The KIT Newsletter, an Activity of the KIT Information Service, a Project of The Peregrine Foundation
· P.O. Box 460141 · San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 · telephone: (415) 821-2090 · FAX (415) 282-2369 · http://www.perefound.org
KIT Staff U.S.: Ramón Sender, Charles Lamar, Vincent Lagano, David Ostrom · KIT e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EuroKIT: Linda Lord Jackson, Joy Johnson MacDonald, Carol Beels Beck, Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Benedict Cavanna
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from within and from outside the Bruderhof.
The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish are 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
The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish are 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
Between the flu and family visiting over the holidays, plus a new job and redoing the main control room of the Good Ship KIT, your faithful editor has been running very late. Many thanks to Charlie Lamar for picking up the pieces! We wish a VERY HAPPY Linoleum er Millennium to all our faithful readers. Quoting from a recent letter that someday we may receive permission to print in full: "For pure counseling, nothing could have helped more than KIT. So here is my donation for Keeping In Touch (just don't let my subscription run out!). I want to Thank You All who have written and shared your lives, memories and opinion these past ten years. And another big "Thank You" to the editorial staff for all the work that goes into making each issue interesting and informative. I would like to include this letter in a future KIT. May there be Peace on Earth and in each of our hearts."
It's always heartwarming to hear from someone new about how much the newsletter has helped them. There also is a private listserve known as the Hummer, which "Outies" who have e-mail access can apply to join, and the public newsgroup alt.support.bruderhof where occasionally we actually are addressed by Bruderhof leadership types. So don't be shy! Write in, e-mail the newsgroup, let us know what's going on with your life, both in and out of the Bruderhof!
Apologetic Address Correction
Bill & Liz Peters & family · Rte 5 Box 274M · Caldwell, TX 77836 · tel: 409 567 0879
T h e W h o l e K i t A n d C a b o o d l e
Toll-Free Phone for former Bruderhofers in need of advice and referrals: 1 888 6 KINDER
Christine Mathis, 12/31/99: I just received a phone call from Linda (Lord ) Jackson, and she asked me to share with you all that her mother, Mildred, passed into eternity this afternoon. My heart goes out to you, Linda, as to your father, Arthur, and all your siblings, with much love and such thankfulness that we have become so close again, especially during these last 10 or so years. This means we can share each others pains and burdens and joys much more truly. Arthur and Mildred joined the Bruderhof in the early days of Wheathill as did my parents, so I have known them for most of my life, and feel very privileged to have done so. After we had our children,o learn of the death of Mildred Lord. Mildred was my grade 1 and 2 teacher in Isla Margarita, along with Lausbub Mel. I remember her as being strict, but fair and kind. When I was sick and missed three weeks of school, Mildred very patiently helped me get caught up. She was a classy teacher!
Christine Mathis, 1/1/00: Hello all you dear folks everywhere! We want to wish you all a very happy New Year and thank every one for all the sharing that went on during last year! Today dawned a beautifully clear bright day and remained that way all day, so gentle and quiet after last night's worldwide rauchus ruckus! Although we stayed away from the noise, there seemed to be a lot of happiness and goodwill spread around.
My reason for writing though is to let all those who knew the Fischers Wilhelm and Lini know that today around 2 p.m Lini Fischer passed away in complete peace. I had phoned her about two weeks ago and, although at the time she was not ill, she said "Christine, I long to go home!!" So our sadness is very brightened over with joy for her. That is how the whole family feel about it. Wilhelm and Lini have been very close and dear to Joerg and me ever since we were engaged and were renounced by our people in the community at the time, and the Fischers became wonderful parents to us and we have shared so much with them.
For those who don't know, they were Joerg's uncle and aunt, and lived in England since they were excluded from the community around 1961. The family asked Joerg and me to let the part of family know who live in the community as Anni Mathis, Joerg's mother, still lives in Woodcrest. I phoned Woodcrest and asked for one of Joerg's sisters and after a while of waiting "she was not available." So I asked for other Mathis, but no one was available. I then asked where Pete M was. The telephonist wouldn't say. I said good-bye and hung up. I then remembered that Sanna and Pete had been in Beech Grove. I rang there number and a very slow female voice answered very politely and said she would get Pete. After no time at all she was back and VERY hesitantly told me that "Pete did not want to talk to me and said 'happy new year' and went to hang up. I cut in and asked for Gary St. This lass then returned and said, "Could you call back?" After all this I was feeling quite hurt and frustrated, so I told her this and added that Joerg and I work and worship with the Salvation Army and they cannot understand or accept what the Bruderhof is doing to its relatives etc. etc. But before I was through, she hung up on me. So we will not attempt to contact them again to tell Anni about her sister. It's not worth while.
