· P.O. Box 460141 · San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 · telephone: (415) 821-2090 · FAX (415) 282-2369 · http://www.matisse.net/~peregrin/
KIT Staff U.S.: Ramón Sender, Charles Lamar, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom, Brother Witless (in an advisory capacity)
EuroKIT: Joy Johnson MacDonald, Susan Johnson Suleski, Carol Beels Beck, Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Ben Cavanna, Leonard Pavitt, Joan Pavitt Taylor
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from inside and from outside the Bruderhof. We reserve the right to edit submissions according to guidelines discussed at numerous KIT conferences. Obviously, it's seldom easy to know exactly how best to carry out KIT's mission of allowing many voices and various points of view to be heard. We do not, and cannot, vouch for the validity of any opinion or assertion appearing in the KIT Newsletter. The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish must remain those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflect those of KIT editors or staff.
Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; £20 mailed f/ EuroKIT to UK & Europe
Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; £20 mailed f/ EuroKIT to UK & Europe
Toll-Free Phone for former Bruderhofers in need of advice and referrals: 1 888 6 KINDER
T h e W h o l e K i t A n d C a b o o d l e
Hello, Elena Rose! Hello, Lise!
Bette & Hans' new Lise & Bette's health
Dave Maendel sentenced to probation
Lawsuit Dismissed, Bruderhof will appeal
Christian Domer & Joe Keiderling
Reply to Domer/Keiderling
Harmful Religion book in print
ITEM: Deerspring closing
Hartford Courant - Deerspring closing
ITEM: WTNH (ABC) TV covers Deerspring
ITEM: B'hof request for CBS tapes denied
Rosie Sumner's Party
Ramon Sender - Teeth Fund report - JCA
Winnipeg Sun - "Mounties Probe"
Winnipeg Free Press -"RCMP Confirm Probe"
ITEM: miscellaneous Bruderhof news
Looking Back - Nostalgic Tidbits
Barnabas, Timothy, Susan & Joy Johnson to JCA
Rosie (Johnson) Sumner
Name Withheld to Blair & Margot Purcell
Joerg Mathis to JCA
Blair Purcell - Andy Bazeley at Woodcest
An Older Ex-Member
Dave Ostrom - "Trip To The U.K."
Walter Smalakis - poetry
Hannah Goodwin Johnson
Hans Zimmermann - "The Rosella Fight"
Samuel Kleinsasser's 1950 Notes f/ P'vera
Sam Arnold - "Our Trip To Ontario"
ITEM: The Peregrine Brochure
Cult Information - support line and workshop
I said, "Your Honor, I lived right near these people since the 1960s. Since 1978, they've asked me not to come onto their communities and I've respected that. I know I transgressed the law and I'm deeply sorry, but what would Christoph have done if he had been forbidden to see his relatives? I don't even know whether my mother is alive!"
The probation officer who interviewed me before sentencing said she was deeply moved by my sincerity and the reasons for my actions. She said that they would recommend probation, but according to the law of the State of New York, the judge had to sentence me to at least five years.
The defendants argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the Bruderhof had not commenced the actions until more than a year after the allegedly defamatory statements were allegedly made and the claims were therefore barred by New York's statute of limitations. In response to questioning by U.S. District Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the Bruderhof's lawyer conceded that the Bruderhof had made no attempt to sue the defendants during the one-year-limitation period, although the Bruderhof had known where to locate the defendants at all times and the defendants had not attempted to evade service of process. Judge Sotomayor then rejected the Bruderhof's argument that it was not required to sue within one year because the defendants were not New York residents, and held that the statute of limitations required dismissal of the action in its entirety.
The Bruderhof has indicated that they plan to appeal the dismissal.
Through the last several years, you have directed much of your efforts to "exposing" the Bruderhof as a cult, and you have alleged, among other things, that the Bruderhof practices mind control, abuses its children (physically, sexually and emotionally), overmedicates its members, and practices Estate raiding. You have worked feverishly to "expose" the Bruderhof through the national media and have attempted to obstruct or undo the Bruderhof's agenda wherever and whenever you could -- even where you held essentially the same beliefs as the Bruderhof on a given issue (e.g. the Philadelphia hearings on the death penalty).
What we find interesting, however, was your failure to publish on the Internet (or in the KIT newsletter) a copy of the Bruderhof's defamation Complaint against you, even though you previously thought it worthwhile to fully publish other, less comprehensive Complaints in which you were also named as a defendant. Fortunately, it appears that someone else decided to publish the present defamation Complaints, granting your followers the opportunity to understand the nature and appropriateness of the allegations made against you.
What is most troubling to us, however, are your published "reports" that your attorneys will soon defeat the Bruderhof's baseless Complaint, which implicitly suggests that such a victory would be on the merits because, you believe, the Complaint's allegations are specious. What you have not told your followers, however, is that the motion your attorneys have filed and which will be argued on November 4th is based upon a technical defense (i.e. statute of limitations or untimeliness) and is not directed to the merits of the Complaint.
Suffice is to say that we believe that the Bruderhof will prevail against your technical motion. It is clear to us, however, that you do not want the issues which we have raised to be fully aired in a public forum, otherwise you would have published the Complaint for your followers and you would now be looking forward to your long-awaited moment to clear your name by facing the substance of the allegations rather than seeking to avoid them on a technicality. At best, that would indeed provide you with a hollow victory. We believe that you are afraid the truth will make you look bad before those who are unwitting in their belief that your motives are honest and worthy.
Ramon, now is your opportunity for the full disclosure to which you have claimed entitlement. You should instruct your attorneys to withdrawn your technical motion and accept the challenge that an impartial trier of fact should hear and rule upon the merits of our allegations. Inasmuch as you believe that all of your actions were justified and appropriate, you have nothing to fear. You also owe it to your followers. We would appreciate it if you would publish this letter in the November KIT newsletter. We look forward to your response. Sincerely,
The article quoted spokesperson Larry Domer as saying "Deer Spring Bruderhof is closing down its Norfolk facility in order to consolidate its business and community way of life with other existing Bruderhofs in the U.S. and England."
Norfolk's First Selectman Arthur Rosenblatt was quoted as saying, "Let me emphasize the brethren are not moving at all as a reflection on the community. That's not the issue at all. Norfolk loves the brothers and they love us.'' The article also pointed out that Deerspring pays the highest taxes in the township, adding, "The community is registered as a corporation, and workers in the factory are considered volunteers. The move could have a significant impact on Norfolk's tax base."
"Bruderhof To Close Norfolk Commune"
by Gerald Renner and Kevin Canfield,
A Christian commune of once-impoverished refugees that has become part of a multi-million-dollar business enterprise is closing down after nearly 40 years in Litchfield County.
The 350 members of the Deer Spring Bruderhof in Norfolk will be sent to live in other communes in what a spokesman said was a business decision.
People in the Bruderhof have become prosperous by trying to live simply, as the ancient Christians did -- in voluntary communism. They lead a devout life, dress plainly and share property and possessions. Their commune is the only one of its kind in the state.
A spokesman, Matthew Domer, said the move is necessary "to consolidate our business and communal way of life with other existing Bruderhofs in the United States and England."
The Bruderhof is a movement of about 2,500 pacifistic Christians banded together in six communes in the United States -- in New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut -- and two in England. They support themselves with business grossing about $20 millon a year.
"There is space available in the other seven sites to absorb the Norfolk residents," Domer said.
The eight communities make and sell classroom furniture and toys called Community Playthings and physical therapy equipment under the Rifton Equipment for the Disabled. The Bruderhof also owns an 11-passenger Gulfstream jet that it has rented to such celebrities as Sharon Stone, Eddie Murphy and the rock group Van Halen.
A 300-acre commune in Rifton in rural northeastern New York state, is the central Bruderhof. J. Christoph Arnold is the leader. Decisions are made by Arnold in consultation with an executive group called Servants of the Word.
Trucks from the other U. S. Communes shuttle back and forth to warehouses in Rifton.
Components of the Norfolk woodworking factory will be absorbed by the other Bruderhof sites, Domer said.
"It was a surprise," said Arthur S. Rosenblatt, Norfolk first selectman. "My first concern is that it might have something to so with discomfort in the community, but they quickly assured me that there was no problem, that they felt welcome in the community. The whole thing was finance-driven."
"It's that the nature of our manufacturing process doesn't require so many different locations," Domer said. "We've found ways of trimming and streamlining our manufacturing process so that we require less space."
The decision to move was not motivated by any fiscal problems, Domer said. He would not discuss how the decision was reached.
The community owns 56 acres in Norfolk. It will be largely vacated within six to 12 months and eventually sold, Domer said.The property, with 10 commercial buildings and 13 dwellings is worth about $6 million, town records show.
Joyce Mahoney, town assessor, said the community and the town agreed in the 1970s that the Bruderhof would pay taxes on half the property's assessed value. Mahoney said the community pays almost $70,000 a year in town taxes. It is the largest taxpayer in the town of about 2,100 people.
Rosenblatt said the will miss the tax revenue, but added that, "There are some major compensating factors."
The community runs its own elementary school, but 32 of its highschool-aged students attend Northwestern Regional High School in Winsted. The town pays about $250,000 a year for those students to attend the high school. When the children leave, the town's education costs will decrease, Rosenblatt said., Rosenblatt said the community will be missed. "They've definitely contributed to what I would call the texture of the town," he added.
The Bruderhof movement, founded in Germany in the 1920s, fled Adolf Hitler and moved to Paraguay until after World War II. I affiliated with a group of Hutterites in North Dakota, a 400 year-old Anabaptist community that relied mostly on farming to sustain its communal Christian life.
The Hutterites and the Bruderhof communities no longer have anything to do with one another. Each accuses the other of departing form the right Christian path.
The Bruderhof movement has garnered a growing chorus of critics in recent years, including academics who say it has become authoritarian and former member who complain they are not allowed to visit their relatives.
The Bruderhof has sued CBS TV which in the spring broadcast a "48 Hours" program that aired critics' complaints. The lawsuit was dismissed.
Domer said the CBS program had no effect on business and had nothing to do with the decision to leave Norfolk. The Bruderhof has also sued Professor Julius Rubin, a professor of sociology at St. Joseph College in West Hartford, for remarks he made about the Bruderhof in a Philadelphia radio broadcast. The lawsuit is pending in federal court in New York.
"My sense is this is not an economic decision," Rubin said Wednesday. "It is as if there is this major sense of consolidation out of fears of external threat and inability to control their people."
An anchorperson reported the recent story of the Bruderhof's decision to leave Deerspring and asked whether the Bruderhof was creating a "hell on earth" by promoting rules that were too rigid and punishment that was too severe. She explained how the group had become controversial, with many ex-members charging that they were the victims of emotional abuse and interrogation as children and adolescents within the Bruderhof.
Mike Boller spoke of his punishment as a child for "spoiling a song" where he was kept under house arrest. Clara Arnold admitted that she attempted suicide twice and charged that she was abused emotionally and interrogated in a way that was designed to force confessions of sins from her. Dave Maendel spoke of his experiences of interrogation and isolation from family at age 12.
Julius Rubin, Professor of Sociology, Saint Joseph College, was then interviewed about the injurious effects of these forms of church discipline and family disruptions where the enforcement of a single belief system has little tolerance for nonconformity or diversity. ABC reporter Jim Hoffer told the audience that despite repeated attempts, the Bruderhof refused to be interviewed or to answer these allegations from former members. He also interviewed the town of Norfolk's First Selectman who said that Deerspring members were good neighbors. A high school official stated that Bruderhof children seemed happy and well-adjusted.
Reporter Hoffer displayed a two-page letter from the Bruderhof attorneys stating that all allegations were unfounded. "...Not a single person who has ever alleged misconduct on the part of the Bruderhof has ever filed a complaint." The letter went on to explain that what was commonly accepted as acts of normal child-rearing 40 years ago would be seen today as politically incorrect acts of near-child abuse.
Finally, Hoffer told the audience that ex-members still suffer pain and anguish from their Bruderhof childhoods. Ex-members have sought out each other for healing and support. KIT was not mentioned by name, but scenes from the 1997 Friendly Crossways conference were aired.
Friday night a brief (less than 3 minutes) segment covered the sentencing of Dave Maendel with footage outside the courthouse, a statement from Dave, and "no comment" from Christoph Arnold and Joe Keiderling. Christoph then drove away in his bright red pickup truck, with his ever-faithful German shepherd dog 'Kit' in a crate in the cargo bed.
Bring at least twenty photocopies of any songs you want to sing, to be sure the words are available to all. Piano and one guitar at home, bring anything else to stir the air. Neighbours will have been warned. Campfire in evening if weather fine and mood right. Love to you all, wish you could come and join us,"
Also, congratulations to J. Christoph Arnold for living up to his forgiveness book in the case of Dave Maendel's sentencing hearing, as noted earlier on page 1 of this issue. Other opportunities along these lines may arise for Christoph, as indeed for us all.
"Evidence of child sexual abuse on Manitoba Hutterite colonies is mounting today as the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] investigates allegations of long-time abuse. A caller this morning to the CJOB Action Line said he was abused as a young boy living on a colony and that it's time for the government to step in: (Caller speaking) "Person who's doing this needs treatment. I don't think the Hutterites are educated enough for this problem. I think the government should send people in there and teach them how to spot abuse or how to deal with it after. Hutterites don't do that. They more or less maybe just punish the person and then well it'll go away, and it doesn't. It won't."
"Mounties Probe Abuse at Hutterite Colony"
by Mike McIntyre, Police Reporter
RCMP are investigating some Manitoba Hutterite colonies after concerns were raised about possible isolated cases of abuse involving children in the past 20 years. The investigation has been ongoing since January, but the Mounties have yet to find any evidence of abuse to lay charges.
"We have still not substantiated any of the allegations," Gerry Jennings said yesterday.
The issue emerged late last year after several Manitoba Hutterite children went on an exchange program to a colony in New York. One of the colony members became concerned after hearing stories from the youths about growing up on their colony and contacted RCMP.
The alleged incidents involved the disciplining and supervision of children by parents and sexual improprieties between children, said RCMP.
"We're talking about concerns about lifestyles on the colonies. We don't have any allegations of adults sexually abusing children, and there is no evidence of widespread abuse," said Jennings. "We're not talking about another (Graham James) case here."
RCMP are taking their time on the investigation and interviewing dozens of people who live on Manitoba colonies. The names of the colonies are not being released as the investigation is ongoing.
"RCMP Confirm Probe Into Hutterite Allegations
All allegations unsubstantiated so far; Colonies say suggestions are painful."
by Doug Nairne, Police Reporter
RCMP confirmed yesterday they are investigating allegations of child abuse on Hutterite colonies in the province. The allegations include sexual abuse, but Mounties say the main thrust of their probe is delving into the amount of supervision Hutterite children are given.
"To suggest that this is a sexual abuse investigation is dead wrong," said RCMP spokesman Sgt. Gerry Jennings. "Sexual abuse is only one very small part of what we are looking into."
The investigation was launched last fall after a senior member of a splinter group of Hutterites in New York made a complaint to police in North Dakota and Manitoba. The man alleged Manitoba and North Dakota Hutterite children were not being treated properly, citing examples where young children were left alone while the adults worked. The complaints surfaced following an exchange program in which children moved between the Canadian and American colonies last year.
A pair of senior Mounties from the Winnipeg general investigation section have conducted dozens of interviews in the case and traveled to New York to meet with the people making the allegations. Jennings said no charges have been laid and none of the allegations have been substantiated. "We haven't found anything that would support suggestions of child abuse," he said. "Whether or not there will be a police intervention in this case remains to be seen."
Police say the rate of accidents involving young people is no higher in Hutterite colonies than in other farming communities, so there's no obvious indication there's a problem with child supervision. Several Manitoba Hutterites contacted yesterday said the allegations are politically driven by rivalry between local Hutterites and the colonies in New York, and have little basis in fact. They say the different colonies have come into conflict because they have different philosophies.
One member of a colony south of Winnipeg, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the allegations have seriously damaged the image of the Hutterites and caused suffering in the communities.
"This has created a great deal of pain for us," the man said. "People already view us with prejudice, and this will feed their misunderstanding and intolerance."
Police sources say they're aware of only one incident of alleged sexual abuse. It involves a youth who reportedly put his hand on the buttocks of a young girl.'
"This is not a case of adults preying on children," one officer said.
Deer Spring has been preparing for the Lord's Supper, which means a "clearance/confession" time for members. Pleasant View is undergoing "a new beginning" under their new name, "Maple Ridge."
