1993, 04/02. Keep Your Thoughts to Yourself, For Your Own Safety.
I talked with Pete a little about the usual. He, and I also, defended (at least some of) Stewart’s actions. Then just as quickly, Pete was said he was suspicious of Stewart having ulterior motives – then he defended those motives. When I said that Stewart threw out the idea of being “individually responsible to Jesus,” Pete said, “Then that’s it. I really ought to leave the church.”
Pete was advising me not to pin all the blame on Stewart, and that what I said about Stewart having total control of my life is not true. We discussed other subjects, like how maybe this is going to end soon.
So, what if Stewart were to die in two years? What would I do if I knew that? This is a question suitable for further thought.
[About things changing in COBU: A change that I thought might happen is that Stewart could die. Other than leaving, which I had only begun to consider, this was the only other thing I thought that would make things, or my life, change. Maybe I could get married then, or have better living arrangements. The only other change I thought could happen was the FBI coming in and breaking the place up. The Waco seige had recently taken place, and although our group was not armed and dangerous, we had been raided by the police in Philadelphia before and the IRS had audited us as well.]
Now, I’m thinking about ways of moving out or living out. If and when our church ends – or, if I’m thrown out.
Peter began to tell me that he didn’t and couldn’t trust me, though not in so many words. He said that when we talk, I take him down a road he doesn’t want to go on.
I’m in danger of having whatever I say or have said used against me. Anything I might have said just in passing, or have spoken about in depth. Like today, having a conversation with Peter about Stewart and the church, which he seemed to be taking as much of an active part in as I was.
I always feel I must open up about things in order to preserve my sanity, but such opening up may cost me, if not my life, at least severe trouble, if not punishment or disfellowshipping. All because I wanted to unburden my thoughts to someone who might share similar kinds of thoughts and who maybe isn’t such a party-liner. I always regret having spoken about any of these things to anyone! It might feel good for the moment, it might provide some small amount of relief from the burdensome pressures on my mind, but the eventual result is fear. Because now, it’s “on tape.” Somebody knows, and could tell. Someone who was with me and can report what I said! (I wonder, is this why everybody else here is so quiet? Are they wiser than me and it is I who am the foolish one?)
I’m working alone in an apartment with two Spanish housekeepers. I ventured a few words with the prettier one. Of course, this will never work. Even if I wanted to pursue a relationship, really I couldn’t get one started if I wanted to.
[Some of the reasons this could never work is because I didn’t have free time and I couldn’t go off on my own to visit a woman, because any absences would be noted. I couldn’t bring her to the church, unless I was trying to get her to join. If she did join and move in, every member of the church would do everything in their power to keep us apart. A woman couldn’t call me, because I didn’t have my own phone and if she were calling the office or one of our residences, it would soon be known that there is a woman who calls me. I also did not have money for dating or having a relationship. I didn’t own my own car. I drove church vans that were dirty and filled with junk. And I did not have any presentable clothing. I just had what I worked in, which was usually ragged and dirty.
I also lived communally, which means I did not have my own place, or kitchen or any place to socialize. I slept in a tool closet with two other guys. Starting a relationship with a woman inside or outside our church seemed impossible, as long as I continued to live there. This was part of living like a doormat which I have mentioned elsewhere. I had to deny every part of me that was not the cult leader’s agenda and plans to use me, and the above shows how circumstances in my life were set up to help bring about this compliance. I was supposed to deny my desires for a relationship, family and children. Family time and expenses were a distraction from our full-time service to our leader, who knw theat there would be increase in expenses if church members were to marry, because of the need for private living arrangements. No money was to be directed toward any of our human needs other than the minimal food and shelter needed to warehouse and feed single people, and the occasional doctor visit.]
The sisters seem pretty excited about a meeting that was held recently in Philadelphia. Stewart told them that, besides how the answers are not in ourselves, that we have no need to prove anything to others and that will not make it our own efforts. Paul was telling me that the sisters have been under pressure lately because the “cream of the crop,” that is, Laurie goes to the orphanage Haiti and look what she does! (According to Stewart.) So, what does that say about the rest of sisters?
[Stewart saying that Laurie was acting wrongly did not necessary mean she really did anything wrong. I was beginning to realize this.]
Stewart putting pressure on all the sisters because of the actions of one sister seems like assigning guilt to an entire group for one person’s actions, but, the main point is that now the sisters, at least the ones I saw, seem to be relieved. Hey, I wish I was living under a system such as that. It would be a real relief. I do feel as if I have something to prove all the time. Besides, what are all those meetings and evaluations about? Aren’t they about having to prove ourselves? And very intensely, I might add.
