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.


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.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just to Clarify

In response to some of the comments on my last post; Listen, I am not interested in being sued or anything else. I did not accuse the man in that post of anything. Everything I posted about DeLalio is public information and available to anyone who searches it. I only posted information that is already out there, nothing more.

I don't know how to respond to the poster who said that I am "trying to get back at him for my own guilt". I'm not trying to "get back" at anybody. I did not post his name and picture to be mean or vindictive or give him a bad name. He already did that himself. I posted about him in particular because he is a perfect illustration of what is wrong with this group. You don't have to agree with me, and you don't have to keep reading. But you cannot dispute that he did the things that I posted or that he has been protected by the "family" for a very long time. The public information I posted is just a small piece of the picture. It always is. There is always more to the story. You are going to read into that any way you want to, but as far as George DeLalio, I only posted known, verifiable facts.

 I just don't understand defending someone who hurts others. He HAD second chances, obviously without real repentance and NEVER a real apology. He blew every chance. He is just lucky he only got what he got. Or maybe it's not luck. Maybe he only got what he got (which is basically nothing) because other people actively protected him. Or because his possible victim(s) were silenced by fear or helplessness, or just the clear knowledge that it wouldn't matter.

You know what, Anonymous? Maybe it will make you happy to hear that yes, I feel guilty. Every single day I think about the fact that if I said something maybe someone else would not have been hurt. But to say maybe it wasn't so horrible, and who lets someone do that for so long? LET HIM? I was a week away from being 8 the first time. He was an adult. My attempts to fight were pathetic enough to make him laugh. He had ultimate confidence in his safety from being caught. That was him, but it was also the cult that created that. As guilty as I may feel, when I go back to every instance, I know there was nothing that I could have done then. And yes, I said nothing. But you know what? Adults that knew, or should have known said nothing either, and I'm smart enough to blame them more than myself.  Do you really think it would have mattered? It was as obvious to me then as it is now that no one really cared. They didn't care when Freckle face's sister was raped, or when Pnina was abused, or when the daughter from the family Freckle face lived with was put in foster care. Those are just the cases we know about. What they care about is their own image, or the lie they tell themselves that they are "lights" in the world.

Are you really worried about an abuser being "blacklisted" for life? He gets to walk around and live his life. Do you have any idea what life is like after being raped? I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, it has been... I can't even explain it. I am only just beginning to see how it has effected every facet of my life. The physical part of it was absolute hell, but that does ebb after time, mostly. What doesn't go away, ever is the feeling of never being okay with yourself. It just eats and eats away at me. Of never feeling unmarked. Never sleeping a whole night without bad dreams. Hating touch, from anyone, family, friends, significant others. I was an affectionate kid before. Never again. I still hate giving/getting hugs. I don't want to feel like that, I just don't know how not to. Intimacy, especially with men, is a constant struggle. It's either too easy, when I'm detached, or almost impossible if I try to be present. Trusting no one outside of the cult like we were taught, but no one inside either. It's feeling strong, almost unbearable emotions without warning and no outlet. That's already more than I wanted to say, even anonymously, and it's just a small part of it.
I go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning seeing a face I hate in my mind. He gets to walk around free but gets to be my life sentence. That is exactly how "justice" works in "The family". The guilty  get to walk around as if nothing happened, and no one is allowed to still be angry or hurt. If someone is, they are in the wrong.

I hate the man who raped me. I don't forgive him. Am I supposed to feel sorry for him now, because the past is in the past? I should give him another chance? Other people should? I don't think so.
If you think I am wrong for putting public information out there about cult members, or for telling my own story, well, stop reading. I am not expecting change from my rapist. I don't care what happens to him. I want nothing from him, except for him to go away forever, and never touch another person. To never show his face around again. That is all.
I write this blog because I want the truth to be out there. I want to add to the truth that the other bloggers put out there. I want people, my friends, who are in this cult to know the truth. At least then, even if they stay their eyes will be open.  It's probably to much to hope for, but I still hope. I also write for myself. Maybe if I write it, it won't be so hard to actually say someday. Maybe it will alleviate some of the (irrational, but present) residual paranoia of actually speaking the forbidden things. When I am finished with a post, I feel empty, in a good good way. I have clarity for the rest of the day. The fact is I cannot actually talk about this stuff (yes, I  am still hiding behind "anonymous". A cop-out, I know). But I can write. I feel like I have to. If it's uncomfortable, irrational, unorganized or difficult to read, I'm sorry. But it's where I am right now. 

