Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Q&A

A couple of readers asked questions that I will address in a post rather than in the comments because my responses probably require more characters than allowed there.

Getting kicked out:

Using Family jargon, "kicked out" is synonymous with being "left-sided" or "excised from the kingdom". It's loaded language which has a deeper meaning than merely being kicked-out. "Kicked-out implies simple removal from something without necessarily suffering any other consequences. "Left-sided" implies much deeper spiritual consequences, which will follow you for eternity because it affects your very soul.
The "right" and "left" are pretty basic concepts in the group that we are taught very early: right = positive, and left = negative. You want to be on the right-side of God. If you aren't, you cannot be part of the Kingdom. If you do something that the Family cannot tolerate or accept, they can have you "left-sided". There is a process involved, but once you are "left-sided", you are out, but you are also spiritually invisible, a lost soul. You have turned away from God and are excised from the Kingdom of Israel forever. God will still use you, of course, to benefit the Family, most likely by your death. We have been taught that death creates positive energy, and that it can be used despite some one's refusal to follow His will on their own.
Simply put, they are going to (the Familys' convoluted version of) hell.

Aaron asked if anyone is actually kicked out anymore. My answer is no, not really, but sort of. But, using his term, no one actually has the balls to come out and directly do it.

It certainly happened in the past, here and there. There were individuals who were sent packing for one reason or another such as "broken shalom" that was unable to be resolved. The offending party could be left-sided by the Elders or Abba.
As time has passed and the cult has thinned out, it is handled more "sensitively", as no one wants to step on toes or offend the person's family members or close friends. But it still happens, albeit in a more subtle way. I guess you could say the leadership is very passive-aggressive in their tactics regarding removal or left-siding a member.
As for examples:

Leading up to the 1996 reappearance of Jack, the CH's were notified that they were to seek out any members of their clans who had left, and invite them back into the fold.They had until a certain date to woo them back in. The CH's complied; they actually started calling and visiting these former members, sometimes after years of estrangement. Very few were successful in convincing people to come back. Those that refused to rejoin were left-sided, permanently cut-off from the Family and the Kingdom.
As if they cared, because, you know, they had already left and didn't want to rejoin anyway...
But for the Family, they appeared to be taking a firm stand by left-siding these people. It was very emotional for some members because they were sealing the fates of former close friends, and even relatives by failing to get them to rejoin. They were essentially doomed.

According to a source, Gary threatened to left-side people at a retreat when they were held in Pennsylvania. Apparently there was some drug use going on among the youth, which angered Jack. He gave lectures that taking drugs was a shortcut to a higher consciousness that would cripple your ability to become spiritual in a genuine way. He didn't like it, and some kids were doing it anyway. Gary stood up at a teaching or something, and stated, very definitively, that anyone caught doing drugs would be immediately removed from their position, if they had one, and possibly excised from the Family. It was absolutely not going to be tolerated.
Drug use and alcohol were relatively prevalent in certain circles of youth, and leadership tried to take a hard
line. I don't know if anyone was actually removed from a position, but drug use continued, and Gary later recanted the threat.

Once the youth were consecrated into the Davidic and priestly lines, there were some removals. There was a particular boy in a high position on the Davidic line (for the males, the first 4 names in the dynastic line are an actual position. For the females, the names mean...nothing. I think they were consecrated just to placate them). This boy was making choices that people had problems with, such as having sex, or living with his girlfriend or something along those lines. He was given an ultimatum: follow the cult rules, or lose your position. He chose to continue to make his own choices, so he was removed. Was he actually left-sided? I don't know. But he is no longer involved.

That is a passive-aggressive tactic the Family uses. They will put the "undesirables" in a position where they have no choice really, except to leave. They will make things uncomfortable or downright unbearable until they choose to walk out on their own. There are a lot of examples of this:
There have been divorces. That process is quite long and complicated because it involves the Elders and clan heads. If you are the wife of a clanhead, you may be told you have to remain in that clan with your ex husband as your clan head. That means you have to accept your ex as an authority is many ways over your personal life and decisions. In fact, if she wants to remarry, she would be required to ask him. Usually, actually almost always, one spouse will leave the Family in a divorce situation. They aren't given a real choice, and the leadership will make sure that the one who is more expendable leaves.