I tend to agree with what Tim Domer wrote to Christoph A. In fact, I am very happy for what he said. Joerg and I do pray for our very dear Bruderhof people, but I am afraid that "kind" words are just mocked and thrown to the wind. I am sorry that this has been written under some time pressure but, hope you all can get the gist of it! Much love and greetings from Christine, and for Joerg too.
Joy (Johnson) MacDonald, 12/19/99: We have booked a high standard Youth Hostel in central Germany in a nature conservancy area close to the old Sinntal and Rhoen Bruderhofs east of Fulda. A very pleasant mountainous area with opportunities for hiking etc. Starting Saturday mid-afternoon, 22nd July 2000 to Tuesday morning 25th July, all meals included at an exceptionally good price for the three days. Cost : DM150, or£50 or $75, with reduced prices for children.
It is possible to book one day before or a few days afterwards but please do not contact the Youth Hostel yourself. Make all bookings and enquiries to the following: In Britain contact Joy MacDonald, in the rest of Europe contact Isolde Brummerloh, in the States contact Ramón. Also contact the above if you have any problem paying.
Please send a deposit of DM60, or £20, or $30 to your contact person - the rest will be payable at the Youth Hostel.
A minibus will be travelling from England. Please indicate by the end of February if you are likely to want to join the minibus group as we need to organise the size of minibus and ferry booking. You will be asked to send a deposit once we have details possibly by Easter. When we travelled to Worpeswede for the last KIT gathering in Germany we not only had great fun, it was also much cheaper going in a group by minibus.
Wayne Chesley, 12/31/99: If you have left the Bruderhof or are planning to leave, this is an important message. Tax time is approaching. You may be sent a statement concerning your "dividends" from your share of the Bruderhof's income. You do not have to claim this income or pay taxes on it. The only income you have to pay taxes on is the income from your time outside of the Bruderhof.
This information comes directly from the Religious Affairs Office of the General Counsel's office of the IRS. Not only do you not have to pay taxes on this dividend, but if you did in the past you may file an amended tax form to reclaim the taxes you paid.
If you have questions drop a note, I'd be glad to help, even to offer advice and contacts in this matter anonymously and privately.
Alan J. Herring, 12/14/99: I wish every reader a happy new year and hope some progress can be made with the Bruderhof with regard to opening up real dialog on many subjects which concern us all.
I am very encouraged by the open, honest and courageous comments of Tim Domer, it must be very painful for him to suffer so many rebuffs from his family on the Bruderhof, my sincere thanks you Tim for all you write. The last time I saw Tim must have been in 1967 !! Time flies but my memories of Woodcrest are very clear and in some instances still painful even now.
During the past weeks, both our sons have become engaged to marry; Carolyn and I are very pleased about this and feel so lucky in having fine loving sons. Regards
Melchior J Fros, 12/9/99:
"Hear, good folk, hear from the tower,
Twelve o'clock is now the hour.
Time will end and man must be
Mindful of Eternity.
Though men watch it naught availeth,
God must watch,
His arm prevaileth.
Lord, by Thy most gracious might,
Grant us all a peaceful night. "
The concept of a night watchman took a turn in Primavera, where the brother on duty had the task of (somehow) discouraging thieving. I do not recall hearing him sing. My ears were "good" back then, mind you. The poor man carried a kerosene lamp which, presumably, was meant to aid him in seeing any culprit in the "act". Obviously, the lamp gave him away and I am sure many a thief simply hid in the bushes and snickered uncontrollably.
My dad tells of hearing a commotion in the Loma Kindergarten. Worried for his safety and aware that he was by nature far too gentle to handle a thief by the scruff of the neck (most had no shirts!), he went to investigate; lamp held at arms length. Two eyes glowed in the dark. The poor man's heartbeat increased. Lamp-lit eyes met eyes, and eyes beheld: a poor goat, tethered to a tree by a "thoughtful" brother. Hoert ihr, Leut?
