1993, 04/17. “You Have A Wrong Spirit.”

Saturday, April 17

I crashed in the back on some carpets and had some real restful sleep.

[In the storage area in the back of the church office on West 46th Street, there were some rolls of carpet piled up. Sometimes the brothers slept on these rolls.]

I woke about 7 or 8 in the morning and saw new brothers in a meeting, standing up and saying, “Who else cares? If so, speak up!” But nobody came to get me, though I must have been visible to some of them. Possibly it was older brother privileges.

When I was sitting here in the little kitchen area, Liz came by and asked me if I have been being humble lately, to which I said yes.

I thought this was interesting, because this was the first sister who was talking to me about this. It is now six days later. (It looked like she just wanted to get it over with, but at least she talked.) Her words: “I thought you promised never to do that again. It’s not wrong to have questions, but it’s the spirit you ask them in. Your spirit was weird. When you talk, you act like you know you are right. But you are not in control.”

I behaved appropriately meekly. I really didn’t want to reopen the case anyway and I suppose some of the meekness is genuine anyway. I also consider the sheer wall of evidence, force, power and people I would be up against anyway, and it is most pointless to try to fight. (Who said “fight” anyway? How about expressing your ideas? I guess not.)

What scares me most is the spirit talk. (Even though it may be an offer of a way out, though maybe not consciously on her part.)

[If I just agreed that an evil spirit was running me, or that the spirit I spoke in was wrong (in COBU teaching, spirit is closely related to attitude), and that my objections were just excuses to fight against submitting to the truth,and said I repented of it, they will let me go. This essentially was COBU’s defense against any legitimate criticism of the group (while at the same time, every member was under constant and relentless criticism from Stewart). “It’s not what you say, it’s the spirit you’re saying it in.” The objective content of what I said was not considered. They said I had a bad attitude and that was the one and the only issue. As far as saying the same things in a “right spirit,” if I had a right spirit, I would not be saying anything negative about the church, because I’d be accepting everything I was told to believe and do.]

Especially the part of: it is not you, it is some spirit and you are not in control. This is the most impersonalizing. My questions are not even mine. I am not in control. (I am just a pawn, a child, being used by some higher force and I know they are not saying that force is God, though they’re not quite exactly saying it’s the devil either. Maybe that would be too ridiculous. It’s better to say for them to say that I’m being run by “a spirit” or “a wrong spirit.” I suppose if they said, “You are of the devil” to someone, they’d have to get rid of that person. We are also more subtle than these other fundamentalists, who use devil talk. So perhaps they are saying I am a bad child who lets himself get caught up with the “wrong spirit.”

4:30 p.m.

Out going door to doolr above 57th Street. I sent one certain [new brother] Tracy back to the office, though it is questionable whether he will use the token I gave him, or go to the office.

I can’t really drag these ones around who don’t want to work, though maybe I was the one who gave him his cue when I told him might give him a token to go back and I am going to stay out a while. I want to stay out. It’s a nice April evening and also there is nothing going on at the office I want to be a part of. So why not just be out here putting flyers in doorways of large buildings?

I am doing some ruminating over my past in the fellowship, namely my entire history of going door to door to close jobs. In all, doing this has been one of the better times and memories I have of fellowship life. I should have been reading about sales and improving this ability.

6:30 p.m.

I continued to going door to door, but when I saw Central Park, I went in and have not come out for an hour now. I walked all the way up around the reservoir and am now sitting by the tennis courts. I was listening to classical music on my headphones. Saw quite a few different birds including one small thrush or warbler that kept avoiding me by flying ahead of me along a fence, so I followed it for quite a while.

Of course, I totally feel like I am cheating now. However, having found out when I called the office that I am working on a wood floor job tonight, this doesn’t seem right to say. Yet I wasn’t quite able to enjoy myself in the park, though I feel a little better sitting down. Maybe I feel as if I have to keep moving. Of course, you would say that it really is other causes, which if that is so, then this feeling doesn’t come from “cheating” by walking in the park anyway. So therefore I am not cheating by so doing. If I am cheating for other reasons, then flyering and sweeping weren’t going to cover it up either – except maybe in my own mind.

[Stewart Traill, the leader of our cult held long meetings with us where he accused us of “cheating on Christ,” or just, “cheating.” I had internalized this accusation and would often feel like I was cheating when I took time off from the church business.]

8 p.m.

A couple of new brothers, Avtar and Dion, were asking me questions from the Bible. (Avtar asked me, “What is a living sacrifice?” He said he wanted to ask me because he “knew I could clear it up.” I told Dion that the word for “offense” in Greek is “scandal.”)

I worry that somebody will overhear me and say I am “teaching” the new brothers. Yet I got some motivation from this, and I felt like I was being useful.

[“Teaching” was a COBU concept that went way back. When I first came to COBU, at meetings when various persons stood up and talk, Stewart would often tell them to sit back down because they were just “teaching.” In this case, I might have felt I was just blabbering Bible facts to the new brothers, but more so, that I was coming from my own ideas and independent reading of the Bible and was not imparting the program to the new brothers, such as Stewart’s teachings like the “U Point of View,” “The Five Approaches” and other formulaic oversimplifications (and sometimes distortions) of Christian doctrine that went under the general heading of “Christian Training.”]

Now I have the opportunity to go sweeping but am choosing to go back to Red Hook and take a shower. Of course, I’m thinking that if I felt so suddenly useful with new brothers, why not continue and go out sweeoubg with them? But, if it is teaching from the Bible, then why don’t I look for chances to do that.

Read the next part of the journals here: Dreams.


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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