1993, 08/14-20. I Begin To Speak My Mind

The first several paragraphs here show some of the misconceptions I had about God, and my resulting anger, because I did not completely separate God from the way of life in COBU. Also, when I wrote  about God as portrayed in Carl Jung’s book Answer To Job, it sounded like I was talking about Stewart Traill, who supposedly represented God to us.

The main subject here, after this, is that I was speaking up about what was wrong with COBU and its leader, and what the reaction toward this was from the other COBU members, which varied from trying to forbid me to speak about it to diagnosing me as a mental case.

August 14

My last words in the previous diary were about how I have a desire for a wife, but God will not send anybody to me for a mate, so I am guaranteed to fall. He could send somebody.

This comment is something like what Job would say, or if not that, Jung’s Answer to Job. In Jung’s book, there was a great sense of the unfairness of God, who in afflicting Job, didn’t live up to his own moral standards. When Job pleaded his right to a God of justice, he just got further rebuke. God is above his own standards. One way of looking at this is that it gets me into a dialogue with God which is more real and more according to who I am, rather than these plastic prayers I usually pray. (Such as saying the right stuff, which is far away from what I really am.) Another thing is that logic, common sense and yes, even God’s word “clearly tells me” that marriage is what I need. In fact, marriage is highly recommended for a person in my position.

Yet God doesn’t have to live up to his own rules. Maybe you can’t plead with God to live up to them, by saying, “You see God, in 1 Corinthians 7 it shows what I should do. This is me. I need a wife. It’s so obvious.” I do notice that this pleading about the right thing produces no result. I have the feeling that things are going to go on way they have been.

Who are these people mentioned in the Bible who can’t exercise self control? What is aflame with passion? John Calvin said that aflame with passion means it is to the point where it causes discomfort, but maybe you are not going to give in to it. I don’t know what they did about the ones who gave in. Then maybe you were in a different category and maybe somebody like you shouldn’t get a wife. Maybe you were now on death row, not even a Christian, I don’t know. They probably weren’t too kind to sexual sinners back then. Well, I will have to look it up, though it probably will not do me much good. I am still feeling (actually I always do feel) that I am in a hopeless situation and that’s all there is to it.

(The Bible verse alluded to above was 1. Corinthians 7:9, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”)

So now word is out that Stewart said last night, “What’s going on? Zero were swept up last night and the night before. Who really cares?” (And we are going to have to find out.) All that this is going to do, is produce is a lot of jumping and shouting. Nobody will talk.

As we were walking over to this job site, I was talking to Orlando about my thoughts on 1 Corinthians 7. In a very indirect way, he raised some questions about Stewart’s marriage to Gayle. Also about whether Stewart was really on a right basis three or four years ago, because of comparing that with what he is teaching now. And then Orlando’s backhand comments and fading back, such as, “Well, I don’t know the Bible very well.”

(Orlando began to step back from what he said, saying that he really couldn’t be sure of his own opinion and that he did not understand the Bible very well (just like Stewart was now telling us that we could not understand the Bible), and that therefore he cannot be sure of anything on his own, no matter how much of his own reading or studying of the Bible he did.)

So, is this a good opportunity to leave the church? If I am directly questioned about what is wrong here, I may say it’s the whole system. Well, I wouldn’t want to attend a meeting knowing beforehand that I was going to be the centerpiece or chief whipping boy. But, if directly asked to, I will probably respond this time and not tow the party line in order to protect myself.

(I wouldn’t want to be brought up as an issue at a meeting and be talked to, despite feeling freer to speak my mind these days.)

I called Chris to confirm whether it is really true and really definite that they will make a place for me if I decide to leave. Chris said “It’s definite.” I am close to leaving today. (Though how exactly I can say for sure I don’t know. I may be far from it. But I might just walk up to their place and be done with it.)

Sometimes I wonder why Dave and Chris are so willing to help. Why would they be? Well, I need to know because if I do speak my mind, however slightly, I might need to go. That’s why I wanted to call. I didn’t want to shoot my mouth off, be told to leave the church or decide to leave, then call and hear that it wasn’t exactly a definite offer. So, now I know.