Tim Domer, 12/3/99: The only way the Bruderhof can "make a complete turn around" is after a total collapse of the Bruderhof power structure and the tradition of an Elder (King) with essentially unlimited power.
As long as the Elder (King) is believed to have a special relationship with God and through this relationship conveys God's will to the members, there is no hope of any "turn around". There may be people who have so much faith that they are able to discern God's will, at times. However, when those individuals are elevated it is wrong. I doubt that faith really runs in dynasties, being passed from father to son.
By collapse, I do not mean that the social structure must necessarily break down. There are many people, children, elderly, who cannot care for themselves outside of the social "safety net" of the Bruderhof. Rather, the collapse must occur within the Eldership and those who prop up that Eldership.
Unfortunately my father has played a pivotal role in keeping Heini and now JCA in power. My brother Christian is walking in his footsteps and is at least as fanatical if not more so.
I feel a certain responsibility to speak out the truth as I see it. Until that truth is fully realized, both by the Bruderhof members and those who may admire the Bruderhof in some way, there is no hope for any real change. The Bruderhof system is so corrupt and has strayed so far from anything truly Christian that incremental change is probably meaningless.
We can "hope" for a change. I feel a need, however, to actively work for that change. At present all I can do is speak out.
Christoph Arnold, Christmas and Millennium Greetings, 12/16/99: Dear Ramón, Paul Fox, Blair and Margot Purcell, David Ostrom, Russ & Jane Eanes and all who so faithfully over the years have looked after our wellbeing,
It would not be right to let this year 1999 pass without a word from me. We live in a serious time and with the end and start of a new millennium, that alone brings uncertainties providing one's life is not deeply founded on a faith in God. I will never forget the positive times I have had with each one mentioned in the above address, and with many others who, no doubt, will read this message.
All of you, like myself, must be realizing that the years are slipping by very fast. The day will come when each one of us will have to stand before God and give an account for all the good and the wrong things which we have done.
One thing you all have proven to me is that you are very sincere in what you have tried to do to discredit the Bruderhof and myself in every any way possible. You also have been very lavish in bestowing just about every conceivable title on me such as cult leader, sexual pervert, power seeker, antiChrist, and many other that do not come to my mind. There are not many people in this world with so many titles like myself, enough to get honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Oxford. All this has had very positive effects on my life because Jesus says so clearly we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This you have managed to really make a reality in my life. Thank you.
However, I would like to ask each one of you the question: What is it that you have achieved by so frantically producing one KIT after another; by so frantically trying to discredit absolutely everything that the Bruderhof has tried and is trying to do? The way I see it is that you all are leaving a legacy. When the day comes and we are all dead and people read all that stuff you have produced, all the postings you have submitted, many will sadly say, "Wow, these must have been angry and bitter people. May God have mercy on them and may they rest peacefully in their graves." Ask yourself what satisfaction have you received, or are receiving from all of this. Jesus leaves the very simple instructions to love God with all you heart, mind, and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. Oh, how much more positive life would be if that would happen. Life is difficult enough as it is. My prayer for the new millennium is that we work together for something that is positive instead of discrediting one another and creating a net of confusion throughout the world.
I really mean this posting sincerely and well. I wish each one of you, also those I did not mention by name, a joyful, blessed and peaceful Christmas with your wives, and children, and friends, because I have an uneasy feeling that worldwide we might be into a real roller coaster ride that will put everyone's faith to the test. If you would be so kind and publish this letter in the next KIT to be sure that everyone has the chance to read it, and that we in the Bruderhof are not afraid of you, that we love you and pray for you and wish you the best. In friendship,
Wayne Chesley, 12/17/99: Christoph Arnold wrote: "One thing you all have proven to me is that you are very sincere in what you have tried to do to discredit the Bruderhof and myself in every any way possible. ... All this has had very positive effects on my life because Jesus says so clearly we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us."
It was for quoting these very words of Jesus that I was put out of the brotherhood. Your hypocrisy astounds me. Christoph Arnold, it is you and the members of your inner circle who discredit everything the Bruderhof claims to stand for. If you were but a common member you would rightfully be put in exclusion for the things you have done. When, for your soul's sake, the Hutterites tried to hold you accountable for your actions, you ran away and took the Bruderhof
The Dorsey Family's Christmas / New Year's photo
communities with you. When anyone, out of respect to their novice vows or the teachings of Jesus tries to hold you and the Bruderhof accountable for their words and actions they are crushed.
