The KIT Newsletter, an Activity of the KIT Information Service, a Project of The Peregrine Foundation

P.O. Box 460141 / San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 /
telephone: (415) 821-2090 / (415) 282-2369
KIT Staff U.S.: Ramon Sender, Charles Lamar, Christina Bernard, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom;
U.K. : Joy Johson MacDonald, Susan Johnson Suleski, Carol Beels Beck, Ben Cavanna, Leonard Pavitt, Joanie Pavitt Taylor, Brother Witless (in an advisory capacity); Europe: Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe.
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from within and from outside the Bruderhof. The opinions expressed in the letters we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflects those of KIT editors or staff.
Although sexual issues normally are considered private in nature, occasionally they may need to be discussed in KIT. This may offend some of our readers, and for this we apologize. But as long as sexuality remains a part of life and KIT an adult forum, we will continue to publish whatever is relevant and people need to say regarding sex -- or any aspect of their lives. However we also will attempt to place a warning before any articles that we deem to be potentially disturbing to some readers.
Those of you who have World Wide Web access should check out the Children of the Bruderhof International's new home page at:

November 1995 Volume VII #11

-------------- "Keep In Touch" --------------

It has been quite a month! Despite their claim, as Christians, not to resort to 'worldly courts,' and despite the fact that rank-and-file members appear to be ignorant of the proceeding (see Ben Cavanna p. 3), the Bruderhof has brought suit in Albany, NY, Federal Court against Children of the Bruderhof, Children of the Hutterian Brethren, Ben Cavanna, Mike Leblanc, Blair Purcell and Ramon Sender for "trademark infringement, injury to business reputation, dilution of the distinctive quality of trademarks, false advertising, and unfair competition." A Legal Defense Fund has been created. Your contribution will be gratefully accepted. Make your checks payable to "K4LDF" (Kingston 4 Legal Defense Fund) and mail to P. O. Box 183, Highland, MD 20777. COB needs your help! On October 11th, WCBV in Needham, Massachusetts, Boston's ABC affiliate, ran an in-depth program on the Bruderhof and KIT. Various ex-members were interviewed and Christoph was given a chance to answer allegations about wiretapping, phone harassment and his license to carry a concealed weapon. The TV program did not include information about the above-mentioned lawsuit. Perhaps there will be a follow-up!


This did not make it into the printed issue, but it should be mentioned here that the Bruderhof has filed an amended complaint that names four more co-defendants: Andrew Bazeley, Joel Clement, Margot Wegner Purcell and Faith Tsukroff.
---- The Whole KIT and Kaboodle -----
-------- INDEX --------
Blair Purcell
Andy Bazeley
Kingston Daily Freeman
Mike LeBlanc
Miriam Arnold Holmes
Hutterians Get Bad Rap - The Freeman
My Message To The Pope - The Freeman
Roxanne Wiegert to the Freeman
Mike Boller Arrested - Register-Citizen
Hutterians Celebrate - Register-Citizen
Andy Harries
Johanna Patrick Homann
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe
Ben Cavanna
Blair Purcell
Hilarion Braun
ChronicleTV Program Excerpts
Julius Rubin
Thomas Cromwell
Name Withheld
Raphael (Jason) Barton
Name Withheld
Joanie Pavitt Taylor
Ruth Baer Lambach
Phil Jones The Prophet Kings
Barnabas Johnson quotes Bishop Dietrich von Nieheim
ITEM: We regret to inform our readers of the death of Bronwen Bazeley, 49 years old, of breast cancer in Woodcrest, Leo Dreher in Switzerland a week short of his 86th birthday and Dick Whitty in the Deerspring B'hof a few days short of his 85th. Our sincere condolences to friends and family members.
ITEM: Nicki Maas, as reported in the July KIT, passed away in the Darvell Bruderhof on 6/9/95. Her daughter Liz Maas Peters in Florida was notified by a form letter on 6/22/95. Currently Liz's husband Bill is in the V.A. hospital in San Antonio being treated for multiple myaloma, a form of marrow cancer. Odds are favorable (the program has 100% success rate so far) and he will be working through a critical stage during the next few weeks. His own marrow sample has been engrafted after chemotherapy and should 'take' by November 10th or so. His 50th birthday is November 6th. Liz and the girls are with him as well as Bill's parents, and they can all be reached at:
Mr & Mrs William Peters
7500 Louis Pasteur Boulevard, Room 221
San Antonio, TX 78229 tel: (210) 616-0030
ITEM: Congratulations to Nadine, August and Juanita Pleil who have now become U.S. citizens. Daughter Andrea and Connie D'hoedt also has passed her test and they will all be sworn in sometime in December-January! Way to go! All right, everybody, now let's hear the third verse of "The Star-Spangled Banner!"
KIT: Euro-Kitfolk report having had a lovely day at Bulstrode with a barbecue and picnic. About 30 KITfolk attended, enjoying the lovely sunny warm weather, very unlike normal October in the Enchanted Isles!
KIT: Andy Bazeley was not informed of his mother Bronwen's passing until he himself telephoned. He was told by his uncle Tony Potts that she had passed away ten hours earlier, and that he would not be welcome to attend the funeral. Andy flew anyway from Des Moines to Newburgh, NY, and he and Mike Boller drove up to Woodcrest about 10:45 AM. They passed Tony & Jenny Potts with their family along the drive. Tony made no attempt to stop or question them, which was taken by Mike and Andy as a sign that word already had spread that they were coming.
As instructed by the local funeral director, Andy asked for Ian Winter but, just at that moment his uncle, Paul Bazeley, and David Mason came up and invited the two of them into the lounge. No objection then, or ever, was made to Mike's presence.
Paul and David tore into Andy and Mike, repeatedly saying that Andy's mom didn't want him there and that they should leave. Andy stood firm, acknowledging their differences but insisting that he was there for the funeral only and did not want to discuss or be confronted with any other issues. After 20-30 minutes, Paul and David gave in. David had stepped out for a moment (consulting Christoph?) and came back saying it was all right for both of them to stay -- but that they would have to leave immediately after the burial.
From 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, Andy and Mike were with Bronwen. They were given refreshments. Children sang around her bed at various points. After the initial half-hour confrontation they were treated cordially. They were not invited to a Bruderhof service to be held just after 1:30 PM -- about which neither Andy nor Mike particularly cared. As Mike said, he would have gotten fidgety. Andy was promised copies of the tapes and some pictures as well.
At 1:30 PM they rushed off to buy roses, returning just before 3:00 and walking around a bit before heading to the cemetery. Andy stepped into line as a pall bearer, and someone clapped him on the shoulder in a friendly gesture. Andy tossed a ceremonial shovel of dirt at the end. Instead of being forced to leave, they were invited back for more refreshments by his grandparents. At one point or another, Paul Bazeley, David Mason and Tom Potts all apologized to Andy for previously being so "hard" and shook his hand. Andy estimates about fifty other people also went out of their way to shake his hand. Many of these people, and others as well, must have recognized their own respect for a son who had pushed "the system" and won.
Christoph did not attend the service. Andy was able to achieve his real objective of seeing and burying his mom. All KITfolk with relatives "inside" owe him a great deal for bringing this issue into focus. Mike is also a particular hero, whose presence was not even questioned.
Blair Purcell: We originally sent a respectful letter to Christoph asking him to allow Andy to attend. Klaus Meier called and said, while it was all right with Christoph, Andy's mother Bronwen had asked that he not attend the service. He then asked if I understood.
I said yes, I understood, but disagreed. He asked if I disagreed with Bronwen's dying wish. I said I would disagree with any statement extracted for that purpose from a dying mother. I also said that Christoph was very courageous in saying it was all right with him, while using the statement of a dead person to prevent Andy's attendance.
Klaus also said that the service would be that same day -- believing that Andy was still in Des Moines (and therefore unable to make it in time). During my comments about Christoph's courage, he hung up on me, preventing me from informing him that Andy was already in Kingston. Meanwhile, Andy was making his first call on the funeral home in the company of Mike Boller. They knew the service was scheduled for that same afternoon.
Andy then had the funeral director call Woodcrest on his behalf, the latter mystified that the leadership would not want Andy there. A local attorney also called Marcus Momsen (with whom he went to school) and asked that Marcus find a biblical passage that would permit Andy's attendance.
Andy Bazeley (reporting over the phone on his attendance, along with Mike Boller, at his mother's burial.): You see what happened was that Michael and I, as a team, were never an issue. They never questioned his presence, from the beginning right through. But there was an immediate confrontation when we arrived, especially with my uncle Paul, with my uncle Tony Potts and then with Dave Mason. I simply kept my cool, I stated the reason I was there. I stated that I did have legal rights, but that I didn't wish to use them to create any trouble or disturbance. I would not feel the need to revert to such legal actions as long as they could just peaceably agree to my two simple requests: to view the casket, spend some time with my mother, and to act as a pallbearer.
After the initial twenty-minute confrontation, they became very cordial, very apologetic and on the whole were glad we could be there and generally supportive. It was a mixed bag of fish, because there are many aspects to the situation. For instance, they did agree to my requests, but said that we would have to leave immediately after burial. But when the burial was over and I was standing by the completed grave, about fifty people came by and shook my hand and wished me courage, strength or whatever. And yet certain people there at the Community, whom I expected from my past life would make a point of at least giving me a short greeting, walked on by. Those who did shake my hand I noticed tended to be the quiet sort that I would suspect wished things were different to a certain degree. These were especially people who meant a lot to my mom, the older sisters and certain of the shyer, quieter members.
My family then did find an occasion or two to revert and try to talk down at us, but Mike and I didn't take it. We stood up for ourselves. We were able throughout the visit to leave it on the level that he was there for my moral support and that we were there for the funeral. Our differences were a different issue to be taken care of at a different time and should have no bearing on the funeral as such.
I still have many unresolved feelings about the past, about their saying that my mother did not wish me to be at the funeral, which I know was not true. They were creating a barrier even in the same breath as breaking the news to me, not leaving any opening for them to cordially or respectfully invite me. They really stirred things up from the beginning, and put me through quite a bit of strain, having to get a lawyer to call them, getting the funeral director to call, and exercising some sort of legal knowledge and authority to get them to shift back and just treat me and the situation as they should have done from the very beginning.
In talking with Blaise Schweitzer [of the Kingston Freeman - ed], one of my main goals, which I think I may have taken a step toward, is to see that others such as myself will be allowed the opportunity, as I was after much stress and organization and phoning back and forth and all that stuff, hopefully to move forward and help the Community realize that it's not such a big deal to have an ex-member or a COB/KIT relative or whatever at a funeral. Maybe now they will be more open in the future to others who have the same need that I had to be at their loved ones' funerals.
Son nearly barred from Bruderhof burial
by Blaise Schweitzer
(Page 1, Kingston Daily Freeman)
RIFTON -- Even as local Bruderhof elder Christoph Arnold met with Pope John Paul II in New York City on Saturday, seeking historic reconciliation over centuries-old Catholic atrocities, a former resident of Arnold's Woodcrest commune was trying to reconcile his feelings about the way he has been treated by Arnold's flock.
Arnold is leader of the communal 2,000 member Bruderhof, whose Rifton members tried to block Andrew Bazeley's presence at his mother's burial on Friday, Bazeley says.
"They were playing hardball right from the beginning, until I got a lawyer to give them a call and a funeral director to give them a call," Bazeley said.
"It was his mother's wish that he not come," said Bruderhof spokesman Ian Winter, adding that it was Bazeley's polite request -- not legal threats -- that gained Bazeley entry to the property to witness the burial.
Bazeley's mother, Bronwen Bazeley, died Wednesday of breast cancer at the age of 49. Because of Bazeley's criticism of the Anabaptist communal organization, he has not been welcome to visit any of the Bruderhof's seven communes in the US and Britain.
Margot Purcell, a former commune resident who has been trying to help Bazeley, is concerned in part because she has family in the Bruderhof and is wary that she may no longer have contact with them either.
Bazeley's mother would not have snubbed her only child at her funeral, Purcell said. "What mother would say that? If she said this, then it was because she felt pressured"
When Bazeley met with his mother in July, she did not ask him to stay away from her funeral. At that time, his mother's health had deteriorated so much that she could not leave the Bruderhof to meet him, so he was allowed to come inside the Rifton community to say good-bye. He spent three hours with her, but as he left, he was physically threatened and told not to return, he said.
A day after that visit, Bazeley participated in a Children of the Bruderhof meeting in a Kingston church and met with Purcell and other former commune residents. The stated goals of the Children of the Bruderhof are to support former residents of the religious communes and to gain access to family members who are still inside.
An only child born out of wedlock, Bazeley spent most of his life in Bruderhof communes before being ejected two years ago from the Catskill Bruderhof.