I feel pretty broken down today. I often say to myself that I am losing the war of attrition. I was talking to Orlando about how we practice deceit in getting new people to come to the church. One thing that talking like this does is set me free, though I probably will not go in with guns blazing, running around, talking to everybody. I will answer direct questions. Or if I get into a conversation with somebody, I will speak about a few things.

The stage is set(?) I have found that the offer of a place to stay is definite. It is only a matter of time, unless I decide to go back into a no-talk mode. That would be hard to do, wouldn’t it? Considering how far I have come, it would be hard to go back to a doormat basis. I don’t expect to win anything by speaking my mind. Maybe I’ll be a little freer as a result. Maybe rather than walking off, I need to do this. Maybe I have a shred of hope that speaking up could change things, but it’s a very thin shred indeed.

(I still had some hope that by speaking up about the conditions in the church and what was wrong with Stewart Traill, I might change things by sparking a dialog about these things. I vainly hoped that others there understood these things as well and would want to change them, if only we could begin talking about it. (And that therefore I wouldn’t have to leave, or get thrown out.) It was becoming clearer to me as time went on just what the reaction to speaking up was going to be – the others were going to separate themselves from me and say they wanted nothing to do with me.)

I just got back to the shop. (I got a book from the library about dissenters in government, which says most dissenters go quietly because of the cost of speaking. Most who have a crisis of conscience try to play both sides of the fence, partly to insure that they will be able to get government jobs in the future.) This really shoots an arrow through my own conscience about my own cowardice. I have decided to speak my mind.

I just got through a session with Bob M., with Kevin stopping in for a few blows. So, the call has gone up. I can’t or won’t take it back this time. I can’t live with myself. I know I am going to lose. My words, or at least the ones Kevin heard, are probably on their way to Brother Stewart in the daily messages, or soon will be. Well, this is facing what I have been so scared of all along. I feel like a burden has been taken off my shoulders. Will I feel more and more like this as I speak? Or, will there be a big crash?

(I can’t get married here and I know I will never make it this way or be able to get married here by accomplishing all the unspoken prerequisites that exist in our church before I can marry. So, the only way to do something about this problem and so many other problems is to do what I am doing now.)

I feel peaceful. I am sitting in the office in full view of everybody. Yet I feel broken.

Bob was a little perplexed about the things I was saying to him. I don’t know if he has the equipment to deal with me. Probably nobody does. Also, I have been coming from a place of no hostility to anybody. (Though they will say that I am hostile to Stewart.) I don’t need to be hostile to make a separation from everybody. If I speak my mind, they will wash their hands of me. (That is, they will make the separation themselves. They will do it for me.)

If “they” let me stay here, I will really be surprised. One of the first things out of Kevin’s mouth when he heard what I was talking about was, “Then what are you doing here?” In other words, if you don’t believe in our way, why are you here?

(Kevin’s comment was revealing, because it shows the either-or mentality of COBU. You either fully believed in this way without questioning it, or if you had some questions, then what were you doing there if you didn’t believe in this way? It also implied you should go and that maybe they make you leave. I wanted to talk objectively about things, but I would be slammed to the other side in a zero sum game. There was to be no middle ground or a matter of degrees. As far as they were concerned, I had no legitimate issues to talk about. Any answers I got from them were concepts from Stewart teachings, or if a brother was more inclined to be conciliatory to me, he asked if the real issue was that I needed Jesus and if all the things I was saying were just imaginary side issues and excuses that my flesh invented to not serve Christ. I was considered to be an offender, dangerous and “poison” to the new disciples. They said I should not be allowed near the new disciples, because I might talk to them about these things.)

I left the office and was now on a job site and Kevin stopped in:

So, further stuff with Kevin on this job. His main points seem to be about whether I am faithful to Christ and if I am in God’s spirit or not.

I just walked into the Woodruff basement. A meeting is in progress and Brother Stewart is speaking, saying, “Was there one person who went around saying, ‘I am determined to see you saved?’ Where was loving one another this week?”

There are no takers. So I assume that nobody has made the grade again.

Stewart asks, “What did you do about it?” Kevin is now confessing that he got back into his own thoughts and his own viewpoint, although he had been driving me about this very same thing all day today. [Kevin said I was coming from my “own thoughts” and viewpoints when I tried to talk to him.] Not that I consider Kevin to be a hypocrite, but I notice it’s always the same thing every week (which nobody seems to notice) that again, it is found out at the meeting that nobody has been faithful. Oh well, another week of furious activity to try, try again.

