1993, 03/08-9. The Hammer and the Anvil.
Monday March 8
It took a while after I walked away from the Red Hook warehouse to regain my mind. The morning meeting is really wearing, everything that goes on inside there. It was only after a while, as I was walking down the street that I started thinking this, about the need to air out (or was it the coffee?). The importance of being alone; I need to be sometimes. Like now, if there was a new brother with me, I would feel crowded out. I am now stopped in the back of some old buildings in Cobble Hill, in a courtyard with a small lawn. I am out flyering by myself.
A new brother named Wallace was talking to me about how he sees how we spend lots of money on dumpsters for garbage on job sites but that he has trouble getting a toothbrush and he only gets ten dollars allowance a week. Can I disagree with him? He says he feels like going out the door.
I was thinking how we are all guilty, our church is guilty, and that God must be angry. I can more easily see how I/we are in trouble for this than how I am in trouble for any personal sins, because on the one hand, my life is not supposed to amount to anything anyway, or I am not important.
Finishing soliciting. Feeling sick. Seeing the first cumulous clouds of the season. Generally it has been a nice day. The change of scenery was good. (I was in Brooklyn Heights.)
I am in a state of overwhelming turmoil and a confused state of mind. Things come in from all directions. A sword hangs over my head. This is not conducive to rational and constructive action!
Paul B. came into the wood floor closet last night (with Peter), talking about the conspiracy to make him flip out. He said I was part of the conspiracy because I moved the table saw he uses as a step to climb up to his bunk. I imagine that people know better, even when they say that, or that really other things are bothering them.
Evenings are a real waste, killing time unti it’s time to go out sweeping [gathering new converts]. Example: today, it was pretty good soliciting in Brooklyn until 5 or so. (Then I went to the library for my second visit today and got a little reading in.) But then it will be about 9:30 p.m. when I meet Greg B. at the Port Authority. I did get a long walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to 42nd and 5th, but really, I am mostly killing time until they are done eating at the Chinese restaurant. I could have parked myself in a library for a while. I plan on making greater use of the library in the future, by doing research on cults, mind control and brainwashing. And languages, business, law and maybe some practical things. Though I will admit that most or all of this has a vindictive twist. Maybe it’s something I will eventually get over, or maybe I will do this and other things. I want to inundate myself with this cult-related literature. I am in the midst of deciding what to do. I have not made up my mind. I have doubts. I would like to settle something. I would like to be fully informed and firmly convinced in my own mind about what I am doing. Too long have I lived on second hand faith, believing whatever I am told here. A second hand faith won’t support me in times of trial.
(Just now a bus stops in front of me with a poster of a big flame on its side. I thought, fire is good for a Christian. But maybe it’s a warning. As I was writing the above a voice seemed to be whispering in my ear, “Hell. You are going to hell.” But maybe this isn’t true. Maybe I should listen to something else besides voices. They are a danger sign of bad mental health!)
I read about a Jewish father who set about to disprove the Christian faith of his daughter by studying Christianity only to be converted himself. Maybe this will happen to me. I will read about cults until I’m sick of it, only to come to the conclusion that we are not a cult. That would be good. Too much of what I think is wrong here is echoed in these books, especially in the chapters which describe the social dynamics of cult life. The descriptions in these books about life in a cult seem to describe what it is like to live here. They talk about the very thing that bothers me about life here, as well as the infallibility, unaccountability and don’t you dare disagree with the leader. The cult members themselves know very little about the Bible, come from troubled backgrounds.
It scares me that Stewart says that we don’t understand the Bible. I think this may be a set up for us to accept whatever he says is the right answer. He is first softening up our defenses, getting us to mistrust our views so they will fall away. (Like a pre-landing bombardment.) He is creating a tension and a subsequent expectation within us. We are Christians, how can we face that we don’t understand the Bible? This can’t be. Now that Stewart has set up this tension, we are longing for relief from this condition. He may then announce that he has the answer. Everybody will go for it. He may not directly say he has the last word, but he may start out with, “The best I can say is this… so we will go with it.” None of us would dare trust our own views or even think we have the capacity to come up with any answers on our own. We won’t search too hard, even though Stewart tells us to read the original Greek version. We will be waiting for and trusting his answer. He is the one who lead us into this tension anyway. It may be the jaws of a trap. Of course, if he is leading us into this, then he has something planned for us further down the line.
More thoughts about the hammer and the anvil: the anvil is a flat surface, the ground I am standing on. I live in a community, therefore I am under complete control and can be controlled by the removal of privileges, or be threatened with being thrown out. I am a dependent. Plus maybe I have the need to look to Stewart for answers and as the sole determiner of our reality. I am crushed against this flat surface when Stewart’s hammer comes down. So, I have the sense of getting it in two ways or from two directions.