November Issues of Previous Years
November 1989 - Dave Ostrom: I challenge the fact that there has been a change... [in the Bruderhof's attitude] because of an experience I had in 1984: My family and I were on vacation touring the East Coast where I took them to where I had lived. At New Meadow Run, while parked on a public road in front of NMR, a vanload of members pulled up and the driver informed me that if I didn't leave, they would call the authorities and have me removed (from a public place!). At Woodcrest, again, we were parked on a public road, taking photos of the covered bridge there, and a car with members pulled up and informed me that "If I didn't get the hell out of there they would call the authorities and have us removed." (again, from a public road). In contrast to this attitude, a few days later we visited Forest River colony. While I was not received and did not expect the same reception as a brother would, the reception I did receive still cause tears of joy for me...
November 1990 - Miriam Arnold Holmes: I was deeply pained by both Andreas Meier's reply to our Open Letter and by Kathy Mow's letters to Ramon as published in the last KIT edition. What both Andreas and Kathy don't seem to realize is that there are certain common standards of decency recognized in our society which, when violated, are dealt with through government agencies. This means that we who live in the "world" have an obligation to live by these standards and, when necessary, intervene when others do not. Andreas says "Could you please let us live our choice of life in peace." I think we all would gladly do that if we were assured that the standards of decency, which include freedom from emotional abuse, were followed in that choice of life. If my next-door neighbor abuses his children, I cannot in good conscience let him "live his choice of life in peace." No, I would have to intervene to protect innocent children. If that neighbor does not want to hear what I have to say, I am mandated by law to report that abuse to the authorities. The Bruderhof is not above the law...
November, 1991: - Hilarion Braun: On the American 'hofs, 'kitsch' is rampant and is ultimately the subjugation of the artist's individuality to a formless form -- i.e., an absolute. The posting of slogans, especially those with reference to 'fighting,' 'purity,' etc. are meant to maintain an asceticism of the type the military has traditionally claimed. Thus this militant puritanical element is joined mystically with 'the brotherly life.' It is this fundamental contradiction in Christianity that has made this religion so adaptable in its sordid and violent history. The compulsion to destroy a family through exclusion and the 'love of a brother' cannot dwell in the same heart without enormous turmoil and stress. The periodic crises on the Bruderhof are, I believe, a necessary catharsis in which this fundamental contradiction is palliated by distraction and scapegoating. The cruelty with which Hans Zumpe was treated is not even now regretted, as indicated by Hans Meier's and others' letters. Would murder instead of adultery have been 'less sinful?'
November, 1992: - Andrew Harries: went to the KIT Conference at the Ridgeway in England. I actually spoke at a meeting because I felt something strongly. It was a very good experience. Meeting people from so long ago and sharing and finding that others had suffered on the Bruderhof also. Many or most there had been kicked out for various reasons. For many like myself, no reasons was ever given. That was our home! We were born and grew up there! We knew nothing different. All our lives it had been drummed into us that this was the ideal life, the perfect way of living. Then suddenly we were shoved out. The Bruderhof was like our family. It was as if they just opened the back door and shoved us out. It felt like, "Go and live in the woods on your own. Look after yourself. You are bad. We don't care about you."
Where is the loving and caring and Brotherhood which was talked about so much? I was told by someone else about two people whom I know well who tried to commit suicide more than once. It was said as if they were to blame. There was something wrong with them, not, "What have we done wrong? Where have we gone wrong?" I am not a religious person, but I think the bible says a lot of good, sensible things. One is something to the effect, "You shall judge them by their fruits." What more need one say?
November, 1993 - John A. Hostetler: In their effort to create a "pure" community and to succeed in their "struggle against the devil," severe disciplinary measures have harmed the children. For example, young children from the ages of nine to fourteen have sometimes been interrogated for their sexual fantasies and punished by being placed in social isolation for weeks.
"Some children were interrogated so harshly (for several days) that to this day they have not overcome the abuse." (Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Torches Extinguished} Adults also have suffered from severe emotional impairment and psychological trauma during prolonged periods of enforced separation from their children. Such authoritarian and controlling behavior has contributed to a climate of deprivation and fear.
November, 1994 - Name Withheld: The Hutterites have received dozens of unwanted letters from the SOB asking for money, conferences, boastful and fancy letters, many of which advertise their folly, such as their death marching, daily school activities, exclusion practices in their church, and in many cases trying to make the Hutterites feel guilty, when they don't know head or tail of what's going on amongst the Hutterites. In '90 we suggested that they need not send us The Plough, but they got worse on that matter and only started sending us direct letters.
I feel sorry for the SOB. In previous years they were, and still are, stubborn, ignorant, practicing high power and authority, things totally unknown to us. Yes, I feel sorry for them. They haven't broken their own self-will. All those books and letters -- they wasted their paper and postage expense. Terrible! Irresponsible!
November, 1995 - 'Chronicle,' the Needham, Massachusetts television program on 10/11/95, (Ch 5 WCVB -- ABC affiliate for the Boston area):
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.
November, 1996 - Carol Beels Beck (to Joe Keiderling and Christian Domer): What about the offer of two years ago to involve a 'Mediation Service'? Brilliant idea, blocked by leaders in the Brotherhood! What about the legal action you two instigated last year against COB? A blatant misuse of power! What I heard is that the concern about using the name "Bruderhof" was mentioned to COB negotiators, but before any discussion could take place, you two had used Big Brother tactics. What has that got to do with reconciliation? How can you say you 'reluctantly arrived at this drastic move...' when you had not discussed it with those wishing to set up COB?
What about the endless attempts of various individuals to work at reconciliation through their families and loved ones in the Community, blocked by a few sentences said in the Brotherhood by powerful 'brothers' like yourselves? I shudder every time I think, that if I had made it into the Brotherhood I would probably sit there and believe every word you say about how evil KIT or Ramon are, etc., with no means or wish to prove its correctness for myself. When I had finished reading your letter in Sept KIT '96, I once again had this picture of you two sitting on the mountain top appealing to all of us sheep in the valleys to come to see how we have been deceived by KIT editors. I had this same picture of you Christian speaking from the mountain top of all righteousness when you directed such a personally intrusive attack at Ramon in your letter to him, printed in KIT (May 96 pps. 3-4.)
What right has any human being got to do what you did in that letter? It brought to mind the story in the New Testament where Jesus asked the Pharisees and onlookers "Who is willing to throw the first stone?"
One of the things I feel most ashamed of that I learned in the B'hof and that has been painful to unlearn is judging & finding others wanting, based on my values & beliefs. I feel your organization is riddled with self-righteous judging and disregarding, especially dissenters of your 'cause.' The response -- Ramon printing the complete interview with Sibyl and your parents -- I found so beautiful ( KIT May 96). It just is puzzling that if you are so keen for reconciliation, why to this day haven't we read anything in KIT of your response to reading in full that taped meeting between Sibyl, Ramon and your parents!
Your angry, unfeeling, cruel, untruthful accusations, especially against Ramon, were totally exposed by the printed dialogue. I do not necessarily agree with Ramon or any other KIT editor's sexual/moral values, but that does not give me the right to judge them and then publicly denounce that person as having no ethical or moral values. All that I know of Ramon tells me the opposite. I don't really like quoting from the Bible, but I can't resist, given your letter written from the mountain top of Christian respectability and morality. "We on the contrary experience the true liberation and joy of living a life of sexual purity and fidelity." The latter may be so, but who did Jesus denounce, the prostitutes or the spiritually and morally smug Pharisees?
For me the answer to the above puzzle lies in the belief that "in iniquity I was brought to birth and my mother conceived me in sin" (Psalm 51:5). In other words, the sin I commit is a "normal" part of this good-natured fellow you know as Mel. I am, simply put, a part of fallen nature. I even show the effects of a fallen nature, living, as I do, in a world of total silence. I am not all that God intended me to be no matter how cuddly and innocently I lay in the birth-cradle. In those times of relative "innocence" the seeds of sin were already planted, albeit hidden from immediate flowering. Despite these, or shall I say, because of them, God had also graciously implanted the DESIRE, the yearning within my soul, to be that which He had intended for me all along.
When I read the familiar words of Matt.18:21,22 in which unlimited forgiveness of my brother or sister is commanded, I feel right away that this is indeed as it should be. I find it almost "easy" to do so. And why is that? Largely because I know all too well my own need before God, but also because my brother or sister in the faith is guided by a DESIRE and earnest motivation to please our God. My extending forgiveness and the other person's desire to be reconciled are pleasing to our Father.
I have a certain assurance that the process of forgiveness, even if it needs to be entered into repeatedly for the same offense committed against me, is helping and maturing the faith of my brother or sister until such a time that the undesirable behavior ceases and is replaced by more loving conduct. The bottom-line is that my brother/sister is making progress toward spiritual maturity. Knowing this enables forgiveness to well up quite naturally within me.
But what am I to make of the need to practice unlimited forgiveness when persons I consider brothers state that "It does not matter if what we do is right or wrong, as long as we do it together". What if these persons continue to hurt others and themselves alike with a warped point of view for which I can find no basis? What if their elder reminds me of the need to forgive unconditionally while he and others continue to ignore the many pleas to reconsider their stand before God?
For some believers, this dilemma becomes unbearable and leads to the realization that the only way to remain faithful to Christ, their first love, is to sever their bonds with the Bruderhof. For did not the very vows that require a willingness to receive admonition also include a readiness to admonish others "if you should sense within our community life something that should be clearer or would more fittingly bespeak the will of God, of if you should feel that something ought to be corrected or abolished?" (Torches Rekindled p. 301). When a young novice trustingly places his/her entire spiritual well-being into the hands of others is it not right to assume that a reciprocal relationship exists? Once abused, trust is hard to regain!
Dear Bruderhof leadership: Please humble yourselves, admit your ongoing wrongdoing, and show genuine signs of seeking to be reconciled. Only so will you bring honor to Christ's cause, and be understood in the manner you so much desire. A simple gesture of goodwill might be to print something along the following lines in The Plough, the foreword of Torches Rekindled and the KIT Newsletter:
Dear Reader: Our history has been marked by great joys and unspeakable sorrows. We are increasingly aware that we have sinned against fellow-beings who at one time shared our common life. In some cases we have not even practiced basic human decency. We are deeply sorry. We wish to seek unconditional repentance and forgiveness for our past wrongs. If you feel the urge to write or talk to us we will receive you gratefully and will make an earnest effort to seek peace with you.
Only when we sit down together seriously desiring to settle our disputes according to the teachings of Jesus will we reverse the present course and once again find the ability to forgive "Seventy times seven".
Dear Brotherhood of the Bruderhof: Martin Luther King had a dream of brotherhood. I too have such a vision. I long for a day when all this anger, malice and strife will cease. I long for a day when you will be contrite and reconciled with many. A Love Meal may be in order. Please invite Ramon! You won't have enough space to house all who may come, but you and we could not care less! And before we eat our meal together, we shall all stand up, link hands and let the rolling hills of Woodcrest ring with upraised voices:
A joyous song break forth among us / The Lord be thanked and praised. / Our feet shall always tread earth firmly / And yet our hands shall reach to heaven. / To them that lay in sin and sadness / There came a youthful joy and gladness. / A joyous striving for the highest / The Lord be thanked and praised! With great love for you all, I remain your,
You will note the Bruderhof(tm) has chosen a very high profile individual (Mumia) to champion. In my opinion, this is simply because Mumia killed a police officer -- a heroic action as viewed by those on the extreme left. By linking to this cause, this murderer, they are able to rope in activist individuals such as Ramsey Clark, Pete Seeger, and several others who, I believe, would be appalled at the true nature of the leadership at the Bruderhof Communities(tm).
The Bruderhof(tm) has not chosen to "stand" against the death penalty in cases involving assault against children or women because those would not be the "popular" causes that Mumia provides -- at least this is my opinion.
Recently, the Bruderhof(tm) attempted to get police authorities in South Dakota involved in a witch hunt for sexual abusers among the Hutterite Colonies (nearly all of whom have had the good sense to expel the Bruderhof(tm) from their Hutterite ranks). The latest I've heard is that the allegations were so vague and lacking in detail that the investigation has, essentially, been dropped.
...The tragic thing is that we simply don't want to be "brothers" with the Bruderhof(tm) on the terms they have set -- which include acceptance without complaint of the behaviors they have exhibited in recent years. If the leadership were to change (almost impossible under their by-laws), then the common brothers could reclaim the religious standards and tenets that once guided them. It will be very difficult for them to accomplish this goal because so many have abrogated personal responsibility in the name of unity.
All of this, of course, is just my opinion -- but it is an opinion, I am certain, shared by many,
When we and other ex-bruderhofers heard about John Rhodes' phone calls to Ramon, we had a cautious optimism that this would be the beginning of renewed dialogue between the Bruderhof and us. Tim was in California when John's overtures were discussed and was amongst those who counselled that Ramon accept in good faith the invitation to meet. Others expressed the view that the Bruderhof could not be trusted; but Ramon wanted to trust John and the Bruderhof, and Tim supported this.
We are aware of the e-mail correspondence between John, speaking for the Bruderhof, and those sued by the Bruderhof. We are dismayed, not only by the legal action, but also by the totally dishonest and underhand tactics which were designed to bring Ramon, Blair and Julius together under the pretext of a conciliatory meeting.
Christoph, as the leader of the Bruderhof, are you fully aware of what is being done, ostensibly in the name of the brotherhood, by such individuals as John Rhodes and Christian Domer? If you are, how can you justify these actions in light of all past Bruderhof teachings and precedents dating to the pre-Hitler era, and your own recent publications?
Surely, these actions demonstrate a total reversal of the radical interpretation of Christianity which your grandfather Eberhard sought to bring to living expression. We find it hard to believe that full and open discussion by all brotherhood members could have led to the recent lawsuits and, in particular, the deception used in serving the summons.
We note that none of your lawsuits to date have been against those of us who were born in, brought up and expelled by the Bruderhof. We want you to know that we have read the latest lawsuits and fully support Ramon, Blair and Julius in defending these allegations.
We recognise that there are differences between the Bruderhof and ex-bruderhofers, but believe that there are far more appropriate and constructive means, such as mediation, to address our differences. We strongly urge you and the brotherhood to withdraw all lawsuits, thus providing the opportunity for us to explore areas of concern to both sides.
We will send a copy of this letter to all those involved and hope you will share it with the brotherhood. Yours sincerely
In the last newsletter there were different articles that had appeared in the local newspapers in the States as well as various contributions from KITfolks in Europe. When we write from Europe, we often do not know what has happened in the States where most of the aggressive action from the Bruderhof seems to hit the news. I think that we in Europe need to support KITfolks in the States better by sending more information and contributions from this end...
From the very beginning the Bruderhof saw us as a threat. They fought us! Why? Because it has always been Bruderhof policy that ex-members should not contact each other. In 1989 we had a visit from Johann Christoph Arnold with some eight other members. He asked me if I received KIT. I said I received it, but my eyesight was so poor at the time that I had difficulty reading the very small print. He told me not to read it because Ramon Sender was a very sinful man who only wanted to destroy the Bruderhof and what it stood for.
Then I started reading KIT and found some astonishing, nasty, anonymous letters as early as November, 1990: "An Open Letter to Ramon Sender and Other Writers of The Filthy Tabloid of Lies Known as KIT" (You should read that one again to understand what I want to say!) I have heard that these letters actually came from the Bruderhof at the time to try and destroy our newsletter (this I heard from a more recent leaver who even knows who the writer was.) For me, it was the starting sign to become involved because I felt that here real lies were being printed! So it is clear that from the very beginning the Bruderhof took an unloving, unchristian, very aggressive stand towards us. Since that time, things only have become worse because the Bruderhof leaders falsely inform their members about us and force, especially our old parents, to openly take a stand against KIT. So if now we ask ourselves, once again, "What does KIT stand for and what do we want to achieve or stand for?" then I think we should be quite clear about not accepting such lies about us.
The latest actions of the Bruderhof:
1) To have the Hutterite communities investigated by the law in an accusation that children are sexually abused and molested and that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating this matter.
2) That Dave Maendel was brought to trial by the Bruderhof and a Bruderhof leader actually said, "Maendel deserves to be 'locked away.'
3) Ramon and Blair were shadowed by people, probably private detectives, to serve them legal papers in New York State.
What are we doing about these things in Europe? Do we stand behind our friends? Is it right to say "That KIT people have been the cause of these actions? I do not agree! I feel that we are standing too far away with our Bruderhof past from 37 years ago. What are we doing about the loveless actions from the Bruderhof we hear about, or which come our way?
1) Old Buddug Evans, who was taken away from the Darvell Bruderhof and is too old to understand why she was deported. She seems to ask daily, "Where am I? Why am I not at Darvell?"
2) The 'Hartford Boys' were abused. Susie Zumpe was abused. Sexual abuse happened on the Bruderhof many, many times. When we hear about the charges brought against the Hutterites, does that not make us want to challenge them on what they did to many, many young people fifteen or ten or six or even one year ago?
3) I know of a boy who was hit so hard by a Servant that he suffered a bad brain concussion. All these matters always were cleared up internally, but no apologies to the person or persons concerned.