At the Kingston meeting in July, Bazeley talked of being treated by the Bruderhof elders as a bastard, an unclean product of an out-of-wedlock relationship. He spoke of being severely punished for holding hands with girls. He talked of theological problems with what he sees as a church that gives too much authority to elders and punishes dissenters.
While Bazeley was on the dais, Bruderhof spokesman Joseph Keiderling called him a liar and walked out of the meeting. Bazeley was a problem child, Keiderling said, declining to give specifics.
Part of the Kingston event included talks between former Bruderhof residents and Bruderhof leaders who wished to smooth relations between those inside and outside the communes. But after a tumultuous press conference, there were no further talks.
After the meeting, Purcell and other former residents of the communes held out hope that they would be able to visit loved ones still in the Bruderhof and to be present at their funerals.
They knew that the next likely death would be Bazeley's mother and they were worried about how he would respond to such an affront. "No kid whose mother dies should have to go through that," Purcell said.
Bazeley knows of at least five other men and women who have been forbidden to attend family funerals within Bruderhof communes. Some were not even told their family members had died.
Winter repeated that family members are not allowed to come to Bruderhof funerals only if it is at the wish of other family members. And this has been rare, he said: "A handful at most."
Bazeley said it should never happen: "My hope is that my experience can open doors so others can be at their family funeral, despite differences."
Mike LeBlanc to a correspondent, 10/16/95: I would like to get your perspective on why the Bruderhof would attempt to bar Andrew from the burial of his mother. Death transcends whatever differences exist, real or imagined, and I cannot see any viable reason for such behavior, even at a mere humanitarian level, let alone a Christian one.
When I am faced with a situation I ask myself two questions:
1) What would Jesus do?
2) What does Jesus want me to do?
I would find it extremely hard to believe that the passage where He is quoted by the community -- "Who is my father, sisters or brothers?" (paraphrased) would lead one to believe it is right and correct to bar one's only son from the funeral of his mother! Where is the love in this? How could one possibly justify this?
...I also have a major problem with the marriage vows of the Bruderhof, which will have the spouse leave his/her partner in favor of the Bruderhof. What about the sanctity of marriage? This, like one's personal relationship to God, is suborned to the will/entity of community, thus putting one's vows to God in a lower position to one's vows to community. Yet the Bible says clearly, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me! This idol of community/unity is therefore blasphemous!
I'm not totally sure the Bruderhof is alone in this kind of behavior, but if one claims to want to follow Jesus, one then must seriously consider His teachings as represented in the Bible. Also remember Jesus spent much of his adult life among the "common" people, and broke bread with tax collectors and forgave whores. If Jesus showed this kind of unconditional love, how can we claim to follow Him and do any less?
I respect many brother and sisters in the Bruderhof for their wish to serve Jesus fully and to the best of their ability. I would argue that this can be done as well in the world [outside] today (perhaps more so), than in the community. This is especially true of the Bruderhof, as the power hierarchy needs to be torn down, and true "brotherly love" built in it's place. Democracy would then not be "evil", as we have heard from the Bruderhof, but a way to guard against power struggles and a purely secular/human level.
In saying this, I do not hold the current leadership in contempt. Instead I fear for their souls. Jesus said, "Do not hinder...", and I know from personal experience that the leadership/structure of the Bruderhof will do just that. We must all stand at His feet someday, and answer for our lives! I pray for a real movement of God's Spirit both in and outside of the communities, where broken hearts can be healed, where the high shall be made low... and the [truly] humble exalted.
We must guard against false humility for the sake of unity, however well-intentioned! If one cannot speak one's mind as God leads in community, even if it goes contrary to the "leadership's" idea of the moving of the Holy Spirit, then the community is at risk of deeds as heinous and as evil as those it claims to fight against [like KIT]!
I look forward to future correspondence if you feel God calls you to reply! Your brother in Christ (struggling to find the way... in some small way... day by day...),
Miriam Arnold Holmes, 9/27/95: I just would like to express my appreciation to "Ethan Martin" and to Ramon for telling their stories in the August-September KIT. I'm sure it took courage to share those very personal agonies and the emotional and psychological torture they had to endure because of the narrow-minded puritanical attitude of the Bruderhof. It is very important that masturbation and the Bruderhof's (and other religious groups) unhealthy and damning attitude towards it be openly discussed. I'm sure that many other young men and women have gone through similar pain and agony, and that it will be helpful to them that those two had the gumption to go public. Thank you!
Another idea I would like to address, and I am also directing this to the Bruderhof and their champion, Mr. Howard Goeringer -- the words attributed to Jesus (Luke 14:25-26): "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brother and sister, yes, and even his own life, he can not be my disciple are being used by the above to justify the Bruderhofs' directives to their families to deny visits from KIT readers. I just cannot imagine that the same Jesus who said "Love your enemies" and "He who is without sin may cast the first stone" said that we should hate our families. I thought maybe that passage was badly translated from the original Greek. So I checked with a friend of mine who used to be a Jesuit priest. During his vigorous training, he studied the New Testament in the original Greek. He tells me that the word "hate" is indeed a poor translation [footnote in The Jerusalem Bible:""an emphatic way of expressing total detachment" - ed] and that what was said is that we need to free ourselves from emotional enmeshment with family members. This is sound psychological advice to anyone, no matter what your belief is. It does not however justify the loveless and cruel policy of the Bruderhof to keep families apart. I challenge the Bruderhof to be honest and give us the real reason why, for example, Monika Arnold-Trumpi may not write to or visit her sister Emi-Ma Zumpe. Maybe we all simply know too much about the foibles and shenanigans of their leadership. Maybe they are afraid that during a family visit somebody might spill the beans and point a finger to expose the Emperor's New Clothes! Christoph and his system would be de-throned! Love,
Selected Letters to the Editor, Kingston Daily Freeman:
Hutterians Get Bad Rap
Your headline (July 27, "For Hutterians, there's a storm before the calm") is another example of poor, lazy journalism. The headline should have read, "New York State fortunate to have the Hutterians located in Rifton." The story should have further read that this group has for 40 years worked with purpose and honesty to build a fine business. If all persons in this country conducted their affairs as do the brothers and sisters of the Bruderhof, what a wonderful place this would be.
And last, a brief mention that when you are dealing with over 2,000 people, there is an occasional difference of thought. It also should be pointed out that the Hutterians have quietly produced outstanding students at both high school and college levels, have no teenage pregnancies, have no drunks on the road, commit no rapes, no crimes of violence, consume no drugs and are perhaps the happiest people I have witnessed in my lifetime.
All the things we strive for are actually happening in our area and you publish an article that can create question and doubt. It is certainly not a proud moment in the history of the Freeman. Am I biased? You bet I am. I have personally seen the group up close for 36 years, but I admire their high standards both in their personal lives and business practices. Bernard Schaeffer, Rosendale
My Message To The Pope
Dear Editor: As the elder of the Bruderhof Communities, I was invited to participate in a small meeting of ecumenical leaders with Pope John Paul II at the residence of John Cardinal O'Connor in New York City on Oct. 7. It is my hope that this meeting will be a prelude, on the eve of the 21st century, to a reconciliation between the Anabaptist and Roman Catholic faiths. It is burning on my heart that those who still stand for the original Judeo-Christian ideals should strive together to keep those alive in a time when the corrupting influence of immorality and dishonesty are destroying family, business and church life.
At the meeting I also hope to present the pope with the manuscript of our forthcoming book on marriage and sexuality. It is the area of morality and man's relationship to God that we share so much with the Roman Catholic Church. Johann Christoph Arnold, Rifton
Dear Editor: As a resident of Rosendale I must say that I am a little disappointed in the recent attitude of the Rifton Bruderhof along with the Bruderhof in general. I don't understand how such God-fearing Christians could do some of the things they appear to have done. I guess that it is even more disturbing that they are doing these horrible things to people that they know, grew up with and profess to have loved at some point.
I was raised with the notion that they were to be put on a pedestal and were of a peaceful nature, and lived by the laws of God, not man, at least in their everyday life. I may or may not know the Bible as well as the members do, but I have not been able to recall where the Bible says anything that a man can take on the position of judgment against another man.
As for former members that have family still living in the Bruderhof, I send my love and prayers for peace and happiness. As for the Bruderhof, I welcome the chance for them to have a representative contact me personally so that I may hear both sides for further understanding of their position. Roxanne Wiegert, Rosendale
Norfolk Register-Citizen -- State Police: Norfolk -- Michael Boller, 35... was charged with criminal trespass Sunday, state police said. He returned to the property of the Hutterian Brethren after being warned not to come on the premises again. He was released on a written promise to appear in Superior Court on October 23.
Ramon Sender: Mike has put himself on the line for the rest of us to see if we can get a ruling on access to the Bruderhof's various burial grounds for those of us who have loved ones buried there. Way to go, Mike! At his court appearance, Mike was given four weeks' continuance and the prosecutor said "Get a lawyer."
Hutterians Celebrate Style of Life that's Simple, Happy
by Seth H. Moseley II
Special to the Register-Citizen
The Hutterian Brothers, who practice the friendship and love they preach, put on a barbecue Sunday to the admiration of the men, women and youngsters who attended from Litchfield County and beyond...
Each moment, each hour of the afternoon there was a constant display of manners that America's mothers once taught their children...
The Hutterian woman wears a handmade dirndl skirt, a blouse and a babushka covering hair, but some wear a jumper (or a dress) with blouse underneath and a cap that ties under the chin. The man wears a white shirt and black trousers. The predominant physical feature is a smile...
A woman critic of the Hutterians once harrumphed, "They're moochers. They don't pay any taxes."
The fact: The town clerk reports the Hutterians are the largest taxpayers in town...
Rebecca Zumpe, 20, spoke glowingly of her life as a Hutterian.
"I have freedom of expression, freedom to be myself. Each weekday I drive to a nursing school where I'm in training. I stay with a friend overnight to save on driving time. I am not supervised in any way or fashion. I am trusted," she said. "And yet I can't wait to come home here each weekend. The spirituality is gripping. And we have such great fun. For example, the dances are great. A boy doesn't take a girl to a dance. Sure, boy meets girl, girl dances with boy... but everyone is there -- we are a commune when we dance. And out of it come associations, and some day I will marry, as will my friends.
"Do you know what is best here?
"I get hell [sic - ed] from everybody, which makes me want to help them."
Andy Harries, 10/4/95: I want to write a little about a type of counseling which I have taken part in earlier this year. Five of us have met on a Sunday once a month five times. We hired a room in Rookwood School, here in Andover, where we had last year's European KIT conference.
What we did is called Re-evaluation Counseling or Co-Counseling. It is not what we normally imagine under counseling. It is not going to an "expert" with problems or talking about things, and then being told what we can do and how we can change things. I think many people are like me. I do not want somebody telling me how I should lead my life and what I should do differently. Co-Counseling is all about producing a safe environment with 100% confidentiality.
Nothing which we talk about there, will ever be passed on to anybody else. This is very important and means we can feel free to talk about anything we want. We all have a need to be listened to and taken seriously and valued from the day we are born. Most of us have had experiences where we have felt that we were not really valued. We also learn there something very important; we learn to value other people and also to value ourselves. That is very important too.
Our group was led by Ben Cavanna. Every group has to have some kind of leading. Our leader was rather different to what we experience normally, or to our experiences in the Bruderhof. First, he didn't expect us to do anything he had not already done with us, so he led by example. Secondly, there was no pressure. Ben was an excellent leader. He allowed us all to go along at our own pace and when we were ready. We could always stop and ask questions or discuss issues when we wanted to, so it was very relaxed. We are considering meeting at Rookwood School again a few times early next year.
If any of you Ex-Bruderhofers are interested or would like to find out more, you are welcome to telephone or write to any of us.
Johanna Patrick Homann: I just wanted to protest about the way the B'hof refers to me when they are slamming Andy. I am called "that woman" by the Bruderhof, Andy's "live-in companion" and a lot worse over the phone when Andy was talking to his uncle in New Meadow Run, who insinuated that I was a prostitute. They don't know anything about me and have obviously not bothered to check out the gossip that they are sworn not to be involved in. They don't give me a name, which may then connect me to some of their wrongdoing, as they totally destroyed my family before expelling us in the crisis years.
They don't know or care that I was in an abusive and controlling marriage for 22 years, that I have survived the abuse and am living in my own house, with my two daughters, trying to get the education that I need to be able to support myself. Yes, Andy does live in Des Moines and I live in West Des Moines. We met at KIT in 1994 and Andy moved out to the Midwest, as we had a lot in common and felt we were a good support system for each other. He has always had his own apartment and phone number which they could have confirmed through Bronwen, as she called and wrote to Andy. What is so sick about these people is that they don't give a damn about Andy's welfare, physically or emotionally, only a superficial concern about his spiritual well-being. At least he has someone who cares about him and about all the hell he has and still is living through.