It has been somewhat of an eventful day.  I wrote my Exit Paper or: Why I Desire to Leave the Church of Bible Understanding, which I tried to pass around. There were no takers, but Paul asked me to read it to him while we were driving. There also was this Bible talk that Kevin wanted. [When I tried to give Kevin a copy of my paper, he refused it and said, “I only want to hear you talk if you are coming from the Bible.”] Paul S. was also present and a few bit players. (When I showed them a passage in Colossians and explained to them what I thought it meant, Milton was listening and was shaking his head.) Kevin was pushing me a lot, though Paul S. found the middle ground of my need for the cross of Christ. This was easier to talk about. Though, ideologically, I am not changed.

(What I was explaining in Colossians were passages like Col 2:20-23,Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

I was using these verses to explain that the requirements in COBU of extreme denial of self was not required in the Bible, and that in fact it did not help us. Ironically, this was the “Bible talk” that Kevin was insisting that I do. I was reading a passage in the Bible. But I was still coming from my own ideas about it and not Stewart’s teachings about it, which were the only acceptable explanations of a Bible passage. Stewart used verses like Colossians 3:5, the first part of which says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature,” and twisted it to mean killing off everything we desired to do in this life (anything that was not Stewart’s plans for our life and for the use of our time). Stewart hyper-focused on these parts of the Bible, although he did not practice a life of self-denial himself.)

I have some calculation that I will be called to account at this meeting. I am sitting quietly, comfortably in the back of the room. Hopefully out of sight for the whole spectacle, as the older brothers up front start to jump and shout a little bit.

When I really look at it, not that much did happen today. Orlando met me at the Good Diner for breakfast. He was into meeting me there. I read a book about dissenters in the political arena, which has parallels to our life here in the fellowship. It’s all the same, isn’t it?

Well now, I may tune out (that is, stop writing) and just listen to this meeting in the back here. We are now hearing Stewart’s diagnosis of our problem. Stewart is talking about Romans 8:7, the last words of which are, “indeed it cannot.” His diagnosis may be true, that we are refusing to serve God, that we have an agreement not to, and that we should be “I am determined to see you be saved.” Stewart is also now proposing a cure during this whole thing and will continue to do so. Sometimes I wonder if the cure is worse than the disease.

If I survive this meeting, what will I do next? (The cat is already out of the bag that I have been talking to people on the outside and have gone to Times Square Church.) Will I be writing more pastors? There are going to have to be some kind of repercussions for me having done this.

Stewart: “Skylar holds back like crazy, why?” So even the giants, all the good guys at Woodruff are not making it. What’s the point? Why go to Woodruff, serve in the burnout cult and just die, only to hear this every Sunday?

I feel like maybe I should blurt out something, but maybe putting things in writing is and has been a safety valve. I am expressing and will continue to express. Something that may help during these character assault, discredit the speaker bombardments is to go them one further, and admit that I probably am spiritually dead, and other things they say I am. How can this hurt to admit this?

Stewart says, “The whole church is a parking lot.” My question is, who is the parking lot attendant? (Who has all the keys?) Stewart is talking to us about how the way is hard. (Yeah, you are right, this way is hard!) In all that Stewart has been saying at this meeting, there is nothing about how Jesus said that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. In fact Stewart has said nothing about Jesus at all, except maybe that Jesus is mad at us. Also, we are not reading the Bible. Ah, now Stewart has mentioned the easy yoke, but, he says that we have a hard way and a hard yoke. We have a hard taskmaster, which is the devil.

I need real healing, real “therapy.” A therapeutikos (= Greek for ”healer”). I need psychotherapy, which means healing of souls in its truest sense. [In Greek, psychotherapy means “healing of souls.”] I need to dip two times in the Jordan. Dipping twice in the Jordan for your healing was always portrayed in Christian teaching as an easy task, although hard to man’s pride. He either wanted to pay for his cure or work for it.

Sick people can’t work too hard, right? I feel devastated. How can I work for a cure, or pay for one? So, what or where is this Jordan? As far as disputing and refuting Stewart, why do I think I have to do that anyway? Is that a way to a cure? Though, I do think that with Stewart’s teachings, we are sent in the wrong direction.