I want to repeat, for my own protection, I am not accusing any specific person of anything. Any information I post about an individual will be public information accessible to anyone. Other names will be changed if needed.
Everything I write is my own personal perspective, my own story, and my own opinions.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Don't just take my word for it

Thanks, whoever sent me the email and claimed I am making this stuff up to give these "people a bad name who just want to be a positive influence in the world". Don't take my word for it. Do your own research. If you know members of this cult, it isn't hard to find the information for yourself.
And what motivation would there be for making things up? I am writing this anonymously. I have everything to lose and nothing to gain by telling my story. I hope for only one thing, and that is for people who are a part of this cult that don't know the truth - for them to hear it. When people cover up the things that happen, they are taking the choice away from an individual to decide for themselves. If you hear what really happened, and you decide you don't want to believe it, well by all means go ahead. But at least it's your choice.

Whatever you choose to believe, there is absolutely no denying that the cult hides information from members and protects predators, thereby putting other people at risk. Here is a perfect example:

 Who remembers this guy? His name is George DeLalio. He is a member of the cult, and is a registered sex offender for "sexual exploitation of children". Here is a link with more information, as well as pictures of the many faces of George:     George DeLalio

That face gives me chills. Real, cold, chills. I have always known him. He's always been around. A couple of his sons still are. Before I start to get emails chastising me for muddying up his name, let me assure you, he is guilty.

But if you have doubts, information exists, in black and white. George plead guilty to a charge of "attempted sexual exploitation of a child" and received a suspended sentence and probation. Lucky dude. I don't know if that was a lesser charge in exchange for a guilty plea. Apparently he got busted as part of a child sex sting operation. He later filed a lawsuit versus the State of Wyoming claiming he didn't have good legal defense. He claims that because of a long-ago brain injury, he did not have the ability to realize his actions were wrong. Therefore, he says, he had a defense that could have made him legally innocent, even though he was factually guilty. You can read more here if you are interested:   The Denial of George Delalio's Appeal
Nice try, George. I am relieved that there is still some justice in the world, as unfulfilling as it may be.

There was a time back a few years ago that all of the youth were told that any contact with George DeLalio was prohibited. I don't remember the details because I was young. I remember it was specifically said to the youth, and we were not told why. In fact, we were told not to ask why, just that it was an instruction straight from Abba. We were also told not to think about the reason, nor to try to figure it out ourselves, or amongst each other because that would be lashon hara.
Obviously, people came up with their own ideas anyway. The general consensus was that he must have disagreed with some decision by Abba and the elders and spoke negatively towards them.
How wrong they were.
At another retreat in Colorado, he was there. He got up and spoke before the community, as it states in the covenant, and all was forgiven. Contact with him was no longer prohibited.
So what happened? Did they make him go to counseling with PR or RW? Did he "repent" and now they  felt everything was ok?

He appeared in Maine, possibly 8 or 9 years ago. He was living in the Wilton or Farmington area and participated in all the cult stuff. He is an RN and a Chiropractor though I'm not aware of where he worked in Maine. Apparently things weren't going well for him- he later disappeared as abruptly as he came. Before he disappeared, he was arrested for criminal trespass in Wilton.  (SunJournal)
Was he attempting to assault someone? Was he harassing a prior victim? I don't know, but I'm sure someone in the cult does, and is not allowed to speak about it. After he left Maine, he was arrested for the sexual exploitation of children in Wyoming. Somewhere along the line his Chiropractor license was suspended in Colorado for sexual misconduct.
Just as a side note, I googled his name and found that he developed form of bodywork called MOST which stands for "Manual Organ Stimulation Therapy"  I shudder to think...