4) People who leave today are molested, blackmailed and abused, and live in fear. When we left, we did not live in fear. We considered returning to the Bruderhof one day.
When I read in the last KITletter that the Bruderhof is "installing a new high-tech security and surveillance system at night" so that no one can trespass their property, and when I think that even on the Michaelshof in Germany they had aggressive watchdogs and "light surveillance" that greatly bothered the neighbors, then I must conclude that George Orwell is right when he said in his book 1984, "Big Brother is watching You" I do not believe that this surveillance is so much for "incomers" but much more the fear of "outgoers" like Susanna who left in the middle of the night.
To conclude, I would like to say that all the aggressiveness has come from the Bruderhof leadership, probably out of fear. Pointing their finger at the Hutterite colonies might distract officials for the time being from looking more closely at what is really going on inside the walls of the Bruderhof system, but I am afraid it has nothing to do with Christianity, Hutterianism or the beginnings of Eberhard Arnold. The Bruderhof is a sect -- a dangerous cult, and we are the only ones to call them to truthfulness for the sake of the many, many innocent, honest and trusting members that have no idea what the Top Leaders are up to. If we want to prevent a Jonestown or a Waco repeating itself, we are the ones to try and get together with them around a common table to air our feelings of fear and distress about the way they are going.
KIT has taken an active part in unraveling the untruth, and we should support this more and more. A few years back I was on Dutch TV in a discussion about cults and sects in the States. This was due to my book. I have just watched the video again, and the question was put to the panel: Why do these cults and sects flourish in the States? The answer given was "Because in the States, faith of a church is a business. They advertise for it!? Well, that is exactly what the Bruderhof is doing: advertising on the Internet and promoting all the books written by Christoph Arnold on the Internet!
This is something the Anabaptists would not do, nor my Grandfather Eberhard Arnold.
So I wish us all the sincerity to divide between what we believe and stand for and the shrugging of shoulders and saying, "Let them get out of this mess alone!" Are we not obliged to open our mouth when we see wrong and sin and people becoming a victim of this? Is it not strange that the younger generation that left the Community during the last years have almost retreated from contributing to KIT? Why do we not hear from the whole families who have left in recent years? Are they too afraid to mix with us? Or are we not open enough to hear their difficulties and give them help? All this reminds me so much of the Eastern Block when the wall was still between East and West, and German soldiers shot and killed people who wanted to feel to the West. Let us be open to see where we can help, and let us be active in supporting those who stick out their necks for all of us. Love to all,
Tim and Carol hosted me on my business trip to Atlanta last week, hardly seeing anything of me for four days, as I gallivanted arduously in town, letting myself in late at night. Chowki (the Johnson dog, from Hindi/Urdu "chowkidar", meaning watchman) kept noticing and mentioning it, but bless them, they didn't complain. Then I got taken to "Hot Mikado" (brilliant) and a meeting with President Carter at Emory (rather impressive) before I rewarded my big brother for such generosity by letting him take me hundreds of miles up through the Smokies via lovely Susie and Duffy's to Nashville. Picking up Kathy Brookshire en route, we wound our way through the hills, even unto Dollywood (rather tacky Cherokee and Dolly paraphernalia spoiling otherwise lovely scenes) -- Tim couldn't bring himself to stop, for some reason! Half singing three-quarters forgotten or never known country songs and listening to Peruvian, Guadalupe, Grand Canyon and anything except Tennessee windy music.
To cap it, the top of Ole Smoky was neither covered with cheese nor snow but workmen and so, although we strolled up from the carpark, our way was blocked. Some people were going round, but we turned back. I wonder if we could have negotiated passage if I'd gone on and explained nicely that I was all the way from England just for this? Had a Dairy Queen to soften the blow (expulsion from Oak Lake left empty space for not-to-be-got-in-England Dairy Queens, which is odd because I can't remember having more than one while in, on the way back from the dentist!)
On to Duffy and Susie's hidden peaceful place and two fine people I really did remember from Forest River and Oak Lake childhood days. Most of the ex-Bruderhofers in England I didn't actually know as a child. I remember loving them then, and I think they are even nicer now. They had a houseful of visiting family, but still welcomed us and there was a lot of talk and laughter and good wholesome food and drink around. A real farmhouse kitchen, centre spirit of the house. Outside, I don't think I've ever seen such tiny Hummingbirds, I surely have not seen naked little Kiwi fruit (delicious and no peel) and Cardinals, not greeted for years and years.
After a peaceful night and a good walk up to unsuspected, awesome falls, Tim and I left for Nashville the next morning. Doing the Hermitage (President Jackson's home) on the way, we bought our tickets for the Grand Ole Opry, booked into a motel, returned to eat in Opryland, and I revelled in two and a half hours of Country Music. Actually it was not all good quality, but I was there. Amazingly, so was Tim. He further indulged me by skirting into Music Row afterwards (Did we miss something? It was a bit empty.) and then I couldn't get us back onto the motorway, so we checked out increasingly sleazy backstreets, shades of Gore Vidal, and got a little stressed but, still friends, entered Downtown. Exit still elusive, but a few times round and through and out we came, seconds away from the motel! Next morning, back to pick up Kathy and, a couple of Dairy Queens later, the return drive was completed. No skunk this trip (but reminiscing more about Phewey with Kathy); saw a woodchuck. Smokies really are hazy. Leaves turning colour before our eyes.
That was almost it. Delicious meals, delectable deep heat, hard work, lovely family and friends, then back home to sunny England and m'boys. Thank-you, Tim and Carol, Duffy and Susie and all your family, and Kathy. And not-at-all-podgy (!) Chowki for a memorable visit. (I told you I'd put you in KIT again if you didn't give back my sock....) Quiet weekend coming up, with boat party on the Thames celebrating sister Elizabeth and her husband Richard's fiftieths. Elizabeth's fiftieth celebrations in April were so good she's back for more! And we're all right in there with her. Love, Rosie.
I have followed with great interest the stories of what happened to Ramon and you two enroute to Friendly Crossways. Incredible! So different, as everyone who has ever been a Bruderhofer can attest, from "the way it was." While there's life, there's hope of redemptive power changing their present course. The quiet, persistent way you folks and Ramon et al are working your way through this maze (on behalf of all of us, I really believe), is impressive and I appreciate what I consider a Christian attitude at work.
How I should like to participate in a reunion sometime. But currently it is not even thinkable. Still, the reports, such as yours, mean more to me than I can say. Yes, indeed, I know (name deleted). We were really good friends and have been in correspondence from time to time. Glad to have the new address and also (name deleted) too. Am still in correspondence, and (name deleted) and (name deleted) & siblings. If and when you are able to contact your parents directly, tell them we remember them happily and gratefully -- as we do so many. Surely, the general membership does not have the remotest idea what the leadership is doing.
I don't know how you can let me know who was at Friendly Crossways without breaking any confidences, but it would be so wonderful to envision each of these dear friends of 30+ years ago as sitting together in support and in joyful song. We have three of the old leather-covered songbooks and we love to sing them.
Thank you again for writing and please do stay in communication for it means more to me than I can say. Love and all best wishes to you and to Emily. And you know all who are involved in the lawsuit are in my special prayers,
It has been a real concern, a real need to me, the way people outside the Bruderhof have been cut off from all their relatives. That people are informed that their mother or others dear to them have died, been buried and then only days later being informed. This has brought a lot of pain and with many it has made them very angry with you and also the Bruderhof.
These measures implemented against the ex-members are inhuman, dear Christoph. Just imagine how you would have felt, if you would not be allowed to see your mother, while she is still alive, and then being informed, that your mother is six foot under the ground and you were not wanted at her bedside, or later at the grave. Then the incident with Dave Maendel, the lawsuit against Ramon, Julius Ruben and Blair Purcell. Don't you think that there are better ways of resolving our differences? How wonderful it would be to talk freely about these differences, rather than lash out tit for tat. That has never brought peace yet; it always snowballs and in the end someone loses his cool and does something that is regrettable to all concerned, something that is irreversible.
Dear Christoph! Lets not wait until a catastrophe strikes someone down. Lets come to the negotiation table and talk like Christians should. I plead with you -- don't pursue the path of destruction any longer. Lets sit down and talk and resolve whatever it might be. How wonderful it would be if we could at least live peacefully side by side, even if we disagree on some issues. There is no need to get at one another. I can assure you, dear Christoph, that the largest percent of all who read KIT are not out to destroy the Bruderhof, nor are they against you personally. The majority wishes the Bruderhof well. They wish the Bruderhof would become that which it is supposed to be and at the same time have access to their loved ones.
You should have heard my children, when they found out that two weeks ago Olwen (Joerg's mother-in-Law) is supposed to have had a stroke. How often have they wept into their pillows, because they are not allowed to see Oma Anni (Joerg's mother) and grandma Olwen. Why should children suffer over the disputes of adults and in our case even false accusations. Is that justifiable? Is that fair? So I leave it in your hands and pray that good reasoning and common sense will in the end prevail. Christoph! You have everything to gain. Don't go and blow it. Waiting for an answer from you I greet you,
My comment may have been triggered in part by hearing from Duffy and Susie when Rosie Sumner, Kathy Brookshire and I recently saw them in Tennessee, that the one response they'd got to three letters they'd sent to different Bruderhof people to ask what was going on with the legal suits was a very agonized one, from a couple known to many of us (but not to be named here!), which to me indicated that this was something that was simply too painful for them to discuss. This was from a couple who I think can be fairly characterized as having come to the Bruderhof as genuine seekers, and people of intelligence and spirit, as could be said of so many who have joined, regardless of what later happened to them.
Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but we all know something of what happens to the individual psyche when enmeshed in a conspiracy of silence. One's choices for how to cope, whether by continuing to live a lie or to speak out, are very limited, and the consequences are painful either way. People have developed a variety of survival and coping mechanisms, yet as some of us know from personal experience, these are apt to fail when the rug one has planted one's feet on is suddenly jerked away. After a while, one sees what happens around one, and wonders who is next, and when. I don't envy anyone at the Bruderhof who has both a conscience and a brain!
On a happier note, Carol and I drove down to Plains, GA, this weekend to participate in the annual Peanut Festival, which this year included a couple of dedications, relating to the presidential race of 1996. We've been in Plains several times, actually, since Carol joined the Atlanta staff of the Carter Presidential Center. Friday night we stayed at Mis' Grace Jackson's Plains Bed and Breakfast, where we've stayed before. This is conveniently close both to the Plains Highschool (now a museum), where a "pageant" of Plains history was to be performed that evening, and also to the starting line of the next morning's 5K run, for which I had signed up.
On leaving our room, to set out by foot for the play, I noted an athletic youngish man was standing sufficiently close to our door that I momentarily thought that before leaving we should perhaps lock the door, which we've never done in Plains. But, not to worry, as Ms. Grace beckoned us into her rather dimly lit parlor, where she said she had some visitors we'd like to meet. As the man rose from his seat in the darkish corner and stepped toward us, he looked vaguely familiar, but it was not until he spoke that I realized that it was Jimmy C. himself, along with Rosalynn.
They'd actually dropped by to see some George Washington Carver prints, which had not arrived yet (brought in expressly for the Peanut Festival). With true small town courtesy, and perhaps mainly because Carol does deal with the Carters, and especially Rosalynn, they invited us to sit and chat, while they waited to be summoned to the pageant, where they were to be the honored guests. After a few minutes of this, when we indicated we'd better leave to be in time, they invited us to drive with them to the event, which we happily did, with the slightly suspicious young man, who by then I realized was Secret Service, as our driver.
So, did this unexpected episode energize me to win in my age group in next morning's run? Sadly, no, as I ended up comfortably in the middle of the pack, with a satisfactory but not outstanding performance.
Later, after an informative lecture on the history of the peanut, and Plains' modest role in this, and after performances of Native American dances and ceremonies, and a wander around the local arts and handicrafts, we closed out our visit with a fine Mennonite meal at Yoder's "Deitch Haus" restaurant, near Montezuma, and headed home. Fortunately, Montezuma did not extent his revenge to the Georgia Mennonites and their restaurants! So, back to the working world,
Father Ron asked JCA a question about a quote in the book from Dietrich Bonhoeffer which JCA could not answer. He had forgotten what the quote was and what it referred to. It was about 'cheap grace.'
Upon hearing JCA talk about forgiveness, I have one question: doe JCA forgive, does his corporate president forgive, does his vice-president forgive?
We, each and every one, can talk and counsel on forgiveness. However do we really forgive, or do we only write, talk and discuss what it means to forgive? Perhaps it would do everyone good to seriously think about what the word 'forgiveness' means and what it means to put forgiveness into practice. I personally do not think that we need to read a lot about forgiveness. Either you forgive or you do not. It is as simple as that. And if you forgive and thank God for other people, then you do not launch lawsuits against them! Sincerely,
As an agnostic, I still have a vision of what a Christian must be, if only because of my own lack of faith in the reality of Christ as God's son. In other words, my strivings to "believe" led me to read the Old and the New Testament, and it is clearly a confusing message except in the sense of faith. Throughout both Testaments, the message of faith is clear. God is depicted as one who will watch over his faithful and will protect them from harm. If one cannot believe this, and if one has to resort to police and court systems at every turn in life that one finds irritating, one cannot possibly claim to believe in God. Even an agnostic like me believes that love is powerful and ultimately the only thing that matters.
I think the Bruderhof's orgy in lawsuits, police brutality/entrapment clearly indicates a crisis in faith. Why not ask God for help? Who not listen to KIT and think seriously about how such terrible alienation can come about when the majority of the group professes to be Christian? What possible harm could come to the Bruderhof through visits by KITfolk? If the Bruderhofers were Christians, would they not welcome the chance to be examples to the 'godless'?
Nothing of all this nonsense with the Bruderhof makes any sense in terms of Christianity, but it does make sense in terms of power-lust and impotent cravings. Zealotry and narrow-minded obsessions are not the exclusive domain of religion. I don't for one minute believe that JCA and his goons are religious in the normal sense. Their obsessions with power, self-image and cruelty are not the stuff of the 'religious,' i.e. the belief in "higher" power. This is why even the very pious in KIT cannot bridge the gap.
I saw an interview of JCA on TV in which he prayed and talked about his books and about not being a dictator. Nothing he or the interviewer said seemed sincere or decent. It was, very simply, the bland babble that used to be the crap that was part of the evasion during the Vietnam War to avoid controversy. The interviewer seemed to poke fun at JCA, but didn't seem to have any deeper insights to offset JCA's simplistic nonsense.
Thanks, Sam Arnold, for the fine book review. You saved me much! Hope you didn't pay for the book!? I find it typical of people who have never really read the Bible to use such terms as human sexuality. The Bible never recognizes such an attribute. It views sex only in terms of acts. The concept of sexuality has slowly evolved and is still in the process of being challenged by findings that will help us become free. Only a few decades ago, homosexuality was classified in psychiatry as a pathology. Even now the "ultra religious" view it as such and have managed to "convert," etc., etc.
A hint of Christ's own views regarding the diversity in human temperament is in the Bible and seems to include all of that which the "ultra religious" condemn. In any case, JCA is not expert in human psychology, not is he the one who wrote these books. His language usage of the few TV programs on which he appeared was quite distinct from that quoted from his books. Remember the case when Henry XIII had Sir Thomas Moore write a book on issues that later troubled him?
Another angle on all this nonsense about sex is this: how is it that those who condemn the evils of sex know so much about it if they have not practiced it? Even more inconsistent is the denunciation of that which "God has made" by those who believe we were made in his image. Love to all,
The reason for the call today was to report that he had stopped to visit his mother's grave at Woodcrest. He had not called ahead for permission to visit.
The gatehouse, however, was unmanned (or womanned -- for that matter -- and he simply drove on in. The cemetery was just a few yards beyond the new gatehouse, an addition since his last visit to Woodcrest for his mother's funeral.
As he visited the grounds (down the hill from the main compound), he was joined by a Bruderhofer with whom he had a quiet conversation. It's not known if that person arrived because Andy had been seen on the surveillance cameras. They talked a bit, pleasantly enough.
Andy had called ahead to the local police department to tell them of his intent -- they told him that a visit to a burial ground to mourn was permissible and to call them if any difficulties arose. The Bruderhofer in question departed the scene, heading "up the hill." Shortly after that, two more came down to "share the moment" with Andy. One was a fellow who had threatened Andy with physical harm the last time Andy visited -- during the time his mother was dying. To give the man credit, he apologized for doing so prior to Andy's departure from the Bruderhof at that time.
This time, though, both Bruderhofers raised the roof with Andy, pointing out that they had done so much for him in the past and reiterating how ungrateful he had been. One of them went on to say that they were going to call the police (presumably to have Andy arrested for visiting his mother's gravesite in a peaceful, unobtrusive manner). This fellow also remarked that Blair Purcell (me -- the current writer) would not be able to rescue Andy from the trouble he would now find himself in.
