Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Abuse—Is there a problem?

News reports claim that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the official name for the organization that governs the Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, has been engaged in covering up child abuse within the religion on a massive scale.

But are these reports justified? Is this a case of an innocent religion being unfairly maligned because of the actions of one or two bad apples in their ranks? How many victims are there? Do the Governing Body know about these issues? What’s really going in the multiple courtroom cases that Watchtower has been fighting across the world?

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Abuse—Is there a problem?  is a painstakingly researched documentary that draws together evidence from sources spanning the past twenty five years…

Continue reading “Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Abuse—Is there a problem?”

Hyperthymic Novelty—On Generosity: An Enhancement

Angela Mari

“What will happen to life when science identifies the genetic basis of happiness? Who will own the patent? Do we dare revise our own temperaments?…”

I once met a physics teacher who immediately recognized me as the main character in the play he was nearly finished writing.

“Absolutely EVERYTHING I remember is realLithium just added a layer of fantasy on it (which I could perceive even at the time).”

Born to Be Happy

After reading an article “Born to Be Happy“, I found myself emailing Hagop Akiskal, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the International Mood Center at the University of California at San Diego whose “work on dysthymia, cyclothymia and hyperthymia challenged the concept of personality disorders, led to the development of a new instrument (Temperament Evaluation of Memphis, Pisa, Paris and San Diego (TEMPS-A)), thereby contributing to the worldwide renaissance of the temperament field.”

“Information may travel at light speed, but meaning spreads at the speed of dark.”

But being told that I was “hard wired for happiness” seemed a bit over simplified and “hard wired” seemed an insult to this interaction-designer-wannabe-cognitive scientist studying neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.

On “Rewiring the Real

“Digital and electronic technologies that act as extensions of our bodies and minds are changing how we live, think, act, and write. Some welcome these developments as bringing humans closer to unified consciousness and eternal life. Others worry that invasive globalized technologies threaten to destroy the self and the world. Whether feared or desired, these innovations provoke emotions that have long fueled the religious imagination, suggesting the presence of a latent spirituality in an era mistakenly deemed secular and post-human.”

Continue reading “Hyperthymic Novelty—On Generosity: An Enhancement”

Child Checks Victoria on Children Check

A child in Victoria, Australia pooled his pocket money together with three other buddies in order to pay $69.70 to launch a private criminal prosecution against the Jehovah’s Witnesses of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in February.

The Victorian and Civil Administrative Tribunal heard a religious vilification complaint against the Watchtower by Mr. Unthank in May, after the Watchtower said people who left the Watchtower, as he had, were ”mentally diseased”. Continue reading “Child Checks Victoria on Children Check”

This Was Water

My momma has drunk water in years, and David Foster Wallace died of suicide.

There were these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says,

“Morning, boys, how’s the water?”

And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes,

“What the hell is water?”

“The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance…”

Continue reading “This Was Water”

Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time

Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time, Carissa Phelps
Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time, Carissa Phelps

An astonishing story of triumph and a fierce determination to give back.

Carissa Phelps was a runner. By twelve, she had run away from home, dropped out of school, and fled blindly into the arms of a brutal pimp, who made her walk the hard streets of central California. But even when she escaped him, she could not outrun the crushing inner pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. With little to hope for, she expected to end up in prison, or worse.

But then her life was transformed through the unexpected kindness of a teacher and a counselor. Miraculously, by the time Carissa turned thirty, she had accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She had left the streets behind, yet her path would eventually draw her back, this time working to help homeless and at-risk youth find their own paths to a better life.

This is Carissa’s story, the tale of a girl who lost herself and survived, against all odds, through the generosity of strangers. It is an inspiring true story about finding the courage to run toward healing and summoning the strength to light the way for others.

Author Carissa Phelps Shares Her Story of Perseverance

http://youtu.be/nYhtAWPgOt8 Continue reading “Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time”

Christian = Love

America's Most Wanted Pedophile former Watchtower's Jehovah's Witness Frederick McLean
America’s Most Wanted Pedophile former Watchtower’s Jehovah’s Witness Frederick McLean

A Pedophile’s Paradise Fredrick McLean, a former member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, is wanted for sexual assaults on multiple children entrusted to his care over a 20 year period.

Frederick McLean, 57, was charged in San Diego Superior Court in January of 2005 of four counts of child molestation and one count of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14. Investigations into the assaults found that McLean lures his victims into trusting him, and then uses that trust to molest and manipulate his victims. Investigators have identi ed numerous victims and believe McLean may be seeking new victims. McLean has been described as being very intelligent and methodical; planning everything he does to the smallest detail. He may have over $100,000 in cash at his disposal. McLean may have changed his appearance to aid in his  ight from justice. Investigators say McLean is considered armed and dangerous.

Is Frederick McLean hiding in your spiritual paradise?
Continue reading “Christian = Love”

My Life in Jehovah’s Spirit-Directed Organization

“…Later, at the suggestion of a friend of the family and with the approval of the school principal, the parents decided to put the youth in a clinic for the mentally ill, thinking that psychiatric treatment would make him abandon his faith.

The clinic personnel took the boy 60 miles [100 km] away in a car and injected him with huge doses of insulin and other drugs until he lost consciousness.