The followers of Jesus in the brotherhood are awake to what you have done and what you are doing. Many more will stand up like the Foxes and the Eanes, and the truth will be spoken more and more loudly and publicly. It is for your sake and the sakes of the many who follow you in fear that we must and will speak out. It is just that we speak the truth and challenge the lies.
You challenge us to consider the legacy we will leave. I challenge you to consider your soul's fate in eternity. God will not accept your pious pronouncements publicly proclaimed on this forum. God expects action. You must indeed love those whom you have declared as your enemies. I challenge you to reveal to the world what you are doing to love these enemies. I especially challenge you to announce publicly that you will commence to discuss the grievances of ex-bruderhofers through a mediation organization and that you immediately stop prohibiting "outsiders" from visiting or contacting their family members and friends inside the Bruderhof.
For Bruderhof members who might read this, I implore you to consider your own souls and the voice in you that cries out "no" when Christoph demands a "YES". Do not be counted among the hypocrites in the day when God judges all men. Do not be "spineless", but stand up for Jesus and the truth.
Tim Domer, 12/17/99: This letter [from Christoph] is just as sincere and "loving" as the letter JCA wrote when they dropped the lawsuit. It is cold, callus, insincere and a mockery.
If JCA had any insight into the depth of the cruelty in his heart he would beg forgiveness for the deep pain he has caused, while there is still time.
He states " I wish each one of you, also those I did not mention by name, a joyful, blessed and peaceful Christmas with your wives, and children, and friends...", knowing full well that so many have been rejected by parents, family and friends. This is a mockery and a slap in the face.
This is vintage JCA, just as cruel, cold, sarcastic and arrogant as ever. He made up several of those titles himself. I certainly have not seen some of them. This man is full of himself.
I actually find this posting to be quite sickening. My feeling is that when he talks about having to face God, he is speaking about himself. I see a man trying to convince himself that he is righteous when he knows in his heart that he is corrupt.
If JCA has any human compassion in his heart he will reach out in a humble way and open the doors of the Bruderhof to his "enemies".
My strong feeling is that we all ignore this posting, let it fall stillborn.
Ramón, Charlie et al, please do not print this in KIT. JCA seems to subscribe to the Hollywood adage "don't worry about what they say as long as they say it in print". He truly has no shame. Please do not feed his ego or publish this smut in KIT.
Charlie Lamar, 12/18/99: Dear Tim, I agree with you that Christoph's letter is sickening and a complete mockery, certainly not even the slightest attempt to be nice. Is the reason you don't want it printed that you think people will believe it is sincere? Learning to penetrate Bruderhof hypocrisy is a big part of what we have all gone through and are still very much in the process of going through.
I think we should print this letter and all others like it. Once when we were going through this before, with another letter from Christoph, I think it was, Muschi said that people not wanting to see his letter in their newsletter was like the NAACP not wanting to see a letter from the KKK in theirs, but it was all a matter of context. Once Loy McWhirter, to supply context, did a line by line translation of a letter from the Bruderhof. It was wonderful.
Christoph is one of the wolves in sheep's clothing. I say let him speak for himself. We translate and we supply the context. Your post to the hummer would be a very good start.
12/19/99: I think when dealing with Christoph or the Bruderhof it pays to be absolutely factual. You want Christoph to experience his real feelings; do you really think that whatever pain he is aware of at the present time is real? I'm sure he experienced real pain once upon a time, but who caused that pain? What do you think he experiences now - real pain or frustration at his ego gratification?
On another line of thought, Tim and Margot, I think, were saying something about not wanting to contribute to the buildup of Christoph's ego. I don't see why, because in trying to help Christoph like that, we may hurt. It seems to me that the bigger Christoph's ego (and bank account) gets, the sooner it will be pulverized. I know the pulverization of Christoph's ego might sound very much like a Bruderhof-type remedy so people will naturally want to take the opposite approach, but why should we let an instinctive counter reaction to Bruderhof programming prevent us from facilitating what would be the most beneficial possible outcome - the actual regrowth of Christoph?