Let me point out to Joe K. that the only protection I could offer anyone (from the Bruderhof) is to continue to tell the truth to anyone who wants to listen. If that's worth commenting on in Joe's eyes, so be it!
They blocked Andy's car and called the police. There seems to have been some mix-up over whether Andy got the story right the first time in regards to his "right" to visit his mother's gravesite -- the police, this time, were less certain.
Then Joe K. and Chris M. debated, one assumes, as to whether to restrain Andy and ask the police to place him under arrest. Good sense prevailed, however, and they allowed Andy to leave. As they did so, they challenged Andy to report what happened on this visit of mourning accurately. I believe what I've said here is accurate; if there are any discrepancies, Joe, please feel free to add you comments.
Contrary to what Joe might believe, this is another instance of someone standing up for his personal human right, the right to mourn one's parent. No one put Andy up to it; no one knew in advance that this was his intention (many have known about the trip he's making). Wouldn't have been a gracious gesture to have invited Andy "up the hill" for a meal before he left? To have allowed him to visit with other relatives like his grandparents and an aunt and uncle? Sorry folks, it doesn't work that way at the Bruderhof. Call the police; chase the mourner away. Well, Andy had been there just about the amount of time he intended. He simply wanted to mourn his mother. He did. Best wishes,
It is pitiful to see them now growing rapidly into a cult and heaven knows what is going on behind closed doors! I witnessed the silent tears flowing down from the grieving faces over their dead children or the last breath of a dying man who gave his all. All of this and more was trampled on when they dropped the bomb in Primavera. But I feel there is little sense dwelling on the past. It is done and the future is wide open to all. Take heart,
Yes, my undivided gratitude to all KIT staffers!!! But now my intuition dictates that I dissociate from the KIT process because I have come to the conclusion that a legal battle is being fought between the Bruderhof and the KIT staff members which goes far beyond any intentions the KIT process might have had. I don't blame either block because the one side is trying to show up the facts behind the fictions while the other, in order to protect its dwindling amount of credibility left, deems it vital to endorse the extreme of attacking frontally with libels and defamations, thus using its money-power to smother the truth of the money-less. And all thus under the guise of Christian Love and Forgiveness???
I feel in my bones that to achieve their sinister aims, third parties are trying to manipulate the lives and feelings of all KIT subscribers by using similar psycho-terror methods I was subjected to, some 45 years ago, at the Bruderhof in Paraguay. No! I am not chickening out! But today's procedures by the Bruderhof make me cringe deep inside and bring back nightmare-memories of psychological anguish and suffering at the hands of such Bruderhof bullies as Roger Allain. Joerg Barth, Heini Arnold, Karl Keiderling and Hans Meier, just to mention a few of the -- then -- worst. To sum it up: I hate to be terrorized and abused by anybody in any way like I was while living on the Bruderhof during my puberty and youth, and I may not account for the consequences!!!
I just won't allow the past to throw its shadows of psycho-terror, threat and abuse into my present life.
This controversy arranged recently by the Bruderhof is neither biblical nor democratic, but zeroed-in against democracy and Human Rights as well as being totally un-American!!!
Whosoever should think that this type of psycho-terror that Johann Christoph Arnold, the son of the late Heini Arnold Vetter, is launching at us 'KITfolk' is anything new in Bruderhof history would be very mistaken!!! A red thread of this kind of schizophrenia and psycho-terror may be traced all through Bruderhof history, and obviously Johann Christoph Arnold has been well coached by his late father. Or where else comes his know-how?
For the above reasons, I beg you, dear KIT staff: please don't send me the above KIT publications anymore!!!! Just to be reminded of the Bruderhof, its schizoid leaders and their lying makes me sick to the guts and puke!!! Greetings of friendship,
Take to heart what I am writing you, discuss it with responsible people (and I do not mean lawyers) and change your tack while there is still time. In the context of what I wrote, it is not understandable that you could recommend a book on forgiveness while evidently, on the basis of what you write, you do not practice it. Not for nothing is it said, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Look at history.
What I said about Amnesty International you seem to have completely misunderstood. I have been working for the organisation for twenty years. While I do not agree with all I read in KIT -- how could it be otherwise? -- there is enough confirmation in it from diverse sources as to there being a considerable modicum of truth [corrected typo 12/7/97] contained therein in some assertions concerning certain aspects of the Communities' activities meted out to some individuals that comes within Amnesty International's mandate of combating "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," be it physical or mental, in conformity with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
However I am not writing you as an active member of the above organisation but to indicate the position you might find yourself in. No, I wrote to you [previously] out of a sense of the fitness of love. Your and the communities' activities in regard to Ramon Sender and others do not seem to fit that criteria.
10/13/97: I was very pleased with the October KIT, and the information contained therein augurs well for the future in that many see the injustices. Though it is difficult for all concerned in America, there is no lack of those prepared to do something about the situation. Good. The following is a copy of a note I've sent to Christoph. If you think it would be suitable to appear in KIT, feel free to use it.
Dear Christoph: You know I wrote to Christian Domer and received less than a meaningful reply. It is strange that you allow the suit against certain people to go forward. It appears that you have all the words on forgiveness, but not the action. Open the doors of the communities to those who want to positively contact their families and friends. Obviously there may be the odd one or more than one who, out of bitterness or negativity at the way they have been treated by the communities, may pose a minor threat. There is enough strength in the communities to easily, positively deal with that. I expect you have read the October 1997 KIT. If not, it is to be highly recommended. For contained therein is a heartfelt cry from many for reconciliation and forgiveness. Not on your terms of return and acceptance. Oh no, but of a desire to sit down in love and share thoughts and ideas without any recriminations. That way lies peace your grandfather wrote of and practiced. Not the dead peace of the graveyard or a purely pastoral peace, but a lively ongoing sharing. Joy for everyone. As it is, the way you appear to be going will only lead to more anguish. heartache and sadness for all. Is that what you want? I cannot believe it. Sincerely,
First of all, the big Sixties Crisis was always somewhat hush-hush, and I was always under the impression, from what I was told, that "600 people left in the 1960s." There was no mention of anyone being forced to leave; they simply said "mistakes were made." I never heard the term "anti-Arnold" until after I left.
Another thing that bothered me, too, was the criticism of Cyril Davies. It was always said that Cyril was too proud and arrogant to give up the hospital for the "life." I thought that was quite noble of Cyril, but other Bruderhofers certainly didn't share my opinion. I got a chance to meet Cyril and Margot when I was a child in Darvell, and they didn't fit the description of being arrogant and self-centered people at all. I was glad that Erna Friedemann brought up the issue of what a good doctor Cyril was in the last KIT issue.
As I was only tiny when Heini died, I can't make any of my own judgments about him. I can, however, share some of the descriptions of him that are/were quite common. JCA talked often of his parents, and said time and again that it was clear from the beginning that Heini and Annemarie never wanted to be in the center; the only thing that mattered was Christ and the Church. He would struggle with tears at the memory of their humility and how badly they were mistreated in Primavera. According to him, and many others, Heini was terribly ill and so many people accused beloved Heini of faking the illness. Heini, in his goodness, apologized and overworked himself trying to make things right when in actuality he was near death. The faithful members lovingly sang at his bedside while the uncompassionate, who claimed that he wasn't really sick, never went near his deathbed for which dear Heini willingly forgave them later.
Heini never sent anyone away, but so many lies were told about how he had, we were informed. Many people considered him to be power-hungry, which was so very far from the truth. Heini just wanted to be a humble brother. Heini and Annemarie never thought about themselves but always sought to serve others. It was often talked about how he had humbled himself to the Hutterites and apologized for something he hadn't even done -- what it was I do not know.
People often said that the Michaelshof resembled those enchanting days of early Woodcrest and the journeys to America where they met so many people longing for a new life, which then led to Woodcrest. After the very difficult years in Primavera, Woodcrest gave them new hope and new courage for life. In meetings, much emphasis was placed on seeking those who were lost, for they needed to be saved, and to do the commandments of Jesus and not to preach them. We were challenged to love all mankind and under no circumstances were we to speak evil of anyone, or be unforgiving and hateful, or to love money. We would not enter the Kingdom of God if we loved some and hated others. If we were to have a problem with someone, we were to settle out of court with them by sunset and by no means use the world's justice system, for God is the only judge. It was pointed out that hypocrisy was a deadly enemy of Christ. We were to speak the truth to one another at all times and never speak behind anyone's back.
Eberhard and Heini Arnold's 'death days' ware very special occasions for the Bruderhofers of today. They are "quiet days" (much like Good Friday) and people wear black. I find that rather sickening, not to mention hypocritical, as we were raised to believe that all families were equal. I also find the pictures of Eberhard and Heini in the Servants' offices and peoples houses idolatrous. Such pictures are given as Christmas gifts to people.
I remember hearing about KIT, but the only names I recall being mentioned were Ramon Sender and Bette Bohlken. Bette's book, my father Ben Zumpe informed me, was out to destroy the Bruderhof and was full of lies about Heini. However Ben denied my request to read it for myself. The one thing that bothered me tremendously was that amongst all of this KIT frenzy, no real specifics were given, and one would be viewed suspiciously if one dared to seek further information on this evil bunch of Satan followers who "were out to destroy the Bruderhof and all good things in the world." In most cases, people would react with shock and fear, but it kind of had a reverse effect on me. I considered anyone who questioned the SOB to be fascinating. The first brother I called when I ran away was the only one accused by my parents of being involved with KIT, and that was no coincidence.
I also remember my mother pleading with me to become a lawyer, saying, "Don't waste your intelligence on becoming an M.D. We have enough doctors. We really need good lawyers!" I expressed my confusion as to why we would need lawyers. Didn't the New Testament discourage the used of the court systems? "We are being sued by many people -- KIT people," she said. "When you are a Brotherhood member, you will be privy to the details."
Another thing I'd like to know about Primavera is, were you who lived there pressured into going to Gemeindestunden the way we were? I gave up any beliefs in God around the age of 12, and informed my father that I was no longer eligible for communal prayer as I didn't believe. He said, "Nonsense, we all have our times of doubt. How do you think I will look if you don't go? You will come, and you will sit in the front row with your mother and me." Nothing I could say would convince him otherwise, but it a way it was good because sitting through those meeting only reaffirmed my doubts in it all.
The Arnold worship is still rampant -- Eberhard's writings are read far more often than the Bible. I always found it strange to hear of how Eberhard and Emmy would travel for months at a time while everybody else worked on the Hof. In Gegen den Strom, Emmy writes with such arrogance of how they would return from a month or so of travel and find the Brotherhood in disarray. She writes that Eberhard was in the army during World War I as an "Ersatzreservist," but was sent away for medical reasons. Strange how quickly he turned to pacifism after it became clear that he was unfit to serve in the army... She also describes how people drew pictures on the walls of the house "with Eberhard leading everyone with a sunheart flag." Is it a coincidence that that part was omitted in the English version?? Apparently Eberhard was just as much opposed to democracy as his grandson JCA. Anyone who reads that book and claims that Eberhard's intentions were anything other than those of JCA or Heini is either deluding himself, in denial, or grasping at some primitive attempt at defending the Arnold name. I happen to be a great granddaughter of Eberhard and Emmy.
To reaffirm the accuracy and to challenge him on the Christianity (or lack thereof) in filing lawsuits and using police brutality, I called Ben about a month ago. I took notes of the call and here is some of what he said. (For the record I had a witness on the phone with me who will be happy to confirm the call from their own notes). I asked him why he had failed to respond to the letter I had written in April challenging the copyright lawsuit against Ramon. He said he was too upset about the 48 Hours program to answer. He went on to say that he is not involved and is not really interested in the lawsuit against Ramon, and doesn't know enough about the lawsuit against Blair or Julius either. Later he admitted to the lawsuit: "Never for money, though." He said that the Bruderhof had been occupied with lawsuits for many years and that it was just part of business. He feels KIT needs to be stopped from harassing the Bruderhof. His justification: "Nobody sues for no reason." He said that Ramon has said in writing that he wants to destroy the Bruderhof, but declined to send me any verification. I expressed that I had recently spoken with Ramon and others at the KIT conference and nobody I encountered mentioned wanting to destroy anybody.
I then asked him what happened to the tenets with which I had grown up as a Bruderhof child, such as turning the other cheek, settling disputes with one's brothers outside of court, loving one's enemies, and God being the only judge, etc. He cheerfully professed that God is not and hasn't been the only judge, and a lawsuit is nothing but using the Constitution and American society's judgment in what is right and wrong. I asked him what would happen if they found Ramon, Blair and Julius innocent, and he replied in that case the Brotherhood would have to question where it stood. He seems convinced beyond any doubt that the community will win each case.
I asked him when the Bruderhof started calling the police and using the courts, to which he answered, "Since Sannerz. We called the Commissar countless times in Primavera when the natives stole our possessions."
"What if the police are violent and someone gets hurt?" I asked.
"That's on their hands, not mine," he replied.
I asked him why Michael Boller was arrested at a open house, and Ben first thought I meant Michael Caine and claimed that he had tried to shoot Heini, then recovered quickly, saying that Michael Boller had been cheeky and that if I were to come to the community and be cheeky, I too would get arrested. I questioned further on the lovingness of such acts and he said that he (we) are not clear on when to use love and when to use the law.
I then asked him how he could claim the Commune was such a happy place when there were countless suicide attempts. "We tried to stop many, many suicides," he said. "People were/are in terrible need." He doesn't feel he has any blood on his hands.
Back to the lawsuit issue: "They (Ramon, Julius and Blair) must have done something not nice," but Ben really wasn't familiar with the details until the subject of Christian Domer's letter to the Hutterite elders came up, to which he responded triumphantly, "Ramon should never have published a private letter. It is out of our hands..."
I asked him for details on the 1960's crisis, and he said that people brought an evil spirits and were against beloved Heini. Which brought me to another point: the idolatry of having pictures of Eberhard and Heini posted everywhere. "Well, Eberhard was a prophet, like Paul and Jesus. Heini was so very loving -- a real man of God. And Christoph is truly a man of God who has so much to say to us in these times (in his books)." I asked Ben to send me copies of the books, but he said I should go to a bookstore.
None of these things surprised me. This man raised me, and such conversations have been common since I was little. This is the community of today, and according to Ben and others, it has always been this way. Pacifism is used for becoming a CO, but most of the kids on the Commune get into fights all the time. I think the main reason I left was because of the total hypocrisy -- I did grow up very privileged as a Servant's daughter, and was not unaware of my family's status. The no-gossip rule does not apply in a Servant's home. My parents took us out to eat on a weekly basis. We would rent a movie about twice a month, and only our family was allowed to watch it. No fuss was made if I or my siblings were late to work. There certainly was never a shortage of liquor in the house. By the way, when I was living there, JCA had a TV and a VCR in his house, and his son and the other Servants' kids would watch violent movies during Brotherhood meetings, etc.
I always felt that the main reason my parents were opposed to me ever having a relationship with Ebbo Moody was because he wasn't ranked high enough for me. I came to that conclusion when they started pushing me to take an interest in a certain boy who was a Servant's son, and who I detested. I might also mention the families of my brothers-in-law: Chris Zimmerman (Milton & Sandy's son), Stephen Barth (Joerg & Renata) and James Mow (Merrill & Kathy). My other sister married an outsider, which is not considered Plain People if married to a Servant's child. Once of my sisters started a legitimate relationship with her future husband before she was even a novice at the age of 16. I had the same opportunity with the above-mentioned Servant's son, but declined. Anyone who claims the Servants are not privileged is lying.
Servants and their children seem to be very similar in that they are opportunistic, self-righteous, arrogant and always with the need to control others. If one is raised to believe one is better than everyone else, it's hard for some people to catch on to how ridiculous it all is, and they go to their graves firmly believing that they, personally, have so much more to contribute than anyone else. It all gets old rather quickly. One strong sign of this is these people's inability to take any kind of criticism.
Well, that about sums it up. Again, I would really welcome any kind of response to this, preferably in KIT, but if in private, please mail to my address in this issue's address book list. Anyone who wishes, both ex-members and members on the Bruderhof, are invited to share their ideas and memories regarding these issues. It would be nice to include examples and specific memories as opposed to merely opining. Sincerely,
Maria had two children from that marriage when her husband died, but was then rejected by his family who disowned her and her children. Soon after, while struggling to keep herself and the two children, she met up with a welfare organisation. She did not understand the philosophy of that organisation, but all the same, in it she found food and shelter, bearing in mind that Madrid is the highest-lying capital city in Europe, and it can get very cold. For her, life seemed quite settled, even with the Spanish Civil War raging at the time, when, all of a sudden in 1939, everyone had to leave the city on foot. Madrid had been invaded by Franco's fascist army. The group she was part of started to walk towards France, consisting mostly of women and children. They made very slow progress, and many children as well as some women died on the way. Quite often they were attacked by 'men of the highway ' and food was in very short supply and often even water was not available, let alone clean or pure.
