therefore somewhat genuine. At other times I am certain he was fully aware of being fraudulent, and acting in self interest. Either way he was brilliant. He really was, he just knew so much, at least more than a couple thousand other people who included some very educated and intelligent adults.

Back in the Long Island days, tithing and gifts obviously padded Jack's pockets. I don't believe there is much room for speculation there. The fund that the money went to was called Shoresh. While Jack and Gary were out west "in hiding", Shoresh funded their travels and lifestyle. I have always been told that they had to stay in cheap hotels, were always on the move, and that they lived very frugally. Right.
When everyone was brought back together in 1996, Jack and Gary lived in a huge, expensive house in Colorado. They didn't rent it, they owned it. It was beautifully furnished and adorned with antiques. Whenever a question was posed about how they could afford it, an evasive answer was given about Gary having money from his company.
So, Let's talk about businesses and organizations founded and run by cult members.

Parsifal Corp (website/)
This is a business, for profit, started and owned by Gary C. And Mark O. Apparently they started it as business partners in 1981. There are now locations in several states. It is an actual business, with a large number of employees. The links provide info on locations and what the company actually does. At least in Maine, a large number of the employees are cult members. The president of the company is Mark O. The CEO is Mike V, THE king himself. . Doing our own taxes is a great idea for youth, but for those who depend on Parsifal and therefore the cult for their livelihood are sort of in a bind. They cannot hide their income, nor pay tithe elsewhere. Unfortunately, just finding employment elsewhere is difficult in Maine, especially in the present economy. I believe they intentionally employ cult members in such a way that they create a web of interdependence and supervision of a vast array of youth and families. Almost everyone is related to someone who is employed by Parsifal Corp.
Their  Waterville Maine location is on Maine St. above Key Bank and they also have offices on the 4th floor of The Center, also on Main Street.

NERT (website)
(National Emergency Response Team)

This organization is the baby of the "Van Clan". It's headquarters are on Albion Rd. in Unity Maine. It sits on a large piece of property on which several members of their immediate families also have their homes. It is essentially a compound which serves as the base for the organization, which is really a front for "cult-preparedness" for the coming end-of-life-as-we-know-it.
This is where a large portion of tithe money goes.
Now don't get me wrong, they do a lot of good, ahem, positive things. They really do. You can see that when you look at their website. They help a lot of people in the area (Maine), by working and donating goods and time to the area food bank, as well as other organizations. And the idea was awesome, ingenious really. But it's still a front.
The Van-Clan is one of the big players in the whole "Maine Ministry" as it was called back in the day. They were one of the earliest groups to move to Maine, and are very involved in the up-North camp preparations. One of the things people were encouraged to do was develop mish-level projects that served cult purposes while also helping society. So helping other people also served the cult; it is a learning process in how people react to disasters, how infrastructure is broken down and built back up, how to handle large amounts of people and resources.  
The amount of resources NERT possesses is rather vast. Besides lots of tithe money, they get a lot of donations. Their property consists of a very large barn that from the outside looks like a typical Maine barn. The inside, though, resembles a lodge. There is a full gymnasium on the second floor. There are bunk rooms which can sleep probably 50 people. Showers and bathrooms. A conference room and event hall. They have a warehouse full of supplies- clothing for every size and season, medical supplies, hygiene supplies, and FOOD. They could feed an army, and it's all expertly stored in food grade buckets meant to preserve it for at least a decade.
The funds they receive, besides being their livelihood, it is used for whatever supplies they deem necessary for their camps. They also use it for seminars and trainings (mainly for other cult members). Their farm and greenhouses. Their trucks (NERT trailers) are stationed all over the country,  on the property of, again, other cult members (upstate NY, Georgia, Carolinas, etc.), easily accessible to them when they are needed, for themselves.
So, while NERT publicly runs an organization to help others in times of disaster, behind the scenes, they are prepping and prepping for their own survival once the real  calamity hits. The majority of the resources are being reserved for their own use.
If you have more knowledge about NERT, or corrections, please share.

UMI (website)  (facebook)
Unifying Meditation Institute

Based in Longmont Colorado, and founded by Bob T and E Samm. Tithe goes here too. It is listed as a non profit organization, and focuses on the other part of what the cult believes is necessary for their survival. All cult members are instructed in this meditation practice. Everyone is required to go to an introductory course, and is assigned an instructor. The instructors are trained and appointed by the leadership. The introduction to meditation is usually a weekend long course at a cult members home. The instructor assigned to you is the person you are to go to with any questions or concerns you may have at the course, and after. That person will also check in with you, and/or meet with you periodically regarding your progress.
There are several levels (or phases) of meditation that you reach as you grow more experienced. There are periodic "roundings" which are weekend-long meditation retreats. They happen at different cult member's houses and they try to hold them in several different areas of the country where cult members live. Check the schedule out on the website. These are cult events. If you look at the testimonials on the website, you will see 3 cult members, one the daughter of E Samm.

Colorado Friendship (website)

A non profit organization founded and run by Hickmanites and based in Longmont, Colorado. It's an offshoot of NERT, except CF is 100% volunteer, no salaries are paid, and they do a lot of charity, relief and volunteer work for their local communities.
Check out the photos, you will see many cult members, but also many who are not.
I included Colorado Friendship only  because it is an organization that is run by cult members.

Ripple Effect Project (website)

A charity started by Alice S. I have included this one because it is also an organization run by cult members, and a mish-sanctioned project. However, I believe this was started out of Alice's true passion for this cause. Tithe money does not go here, as far as I know. Click on the board of directors, and they are mostly Alice's immediate family, and all are cult members.  I looked at the pictures they posted, especially the ones of the benefit breakfast. I don't think I spotted a single person who is not a part of the Family.


Just because these organizations and businesses are cult-run does not mean they are automatically fraudulent or negative. Some are, some are genuine. Call me naïve, but I do believe there are genuinely good people who are a part of this group. Delusional, but well-meaning. Not excusing anything, just saying. But there is the information, follow your own judgment.