Anyway, I am upset about the way they can continue to destroy people's reputations in the name of Jesus. I believe in living my Christian beliefs rather than just preaching them. In Andy's memory book that his mother assembled before she died, there were many clear indications of the abuse he suffered as a child. Notes written by little Andy begging his mom to wake him up early so they could spend some time together, either reading or just talking, as he had to put himself to bed again because his mother was told to work late in the kitchen, like a single sister. He wrote notes from school, apologizing that he hadn't paid attention and promising to do better. He wrote notes that he really hadn't done some of the things he was accused of, but it says a lot about the way the Bruderhof treated him and his mother as second-class citizens.
At least he has a place where he feels wanted now and where all of his good qualities can shine. For all the crap he had to deal with in his formative years, it's amazing that he has turned out to be such a beautiful caring, giving human being! If they want to find fault with me for caring about this wonderful human being, then they are obviously not Christians!
There is a song, sung by Linda Rhonstadt, Emilou Harris and Dolly Parton, that Andy and I want to share with you all:
Tempted and tried, we're oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long.
While there are others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.
When death has come and taken a loved one,
It leaves our home so lonely and drear.
Then do we wonder, why others prosper,
Living so wicked year after year.
Farther along we'll learn all about it,
Farther along we'll understand why,
Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine,
We'll understand it, all by and by...
I'll close with these sentiments.
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe, 10/16/95: I feel that in all instances where this tragic and brutal handling of Andrew Bazeley's mother's death is brought forward, it should be mentioned -- at least to the press and public -- that this is by no means the first time such a thing has happened. -- Ramon learned of his daughter's death a month after she had died. -- I heard about my grandmother's death three months after her death (my Oma was my mother figure, as my mother was ill so much). -- Ernst, Sam and Dieter Arnold were refused to attend their mother Gertrude Arnold's funeral -- and Nadine was not allowed to attend her mother's funeral either. I feel that the more examples we can bring forward, the clearer the situation becomes for people not so familiar with the Bruderhof.
The real tragedy with Andrew Bazeley is that these people, who profess to be Christian and 'child-loving," did not accept a child without a father and turned his childhood and youth into a living hell for something the boy could do nothing about! This point should be stressed at all times when dealing with the Community people. (They do not know what they are talking about at all!)
In Germany, people are very shocked about the Bruderhof getting together with the Integrierte Gemeinde, which seems to be a very rich community. Cardinal Ratzinger was very much against the "believing church" which was against Nazism. He fought against people like Bonhoeffer, and is very much against any renewal in the Roman church.
Lately from Germany came a little news flash about the Hutterites from the Michaelshof. "Representatives of the Bruderhof say that they feel much unity with the Catholic community Die Integrierte Gemeinde and that they are looking for a place where they can live together in harmony, because they share the same views towards life's problems such as sex, homosexuality, sex education for the young. Together they want to buy the Castle Bobitzen that lies about 30 km from the former East German border at the river Elbe." Maybe they have bought it already! 10/20/95: I saw theChronicle video today! It is wonderful! I think Muschi and Susanna especially did a terrific job in clarifying this awful situation in which we find ourselves! Christoph did a wonderful job too! I will share it with the Schwalms who can circulate it amongst the villagers! I really enjoyed looking at it because I know all the people. Even Rudi and Winifred are right in front!
I get letters from Hutterites, and it seems that my book is well-read there. Their reaction is that, in spite of what happened to me, my book is without bitterness and is actually loving towards the Bruderhof people, which fits in with their belief in brotherly love. On the other hand, I had a letter from a German Minister of the Lutheran Church who feels that I am "too soft" on the Bruderhof, "which will make it difficult for any historian to trace out the true facts." So there you are -- you cannot please everyone!
Ben Cavanna, 10/10/95: Having just received a summons to answer a lawsuit brought by the Bruderhof against me, Mike Leblanc, Blair Purcell, Ramon Sender and Children of the Bruderhof, alleging unfair use of their trade names Hutterian Brethren and Bruderhof, damages in excess of 50,000 dollars, I talked to my Dad on the phone just now and asked him why he was suing me to the tune of 50,000 dollars. He seemed very shocked and said he knew nothing about this, but was convinced it was a hoax. I reminded him that their reaction to the gun licence news was the same and that turned out to be true. He then said that we were going our own separate ways and that he wanted to not have any further contact with me. I asked him if he thought that as a lawyer it was right to accuse, try and find guilty his own son on the basis of what a third party had said about him, without giving me the chance to defend myself. He said he was not finding me guilty. He said that Ramon Sender was out to destroy the Bruderhof and had said so publicly, and therefore anyone who associated with him my father did not want to have contact with.
I explained that this was untrue and recounted Ramon's public denial that he had said this, but my father was adamant.
He categorically assured me that there was no lawsuit, and therefore he did not need to find out about it. He said that he had given his life for the Bruderhof and therefore would not deal with me as my associates were actively trying to destroy the Bruderhof.
We apologised to each other for shouting at each other the last time we saw each other and then I reminded him that I loved him and he said he loved me very much and always would, but would have to cut off contact with me for the aforementioned reasons.
He suggested I talk to Joe and Christian, and I told him how they had cut me off in mid-dialog about six weeks ago. He suggested I talk to Christoph and I told him the sorry saga of writing to Christoph and having my letters intercepted and answered by Christian Domer, at which point we decided that no further use would come of continuing the conversation, so we said good-bye. He wanted to hang up on me on at least a couple of occasions, but could not quite bring himself to do that (the strong relationship we have had has counted for something), but I am desperately sad that this may have been my last contact with my beloved father.
I then immediately rang my brother Pedro, who is Steward at Darvell and asked him why he was suing me, and again complete shock and disbelief, a la 'gun licence time.' He pretty much reiterated what I had gone round with my father, and also said it must be a hoax, that he would never be a party to such a suit. I reminded him of the last time he had told me the gun licence was a hoax and how it had turned out not to be. He also said that I was trying to destroy the Bruderhof, and I said I was not and reminded him of previous conversations we had had, and he then amended that to say that the people that I was associating with were trying to destroy the Bruderhof. I went over the Ramon thing, which he completely ignored, and I pointed out that they associate with plenty of people who are not entirely morally clean such as the government, the military and suchlike. His reply was that the government and military are not trying to destroy the Bruderhof and so therefore we are much worse than the Government or the military!!!!!!
I told him that I could scarcely believe that I had just heard him say that. I asked him if what he was saying was that I was worse than the U.S. military and he replied that I was as the U.S. military was not out to destroy the Bruderhof Life. He wanted to finish the conversation there, and suggested I talk to Joe, Christian or Christoph so I told him that saga again, and then said that he owed it to me to find out about the lawsuit and call me back. He did not want to do that, and said that he was not suing me, so no need to come back to me on it.
I read out the first paragraphs of the summons and asked him if that was not the group he was a member of and he said no! I asked him again if he was not a member of the Hutterian Brethren in New York Inc, and he seemed less sure.
I promised him if he called back with his findings I would not shout at him, but that he at least owed me that and I asked him "has it really come to this that you are prepared to sue your own children and brothers?" I also encouraged both him and my dad to examine their consciences and hearts to see if this was what they had really given their lives for.
Let's see whether he comes back to me or not.
That's my best recollection of what transpired, and by the way I remained completely calm all through both conversations. I have kept in mind since this rather upsetting conversation that I love my family in or out of the Bruderhof and I also love my friends who are still in the Bruderhof. Another thing that I remind myself of is that I have never killed innocent people or dropped bombs on places like Vietnam or Laos, so it is not possible for me to be worse than the military. That is just fear talking and shows the level of fear that my loved ones are experiencing.
10/26/95: Up to this point I have not heard back from Pedro, so I guess the Bruderhof have finally achieved the family split that they have been attempting to force on us for the last three years. I guess that my family and I did well in keeping the relationship going for so long.
So it is clear that the leadership are taking rather extreme actions such as this lawsuit without most members' knowledge. My father works as assistant to the Steward on legal matters, and Pedro is the Steward at Darvell. Doesn't sound like unanimous Brotherhood decisions are being made around this issue at least.
One day we will break through this oppression and fear, and be able to echo that famous phrase "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last."
Blair Purcell to Rev. Goeringer, 9/29/95: ...Since I wrote last, I have received specific information that a small group of Bruderhofers at Woodcrest was initially responsible for the harassment of our telephone line beginning in May. This group brought their "accomplishment" to a brotherhood meeting at which it was debated. Several members vigorously protested what was being done as illegal, unethical and un-Christian. At least two or three of those who opposed the activity were asked to leave the meeting. My information is that at least one member was forced to leave the community over the issue and may have had to leave his family behind. It is my understanding this person is still in exclusion for his stand.
It seems to me this illustrates the essential flaw in the Bruderhof way of life. If your baptism vows require you to speak up when you perceive error in a particular policy or activity and if, as a consequence, one faces the possibility of exclusion from the very group that requires the vow, then it becomes a significant human temptation to forsake the vow taken in God's name. If you speak your conscience, you realistically face the terror of having your family wrenched apart as this man's family may have been and being forced to abandon a spiritual commitment made in Jesus' name.
It would be too easy to say, in my opinion, that this particular member met his responsibility to God by maintaining personal integrity in the face of temptation. Yes, he did that (if my source is accurately describing what occurred) and his stand may be admirable and principled, but it seems to me to render the institution under which it took place deeply flawed.
Yes, if enough people take such stands, the institution may recognize the error of its ways and make the changes necessary to regain its integrity. One would hope the Bruderhof could do that without the sacrifice and agony of even one additional member.
The telephone harassment, however, is just one example of the many offenses against their own principles carried out over their short (in a historical perspective) Anabaptist history. I speak of this example only because it is one of a few with which I am personally acquainted and it happened this year -- in 1995. The leadership cannot say this happened long ago and should be forgiven -- as they have asked former members to do in so many other situations.
God's kingdom does come first, even before father and mother, brother and sister, and all other earthly ties --Ębut former members (to the extent of my personal knowledge) have NEVER asked family members inside the Bruderhof to abandon their personal or institutional relationship with God. None have asked families to leave the community. They have only anticipated that love for family, as exemplified by God's love for His family, be allowed to encompass those who have chosen other paths as they make their way through life.
If the community can bring those convicted of serious crimes into their midst and embrace those of other faiths when accused and convicted of murder, then how can they justify excluding family members who were simply not "called" to their way of life? I can only assume they have not excluded you from visiting in a friendly and open manner -- and you have not (yet) been called!
I have spoken with several whose qualification to comment I respect in the same manner I respect yours. None of them interpret the few biblical references to following God before family as spiritual justification for Bruderhof policy in this matter. On this issue, I firmly believe you are wrong.
My further belief is that community members and leaders have simply been unable to face the shortcomings that inevitably attach to any human endeavor. There is almost always a "circle the wagons" mentality when challenged on any issue of policy or behavior. The institution must be protected at all costs (un-Christian acts of harassment, wire tapping, intimidation, coercion, - - -) and they simply fail to recognize the effect on those who are a flesh and blood part of them.
Neither do they recognize the cost to themselves, as they fire back from the circled wagons, in failing to address the issues raised by those who care for them a great deal - their children. By giving up conscience, they find themselves unable even to recognize the serious spiritual misdeeds of their leaders and themselves -- for each member must share in the consequences of what is done in their name if they are willing to abrogate personal responsibility for those acts.
Your implied challenge in your letter to me was to find a way to correct these Bruderhof errors that you, yourself, acknowledge without damaging the church itself. What do you suggest? Your prayers and ours have not yet been answered in this "present time of crisis" and there is a continuous pattern of crisis here, past, present and probable future. When will it end? At what spiritual and human cost?
Hilarion Braun, to Christoph Arnold and Dick Domer, 10/16/95: After reading the accusations you filed in court and your letter to Goeringer, Dick, I decided to write to both of you as a child of the Bruderhof.
I challenge you, Dick, to find one falsehood I have published in KIT, since you openly and publicly have claimed that all KIT writers are liars, and then proceed to put it into biblical terms, relating us to the devil.
Why, Dick are you such a coward and non-Christian? What have I ever done to the SOB and where do you have any evidence of my lies??
As a Bruderhof child, I was taught never to resist evil with force or the law, just as Christ taught us. How is it then that you use police force against Mike Boller, for example, and the federal courts against us, as in the case of the proceedings in Albany. NY? I have tried to phone Christoph, but was told he would call back -- no call back.
