1993, 04/14. I Have Nothing to Do With You.

Wednesday, April 14

I woke up this morning, and as I walked out of the wood floor closet, Jim O. mumbled at me, “I take no part in you. I have nothing to do with you.”

[Shunning is common in cults, and this was an example of it. When anyone no longer believes in the cult as the true way, the other members begin to separate themselves from the dissenting member. A favorite shunning verse in many organizations is “drive the wicked person out from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:13) I had questioned the leader of the cult in a recent meeeting and it was generally becoming known that I no longer believe in our way. The wood floor closet was a large supply closet that Paul, Peter I slept in at night. We used the shelves as bunks.]

Nobody else so far has said anything to me, but that doesn’t mean that I’m thereby acquitted. It’s hard to “justify” myself, because I don’t know which incident(s) they are coming from when they are talking to me. If it’s only for what I said to Stewart at the meeting, then it hardly seems justifiable. If word has gotten out about what I said about him later; then well, I can see where they are coming from and this is my dread that I will have to give account at some meeting about what I said and of course, I will be entirely defenseless.

Of course, in accordance with Stewart’s recent teaching, I have absolutely no excuse. (Whereas with his older views, the possibility would have existed that I was getting wound up. In other words, various causes could have been taken into consideration. But now there is only crime.) Unfortunately, this means that if and whenever I speak about anything negatively in or about the fellowship from now on, my shouting incident with the brothers will be brought up against me. (For example, if I were to give an opinion about how our meetings are like being like a courtroom.)

I remember going through different mind bending states of emotion while walking outside after the meeting, especially with a view toward my imminent disfellowshipment. I was getting high strung and ready to snap, if I wasn’t snapping already. All it took was somebody to push the right buttons. I am running up against some heavy barriers inside myself about saying this, because it obviously flies in the face of the Stewart’s current view of what constitutes wrongdoing; and that now, I could never list such causes if I were to explain my behavior, which means in effect, that I can never tell anybody what I was going through or why. The experience I was going through while walking around out there was just sin and nothing more.

I have come to the bar and confess my guilt without reservation and that’s it, and hope to receive pardon. The more to the point, guilty and without reservation I make it the better. Explanations are just seen as explaining away sin. In other words, nobody wants to know what is, or was, going on inside of me. They just want the goods. Can this be true? They are looking for certain kinds of things, such as a confession. It’s not like anybody is going to talk to me. Nobody is going to talk to me and ask, “How are you? What’s going on, why do you get this way?” Everything is crime and punishment. I can understand what Lifton was talking about, how I can come forward with the proper confession and mean none of it. But it is what they are loooking for, and the only thing that is accepted.

In some meetings, I know that if I want to live, I must manufacture the proper confession; a confession that can also be used against me in any future situation, after I have exposed my “wrong motives” and said that “it’s only sin at work in me when I say that.” Then if I say anything after again (for example, if I say I don’t believe something that Stewart is telling us), then it can be used against me.

[My previous confession can be used against me. The only acceptible confession I could make was that my thoughts, attitudes and disagreements with COBU leader’s , his doctrine and our way of life were really that I was “choosing the flesh.” If I were to again speak about anything, after having made such a confession, it would be used on me. “But I thought you said that whenever you talk this way, it’s sin at work in you and that you are choosing to live according to the flesh and not God’s spirit.”]

I feel weary and broken down. That’s how I was yesterday. I just wanted to go somewhere and crash. When I was at Fulton Street, I just wanted to go and crash on a bench and look at the water. I sat on a bench outside the market and drank coffee, then had to get up and use the bathroom and ended up doing a carpet cleaning estimate almost by accident because I decided to walk around inside the market.

Maybe one of my “crimes” is the failure to recognize the historical significance of our church, what with Stewart’s teachings about how if we are born again, we are unable to sin, and how he tells us he is “revealing things that have not been revealed since the time of the Apostles,” and also that according to him, “Nobody but our church has ever known the true definition of faith.” (Of course the Apostle Paul knew the true definition of faith, but it had been lost until Stewart revealed it again.)

Now, for some recent developments. By the way, before this I had been sitting on my bunk thinking, and actually wishing that our church would just break up or be dissolved, so then I wouldn’t have to deal with it any more. Within seconds I heard the crackle of a walkie-talkie and a voice speaking the words, “building inspection.” The fire department were here to inspect the warehouse, and the fire marshall is coming.

I took a trip to the bathroom to wash up and shave. The brothers were getting everybody out of bed. Peter and I got out ourselves out of there to “go to work.” When I called back an hour later, I found out that we had till 7p.m. to vacate the premises.

I had been having the feeling that our living situation in Red Hook wasn’t going to last much longer. One year seemed to be the limit. Also, I had been getting those feelings about packing and condensing my belongings that I get sometimes when sensing that a move is about to take place, although some of that was because I was thinking about leaving the church. It really comes down to the fact that I should own little or nothing, due to all of these moves.

Maybe what Robert Lifton wrote in his book, (Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism) doesn’t apply to me because I’m not physically restrained, but I enjoy reading it, maybe because it sounds so familiar anyway.

Even though I have considerable distress about where I will live for the next few days. I also keep looking with a longing to the possibility of being out of here, imagining having time now somewhere else, and sitting down and writing my “memoirs.

Possibly my recent actions and words will be forgotten in the shuffle that may go on here in the next few days.

I called the office to see if the new brothers left to meet me at South Ferry. I got Chuck on the phone, who was drilling me, saying that I should make it clear. In self defense, subtly without apparently fighting back, that is (a product of our system?), I asked Chuck if he could make his question more clear. He said I should should make it clear. Just then I thought about saying, “Okay, I don’t think everything that Stewart says is true.” What a tactical error that would have been! But then Chuck started saying things to me, so I let him ramble on. (He said he shouldn’t have to track me down. Why should I have to trace you? Fine, now he was talking and not me. It wasn’t on me to “make it clear” anymore. With an abrupt word, he hung up the phone.)

Of course, you may say that such defensive maneuvers on my part (though really, he just started talking and I “took advantage” of that) represent deceit and evasiveness. (Such as when the new disciples do the same thing when they are being questioned.) I also happen to consider it a matter of survival!

So now I am going door to door alone in the Wall Street area, trying to close jobs. I had to make a decision. It will be a crime either way. Either I let the new brother go or I didn’t do any selling, because by the time I get him, I will have to go to Red Hook anyway.

I got into “complaining” about this to Becky (about the “crime either way”) when I called the office and she picked up the phone. To my surprise, she didn’t say I was crying on her or whatever. In fact throughout the day when I call there, she seems to be exceptionally meek. Before, when I called back, I told her not to put me on hold and she apologized with an explanation (which isn’t a wrong thing to do). So, something is up with her. She has that weepy willow voice. It’s almost like I could talk to her and she’d be friendly.

Anyway, I can go closing jobs down here. It will be something of an accomplishment. Also, today anyway, it’s a little fun. I’m looking around in a little shopping area. I’m also not “dragging” a new brother around with me. I enjoyed going door to door, alone most of the time, in Downtown Brooklyn for the entire month of Februrary. Now here is another little area I can enjoy. I can get to know the area and explore it. Maybe I will bring a flyering team here tomorrow, then leave them and look around.

I want to keep a running account of events, especially those of the next few days, as I feel they may be important. I now have the same kind of feelings that I remember from the old days in the church business, when I would either be fired or threatened with being thrown out. I have the same worthlessness or non-human feeling. Even worthless in the sight of God. I’m anticipating trouble. (There may be various brothers who must speak the truth and get to the bottom of it with me, like Chuck, for instance.)

I just saw Kathy walking toward me.

[This is a COBU sister who I saw walking toward me on the sidewalk as I was looking carpet cleaning work in the Wall Street area. She worked in the area.]

I think she saw me. I saw her eyes flash in a way that might have meant recognition, then quick avoidance. She turned suddenly and stepped between two parked cars, and walked into the street. (That quick turning move most convinces me.)

I’m thinking about God, and that if he is not favorable to me, what would a prayer do? A quick flash came through my mind that maybe God is being benevolent to me despite my not praying, or that his actions and attitude toward me are not generated by prayer.

Stopping by the seaport to take in the clouds and look at the water for a few minutes. But must keep moving.

I’m thinking about enjoying the intangible things in life, like the clouds. Maybe it’s better if nobody knows what I like, what I do. (Maybe I should have never told Paul anything about my likes. But again, that is the normal human thing to do. Maybe I should just let others talk from now on.) Nobody can see me enjoy languages, the sky, or a passing train. (Or even riding train, if I should ever get the chance. Nobody has to know I am enjoying it. I don’t have to tell anybody about the things that go on inside of me.) Nobody can see that I enjoy walking. Maybe, seeing that this is how things are, and if had known this in advance, this is the course I would have taken in my life here in the church. If it’s true that I shall stay here, I will choose this course. Even if I leave, I will probably never be quite free from a secret life. I would probably be reticent about my whole life, about everything.

[I was deciding that if I stayed in COBU that I would be totally secret about who I am, what I think and what I like.]

I mailed that postcard to Mom. I was was deliberating over whether I should send it or not. Now that I think of it, it feels good or right that I sent that postcard. I added a note that I had to move back to Woodruff and told her I would explain in the next letter. It’s probably good that I’m telling her what’s going on here.

I have been wondering if I will get singled out or prevented from moving to Woodruff (though I hardly desire to be there), but it seems I will be able to quietly go over there, hiding in the general flow of the brothers.

[If we cannot live in Red Hook warehouse anymore, because that building is being shut down, the brothers would probably move back to Woodruff Avenue. Because I was now speaking up and saying I didn’t believe everything about our way and our leader anymore, I worried that I might be denied being able to move to another church residence, in effect, being put out. I had seen this happen to others before. When the church was selling its building at 515 West 47th Street, all the brothers who lived there were able to move to Woodruff Avenue, but none of the sisters were allowed to move to any other location in the church, because Stewart decided that they weren’t “asking righly,” so they were all defacto homeless on the day it had to be vacated. Some of these sisters left the church and a group of sisters went to a cheap hotel in a seedy area of town, until they were finally allowed to move back into the church.]

I am going back to Red Hook now to pack up my belongings.

8 p.m.

It turns out (so far) that I don’t have to move, nor do Peter or Paul. Kevin and Chuck seem to think that we could and should move.

[Kevin and Chuck were the brothers most involved in driving this way of life here. They were also managers of the church businesses.]

The book by Lifton I referred to several times on this page can be found at the link below.  The book is called Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism.  Author: Robert Jay Lifton. I found out about this book when I was reading about cults.

Robert J. Lifton on Wikipedia

A summary of Chapter 22 of Lifton’s book, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, which is a summary of all the main points about how totalist manipulation works.

Read the next section of this journal here: Just Tell Them You Were Wrong.


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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