1993, 03/23. You Will Always Live In Fear Of COBU And Its Leader.
The title for this section comes from the observation that ex-members of the Church of Bible Understanding often feared the group and its leader, Stewart Traill, and that I also noticed this same kind of fear in the writings of ex-members of other cults. Was this fear because ex-COBU members really knew they had left the only true way, or was it because they understand how hard it was to convince current members about what they had come to understand about what was wrong with COBU, and because COBU members knew all the right buttons to push to manipulate and guilt trip ex-members?
Tuesday, March 23
I have an easy work day, which I need once in a while. I’m dropping off a carpet cleaning team in Brooklyn and making pickups here also, which gives me time to write and also to make a tape. [I also journaled by talking into a tape recorder.] I’m also listening to a tape I made when I was still living in Woodruff.
During my driving today, I spent a great deal of time recording a 90 minute tape with thoughts on current problems, about Stewart and about life in the church. I also went to the Brooklyn Public Library near the park and picked up a book on sects, and also got that book about Christian freedom which seems very good and which talks about and deals with many of the issues I have been thinking about for the longest time. I started to read it on tape and may end up reading most of it on tape. It’s a long book, but may be worth the effort. With the exception of a few other books, such as the book about Oneida, this book has the greatest concentration of points that are similar to our life here and the greatest in-depth analysis of them. [The book was In Search of Christian Freedom by Ramond V. Franz, a former leader in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.]
I still don’t know what I am going to do at this point, however. The author (Franz) also seems to write in that same over looking-over-his-shoulder in tone used by those who wrote the anti-COBU tract with the lambs and Get Smart, Get Out button on it. Like, even though the points they make about what is wrong with their group are true, they will never be able to either prove it or convince anybody, and they will always live in reference to and in fear of their group, no matter how free they think they are from it now. I always understood that to mean that the ex-COBU members who wrote this tract and handed it out us knew they were liars and backsliders, but maybe this is not so. A person who leaves the Jehovah’s Witnesses isn’t necessarily a backslider and for sure, they are not leaving the absolute truth. So their apprehensiveness comes from somewhere else. It comes from their worry that the people who are still in the organization will not believe what they are trying to convince them of with their book or pamphlet. And of course, I know there is plenty of wrong going on here.
I am on my way to a meeting at 46th Street. I just found out about it when I talked to Ron T. on the phone. I wouldn’t go to this meeting if I didn’t have to. The time now is 11:30 p.m.
At the meeting, we read Nahum, chapter 1.
We also discussed the message we received about how Laurie isn’t doing very well in Haiti. She is destroying. Some of the maids left. Her specific actions were not mentioned in the message, other than that she is “not depending on God.” The message also asked whether Stewart should go down there to fix things. We were told to discuss it, though I wonder whether this is just going through the motions and that the proper answer (which we all know we will give and vote for) is encoded and implied in this question and we think, discuss and make a decision accordingly.
(This is like the question several years ago that Stewart asked us, about whether he should go to Dawn’s funeral or not, because her family had invited him to go. It looked like the question was open for discussion and that Stewart would consider our opinions, though it felt like there was only one acceptable answer and that this was indicated in the way Stewart arranged the question. But it seemed like it was open for us to discuss and that our opinions mattered and would be taken into consideration, though it felt like we were guided into a specific response, both by the original question and by the responses to our answers.)
[When a sister from the church whose name was Dawn died, her parents asked Stewart to come to the funeral. Stewart always acted independently and never asked us what we thought he should do. But in this case, he sent out a message that we should get together and discuss this invitation and whether going to Dawn’s funeral was the best use of his time as the pastor of our church. I understood by the way Stewart worded his question, and also because insead of the usual, he was asking us what he should do, that we were expected to reach the conclusion that going to the funeral was not the best use of his time.
When we met together, I explained to one of the sisters how the answer Stewart wanted us to give was already implied in the question and she dismissed me as being crazy. We went through the motions of discussing the issue and as if guided by an unseen hand, everyone decided that it was not the best use of Stewart’s time. Whenever someone suggested it was a good idea for Stewart to go, the others in the meeting guided that person back to how it was not the best use of his time. Though this I saw that there was only one decision that was acceptable and it was clear to me that the most of the others also knew that, but there was no way they were going to acknowledge this.
Now Stewart could tell Dawn’s family, or have someone else call them, to tell them that all the members of the church had discussed it and decided it was not the best use of his time, and that as their pastor, he was bound to honor the decision of the church body. Some sisters did go to her funeral, however.]
We’re still discussing the issue. Really, what’s the point? Everyone is talking about what spirit Laurie is acting in, and about other intangible things, all in a jargon that only we could understand. Who knows if any of this is real? Stewart asked us to give opinions the second time around, but what are these opinions anyway, when we are supposed to say the right stuff, or act as if we don’t know how to do anything?
Click the following link to read the next part of this journal: Ignoring The Sisters, Because Nobody Gets Married Here Anyway.