If you insist on using the might of the U.S. Justice Department and the police against us, we will have no choice but to defend ourselves. I wish you would think carefully about this and all the damage this will do. Financially, you are a giant, but morally and legally, only time will judge where you stand. So far, you have shown no regard for decency in your legal actions and, Dick, in your pronouncements regarding KIT and COB. As I have stated in KIT, I am not a party to hurting the Bruderhof communities, and anyone who thinks or says so is misguided. To this day, you in the Bruderhof communities have refused to answer my questions regarding the destruction of Primavera and the theft of my parents' reparations from Germany.
What I and others want is a free and truthful exchange between all people, on and off the hof, and a humane treatment of expelled persons. If that is wrong, please indicate why. Also, Dick, either point out where I have lied in KIT or retract your accusation and refrain from such nonsense in the future.
Christoph! What is your position on this? Please deal only with me, as I only am responsible for what I write in KIT. In the hope that you will think carefully about what is going to happen and how much your wealth relative to our poverty is justified. If I had the wealth that you have, I could falsely accuse you as you accused COB without it causing me any damage. However I am not wealthy, just like the poor Blacks who are often mistreated under the law because they cannot raise the money it takes for defending one's innocence.
This letter is meant as a personal conversation, not as a legal proceeding. Love,
P.S. I would appreciate it if the Brotherhood were given a reading of my letter with pertinent background.
To KIT: The above is the last in a series of personal letters that I have written to Christoph, always asking to be read to the brotherhood. Never once have I received a reply.
To Jim and Carolyn, Marcus and Rita, 10/21/95: Your Sept '95 issue of CAT arrived today, after I studied the lawsuit you all have filed against us, the children of the Bruderhof, and after hearing of your use of police force in Deerspring against unarmed, peaceable Mike Boller. Neither of these stories strikes me as particularly encouraging in terms of what today's B'hof stands for.
In your September issue, you speak of love and forgiveness, and against violence!! Why was police force used against Mike Boller!? I know him, and he would not hurt a fly! Why would you file a lawsuit against people, falsely accusing them of confusing your clients?
I don't know you, but I know the Bruderhof as it was before 1962. In those days, it was impossible even to discuss use of the police against anyone!! We were absolute pacifists. The teachings of Christ to suffer injustice rather than to cause it were our guide and firm belief. When the "world" discovers, and it will if this court case goes forward, what has become of the "Bruderhof," that just a short time assumed another name, you, as editors, will find that the truth, even when spoken by "enemies," is simply that: the truth. You will find that you have gone astray and need to turn away from the grotesque abuse of your wealth, or else join all the other churches that have long given up on charity and love. You, as editors, have a resistibility to find and speak the truth, and we as readers have the obligation to answer your quest for reaction and comment. Love,
Brother Witless' Lawyer (Name Withheld): Sir: On behalf of my client, Brother Witless, I must protest in the strongest possible terms, or possibly stronger, that on page 3 of the October, 1995, issue of KIT a certain Naomi Withheld purports to quote from him the following quote: "The Bruderhof believes in Blumhardt and Eberhard, but not in the Sacred Heart of Jesus." (End of quote), a quote he has never quoted and, as he quoted to me, "I'm not blooming well ever likely to quote."
With my client's permission, I have slightly altered the wording of this last quote to avoid his causing a legally indictable offense under the Offensive Language Act of 1789. If any further quoting of quotes not quoted by my client should ever be quoted by you, I shall be forced to contact the B-------- organisation (one can't be too careful, can one?), a recent acquisition of the Catholic Church in America, to ascertain the name and address of their lawyer who, I understand, is adept at writing writs. So, to use your own quaint, idiosyncratic speech, "Watch it, buddy!" (you may quote me on that). P.S. This seemingly harmless mistake could have serious consequences for my client, should this misquote be read by certain people, as he could face a possible expulsion from his local branch of the A.A. (Agnostics Anonymous).
Chronicle, the Needham, Massachusetts television program on 10/11/95, (Ch 5 WCVB -- ABC affiliate for the Boston area) focused on the Bruderhof/KIT controversy. Here are some excerpts:
MARY RICHARDSON: A pacifist Christian community with a need for a .44 Magnum. They believe in brotherly love, but they're accused of wiretapping and harassment.
JULIUS RUBIN: It's the type of weapon Dirty Harry uses in Clint Eastwood movies!
BLAIR PURCELL: Ultimately, I did receive a total of three death threats.
MARY: The Bruderhof, a spiritual mission, with a corporate jet, and some very unamerican values.
MARY: (to Christoph): Do you believe in democracy?
RAMON SENDER: It's absolutely unconscionable not to let a father know that his daughter is dying of cancer!
MARY: Charges of family ties torn apart, or bound too tightly, all in the name of the Lord.
CHRISTOPH: Ah, Satan, he's a wicked guy. He's at work overtime!
MARY: The Bruderhof. Doing God's work? Next!...
MARY: ...Ex-members of the community have since come forward with allegations of a different side to life inside the Bruderhof. They tell of a totalitarian world where mind control, wiretapping, weapons, harassment and paranoia are weaving themselves into the fabric of life in the Bruderhof.
MIRIAM ARNOLD HOLMES: They put on a wonderful front. No, they have had good P. R, you know, and there was a article in The Boston Globe about them not so long ago.
MARY: Miriam Arnold Holmes, ex-member and granddaughter of the founder, Eberhard Arnold.
MUSCHI: This is so completely opposite to what he had in mind!...
MARY: ..."Keep In Touch" is a newsletter that acts as a sounding board for ex-Bruderhof members. KIT was started by Ramon Sender, a one-time Bruderhof novice who dropped out of the community and then lost touch with his daughter who remained behind. A few years ago, Sender tried once again to contact her, only to be told she had died.
MARY: Do you blame the Bruderhof for, at the end, for not letting you know?
RAMON: I think it's absolutely unconscionable not to let a father know that his daughter is dying of cancer! I think it's the most horrible thing in the world!
MARY: Sender's experience is shared by other ex-members, who claim the Bruderhof pressures their relatives into cutting off family communications.
FAITH TSUKROFF: I think we were very, very badly marked by all of this.
MARY: Tension mounted this summer when the Bruderhof was accused of trying to plant a recording device at a meeting of ex-Bruderhof members. Blair Purcell, whose wife grew up in the Bruderhof and hasn't seen her parents in years, says the attempted bugging of the Kingston conference is part of a larger pattern of harassment the Bruderhof has launched against its critics. One high-ranking ex-member found a wire tap on his phone, and an 800 hot line number for ex-members was put on a phone sex advertisement.
BLAIR: We received 1713 calls in twenty-two days. Ultimately, I did receive a total of three death threats.
ANONYMOUS VOICE FROM KIT MESSAGE MACHINE: "Oh yeah, I'll be watching you! That'll give you something to write about!"
MARY: A trace on the calls reveals that most came from New York State near the Bruderhof's Woodcrest community.
ANONYMOUS VOICE: "Yeah, I've got a message for you. Go f____ yourselves!"
MARY: And you think this was all orchestrated by people at the Bruderhof.
BLAIR: Nobody else would have any motives! That's the answer...
MARY: (to Christoph) How about wiretapping?
CHRISTOPH: I -- I did not have anything to do with it. So, I mean, you would also like to know what's happening, wouldn't you, with, you know, if people get together about your family and so on? So we're also human beings... who make mistakes.
MARY: Phone taps, harassing calls, electronic surveillance, odd ministries, to be sure, for devout Amishlike Christians. But nothing has alarmed the critics of the Bruderhof more than Christoph Arnold's application for a license to carry a concealed weapon.
JULIUS: I would say that Eberhard Arnold would be turning in his grave, almost on the principle of the rotisserie... It's just unthinkable, in terms of their early history, that they would have any guns at all!
CHRISTOPH: Hmph! It's an American right... isn't it?
MARY: Arnold says the criticism is overkill. The gun, now gone, was for rabid animals. (to Christoph) They say that on the permit application, you wrote it was "for personal protection."
CHRISTOPH: Against a rabid animal it is personal protection, and it is the only reason that the law enforcement people understand! So, I just put it because everybody else puts it that way!
JULIUS: The concealed weapon that he chose is a .44 Magnum pistol. It's called a 'cannon.' It's the kind of weapon that Dirty Harry used in the Clint Eastwood movies. One doesn't use .44-caliber, laser-sighted weapon that you conceal on your person to shoot a rabid animal... I think that, sincerely, they are afraid of some type of attack from the outside. I think they really see the world in terms of enemies that are set out to destroy them...
MARY: Cut off from her family, Susanna's story... (to Susanna) And when did the trouble start for you in the Bruderhof?
SUSANNA ZUMPE: Well, trouble, it's hard to say... I think I realized like that I felt I should leave, or wanted to leave, by the time, I was like twelve, I would say, because I felt that if that was what God was, what they were representing, then I didn't want to have any part of it.
MARY: Susanna Zumpe always had trouble fitting into the restrictive life style of the Bruderhof. She had to make public confessions to such crimes as shaving her legs or listening to Simon and Garfunkle, for example. But at the age of twelve, a far more potent evil entered her life. In this sexually reactionary community where hand-holding and flirting are considered the work of the devil, Susanna claims an older male member of the Bruderhof sexually molested her in a shower. He is still with the community, and she is now on the outside, away from the family she loves. (to Susanna) Has justice been done there?
SUSANNA: I don't feel it has. If somebody there commits a crime that is a crime in the United States of America, they should also be treated like anybody else living here, and they shouldn't have their own set of rules.
MARY: (to Christoph) Are you familiar with the case?
CHRISTOPH. A little bit, a little bit, but not enough. That happened in one of the other communities.
MARY: Yes, but you're in charge of the communities, though.
CHRISTOPH: Yes, but I wasn't involved.
MARY: Christoph Arnold pleads ignorance of Susanna's situation. Sort of.
CHRISTOPH: I think Susanna's also exaggerating it. Because I've read her letters in KIT, and you can't believe everything she says...
MARY: Miriam Arnold Holmes was excluded for two years inside the communities. No one spoke to her, no one ate with her. She was a virtual untouchable. Then one day, in 1964, Miriam was put in a car and driven out of the community.
MUSCHI: And we rode out. They didn't tell me where I was going, nobody said good-bye. Nobody came to the car.
MARY: She was dropped off at a YWCA outside Pittsburgh. The Bruderhof gave her fifty dollars to start a new life.
MUSCHI: My heart just broke for my father. I thought, 'My father is never going to live this one down!'
CHRISTOPH: In the outside world, if a child does listen to Papa and Mama, don't they sometimes say "You are out of here if you don't abide by my rules?"
MARY: To the Bruderhof, exclusion is simply a tool to help man get right with God.
CHRISTOPH: And the minute, you know, where we feel a new beginning, we welcome them with open arms! And it's not "You're a goner! We forget about you!"
MARY: But does the community see Satan at work in the outside world?
CHRISTOPH: In the outside world, yes, and in us too. Boy, Satan, he's... he's a wicked guy! Man alive, he's at work overtime!...
MARY: ...The Bruderhof spent its early years in desperate poverty. No more!
JULIUS: I would say it's in the several-hundred-million-dollar range. We're dealing with a very prosperous, wealthy, very powerful business.
MARY: Unlike the Amish, the Bruderhof has no aversion to technology. In fact, they're into high technology.
CHRISTOPH: It belongs to free enterprise. I don't know if our listeners have heard of the American dream of free enterprise. We want part of the pie also.
MARY: Arnold says that the Bruderhof's Gulfstream jet is chartered out as a business. He acknowledges using it for mission trips, but denies rumors that he uses it for personal vacations with his family.
CHRISTOPH: Some people might think that because I travel to Europe, I travel to Israel, I travel to Nigeria, that I am a very special person and that I have lots of fun. It isn't that glorious as it looks.
MARY: Now, how does that fit with your grandfather's philosophy?
MUSCHI: Vow of poverty! He believed in the vow of poverty! He would say that his flock has really gone astray.
CHRISTOPH: Yes, we live in good times, a lot better and... good times make bad Christians, and we have to be careful. But... I'm STILL proud of the jet!!
MARY: If the Bruderhof has taken to free enterprise, they are not so sure about other American values. (to Christoph) Do you believe in democracy?
CHRISTOPH: No! I am thankful for democracy. Democracy is better. We have lived under Hitler, so democracy isn't all bad, but democracy can be a tool of Satan. It can hide other evils.
MARY: Satan is real to you. It is not an idea.
CHRISTOPH: He is a hundred percent real. For us, there are only two powers, that's light and darkness. There is no gray in-between.
MARY: That tendency to see the world in terms of black and white, light and darkness, in or out, us or them, may make finding middle ground difficult.
CHRISTOPH: Jesus says that in the end times, daughter will turn against father, brother against brother, sister against sister, children against parents, the house will be divided, and it's going to get worse before it gets better.
MARY: There are signs that the world is nearing the end times?