Something about “truth speaking” occurred to me on the way over here. I am told that I can’t speak because of how I am and because of my track record, however they describe it to me. So, the question is: who then is qualified to speak to Stewart, if that is, they should feel they might want to? Any names? I wonder if all who tried it would be found to be incompetent. There is nobody outside of our church who can speak to Stewart, either.

Kevin (and others) are now barking back the teaching for tonight, though one could say it’s a cumulative effort of many years of teaching. So, now Kevin is recharged and empowered for another week of dogmatizing and hounding others. I notice that nobody really talks about anything.

Now there is a call for “does anybody here really mean it?” (Rather than just having to hear everyone give the standard speeches.) There aren’t many, or any takers. Though Kevin and Jeff are now sermonizing. I guess this is my time to try to say I mean it, at least partly so nobody can use it on me this coming week that I didn’t say it. I really do detach myself. I can’t take these pressure tank meetings where we all have to stand up and make a speech. We are under pressure. We have to stand up and speak or we are demonstrating that we are not faithful nor are we intending to be. We are “holding back.”

The sisters sit through this quietly aloof. Can you blame them? You know, the Bible says a woman shouldn’t speak up in church. Why should they draw attention to themselves? Nobody is asking them any questions, why should they stick their necks out? I suppose we have not had any sister purges in a long time. In fact, I barely notice. It just occurred to me that we had a silent minority sitting among us.

I suppose I can start writing plainly and not in notehand, now that the cat is out of the bag.

(I wrote in a code that was like a shorthand, in part to write more quickly, but also to conceal what I wrote. The ability to write quickly was also why I was able to capture dialogs and goings on at meetings in this journal as they were happening.)

Stewart is now reeling out a long verdict against us, saying that, “After refusing God’s kindness for so long, the only relief is to seek to lose your mind, which is death.” I wonder, who is this God that Stewart speaks about?

It looks like, from the tone and terms of this meeting, that there will be a lot of ammunition available to fling around at everybody all week.

(Everyone will be running around and beating on each other, using the terms and words Stewart gave us at this meeting. As far as Stewart’s comment above, Stewart was always telling us we had refused God’s kindness for so long that we had hardened ourselves and that there probably was no hope for us. He always spoke in dire and morbid terms about our future. Hope was not one of Stewart’s strong points. He held out some hope for us if we worked hard in the church businesses and programs.)

The way Stewart talks to people, you would think that he had something against everyone, like criminal charges, rather than being concerned for everyone’s salvation. Though for sure, nobody will tell him anything.

We are being threatened with divine judgment now. I hope we don’t have to go through every brother now, having each talk about how they have been unfaithful to Christ and then make a speech and get voted on.

A brother mentioned writing his “Need for Jesus Paper.” I thought how my Need for Jesus Paper would be if I wrote it for real, instead of cranking out a selection of Stewart phrases. It would go something like this: I believe that I am in a cult, or a group that looks like, talks like, acts like and smells like a cult. (Same difference.) Knowing how all-pervasive cult ideology is in working its way into a person’s thoughts, I need Jesus to preserve and deliver me from this onslaught, to help me to separate fact from fiction.

Now Stewart says that each brother is supposed to get assigned a number which refers to our level of responsibility to act, from 1 through 10. From responsible totally to totally thumbing our nose. I just wonder if Jesus is really like this after all. How could you know?

Paul [the older brother from Jamaica] just passed a note forward (and through my hands) which said, “Brother Stewart. Your car has to be moved by 12 or it will get a ticket.” The sisters sent the note back down the line, saying, “Sign it.” Yes, this is the world we live in. That’s pretty weird isn’t it? I guess nobody wants to take part in a “wrong message.” It better have a name tag on it, so its owner, and only its owner, is responsible for it. As I took the note and passed it forward to the person sitting next to me, I myself had a little stab of fear that I was taking part in this and that my complicity might be noted! That Stewart might say, “All right everybody who passed that note, stand up!” Nobody wants to get in the man’s way, even to pass a little note. He sits on his throne and dwells in unapproachable light. Who would dare draw near to him?