They also hope that some members will just fade away. If someone marries an outsider without permission, that person will often not be accepted by the Family. The member will be required to withhold information from their non-member spouse. They will no longer hear about or be invited to many functions and meetings. Their children will not be considered as having an identity in the Family. Some of these members have managed to plow their way through these obstacles and continue to be involved, albeit in a limited sense. Most are unable to reconcile the two situations and fade away as hoped.

There have been priests who were removed from the priesthood for various reasons, or threatened with removal. As far as I know, every person who has actually been removed from a position has left the Family. Reasons have included anything that is considered to be unrighteous behavior for a priest: marrying an unapproved person, making statements that oppose the Family's beliefs, entering a profession that is "off-limits" to the priesthood, being suspected or confirmed as betraying the family through blogging, commenting or facilitating gossip or slander. There are all sorts of reasons one may be removed.

There are clan heads and Elders who have been removed. I am unclear on specific reasons, but I believe they involved ineffective leadership, addiction issues, or "broken shalom" without proper resolution. Maybe some of you readers know more and can share.

Yet, there are people who should have been kicked out or removed from leadership positions who never were: criminals, drug users, child abusers, etc. Why? It becomes obvious that there is no basic set of principals or structure that is followed. We have been told that the law is black and white. The covenant is black and white, and there is no room for interpretation. yet they do as they please, just like Jack did. It is all about politics and who they consider most beneficial to themselves.

I suppose this is all a long-winded way of saying what Aaron already said: " I don't know if anyone has the balls to actually try and remove someone."
They don't. But if they don't want you, they will do what they can to make you want to leave, or feel like you are unwelcome.

I do have a burning question of my own:
Is George Delalio still a member? I have not seen him recently but I do not want to ask directly. Was he kicked out? Did he leave on his own after his arrest in Wyoming? Is he still a clan head or hold any other position? I would love to know. Because he is a perfect example of some one that should have been kicked out years ago, yet was not. The leadership were aware of his behavior and actions, so what is their rationale for keeping someone of his sort?



Question "How does the leadership deal with this info?"

This was asked back in May, and the poster was asking how they dealt with the Internet information that exposes that Jack was a liar and a fraud.

It is dealt with in different ways. When the Family first discovered that they were being talked about on the Internet, specifically the Rick Ross Cult Forum, there was some nervousness, anger, surprise and even some panic. Members were trying to figure out who was writing and paranoia was rampant. They wanted to quash it, but didn't know how. Some people did tell others not to read it. People were told to ignore it and not to "give it energy". There was a "prophecy" that directly addressed the people posting on the Internet.
At one meeting, Gary got up and stated that he was willing to answer any questions people had. He said he was available to anyone who wanted to speak with him, or discuss anything they had questions about. He said he had nothing to hide and would answer honestly. I don't know if anyone took him up on that offer. I believe it was a way to find out who was on the fence so they could be reassured and drawn back in.

The posters were referred to as people who left a long time ago and just couldn't get past it. People would turn their noses up and say things like "do people really have such unfulfilled lives that they are STILL holding onto stuff from 20 years ago?!" or " I just feel sad for theses people".
Some members were truly incredulous that anyone would actually read any of it. There are people who to this day have not read the Foibles article and never will because they are so convinced it is all lies. It is impossible to have a logical discussion with most of them.
I can tell you from personal experience that some resorted to nasty emails, and outright threats.
But nothing happened except more blogs popping up. When it became clear that people would not be silenced, it all became a subject that is almost taboo. Their tactic now is to simply not address any of it. It is completely ignored, and the family continues to operate just as before, albeit with much greater caution regarding printed material or emails. It is rarely spoken about except for the occasional mumblings between friends.
The last 4 years has been regarded as a 2nd big split, the first being the Foibles article in the 80's. They say "We are being tested. The truly faithful and righteous will remain steadfast while the others will fall away. Abba always said this would happen."
Jack did always say this would happen. He was smart enough to know that lies have a way of eventually being exposed as such. He was thinking ahead.