Where is this guy now? What else has he done that no one knows about? Or that some people know about? This is what this cult protects! Has he moved back to Maine like the prophecy told everyone to? Will people trust him and leave their children around him? I know people in this cult who completely trusted this man. I know people who trust anyone in the cult simply because they are a part of it.  What if a person speaks out against having this man among them, or refuses to be at an event with their children because he is there? Will they now be accused of "broken Shalom?  Is a prior victim of this man expected to forgive, then interact with him as if nothing happened? Why is this man protected, and not his victims or potential victims?

Are you okay with that? I know cult members read this; are you okay with this man being among you? Did you know about his actions? Do you think he was held accountable enough? That he should be forgiven and loved? I am asking because I really want to know.
There's a perfect example of one of the chosen who "just want to be a positive influence in the world."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

So, really, WAS there abuse?

I didn't want to get into the nitty-gritty aspects of cult life yet. The intent was to first write some posts rehashing the background, history and structure to lend some context for those who aren't or weren't members. Most of it has been discussed elsewhere, so you can find it on your own. The stuff that hasn't, well, it will have to wait.
 People are moving on and don't need the release that comes from writing like they did. That's good. Others keep reading, letting someone else validate our feelings while standing in the background, not having the guts to do it ourselves. That was me. Is me. But this summer my head has been spinning.
I have read all of the blogs. All of them for the last year or so. I read the words but did not feel anything. I heard the chatter and knew this was out there, but reading it evoked no emotion. I was numb. To my credit, at least I didn't feel defensive for the cult. That was a surprise.

But numb? I really had to force myself to think about what I was reading, then force myself to form an opinion. Not the "correct" opinion according to the family, but my own opinion.  The numbness is wearing off, bit by bit. I almost wish it wasn't though. Underneath the numbness, what is there so far has been much harder to bear. I want to close it back up, that curtain that blocked my view. It felt safer there. I hate saying that because safe is the farthest thing from what this cult was to a kid growing up within it. But it felt safe, even if that was an illusion. The safety came from being closed off, to myself, from the emotions and truth of what was around me.

I know that some of this is rearing its head now because we are coming up on Yom Kippur. In a strange convoluted way it is related, in my own thinking. I always took this holiday quite seriously. I spent hours, from a young age, soul searching and realizing my sins and shortcomings. My crimes against others. I felt I didn't deserve God's love, or anyone else's because of the things I blamed myself for. This year, well, this year is different. I'm so angry. That anger is getting in the way of honest introspection. And forgiveness...seeking it, giving it, fuck forgiveness. This Yom Kippur I plan on spending my day being a pure hedonist. (ick, writing that gave me a little chill, I still half expect to be struck by lightening, or a ceiling tile. Controlling the thoughts is still a lot easier than controlling the physiologic reactions to the crap we were taught.)