After weeks of hardship they arrived in Andorra. Going up the mountain pass was very dangerous, as this stretch was watched by the Spanish as well as the French 'police' -- come military. If you know Andorra, then you will know that the 'plateau' up there is very bleak, cold and extensive and that throughout history many people have died there for all sorts of reasons. From Andorra they still had to walk through the mountains to Narbonne, in France, on the Mediterranean, where the Camargue starts, a very swampy, mosquito-infested area which plagued man and beast when there was no wind or breeze.
After they had left Andorra, they received some food and medical supplies from the Red Cross and some even got a ride on horse carts as well as some donkeys which had been acquired. Six months after leaving Madrid, they arrived in Narbonne, considerably fewer than they had started out with, but happy now to be safe especially when they heard constant rumours of the atrocities that were taking place in Spain. On the march from Spain to the Narbonne, everyone had lost someone. Both of Maria's children were killed by the Spanish, because they looked European or Basque and not Spanish, as by this time many individuals from Europe and also the United States, were fighting for democracy against Franco's fascist armies, who had formed themselves into the 'International Brigade'.
After about three months near Narbonne, some British Quakers got involved with the refugees. Maria knew a few words in English, so she acted as a interpreter for the British, who in return helped her get to England. It was in England that she found out that her children were dead, as well as the whole of the Quaker family she had married into. Fortunately the family had banked a lot of money in a British bank, which made her the benefactor as she was the sole survivor, of what used to be a very lucrative business. In England Maria worked as a cleaning woman as well as giving some lessons in conversations, she herself at this time still being illiterate, but learning very quickly.
The second World War had broken out and England was at war with Germany. Maria met someone in London from the Bruderhof who invited her to visit them in the Cotswold's, where they had a big farm. The commune was in the process of moving to Paraguay, because many of their members were German. Increasing hostility by the locals towards them, and the real danger of physical violence against Bruderhof members, prompted the Home Office to advise them that the Germans emigrate to another country. It was the decision by the whole group that they did not want to be separated and that all of them would emigrate to Paraguay, South America.
As a British War Orphan, I went to Paraguay too. It was in there, in my early childhood, that I first encountered Maria. I remember that time quite vividly, when much of the time I was looked after by old ladies. There was 'Granny', who was from Lancashire and then there was Tante Kaete, who was from Breslau, Germany, and now there was Maria from Spain. Not one of them could speak the language of the other, so a lot of the dialogue was managed via dictionaries. Some of the words sounded really beautiful, as for example the words 'caballo', 'perro', 'century', 'Jahrhundert', 'lucerro'. Each one of these women had a name for me. For Granny it was 'my dear young man', for Tante Kaete it was 'Landstreicher' (vagabond), and now for Maria it was 'Mi Vago Pequeno'. I am still indebted to those three ladies and all they did for me, especially when considering how they had escaped a war-torn Europe, a war which was still raging, where there was so much fear, so much poverty and misery, and now living in the back-wood country of Paraguay, in the tropics, with millions of flies and mosquitoes. Under such circumstances -- how can one be happy? But for me it was one big adventure, and as a child I would never have guessed what these three ladies had gone through in their own youth as well as now in Paraguay.
For me, Paraguay was my home, my security, always marvellous and exciting. The long walks that we took, the many horses and other animals that we had, this was a life of bliss! How much these three ladies sacrificed for me in their ways, with myself taking all that for granted. It is that mental picture of these three ladies (and by looking at it only for a second), which brings back so many vivid memories. In spite of the poverty, Maria was always cleanly dressed and had a permanent smile on her face. I can't ever remember her complaining about anything No doubt she would have had plenty to complain about; about the nasty hand which life had dealt her. Today I can still hear her saying 'Sabes quantas son estrellas, por las nubes acostan.'
Many years later, when I was twenty-two years of age, Maria had come back to England. By then I was three times her size, but she still greeted me with 'Mi Vago Pequeno'. I had a job truck-driving, so she accompanied me a few times as well as another old lady from the Bruderhof who used to be my teacher for a short time: Lene Schulz, originally from Germany. The Bruderhof resented me taking these two ladies along with me in the truck, the former having changed beyond recognition to what it used to be in Paraguay. The 'leaders' were exercising absolute control over everyone. Hitler, Stalin and Jesus were now ruling the commune, the Americans having taken control over the English communities in Wheathill and Bulstrode. The Bruderhof had employed me as their truck driver, paying me a wage, but they nevertheless resented me taking Maria along with me. Soon after that takeover by the American communes, at the age of eighty, Maria and Lene were kicked out by the SoB. Maria died a lonely lady in an old peoples home in High Wicombe, England, on the March 1, 1962.
That is what the Bruderhof became; totally lacking in compassion, possessed by greed and self-concern, they had no longer any place for unproductive people like Maria who herself had worked for the organisation unstintingly for many years and had handed over all her inheritance to them. But this was of no consequence, she still was kicked out at a very old age and left to rot in a old peoples home. And this by the Bruderhof which once was so charitable and now has been consumed by greed for power and money. And one now hears that they are flying, for charter, decadent pop stars around the world in their own Gulfstream jet ------ just like Jesus did on Ascension Day??????? Greetings to all,
We should not be wasting any love on them -- they don't even know the meaning of the word. They are only after money and power. Seth has told us about this class of beings, who came aeons ago from a distant part of the galaxy having been expelled from somewhere else. A few manage to incarnate on earth and the others hover around in the earth's aura from where they influence those human beings who are susceptible to them. I gather that in the long run they had their place as providing human beings with some motive power to grow spiritually, something to get their teeth into, so to speak.
The Garden of Eden, like infancy, could not last forever and as adults we have to regain it on a higher turn of the spiral. But now, as Seth says, the earth is under very great pressure from the gravity of an extremely distant but still immense planet whose effect upon human beings is to polarize them (it sounds to me rather like the Last Judgment.)
Anyway, the more spiritually inclined turned towards love are receiving greater stimulation, and the others are coming under the opposite influence and feeling compelled to reveal their true natures. This will continue for quite some time, during which all sorts of disasters and negative things will continue to happen. But the most negative elements are going to be finally removed, so that earth and those of us ready for it can continue their joint evolution. In the light of this kind of perspective, one's own human dilemmas acquire a differen significance.
Finally everything that is is a part of God and has its place, but for us as human beings there has to be some relative right and wrong which is valid. And here I feel we have to follow our genuine feelings and allow anger its place. Forget about reconciliation and fight them, since that is what they are asking for. You can't forgive someone who isn't sorry for what they did, so let's stop being sentimental about the Bruderhof. It has long since ceased to be what we wanted to give our lives to. And I don't believe we should for one moment consider the idea of giving up KIT. We don't know exactly what we're for, but I'm sure it's very positive and will, as time goes on, attract more and more positive elements. Now even if the Bruderhof leaders win their lawsuit, in reality they will only be destroying themselves more decisively and cannot possible kill something which is alive. You all get all the support which you need and deserve, Ramon.
I've since been in touch by phone with Lucretia Meier, and John (Hans-Joerg) is doing reasonably well, and Margot Davies also is slowly recovering. Lucretia ascribes her own inner strength to her diet -- I think that is perhaps the wrong way round, but never mind, she's a real pillar. I love hearing from Ruth Lambach about her big family. There are a number of these big families who remain in close touch wherever they happen to be on the globe. It was Clara, not Betty, who moved to Curitaba. The next one to leave Sa› Paulo will be Tina. There'll be a second family center there. That had better do for now. It's 9:30 A.M. and I haven't had breakfast yet. Lots of love and a big hug,
A Report On A Much Enjoyed And Informative Trip To The U.K.
My daughter Nancy and I visited the U.K., Nancy to accompany Helen Ellison on Helen's victorious sculling or as we Yanks would call it, 'rowing' competition, and I to chaperone and poke about the countryside on my own. Nancy is supposed to be reporting on her version of the trip; those of you with teenagers will appreciate the resistance to parental schedules and requests?
While waiting for Nancy to finish her effort, I will offer up a few thoughts, observations and feelings. Nancy and I went to the U.K. in off-season of KIT, the next major European gathering being next year, 1998. Part of this was a perverse streak on the part of Yosam and Oakie, to be where KIT is not to see what happens in the 'off-season'. For those of you not 'on-line', Yosam and Oakie are two personae that define me on the Internet. Yosam is for the Disney character, Yosemite Sam that reacts to and antagonizes Bugs Bunny. Yosemite Sam's forte is escalation and being a 'loose cannon'. Oakie is an aggregate of all the red-neck, backwoods, isolated, put-down poor people the Bruderhof/Society of Brothers and literary elite would like to ignore as uncouth and stupid, ignoring some of the finer points these people are very knowledgeable about like honesty, fair play and compassion.
I'll try and get this story back on track. Helen and Dot graciously invited Nancy to come and visit them and to accompany Helen on her Competition trips to LLandaff (for all the non-Welsh, that is pronounced "Laondow," so I am told) and Nottingham for the Nationals. It's beautiful country. The boosters, rooters and all cheered the Hereford Cathedral School to some victories and places.
We arrived at Hereford Friday afternoon as we were fortunate in getting stand-by on an earlier, direct flight from SFO to Heathrow. Being early, we were able to attend Helen's 'Speech Day', an event I found interesting and different from our U.S. 'Graduation Day' ceremonies. Sunday, Dot, Cledwin, Helen, Nancy and I drove to LLandaff near Cardiff and cheered Helen and her teammates to victory. After the regatta, I started off towards Crewkerne and Leonard Pavitt's while Nancy and the Ellisons rode back to Hereford on the team bus.
I trundled off in a nice rented Rover diesel. Now there is a Forest River Story of some Brits who inadvertently put water in a gas tank. Time has a way of bringing poetic justice. I chortled with glee at the Brits and for many years found humor in their unfortunate mistake. Well, a few minutes down the M-4 headed for Leonard's, I noticed the tank was low. Soooo, I slipped off the motorway into a rest stop and filled up. Had a quick lunch and pulled back on the motorway. About ten miles down the motorway, this nice new car stalled. As I looked at the fuel indicator, it read DIESEL! OOPs! I thought something was funny when I filled up at the pump with unleaded.
Dreading the worst, I opened the hood, bonnet to the U.K. and turned on the emergency flashers as we do here. By nightfall no one stopped and I saw no police so I went to sleep. About midnight there was a knock at the window and a policeman inquired if I needed help. I explained my dilemma and grinning he pointed to a sign about 50' away saying, "See the sign? That points the direction to the nearest phone. If you look about 100 yards further on, there is an emergency phone!" British police are VERY polite and nice, they called a tow truck and got me on my way to a garage.
The 'reclaimer', a tow-truck to the Yanks, got me to a garage in Weston-Super-Mare and eventually to a grand hotel, The Grand Atlantic. Very nice, very expensive, but what the heck, I'm on vacation. Got up in the morning, had a leisurely breakfast and reclaimed the car (at the expense of my hoped-for trip to Holland and Bette's). Made it to Crewkerne and Leonard's home. Had a very good visit, covered some old times and some new times.
Leonard introduced me to a book, Feet of Clay by A. Storr. For people looking at cults and leaders and causes, it's a must read. Leonard introduced me to a couple of pubs with very good food, and we saw a good bit of Lyme Regis and Charmouth if I remember correctly. Leonard also has a very nice garden, I enjoyed some jelly resulting from Leonard's gardening efforts later at Renatus'.
Wednesday, I bid Leonard good-bye and headed back to Hereford. Spent some time poking around Hereford taking pictures and in general having a good time. Visited with Dot and got to know Cledwin. A definite advantage to going to the U.K. in the off-season of KIT is that one can really get to know people.
The weekend saw us all off to Nottingham and the National Rowing Championships. There I met the Hereford Cathedral School's 'BAAD' boys team of Ben Andrews and Andrew Davies and their families. The Davies introduced me to English cider (Nancy also to my amuse-amazement) and the Andrews compared English farming to U.S. farming.
After visiting with Dot Ellison and family and wandering around Hereford for a few days we decided to move on and see what Shrewsbury and the surrounding area was like. Matt Ellison was in North Africa doing some humanitarian work at a mission hospital as I understood it. I was sorry to miss him as it would be interesting to swap war stories of working in Third World countries. Penny, Tamantha, Hugh and Tristan were gracious hosts and I learned the hard way about Penny's 'short walks' to places like the Devil's Seat, Bishops Castle and various Manor Houses, Castles and ruins. They were short walks OK, but the problem was that they tended to be vertical. My old bod ain't in that kind of shape, although by the end of the week I was more fit than I have been in several years!
While Tammy was showing Nancy the night life of Shrewsbury and Nancy was shocking the staid English by actually swimming in the river Severn and jumping from bridges(?), I rambled off to visit with the Hollands around Swindon. I missed out on a barbecue. In my predictable manner, I 'detoured around Swindon seeing the countryside at night'. In short I got lost and John had to come rescue me. I did manage to get in on the end of it, though! The next morning, I went with Matt while he picked up some furniture from Oxford.
I am continually surprised by the ex-hofers. Matt, with linguistic adroitness, shattered many of my 'firm beliefs' and I am still trying to put all in perspective. Matt, in a very quiet but verbally overwhelming presentation illustrated that by not understanding the wording of another person's statement one reacts emotionally to what one thinks, rather than analyzing the real issue of what is. Many of us, including me, have reacted to the Society of Brothers for what was done or not done to us. This has clouded the ability to understand the issues, creating problems between the ins and the outs. I am still mulling that over and trying to put it in perspective.
I continued on to Pete's and spent the night and had a pleasant evening with Pete, Pete's wife and daughter, John and his wife. Pete and his wife had just returned from a medical conference held in Scotland. Pete appeared to have had a very positive response to the conference. Pete's daughter reminds me in many ways of Ruth Baer, very intelligent and very forthright and a budding artist.
The following day I was able to visit with Leslie and Gertrude Holland. It is always a pleasure visiting with the Hollands. They are what are known as 'good people' in my circles, warm and make one feel very 'at home'. Leslie showed me some of the art work he had done. I am continually amazed at the talent and abilities of the ex-hofers. Matt and his wife are 'managing' The Old Shaw Farm, a sort of retreat/meeting center/seminar location at Swindin. It is actually an old 'working farm' that has been surrounded by the suburbs. Matt and all are attempting to keep it in the 'natural' setting. It is well worth visiting if one is in the U.K.
Returning to Shrewsbury, the Ellisons took Nancy and me to an old ruin that at one time had been a Roman Bath(?). There was a castle there and a troupe of entertainers who, we thought, were going to present a reenactment of the King Arthur and the Knights. The entertainment was geared more for the under-six-year-olds but we had a good time exploring the ruins. Nancy took a last dip in the Severn and then we headed for Ben Cavanna's at Tolworth.
By this time I was getting adept at cruising around and we made the trip very nicely. Even has time to stop and explore the Warwick Castle. Nancy took many pictures of the wildlife around the Castle, including the Red Knight. We arrived at Tolworth just as Ben was getting off work and we found a local Chinese take-out and over dinner began the first of many very good conversations. The first evening at Ben's indicated how much ahead of the U.S. the U.K. is with respect to counseling people who have problems interacting positively in society.
As Ben was working, Nancy and I commuted to London for sight-seeing and the tourist gig. We visited the Planetarium and the Zoo. Nancy spent her afternoon feeding the pigeons at Trafalgar Square. We found a few old interesting pubs to have lunch. One thing I found as a general rule, the food in the pubs is very good and reasonable. In the evenings, I had a chance to talk with Ben at some length.
One evening one of the ex-B'hofers stopped in for a chat. It was interesting because this person is not an active participant in KIT correspondence and was one of the people who never went to another hof while in the Society. A very pleasant and interesting person, this ex-hofer. Another perspective was presented and added to the broadening of my understanding of the diversity of people who were drawn to or associated with the Society of Brothers prior to the Ostrom's association with the Society.
Ben had previous plans for the weekend so Nancy and I took a trip to France, actually making it into the town of Calais. We visited a museum there and did some shopping and returned to Ben's that evening. Next day Nancy and I finally made it to Renatus' and visited with him. Actually, Nancy had been pestering me because she wanted to see the movie Men In Black and was afraid she would miss it (it came out in the States the week we left and would not be showing when we returned). As luck would have it, a local theater was presenting it and so while Nancy was there, Renatus showed me around the town and we visited at a pub while enjoying some bitters.
For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of a visit to Renatus, it seems he has made every effort to transplant Paraguay to England. He has a very warm (or as some would say gemutlich) tropical zone masquerading as a living room/atrium/den/living area. For those who miss Paraguay, visit Renatus -- he brought it home!