Like any other not-yet-recovering alcoholic, drug addict or tin-horn tribal dictator, eventually, whether on this or that side of the grave, Christoph will have to "bottom out", come to the point where he finds out he has absolutely no other options than the total dissolution of his entire way of life before any real recovery can begin. Jail conversions are often real, and in such cases there is no substitute for jail. Religious language, the rhetoric of kindness, has been totally corrupted in his mouth. How can we use it with him?
Dave Ostrom, To the BC of NY Inc., 12/17/99: I find the posting [from Christoph] somewhat ambiguous as it appears to attempt to convey a Christian message of wanting to "put the record straight" while at the same time trying to bait people who are not in a position to defend themselves. This sounds much like it has been written by a certain _Doctor_ Charles Moore for the benefit of J. C. Arnold, a bit of hypocrisy of itself.
You ask what we hope to gain by attacking "...everything we try to do..." I answer that it has taken more than thirty years of seeking and prayer to find my way back to God after having led astray by your humanistic pied-piper teachings about Christianity. You and your toxic organization cannot dictate to people, in or out of your organization, what God's Will is. A fact you and your organization appear to have completely forgotten or chose to ignore is that God speaks to all people, not just JCA or his chosen elect. As a Hutterite minister once told me, "We are walking parallel paths, not the same path but yet not a confrontational path."
Chris, if in fact you wrote this letter, how come it is you have never recanted the statement you made to me forty three years ago this Christmas, as you and your friend were physically kicking the daylights out me in the Dinning room at Woodcrest, "We Germans are superior to you stupid Americans, you will never be half the man I am!"? Sincerely,
Margot Purcell, 12/17/99: The message from JCA on ASB is a sad state of affairs for the Bruderhof. I did not think that he was serious in what and how he wrote and where he posted. Maybe JCA does in his warped way of thinking, feel he has sent a "loving" note. I know he did not write it. The language is too proper, sentence structure is awesome and the letter is too long (he himself told us he had no time for long letters). I would love to leave it alone and not respond, But..., there is so much I want to say in response. (There are already three messages up in response to his.)
IF JCA was seriously attempting to reconcile he would have had every family send a loving greeting for the holiday and New year to their relatives, and/or sent a "short" note to everybody - not only the ones he listed (which in itself speaks loudly - who is listed and who is not) Maybe I will still receive a card from my family??????
My mother's birthday is on December 21, I will send her a card and Emily also wanted to send her a greeting. Maybe I should put a short quote of JCA's on the outside of the envelope or even the entire message of his inside.
I can hear them on the hof now: "Dear Christoph put a loving message on the internet for all of KIT to see. He has heard only negative responses. Let me read what Wayne Chesley has written, and this from Russ Eanes' mother whom we had welcomed so many times with so much love. She calls him names. Dave Ostrom, whose family brought us much pain also writes and challenges dear Christoph. Christoph has taken all this to heart and is suffering deeply. Let us all show our support to our elder and lets go sing at his window." Enough of my sarcasm here,
Ellen Eanes, 12/18/99: As one who has full access to mail, phones, books, a computer and who can read, I don't think those who see these postings and letters in the future will have the same interpretation that Christoph puts on KIT. A once a month news letter is welcome to those denied access to brothers, sisters, parents, children or contact with their families. Hardly frantic publication. More like a blessing. Instead, I suggest they will say, "What did this group called the Bruderhof have to hide? Why can't they take constructive criticism to heart? Why did so many who gave their all have to endure hardship to support a group and then be turned out to live in poverty? Why can't the Bruderhof stand open communication? What finally happened to the Bruderhof? Did they dissolve the Bruderhof, take the millions and run? No wonder it did not last. They imploded." When a person has access to all information, one looks at things differently, Christoph. I pity the good people who let the Bruderhof run their lives.
Ben Cavanna, 12/18/99: Hello Christoph, I am glad to see you posting here. It has been a long time since we talked last. Lets keep talking - we might find we can work things out!
The millennium is approaching and although the date is arbitrary in that we don't know the exact date of Christ's birth, it is a great time to seek healing and an end to hurt.
Let's keep talking.
I wish you and Verena and all the others of my Bruderhof family peace.
Please pass on my love to my Mum and Dad and Patsy and Pedro and Esther, and Bridget and Nate, and all my nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews.