We read Freckle Face's experience of abuse. We have read Pnina's and more still on the Rick Ross site. Yet people still doubt it existed, or it is just those families, you know, the ones that were dysfunctional anyway. Guess what? This cult, all of Jack's followers,  it is all one big dysfunctional family. Just because a family paints a prettier picture than another does not mean that they are in fact prettier. What every child who grew up in this cult has in common is that we grew up with the shroud of secrecy. With the fear of persecution if we let the wrong words, expressions or feelings slip out. We grew up feeling different, because we were told we were, but we had to pretend we weren't. If we slipped up, peoples lives were at stake. We had to hide. And hide and hide. And those were the normal, happy families, the families in which there was no outright abuse. Sounds like classic dysfunction to me.
I do have happy warm memories from my childhood. There were good things, probably a lot of them. They are overshadowed though, by darker memories. When I was little, I was raped. Repeatedly. For over two years. There was no claim of spirituality or love involved, I was not confused about that at all. It was just mean and cold. Whether or not this man was/is in this cult is irrelevant. It was the cult that made it possible. At a minimum, it is the cult that allowed it to continue. Did anyone know? Yes, someone did. Nothing ever happened to him. And no one ever noticed anything was happening to me. A family member was told once, by a doctor, that I had recently been abused when I was brought for a urinary tract infection. We never went back to that doctor. Nothing more was said (except one time, years later, when I was told I did something to deserve it). It's something I have never talked about. Even those closest to me don't know it happened.
You see, I was groomed for this, and this man knew it.
I was taught to keep secrets. I was taught to live a double life. Be who you are supposed to be, but hide it from the rest of the world.  Don't trust the "outside". The world, society, schools, government, police, none were to be trusted because someday they would be who persecute us. If they knew who we are, they would hate us. Some of my own relatives had no idea about the thing that dominated our lives. Even within the Family, we were not to speak too much. We were not to divulge what went on in our immediate family to other families. We were to keep the details of our Mishpacha business within the mish. No gossip. No lashon hara .

I was an expert at the art of the façade. Smiles were easy. The mask was easy. It was automatic. It still is. And that was normal.  We were taught not to question authority. (only question "outside" authority, because that authority is false and not from God)  Your father was the ultimate authority of your family. The clan-head was the ultimate authority of the clan, and the elders were the authority over the family as a whole. Above them, the ultimate ultimate authority was the "Abba".  You could not learn to submit to God unless you learned to submit to authority. And boy did we learn.
Opening my mouth was out of the question. With physical abuse I was made to feel that I bore the responsibility for it. There was something inherently wrong with me. I learned to turn it off. I learned how to shut out feelings. Seeing this man's face around was torture. His presence would literally take my breath right out of my lungs. I would pee my pants, instantly. Eventually, I had no reaction. I remember once, when we were being taught about the Spanish Inquisition and people being tortured to admit guilt or betray information. I was secretly proud of myself because I knew that if I was ever tortured I would be able to keep my mouth shut. How fucked up is that? That is what this cult did. So maybe you, personally, weren't abused. It doesn't matter. The framework was there. It was created and maintained. It could happen and it did happen.

The most insidious aspect of all of this is the guilt. I seriously spent my whole life, until very recently, seeking forgiveness, from God and family members, for things that were done to me. I was told once, by another cult member, that the things that happen to us in our lives are brought upon ourselves. If something bad happens that we have a hard time dealing with, then something has to be corrected within ourselves.  I took that to heart. Every time I even had a doubt about what we learned, or questioned something, internally, I thought there was something wrong with me. I know of other "youth" who have expressed the same thing.

Maybe no one else knew what was happening to me. But people did know about other kids being abused. People knew and did nothing. People legally required to report did nothing. These people have lived a lie for decades, and teach their children to live the same lie. They believe they are above the law, and that they have the right to "deal" with situations of abuse or other illegal activity on their own.
It has been said repeatedly, there was abuse in this cult. This very culture of this cult supports abuse, whether or not that is the intention. If you choose not to believe it, that's up to you. Keep along your merry, self-righteous way. But if you are a member reading this,please, PLEASE, don't let your children think it's okay to keep secrets. Don't let them grow up learning to live behind a mask. If you are a true believer of all you were taught, then don't hide it. Live openly and honestly. Otherwise you are an accomplice . And there is no excuse.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cult-Speak: The Way

As you know, Jack brought the cult through "phases" meant to prepare them for the "truth" which culminated in a book that was handed out to every single member of the cult.
Gospel of the Nazirenes
This is when we learned about "The Way". Most members immediately began to obey the new, "real" 10 commandments in the book. Welcome to the new, Hickman form of vegetarianism everyone adopted. In fact, Jack knew everyone would jump on the bandwagon without a second thought. The next meal at the retreat was interesting as everyone was shooting sidelong glances around to see who was choosing meat, and who was sticking to the veggie options. Most people were vegetarian from that day forward.
Here are the 10 commandments now followed by the group, as found in the book:

10."You Shall not take away the life of any creature for your pleasure, nor for your profit, nor yet torment it." 
11."You Shall not steal the goods of any, nor gather lands and riches to yourselves, beyond your need or use."
12."You shall not eat the flesh , nor drink the blood of any slaughtered creature, not yet anything which brings disorder to your health or senses. 
13."You shall not make impure marriages, where love and health are not, nor yet corrupt yourselves, or any creature made pure by the holy."  
14."You shall not bear false witness against any, nor willfully deceive any by a lie to hurt them." 
15."You shall not do to others, as you would not that others should do to you." 
16."You shall worship One eternal, the Father-Mother in heaven, of whom are all things, and reverence the holy name." 
17."You shall revere your fathers and your mothers on earth, whose care is for you, and all the teachers of righteousness." 
18."You shall cherish and protect the weak, and those who are oppressed, and all creatures that suffer wrong." 
19."You shall work with your hands the things that are good and seemly; so will you eat the fruits of the earth, and live long in the land." 
20."You will purify yourselves daily and rest the seventh day from labor, keeping holy the Sabbath and the festivals of your God." 
21."You shall do to others, as you would that others should do to you." 
Or to paraphrase it the way the Family does, Love, Love, Love. Every thing and every one.
This book was touted as the truth, the "real" truth, and this, the "Way" was our blueprint for life and righteousness. Of course, there were some contradictions between this book and prior teachings of Jack. When confronted with these, Jack replied that this book was a third-circle book (meaning it wasn't the accurate secret knowledge possessed by the innermost circle of the Family). Being a third-circle book, it isn't 100% correct, but about 80% of it is accurate. Well, which parts are inaccurate? That, said Jack, was for us to figure out.
Around the same time, or shortly after, the "32 Paths"  started being taught to the Family at large. As you have probably heard elsewhere, this was a rambling mess that often made no sense. I am not positive whether all 32 were even finished before he died.
So this was "The Way". Living as Jesus himself lived, and striving for perfection. Just to point out, I have no problem with people believing this stuff. It's perfectly ok to read this book and want to live by the "Way". Whatever. Maybe it's all true. I don't know, and truth be told, I don't really care.
But seriously, couldn't this guy ever make up his mind? Jack seemed to have a relatively short attention span. He jumped back and forth through so many different religions, myths and schools of thought that it is hard to keep it straight. It's amazing, the detail and organization of all of his teachings. He was knowledgeable, I'll give him that. He could make things sound like they made perfect sense. That's what made him a good pastor, I guess, except that he wasn't a very good pastor. Every time something new sparked his interest he dragged several hundred people along with him. Put it all together and it makes no logical sense. Add in to the mix who he claimed to be, his deeds, and who he actually is, and you have one big recipe for crazy. As someone who was supposedly a prophet reincarnated, a blood relative of Jesus, and brought the family through all these phases according to a preconceived plan (he even claimed the "blow-up" in the 80's was according to plan), well, if that's all true, then he did an awfully crappy job following "The Way" himself.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cult-Speak: Lashon Hara

The Jack Hickman cult has accused the bloggers of gossip. I read this on the blog last year.  Gossip. A commenter expressed surprise that that was the worst they could come up with. But for these people, it actually is the worst thing someone can be accused of. They are not using the American definition of gossip, they are referring to the definition as it exists in the Halacha, or Jewish law.

