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.