Nancy and I had to return on Wednesday, so Renatus helped us get the car back to the airport Monday afternoon. Tuesday he took us on a Thames River Tour, to the GMT site and the Naval College(?). If Renatus ever needs another profession, he makes an ideal and informative guide. We had a very interesting time there and at the end, Renatus got us to the airport on time and we had an uneventful trip home. Arriving at San Francisco airport, we picked up a French foreign exchange student who spent the next six weeks with us. That is another story. Again, Nancy and I would like to extend our thanks to all the people in the U.K. who made our visit interesting, educational and rewarding. Most Sincerely,
All the older ex-members whose names I will not use but whose contact is very valuable to me tell the same story of how they came to (Nazi) Germany and found a poverty-stricken, happy, faithful, joyful, intelligent and happy crowd of mostly young people who wanted to live by the Word of Jesus: "Love each other as I love you. Love your enemies and believe that with faith in God the Father all things are possible!" These young people came from England, Switzerland, Sweden, Greece and Germany itself. They all saw that the Bruderhofians were far from being holy people, but felt such warmth, so much faith and a true longing to unite all nations in faith that they left their homes, broke off their studies, and came to the Rhoen and Liechtenstein to join hands and give a simple example of brotherly love in a Europe very much threatened by war with Germany. When they moved to England, again many young students joined and virtually gave up everything for the goal of a life of love and brotherhood.
In Primavera again, even though several things went wrong, the brotherhood was the body that carried all the different duties of brothers, and also the Servant of the Word. I do not believe that the struggle for power was as clear as we see now, but rather the will to live as a united brotherhood. Especially the British brothers and sisters rejected "a Royal Family" amongst them and the brotherhood chose different Servants, such as Roger Allain, Bruce Sumner, John Winter, Lewellyn Harries, Fred Goodwin, Hans Meier and Gwynn Evans to help spiritually guide the three brotherhoods in the backwoods of Paraguay. We were poor and there was much sickness, but the Paraguayans were even poorer and we tried to help them with out hospital, and saw a task in this to train Paraguayan nurses and help the sick.
The trouble began in Woodcrest. How was this possible? I think, for one thing, the generation that had built up Primavera was getting older, physically and spiritually less able to cope with all the demands. They still had the faith to carry on, but longed for a better future for their children and themselves, with less worry about where the food must come from each day. The United States showed great promise. Money came and the Rice Project started. A new hospital was supposed to be built and the young people had a chance to study. Our school was finally accredited as a high school in Paraguay, which made educational possibilities more hopeful. A new wave of joy and happiness filled the Primavera Bruderhoefe once again.
Then something terrible happened. One man wanted power. Heini Arnold saw himself as the only true follower of the Eberhard Arnold faith and ideas, but he kept this in his heart and founded a new Woodcrest bruderhof in which he would take Eberhard's place. This was fully accepted by the new members. He was loved and adored like his father never was. In order to keep this special place (you can argue the point why he needed this for his own self-esteem), he had to change and twist the past so that he would remain the "Light that was never accepted in Primavera."
It is right here that all the evil came in, but people around Heini, like myself, did not want to see this. My father's sin came in handy in order to have him permanently eliminated. Heini's own brothers were excluded for minor sins and sent away. Their children were especially harassed so the poor parents were torn between their concern for their children and the Community that they were unable to call Heini to order. Some left in disgust, like Balz and Monika Trumpi and Bruce and Luise Sumner. Brothers sent to call Heini to humility and brotherliness, like Hans Meier and Gwynn, failed in their mission. They were met at the airport by Woodcrest brothers and asked so many questions about their personal faith that they started circling around themselves in big and small circles until they landed in exclusion. Heini once told me that he was afraid that "the old members" would destroy the "newly given spirit." He did not want the old members in Woodcrest, but only those he knew would support any and everyidea that came to his mind.
Now, so many years later, the twisted history remains! A whole new generation grew up with these twisted ideas. Merrill Mow, a most loving man, just did not know better when he wrote the book Torches Rekindled. He really thought he "was going public, warts and all!" The truth is that Bruderhof history was tampered with in such a way that people on the Bruderhof today do not know the truth.
A letter reached me in May, written to a professor in the U.S. by a leading spokesman for the Bruderhof. This professor had in fact written a positive review for my book, Torches Extinguished. The spokesman for the Bruderhof writes on May 14th, "... first of all, let me say that Mrs. Bohlken does not and can not document any of the story she tells. This story comes completely from her imagination. On the other hand, the book she takes her title from, Torches Rekindled, published by Plough Publishing House, is completely documented by the extensive archives of letters, minutes of meetings and other documents of the Bruderhof...
"To give an example: You state that 'Zumpe had distinguished himself in confronting the Nazis and moving the Bruderhof from Germany to England and Paraguay in the late 1930s and early 1940s.' The fact is that Eberhard Arnold was the brother who put his life in danger by meeting several times with Nazi officials and in leading the Bruderhof in witnessing against the Nazi ideology, as Germans became aware of it after 1933. Zumpe was relieved of his Service as a leader in 1938 and could not have 'distinguished himself' by 'moving the Bruderhof from Germany to England and Paraguay'."
The spokesman goes on to explain that after 1938, the Bruderhof was under the leadership of the Hutterites in the United States and Canada. In a letter to the Servants Georg Barth and Hardy Arnold at the Cotswold Bruderhof, Joseph Kleinsasser and David Hofer stated: "Hans [Zumpe] showed with this unwise action that he did not understand the full reason and meaning of the Lord's Supper according to the teaching of Paul. And if he understood and knew it, he acted very frivolously and proved himself to be an unworthy Servant of the Gemein [church]. If he acts frivolously in such important matters, however could he lead on the right way in other important matters, that is neither expected nor hoped for..."
What bothers me is the untruthfulness of the whole thing. Surely, my father was excluded in 1938 for having handled too many things alone. It was he, in fact -- as I heard from German sources as well -- who went to Berlin, Fulda and Kassel to try and get exemptions from military service for our young men. It was he who endangered his life, time and again, especially after Eberhard's death in November, 1935. But the Bruderhof then would never have called this "He distinguished himself!" That is not Bruderhof language or terminology, -- an unhappy choice of words, because all the brothers endangered themselves for the cause of a Community for God.
The writer from today's Bruderhof forgets to mention that Hans Zumpe was reaccepted into the Brotherhood soon after, and worked as Steward, trying to get all the permissions to leave England and enter Paraguay. Then in 1941 he was reelected as Servant and worked closely with Gwynn and others to try and get the Brotherhood on the rails again in that difficult country. He worked as a Servant until 1959, which the writer also forgets to mention. It's not my father I want to defend, but rather show up the distortion of historical facts, which I can prove and most certainly document.
It is this twisting and changing of facts -- also in their archives -- that brings uncertainty about the life we lived in Primavera. Even though this life was far from holy and pure, the will was there to live for the truth and for love for one another and our neighbors. These years in Primavera were a struggle, but a lot of unity and real love was given, and I am sure that where we had love, the Community today has fear, fear of the unknown, fear of exclusion, fear of life out in the world alone. This fear is the face of the Bruderhof today, and this fear is the cause of all the nastiness, the lawsuits, the unwillingness to let us see our families.
We should not give up, but pity them for their shortsightedness and fear of everything that is different from what Heini taught them. They should look in the Bible rather than in Innerland for direction of faith and life! Much love,
Ballad of Beelzebub Brothers Blues
by Walter Smalakis
Been there, done that.
Spiritual energy gone flat.
Along come some Brothers,
Meek, mild-mannered and others,
With a formula for salvation.
"Amen," says I. "Jubilation!"
They convinced me of the notion
That their practices were the potion
To rid one of Beelzebub's blues,
And give to the Lord his Spiritual dues
By slavishly following The Sermon on the Mount
As well as adding Ten Commandments to the count.
Sign me up, boys," says I.
"I'm off to give Christian community a try."
Family has become such a common topic within Protestant fundamentalist circles. Trying hard to fit in with that is quite self-defeating when it is turned into "a spiritual revolution." That is how Bruderhof keeps trying to change other fundamentalist groups when the fundamental stand is not to be changed.
I don't pretend to be camping anymore with fundamental agreements. I have been recruited as a convertible to become unchangeable -- the persuasion. Then to proselytize, strangers must be approached as convertibles -- I can't do that. I couldn't take vows to be a revolutionary communitarian -- to be all that. It is just too unstable -- having seen "a new spirit among us" as nothing more than a cover-up of leadership problems in (oh no!) another rearrangement with probably some family breakups: "We have decided it would be best for you to stay with the Hindley family, and your brother will be... while your parents take some time to..." And I am told I need them, they don't need me. But a vow of poverty: what is that (on my honor if I'm one-too-many) from a family man? The poor have a saying: "To help the poor, don't become one."
For KIT to help those put in exclusion, and by that shunning system effectively excommunicated -- Eureka! Keep in Touch! Look, the Arnold family has at least one with a stoic sense about him! It is the E-H-C Arnold final analysis that the splendid "Community is the answer," and many are (am I one too many or what?) not good enough -- there be few. The poet Tennyson set it in rhyme:
-- from Pantheism
Like a night meeting of deacons with
Light shining out the stained
glass and the doors locked
against the homeless vagrants,
the preachers on Sunday say
of the bums, But for the grace
of God there go I -- you and I.
Welcome to the real world if you have been shunned by the Bruderhof and have just started reading KIT! Best,
by Hans Zimmermann
Among the many different vegetables and tropical plants we grew and cultivated in Primavera, was the Rosella bush. This plant closely resembles the infamous cannabis, or not so infamous, depending how one views it. The bush has three to five main branches coming from a main base close to the ground, and grows from 5-7 feet tall. Its dark green leaves have the same shape and configuration as the cannabis. The stem and branches have a purple-rosy color, as does the fruit, hence the name Rosella. It was impossible to break off the branches because the bark, more like a skin consisted of strong stringy fibers, possibly related to the hemp family. The lifetime of the plant was short -- i.e. it was an annual. Planted in the spring it grew quickly and produced large pretty white-rosy flowers along all the branches from top to bottom. When fully in bloom the field would look very pretty especially when swaying in the wind.
From the flower developed an elongated pod about 1 to 1-1/4 inch long to 3/4 of an inch in diameter. The pod was covered by a thick fleshy skin that turned purple when reaching maturity. Cutting the pod at the bottom, one could pop out the center and be left with a firm red fleshy crown. This was dried in the sun and then cooked into jam or marmalade, having a sweet, tart flavor similar to cranberries but having a more distinct and powerful aroma. Once you took a liking to it, Rosella made your mouth water whenever you would smell it, just like a good chocolate bar creates a mouth-watering effect. The fresh green leaves could also be eaten, mixed into a green salad, or chopped up with a little sugar added made a flavorful meal. We also just picked them off the bush and chewed them, as one developed a liking for the tart flavor.
At harvest time the whole bush, fruit and all, was cut down with a machete, heaped into big piles for the horse or oxen wagons to pick up and then carted off to the main dining hall where the branches were first stripped of all the pods, limb by limb. The pods were dumped into big baskets to be pealed after supper by the whole community. These evenings developed into special occasions, as school children and adults sat at the long tables cutting and stripping the fleshy skin off the pods. While doing this, all the known German and English hiking songs, sea chanteys or love songs were sung in a spirit of great fun and merriment. No evening was complete without ending in a Rosella Schlacht, i.e. we all threw the pealed pods at each other which were very light and caused no more harm than a soft snow ball. Every one joined in as the place turned in to total bedlam with missiles coming from all directions amongst screaming and laughter. What was special about this, like in a snowball fight, was that everyone became a target including such sacred cows as the Servants of the Word. As young teen teenagers we always looked forward to these evenings with great anticipation.
The cleared Rosella field would lie fallow until the following spring. The many lost or fallen pods dried in the sun and split open, spilling the small seeds onto the ground. Now it became a feeding spot for the many wild pigeons and doves of various sizes, which at that time arrived in huge swarms. In turn they attracted us boys with our slingshots and handmade clay bullets to try our luck at shooting these rather shy birds. Some of the fellows had become quite adept and successful with their sling shots.
The national make-up during the early years in Primavera was initially mostly German and Swiss with a few Dutch, Austrian, Swedes and French. The second largest national group was British, enough so that we were very much from the start a bilingual society. Spanish was taught like a foreign language in 6th grade. In school most subjects were taught in German but, to the best of my recollection, English classes started in the first, or at the latest in the second grade. At any given time, about half of the teaching staff was British. In Isla Margarita, where our family lived until I was 10 or 11 years old, Eric Philips, Edna Jory and Edith Barron were permanent fixtures -- in fact they had more staying power over the long haul than any of the German-speaking teachers. These teachers might have considered me a pain in the neck at times, (I had a terrible time with the 'th' sound) however I was quite fond of them, especially Eric Phillips.
Regardless of what society or social setting one lives in, if it is multi-ethnic it would be most naive to think that respective national prides would not creep in. After all, a major conflict was acting itself out in Europe (World War II) and news of the ebb and flow of battle successes or defeats by the different factions would eventually make its way to our remote spot in the jungles of Paraguay. I was still much too young to understand what was going on, but the older children and teenagers were much more influenced by that. How Adolf Hitler, Austrian born, mostly educated in Vienna, later moved to Germany where he as a social malcontent managed to come to power has always remained a mystery to me. One just wonders what that says about Germans. To us, Hitler was evil personified. Nevertheless, having German parents one felt bad when Germany lost a battle. I was told, but cannot confirm it, that when news came of a German defeat, the German boys would gang up on the one or two British boys and, beat them up in revenge.
Needless to say, I was much too young to even know, less understand, what was happening in Europe. One thing I do remember: as a small child I was terrified when I heard an airplane, I instinctively looked for cover in a house or under trees, hoping not to be seen. Our parents frequently talked about the heavy bombings inflicted on civilian targets in Germany, such as Dresden, Berlin and Hannover, cities in which we had relatives who wrote detailed accounts of the bombings. This fear gradually faded as I became older and had a better understanding of what had transpired in Europe. But as children we were constantly reminded by our parents and the adult community in general about how good we had it in comparison to the hungry and starving children in Europe, especially in Germany. Mind you, we were not exactly overfed. Our meals frequently were nothing more than a plateful of turnip mash, pumpkin mash, or red beets. To this day I gag when being confronted with these delicacies.
I cannot say that I consciously felt any animosity towards British or American people. In fact most of my best friends were British, such as Timothy Johnson, Bill Bridgwater (Ingemar Wingard), Michael Caine, David Caine and, later the Vigar boys. Our ethnic background was never an issue.
My last 2 years of school, 8th and 9th grade, were spent in Loma Hoby. At that time German was still the main language being used for all subjects except those which were specifically English studies. This was in 1954 and 1955. By that time there were already many new American faces and their influence on our lives and culture was felt more and more. Their ideas were new, interesting and exciting. They were willing and eager to do things differently. They were bent on propelling us into the 20th century by teaching us all about "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolets." We did get as far as baseball and hot dogs. However, we preferred to call them frankfurters, a more dignified term for food to be ingested. Among the new American faces were: Jere Bruner, Bob Peck, Jim Bernard, Gwen ?, Milton and Sandy Zimmerman and a few others. I cannot remember all, especially since half or more of them are not on the Bruderhof anymore. Most of these Americans seemed not to see any need to learn German, except for Jere Bruner who was very gifted in learning foreign languages. He taught himself Spanish and German and became virtually fluent in both. In fact he was both our English and Spanish teacher during the last two years I was in school. The rest of the Americans stuck to English and addressed us only in English. This in itself was OK, but when they started to insist that we only speak in English to them it created some resentment, certainly on my part.
Trudi Hussy was head teacher in Loma Hoby and my teacher during my last 2 years in school, teaching the subjects of European history up to current events, German grammar and literature. It would be fair to say that history instruction was weighted heavily towards Germany, while the other European countries and America received less attention, and the rest of the world very little. The same was very much the case with literature. I cannot speak for others because we never discussed this subject with any clarity among us kids, but developing some bias for things German or made in Germany should not have come as a surprise. I did not see the need to put so much emphasis on learning English beyond what we already knew, and felt Spanish should be given more priority. Also there was talk to switch instructions from German to English for the whole school curriculum, about which I wasn't very happy, understanding the long-term implications. I saw nothing wrong about continuing our cultural life in German. So, either consciously or subconsciously, I started to rebel against it. When the German Servant of the Word from Loma Hoby was transferred to Europe, a British gentleman, the assistant servant, became head honcho. With that change the acceleration to English became more obvious and I thought he was only too happy to have it so. I always had the impression that it was painful for him to speak in German, although he was fluent in it.
The Servant of the Word also would from time to time instruct our class in religious studies, be it Christian or other, or in the differences between Catholics and Protestant, or readings from various important religious persons of past or present. On one occasion he chose to read about the exploration of Antarctica and the race to be first at the South Pole. He introduced the subject by lamenting the fact that a Norwegian explorer was the first to reach the South Pole, while a British explorer died trying to get there, not knowing that someone had been there ahead of him. I thought it rather odd that he made an issue of it and could not resist saying, "I'm glad someone beat the British to the South Pole." That did not go over very well. He yelled at me to get out of the classroom if I felt like that, and was unceremoniously dismissed. Nothing more came out of this incident but we two developed an unspoken dislike for each other. No comments needed -- it was palpable.