Jack spent a lot, and I mean a lot of time teaching and speaking of lashon hara. So what does it mean?
According to Laws-of-Lashon-Hara here it is:
  1. Lashon hara literally means “bad talk.” This means that it is forbidden to speak negatively about someone else, even if it is true.11
  2. It is also forbidden to repeat anything about another, even if it is not a negative thing. This is called rechilut.12
  3. It is also forbidden to listen to lashon hara. One should either reprimand the speaker, or, if that is not possible, one should extricate oneself from that situation.13
  4. Even if one has already heard the lashon hara, it is forbidden to believe it. On the contrary, one should always judge one’s fellow favorably.14
  5. If one has already heard the lashon hara, he is forbidden to believe it. Nevertheless, one may suspect that the lashon hara is true, and take the necessary precautions to protect oneself.15
  6. It is forbidden to even make a motion that is derogatory towards someone.16
  7. One may not even retell a negative event without using names, if the listeners might be able to figure out who is being spoken of.17
There is more involved, but it is all there if you wish to read it. This is the definition and laws the cult is referring to.
(Halacha was big in the cult for awhile, but was later snubbed by Jack. It was explained as one of the phases people just needed to live in order to progress according to Jack's big plan. Later it was portrayed as a bunch of rules made up by a bunch of cackling rabbis who wanted to make sure nobody got too close to breaking the actual law, or Torah. The Family was told that halacha wasn't that important anymore. He wasn't going to let a bunch of rabbis dictate his behavior, no sir! He said that the Jews are so caught up in Halacha that the spirit of the law is lost. The odd thing is, this little bit of halacha, the parts about gossip, those parts are still relevant. Hmmmmm.)

The family was taught that lashon hara is the absolute worst crime, worse than even murder, and those that commit it are invisible to God forever. He said it was a crime punishable by death. Is that what halacha says, too? I am unsure since Jack infused so much of his own nonsense into his form of "Judaism" that it is difficult to separate Hickmanism from it (or from Christianity, New Age, etc.).
Even if Jack's info on lashon hara is accurate, it served a much more insidious purpose in this cult. I don't think that is accidental.

I felt disheartened by the explanations of lashon hara that I was reading. It goes beyond just every day gossip. It goes beyond speaking evil of someone. According to what I read, it is wrong to even say something positive about a person. What made me cringe the most is that even if you witness an event and know it to be true, it is wrong to relay it (unless you are testifying in a court of law). If someone wrongs another, or yourself, it is ok to relay it to the proper authorities, but nothing more. It is now out of your hands and you are forbidden to speak of it, even if you don't believe the perpetrator of the wrong has repented or changed.
Now look at this in the context of the cult. Look at this in the context of abuse. We were given a very specific set of family laws to work within. If someone witnesses something, who are they allowed to tell? Absolutely no one, except an elder. According to the covenant that we were bound to, an elder is the only person you can bring it to. And what then? The elder or elders will deal with it however they see fit. It is now out of the person's hands, and none of that person's business anymore. If you are the person victimized, same thing. From that point, anything said, anything at all referring to what you witnessed, or what happened to you, or what someone did, is lashon hara. The worst crime imaginable. And what happens if you don't feel the elders or the Abba handled it correctly? What if you don't think the perpetrator was held responsible? According to the Family covenant, this is your recourse: 

"8. No one shall murmur against the Abba or Elders concerning a judgment rendered by the Elders but may seek recourse by requiring them to pray with him or her concerning a decision rendered."
   Read the covenant in it's entirety here

What happens if a victim, unhappy with the Elder's decision to, say,  seek counseling for the perpetrator (with another member of the cult), and not press charges, is ignored?  If that victim speaks of the crime to anyone else, they have committed lashon hara. They have "broken the shalom" (another major crime according to the covenant). Now the victim is responsible for standing in front of the whole community and asking for forgiveness for the broken shalom. If they refuse to stand up and comply, the victim is now excised from the kingdom of God forever. Justice, eh?
You need to realize, this is the way it works. There is no going outside of the cult to resolve things, especially legally. It is all handled from within. To go outside, say to the police, or a school counselor, that is breaking another part of the covenant which states, "a child may not accuse a father, but may testify against him."
This is how Jack set this up. Between the covenant and the laws regarding lashon hara, there is no recourse. None. If you are in this cult and are part of a family in which there is no abuse, you may be skeptical. Put yourself in a child's situation who is abused. Put yourself in an adult's situation where there is abuse by a spouse. Now tell me what you can do. I want to remind you, here are some of the elders: a therapist, a licensed clinical social worker, a lawyer, a doctor, teachers, a goes on. What do they have in common? They are mandated reporters. They are legally required to report anything they see that is even suggestive of abuse. We have a constitutional right to hold and live by whatever beliefs we want, but only within the law. As an Elder, or a member of this cult, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT, under any authority, to withhold information about, or suspicion of abuse if you are a mandated reporter.