As I said, there is no way to have a rational discussion with most of these people. They deal with the information by ignoring it, or reverting to faith and beliefs. You could stand in front of them with proof in black and white that Jack lied, and they simply would not believe it. They have ultimate faith in the lies jack told, and for most, absolutely nothing will change that.
So, from their perspective, why do anything but ignore it at this point?

As the family has hoped, the exposure has faded. There are no active blogs anymore about this cult except this one. That is unfortunate because there was a lot of excellent information and writing out there. They were crucial in my own progress towards separating myself from this group, and were for others as well. I hope there are others out there who will be willing to share their experiences, thoughts and struggles.




Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Rules: Marriage, Sex and Relationship

In January each year, the Family has what they call their "Super Clan" (SC) meetings. The structure and procedures of the group can be confusing if you are not a member, so I usually feel the need to rehash some of it to put the information in context. If you already have a grasp on this, and it's old news, then ignore the next paragraph or two.


As you may remember, the supposed "larger" family of Abensurs in Europe were not going to accept our group of "adopted" Abensurs; the "scattered tribe" that Jack found and gathered, until the 3rd generation. This was to ensure that our group had learned enough and practiced correctly long enough to have a generation of purely "adomic" souls ready to fulfill their destiny.
In 1996, Jack came out of seclusion to bring us together because God told him he didn't have a lot of time left to fulfill his purpose. Because time was short, the other Abensurs were accepting us, the first two generations, into the Family. They gave us the title of "tribe of Jesse". We were officially the 13th tribe, and special. Now that we were full-fledged Family members, our little tribe was to be structured just like that family, which was actually 3 families: Abensur, Abendana and Abenais.
So we were divided up among the 3, but still remained one tribe. Each of the three was now called a "superclan", which consisted of a "super-clan head" , 4 elders, priests, 1 Miriam, and the clans (mishpachas) which each had its own clan-head. If you are anything like me, that's all a bunch of confusing nonsense. Eventually I will post a neat little chart, in the meantime, bear with me.

So, at these meetings, there are often messages or updates from each individual "Super-clan" and maybe from the Elders, the priests, the Miriams, whoever wanted to speak.

In the years right after Jack's death, there was an effort to keep people aware of the structures and rules Jack taught, especially as the youth were coming of age and heading out into the world of college and relationships outside of the Family. Along with the fear of losing youth to "the world", our parents worried that if things weren't done "right", we would marry outsiders with demonic souls from the left side, and give birth to little demon-souled babies. Seriously. Let us pick our own spouses chose when and if to get married? Not a chance.


In January 2005, the big meeting took place in Colorado. The Elders prepared a presentation on Marriage, Sex and Relationship. It was basically a reiteration of the Family rules that we are to abide by. The following is  from the summary of the meeting that was handed out to all members:


(Abbreviations: E= Elder, CH= Clan Head, C= Clan)



For anyone who believes that the covenant or the Family's rules and structures are "old-school" and no longer followed, you're wrong. This is what is expected of every single member, as it is spelled out by the Elders in 2005.
All power in the decision-making process rests with the Elders, along with your Clan-head. While they state that each couple is treated with love and respect, they do not respect you enough as an adult to make your own choice regarding your spouse or relationships. There are youth who have asked why we need to go through this process, and the answer is: your parents, your Clan-heads and your Elders have spiritual insight and experience that you do not have at this point in life. There is a lot involved in the process of creating a correct marriage especially if the other person is from outside of the Family. The Elders need to decide if you are compatible in temperament, and in spirituality. They want to know what your plans are financially and professionally. They want a rundown of each person's debts and assets.
If your prospective spouse is from outside of the family, they want to know his or her family history. They want to know how spiritual they are, and if they will be able to be brought into the Family as a fully committed member. This process takes as long as they want it to take. They will "test" the person in various ways. The "Family" will be introduced to them according to how the CH or Elders decide to share the information.
If you are both from the Family, it will need to be decided which Clan the couple will become a part of. There is a lot of details to work out in that process. Sometimes it's political, like royal marriages of old: will the union bring together two large or powerful families? Will it benefit the other members of these families? Will one clan be risking the loss of an integral member to another across the country? Is either person an heir, or in the priestly line?
It gets very invasive. If a priest want to get married, it must be assured that the woman is a virgin. He doesn't have to be, of course. All of the priestly laws concerning marriage must be followed. If they are not, then their children can never become priests, or marry priests.