JULIUS: Like all tragedies, I don't think this tragedy, or this story, will have a happy ending. I think it's possible that -- like other groups such as the Branch Davidians, they could become convinced that this is the end time, that the attack made by ex-members, by sociologists, possibly by congressional or governmental investigations, that this would be the end of the world.
MARY: At the same time there are people of goodwill on both sides who want to heal the rift and talk it out and hope to come to some resolution....
Julius Rubin, 10/24/95: I met with Christian Domer and Joe Keiderling on the morning of October 24, 1995 at Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University. Our taped conversation lasted approximately one hour and forty-five minutes. The meeting was scheduled at Christian's and Joe's request, and they began by expressing their concerns about the recent Chronicle TV show. They wanted to reassure me and others that the Bruderhof was not in danger of internal collapse and did not view the world in an end-time scenario. They felt that my interpretation was without foundation and was leading outsiders to view the movement in mistaken and troubling ways.
I told them that Christoph had mentioned the end times in his interview. I voiced a concern that conflict with KITfolk could escalate and might cause tragic results given an atmosphere of guard dogs, weapons, anger and mistrust. If someone were accidentally injured or killed, state and federal investigations could result, questioning the tax-exempt status, child welfare, or use of social security funds. It would be easy to feel under pressure and attack from the state and a hostile world. Throughout our discussion, I urged the Bruderhof to lessen the level of conflict, to search for ways of finding peace, and to use fair witnesses and neutral third parties to mediate issues in dispute.
We discussed Christoph's permit to carry a concealed weapon and the purchase of a .44 magnum pistol. Christian was adamant that Danny Moody had led Christoph astray, convincing the leadership of threats from the outside. Christoph had erred when he gave in to Danny. When Christoph realized his error several months later, he returned the weapon. I pressed Christian on this matter, arguing that the weapon was a violation of the teachings of Eberhard Arnold, a contradiction for a pacifist, and a great sin. I urged Christoph to confess, repent and seek forgiveness from Jesus and the brotherhood. While this statement clearly annoyed Christian, he confirmed that Christoph did confess and repent of his sin. In light of this fact, Christian felt that KIT was making too much of the weapon episode.
Also, Christian denied that the weapon and permit were secured for personal protection from Brian Bachman who allegedly made threats against Christoph's life. The two events were coincidental, but not connected, according to Joe and Christian.
Christian asked me to explain why I wanted to study the Bruderhof, especially after they had refused me permission in 1991 to examine their records and archives. I explained that the Bruderhof could not control me, "that's not your call." I became convinced, despite disavowals from Milton Zimmerman and Hans Meier, that Bruderhof adolescents and young adults suffered forms of severe depressive illness associated with their conversion and spirituality. To my surprise and delight, Christian confirmed this was true, but denied the existence of a formal "Society Syndrome." He said that the refusal to allow me to conduct research in the community would continue. He and Joe maintained that this statement was indicative of the depth and sincerity of their life together in community. Only men and women of good faith, earnest seekers could come to them. I argued that they let Yaacov Oved and the Israelis study and write books and articles about them. The Israelis were not searching for a Christ-centered life, they were highly-secularized Israelis, academics, and kibbutznicks -- not pious, ultra-orthodox Jews. Christian and Joe were not troubled by this apparent contradiction.
I informed them that my book was finished. The Other Side of Joy is under review by an academic press and will be available by late fall, 1996, if everything goes smoothly. But, I told them that the research and writing did not stop with my writing a book or KIT's ongoing newsletters. Virginia Sprague, Tim Miller, Andrea Perterer and other academics have focused upon the Bruderhof, and would be researching and writing books, articles and giving papers at scholarly meetings.
Christian and Joe spoke at length of what they see as harassment, disinformation, even prevarication by key KITfolk and organizers of Children of the Bruderhof. Christian said that he called Andrew Bazeley the day his mother died, but Andrew never expressed a desire to attend the funeral. Christian was troubled by the e-mail from Blair and others asserting a child's legal right to attend the funeral. I mentioned that we have differing versions of events. Again, we needed a fair witness to sort out these questions and to make a policy that both KITfolk and the community could live with -- and with less anger, misunderstanding and conflict.
Christian and Joe were unconvinced, agreeing that they did not have any goodwill toward KIT or Children of the Bruderhof. Christian was concerned that if I did not accept, without reservation or question, his narrative of events, and his interpretations, then I was not listening. I replied that some of his accounts were not easily believed, contradictory or unconvincing. But that I also did not readily believe everything asserted in KIT. Some stories were fantastic or contradictory. The truth was always being tested and contested.
Thomas Cromwell, 10/22/95: First, my hat off to Charles Lamar for his brilliant critique of liberalism in the October KIT. This was the best piece I have read in KIT. It was comprehensive, lucid and highly relevant. It was also fair (he didn't overlook the failings of conservatism). I would like to add a few observations.
One of the features of liberal organizations (as well as many other ideological organizations) is that they tend to confuse others by disguising their real nature and impact in the nicest-sounding agendas. Thus some animal rightists see nothing wrong with killing human beings whom they consider enemies of their cause, or right-to-lifers (on the other side of the aisle) justify murdering doctors who perform abortions. Also, typically, liberal organizations themselves are not run in democratic ways; they are usually managed by a handful of key people (or just one person) who set the agenda and direct the organization. (In a parallel model, Greece has so-called anarchists, who are one of the most tightly-organized anti-government forces in the country.)
This phenomenon was taken to its extreme in this century by the Communists. They robed themselves in all the finest labels (peace-loving, anti-greed, pro-worker, defenders of the poor, egalitarians, democrats, etc.) but were organized to give all the power and wealth to a tiny, unelected minority (the nomenklatura) while depriving the masses of basic freedoms and a reasonable life. They were constantly at war with "enemies of the people." The manifestations of Communism and fascism are virtually the same (totalitarianism), but Communism is more dangerous because of its deceptive packaging.
How does this relate to the Bruderhof? There is a common thread in letters to KIT which complains about the dynastic nature of Arnold power in the Bruderhof and the privileges enjoyed by leaders (the wine and sausages Bette mentioned in the October KIT). It is also suggested that the leaders are engaged in activities of which the rank-and-file members are not aware. This is quite likely the case. As Charles points out, the notion that all people are equal is a dangerous myth. The fact is that no two people are equal (let alone the 5.5 billion on earth) and thank goodness (and God) for that! Humans are only equal in that they can all achieve their individual potentials as sons and daughters of God. Of course there is differentiation among Bruderhof members. The problem is that the Bruderhof itself is not clear (or open, at least) about this and its reasons for its assignments of authority and responsibility (the two have to go hand in hand if an organization is to survive). It would not last without a hierarchy.
The problems the Bruderhof seems to be facing today have a lot to do with the problems that surface in all well-intentioned organizations that are not willing to admit the bases for their own organizational existence. Thus, KIT corespondents find again and again that the Bruderhof is not living up to its own ideals, that it is 'un-Christian" and so on. I am sure that Bruderhof leaders do not see it like this at all. They probably say to themselves that in order to preserve their idyllic life they have to deal with the hostile world on its own terms (lawsuits, harassments, etc.) This is, of course, the slippery slope of an end justifying the means (e.g. pacifist toting guns). It can destroy an altruistic organization.
The great majority of abuses that have occurred in the Bruderhof (as revealed in KIT) occurred, I believe, through wrong-headed application of idealistic principles. My father, Llewelyn Harries was, by all accounts, one of the worst abusers during his relatively short stay at the top. I was born the year he went over the top (slapping members, isolating kids, 'driving Satan out' of all and sundry), was sent to a mental hospital with a severe nervous breakdown and then off to live alone in the woods (to be followed in later years with repeated exclusions and reconciliations). Thus I never knew my father at his infamous worst. But I did know my father, who has since passed away, as an Old Testament man. He was concerned with the law. He tried too hard to do what was right, never recognizing the contradiction between his actions and the ideals of the Bruderhof (or his actions and the ideals of a good and loving parent, for that matter).
In all fairness, however, the Bruderhof is typical of communal religious organizations, rather than unique in this. If you think you had a rough time growing up in the Bruderhof, I suggest you read Karen Armstrong's Through the Narrow Gate in which she describes her seven years in a Catholic convent run on Jesuit principles. The regimen there makes the Bruderhof look like one long picnic.
Our parents (and some of us) 'left the world' to join the Bruderhof because the world seemed so bad and full of sin. People of all races and nations have been joining religious sects for similar reasons as long as religion has existed. They will continue to do so, as they seek meaning and purity in life. There are almost always tensions created between those who make the religious commitment and those left behind, whether family, friends or colleagues. The denial of the world always seems difficult to understand from the outside. The Bruderhof is a radical departure (but not the most radical). Our relations with it are almost bound to be problematic as a result. Nevertheless, I suggest there are a few issues on which KIT can profitably focus in its relations with the Bruderhof.
1. The importance of family ties: It is wrong for a religious organization, which is the creation of man, to stand in the way of family love and unity, which is the creation of God. Any sacrifice of family love for altruistic purposes should be voluntary and should not be used as an excuse for the destruction of families.
2. The care for those sent away: While someone who has donated wealth to a religious cause cannot expect to be repaid, it is a matter of human decency and religious responsibility to someone in need to be helped make a transition back to life outside the religious organization.
3. Recognition and apology for any abuses of leadership, especially against children.
Abuses do take place, in all organizations, because human beings are fallible and have a fallen nature. Admission and apology by a perpetrator can help a victim set about compensating for any harm done. A couple of years ago, KIT regularly carried some letters sympathetic with at least some elements of the Bruderhof. Now the newsletter is full of bad news about the Community (sometimes gleefully reported) with most issues ending with invitations for readers to link up with anti-cult cults like CAN (a pathetic organization that feeds off human misery). I think KITfolk might even feel shy to say something good about the Bruderhof (except in recalling a distant memory) because it has become politically incorrect to view the Community with sympathy in KIT. This is not healthy.
The Bruderhof has contributed to KIT's polemic posture by unwisely demonizing KIT and fueling the fires of KIT wrath by denying contact between contributors and their family members still inside. COB is an interesting idea, but it has already set itself up as an 'enemy' organization by choosing as its first weapon a provocative news conference on the Woodcrest doorstep. Confrontation and extreme actions do work sometimes (see Greenpeace, the Civil Rights movement, the PLO, etc.) but there can be a high price to pay in human suffering. If it is dialogue one seeks, however, you must respect the sensibilities of those you wish to reach. You would not, for example, enter a Buddhist temple with your boots on to conduct a dialogue with its monks.
KIT is a wonderful opportunity for former Bruderhofers to network and share. It has already helped many come to terms with difficult experiences in their pasts. The efforts of its editors to link it with the anti-cult movement are, however, ill-conceived and counterproductive. Let KIT not become a vehicle for an unarticulated anti-Bruderhof agenda, but remain what it claims to be: an open forum for the exchange of information and opinion about the Bruderhof. It cannot do better than that. Best wishes,
Name Withheld, 10/2/95: After reading the August/September KIT issue, I felt a heartache about the seeming lack of progress of many people's efforts in establishing a better relationship between themselves and the Community. A few issues ago I think it was Paulo Allain who suggested we all start directing positive energy -- thoughts of love, forgiveness, prayer energy, whatever one wants to call them -- towards the Community in order to bring about positive change. I would like to re-broach the same idea, and suggest we take collective, positive action, at this time, because I feel it is the only energy that can start the process moving toward a constructive resolution. Many of you have done all that is possible on a human level. Probably many have prayed for a resolution for many years. But if we would, as a group, focus our energy by asking our Higher Power to intervene and bring a loving resolution to the issue, we may see a shift in the present impasse.
When the Berlin Wall crumbled a few years ago, it came as an unexpected surprise to many. For so long it seemed that this Wall would be there forever, guarded by political systems that disregarded all human rights. Suddenly, one day, it all came down after years and years of unspeakable suffering on the part of millions of people on both sides of the Iron Curtain. One cannot help but wonder if a significant factor that contributed to this event wasn't the energy generated from millions of spoken and unspoken prayers that were uttered, cries of hearts that had suffered so long from being separated from their loved ones, and the righteous anger of the injustice of it all that boiled in so many people's breasts.
The laws of the universe eventually catch up with any injustice. What goes around comes around. When we understand these laws, we can assist and accelerate this law of 'karma' by using positive energy in the form of prayer, meditation or thoughts to bring about the needed change.
So my point is: the law of love and justice in the universe will eventually kick in to correct any situation. I am suggesting that for the next three months, we all, or whoever feels inclined to do so, send thoughts of love and forgiveness on a daily basis, or several times a day, to the communities in general and specifically to Christoph and all leaders there, and/or to anyone toward whom we have personal resentment. It is best to ask that the situation be resolved in a matter beneficial to all concerned since we may not ourselves know the ultimate best resolution. We all need to change, to learn and to grow. We need to do so in God's time frame, and no one knows what is best for another.
