1993, 03/02-3. Believing a False Gospel. And Being Betrayed By My Friends.
Tuesday March 2
Today is a rough day. I was walking down the street, trying to figure how I was going to get out of this state of mind – by mental tricks, decisions, listening to music maybe. In the phone booth, there was graffitti with a cross symbol and the words “Die for Your God.” There were also two tracts, 1) Mary’s Command for Catholics, 2) Have You Believed Another Gospel? (this one had a drawing of a snake in a pulpit). This one caused me to do some thinking, both because of the picture, which I relate to Brother Stewart and also because of the content. My life adds up to believing another gospel, although the source, whether from me or otherwise, is uncertain to me. I thought however, if thoughts come to mind about Stewart, such as “he is a liar,” and that “if I disagree with him, he is going to put a gun to my head,” obviously something is wrong. It is an indicator or a barometer, even if I am not supposed to say so.
There is more to say. But I need to get to work.
I know the conclusions I want to draw, but I can’t quite put it together in my thoughts.
I recently read about a Jewish man who really searched the scriptures. It was an extensive search, maybe a year. He was open about his disbelief. He had a list of the goals he had in mind while searching the Bible. He wasn’t afraid to try free inquiry. (Though his conclusion was a complete turn around, but, at least he found out for himself. He was convinced, not imposed upon or ordered to believe something.)
[This was a story in a book published by the Jews for Jesus organization, which was about Jews who came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, describing their various pathways to this belief. This man set out to disprove that Jesus was the Messiah through comprehensive study of the Old and New Testaments, but instead, arrived at a belief in Jesus as Messiah through this process. I was comparing his story to my own. I needed to study the scriptures to find out what I believed, and to not accept it second hand, and as enforced, by Stewart Traill. I began to suspect that Stewart was teaching “another gospel,” that is, a gospel other than the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The use of the phrase “another gospel” comes from Galatians chapter 1, verses 6-9, in which Paul the Apostle used some strong language about those who preach a false gospel:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel — not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”]
Maybe I just need to find out some things for myself, about the Bible and the true Gospel, and about the person who claims he is telling me what those things are.
Wednesday March 3
This morning, we all made groups. I had a pleasant dream last night about flying and floating down the streets in my hometown. I was singing. I saw the house I grew up in. I suppose that this place was the center of happiness that I had in this life.
Stewarat says we are supposed to take our share of suffering, but I can’t take what goes on inside my head. I could use a break; something peaceful, something good.
I’m on the way to Woodruff to get a van. I gave up on the idea of trying to get sleep (because I couldn’t really sleep, because of the flak I figured I’d get). In these situations, it’s better just to do the “right” thing, to keep my mouth shut, and to work something I want to do into the day. In this case, I will try to walk through Prospect Park by getting out of the subway a stop early and then walk through the park to get to Woodruff.
I feel good today. I am supposed to be in anguish over sin. Not that I am not, but this never seems to lead anywhere. So once in a while, I actually have a carefree, good feeling, which I think I could use more of.
It seems as if those of us in Red Hook are going to be drawn back into working at Woodruff. I was walking through the park, thinking about how I must be completely free to pursue a line of endeavor (work or hobby) in order to succeed in it. If I want to learn Spanish well by listening to Spanish radio for six hours a day, then I should. (In fact, my radio with headphones may be the only freedom I will soon be able to have if I am encumbered with group life.) I must be free to pursue enquiry.
Just a minute ago, in the middle of writing this (I am driving the van now) I began looking at a woman on the street. These hobbies and interests I want to incorporate or re-incorporate into my life obviously are not going to save me from what is plaguing me. Just when I think I am feeling good or when I think about something pleasant I want to do, something like this comes along and I find myself acting a certain way. As the Apostle Paul said, “When I want to do good, evil lies close at hand. If I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin which dwells in me.” Do I really want to be this way? No, I don’t think so, or I wouldn’t spend so much time trying to convince myself that I am not this way, or trying to act as if it were not such a big problem or even trying to hope it’s going to go away somehow.
I am now getting worked over by Kevin [Kevin was managing the church’s construction businesses] about being lazy and about why I am doing this job. He is saying that “all my cohorts” say I am lazy, that I take it easy when I am alone, that Paul has had it with me.
My first inclination is to fight Kevin on everything he says. He attacks me without asking or trying to find out. I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t do this job! I would probably be hearing it from Kevin anyway.
Ultimately, I wonder what kind of trouble I am going to get in over this. Will it lead up to me getting fired? Or worse, will I be reported in the messages to Stewart today?
Also, I have watch out “who my friends are.” If Paul and Peter are saying this about me, what else do they say? Will they suddenly dump it all out on me? Peter, who says a lot of things about the church himself, will suddenly fess up on me. He will fly right and try to show he is coming clean by ratting on me, but then keep going on with his own stuff. Was it good for me to talk with Peter about our thoughts about the church and Stewart yesterday? Will my every word be used against me, in the name of the truth?
So, somehow my troubles keep mounting. It’s not like I’m not used to trouble. The idea I have is that once I stop worrying, then I will let my guard down and something will catch me off guard. So I must remain in a constant state of worry about what will happen next, and though most of it never happens, like getting thrown out, my worries continue because it hasn’t happened yet.
So, I wonder if there will be a complete dump on me. Everything will come out at some brothers’ meeting. Or worse, it will take place when Brother Stewart is there. “What about those little notebooks you write in?” “What about what you said to Peter about this or that?” “What about that day you blew up and said Stewart is a jerk?” All recorded, all stored up, ready for some situation where something will trigger all these memories on the part of others who were there when I did them. From the people I see every day (Paul and Peter and a few others) who talk so nicely to me and who confide all their off-color thoughts about life here with me and treat me just fine all the time.
Suddenly, they will be divulging all my secrets at some meeting. How am I going to defend myself against it, seeing that these are my own close associates who talk with me all the time? You know, the same ones I joke with about how everything and everyone here is so ridiculous. The ones who encourage me to go on talking about these things, even tolerating most of the things I say about how strange Stewart is, Paul only breaking it off when I get to certain extremes. What bothers me is how all my thoughts were being silently recorded or almost approved of. Maybe I was a good source of entertainment for Paul. But when the going gets tough, maybe Paul will have to dump me in order to save himself.
There could be an inquisitional meeting in which we are brought up to confess against ourselves, in our little cell. Pete would get off easy, because he is half insane. And Paul, well, he hasn’t said the things I have and he isn’t as lazy. But I would be the perfect scapegoat. It would be easy to nail it all on me. There would be no way I could fight. (Fighting would just make it all the worse). Everybody would agree with it; everybody would feel better about themselves. I wonder what is going to happen. If something like this comes my way, I will probably try to deflect it as much as possible.
There is a good chance now that I will not do this job tonight anyway. Paul says he doesn’t want to miss the brothers’ meeting. I think he really does, but he is saying the right thing. He will act as if he really wants to go to the meeting, but something came up, so unfortunately, he has to take care of it instead and he may even kick a little blame in for me to boot. Of course, if I don’t have to do this job, then this means I will end up in the brothers’ meeting. But really, I am weary of wood floor work and don’t really want to do the job, even if I have to go to this meeting.
Now I want to say to Paul (I am working with him on his job now), “Hey, everybody is working me over, all these bad guys are getting on my case.” But, he is one of the ones telling them I am lazy.
You can read the next section of this journal here: Building A Better Mousetrap. Complicated Solutions For Simple Problems.