The Elders never come right out and say that you have no choice in the matter, but they spell it out exactly that way.

"The parents must know how their CH feels they must support their CH"
What does this mean? It means that the parent has to support whatever their CH says, even if they don't agree. If the couple is lucky enough to have the support of both sets of parents, and either CH says no, it can end there. Ther is something the couple can still do:

"Couple could request assistance from the E's if they percieve an issue between their CH's or parents."
So, if the CH's and parents cannot agree, you can pass it off to the Elders. They are the ones who ultimately decide your fate as a couple. You still are not to make the choice yourself.

"The E's may quell the future action if changes are either not possible or rejected by either party."
The E's will tell the couple what they want to see them do over a period of time, or some sort of progress to be made by one or both individuals. Or, they may decide something needs to be changed- a habit, a goal, a tendency, whatever. If you made it to this point, and they still have some reservations about you, they give you homework. Sometimes this is with the hope that you will fail, and the marriage won't happen. Sometimes it is sincere. What it comes down to, though, is the Elders have the power, the ultimate authority in the Family to say, "NO". If you reject any suggestion (ahem, demand) they have of you, they will "quell the future action".


Of course, the couple can always just go get married anyway.
It's been done. We all still have "free will". But it is not that simple. The decision you make will have long-term and intimate consequences that will affect your marriage and relationships with your closest friends and family, whether you chose to remain in the Family or not.

As with other aspects of Family life, this process can vary greatly. It depends, again, on who you are dealing with. If you live "outside the fold", it could be as simple as telling your CH you want to get married. If they have been happy with you as a couple, or if they simply respect you as an adult, they might say "Great!" The CH would then let the Elders know. In as little as a few days or as long as a few months, your CH could simply call you and say that the Elders have approved, you are now engaged. The couple may never see or speak to the Elders themselves at all.

For others it can be much more drawn out and time consuming. This is true especially for outsiders. The goal is always to have the person marrying in to be "finally adopted" and be a full member of the Family. Sometimes this happens with success. Sometimes, the spouse never gets fully involved, but stays out of the way and allows hteir partner and children to continue involvement. Sometimes the person marrying in says "What in hell did I get into?" and it leads to divorce.
In those cases you get the non-lashon hara, non-judgmental version of the stink-eye from more devout members, and utterings of  "See, this is why we have the process we have in place. We want to see marriages succeed!"
Someone will then make sure the leaving outsider will get a friendly phone call from a concerned member saying to keep their mouths shut about the Family, or else.

You may have noticed at the end of the image above that the Elders handed out the Marriage Guide.
This nifty little packet was compiled by Bob F. and contains several lessons and teachings by Jack concerning marriage and proper conduct and laws within the relationship. It was given to every CH and copies were to be given to every married couple and youth.

The next several posts will be based on this guide, as well as other issues surrounding marriages and relationships within the cult.

Of course, the Elders could not end their presentation without yet another reading of the covenant. Just to make sure.

























Thursday, June 5, 2014

Blast from the Past

Just a quick one for today.

As a young kid, I remember Jack as a big man with a beard who wore a robe-like thing. Later he appeared as a diminished, feeble old man, becoming more so until his death. I wondered what he looked like as a young man, or as a child.
What was it about him that drew people in? Was he that charismatic? Spiritual? What is it that people saw? I never completely understood how he managed to take this ragtag group of Christain Long Islanders and turn them into thoroughly devoted followers who were willing- even eager to dedicate their lives to him. Even when I believed it all, I still didn't get that part of it.
So, I discovered some yearbook photos of him as a young man from Bob Jones University which he attened while he was still Baptist and planning to become a Baptist minister.

Now I know how he looked as a young person, and I have to say, I still don't get it. However, I decided to share them with you, hopefully adding one more detail to the enigma that is Jack Howard Hickman.

Here they are for your viewing pleasure: