1993, 04/18. Dreams.
Tonight I will be working on the wood floors at the China Grill restaurant. I’m working in the wood floors business at the present time. It’s “all quiet on the western front” as far as anybody saying anything to me. Quite frankly, I am trying, or hoping to avoid the meeting in Philadelphia this Sunday. I’m hoping that the wood floor job will provide the grounds for it, whether that I will be too tired to drive to the meeting, or I will be selected as a guard. Or that we will be still working at the time when I would normally be at the meeting. I am not looking forward to being at a meeting so soon afterward (and especially an “away game”). In fact, wrong as it may be with regard to “why weren’t you fully there?” [This was a dream I had, the words spoken to me by an angry Jesus before he cast me into the outer darkness.] I will be looking to avoid meetings in the near future as much as possible. And, anyway, if I do “miss out” on this meeting, couldn’t God be doing this on my behalf? That is, helping me to avoid such calamities? How many times can I think of when I missed a meeting and heard about how bad it was it later, or was laying down sick in the vestibule, when I heard my name being mentioned in the meeting room.
It is approaching noon. I slept a good while here at 46th Street. It was a long job. This weekend on PLJ it was a 70’s and 80’s weekend, so I was hoping to hear some of my old favorite songs in order to evoke some memories. Though there are certainly some big doubts on my part whether this is permissible. In fact, while listening to a favorite Chicago song in the van, a bum interrupted me right at the end of the song. Perhaps God himself wanted to end my reverie. Though I can’t see what is wrong with it, although I can give the reasons it is supposed to be wrong, such as “no looking back,” “I am about to die any second,” etc. So, does being able to give these reasons equal knowing it is wrong to do? I never truly get satisfaction out of listening to this music because I have to break through such barriers as these [COBU teachings forbidding listening to “worldly music”]. Then if I do push past these barriers or manage to tell myself I do, I am still always very circumspect.
What I like about listening to this music is that it enables me, however fleetingly, to step out of this oppressive milieu, taking a step sideways as I always put it, and I always wondered why we can’t take time out to remember our past life. Life is a constant succession of jobs, inward and outward pressures, some of which are real and I suppose are there to induce us to repentance. Others in my estimation are quite unreal.
Anyway, I enjoy hearing songs from the 70’s. It’s like going back to a “simpler time.” Life (here) seems to have to be lived in the intense present moment. When I consider the brothers working in the business, the meetings, the kind of life and activity this sisters have in the office, that is their life all the time. (“24 /7” as it is said.) There has got to be more to life than that. It is easy to poke holes through the above “plea,” easy to say, “And you think looking back and hearing old songs is having more to life?” I guess “knowing too much” ruins whatever pleasures one could have in his own life.
Maybe I am a real renegade. For example: while praying in the van yesterday with Skylar and Jim O., I heard Skylar pray to Jesus to help him take up his share of suffering. (These prayers always sound so narrow, of course mine is not.) I thought, why always “suffering?” I asked Jesus if possible, why can’t I have some good things in my life that I might enjoy. Why can’t I ask for and receive some pleasures? (Will pleasures and enjoyments keep my mind off suffering and make me soft and keep my thoughts off imminent hell?)
Is it really right to live under this form of extreme duress, depravity and deprivation? The sisters have it best as far as that onerous term “living conditions” goes, and really it isn’t good. I will not even mention how the brothers live. (I overheard Rocky talk about somebody he invited to come here. The person’s reply was, “You think I’m going to come and live there and be a robot like all of you?”
You can’t really blame this person’s response. Our way would be to tell him it is not all that bad. Also to play heavily on how he can’t have Christ if he doesn’t live this way. If that were the absolute truth, sure, it wouldn’t be such a bad trade off, because it would be better than going to hell. But somehow I don’t think God relies on our way in order to save people. If God is into saving people, I don’t think he would want to burn them off so quickly. People take one look at us and they say “forget it.”
If this really is the true way, we are not doing much to help people understand it, we’re not softening the impact. Maybe it’s the only way for us, but I’m not sure if I want to drag anybody else into the net. You couldn’t do it to them if they have their eyes open. (Though one could argue in the larger sense that if they had their eyes open to what is coming, they would do this or anything in order to not go to hell.) I guess that is our trump card: live like this or go to hell. As I have said, it certainly works on us, those who are already here. I have never seen anybody successfully fight against it.
I heard that Stewart mentioned Kathryn during a Bible study on John 15, verse 6.
[John 15: 6, “If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.” This is COBU teaching in no uncertain terms. If any one leaves there, they have left the way, the true vine. They are separated from Jesus the true vine like branches which have been cut off and these branches are gathered and thrown into the fire – into hell. If pressed, Stewart would deny this, but make the statement, that one has already left the true vine, while still here, and that leaving the church was merely an outward manifestation that fact. In any case, no one ever had a legitimate reason to leave COBU. ]
Sometimes I really wonder if that is the truth about everybody who leaves here. (It is clear to me that many leave here for sin.)
Of course, these are all my comments. I feel as if I am writing something that is halfway between an editorial, propaganda and a plea. Maybe I should just record events such as, “Rocky said that…” and “Stewart said about Kathryn…” But even this would show a certain selectivity. Why would I be choosing these things and not other events, since I wouldn’t recording them all.