Or, like a fly on the wall, who is smashed against the flat surface by the fly swatter. If the fly was in the open air, he could avoid getting crushed by flying away from the oncoming swatter. But since he is on the wall, he can’t and is smashed against it. If he flies sideways, he can occasionally avoid the swatter, but it is a big swatter and also quick. He can’t avoid it all the time. I can avoid a meeting or keep quiet, but, sooner or later, Stewart is going to get me. This is a horrible way to live.
Again, if the fly is hit by the swatter in the open air instead of against the wall, he still has open space to be pushed into, which is a cushion or buffer. For example, if I lived outside of the church, maybe this wouldn’t affect me so much. But this is like the tightening of a vice grip. I feel like I am being squeezed out. The more I wriggle or cry out, the harder I get it.
I am living underground now, totally under wraps. I wouldn’t dare say a word. I have really learned my place, but I don’t like it. I know the score all too well.
I am wondering how much longer I am going to be able to go on living like this.
There is more I could write. Probably the only ones that will make it here (and also get married) are the ones who do what Bob M. is doing, full time and forever. [Those who are acting like Bob is right now, out front, scared of hell and fighting desperately for their lives, every moment.] The rest will be social rejects, although they will be allowed to work for the church, as they go on to old age, crumbling, decaying away, twisted and weird from not being able to have normal man-woman relationships.
But Bob M., or anyone who does what he is doing, is subject to the possibility of Stewart instantly sacking them at any time, for any fault. It is a precarious position, to be maintained only by constant effort. I don’t see how I could do it. Maybe if I had a new nature.
[Maybe if I were renewed inwardly by God – as described in the terms and conditions of Stewart’s teachings, then I would be able to live screaming, totally scared out of my mind about being thrown into hell, every second, never, ever slacking off for a moment. Stewart described this state of urgency as a prerequist to our receiving salvation. He said that, although we could not save ourselves and that only Jesus could save us, if we were not scared in this way first, we would never take our salvation seriously enough, or desire it enough to be able to have it.]
I am now at Woodruff. It’s going to be a long night, I can tell. I also just found out that I have to meet Jim O. at 9 tomorrow morning to go to a job, which, though I don’t mind working a little for a change, greatly compresses available sleep time, which causes anxiety. So I’m glad I slept extra last night. Obviously this is valuable and I should take the opportunity for sleep whenever I can get it. I tried to eat well today also, so my resistance won’t be down if possible.
(Today, I was adding up the similarities between us and what I know of communist brainwashing techniques: 1) sleep deprivation, 2) poor diet, 3) completely surrounded and cut off from outside influence, 4) kept busy all the time, 5) only living with others who talk the same stuff all the time, 6) constantly bombarded by ideology. That’s quite a lot.)
I am worried that I will just give up and go over the cliff and be willing to follow the leader (not that I am not already). I have noticed sometimes that I wish I could be in another situation like 810 [a similar time period in the church when we were under duress and constant pressure] and corralled and kept on the move all the time with no time for anything. I noticed myself longing for that, as if I were hoping it would straighten me out or give me a sense of accomplishment. Or maybe it was a rigid system that I could look for ways to get over on.
I notice that false cheeriness, with brothers acting like they are really motivated and glad to meet together, even though they stand around and just look at each other. Joe S. was acting with over-animated gladness. It’s all phony. I don’t think they are saying what they really think, which might be something like: I wish I wasn’t here, or, this will be a late meeting that goes until 3 in the morning, or, Stewart is really going to give it to us no matter what we do, or, where is all this going to lead to anyway?
We can’t keep doing this forever. This is just a bunch of games and treading water and acting like we are really busy and doing something. Sooner or later, the bottom has to drop out! I can sense it already! The older brothers sit and look at each other like a bunch of wallflowers, mumbling things. Being quiet and also quietly apprehensive (Apprehension has to do with the future. Obviously, Stewart is going to audit this whole thing later, when he gets back from Haiti.) Besides, we know it’s all phony and that we are not really doing anything useful here. We just come to Woodruff and fill out the time, coming here because we are supposed to be here and will probably get in trouble if we have not shown up enough times. Also, we can’t fool ourselves, we know this is all senseless and pointless. But nobody will say anything. We were given an order anyway. I get the impression we were supposed to be here, so we are.
[We could just as easily serve Christ by doing something else in the church, instead of coming to Woodruff every night and staying up until 3 in the morning and going to work in the morning without much rest.]
Well, I will go down to the meeting now.
You can read the next section of this journal here: This Present Drudgery.