I have been separated from them for too long. The pain of separation is a daily knife in my heart.
Please help to ease our pain by making it possible for me to see my beloved family again. Many others are also in pain.
I know that actions of mine have brought you and the Bruderhof pain. I am truly sorry for that.
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall inherit the earth."
Christoph, we could take a really brave and bold step here, I believe that is what our Bruderhof upbringing teaches us to strive for. I am sure God would smile on such an effort.
What might it be like if we were to learn to trust each other? In hope,
Tim Domer, 12/18/99: I just want to say that when I write about the pain and anguish the coldheartedness of Bruderhof members, the leadership in particular, causes, it is not my pain but rather the pain that all of us feel. It is the pain felt by my children, my brothers' children and all children of the Bruderhof who have been rejected. No human deserves this kind of rejection by parent, family and friends. It is a rejection that comes from a kind of fanaticism that clouds clear thinking. It warps the mind, distorts the truth and twists the meaning of love into something grotesque.
No human deserves the kind of cruelty that the Bruderhof has shown to Ramón in relation to his child and grandchildren. What the Bruderhof does to its' "enemies" is wrong, evil and so totally unnecessary. It has nothing to do with love, yet they continue to hide behind a facade of Christian righteousness.
At this time of year, when the world remembers the event of Christ's birth, the stark contrast of what the Bruderhof professes and what it does, becomes almost a cruel joke. I long that somehow, in some way, the fog of the personality cult that traps our parents and loved ones is lifted and truth floods into their hearts. The corrupt system must be destroyed so that the love that the Christ child represents can come in.
I hope and pray that real love and compassion dwell in my heart as well. I know that souls, including Christoph, are hurting inside the Bruderhof. This whole thing could be over in half an hour if the fog was lifted and real, honest dialogue took place. That is the greatest pity of all.
Hilarion Braun, 12/19/99: Hi Christoph! Greetings to you too. You keep saying that KIT maligns you, and yet you never admit what damage the Bruderhof has done to KIT. I doubt that I will stand before anyone after I die, and so I don't live for that moment, but for now, to be decent and loving. I know of nobody who gave you those titles, and don't buy into your generalizations of KIT. If you really want to bring about peace between the Bruderhof and KIT, try not to vent your venom every time you contact us. You have repeatedly read in KIT all of the favorable things we remember of the Bruderhof life. Dwell on those for a while, and see if those values really still exist on the Bruderhof.
I wish the Bruderhof that it become a real Bruderhof, which by definition would have to be democratic. Susie and I have found fabulous friends through KIT, and value KIT very very, very much. I, Hila, also still have friends on Bruderhof, or at least I think so, but wouldn't know, since I am not allowed to talk to them. In contrast, everyone on the Bruderhof is allowed to speak to me any time they wish. All I want is for the truth to be spoken by all of us. Love (also for Susie),
Rachel Mason Burger, 12/20/99: Dear Christoph, I write this in the spirit of the season. It is very painful to be out of touch with our 92-year-old father, especially at this time of year. Would you please convey his family's love to him and be sure he receives our cards. This would mean so very much to us and, hopefully, bring us all closer. With hope for the new year,
Ben Cavanna, 12/26/99: I copy below my reply to Christoph's private e-mail to me. You will notice that he has a pattern of putting bait up on the public newsgroup and then taking the subsequent interchanges to private e-mail. Thus limiting our ability to publish the resulting nastiness.
I, of course, am legally bound to seek his permission if I wanted to quote his private e-mails here in full.
You will note that to date he has not replied to my request for information re my Dad's health. Is my Dad sick, dead or entirely well? Or is this just a great illustration of Christoph's nasty ways? And if he treats us this way, imagine how he treats the emotional and spiritual prisoners trapped within the "Bruderhof" system.
Paul, Tara, Ben, Tamara, Tanya Cavanna on Paul's Birthday
In a message dated 12/18/1999, CArnold@ bruderhof.com writes: "Thank you for your greeting. You write "we need to keep on talking, most of all we have to rebuild the trust between us that has been so badly shattered."
Ben: I did not write what you have quoted above. Who did? I copy my post to you in full below for your reference. I ask you to please only quote my actual words as otherwise this leads to confusion and mistrust.