Somehow we are supposed to say this man commands our respect and that he really cares about us. The sisters especially, do this timid act. And the sisters are the ones who are supposed to know the real lowdown most of all! The whole thing is a farce.

Observing Stewart as he works, he reminds me so much of Jim Jones working the crowd. The master of the stage, playing with all the puppets. The fearful deference, the obsequious agreement, the eager faces, eager to confess the new lines. The complete absence of critical thinking and individual reactions. Nobody says, “Are you sure? Wait a minute.” Or, “I don’t think so.” Never. Not once. Okay, a new brother will question Stewart once in a while. Someone stupid and “arrogant,” a “brat.” He hasn’t learned yet. I guess we have.

Kevin is the chief flunky these days. He is quick to bark back the lines or run them on others, on his own or at Stewart’s bidding. The guy never seems to act independently or contribute from himself during the meeting. But, this seems to be a virtue here. One must never do his own thing nor think his own thoughts. Everyone else allows this of course, because that’s how it’s supposed to be. Kevin is one who is “really trying.” But, this is probably also a great way to avoid the heat. One can play the role of “talk show emcee,” introducing, talking or doing things for the main speaker and also ushering other people on and off the stage. This way he can stay one step ahead of the heat, even dishing it out himself. Nobody else can say anything to him because he is speaking Stewart’s words. It’s a great tactic. Although one always has to allow for the idea that Kevin is sincere, but severely misguided.

I began to think about how, in this meeting and in all our meetings, we don’t read the Bible but instead, we have these group therapy sessions. Suddenly Alex bursts up, reading a scripture, the only person to do so all night, though Stewart occasionally quotes a scripture. The scripture Alex read was “You who are spiritual ought to restore those who are weak in a spirit of gentleness.” (He was shouted down by Chuck, who began rather loudly to respond to the question of the moment, which was “What does stupid mean?”)

I think Alex was trying to tell Stewart something. I couldn’t hear it all, but I think Alex was trying to say to Stewart that you’re the one who is supposed to be helping everybody. Alex is crazy. He is a very deranged person. But he is not stupid.

I am convinced that we are learning “Stewartology” or “Traillism,” but not real Christianity, although Stewart relies heavily on biblical themes of judgment, hell and other such things. It is a debilitating and very unbalanced view. There are Christian type things that he says.

As I sit here, in my role as observer, I begin to realize that it has been a very disjointed and rambling talk all night. In fact, what Stewart says is not all that coherent. It was just an amalgamation of all the usual stock phrases that Stewart always says, maybe mixed in a different order. For somebody who studies so extensively, he doesn’t have all that much to say. It’s the same thing every week: Everybody is found to have been unfaithful to Christ, no matter how hard they have been working. Then comes the pressure chamber meeting, then everybody begins jumping up and proclaiming the new (or recycled) phrases. The program has been inserted, the tape (in our minds) has been made. We are now ready for another week. Next week again, we will be weighed in the balances and found wanting. It just goes on and on. It’s been like this for years.

Monday, August 16

It seems like everybody is being nice to me these days. I guess when you announce that you are leaving, people are nicer to you.

The man in the New York Bible Society advised me to get out of COBU. He talked about the man who had two sons. The one said I will do my father’s will, but then he didn’t. He was referring to God’s will and me knowing it. That if I say our group is cultic and I know it. God doesn’t want me in a cultic group so why am I still there? Am I sitting around and waiting for supernatural deliverance? He said I am like a drowning man in a river, who has the chance to get out, but says, “I’ll stay in a while longer.” He asked me if there is something I like about it. Then he seemed to get cold shouldered, and he walked away from me and returned to doing his business.

So we are always supposed to say “that’s the devil speaking.” Yes, the “devil” even works through other Christians, right? These things I think and know – God operates through the use of our own convictions. Weak excuses like “it’s hard to leave our church” sound hollow. If I am here, I must still like it. It was a barbed arrow, though well said. “The Lord has told you to get out and you’re still there.”

I have been having small conversations with people, such as Paul S. I feel better off after I do, though nobody is in agreement with me. Though what I do get out of it, from what others say, is that I must live by the Christian basics, such as walking by the Spirit and not gratifying the desires of the flesh. But they also say I can’t talk unless I am fully surrendered and laying my life down. But my suspicion is that I still couldn’t say anything then either.