I realize that this suggestion may meet with 'boos' or cynicism from some, and may appear too idealistic and impossible to others. But from my personal experience, it has been the only way I have been able to overcome many of my resentments and other difficulties in life, when my own attempts have failed. I must have a lot of Libra in my horoscope, because I do not easily tolerate injustice of any kind. My first impulse is to want to speak out and fight back until righteousness prevails. And I don't give up easily. In this way I have often let my thoughts and emotions consume me, but without accomplishing the goal. I wanted things resolved according to my perceptions.
Over many years, my painful and humbling lessons have been to learn to surrender, to forgive, and to send love rather than to 'win.' It has not been easy, and I have learned that I was not always right: that the 'right' thing was somewhere in the middle between the two extremes of opinions. Sometimes, when surrendering to my Higher Power, I had to, and still have to, repeat the words of love and forgiveness through clenched teeth while growling under my breath. But because I know theoretically that the law of 'karma' works, I persevere. I learned that if I kept on doing the right thing, the right feeling would eventually follow. Gradually I would come to the point of being able to release and forgive and even feel love toward the person or situation' and then I would be free to go on with my life.
If enough of us send waves of love to the community and release our own frustrations and pain to the Higher Power, I am certain we will eventually see beneficial results. The changes will begin in us first, in that we will experience peace of mind and heart. Eventually these waves of love will reach the shores for which they were intended. We don't have to visualize how the change should occur. We just send the love and leave it at that. Providence has a way of knowing what is best for each of us and will lovingly lead everyone to their intended goal.
Because there are many years of bitterness, misunderstanding and resentment accumulated, it may take longer than three months to achieve the results hoped for. But we need to start somewhere. We can never change someone else who is not ready to change, does not think they need to change, or who does not have a vision of being different. Many of the members of the community have not had the opportunity of experiencing the broader spectrum of life that some of us know. Some of what we are asking fro may be threatening to them on many levels. When one feels backed into a corner, one tends to resist with every resource one possesses. We have all been in such situations.
I, for my part, have started to send love to the community daily, or whenever they come to mind. It only takes a few seconds, and does not require a special time, place or ritual. Whenever thoughts of resentment and past hurts surface, one can quickly stop the thought pattern and redirect it in a positive way by saying something like, "I am powerless to change this, so I lovingly turn this problem over to my Higher Power." Then forget it and go on with life.
In modern therapy and the many healing modalities used today, this method of forgiveness and release is increasingly practiced. If nothing else, it is beneficial to our own physical and emotional health not to harbor bitterness and unresolved conflicts. I have read case histories that describe unexpected miracles and resolutions to lifelong conflicts that occurred when this type of "therapy" was practiced. Wouldn't it be great if our combined positive energies would start bringing about a resolution by Christmas, so that family members could visit each other and experience a joyful holiday season? Let's try it! I send my love and support to everyone,
Hannah Goodwin Johnson, 10/18/95: I am an impatient reader -- Charlie, please! [Responding to Charlie Lamar's essay on equality in the October KIT -ed] Here is one of the most famous eighteenth century formulas in Civics: "Some form of association must be found as a result of which the whole strength of the community will be enlisted for the protection of the person and property of each constituent member in such a way that each, when united to his fellows, renders obedience to his own will and remains as free as he was before." Turned into a self-help group slogan: "Observing freedom of participation, each constituent member in obedience to his High Power, will be enlisted for the protection of every other person (whose inner light is her/his Higher Power) in some form of governmental association."
There is the despairing cry of Jean-Paul Sartre's twentieth century anguish to be reckoned with: "But given that man is free and that there is no human nature for me to depend on, I cannot count on men whom I do not know by relying on human goodness or man's concern for the good of society." Where is the equation?
Of course Jefferson meant "all men (who can access and amass wealth to the same degree) are created equal..." and that can only mean he was striving to create a god in his own image. His hidden agenda is not so hidden in the context of history as in "The Declaration..." But, please, that doesn't mean equality does not and cannot exist.
I found "Ethan Martin's personal conflict" with the commune very profound [October KIT - ed]. His private release was equal to their group act and so all they could do was deny him a marriage license. The tragic pity is, and most pitiful it has become, that their own licenses to make babies cannot cure their own posterity of "Ethan's personal problem."...
The equal parenting by each "biologically contributing entity" to the next generation renders us obedient to the Creator who made heaven and earth and the innumerable differences in humanity. Equal does not men "the same," oh no! Equal means the freedom to behold those things that are equal. Human behavior needs the concern of religious leaders. Economic policies are the governments' business and I have relied, on the few nations that have consented to my existence, on their "Concern for the good of society."....
Unfortunately for many boys, most girls start early with verbal wit. Taking advice about limits from a young woman is not generally a young man's notion of a free thinker... Having been brought up to be seen and not heard, I was in utter despair of verbal communication. I felt like a bird with clipped wings set loose in craggy wilds. As to being worth seeing, I was not given any positive programming to that end either. I felt I had no choice but to fly (and writing is to be heard and not seen) in the face of the conventions and pageantry of modeling myself as simply beautiful, to find instead "some form of association' of more value. Lost in the resentment of career pressure and not finding understanding from the opposite sex, I lost hope.
The masturbation cycle confessed to in KIT's Vol. VII, 8-9, 1995, is a notable effort in self-analysis. "Sin, horror, confession, shame, being taken care of (in the punitive exclusion that was to be reckoned with, I suppose) forgiveness, harmony and bliss, resolution, boredom, crisis (fixation) SIN!"...
The crisis-clearing cycles of the Arnold commune follow the masturbation dynamic with "the SIN" occurring in the scapegoated person. The release of anyone "stirring up trouble" and all the verbal ejaculate that goes along with it is "The expense of spirit in a waste of shame" (Shakespeare Sonnet CXXIX). In a crisis, someone must be excommunicated and then comes the horror of assorted (you never know what you're gonna get) sundry other exclusions to find conniving guilt, and scare up confessed needs.
Somehow the confessional sorrow does not receive salvation. Could it be the coercive circumstance that prevents the cleansing grace and leaves only a building-up of a big pile of shame? Some might participate in the tension-release of crisis-clearing as a way for humans to handle social stress. For others it becomes too demanding, an added physical and mental stress that is debilitating...
Raphael (Jason) Barton, 10/24/95: This will be my first entry in KIT since my leaving the B'hof. I have really enjoyed reading KIT, and I can identify with a lot of you out there. What I ran from and what I see as all the more prevalent is the slow but methodical downfall of the community, this downfall being caused from within. I don't really know where to start, as there is so much that could be told. One thing I do want to make clear from the start is that, in spite of everything that the Bruderhof has put me through, there is much that I thank them for as far as my outlook on life; for even if what they say is not put into practice all the time, it works when it is!
My leaving the Bruderhof did not come easy for me, and time and time again I tossed it over in my mind: should I, shouldn't I? At the time I did leave, there was so much confusion inside me as to what I had really become a part of. Also I was struggling with feelings of bisexuality. Here I was in love with the elder's daughter but finding a growing bond between myself and a young man not yet committed to the church. There were also several cases of sexual harassment at the hands of four brothers, one of whom was a Servant, and another who is a Witness Brother. The first of the cases I reported by letter in regard to what the brother was doing after talking with a friend of mine. The brother stopped harassing me, but I never heard back about it, and the brother concerned was not put out of the brotherhood. This made me question as to whether or not I was being tested.
The one other brother was doing Night Watch duty and found me up late doing my art homework. He began rubbing himself against me, and tried to cop a feel of my personal parts. When I asked him please to stop, he told me that he would write me up as being disrespectful to him, knowing that I had had several write-ups already and didn't need another one. This was almost the last straw for me. I know it would do no good to go and rat, as nothing would be done, as on other occasions.
All of a sudden, things started to go really badly for me. I don't know if it was because I was dating one of the elder's girls and people felt the need to get into my business or what. One Kadima [young singles group - ed] boy my age felt the need to try and get me in as much trouble as possible, as well as messing around with my girl. Too bad for him and the other people, because it always backfired in their face once I talked to Christoph. Ian was the worst for this kind of stuff, and as soon as Christoph went on a trip, he would come at me with some out-of-the-sky accusations of leading another sister on as well as flirting with two Western Hutterite girls who happened to be my girl's best friends. He was put in his place.
One thing I never could understand was the fact that Servants and their kids always had nice things like stereos, shoes, first pick of this and first pick of that. And when the family I was with asked if they could have a dog, they were told "no." But not too long afterwards, the Winters were given a big German Shepherd. Go figure!
All these things and much, much more led to my realizing that I did not belong in such a power-hungry, hypocritical, cultishly run environment, where if you did not say "yes" or agree, you were not "in the right spirit" and thus put out. This kind of control by fear of being ousted if you stand as an individual for what you believe in is the first classic sign of a cult.
Once I had left, I was bombarded by different brothers and Kadima friends who tried all their wiles on me to get me to return. I was told to call Christoph who, once I said that I was not coming back right then, shouted something down the phone and then proceeded to hang up on me without a good-bye or anything. Finally, my friend told some of them [to their face - ed] that obviously I had made up my mind and was not going back that night. I forget who it was my friend spoke with, but basically he told him to mind his own business, and at that point went for the phone and told them if they did not leave right then, he would call the police. The next night much the same happened, only this time it was Christoph himself [who showed up - ed]. After much back-and-forth, my friend once again got up to call the cops. This, as you can imagine, caused Christoph to become really angry. He asked me if I would let my friend call the cops on him, to which I replied something along the lines of that it wasn't my house and my friend could do what he wanted.
Christoph then told me I would catch all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases and die and go to hell. My father was shipped over from the Darvell bruderhof in England to try and talk me out of my decision. He read me a letter from my girlfriend that made me out to be this Big Time Sinner. What was funny was that most of the stuff she brought up, at the time it happened, she herself thought was fun and cool. This was another thing about the Bruderhof I could never stand: how quickly one person will sell out another in order to save their own skin instead of taking responsibility for their own part in the wrongdoing. Needless to say, my father did not change my mind.
I then began to be followed around Kingston. On one occasion they stopped me and tried to coerce me into coming back and repenting. Finally, after several prank phone calls and a night visitor coming by while we were out, I left for Saratoga, NY. After living there for a while, I decided that I wanted to try coming back to the Bruderhof. I thought that with the amount of pressure they had put on me to come back, they would let me. WRONG! I got my boyfriend at the time to drive me back down, making up some story of how I was going to see some friends. I walked up the driveway and went into the boys' sleeping quarters where I phoned for either Ian or Christoph, I don't remember for sure which. I was told to wait there, that someone would come down to see me since Christoph was not available. I got Sepple and Gotliebe, two people I did not feel like repenting to. They lectured me on the gravity of what I had done. I was told that, since I had not called or written, that I would have to go back to where I just came from, and from there write or call Christoph if I was really repentant. Once again, the story of my life! I was being shipped off the Bruderhof.
From this point on, things got really low for me. I did some things to the Bruderhof out of spite. I regret now doing these things, and I have gone through a lot of personal repentance as well, writing and talking a lot of what I had done wrong in my life. But no matter what I did, said or wrote, the leadership always said that I was being 'arrogant and unrepenting.' When I brought up the sexual molestation I experienced at the hands of a married brother when I was only seven years old, I was told that I was lying. How could I be so pretentious as to accuse a brother of this? Finally I gave up trying. They were perfect and could do nothing wrong, and everyone else was a sinner.
At about this time, I received my first death threat from Christoph Junior who told me if I hurt his father that he would track me down and kill me. I told him that hurting his father was the last thing on my mind. We shook hands and left. Another threat came from a former street thug who was having a lot of trouble becoming a brother due to several things, including a drinking problem. He told me that he did not want to see me out on the streets or near the community again or he would be forced to deal with me. My answer basically was that it was not at all Christian to threaten someone in that manner, and also that I was not at all scared of him -- or the rest of them.
One day I was talking to a friend on the phone when he asked me what that ticking noise was on the line. We hung up and tried again, only to hear the same ticking again. He told me that it sounded like my phone was being tapped and that I should call New York Telephone to verify if it was tapped. The company has to tell you if it is, and they told me that it seemed as if the line was tapped, but they would have to look into it further. Guess what? The ticking stopped. But this was not the end of my ordeal. I started receiving prank calls which, when I *69'd [to call the number back - ed] it would be picked up and then hung up. I received several late night death threat calls by an obviously disguised voice. One call was a sexually obscene call, stating several homosexual activities they were going to do to me, ending with, "I then am going to kill you, faggot!" Taxis were sent to my house late at night, the destination given to the driver being the local crack hangout on Broadway. The callers did not do their homework quite right, because the cab company they called was not the one I used. Eventually the harassing calls stopped and the ticking started again until I phoned the phone company again.