Upon awakening, he was completely disoriented, did not know anyone, and suffered partial amnesia. After many studies the doctors could not find any mental disorder in him. But the clinic went ahead with the treatment.

When conscious, the boy prayed continually to Jehovah not to abandon him and begged him for the strength to endure. Jehovah did protect him, and eventually he was released from the clinic.” — Watchtower March 1, 1992

Jehovah’s Spirit-Directed Organization

Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?

The phrase “spirit directed” occurs as many time in the scriptures as the phrase holy spirit-directed organization” occurs in the Watchtower’s literature—not once.

While the Watchtower never claims to be a “holy spirit directed organization” the literature shows 23 references to their being a “spirit-directed organization”, and the references to “God’s spirit-directed organization” are only found in the baptismal candidate questions (quoted above) used as of the 1980’s.

“Only if the individual answers in the affirmative and also understands that his dedication and baptism identify him as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization can he acceptably undergo water immersion. — What Prevents You From Getting Baptized? w89 1/15 p. 13 par. 18

So we know that the Watchtower claims to be a spirit-directed organization, but has never claimed that it was “holy spirit-directed”. 

It claims that it is God’s spirit-directed organization, yet Paul acknowledged that there are many gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship these god’s.

“There may be so-called gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship many gods and many lords. But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.” — 1 Corinthians 8:5,6

Since we cannot be certain that this is an organization which is directed by holy spirit, as the Watchtower themselves has never claim to be holy spirit-directed, then we must wonder which god does this spirit-directed organization belong to?

The Watchtower is clear that it is Jehovah’s Spirit-Directed Organization. To make this point clear, the conclusion is simply that the Watchtower is not directed by holy spirit, it is directed by Jehovah’s spirit.

Serving God vs. Jehovah’s Organized People

Regarding “God’s Channel”: “Jehovah is using only one organization to accomplish his will.” Where is the scripture to back up the last assertion in the paragraph?

 

Jehovah has a people on this earth, and he expects us to serve him along with them. This brings us to the fourth requirement: We must serve Jehovah with his spirit-directed organization.

How, though, can God’s organized people be identified?

According to the standards set out in the Scriptures,

  • they have real love among themselves,
  • they have deep respect for the Bible,
  • they honor God’s name,
  • they preach about his Kingdom,
  • and they are no part of this wicked world.

(Matthew 6:9; 24:14; John 13:34, 35; 17:16, 17)

There is only one religious organization on this earth that has all these marks of true Christianity—Jehovah’s Witnesses!”

—What Does God Require of Us?
The Watchtower 1997 1/15 p. 22

 

The Watchtower sets up Jehovah with his spirit-directed organization above all other religious organizations on this earth, claiming that only Jehovah’s Witnesses have the marks of true Christianity. They claim that all other religious organizations and Christendom are  “Babylon the Great” as depicted in the book of Revelation.

Paul warned that the man of lawlessness “will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” — 2 Thessalonians 2:4

 

Certainly if Jehovah’s Witnesses feel superior to all other Christian organizations on earth, it follows Jehovah’s spirit-directed organization openly “opposes and exalts itself over everything that is called God or is worshiped”.

The Watchtower’s world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, have been referred to as “Brooklyn Bethel” more than 500 times in the Watchtower literature (see WT DVDROM).

According to the Insight on the Scriptures book, “Beth’el” means “House of God”, and defines temple as “A divine habitation, sacred place or sanctuary, either physical or spiritual, that is employed for worship.”

Thus, in as many words, The Watchtower has defined itself as Jehovah’s spirit-directed organization openly “opposes and exalts itself over everything that is called God or is worshiped” and has set itself up as Bethel (God’s House or temple, his divine habitation), proclaiming itself to be God.

The Insight on the Scriptures book continues regarding the temple, “This “man of lawlessness” is an apostate, a false teacher, so he actually seats himself only in what he falsely claims to be that temple.”

The Insight on the Scriptures book concludes regarding “the man of lawlessness”, “by his lying teachings contrary to or superseding, as it were, the law of God, … he is a hypocrite, a false teacher claiming to be Christian, he “sits down in the temple of The God,” that is, what such false teachers claim to be that temple.”

The Bible pointed to the rise of Christendom’s clergy, describing them collectively as “the man of lawlessness” and “the son of destruction . . . whom the Lord Jesus will do away with . . . and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.”—2 Thess. 2:3, 6-8.

According to the Watchtower, “True Christians have been separated out from the “weeds” of Christendom.” — Jehovah’s Witnesses do not consider themselves part of Christendom, but “invite others to “go up” to the exalted worship of Jehovah God.

“Apostates can present yet another threat to our spirituality.

The apostle Paul foretold that apostasy would arise among professed Christians. (Acts 20:29, 30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3)

In fulfillment of his words, after the death of the apostles, a great apostasy led to the development of Christendom.

Today, there is no great apostasy taking place among God’s people [Jehovah’s Witnesses]. Still, a few individuals have left our ranks, and some among them are bent on defaming Jehovah’s Witnesses by spreading lies and misinformation. A few work with other groups in organized resistance to pure worship. In doing so, they side with the very first apostate, Satan.

Some apostates are increasingly using various forms of mass communication, including the Internet, to spread false information about Jehovah’s Witnesses.