Yet there is some freeing element to all this, maybe due to the pressure to hide everything about myself being gone. Maybe it’s not so bad to admit that I am not fully surrendered. And that this really isn’t being or can’t be used on me, as I feared. That despite everyone else, get set free if I admit, in the light, my own true spiritual condition (that of being in need of severe repair) rather than posturing behind faithful or silent fronts. Also, knowing I have somewhere else to go if I’m thrown out helps. Probably if I keep this up, I will be thrown out. You know, we are allowed to say some things are wrong here, but we must say it in the “right” way, which I am not, because I think this “right” way is absolutely useless.

(We were allowed to talk about what was wrong with one another, and with the older brothers in general.)

Well, they probably won’t put up with me much longer. After a short while of trying to bring me back into the fold, their patience will grow thin and we may see what the true price of disagreeing is among us. I will then probably be “invited” to leave since “you don’t seem to like it here, so then go if that’s what you want!”

But, after this little talk with Paul, I feel free(r). If this is how to get free, I will keep doing it. Maybe it looks crazy to others, but getting set free, if this is what this is, is better than living underground and under pressure as I have been. I have never been freed by saying “the right stuff.” I see everyone else saying “the right stuff” to me and to each other. It’s like prerecorded messages.

But still, I will probably leave. I am in this middle ground. I feel like I could just walk down the street and be gone.

Jay walks by and says, “What’s up?” I say, “Maybe Jesus is showing me to get out of here (that I know my Master’s will and I am not doing it) and that this is a highly cultic environment and I’ll never get restored if I stay here.”

Aside from the sheer exhaustion of speaking about that which is so strongly forbidden and maybe the exhilaration and freedom that comes from breaking through my barriers of fear, I find myself free again! This is telling the truth. It is the truth on me, whether or not it is the truth on this place.

(I felt liberated by telling this truth, and not the so-called truth (such as the bad news and my desire to “cheat” and  to“thumb my my nose at Jesus”) that Stewart called telling the truth about ourselves.)

I’m talking with George in the office. Kathy D. says, “I don’t want to hear it. Can you take it somewhere else?” She is angry and says, “He’s bad-mouthing the fellowship.” There are elements in peoples’ talk now about that maybe I should go. Their patience will be short-lived. There really is no talking, no middle ground. You either believe in this way or you don’t.

I am surprised that I have not gotten angry at anyone. This helps me, although no one realizes it.

Rocky came in and interjected, “Is this edifying?” It was foolish of me to try to explain. The question was really a statement. (“This is not edifying.”) Why do I feel much better now?

Kathy is again saying to George, “He shouldn’t be able to talk about it. He’s losing his mind.” (She means I shouldn’t be allowed to talk about it around others, maybe not at all.) 

It is said that the dissenter is a safety valve in an organization, when it collectively goes over the edge. Maybe not everyone will have the reaction that Kathy had. I am standing in the office. It’s hard to say what is going to happen.

Well, it’s happening, isn’t it? I should have stood my ground two years ago and gotten thrown out then. This is the only thing our church can do with a person like me.

The concept is that there will be no salvation for me outside of COBU. Okay, maybe for others who have never been in our church. Maybe in their case, God will have mercy on them, despite themselves. But, if any of those people have been here before, well, they’re out of luck.

(I was taught, in my early years in COBU that there may be mercy for others who have never been in COBU and left it, who have not heard (and rejected) the unique and deeper version of Christianity that only Stewart had. Those people had less “light” than “we” did, so they would not be judged as severely.)

So, I plan to be writing. This writing is for me, though I think it would be much more helpful if it was written for someone who wanted to hear my story; someone with some insight and trust, as it was for Jan Montyn. But it may be good to do nonetheless.

(Jan Montyn was the author of the book Like A Lamb to the Slaughter, which is about his experiences in World War II. He wrote the original material as part of therapy. It was healing for him to write his story, which was to be read by someone who was concerned about him and who wanted to know about everything that happened to him.)

I am at a point of indecision today. The waters will probably close over me today or tomorrow anyway. (I just think of the brothers meeting tonight. Maybe I should stay and go to the meeting just to be able to write down what happens. Don’t I want to be present at my own trial?)