I was very small in stature for my age. By the age of 14, all my classmates were nearly a head taller than myself, including the girls. Nobody really teased me about it, but remarks would drop here and there , so I was very conscious about it. One teacher, however, had the indiscretion to openly tease me about my height in class, calling me the runt of the litter. Considering the source this was rather annoying. The teacher was Trudy Hussy, herself probably one of the shortest persons on the Hof, but, a giant among midgets. At a majestic 4 feet 11 inches, she had the nerve to tease me about my size, claiming that in Japan she would be among the tallest. While she only scolded my taller classmates for infractions, she was willing to pull me by my ears for the same misdeeds, hanging on like a pesky little terrier. I had to put up with it -- I did not dare to slap her.
To make up for my lack in size, I strove to be as good or better in everything be it sports, riding or anything else. I felt I had to prove myself. I always felt comfortable on top of a horse -- it made me seem more equal to the rest of the guys. Unfortunately it also made me develop a rather loose and big mouth, competing with my taller classmates in good or bad. This did not necessarily endear me with the teachers or other adults. Maybe more consideration should have been given to me -- after all we are dealing with a genetic defect, being of Berliner decent and, their notorious "Berliner Schnauze." I had to live up to and defend that reputation. School classes were given in the morning and the afternoons were occupied with other activities, for the girls some kind of domestic work, be it laundry, kitchen, sewing room or Kindergarten. The boys had to work in the sawmill, dairy farm or in the garden, planting, weeding, fertilizing (spreading cow dung) harvesting or whatever had to be done. When major work had to be done in the fields, the whole school became involved including the girls.
It was time for the rosella harvest. In the afternoon the schoolboys had cut down the rosella bushes, loaded them on wagons and delivered them to the main dining hall, where, after supper, the pods would be stripped of their fleshy skin. We all looked forward to a evening of song and fun while performing this task with the rest of the community. Evening could not come soon enough. At the end of supper, the long tables were quickly cleared of the dishes and the rosella pods, already picked off the branches, were dumped onto the tables. Basket or big bowls were ready for the rosella husks while the stripped pod kernel would be thrown on the tile floor. We started the work amongst noisy chatter as we waited for some one to suggest a song to get things going.
It was then that our British Servant of the Word announced that this evening there would be no singing. The evening should be used for a more meaningful activity and he would read about some religious-philosophical dissertation or something to that effect. We youngsters were most disappointed and it seemed that most of the adults would rather have had a relaxing evening as well. However nobody dared to make an outright objection. After all, when the Servant of the Word on the Bruderhof talks, you listen and do as he wishes. I have no memory as to what the reading was about or its relevant importance. This I can remember: people paid little attention, as many little murmured conversations were held in different parts of the dining hall as people went about the task of dehusking the pods.
I have no idea of how or who started to throw pods, but before one knew what was happening, pods came and went flying from all corners of the large room. A ruckus broke out and we all joined in, firing missiles at each other with laughter and glee. Maybe we could finally turn this dull evening into some fun! The Servant of the Word was perplexed as pandemonium raged around him. In an angry voice he shouted to everyone to stop at once. There would be no more talking and throwing of kernels and, if we did not want to listen to the reading, we would continue in silence. People grudgingly settled down again. Looking at the Servant of the Word, I jeeringly murmured to my friend next to me, "This guy has to be a total jerk." He looked at me, could not possibly hear what I was saying, but must have read my lips, and gave me a very angry look.
The evening continued quietly without any further interruptions, while the Servant read to us. After we were finished with the dehusking and clean-up, it was time to go home. People were still standing around chatting. I found myself standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the dining hall in what was called the serving room, talking with some friends and other adults. Out of no where the Servant appeared, planted himself in front of me and with a flushed face angrily shouted at me, "How dare you be so impertinent and disrespectful!" and with that, smacked me in the face so hard that my head slammed against the door frame. I was stunned at his action, coming virtually without warning. In a moment like that, you do not feel pain, just humiliation and cold rage.
Here was this 6-foot, 200-lb. gorilla, hovering over a little squirt, so hitting back would be foolish and gain me little sympathy. So I calmly and, with utter contempt called him an "a--hole" in German, for every one to hear and with that, I turned and started walking down the dirt path to our house. He yelled at me to come back, but I ignored him and kept on walking. Before I knew what was happening he jumped me from behind and we both went crashing to the ground and started to wrestle and roll in the dirt. He was yelling and breathing heavily as he tried to pin me down while I, like a little slippery eel would not hold still. Out of the corner of my eyes I could see a crowd of people standing around in a virtual circle observing, not saying or doing anything. This let me know that the Servant had a free hand to do as he pleased. My reaction was to see what would happen if I held still and offered no further resistance. He triumphantly sat on top of me pinning my arms down with both of his knees and berated me with a string of invectives short of cursing at me. At that moment my father appeared and in an alarming voice wanted to know what was happening? The servant got up, pulled me up by the shirt neck and pushed me towards my father yelling at him, "Here is your scoundrel of a son!" I started walking home mumbling every curse word known to me in German, Spanish and Guarani. My father stayed back to inquire as to what had transpired.
I thought I'd be in deep do-do now and expected to get hell from my parents and be put into the convenient and customary exclusion for kids who have committed something bad. I went to bed and expected the ax to fall the following day. At breakfast nothing was said. I went to school; nothing was said, utter silence, hardly a word from my classmates. Nobody talked about it to me or was willing to take sides. It was as if the whole event never had happened. It was a strange and ambivalent emotional experience that none of your class mates would dare to discuss the event. Not even Michael Caine who was the most likely person to violate this taboo. It was drummed into our heads never to speak about another person behind their backs -- a very effective way to minimize controversy or dissent. Days, weeks and months went by, and the issue seemed a non-event. However, I was furious and mad as hell and promised myself that one day I would get even when the odds would be more equal. It is not in my nature to back out of a fight, but instead to know when to pull a strategic retreat.
This episode bothered me a lot and forced me to do some soul-searching myself and to evaluate my general attitude to adults, that particular Servant and the issue of English vs. German. I realized that my behavior was foolish and narrow-minded and promised myself to overcome this problem on my own. About 8 to 10 months later, the opportunity presented itself to me to make amends and put the issue behind me. In one of their periodic soul-searching practices, the brotherhood must have taken the Servant to task for his outburst against me, or maybe he himself felt he overreacted and offered a public apology to me. I publicly accepted and was glad it could be resolved in such a fashion. I felt somewhat vindicated, but also somewhat embarrassed that it had been a humiliation for him. After all, I was guilty as charged and he overreacted by abusing the power of his position. I have no animosity for this individual and hope he feels like wise.
Unfortunately, I believe that the attitude on the Bruderhof towards the Servant of the Word and the subservient behavior of the general members has not changed throughout all of these years. Many years later, while I was in the USA but not on the Bruderhof, some members who had witnessed the debacle sent me letters apologizing for not intervening. I flatly rejected this belated request as meaningless because to the best of my knowledge nothing there has changed. If anything, the abuse is worse. The mental domination and abuse they have to endure by the Servants verges on the criminal, being dictated to about how to deal or correspond with their own children, and it violates every aspect of a normal parent-child relationship.
Translated by Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, 9/7/97 with her comments in [brackets]
In the year 1950, the Executive Committee of the Schmiedeleut in Manitoba decided to send two of their brothers to the Arnoldleut in Paraguay, South America, this to inquire into their life and beliefs. After serious consideration, the brothers of Manitoba decided to send the minister Samuel Kleinsasser Vetter and from South Dakota in The United States, the minister John Wipf Vetter. So the two brothers put their trust in God and went on this long journey.
Here are the 15 questions put to the Arnoldleut by the Hutterian ministers at the end of their stay at Primavera:
1. Why are your sisters represented in the council (of ministers)?
2. Why do your unbaptized young girls walk around with bare heads (without Kopftuch) even to prayer meetings?
3. Why do you give your young people the chance to decide for themselves to do as they please?
4. Why do you allow the young girls in your community to wear short dresses?
5. Why do you allow smoking in your community?
6. We ask you if it is right that a simple brother is allowed to translate the meetings of prayer. Should this not be a minister also?
7. There should be a prayer before the meal instead of singing.
8. How is it possible that you wear soldiers' uniforms amongst you? [We were so poor that we would wear anything warm that came our way in the Paraguayan winter, even if this was a soldier's jacket given us by The Salvation Army.]
9. Children should pray the morning and evening prayer daily. ` 10. Sundays you should hold a prayer and scripture reading and use no other books or material for the Sunday service. We only experienced one prayer meeting on Sunday during our stay with you.
11. Why do you not regard making photos a sin?
12. Tell us: what do you think about the 1000-year reign of the Kingdom of God? Do you sincerely believe in this?
13. What do you think about shows that are put on, and what do you feel about dancing?
14. What procedure do you use to elect your Servants of the Word?
15. What do your people do in their own home? Do they pray before their meal?
Here follow the 18 questions put to the two Hutterian ministers Samuel Kleinsasser Vetter and John Wipf Vetter by the brothers in Paraguay:
1. Why do you allow the flug [punishing children by hitting them hard] in your schools and how is it possible that your children sing the National Anthem "God Save The King" before they start school?
2. Why is there such a great difference in duties amongst your colonies? The difference between working on the land or in the forest is too great.
3. [I cannot read nor understand] Something like 'Victory Bound'??
4. [Difficult also] 'Shooting practice for airplanes in Bonhomme Colony?'
5. Why did you give The Small Hutterite History Book to the publisher "Ziegelschmied" to print and not to us? Many things are not right in the new edition.
6. Why do you give pocket money or extra money to your members?
7. Why do your members own books which they can keep (old books)?
8. Why does each of your colonies own their property as their own?
9. Why does each of your colonies own their income as colony property?
10. Why do you not have a communal purse for all your colonies?
11. How do you answer to the fact that you have rich and very poor colonies?
12. Why do you not have a united Elder for all your colonies?
13. Does family relationship not play a great part in starting new colonies?
14. Why did you send your young men to do alternative service somewhere else and not to our communities in Paraguay?
15. Why do you let poor colonies pay back moneys the rich colonies lent them when they were in need?
16. Why do you still have three different community groups (leuts)?
17. Why do you not live in complete community as your forefathers did with communal laundry, sewing room and communal children's education?
18. How can you let your young boys and girls openly court each other? [With Question 18 the note ends abruptly.]
by Sam Arnold
This is my year off from teaching by way of a salary deferment leave of absence. I have been looking forward to this break from teaching for five years! Now that it has finally arrived, a variety of activities have appeared to fill the time vacated by my work. Composing music, directing the local community choir and teaching music theory and ear-training classes in the evenings are some of the activities on my plate, but first we wanted to do a little visiting. Karen and I had planned a September visit to my Loeffler relatives after we had seen Eben and Erinn off to Mt. Allison University. With my Tante Anneliese from Germany also at the Loefflers for a visit, we knew the timing was right.
We figured that the traffic in September would be significantly less congested for this rather long 2,500 km car ride. I prefer to drive on super highways, where you can set the cruise control and drive for 4 or 5 hours at a constant speed. Nevertheless, we chose to drive the American route for the trip out, as it is considerably shorter, but which requires driving on mostly single lane roads which pass through numerous towns and villages in upper Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. And gasoline costs about $8 less per tank, which is still a good deal with the exchange rate.
We left Woodstock on September 9, and the trip began with a steady rain, as we headed down I-95 past Bangor, and on to Rt. 2. Sure enough, traffic was much heavier than I had hoped, but once the rain stopped, driving on the one-lane road didn't seem as bad, and we still arrived at the Burlington, Vt. ferry dock just in time for the last crossing of the day. The ferry crossing on Lake Champlain lasted an hour, and was a really pleasant change from driving as we watched the sun setting ahead of us. We drove through Lake Placid, home of the Winter Olympics. In the dark we could not appreciate the beauty of the area, but the town itself is very tourist and skiing oriented. We decided to drive on to Lake Saranac to find a motel.
Next day (Tuesday) we drove Rt. 3 west through the beautiful Adirondack Mountains region to Watertown, then up I-81 back into Canada, and west on Highway 401. We stopped at Markham, just north of Toronto, at a music store. There we picked out some new music for the choir to sing, before heading north to Bradford, and also got a little taste of the famous Toronto rush hour. We spent the night at the home of a friend of mine who also taught music in my school district some years ago. We had a pleasant and relaxing evening with Trevor and his wife Lorainne.
On Thursday we headed on for a much shorter trip to the Loefflers, who live near New Hamburg, Ontario. They own a property in the country, surrounded by farms. A small river flows by just below their property on the east side, making for idyllic scenery. A blue heron makes his home on the river. Their brick farm house is surrounded by tall white spruce trees, a small barn, two small buildings, and lots of flowers beds. A vegetable garden on the northside provides them with both summer and winter produce, and a small planted pine tree forest on the west side, which once was a Christmas tree plantation, now provides the farm with protection from the wind during the cold winters.
Karen and I were welcomed warmly by Albert, Gertrud, and Tante Anneliese when we arrived just in time for a Gemutlich Kaffee und Kuchen under their arbor. We made an attempt to get caught up on all the recent happenings in our lives.
Tante Anneliese does not speak any English, but can understand some of what is said, while Karen cannot speak German, but can get the gist of the conversation. Conversations had to therefore be translated for both of them. The Loefflers speak a much better German than we were accustomed to on the Bruderhof, and I appreciate the opportunity to practice speaking the language.
Staying at the Loefflers is always fun for me. Mealtimes are so tasty with farm-style food, and the conversations are lively and interesting. Albert has a wonderful sense of humor and is a captivating story teller. His wife Gertrud was a kindergarten teacher, and she ran a summer camp for German-speaking Baltic children on their farm for a number of years. She might be a paragon example of what one might expect to see in a German wife and mother: hard-working and energetic, efficient and practical, no nonsense but loving, demanding, yet patient, and a lover of music and song. They have three daughters. The oldest is Gabi, who lives on a farm with her husband Chris and their four young sons in Brussels, Ontario. Anneliese and Andrea are both single, and both are educated and working in their fields. Anneliese in agriculture and conservation, and Andrea in horticulture. Tante Anneliese reminds me a lot of my mother. She lives in Springe, Germany, and spends almost all of her time in retirement collecting clothing and other living necessities which she crates herself, and then ships to Latvia for distribution to the needy there. The Loefflers are from Riga, where Emmy Arnold also was from.
But there is always work waiting to be done, and I usually help Albert do things that at age 77 he cannot manage very well. He insists that he does not understand machinery when it fails to work properly, so there are usually machines that need repairs or adjusting when relatives come visiting. On Friday I cleared some trees that landed in a ravine during a major rain storm and which also washed out part of their driveway. We moved the logs near the woodshed and cut them up for firewood the next day.
On Saturday after breakfast Albert and I began the job of cutting down a birch tree that had died this summer for reasons unknown. The tree was fair-sized, and was weighted towards the fence, where eight sheep were grazing. Albert did not want the tree to fall that way, so he found a long rope that appeared strong enough to pull on the tree. I climbed up as far as I could and fastened it to the tree. Then I summoned up all my tree-felling knowledge, and with the chain saw, notched the tree near the base on the side on which we wanted it to fall. Then I cut diagonally above the notch on the other side. Albert, Gertrud, Tante Anneliese and Andrea all pulled on the rope from a safe distance while I continued the cut until the tree began to move. Suddenly the rope snapped and all four of them fell in a heap on the lawn. I noticed this and immediately shut off the saw, and went to their aid. All seemed fine, except for Gertrud, who was in great pain, and seemed dazed. Albert had fallen on top of her, and her left arm seemed to be broken. Shortly she was able to get up again, and youngest daughter Andrea drove her to the hospital in Kitchener for medical attention. There it was confirmed that her arm had indeed been broken just below the shoulder, and Gertrud was outfitted with a sling, which she will have to wear for 6 weeks. She was given painkillers for the pain, and sent home.
Meanwhile, we had to solve the problem of the tree, which was in danger of falling, with the chainsaw blade jammed in its cut. I propped up the tree with one of the lengthy logs cut the day before, and fastened one end of a reinforced rope to the tree, and the other end to a nearby white spruce for additional security. Only this time the rope could only be fastened halfway up the tree. Luckily Albert had another small electric chainsaw, and I used it to cut the lower branches off the weighted side of the tree in an effort to free the saw blade. But it took driving a wedge into the cut to finally remove the chainsaw from the tree. Luckily it was not damaged.