As a result, when sincere individuals do research on our beliefs, they may stumble across apostate propaganda.

Even some Witnesses have unwittingly exposed themselves to this harmful material.” — Watchtower 2000 5/1 pp. 8-12

The Watchtower itself warns, “If anyone who professes to serve God relies on his own ideas instead of adhering to the Bible… he becomes “mentally diseased.”

It’s about to be 100 years from 1914.

What was 1914? As far as anyone can see, literally, it was nothing.

The Watchtower—today—claims that it was the year Christ returned, invisibly, to earth and inspected Christendom finding the Watchtower as the sole ‘faithful and discreet slave’ (Matthew 24).

[Editor’s note: this teaching has changed again. They are now just “the slave” appointed and claim that they are faithful, though Christ has not returned to say so, and reward them.]

It gets complicated though, because in 1914, we believed he came invisibly in 1874, and that 1914 was to be the end of the last days.

It wasn’t until the 1930’s that the Watchtower’s new Jehovah’s Witnesses started teaching that he came in 1914 instead of 1874, although obviously he still came invisibly since no one knew he had come and gone—which begs the question, how did the appoint the faithful and discreet slave?

“It is vital that we appreciate this fact and respond to the directions of the “slave” as we would to the voice of God, because it is His provision.”— The Watchtower June 15, 1957 p.370

The Faithful Slave

Apparently there was much confusion there too, as Russell was believed to the be one and only faithful and discreet slave even after he died. But we don’t believe Russell was the slave, otherwise he’s dead and then what? It shifted over time to become a corporation under Rutherford into the form it’s taken as a “governing body” today.

Now, what about that ‘faithful and discreet slave’ versus the ‘evil slave’ parable? Well, the governing body is made up of imperfect men and that’s why we have to be ‘patient with the organization’ ‘waiting on Jehovah’.

In the 70’s while my dad was serving at Beth’el (meaning literally, ‘house of god’, in this case Jehovah) there were two relatives on the governing body, Raymond Franz and his uncle Fred Franz.

The Evil Slave

Raymond studied the scriptures while Fred ran the place. Raymond was assigned responsibility for producing “Studies in the Scriptures” and loved every minute preparing the material for publication.

However, what he learned from the scriptures disagreed with what the Watchtower taught, and still teaches today. His decision to stay true to the word of God, rather than Jehovah’s organization deemed him “the evil slave”.

Here’s where you have to stop and reason.

If none of these men were alive and present to be appointed ‘faithful’ in 1914, then how can the governing body be the faithful slave?

And if you can’t take it on a case-by-case basis man for man over time, then how can you remove one man from the body and call him evil, but the rest ‘the faithful’?

Wasn’t it Christ who was to appoint and reward his faithful slaves, and to judge the evil?

My dad is an ‘organization man’.

My dad vehemently defends the Watchtower as God’s organization.

I tried to ask him what if the Watchtower and the holy scriptures disagreed, but that didn’t end well.

Suffice to say he reflects Rutherford’s attitude when asked about correcting the name of God, since it’s not “Jehovah” as Jehovah’s Witnesses teach:

“At the Yankee Stadium, when giving his speech introducing the New World Translation, the Society’s president said: “…the translation committee has used the form ‘Jehovah’ because of its familiarity and because it preserves the four original letters [YHWH] of the Hebrew name. In God’s own time when He reveals the correct pronunciation of his holy name, we will gladly make the accurate correction.”—See The Watchtower, September 15, 1950, page 317 ¶ 14.

When I first tried to talk to my parents about Matthew 24 — its such a simple and easy to understand chapter! — my mother said she could ‘see me being an apostate‘.

I countered with my only hope—”please, explain to me when I’ll see my daddy again?”

You see, I was raised with a Catch 22. I had to be good enough as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses to obtain to eternal life in God’s kingdom on the paradise earth, where then I could see my daddy again, as he would be resurrected since he ‘died faithful’. (Never mind that we would both have to survive the attack by Satan at the end of the thousand years, where despite having died faithful, and been resurrected as a faithful one, my daddy or I might still succumb to Satan and die twice, three times if you include the ‘spiritual death’. Compare Hebrews 9:27)

I recalled growing up that he would come back some time during the thousand year reign based on “the last will be first, and the first will be last”. However, I had just finished reading the scriptures through for the very first time on my own, reading The Message version (read free on www.bible.com).

I had read Revelation 20:5 and it seemed simple, succinct, and it covered everything.

“And the rest of the dead don’t come to life until the thousand years have ended.”

My parents argued their “Reasoning from the Scriptures“, but the short of it is they do not believe the scriptures as written, they use man’s reasoning instead. (Mark 7:8)

Yet, this prophecy, the only book of scripture inspired by Christ himself, comes with a very explicit warning:

I give fair warning to all who hear
the words of the prophecy of this book:

If you add to the words of this prophecy,
God will add to your life
the disasters written in this book;

if you subtract from the words
of the book of this prophecy
,
God will subtract your part
from the Tree of Life
and the Holy City
that are written in this book.

He who testifies to all these things says it again:
“I’m on my way! I’ll be there soon!”
I shifted back to Matthew 24.

I was begging them to explain to me how it is that we contradict what Matthew 24 says so simply—all will see him!

How is it that we believed he came invisibly then???

