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.