About this time, my childhood adopted big brother Danny got in touch with me. I explained everything that I had been going though and that I believed the Bruderhof was behind it because I knew so much about what really went on behind the scenes, how the hof was run, who was power-struggling, who was going behind the elder's back. What I have written here is only a small part of the Big Lie being lived by some in positions of power, while the sheep look on in ignorance as to how they are being governed.
For instance, I phoned my father, who would not let me speak to my mother or siblings. He ended the phone call with "Why don't you write Christoph and let him know where you are and what you are doing?" Classic example! Christoph, Christoph, Christoph! Why don't they once in a while be themselves? Well, Christoph was the last person I really wanted to talk to, at that point!
Anyway, I got a little off the track. The bottom line is that I felt my life was threatened, so I moved some states away from the people that had taught me love and non-violence. I am still in the process of extracting my personal documents such as my passport, etc. It they do not comply, then there will be a federal lawsuit headed their way. I encourage any other young ex-members who do not have their papers to ask them for them and, if they refuse, to involve the federal law.
Well, I hope I haven't offended anyone by my letter, and if I have, I'm sorry. I want to thank Blair and Margot Purcell for their dedicated contact with me and support. If anyone should want to get in contact with me, they can do it through them. Hello to Danny W, and anyone else I know out there! P.S. I now go under the name 'Raphael.'
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The following submission deals with explicit sexual issues that some readers might find potentially disturbing.
Name Withheld, 10/15/95: I was interested in the contributions from two different people in the August-September KIT about sexuality in the form of masturbation. While we were on the Bruderhof for almost ten years, my husband and I figured out that masturbation was a No-No for single brothers. One thing no one seems to have thought of was the possibility that married brothers living with their wives might also use this kind of release. (Was the leadership too busy keeping the Singles and lonely husbands pure?) And I never thought about women doing this.
As a teenager, my husband had attended a discussion for teenage boys and girls about sex at the "Y" in his home town. He learned that masturbation was a natural way of dealing with sexual tension. Since he felt it was very wrong for a married man to be intimate with any other woman, this 'okay attitude' was helpful to him. Recently, my husband mentioned that he had used masturbation as a sexual outlet on the Bruderhof when I could not match his higher level of sexual desire, when I was pregnant, before and after birth, or when I was exhausted. As a young mother, I seldom got enough sleep; and when I tried eating the noon meal early at the Watch Table so I could get a longer siesta, I was admonished for my "uncommunal attitude."
My husband and I had joined the Bruderhof as a young married couple. In our luggage we brought a copy of the book Ideal Marriage. As an American woman, I wanted to enjoy sex. But I could not achieve orgasm, even with the (male) author's expert advice. On the Bruderhof, I felt I was on the wrong track to focus on orgasm, so when we became members, I took the book to the Servant to dispose of.
During the next years, I was totally busy with having babies, nursing them and then becoming pregnant again, in addition to the communal work and meetings. As an American, I believed in a two-year interval between births and I had a hard time when the third pregnancy happened before I was ready. I was so tired with work, meetings and care of the family in the primitive conditions of the Paraguayan climate that I just wanted to give up sex until after the baby came. My husband was not keen on this idea.
So I went to Margrit Meier for advice, hoping I could tell my husband that she said it would be good for me to avoid sex during the pregnancy. But Margrit was not of that persuasion. Instead she told me that it is the man's task to "encourage the wife." So I followed her advice and had sex with my husband.
Fortunately for me, he was more understanding than the Bruderhof rules. In Paraguay, we slept on wood shaving mattresses on two single beds strung with rawhide, pushed together to form a double bed. To lie closely together, someone had to sleep on the hard center where the two bed frames met. And that was an uncomfortable pregnancy for me. My husband was concerned about my discomfort and suggested that we forget about sex for the last three months of the pregnancy. This was one of the times when he used masturbation to care for his own sexual needs, and I am grateful that he did.
Years later, despite being a mother with several children, my interest in orgasm revived. Since I was attempting to reach climax during intercourse with clitoral stimulation (a NO-NO in Ideal Marriage) I was confused about whether I should even try. So I went to an American Servant for advice (without mentioning the clitoris specifically.) This was such a heavy question that he took several days to get back to me about it. His answer was that he and his wife (also a mother to many children) were "careful not to let that (female orgasm) happen very often." So rather than feel guilt, I dampened my sexual responses.
Soon after I was sent away from that 'hof to consider things -- no clear explanation of what I was doing wrong or what I was supposed to come up with -- and my husband and children soon joined me. We were thrown onto the resources of our parents with no consideration of the difficulties this caused them, and no compensation for the years of work we had put into the Bruderhof. Our parents had to help us start all over again. We were lucky we were near them when we were put out.
Still feeling loyal to Bruderhof values and practices, I continued to have babies out in the world. Using birth control was unthinkable. While we were on the Bruderhof where every request had to go through the Housemother or Steward, I never thought of asking. There we were without money, had no time to go to the drugstore, didn't know what to ask for or how birth control worked. Besides, there was that tremendous social pressure at the Bruderhof to let the babies come into the world. Once I did talk to a different American Servant about the burden I felt of caring for so many children. His answer was to tell me about the hardship childless couples endured in not being able to have any kids. So the message was loud and clear: back to meeting my husband's sexual needs and bearing children.
Anyway, out in the world, when my husband couldn't see how we could care for any more kids, he asked again for us to use birth control. I thought hard about that, and decided that since I really couldn't take care of more children in a responsible way, it made sense to limit our family. I felt that God understood. We enjoyed bringing up the children we do have, and we continued to enjoy sex. We both find there are times when masturbation is okay for one of us, when the other is not well or just doesn't feel like sex. We also find that masturbation can be an enjoyable part of shared sex, and is helpful with our aging bodies to provide more stimulation. And I did finally learn to come to orgasm -- off the Bruderhof -- after 20 years of marriage!
Joanie Pavitt Taylor, 10/25/95: Here are a few thoughts and observations on groups and boundaries, with regards to recent discussions around COB.
In my experience, groups get together around a shared task or interest or a common background in something; boundaries usually arise naturally out of these aspects. In a relaxed, confident atmosphere, these boundaries are usually based on self-selection rather than imposed exclusion. The flexibility or inflexibility around this selection is then often a measure of the specific task in hand or/and the security and confidence of the group members.
People have every right to express concern and doubts about any group that is exclusive, and for us ex-members, it will be a very sore point because we witnessed this 'natural selection' process being misused by the 'inner circle' who used exclusion as a means to withhold information and to mete out savage punishments.
Whenever people are having problems with boundaries I have learned that it is vital to listen well because it usually highlights two things: lack of clarity or fear. Working with 'tough' teenagers who struggle to make sense of their world, I find they hang on very tightly to their boundaries (who's in, who's out; what is acceptable, what isn't).
It is their way of staying safe and fending off feelings of powerlessness. Is this why the Bruderhof behaves this way? It is usually a measure of their increased confidence when they can relax and be more flexible about their boundaries. It is important to understand why people draw these where they do and to respect these, but it is equally important to note that in a healthy situation these boundaries are rarely static; they are only there for the 'meanwhile' until an issue/task is resolved. Sometimes the excitement in 'people' work for me is watching a person/group grow and to see how quickly they can change and become more open and flexible and adaptable.
(Now you know why I worry about the Bruderhof in all these sagas!)
So having said all that, it seems that within KIT there is a wide membership because it is a 'general' means of communication and when within that group something more specific is needed, then an offshoot and secondary group forms. Short term or long term, it is not to the detriment of KIT. For example the 'Wheathill girls' group was a small specific support group that met a few times to review a specific aspect. It was successful around having a 'tight' boundary a) because there was a specific talk in hand and b) because there was a need to confidence and confidentiality. It only took a few meetings to achieve what they set out to do. But from there a more informal contact has continued.
Bringing this back to my starting point of looking at COB, its present outline is not too clear because several issues are being drawn in under the same banner. One aim is to communicate with the Bruderhof over visitation etc., another is the help line, and yet another is to form a support group for a specific issue of Bruderhof life.
These aren't necessarily incompatible, but different people will be interested in different aspects. So if we clarify what it is that is wanted and by whom, then we may find the boundaries more acceptable and be able to support them; more on the self selection line rather than the exclusion principle.
Meanwhile, I hope this will perhaps shed light on the different reasons for and the usefulness of boundaries and to anyone who hurts because they feel excluded - know that you were hurt by the misuse of boundaries, not the boundaries themselves. We all need them, we all use them, they help keep us safe, but hopefully (unlike the Bruderhof) we all have the space to keep checking them out and allowing them to shift as we grow. A lot of ex-Bruderhofers struggled because of our lack of practice in boundary setting, having always had them imposed, it was difficult to adapt to 'outside' life where we had to draw our own. So struggling with them now around COB is just fine; it is all part of a healthy process and I'm sure we can get it right; especially if we accept that what 'is' is open for negotiation. With much thought and much love,
Ruth Baer Lambach, 10/28/95: Thank you -- thank you -- thank you, KIT readers, to everyone who took the time and effort to complete the questionnaire that was sent to you last year. Two professors, Michael Cummings and Harvey Bishop from the University of Colorado, and I reported about the findings from this survey at the latest (CSA) Communal Studies Association conference held in Estero, Florida. There were roughly one hundred scholars, communitarians and others who participated in this three-day conference on the site of the former Koreshan Unity Commune. This annual conference was, as usual, preceded by a pre-conference tour. This year the tour was to the Kashi Ashram in Roseland, Florida, where Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, the guru who works with people dying of AIDS, resides. I did not go on the tour but met Ma as she came to the conference to lead a darshan, a guided meditation and public talk.
Since the results of this survey are being published in Communities magazine in a section called "From the horse's mouth" I will not go into detail except to quote from their latest contribution: "The word "cult" like the word "extremist," carries heavy political baggage and is seldom clearly defined by its users... Perhaps we should conclude that utopias and 'cults,' like beauty and ugliness, are ultimately in the eye of the beholder." Mike's topic was "Psychological Factors and Community," while Harvey reported on "Spirituality and Ecology in Communities."
My talk was: "Living in Community: Reflections from the Margins." Essentially, I said as follows:
"What perturbs me is that I still get choked up about not having a community of my own and about remembering the comfort and security you have inside the commune. I thought about the ideas of Dr. Teed (1894) the founder of Koreshan Unity who convinced people that they were living on the inside of the earth. That image seems like an appropriate metaphor for living in a commune. The activities of the community take up every hour of the day and one forgets about the rest of the world. Your world becomes one of intense involvement within a small group, It's not that life is simpler, but that there is a distinct 'inside' and 'outside,' and you don't have to concern yourself with what is going on 'outside' since it is wicked and damned anyway.
"Emotionally, my way of coping and adapting to the larger world on the outside is to create a community at my job. I've even referred to the program in which I've worked with refugees over the past decade, as a 'wok.' Every once in a while a student or teacher will manage to go all the way up to the edge and sometimes even jump out into the larger world, but they invariably return to the warmth, the comfort and security of a place that does not change. The student is placed back into a class and so is the teacher. It has happened that both teacher and student look at each other and ask: "What are you still doing here, I thought you had moved on?" There is something seductive about being in community and coming back to the same familiar faces and routine. It is comforting, especially to those of us who have had our worlds profoundly uprooted. I include myself in this along with the refugees from war-torn countries such as Bosnia and Cambodia. A former communitarian states: 'When a community breaks up, the adults lose colleagues and friends while the children lose family members.' Another former communitarian (Dick Anderson, Communities magazine Summer 1994): 'Whenever I visited an intentional community, I got a special feeling. A feeling that a warm cocoon of family spread over a whole extended area of land, encompassing all the buildings and the people within it. There was a feeling of deep connection among the people. The cocoon of community seemed like such a natural and necessary thing...The world felt like a seamless whole, a world where all places felt like home instead of the fragmented, alienated patchwork that sprawled over the "outside".'
"After over thirty years of living on the 'outside,' these descriptions still move me. My very cells resonate to his words. This is what it feels like when once one has experienced community and then is bereft of it. I can even describe what shape and size the hole left by community, has. It is an oval shape that covers my middle, over the solar plexus. It makes me think of a Hutterite Colony where always the dining room is in the center and the individual homes are spaced around this center. In this center you find a sense of place, worship, companionship and regular free food. Without a community, there is no center except inside of yourself and this takes a long time to grow especially when you have been shaped inside the community where your own ego is discounted and where you learn to eradicate it. Your ego is a protective shell that must be shed before you can experience community. You must allow yourself to be skinned and made vulnerable, like taking off the skin from the grape or the hull from the grain in order to make wine and bread."