I also pointed out that if the appointing of the slave happened in 1914, then the judging and rewarding hasn’t happened yet — thus, the slave was appointed to feed, but had not been found faithful, discreet,—or evil!

What was ‘the faithful and discreet slave’ doing calling themselves ‘faithful’ if Christ himself had not judged them so?!

Matthew 24 parallels the same events in Revelation of the four horsemen — so isn’t the first horse that looks like Christ, but is clearly depicted as different than Christ (later in Revelation) actually the anti-Christ?

Doesn’t he ride out and conquer Christians enslaving them into his kingdom, the kingdom of the false Christ: Christendom?

Isn’t that what Matthew 24 says happens, which is also attested to by the second letter to the Thessalonians who were commended for their learning, but warned not to listen to the teachings of men over that of God’s own word, or his son, the Word?

At the Watchtower’s Annual Meeting 2012 they changed the teaching.

I remind my mother that to turn “apostate” doesn’t mean to turn your back on religion or the Watchtower, it means to turn your back on God, and the one whom he sent forth: the way, the truth, the life.

“Veritas Via Vitae.”

Please know that it took great courage for me to finally find my voice: Having been silenced for years from speaking to those I thought were my ‘true’ friends and family I turned to writing.

However, living in an atheist society and surrounded by dogmatic “IRL” friends, I kept my faith to myself.

Having been taught that “there is no where else to go” because all other religions are false religions, I no longer had any spiritual association.

It never occurred to me to find out who, among my “IRL friends” were Christian. After all, back then if someone were to ask me if I were a Christian, I’d reply that I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (And what is that but another denomination of nominal Christians in Christendom? Ah how we love our divisive sects!)

Jessica, Lindsey, Ashley, et al, it’s hard to believe that it’s been eight years since I’ve had a hug from one of my ‘friends’.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

It’s been eight years, we were friends before Facebook came along.

However, my family members ‘unfriend’ me as if somehow that can change the fact that we are family. Now, you get to make the choice. You guys are it. The only ones who know me of all the people listed as my ‘friends’ on Facebook. You get to choose to love me, or ‘unfriend’ me.

I do not believe the Watchtower organization is directed by holy spirit any more than any other organization on the planet. “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one”, the scriptures say, and no where does it say that He (neither God, nor his Son) would come down and appoint any organization. Even still all that slave was to do was to feed faithfully and discreetly while waiting for the master to return.

He doesn’t urge “come out of her my people” just so you can hurry into the Kingdom Hall instead.

As far as I can tell, God’s Kingdom, nor Christ’s has come to earth yet.

So just whose Kingdom are you meeting in?

The Last Supper, Seattle, December 1, 2004
The Last Supper, Seattle, December 1, 2004

 

I woke up.

There’s a story there, it’s the reason I chose the specific example at the outset… But I can’t write everything from the past 33 years of my life in one blog post. 🙂

However, I’m going to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, with the help of my Father, his Son, and the holy spirit.

It’s going to be fun.

You know the best part? You can unfriend me, and you can still come read the stories, on my Facebook or on my blog.

I have set everything up to be public.

Thanks for reading this far if you have.

That night of the ‘Last Supper’ happened also to be my 25th birthday.

We were there to ‘celebrate’ our last night out together before my getting disfellowshipped, not to celebrate my birthday.

I’m 33 now.

“Oh, sweet thing
Zion doesn’t love you
And Babylon don’t love you
But you love everything
Oh, you saint”

When I was 30 I went to Burning Man, a week long art festival. As I stood among all those people in the desert it was hard not to think of the Israelites in the desert dancing before the burning calf.

Outside the tents, on the festival grounds
As the air began to cool, and the sun went down
My soul swooned, as I faintly heard the sound
Of you spinning “Israelites”
Into “19th Nervous Breakdown”

“Babel” by Mumford and Sons

‘Cause I know that time has numbered my days
And I’ll go along with everything you say
But I’ll ride home laughing, look at me now
The walls of my town, they come crumbling down

And my ears hear the call of my unborn sons
And I know their choices color all I’ve done
But I’ll explain it all to the watchman’s son,
I ain’t ever lived a year better spent in love

‘Cause I’ll know my weakness, know my voice
And I’ll believe in grace and choice
And I know perhaps my heart is farce,
But I’ll be born without a mask

Like the city that nurtured my greed and my pride,
I stretched my arms into the sky
I cry Babel! Babel! Look at me now
Then the walls of my town, they come crumbling down

You ask where will we stand in the winds that will howl,
As all we see will slip into the cloud
So come down from your mountain and stand where we’ve been,
You know our breath is weak and our body thin

Press my nose up, to the glass around your heart
I should’ve known I was weaker from the start,
You’ll build your walls and I will play my bloody part
To tear, tear them down,
Well I’m gonna tear, tear them down

‘Cause I know my weakness, know my voice,
And I’ll believe in grace and choice
And I know perhaps my heart is farce,
But I’ll be born without a mask

“O’ Sister” by City and Color

Oh sister
What’s wrong with your mind?
You used to be so strong and stable
My sister
What made you fall from grace?
I’m sorry that I was not there to catch you

What have the demons done?
What have the demons done?
With the luminous light that once shined from your eyes
What makes you feel so alone
Is it the whispering ghosts
That you feared the most
But the blackness in your heart
Won’t last forever
I know it’s tearing you apart
But it’s a storm you can weather

Oh sister
Those lines etched in your hands
They’re hardened and rough like a road map of sorrow
My sister
There is a sadness on your face
You’re like a motherless child who’s longing for comfort
What’s running through your veins
That’s causing you such pain?
Does it have something to do with the pills they gave to you?
What is eating at your soul?
Was it the whispering ghosts that left you out in the cold?

