1993, 04/26-27. Stewart Doesn’t Really Talk to Us About Jesus.

This came as an amazing realization to me. Despite the fact that Stewart Traill, the leader of our cult, claimed to have special revelation and assured understanding, and that we lived in what might be called an intensive Christian Training Boot Camp, Stewart did not not talk to us about Jesus.  He mentioned Jesus as someone who was going to judge and punish us, and as someone for whom we were giving up our lives in this world for, but Stewart never talked ABOUT Jesus, or gave examples of his life from the four Gospels.

Later, in my last month there, when Stewart asked everyone what they thought we should get into during a session at a meeting, I said we should read the Bible together because, “We are the Church of Bible Understanding, but we do not read the Bible at our meetings.”  This idea, of course, was not taken up on.  (You can see in these pages where I wrote about the meetings, that we did not read the Bible when we met together.)

Monday, April 26

2:00 a.m. A late night revelation (God seems to be telling me to write it down). Stewart doesn’t really talk to us about Jesus! He just talks to us about processes. Yes, he mentions Jesus’s name, sometimes he uses Jesus as a bogeyman as well. (“What are you going to say to Jesus when you die?”) But you would never hear Stewart preach a sermon about Jesus – about his birth, the prophecies about him, his life, his work, and also not his death or even the resurrection really!

Could this be part of God waking me up, showing me? (If so, I will have to follow step, and not just bust out of here, or try to figure it out on my own. If it’s really God showing me, won’t he show me the way out?)

These are the thoughts I often try to suppress, nasty, sticky thoughts that can get me in a lot of trouble – even if I don’t tell anybody about them. Just what they can do to me is enough. What will happen if I decide to believe this is true? What’s next?

8 p.m.

I came in with Paul to work on the floors at Hermes, but the job canceled when we arrived there. We went to the Galaxy Diner. I was actually able to relax over coffee, reading my Greek Bible.

I got into an altercation with Paul about the church business and how to improve it. Me: “Communism doesn’t work.” Paul: “It’s in the Bible.” Me: “A lot of people say that.” (In other words, a lot of people say that their way of life is right and is the same as how the Christians in the the first church lived.) Me: “The Puritans didn’t live this way.” Paul: “So what?”

This is the kind of stuff that could get me in trouble, or so I fear.


I had a dream. Some guy (whether it was supposed to be me, I don’t know) was in a car and he realized he was going to get shot. A man was pointing a gun at him through the car window. He kept saying, “I don’t want to die.”

I prayed after this. I seemed to be comforted. This is the kind of thing that scares me, because I often hear a voice that says “A gun to your head.” [Essentially this meant that God was going to kill me for having all these thoughts that were against Stewart and the cult.]

Tuesday, April 27

I read Tom White’s book Missiles Over Cuba and heard a tape by him last night. [Tom White was with The Voice of the Martyrs ministry. He was imprisoned in Cuba for a time for distributing Christian literature there.] On the subway platform this morning, I started to get upset thinking about how I don’t make money or have my own place to live. I was thinking about my future, and what to do if anything happens. A verse came to mind, “A house in the heavens made without hands.” I took or tried to take that as God’s will to me (as Tom White would do). When I was walking in with Paul, he was telling me about another Cuban prison book he was reading.

4:17 p.m.

I am now in the library at 43rd Street. It’s a good place to duck into for a few minutes. It’s quiet, which helps to be able to think. (It also provides, though it may seem cynical to say, freedom from being worked over, or the possibility of it.) Here, I am free to read, write – even to draw. I must make more use of such places. I just happened to come by here because I wanted a few minutes to look at a train before loading equipment for a job – then I remembered this place.

I would have left before, but I thought of Girard. I thought about “seeking the good” of the new brothers, or not caring. Thought I would “help” Girard read a little, but he said he was tired. Sometimes I wonder about my “good” works. It would probably have been better to just walk down the street as I had planned at first, maybe God rewarded me by making me remember this place. I’m sure going to remember to use it. I need secret hiding places like this. Too bad I can’t tell anybody. I mean, I can but it potentially invites suspicion. It seems everything I want to do, I have to do in secret.

4:30 p.m.

Just dropped Jim O. at a job. It looks like I will not be needed there. Now sitting in the van, taking another of my get away breaks, sitting in a relaxed position in the seat, listening to National Public Radio and writing this.

I really do need to get away. I often feel like I’m being slowly choked. (This is a nice street, with sycamore trees leaning in over the street.) I was standing outside Red Hook last night in the wind and drizzle, enjoying the feeling of being outside.