One of the responses in the questionnaire struck me rather sharply: "I feel great despair for the world. Having been born and raised in an intentional community and now living on the 'outside,' I feel I don't fit in anywhere. I wish I had not been kicked out of the Bruderhof because my life would have been easier -- but I could not go back as I will never desert my children, and also I'd have to give up my freedom to worship God." I think of what Eliza Doolittle said in Pygmalion: "Why did you take my freedom from me? What am I fit for? What am I to do? What is to become of me? If only I could go back to my flower basket! I should be independent of both you and father and all the world. Why did you take my independence from me? Why did I give it up? I'm a slave now for all my fine clothes... I only want to be natural."
I understand these sentiments and I feel for all of us who were kicked out during our teens. So, I stand before you, a wounded woman. I also stand before you as a very blessed woman. I have been richly blessed for having had the experience of living in various communities. Yes, there have been many, because my father searched for utopia all of his life and this moved us, an ever-growing family, from Ontario among the Mennonites to the Bright Community and then to the Hutterites, to the Bruderhof and to Koinonia Farm. Everywhere, for the first 17 years of my life, I was surrounded with that sense of comfort and security that a community provides.
As I processed the questionnaires and listened to the voices that responded, I thought of a song we used to sing: (No, I did not sing it, although I had wanted to start my talk with the singing of this song) The love of god is greater far Than tongue or pen can ever tell It goes beyond the highest star And reaches to the lowest hell.
I'm not going to prove to you how the love of God has reached me in my lowest hell or highest star, but I will say that this song expresses my feelings about how large and incomprehensible the life force is and what a wide margin of error we have when it comes to figuring out just how we are going to live our lives. I honor all the seekers, eccentrics and adventurers, like my parents, who dared put their feet where their mouth was and take action and commit to something that changed their lives. I equally honor those who have had the courage to leave these worthy experiments when they feel so moved. Joining and leaving probably require an equal dose of risk-taking and commitment.
My sense is that people who have left the community have found all kinds of positive ways in which to express their Christianity, their love, their creativity and their search for meaning. God manifests him/herself in strange ways and those who have left intentional communities, especially high-demand religious communities such as the Hutterites and Bruderhof, choose a variety of religions all the way from nothing to Buddhist, Catholic and Unification Church. People find ways to find community in a much more loosely structured way as described by one respondent: "I am pretty disillusioned with communities where so much of the individual is sacrificed for the common good. I question whether community life such as the SOB is really ultimately possible. When the individual spiritual growth of a person is so subject to fitting into a prescribed form, can real growth take place? I see that I can belong to several communities of interest at the same time while still retaining my individual freedom to come and go and learn and change."
Some respondents were more cynical: "The questionnaire seems to have what I see as an American bias, that one is under some moral obligation to have opinions and values that are in a coherent, defensible ideology... I quit being a pacifist, quit being a Quaker, and quit being a Protestant. I am still working at becoming a Catholic, and I like how it feels so far. I asked the KIT people to stop sending me their paper because I got sick and tired of the silly-ass theological/moral/dysfunctional diatribes in the thing, I occasionally pray that those damaged by life and/or the Bruderhof be healed. There is too much blaming, self-pity, and scab-picking in the community of idealists that seem to respond to KIT. So I don't fit the questionnaire, I don't fit America, and I am not an idealist. But I am a pretty happy person. I'm not keen on intentional communities simply because I see them as isolating dysfunctional people in groups. It took me years to shake the low self-esteem that I adopted from the male role models I had at Woodcrest." Another man said: "Intentional communities will always be a pimple on the ass of progress, as they cannot lead with logistics and laws required to govern millions and billions of people. They can only serve a few escapists."
Finally, I talked about KIT, its history and how it serves as a platform for wounded ex-communitarians to express themselves openly. I quoted from several issues of KIT (Stewart, Lamar) in order to demonstrate the great plurality of voices represented. I stressed that KIT was not an organization nor a newsletter that had a single point of view or even an ideology, but that the contents span a wide spectrum of reaction to the common experience of intensive community life. My view is that every prospective member in the Bruderhof should be required to read at least one KIT annual. You can learn much from your enemies. Without criticism, you cannot improve a product or a system. My sense is that the emotional intensity and outpouring in KIT is a great demonstration of love of community by those who have left and they raise issues that the Bruderhof needs to deal with.
The women in the audience, particularly those who had spent years in Synanon, were very enthused about the things I said. Andreas Meier attended this session and I was very aware of his presence. We didn't speak with each other afterwards. His wife Fida, sister to Peter Mathis whom I knew at Forest River, attended the other session in which the Hutterites and Bruderhof were the subject. In that session, a paper titled "Individual Identity and the methods of Social Control of the Individual within the context of the Hutterian Society of Brothers" was presented by Virginia Sprague, a woman undergraduate whose parents spent two years in the Bruderhof (1975-77). She received some protests when she quoted from Bette Bolken-Zumpe's book comparing elements within the Bruderhof to the Nazi regime. Another quote from her paper, which included many citations from Zablocki's "Joyful Community" was, "The community is essential to the emotional survival and the physical needs of its members in the same way a nuclear family would be in the dominant culture. The community is the members' 'cosmic parent.'
A third session which dealt with Hutterites and Bruderhof was entitled "Origins and Cosmology of Communities." Yaacov Oved from Tel Aviv University, founder of his Kibbutz and author of several books on communes and the Bruderhof (Distant Brothers and, soon to be published, Witness of the Brothers, a history of the Bruderhof), read from his yet-to-be published work "The Origins of the Bruderhof in the German Youth Movement." Both Andreas and Fida Meier were present for this session and I believe they were enthusiastic about what they heard. Max Stanton of Brigham Young University in Hawaii spoke on "Three Paths to Perfection: Differences in the Layout and Site of the Hutterian Bruderhof." I was pleased to chair this panel and sit between two men I've come to respect.
As usual at these CSA conferences, the participants get to be in community of a kind for three days. We ate together, endured the heat and humidity, walked around the site of a former commune and wondered what would possess sane people to leave Chicago for Florida. We engaged in stimulating discussions, especially in the evenings around bottles of wine, bought the latest books on communes and listened to lectures. I found the illustrated talk on Twin Oaks in Louisa, Virginia, most interesting. I noted that their egalitarian values often gave way to practicality over the years. Next year's CSA meeting will take place in Amana, Iowa.
If anyone out there still has not returned the questionnaire and would like to do so, please feel free to send it in. One notable difference between the ex-communitarians and ex-Bruderhof communitarians is that there are no Republicans among the non-sectarians nor prospective communitarians, while there are ten among the ex-Bruderhofers. Love to all,
The Prophet Kings
by Phil Jones
Once upon a time, there was a man named Otto whose followers considered him infallible. He was no ordinary man. He was royalty, descended from a long line of kingly prophets, all of whom had been infallible in their day. Before dying, each of these men designated a successor, and declared the successor infallible. And so the mantle of infallibility was passed down from generation to generation. Each prophet-king was renowned in his own time for his justice, his vision, and his deep understanding of spiritual mysteries.
At first the Kingdom had been small, and even found itself under attack from more powerful neighboring kingdoms. Although the suffering of the people was great, the Kingdom eventually withstood these attacks. In the meantime, the ancient empires of their more powerful neighbors fell into disarray and crumbled. When chaos engulfed the people of the neighboring empires, many fled to the Kingdom, renowned for its justice and vision of peace and unity, and were given sanctuary. And so the Kingdom grew while its adversaries waned.
Eventually, the Kingdom grew so strong that the good and noble prophet-king Theo was able to subjugate all the other kingdoms of earth under one government. The unity of mankind was at last established. All warfare ceased. There was great rejoicing such as had never been known since the beginning of Time.
The government of the Kingdom was ingenious in its simplicity. It consisted of the infallible prophet-king and the Ruling Council. The Ruling Council, as a body, was also infallible. Its individual members were greatly revered for their spiritual wisdom and just leadership. In fact, they were elected by unanimous vote of the people of the whole world to serve on the Ruling Council.
One of Theo's first acts, upon gaining world dominion, was to abolish capital punishment. In its place, all persons found guilty of any crimes were declared non- existent. All members of the Kingdom were forbidden to speak to them, look them in the eye, or acknowledge their existence in any way. Since the prophet-king's edict was infallible, all members of the kingdom enthusiastically obeyed. Non-persons soon gave up trying to communicate with others. They wandered off into isolated regions of the earth and died of loneliness, despair, and hunger.
Theo's son Aristo succeeded him on the throne of the Kingdom. One day, as Aristo pondered the nature of Reality, he wondered how it was that He, of all the people on earth, should be the prophet-king. Why not someone else? The more he pondered, the more he was drawn to the inescapable conclusion that it was purely the will of God which had placed him on the throne. He ruled by Divine Right. It was not Theo who had placed him on the throne, but God Himself. So Aristo handed down an edict that henceforth and forevermore, and also retroactively, all those upon the throne of Earth ruled by Divine Right, and the Ruling Council's unity with Aristo's rulings more important than Truth itself.
A member of the Ruling Council, Homophilus, perceived this as a threat by Aristo to render the Ruling Council powerless, and spoke out publicly against this doctrine. Aristo then declared Homophilus a non-person. Since Aristo was infallible, and Homophilus was not, the people enthusiastically obeyed Aristo. Homophilus died slowly, destitute and alone. Others who repeated his heresy met a similar fate. After that, no member of the Ruling Council dared to oppose the prophet-king on any point, no matter how trivial. "Unity Is The Highest Truth!" was inscribed on pillars in all public places.
Aristo's son Otto succeeded him to the throne. Otto, having complete control of the Ruling Council, declared himself God. Since he was infallible, and his authority undisputed, the people of Earth fell down and worshipped him enthusiastically.
"Isn't it wonderful that Otto always knows what's best for us?" they said to one another.
A few brave misguided followers of Homophilus (who had a secret underground following after his martyrdom) openly defied this edict of the Divine Otto, refusing to worship any but God alone. However Otto declared them non-persons. They would have suffered the same fate as Homophilus, but other non-person followers of Homophilus, using new technologies, formed a communications network. Through this network they linked up more and more isolated non-persons who realized that they were sharing the same privations and sufferings and poverty, cut off from their families and from their homes. Meanwhile the Divine Otto continue to live in more and more luxurious palaces. Slave-like attendants responded to his every whim, and his Thought Police monitored all means of communication to make sure that no one anywhere dared even to think an idea that was not harmonious and in unity with Divine Otto's own views.
However one loophole existed. Because the followers of Homophilus had been declared non-persons, the Thought Police did not concern themselves with their growing communications network. And when the younger generation of the Divine Otto's followers began secretly to access the non-persons' network for their own amusement, it wasn't long before the young people realized that their parents' lives were no better than those of indentured servants, working long hours to the glory of Ottohood. Not only that, but -- it was much more fun in the non-persons' dimension! A mass exodus followed, and it wasn't long before the number of non-persons that the Divine Otto had declared was so large that his palace emptied and he was left frying eggs from the chickens he kept in the throne room in order not to starve. Everyone was voting with their feet, and Divine Otto was odd-deity-out!
It wasn't long before a true democracy was begun with mutual respect for all, and the non-persons' dynasty lasted for a thousand years -- until once more people forgot that freedom only works if you exercise it, and another tyrant took over.
Barnabas Johnson, 10/31/95: The following, written in 1411, is from Bishop Dietrich von Nieheim, De schismate libri III, and is offered -- through KIT's pages to the self-styled Hutterian Brethren (the new "Eastern Church"?) -- to suggest that bad ideas, like good ideas, often have a long history: "When the existence of the Church is threatened, she is released from the commandments of morality. With unity as the end, the use of every means is sanctified, even cunning, treachery, violence, simony, prison, death. For all order is for the sake of the community, and the individual must be sacrificed to the common good."
NOTE: Prof. Benjamin Zablocki has generously allowed us to offer for sale spiral-bound 8-1/2 x 11 copies of his definitive account of the Bruderhof,The Joyful Community. 230 pages, $17 US/$20 Canada, postpaid.
Torches Extinguished, by Bette Bohlken-Zumpe
Free From Bondage by Nadine Moonje Pleil
Each $17 postpaid U.S./Canada, $20 Overseas
KIT Annuals: 1989-1990: $17 $20 Overseas
All in larger type 1991 $25 $30 Overseas
spiral-bound 1992 $25 $30 Overseas
spiral-bound 1993 $25 $30 Overseas
spiral-bound 1994 $25 $30 Overseas
Open Letter To The Hutterian Church, by Samuel
Kleinsasser, with added articles, 85 pages $5 / $8 Our Broken Relationship With The Society of Brothers,
by S. Kleinsasser, 16 pps $1/$3 each
My Years In Woodcrest 1988-1990,
by John Stewart (reprint from KIT April '95) $3/$5
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