But the blackness in your heart
Won’t last forever
I know it’s tearing you apart
But it’s a storm you can weather

Oh sister
My sister

“Demons” by Imagine Dragon

When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold

When your dreams all fail
And the ones we hail
Are the worst of all
And the blood’s run stale

I want to hide the truth
I want to shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Curtain’s call
Is the last of all
When the lights fade out
All the sinners crawl

So they dug your grave
And the masquerade
Will come calling out
At the mess you made

Don’t want to let you down
But I am hell bound
Though this is all for you
Don’t want to hide the truth

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

They say it’s what you make
I say it’s up to fate
It’s woven in my soul
I need to let you go

Your eyes, they shine so bright
I want to save that light
I can’t escape this now
Unless you show me how

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

I’m letting the demons out.

I’ve held the truth inside for too long.

And you know, “the truth shall set you free”.

Too bad we grew up thinking “the truth” was our religion, eh?

“God is love.”

What is Jehovah?

We fly away…

I am emotional. I feel betrayed. I was raised in faith that the Watchtower was God’s organization. I believed that my mom and dad knew the answers that one day I’d come to learn. I just felt slow and stupid and that eventually I’d get it. I trusted. I had faith. I believed. I knew my parents were smarter than me. I had read it in the poem that hang on his bedroom wall.

I now learn that while they can’t answer me from the scriptures when will my father live again they will deny the scriptures as they are written as truth.

“And the rest of the dead do not come to life until the end of the thousand years.” — Revelation 20:5

Despite that verse, and the one which precedes it which clearly defines who will partake in the first resurrection (which is immediately followed by this verse—”And the rest of the dead do not come to life until the end of the thousand years.”) she’d say that “apparently” my father, and all other loved ones, such as my uncles and my best friend, will come to life again during the thousand year reign.

“But who will they rule over?”, she asked. Continue reading “We fly away…”

this block of wood

Life is infinitely stranger than anything the mind could invent.
— Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle

I couldn’t invent the story of my life if I tried, it’s hard enough figuring out how to write it. Life has been non-stop and I just can’t seem to figure out how I’d ever explain it all — I imagine with the tools now I can basically rig up a wedding photo montage with music introducing the couple style experience if I could just compile all the images (curate them) and add the details like the music, atmospheric settings, etc, and if technology could only get as good as the ideal—it being fully recorded for full sensorial experience upon playback, upon editing.

Unlikely adventures require unlikely tools.” — Mr. Magorium

Continue reading “this block of wood”

A California Teenager Goes Undercover to Investigate Life Among the Moonies

By 1977, with a fledgling community of committed and dedicated people, and with a sound teaching that inspired us to live our ideals, the Unification movement in California had grown rapidly. Our first challenge was to become ourselves a model of what we wanted the world to become. The love-ethic presented in the Divine Principle demanded a life of prayer, study, and service to others. We sought within our community to be caring, creative, and loving people, and upon this foundation to work actively for the sake of God and humanity.

We called ourselves “The Creative Community Project” and used a former fraternity house on Hearst Street as a place to teach the Divine Principle at luncheon and dinner programs. We were inspired by an ideal and wanted above all to communicate that ideal to those around us who, so it seemed, had very little commitment to anything other than self-interest.

Most people we encountered had only the foggiest sense of ethics, so we felt great meaning in sharing with them, through our dinner discussions and lectures, the significance of our own ethical ideals. Those who were serious and wanted to pursue those ideals further were invited to workshops at Boonville and, later, to other country retreats. — To Bigotry, No Sanction: Reverend Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church by Dr. Mose Durst

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, Scott Keeler, 18, knew what every other teenager knew. As one of his classmates put it, “There’s this place you can go if you’re fighting with your parents. They’ll take care of you.”

But unlike most of the others, Keeler also knew that the “place,” Creative Community Project, was owned and run by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon‘s Unification Church. As student body president at Alameda, Calif. High School and reporter for his school paper, Oak Leaf, Keeler decided last spring to go underground and investigate the Moonies.

Using the alias Dirk Schwerte, he quickly discovered that Moonie recruiters were on the lookout for unattached teenagers.

“All anyone has to do,” he says, “is put on his backpack and walk down to Fisherman’s Wharf.” Though no mention was made of Reverend Moon or his church, Keeler was invited to the Moonies’ San Francisco headquarters. Here is his account of his bizarre experiences:

Creative Community Project is a large white Victorian house on Washington Street. I felt my stomach in my throat as I jabbed the doorbell. Before I could ring again, the door swung open. “Come on and join our circle,” said a young man with a fixed smile. He offered his hand. I cautiously took it and sat down. He squeezed my hand, smiling and staring at me.