Not wanting any further injuries I asked Albert to call on his neighbour to ask if he had a winch we could borrow. I hastened to tell him to ask for a 'winch', and not a 'wench', as this would surely compromise their neighbourliness. But the neighbours were out, so we had to think of another idea.
Just then daughter Anneliese arrived, followed by Dieter and his girlfriend Kina. We filled them in on the adventure so far and Gertrud's injury. Anneliese volunteered to call the Community Farm to see if they had a come-along (winch) and chain that we could borrow. They did, and she, Kina and I took the 15-minute drive to pick it up, along with their week's supply of milk. We did not have much time to look around, or to visit, and left again without seeing Fred Camp, who still lives there. With the help of the chain and the come-along, Dieter and I were able to quickly and safely bring down the tree. After tea we all worked together to cut the tree into firewood and to clear away the branches, except for Gertrud, who watched us in obvious discomfort from the back porch of the house.
In the few minutes that I was at the Community Farm I tried to learn as much as I could. Daughter Anneliese told me that the break-up of the community (in Bright, Ont.) happened over the past two or three years. She said that there was a split between the traditional order Brethren, and the young who wanted a more liberal life-style. As they could not agree on resolving this, the older folks wanted out, and each person and family was given a fair payment that was proportional to the community's assets. I gather that the community had done quite well financially prior to the split, so that the people who chose to leave were paid in cash, but that the various business operations have remained operational. Two-thirds of the members chose to leave.
The business operations include: agriculture, dairy, mechanic's garage, farm building construction, down and feather bedding, and possibly more. They also had a farm fence construction operation that five of the departed men bought. Some of the former members still work in the mechanic's shop. The community built a barn and a garage/storage shed for Albert, for example, and their work quality was excellent. From what I have heard and seen, the split has been a fairly amicable one, and that most of them are still speaking to one another, although some of the families have parted ways.
From what I gather, the remaining members are cash-starved, and have to work pretty well all the time now to keep the various operations going. They have abandoned the old dress and have taken to wearing 'normal' clothing. The community has become secular, and only one meal a day is eaten communally. I do not know if it will remain this way.
The thought occurred to me that the community badly needs new people to replace the 75 or more workers that have left. I wonder if they would welcome families who choose, or are made to leave the Bruderhof, to work and live there. As events surrounding the Bruderhof look more and more grim for its members, an exodus could be expected soon. The Community Farm may be a viable option for some if an agreeable arrangement with the community can be made. Hopefully the Hutterite/Brethren connection may help to overcome immigration hurdles. I might investigate this further and report again.
After the adventures of September 13 were over, we were able to settle down and socialize after supper. We chatted for a while, and I played for the others a tape recording of my Confederation Bridge March, as well as a recital in which Erinn sang Rejoice Greatly from The Messiah, and Erinn and Karen sang the Flower Duet from Delibes' opera "Lakme." Erinn has just begun majoring in voice at the university. Following the cultural segment we watched the Chronicle video and the 48 Hours video, which the Loefflers had not seen yet. Each time I watch the videos I notice something that I had either missed, or forgotten, just like a good movie. Daughter Anneliese, who has experience doing this, did a great job translating for Tante Anneliese.
The next day (Sunday) we had a gemutlich breakfast before Dieter and Kina had to head back to Detroit. It was great to see Dieter again, as I hardly had time to talk him at the KIT conference. Kina also made a good impression, and she fit easily into the flow of the group. She is very nice and seems to enjoy getting her hands dirty with work. She is the manager at two bank branches at the moment, which she says keeps her very busy.
After Dieter and Kina left, Albert, Tante Anneliese, Karen and I drove to Gabi and Chris Boettcher's farm for a visit with their family. Gertrud did not feel well enough to go with us, and daughter Anneliese and Andrea stayed behind to do the chores and to prepare meals for the coming week for Gertrud, who now cannot do any of that.
The Boettcher's had four extra children there when we arrived, as their father was helping Chris with the harvest in the fields. Eric, Martin, Olaf and Peter are sweet little boys. Gabi had no trouble handling the 8 children, who are all under the age of 9. She home schools the boys using predominantly the Waldorf method as a model, and I marvelled at the way she handled the children without ever raising her voice. Only when she called them outdoors did her voice rise, but she would sing her instructions to them, and they would respond without question or hesitation. She has taught them to sing, and even the guest children like to join in. Karen and I gave the boys a soccer ball, which was a big hit. We were rewarded with hugs and kisses, even from the visiting children. We thoroughly enjoyed our rather short visit with Gabi and her family.
Monday was the day to return home again, as Karen and I both had commitments to meet. The day began with a breakfast birthday phone call to Eric, who turned nine. Gertrud, Tante Anneliese, Andrea and I sang this four-part round over the phone to him:
Viel glueck un viel Segen / auf all deinen Wegen /Gesundheit und frohsinn / sei auch mit dabei.
Eric was very appreciative. After breakfast Karen Asked T. Anneliese how to knit the German way. Karen thought it might be better and easier than the way her mother taught her. It was amusing to watch as T. Anneliese demonstrated some patterns, but could not communicate directly with Karen, while I tried to translate Karen's questions and Anneliese's answers. I am clueless about knitting, but somehow they did manage to get the job done, and Karen proudly held up her finished square. I gather that the German and American systems of knitting are fundamentally different and opposite to each other. Instead of the yarn coming off the right index finger, she must re-learn to have it come off the left index finger. In a musician's vernacular, that must be akin to playing an instrument with the hands opposite to what was previously learned, or playing a keyboard with the high notes on the left side, instead of the right.
Albert insisted that before we left they wanted to take us to a fantastic Mennonite restaurant, about a half hour drive to the north. We couldn't say no to that, nor could I leave without finding another of those incredible Mennonite summer sausages to take home with us. Gertrud rode in our car, and explained some of the interesting points along the way, as we drove through Mennonite country. Most of the local Mennonites are traditional, and travel by horse and buggy. The roads are built wide enough to accommodate the wagons on both sides of the road, without impeding traffic. The Mennonite farms are easy to distinguish because they have no power lines going to them. The farms are all kept in very good condition. Most of the countless fields that we drove by had either corn or soybeans growing in them, but appear to be slow in maturing due to a late and rather cool growing season this year. Hopefully the frost will be late as well. We also drove by a number of Mennonite schools, none of which had any cars parked outside, which made it seem that they were empty. I would have liked to have stopped at one of them for a quick look-see (a New Brunswick expression) to see a Mennonite school in progress, but decided against it. They would probably not appreciate drop-in visitors.
The meal at the restaurant was truly excellent. The service was good, even though they were quite busy. People come from a fair distance just to eat at Anna Mae's, the biggest business in the little village near Listowel. I chose the broasted chicken dinner plate. I can still taste it now! After dinner we drove to another nearby town, where some of the world's best summer sausages are made. They are about 18 inches long, have no preservatives, yet do not require refrigeration. I bought a sausage to share with Ernst.
Outside the sausage store/home we said our good-byes to the Loefflers before heading in our different directions. I teased Albert a little by telling him that I would write a song for him called "Albert der Hausman". Albert can be well described as being old-fashioned, as he has never cooked a meal, set a table, or washed a dish since he met Gertrud some 35 years ago. Now at age 77 he will have to learn to do some of each before Tante Anneliese leaves again at the end of the month. Andrea does live at home, but is at work from 8:15 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. In parting, Tante Anneliese told me how much she enjoyed being able to communicate with Karen through knitting. I assured her that Karen felt likewise. After hugs and good wishes we were on our way. (I'm not sure what the sausage lady thought of us.)
Travelling home again, I elected to drive the Canadian route, as it meant predominantly highway driving, and I could set the cruise at 70 or 75 mph and simply keep going until I needed a rest. The way was longer in miles, yet shorter in time. We drove through Montreal at 9:00 P.M. when traffic was quite reasonable, and only came to a stop once for construction. (I have never been in Montreal when there has not been highway construction to hold up the traffic. Maybe this is one of the ploys of the separatists to convince the Anglophiles that they might be better off without Quebec.) Once we made it through Montreal and exhaustion overcame me, we found a motel near the highway for the night. Next morning, as I looked around for a restaurant for us to have breakfast at, I noticed that across the road from our motel was a strip-joint restaurant. (They are quite prevalent in Quebec.) We chuckled about that and found a trucker's restaurant where I could get a hearty breakfast, and Karen a coffee and a croissant.
The Trans-Canada highway through Quebec is really quite beautiful. The highway is fairly flat and farms border the highway, but farther on the left is the ever-widening Gulf of St. Lawrence. (Do you remember Paddle-To-The-Sea?) Beyond that are the beautiful Laurentian Mountains, some of which look like the fingers on a hand, with several swaths of trees removed from the forest cover for the ski trails coming down their sides. It was difficult, but I kept my eyes on the road and the traffic around me. Finally we made it back to New Brunswick and home. Isn't it strange how we look forward to going on journeys so we can escape from home, and when we return home we are relieved and contented to be back where we know things best, and where we are most comfortable? Maybe that is the way it should be!
Unfortunately we did not have time to visit with some of our friends and acquaintances. A former student of mine, A.K. Dionne is still waiting for us to visit her in Toronto, which we had hoped to do, and we also regret not being able to touch bases with Herman and Ruth Pleil, who live in Stratford, Ontario. Maybe the next time! All the best,
The Peregrine Foundation is a charitable, educational and research public foundation created to assist families and individuals living in, or exiting from, experimental and/or exploitative social groups.
The Peregrine Foundation facilitates a wide-ranging exchange of views on the subjects of utopian ideals, civil liberties and human rights as they are expressed in these groups. It informs the public at large regarding the structure and ideologies of particular cults, sects, communes and intentional communities.
The Peregrine Foundation's initial projects include:
The KIT Information Service publishes KIT, the "Keep In Touch" Round-Robin newsletter. KIT is mailed worldwide each month to various ex-members of the Bruderhof as well as other interested individuals. KIT also:
Sponsors annual reunions/conferences in the U.S. and the U.K.
Publishes the KIT Annuals, collections of the newsletters from the past nine years.
Operates The XRoads Fund to assist ex-Bruderhofers with their re-entry into society.
Operates a computer bulletin board for ex-members.
Operates an toll-free advice/referral line.
The archives include manuscripts, photographs, memoirs, interview transcripts, correspondence, articles, books and newsletters about exploitative or totalistic cults, experimental social groups and intentional communities. We invite all exiting members to archive their documents and materials with us.
The Peregrine Switchboard Staff is available to answer questions and help with referrals and contacts. Extensive searches have been conducted for "lost" individuals. We operate a toll-free number where messages can be left during daytime hours, East Coast Time: 1-888-6-KINDER
The Peregrine Foundation derives its name both from the Latin peregrinatus, 'wanderer' or 'pilgrim,' and from the feisty little falcon that is recovering successfully from near-extinction.
The persistent urge of humankind to create a more just and equitable society has expressed itself in a remarkable variety of utopian experiments and social groupings. In many instances these sects, cults and intentional communities have functioned as valuable test sites for the evolution of new forms of human interaction and expression. American individualism expresses this urge in multifold ways, having evolved out of an motley mixture of idealistic, liberty-seeking colonists.
On a smaller scale, many religious sects have enriched the national culture. Of these, the Mormons, the Amish, the Oneida Community, the Shakers and Amana are perhaps the most well-known historically. Their legacy may be found in the hundreds of intentional communities, many of humanistic persuasion, that exist today. Each one of these attempts in its own individual manner to express its unique vision for humankind. For this reason, The Peregrine Foundation encourages the nurturance of intentional communities and any experimental social groups that respect the civil rights of their members.
There also exist destructive groups in whom the utopian urge is exploited by the leadership. Jonestown and Waco demonstrated to a horrified world just how absolute is the power that a psychotic leader wields. Mind control, psychological and physical abuse often are used to enslave the members and deny them their inalienable rights as human beings. Exiting members may suffer from confusion and developmental lags. Some become severely depressed and even suicidal.
The Peregrine Foundation seeks to assist individuals hurt by their association with totalistic groups by providing referrals and support networks via newsletters and gatherings whereby ex-members may share information. We also educate the general public regarding intentional communities, utopian sects, cults and millennialist organizations. We encourage their study by students and scholars.
The Peregrine Foundation's pilot project started in late 1989 as a "Keep In Touch" newsletter to contact the approximately 1000 ex-members and 'graduates' of a group of religious intentional communities known variously as The Society of Brothers, La Sociedad de Hermanos, The Hutterian Brethren, The Arnoldleut, but in general parlance as "The Bruderhof."
Since its restructuring in the early 1960s, The Bruderhof increasingly displayed all of the symptoms of a totalitarian cult. Techniques used by the leaders included ongoing confession and denigration, repeated threats of sanctions, the discouragement of rational thought, perfectionistic demands, the isolation and beating of children, and the obsessive repression and punishment of their natural urges.
In 1961, one-third of the membership was judged 'unworthy' and ejected from the communities. They only were allowed to take with them a few suitcases of clothing and were warned not to contact other ex-members. The Bruderhof's 'golden handshake' probably averaged $25 per person.
The KIT newsletter started as a modest two-page sheet sent to thirty or so names, but within four months it expanded to ten-thousand-word issues mailed every month to over one hundred addresses. As the volume of incoming mail grew, four Bruderhof graduates and survivors formed a newsletter volunteer staff.
By mid-1990, the newsletter averaged 20,000 words per issue and was mailed to over 350 addresses. The bulk of the copy consisted of letters received from ex-Bruderhofers scattered all over the world. Copies also began to be mailed to all six Bruderhof communities.
In September of 1991, KIT's board of directors selected The Peregrine Foundation as the name for a permanent parent organization. In March, 1992, The Peregrine Foundation received its determination from the Internal Revenue Service as a charitable, public foundation, and began its operations. The staff looks forward to expanding its support and public information services, its fund-raising efforts, its publications and other projects. We would be most grateful for your support during these early years of continuing growth.
Enthusiasm for a face-to-face meeting built among the newsletter readership, so in August, 1990, the first KIT Conference was held at a conference center in Littleton, Massachusetts. It proved such a success that one year later KIT sponsored a second conference. Eighty participants spent four days together, some traveling from as far away as Australia, Holland and the United Kingdom. Family members met who had not seen each other in thirty years. At the workshops and full circle gatherings, everyone had a chance to tell their personal stories. A list of individual concerns was drawn up to mail to the Bruderhof.
Two conferences each were held in the summers of 1992 and '93, in Massachusetts again and in England. "Euro-KIT" proved a equally great success, generating various support groups, a springtime weekend at the site of the old Wheathill Bruderhof, fall gatherings at the Bulstrode estate outside London, Memorial Day camp-outs in Pennsylvania, and various other smaller get-togethers including a July '96 conference in Worpswede, Germany. The dual annual conference pattern will continue indefinitely. History
The Peregrine Foundation realizes a thirty-year-old dream of its co-founder, Ramon Sender, who personally experienced expulsion from the Bruderhof. In 1962 he co-founded a center for electronic music, The San Francisco Tape Music Center (now The Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College where he also received an M A in music composition). In 1967-69, he helped found two communal ranches that functioned as sanctuaries for homeless families, street people and draft resistors. The second ranch was incorporated as The Ahimsa Church (Sender was the first president) and provided a low-demand environment where newcomers could build simple cabins, grow their own food and learn ecological survival techniques. Sadly, the county officials brought the experiment to an abrupt halt. All the dwellings on both ranches were bulldozed and the inhabitants were permanently enjoined from rebuilding.
In 1976, Sender founded Friends of Morningstar that published a newsletter and promoted get-togethers for ranch graduates. He also edited The Morning Star Scrapbook and a collaborative history of both ranches. In 1984 he received an NEA Creative Writing grant to complete "A Death In Zamora" (University of New Mexico Press). Currently he devotes himself to writing, editing and publishing.
Some of our materials are available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.matisse.net/~peregrin/
The Peregrine Foundation Board of Directors: Christina Bernard, Charles Lamar, Vincent Lagano, David E. Ostrom, Ramon Sender. Staff: Ramon Sender, Exec. Director; Charles Lamar, Treasurer.
The XRoads Fund Board Of Advisors: Miriam Arnold Holmes John A. Hostetler Ph.D., Timothy Johnson Dr.P.H., Ruth Baer Lambach M.A., Leonard Pavitt, Benjamin Zablocki Ph.D., Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe.
Recovery Workshop for Former Group Members:
November 21-23, 1997 - Stony Point, NY. Workshops starts 7:00 P.M Friday, November 21 and continues to 4:00 P.M. Sunday, November 23rd.
Location: Stony Point, NY (about one hour north of New York City). Space is very limited, so register early. Fee: $200/person double occupancy; $240/person single occupancy (fee includes 3 meals Saturday, two meals Sunday, and overnight Friday and Saturday) Contact AFF for application and/or more information. AFF is a secular, not-for-profit, tax-exempt research center and educational organization founded in 1979.
-- Laurie Anderson