I had some interesting dreams. One was like a movie. It traced the growth of a Jewish family. It started with seeing a Victorian era photograph of the family. The photograph slowly changed from black and white, into living color. About the turn of the century, a young man wanted to leave home and go to New York City to do business. He said to his father that there is so much opportunity in New York that it is almost like heaven. His father replied, “Son, don’t go. New York is hell.”
In the next scene, I’m blinded by the intense glare of white light. I am looking down from the ceiling at an old man laying in a bed with metal railings on the side of it. I’m thinking, who is that? Is that me?
I saw the old man climbing out of bed. (It is now the 1970s. It is the same man who left his family to go to New York, only older.) It takes him effort because he is crippled. He crawls down the stairs, but halfway down he falls and drops what he was carrying in the hall. His granddaughter walks out of a room and scolds him for waking the baby, who is sick. “Look what you have done!” she says. The only thing the old man can do is hang his head and look sullen as he sits on the floor in the hallway. The reason he had come down is because he heard the baby and wanted to see it. (He is regarded as a nuisance in his own house now, even though he was the man who built a fortune and provided all of this for his family, children and grandchildren.)
Next the granddaughter wants to take pictures of her baby. As she is taking pictures (with her back turned toward the old man), the grandfather is laying on his side in the hallway and begins to clown and make faces at the baby and the baby smiles and laughs. The mother does not realize this why the child is laughing, because her back is turned to him. (He is not left out. He is still part of the family. He felt bad at being scolded, but was not about to just go away. Although it wasn’t a defiant gesture, he is doing this now to prove that fact.)
This man was supposed to be me. At different points in the dream, I was him or at least I was inside him and able to experience this.
The dream had that aura that I have had in other dreams that seem to be saying, “this is your life.” But the conclusion seems ambivalent to me.
In another dream, Stewart was talking to us, saying that if we aren’t faithful here, we are not going to be able to do it in another church either. He said, “You do that behavior there, they will just throw you right out.” He talked about hypocrites, and he made Joe S. talk about what the final result of being a hypocrite is. Joe wouldn’t say it. He was supposed to say “hell,” but stopped short at saying, “They throw you out.” Stewart said, “If you think they will throw you out, God will do something worse.” Then he introduced the Greek word kataluthenai. (I don’t know whether it is a real Greek word or not, but meant being thrust down.)
Out soliciting with Bob D. and three new brothers on First Avenue. Going pretty easy now, reading the Bible in Tal Bagels. Bob just walked into the Perigord Restaurant (I told him to go over there) and closed it for this Friday. I hadn’t wanted to walk in because I didn’t want to run in to Georges, the owner, and answer why I have not called or followed up from last time.
At the office. I overheard Paul say (he was reading Stewart’s comments from the meeting last Sunday) that Martin Luther was short on loving one another. Paul was saying that Jesus is showing Stewart things that Martin Luther didn’t even know. (Whether Stewart directly said this at the meeting or whether it was Paul’s inference, I don’t know.) Then he explained about how God used Martin Luther and showed him a lot of things.
When I hear these kinds of things, it causes a certain reaction within me: “That sounds preposterous.” But it does help that I have read other Christians’ books, in this case, Rheinhold Neibuhr’s criticism of Martin Luther and the Reformation. The idea is that nothing is sacred (among men) and can have holes poked in it, at least in certain areas. I need to keep reading. I need to be widely read in Christian literature.
Came back from a long walk with the new brothers and Bob D. around 9th Avenue and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Walk is an adequate description, because that is just about all I am doing. The only good thing has been reading the Greek Bible, which I read while sitting in the Chinese restaurant. Now I am about to go to Woodruff, really only because I have to go by there to get a ride to Red Hook. Shame on me, I guess.
[I was not going there to help the new brothers, but only because that is where I can get a van to Red Hook.]
Peter, Paul and I are still at Woodruff. We were upstairs reading the Bible together until word came that somebody should go to the hospital. (Which now that I see him seems questionable to me. They said he has chest pains but that according to him, get gets treatment for this)
I feel like a third wheel here. Rocky had mentioned to me and Peter “no ghosting around.” I was trying to get ahold of an interlinear Greek Bible, because someone who had been at the meeting told me that Stewart said that in Romans 10:9, in the original Greek, the word salvation is not even used. (I found out that it is.) So now the question remains, maybe Stewart was alluding to a different verb tense, a continuing sense and not a past tense, which also was mentioned to me.
[This means that Stewart claimed that the Apostle Paul wrote “you are being saved,” instead of “you have been saved.” (As most Christians might believe.) This is dealt elsewhere in my journals. Stewart wanted to prove from the Greek New Testament that we have not been saved, but are being saved, by trying to manipulate the meanings of the verb tenses. The ultimate goal being, we cannot rest on the finished work of Christ, because we’d love to, because that would allow us to relax, take advantage and cheat. We are being saved would mean that the process is not complete and we cannot relax now. We did not have “salvation in our back pocket” as Stewart accused us of wanting to believe. He said that the only reason we’d want to believe “we have been saved” was so that we could cheat, instead of strive toward salvation every second, in hope that perhaps (a heavy emphasis on perhaps) we might be saved.]
Read the next section of the journals here: The Church Business Takes Up Most Of Our Waking Hours.