Later a low-protein, vegetarian dinner of rice and broccoli was served. I noticed that all the first-time visitors had acquired a new Moonie friend hanging close by their side. “Come on, let’s go over and pull up some rug,” said a young man, putting his arm around me and beaming. His name was Bob. I noticed he didn’t have any food.

“Aren’t you eating?” I asked.

“No, I’m fasting this week. It’s spiritual fasting. Some of the people in our community do it.”

An hour and a half later Bob was still sitting beside me and holding my hand. We were being lectured by a Moonie leader named Sherri Sagar when there was a loud crash at the front door. A man was shouting “Jeannie!” and trying to force his way in. Suddenly at least 25 Moonie reinforcements flooded the entry, trying to push him back out. “Where is Jeannie?” he shouted. “Jeannie! Jeannie!”

“There’s no Jeannie here,” insisted one of the Moonies. “You’ll have to leave.”

“What do you mean?” shouted the man, clinging to the door molding. “She came here last week, you bastards! What have you done with her?”

The Moonies kept pushing, peeling his fingers from the door, and finally shoved him outside. We could hear him shouting after the door was closed and locked.

“What was that about?” I asked Bob.

“Just somebody being negative,” he said. “People attack us because they don’t understand what we’re doing.”

At the end of the evening everyone clasped hands and formed a circle. “Okay!” said Sherri Sagar. “I hope you all liked what you saw tonight and will come up to our farm. We have cars leaving tonight. But before everybody goes, we’re going to do a mass Choo-Choo!” The newcomers shrugged and exchanged glances. “Got it?” she shouted. “It’s easy! Just shake your partner’s hand until we’re through. Ready? One, two, three—Choo-choo-choo! Choo-choo-choo! Choo-choo-choo! Yea, yea, pow!” We newcomers began to laugh, but the Moonies just smiled. “What’s the matter?” they asked.

The Dodge van was packed with 15 people heading north to the Moonies’ farm at Boonville, Calif. The lecture about the farm had sounded appealing—being out in the country, by a cool creek, with people you liked. Sitting beside me was a Moonie named Joanna. She was 20, already married and divorced. “I’m so inspired now that I’m in the Family, I never want to leave,” she said. “There’s so much meaning here.”

No one had mentioned Moon or the Unification Church yet. I decided to take a chance. “How long have you been in the church?” I asked. Joanna’s eyes became distant. For a moment I thought she wasn’t going to answer. “How did you know about the church?” she asked finally. “Most people don’t know this early.”

I told her my cover story, and she seemed satisfied. “Well,” she said, smiling again in the darkness, “it’s good that you’re so open. Most people don’t understand and say bad things about us and the Principle.”

“What’s the Principle?” I asked.

“Well, it’s…” Then she stopped. A man on the other side of the van was looking at her with intense disapproval. “You’ll get that in the lectures,” she said finally. The stranger smiled and nodded. I nodded back.

“How are you feeling, Family?” shouted David, our leader, the next morning. “Great!” everyone yelled.

“Is everyone ready to have the best weekend of your life?”

“Yes!”

Dr. Jack was our exercise leader. “Now let’s do 25 regular jumping-jacks and 10 free-style.” We began bobbing up and down in count with Dr. Jack. I started wondering whether I was 8 or 18. After exercises we were separated into new groups, each recruit accompanied by a Moonie. Eight of us sat on the grass in a tight little circle with blankets and songbooks.

“Okay,” said Dr. John, our group leader, supposedly an M.D. from New Zealand. “Let’s start off this fantastic day by giving your name and sharing a little bit about you.”

When my turn came I talked about Dirk Schwerte, but emotionally I was telling about Scott Keeler (“My mom and dad are divorced. I keep mostly to myself. A lot of people call me a sissy because I don’t play sports…”). “That was really fantastic,” said Dr. John at the end of the sharing. “It shows how open you can be up here in the fresh air.” He laughed as we all clasped hands, and we laughed too. I was beginning to feel so warm and comfortable I wondered why I had ever suspected there was anything wrong with these people. I felt intensely guilty about deceiving them.

The first lecture was a 70-minute presentation of ambiguous references to God, cosmic principles and spirituality. Oriental symbols were put on a blackboard but never explained. After the lecture broke up, we went back to our groups. “Does anyone have any questions?” asked Dr. John. I raised my hand. The other recruits still did not know these people were connected with Reverend Moon and his church. I wondered what would happen if I mentioned it. “You know in the lecture when you talked about God being everywhere?” I began. “Well, is that what the church believes?”

Dr. John dropped his smile. The other Moonies stared at me. A fellow recruit named Paul looked bewildered. “What church?” he asked. No one answered. My eyes locked with Dr. John’s for what seemed a long, uneasy time. “That’s a good question, Dirk,” he said slowly. “Who can answer that?” His eyes never left mine.

“Ah, yeah,” Bob began uncertainly. He talked and talked and didn’t tell us anything.

It was time for volleyball. “Everybody hug in close,” commanded Dr. John. “We’ve got to be positive and chant so loud every second that we’ll love-bomb ’em right out of the game!”

“Yeah, yeah! Great! Yeah!” Every Moonie in our huddle was screaming. I forced a smile and chanted along with everyone else: “Win with love! Win with love!”