This is what puzzles me, the way Stewart blows hot and cold like that. It seems as if he puts great amounts of pressure on us, then we get those surprise moments when he says, “Gee fellas, why are you under so much pressure? There’s no need for that! How come you can’t be like me?” Sure, we put this pressure on ourselves as well and there are certain personalities who are more prone to be that way. My reaction or defense has been to become apathetic, at least outwardly.
Besides, a “good” meeting with Stewart like that is almost always followed by a real beating. Whether or not it is designed to be that way, or if in general almost all meetings are bad and it’s just that there is a “good” one once in a while. A meeting where Stewart is saying he isn’t going to get us this time. I admit that I’m extremely cynical, because I have seen this quite a lot. I have seen enough to know not to put hope in meetings like this, or to think everything is going to be better now. But, I do see it as a sign that indicates how our fortunes rise and fall upon Stewart’s attitude toward us.
Something seems to be breaking within me, or forming itself within me. I guess my brain has been churning and sorting through a mass of material, such as the books I have been reading and my own impressions, and now, a decision is about to be made. Or, in another manner of speaking, a readout is about to be emitted. (Inchoate material and thoughts.) Something about Stewart and the church and the falsehood practiced here; the false premises and expectations. We shall see.
(There is also a voice that goes through my head latey saying, “A shotgun to your head,” or similar threatening words.) So, which is true? Is that really God speaking to me, instead? I can’t quite figure it out, but something is just under the surface.
Possibly, it has to do with Stewart and illusions. I’m experiencing disenchantment or disillusionment. I’m starting to see through it all and I’m beginning to be able to explain how the system works here and why. And maybe I won’t be able to go back to accepting the illusion anymore, because of having nowhere else to go, or because of being threatened with being thrown out of the church. Instead, I would leave because of not being able to take the social situation and the social control anymore. (As the book about why people leave cults explained, 75% expressed dissatisfaction in this area as their reason for leaving, among other reasons.) I mean, I can put up with wrong teachings or words I disagree with, if I’m not forced to live according to them.
[Stewart set up a system to enforce his beliefs and to force us to live by them. One of his methods was having us check on one another and vote one another into categories, according to whether we were obeying his teachings or not. It should be noted that these methods of social control were in direct contradiction to Stewart’s statement to the sisters that they had no need to prove anything to others. Stewart held long judgment sessions with us that were all about proving ourselves to one another and getting voted on by the others.]
I could probably hang around here with bad teachings, but my desire to have a wife would drive me out. Because it may be either that – to leave the church and get married – or to stay here and continue to be twisted up and weird, and just learn to live with it as a regular feature of my life, because for sure, as it appears now, I’m sure not getting married here! And which is more evidence of the fear of God? Staying here like this or leaving and getting married in order to take the remedy against sexual immorality which God provides, against which there is no law and is not a sin! For sure, the decision to marry would involve moving out. This consideration is woven into the decision to marry. Leavning the church seems to be a dividing line involved in marrying or not marrying.
I sometimes compare myself to the priests who leave the Catholic church in order to marry because they are not able or willing to live the celibate life. It is a kind of bravery and honesty on their part that I admire. It is being honest for sure, because it is better than continuing to live in the church as they are. It is bravery, because it takes going against the church they believe to be the only true church. It’s a decision that requires a lot of effort and thought on their part. It’s probably the same here. I’ll never be able to convince anybody here that I should be able to get married, so why try to convince them?
But, the next question is: who to marry? Where to find someone? It also seems to be such a big change, just for sex! I guess it takes facing it for what it is. As far as fornication, it’s certainly not considered to be just sex! But it is considered to be a severe sin, and the Bible speaks against immorality as one of the worse sins. When that is taken into consideration, it’s a whole different matter! Now I do have a good reason for getting married!
We also have a “be strong” club. We are not really supposed to let on how much this hurts us. We’re supposed to take it, to not say we are weak. Somehow, weakness is synonymous with sin, taking advantage and making excuses!
I need to get married because sexual sin is serious and it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion. Why can’t I do what the Bible “clearly tells me” I can do? According to the Bible, it is left free to me, left up to my conscience.
While in the office, I overheard Pete “confessing” to Kevin (the KGB!) about me.
[Kevin’s initials were KGB. (The KGB were the communist Russian secret police.)]
Peter told Kevin some of the things he said to me today, saying that I took him down a path he didn’t want to go on, and that I was selling him something. Actually, it’s like the Salem witch trials. I have a “spirit” in me that is trying to deceive them.
[I was being spoken about as if I had an evil spirit within me that is seeking to overcome and deceive them.]
So, will this lead to me being questioned again? The fact is, I should never talk to anyone about these things!
Read the next section of the journal here: Following The Script.