The same stuff is going on. While loading up the equipment outside, I can see an ocean liner in the harbor. A new brother says they are looking at the boat at the end of the street. Jim O. told them, “This is just something in this life. You’re looking at your little boat.” This gets oppressive, though I’m sure the new brothers didn’t know what was going on. And it is true that I may blow it out of proportion – but it does go on.

Now back at the parking spot. I am starting to go nuclear. Not that it is a big explosion, but it is certainly there. I’m thinking about everything from how I can’t have sex to looking at the way we live and comparing it to how Stewart acts and lives. This generally consists of imagining answering questionnaires and of thinking of imaginary situations in which I am in a meeting and get cornered by Stewart.

[The way these thoughts were coming to me was like an imaginary questionnaire that I was answering. So what do you think about…?]

And I wonder if the issues that come up during these imaginations aren’t real issues. Maybe because I am not dealing with them consciously, they resurface and announce themselves in this way. (The right thing to say would be that these are my thoughts and we are not supposed to get into our own thoughts.)

I was talking to Paul yesterday, “slipping” a little bit, but I realize I can’t talk to anybody about anything concerning myself, because it all comes down to either being considered a crime or diagnosed as something that indicates mental illness. If a person wishes to speak about himself, he must speak by using the proper phrases, with the proper conclusions (which are the conclusions assigned to these phrases).

I saw Bob M. trying to talk to some brothers about how he is wound up. He was quickly admonished with the proper clichés about not getting into his own thoughts and with the other latest party lines about faith. But, what if somebody has something they want or need to talk about?

Why is Bob wound up? We are supposed to rely on Jesus and not on ourselves, there is no need to prove anything to anybody. These are our teachings. So why would he be wound up? The proper answers are, Bob is wound up because he’s relying on himself, etc. But I think the real reason is these judgment meetings we have with Stewart where the courtroom is set in motion and our record is rolled out. It gets very tense in these social control meetings. Who wouldn’t be wound up in such a meeting? Or because they’re anticipating another meeting in the near future? Stewart gives us a mixed message. Rely on God. Don’t get into thinking about your problems. You have no need to prove anything to anyone. Then, at the Sunday meeting, there is a big judgment where we get into everybody (and not into Jesus) and everything is gone over with a fine-toothed comb and everyone is put through the wringer where the message Stewart gives us then is yes, you do have to prove something.

I may be wrong, but I think we are really being fooled. I am thinking about how Stewart has no accountability to anyone. I’m waiting for some meeting where Stewart crushes me like a cockroach and I’m completely defenseless because any defense is considered to be arrogance and fighting. But I wonder what I’m doing to myself by being a docile doormat and licking his boots.

This is something that may never happen, but I live in perpetual dread of it and I think everybody else does too. The more anyone struggles, the tighter Stewart ties the noose on them, since somehow struggling is showing that they are a wrongdoer. The only acceptable “way” is to take it like a good slave, and to agree to it all. Whatever Stewart says you are, you are. Everybody else in the room completely in on it – if only so maybe they won’t get theirs next. It’s a horrible life really, the idea that you can’t say one thing against this. How does a man get to be God?

So much for my secret thoughts. I have decided to destroy all uncoded written material and probably all taped material in case anybody ever finds any of it. Too bad I have to live that way. I am not free to think or express my own thoughts or immediate troubles. I can’t handle the pressure that is brought to bear on me, such as I received two weeks ago.

[I shredded all my journals that were written in plain English. These journals survive because they were written in a code that I developed that was unreadable to anyone except me, because I invented the code.]

Also, I notice that Paul slips once in a while, and says something critical of Stewart. He was talking about 810 [an earlier era in the church, where a lot of wrong things went on], saying that either Stewart knew what was going on (which would be weird if he knew about it and allowed it) or he didn’t know what was going on. “He must have been pretty out of it,” Paul said.

I was going to pile into the Number 50 van with a bunch of brothers to go to Woodruff to have meetings according to older, middle, and new brothers, but the van was so packed that just Bob M. drove there with all the new brothers. So I hitched a ride with Paul to Tramps [a restaurant, which was this night’s jobsite], where I did mostly nothing for about three or four hours. Some of us played around on musical instruments, which was a form of release for me in some ways. I wish we could do something like this a little more regularly. Paul is listening to his 2 meter radio. He can hear astronauts on it. For a while they were discussing a malfunctioning toilet.

Read the next section of the journals here: Christians Don’t Take Vacations.


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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