“Follow the game!” shouted Dr. John. “Keep your eyes on the ball!” It got easier and easier to chant as I followed the ball with my eyes. I began to lose track of the words I was repeating over and over. I felt I could do anything. A smile spread across my face as I heard our voices echoing off the surrounding hills. Suddenly I fell, and it took me several moments to realize I was on the ground. A Moonie was standing over me. My breath had been knocked out, but I went on chanting “Win with love” in a whisper. I couldn’t stop and it scared me. “Are you okay?” he asked. I picked myself up and checked my watch. We had been playing for more than an hour and had finished two games I couldn’t even remember.

The next evening I walked to the van to return to San Francisco. I said I was sorry I had to go, and I was. “Where am I ever going to get love like this on the outside?” I thought to myself. I was almost crying, and I went up and hugged Dr. John.

“Look, Dirk,” he began slowly, “can’t you just call your mom and tell her you’ll be home in a couple of days? You can call her right now.”

“Sure, just call her now,” said Bob. “You like it up here, don’t you?”

“Well, yes, but…”

“Good,” said Dr. John, “because you can go up to Camp K with us tonight. I’ll drive you myself. Why don’t you tell your mom now?” Stepping forward, they closed in on me in a way I didn’t like, and I took a step backward.

“Hey,” I said finally. “I told you, I have to go. I’ll be back when everything’s straightened out, okay?”

A few days later I did go to Camp K, a converted Girl Scout camp in the Napa Valley where the Moonies continue their indoctrination. Before I went there, I spoke with several authorities on the Unification Church. They warned me that the Moonies were trying to isolate me from the outside world and to keep me from critically examining what they were saying. “If you’re good,” one of them warned me, “they smile and love-bomb you. But if you argue, then they descend on you.” Later one of the Moonies told me the church teaches that you don’t have any responsibility to your friends or family; your only duty is to Moon.

Unification Church members are smiling all of the time, even at four in the morning. The man who is full of love must live that way. When you go out witnessing you can caress the wall and say that it can expect you to witness well and be smiling when you return. What face could better represent love than a smiling face? This is why we talk about love bomb; Moonies have that kind of happy problem.

By the time I got to Camp K, I was beginning to understand some of the things I guess I hadn’t wanted to see before. At Boonville I had become close with a girl named Maureen. At Camp K they deliberately split us up. That’s when I realized they were playing with people’s lives. Any one-to-one sexual activity is absolutely forbidden. Couples are selected for marriage by church officials, often before they get to know each other. After I left, I seriously thought about kidnapping Maureen and having her deprogrammed. It took me about two months to reach her. I told her who I really was, and she got very defensive. She said, “I’m not leaving here. I’m better off here than on the road.” I knew I had to let her go.

In all, I spent three days at Camp K. Then I went back to Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco to continue researching my article and to photograph Moonie recruiters. While I was there I ran into Dr. Jack and another recruiter who knew me. They demanded to know who I was and what I was doing. I told them.

“Give me your film,” Dr. Jack demanded quietly, moving close.

I told him I wouldn’t.

“Give me the film,” he insisted.

“No,” I said, trying to hold my ground.

“Give it to me,” he droned. “Give me the film.”

I grabbed my camera, wrapping the strap around my arm and gripping the lens barrel. I almost gave in from fear, but then I exploded.

“No!” I yelled. “Forget it! I’m not going to give you the film!” People in the park turned and looked at me.

“Scott Keeler?” asked Dr. Jack. “Alameda?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“We’ll be in touch.”

My Daddy escaped the Moonies camp with a new friend in tow. They met again at the NIblick’s Hessen Cassel.

Works Cited

A California Teenager Goes Undercover to Investigate Life Among the Moonies.” : People.com. N.p., 24 July 1978. Web. 04 Mar. 2013.

Heartbreak and Rage: Ten Years Under Sun Myung Moon: a Cult Survivor’s Memoir” Neufeld, K G. College Station, TX: Virtualbookworm.com, 2002. Print.

An Apology to My Mother

Mom, I know that I’m scaring you. And I’m sorry for that.

I don’t know how to explain with words what I’m going through.

I can however share with you what I’m fascinated by, and perhaps you can judge whether or not I’m “okay”.

I’ve been studying the Bible for months now, and I’ve perservered despite the fear that what I would learn might mean that I would separated from my family. I miss you guys so much. You seem nearly as a conceptual thing to me as “daddy” is. I understand what that relationship is supposed to mean, but it’s not something I’ve experienced. Likewise, I don’t really know how to be a sister or to be a daughter, it seems so long ago that I was a part of a family. I’m not sure I ever knew how to interact like I belonged.

Here’s a night in the most recent nights of Angela:

I’m an experience designer, so know that it’s an “experience”. I’m giving you my recipe as it were. I could send you the “Notability” file for instance which recorded me and the background (music in this case) while I studied the Watchtower. You can go along as I highlight and respond, and can hear the music that I was listening to and how I interacted in my study with God.

So. First, it starts with Faith. Continue reading “An Apology to My Mother”

The Bible as Literature: Paul, Dying as to Sin


“We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.”
– Romans 6:6

What was meant by Paul’s referring to ‘dying to sin’? I believe this was a transformation of self, of personality, and purpose. It is the putting away of your old personality when accepting Jesus Christ as the savior and becoming his disciple. It is taking on a new personality and trying to leave sin behind as you pursue a righteous course of life.