Soon I will become a persona non grata. I won’t need to make a decision to go. The ground will just shrink up under me, leaving nowhere for me to stay. I feel that way already. I don’t see how I can take back the things I’ve said. I believe them. If I did it, it would be only to be able to keep staying here. If I were asked if I have “repented” from all my “weird attitudes” and “bitterness,” the requisite yes, which is the only acceptable answer possible, would be shallow indeed. I know I would be lying, maybe out of fear of having nowhere to go, or fear of hell. I don’t know how I would do it; how I could shut up this time. I have lost my fear of “disfellowshipment,” that huge ax that is used to keep people like me in their assigned place.

I am sitting in a restaurant writing this, close to leaving. If I look at the way others have been who are on the brink, I see it in me now. Though I haven’t left yet. I will probably limp back to the office. I am on the flyering team. George may or may not come looking for me. My leaving will be under different terms than others who have left. There will be no going after me to bring me back. I am an ideological criminal. The worse type, the most infectious. I must not be allowed to “poison” the others. Better to excise the cancer from the body, lest it spread.

(No one will come after me to try to get me to return to the fellowship, as was often done with brothers and sisters who left, because I had spoken against Stewart and explained what was wrong with our way of life. I had clear and well-reasoned explanations, and I was willing to talk about it. This situation could not be tolerated for long.)

I have some fear also that the closing words from others toward me will include “Depart and go be with the people our God hates,” or something close enough to it to sound like the fulfillment of a dream I had where I was cast into hell. I don’t disclose this dream for fear someone will use it on me. Paul S. knows about another dream I had where he and I were both going to be killed. He was dying for Christ. Upon asking Christ (who was present) if there was any hope for me, his answer was, “There is nothing for you but tribulation and death.” Paul knows about this dream and he reminded me of it. I said, “I have had dreams about going to heaven too.”

I could say I see elements of fulfillment of the hell dream in my life now, but just as easily I can see fulfillments of the major heaven dream I had. In both cases, I left the fellowship. In the dream about heaven, I left during a bad meeting, only to return and then get killed on the church property. Then I walked down a path to heaven. My killer was present but not able to enter with me. (I saw brothers there in heaven who are not in the fellowship now. Ron H. and Gary D.) So, if I go by my dreams, some of them contribute to my fears. But according to the material available, it’s not the whole story.

Now I am free to write a little. To reiterate the reasons why they say I can’t speak or why whatever I say is not valid. Well, one reason is that they say I am nobody to talk because I am not faithful. Also, the only reasons why I could have such thoughts and objections are because:

– the disobedience of my flesh is strong.

– my flesh is looking for an easier way.

– I am hitting out against Jesus and avoiding the cross.

They won’t consider the objective content of my thoughts at all. They say that the very essence of my thoughts is the flesh, that they arise from the flesh. This is a convenient device. They can just shove off all these things into the category of the flesh, or worse. (As well as writing off any person willing to listen to such things.) This is like writing off anyone on the outside as worldly or as speaking for the devil if they say anything negative about our church. This becomes a great source of frustration for me, because nobody concedes anything. It’s a solid wall of denial.

We’re supposed to be such a high-minded church where everything is tested and carefully considered. But we betray ourselves to be nothing more than like those extremist Southern churches who cast out the demon, the devil possessed person who has the audacity to speak about the group or its leader in an unfavorable light. Of course, we are allowed to talk about “problems,” but only if it is done “right,” which is in a useless way. We get to feel like we are working on problems, but in a way that is carefully designed to produce nothing.

Tuesday, August 17

I feel more confident that my viewpoint and what I am doing now is right. I ran into Chatman in Soho. We were talking about these things.

Vinnie questioned me on this job site about how I’m doing. (I notice that many who ask how I’m doing never mention specifics. I guess it’s up to me to take the first step.) The things I’ve been saying don’t go over very well with the older brothers.

I don’t feel broken down like I did yesterday.

Thursday, August 19

This journal was temporarily lost and returned. Good thing I put my address on front.

(I left my journal on a job site and a customer returned it, but not directly to me. It was waiting for me at the office.)

I am going through a lot of flak for having spoken my mind. A result of all this however, is that a lot of things have become clearer to me and I am more able to write about them. Even if others don’t agree or give me the time of day, I can see better now and I also see no reason to fear, since I have almost totally lost my fear of being “thrown out.”