Back to lashon hara:  According to halacha, yes, we who blog about this cult, we are guilty. Does that mean we are worse than murderers? Heathens who deserve to die? Spiritually defunct forever? I don't think so. Imagine my surprise when I found that there are circumstances under which speaking lashon hara is permitted! Really! Jack forgot to mention that. Here they are:

I. Circumstances Under Which Speaking Lashon Hara is Permitted

In "Chafetz Chaim: A Lesson a Day" p. 132, Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz lists the major categories of constructive purposes for which Lashon Hara may be spoken:

  1. To influence the subject to improve by discussing his faults with someone who can help him.
  2. To prevent someone from being harmed by the subject, or help someone who was already harmed by the subject.
  3. To help end a dispute between individuals which could escalate to the community level.
  4. To help others learn from the subject's mistakes.
There are 7 conditions which must be met before speaking lashon hara for constructive purposes. The whole text can be read here:  Hilchot Lashan Hara

I read the seven conditions, and guess what? I believe they have been met. I welcome correction if I am missing something. It is the cult members doing the accusing now, angry at being exposed, trying to hide the truth from the younger generation. They are calling us liars, gossipers, bitter, angry, evil, irrelevant. Isn't that lashon hara?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Quick Update

Even though I planned on writing more often, the daily grind, working full time, tends to gobble up the time. There are a couple posts that will go up soon; one is emotional and difficult to write, and the other is about more terms to know.

In the meantime, what is going on with this group? We are approaching the high holidays in Judaism, which the Family still observes with gusto. Lots of repenting and apologizing go on, but none of the major crimes that have happened over the years are included. They aren't spoken of at all. They are very very concerned about "broken shalom", but only when it's convenient or helps some one's agenda. The real victims of this cult have been demonized. The victims are "left sided", persona non grata, or left to fade away on their own while the perpetrators remain. Why? Because the truth is inconvenient. The truth exposes that there are ugly things that happen. How can that be? Aren't they the special ones? The ones specifically chosen by Abba to fulfill the most important purpose? Could Abba's judgement have been a little bit skewed?

Damn, I digress. The members still meet, weekly, in the different areas for prayer. There were a lot of prophesies going on, especially in the Corinna area where there were more younger kids praying. There is always someone there responsible for recording the prophesies if they happen to occur. The prophesies have slowed down a little of late. But everyone is told to keep the faith.The areas where the members gather are Corinna, Mercer, Unity and Albion Maine. This is where the "4 farms" are located and where a concentration of members live, mostly together in a cluster of houses on one large piece of property, or nearby. There are also groups of people in Colorado, Georgia, N Carolina, New Hampshire, Tennessee and NY, Long Island and upstate near the Albany area. They are on the move though. Many families have moved to Maine during the last 2 years. Many are relocating to the Corinna area. Some people are living together because they were told via prophesy that they should. I am not sure why it's Corinna, except that it's further north and closer to the "camps" on Lake Caribou. And Abba is buried there. And the school is there. And the other original pastors with Jack, Don and John, they live there too.

The cult has a big camping weekend every summer in July in Damariscotta, Maine. They use a hall there for teachings. They still have a weekly religion class for all the little-somethings. They still get together regularly in the Fairfield area for celebrations and parties. They avoid sending information in emails or print because they have been exposed. They are being more careful. They were waiting for the interest in these blogs and websites to fade. They, however, are not fading away.
More posts soon.