It is hard to be good. As Paul said, “For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my [physical] members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” – Romans 7:22–24. As we can see Paul was very concerned with God’s law… but he mentions the law of the physical members, this referring to imperfect mans physical inclinations. Though he tried very hard, he was incapable of completely overcoming the sinful inclinations within his mind. Continue reading “The Bible as Literature: Paul, Dying as to Sin”

The Bible as Literature: Jesus’ Death—Two Perspectives

In comparing Matthew and John’s account of Jesus announcing his approaching death it is interesting to see the stark differences in their perspectives. John’s account is of a loving shepherd with his sheep easing them into the thought of what is to come and the reasoning for why these things must come to pass. He is painted as “Jesus the way, the truth and the light”. In contrast, the Jesus of Matthew’s account is much more a martyr. Let’s look a little closer at Matthew’s account so we can analyze the additional meaning written into John. Continue reading “The Bible as Literature: Jesus’ Death—Two Perspectives”

The Bible as Literature: Daniel—Stories and Visions

Chapters one through six of Daniel’s book are written about Daniel in the third person- Daniel did this, Daniel did that. Then we take an abrupt turn from chapters seven through twelve into the apocalyptic visions. Now Daniel is the speaker who refers to himself in the first person.

In the first six chapters the stories told are of Daniel and his friends and their experiences while in exile. They are prepared for State service and choose vegetables rather than the delicacy’s of the king tables. Nebuchadnezzar has a bad dream about an image of a beast. The boys are thrown into a fiery furnace, but survive by the hand of an angel. Nebuchadnezzar once again has a dream this time of ‘seven times’, a tree (his kingdom) and his going insane. Then there is Belshazzar’s feast, with the mysterious handwriting on the wall that appears. Finally there is infamous Daniel in the lion’s pit. Continue reading “The Bible as Literature: Daniel—Stories and Visions”

The Bible as Literature: Job—Afflicted and Relationship Challenged

Job was an upstanding man in his community, a good guy who didn’t seem to do wrong or harm anyone. “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1) People came to him for advice and he was well liked by all, from children to the leaders of the community. He had it all. “This man was the greatest of all the people of the east.” (Job 1:3) You might say he lived a charmed life, or at least this is what Satan thought as he gazed upon the earth. Like Greek gods sitting above the expanse of the earth playing chess with humans as pawns, Satan challenged Yahweh saying that if Job didn’t have it so good he wouldn’t continue to serve him loyally. In effect, that Job was only loyal because he had it easy and was spoiled by God. Yahweh agreed to remove his favor from his servant so his loyalty could be tested. Satan pulls out all the stops, taking away his riches, and even his sons and daughters in an effort to get him to curse God or turn away from him. Continue reading “The Bible as Literature: Job—Afflicted and Relationship Challenged”

The Bible as Literature: The Prophets—the Great Day of Vindication and Restoration

First, I will review each of the prophet’s oracles and what they feature in their foretelling the great day of vindication and restoration. Next, I’ll compare the similarities and differences between the prophecies. Finally, as instructed, I’ll wind up by offering conclusion about what these prophetic traditions say about the envisioned time of God’s blessing on Israel. Continue reading “The Bible as Literature: The Prophets—the Great Day of Vindication and Restoration”

The Bible as Literature: Joab to David—Was He Friend or Foe?

Joab was an able army general, a great army organizer who was resourceful and decisive. He was also ambitious, opportunistic, vengeful and cunningly unscrupulous at times. David was king of Israel and Joab was at the head of David’s army of men.

David trusted Joab as the leader of his army, and continued to entrust him even when his actions betrayed disloyalty to him and his direction as king. It seems through the writing of the author of 2 Samuel that Joab was loyal as long as it served his purposes and goals, and he was just after whichever man might give him greatest benefit as a leader based on their possible kingship of Israel. Continue reading “The Bible as Literature: Joab to David—Was He Friend or Foe?”

The Bible as Literature: The Stiff Necked Israelites

The Lord set the Israelites out as his people apart as a people special and apart from the nations among which they lived. However the Israelites were not so easily convinced, and demonstrated again and again how they were indeed ‘a stiff necked people’. Their behavior reminds us of an indignant young toddler who just will not listen and believe when we say that something is bad for him. Just as you would punish a young toddler to keep him safe from harm, perhaps from burning his hand upon a hot stove, the Lord punished his people and tried to reason with them through signs, miracles and plague.

The Israelites drug their feet when it came to establishing faith in their God and proving righteous to him because they simply lacked faith in Him. The people were a shortsighted people concerned only with their immediate well being and what it was that they might see immediately before them. When in Egypt under slavery they were upset with their being enslaved, however when freed by the Lord through the hand of Moses they complain about being rescued just to die in the wilderness and they would have been better off left as slaves in Egypt. Continue reading “The Bible as Literature: The Stiff Necked Israelites”

The Bible as Literature: Joseph’s Deceptions

Joseph’s jealous brothers threw him into a pit after conspiring to kill him, considered selling him to the Ishmealites, instead leaving him in the pit to be kidnapped by the Midianite traders. As such it’s amazing to believe that Joseph would still hold love in his heart for his brothers. And maybe that’s the real basis for this story… Continue reading “The Bible as Literature: Joseph’s Deceptions”