I’m out sweeping with Paul and Orlando. They’re telling me how it’s just impossible to leave our church, that it’s hard to find somewhere to go.

I feel tired and I need a break. I don’t plan to keep quiet any more out of fear of being thrown out. But I don’t think this is going to matter too much anyway. It’s like peas off a tank.

(As far as others were concerned, speaking my mind was not going to make a dent in the way things were in COBU. No one was going to consider what I had to say and no changes were going to be made as a result of my talking about it.)

We are supposed to be sweeping, but we end up sitting on a bench.

I feel really depressed. I wonder if it is at these times that one gets to know Jesus Christ. In other words, maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about it, since it seems my moods fluctuate.

As you can see, I have gone back to writing in code. Not because of fear of discovery, but besides the easy flow of writing, I will express myself truthfully. Because otherwise, I feel like I am writing for an audience.

There was a sign up for Laura in the office. (It was the “U” with Chinese characters and a fortune taped on at the bottom that said “It’s time to make new friends.” I sure wish that was a little sign for me. I wonder if anything will ever come of it. I have been thinking that maybe all of this is a prerequisite to marriage, and that nothing will come easy, and that I will have to fight for everything. If I just lay back and be an obedient dog, nothing is going to come my way. Not if I wait patiently for the agenda, including for my most basic life needs. I wonder if Stewart will ever get around to allowing marriage. Or, maybe I am going to have to do something about it.)

(The was idea that maybe if I waited, Stewart would eventually include marriage in the COBU agenda. I sometimes heard others say this. They believed that Stewart had good intentions and taught only the truth. A brother once said to me, “When Jesus shows Brother Stewart that it’s time to have marriages, he will tell us.”)

I am surprised that I have not been put out on the street now.

I guess I am just supposed to give up and hope for death; that this is the actual expected result of Stewart’s teachings. But I wonder if this is really the true Christian faith.

(We were supposed to “give up all our hope in this life,” and “prefer death.” Stewart talked much more about “preferring death” than “preferring to be with the Lord.” The entire way of life in COBU and the words and concepts constantly thrown at us were geared to get us to accept this conclusion – while at the same time, working long hours to bring in revenue for the church.)

I was trying to read the Bible too fast. Maybe all I should do is just stare at one verse.

I can’t keep this up anymore. I suspect a lot of people before me haven’t been able to keep this up either and have left our church. I can’t keep up with the voting we do at the meetings. It just seems purposeless.

I have spoken my mind and I have been diagnosed as a mental case. So if I continue to speak up, this will be the continual verdict. Why be here? Why accept the view of myself that the church assigns to me?

Friday, August 20

I called Dave today. He told me that he and some others are going to Lima, Peru with Tom White to start an orphanage. I wish I could go. He also said they are going to support it financially. Do you think I will go there with them? What will the future hold for me? The fellowship’s view of what will happen to me if I leave here is all negative.

Jim O. and some others are querying me about my disagreements with the church. My response is to explain how the Catholic Church uses those same arguments for Papal and ecclesiastical infallibility.

(These brothers’ line of reasoning was that Jesus was guiding our fellowship and that Jesus had set Brother Stewart over it as our pastor and that therefore, Brother Stewart cannot be wrong because Jesus would never tell Brother Stewart to deceive us or to guide us in a wrong way.)

Two things from Jung: about how one man will resign himself to his fate because things have gone this way a thousand times. Another man says that the one thousand and first time will be different. Also, when an introverted person lives or is constrained to live as an extroverted person, neurosis develops. Does this equal me and fellowship life?

I went to go down to the bathroom. As I passed Paul in the hallway, he said, “We are supposed to watch you.” I would like to know just what the terms of this watching entails.

Yes, back to my journal. Reasoning back with myself, talking it out. I will try to find the answer to the above question. Well, I certainly feel special now and also feel like trying little tricks to both elude and annoy my “watchers.” But really, who wants to live like this?

Read the next section of the journal here: Why I Desire To Leave The Church Of Bible Understanding.

(These journal pages are part of the source material for my book, Captive Congregation: My Fourteen Years in the Church of Bible Understanding, which is available as a Kindle book or in paperback.)

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