I do agree though that we need to build trust. Talking will be a good way to start doing that.
JCA: "I will pass on your love to your family."
Ben: Thank you. I hope they will send a message back to me.
JCA: "We are a bit worried about your dad who has at the moment double pneumonia. There is a nasty flu going around in all our communities."
Ben: I am very worried to hear that. I love my Dad very much. Please let me know how he progresses. He is old and this is a very serious illness.
JCA: "Thank you for our words, 'I know that actions of mine have brought you and the Bruderhof pain.,' and that you are sorry for that."
Ben: I should clarify what I said as I think I was not clear. I do know that actions like holding the COB press conference in Kingston and telling our side of some of the Bruderhof story caused you pain. That story has to be told and I will continue to tell the truth as I see it. What I am sorry for is that you have to go through whatever pain hearing that truth causes you.
It is often painful to hear truth spoken. I know because I have heard painful truths about myself, and tried to run away from them. But when I have been able to be brave enough to actually face that painful truth and feel the pain fully, then I have found it to be a huge relief and a healing process has been able to start. I cannot change bad things I have done in my life, but I have discovered that I can stop doing them and act differently in the future.
JCA: "Let's be thankful for any and every small step forward."
Ben: I agree. I takes many small steps to travel forward in life.
I can actually imagine a world where Bruderhof and ex-Bruderhof people find healing and peace between us. But achieving that trust, healing and peace will be very hard. Achieving it will take a great deal of courage, integrity and honesty. It will necessarily be a very painful process for all sides.
I do not kid myself. It will be very hard. It will be very painful. But it is a world that I want to live in and is definitely worth striving for. Let's go for it.
Ramón Sender, 12/17/99: Dear Christoph, thank you for your New Year's letter, and for your effort to break through your basic sarcasm After all, I recognize that you are doing the best that you can, given the upbringing that you received, and the talent and intelligence you were gifted.
Yes, KIT is producing a long and detailed legacy of the abusive system that the Bruderhof continues to promulgate under the disguise of biblical Christianity, and I for one am proud of having put energy and enthusiasm into the bringing-together of so many of those you discarded as 'unworthy'.
Of course the KIT story could have a happy ending any time you decide to show yourself willing to sit down in a fair and loving manner, in the company of an objective and loving third party, and resolve outstanding issues. After all, if Syria and Israel can come to the table to resolve the Golan Heights stand-off, it seems as if we might be able to do the same. As for the various names you have been called, I think you inflate the value of some of them, but perhaps not all. Again, they all can be wiped out in an instant if you ever show yourself fearless enough to sit down with an open heart and mind, and deal with the long agenda of outstanding allegations against you and your hitmen (sorry, but that's the word your agent used).
I'm glad that KIT has had such a positive effect on your life. I would find it hard to think that somehow I am doing something that is keeping someone awake at night, or having to take special medications to get to sleep! Peace is what we all hope and pray for, so I would hope we could concentrate on making it work within our small network and opening up families on both sides to more visits and true dialogue. As you say, time is growing short! You mention something about what people will say when they read KIT's legacy in the years to come." Personally, I imagine that at least some of them will say, "Wow, how amazing that so many survived the treatment they received at the hands of a such an unloving organization!
How could the Bruderhof leaders do what they did to so many? Obviously there was something very rotten at the very core of the place!" Again, all of this can change in a twinkling of an eye any time you decide to put down your paranoia and your focus on fame and fortune, and become willing to dialogue seriously. Meanwhile, here's wishing you what the old hippies used to say: "May the sweet baby Jesus shut your mouth and open your heart. Happy Millennium, Christoph! May I respectfully suggest you become poor in all ways as quickly as possible. There's a narrow gate in all of our futures!
Please send our love to our grandchildren Gareth and Dorie, whom we have not been allowed to see for eight years.
Wishing you with the greatest sincerity the true peace that passes all understanding,
Altarpiece by Leslie Holland
Admiring new altar painting by Leslie Holland, Andrea Hirsch, Jacob Hirsch-Holland, Matt Holland, Hugh Holland, Leslie Holland.
Leslie Holland - Purton Church, December 1999
Wayne and Betty Chesley, Russ and Jane Eanes, Paul and Diane Fox, Mel and Janet Fros, Mike and Karen Leblanc, David Ostrom, Blair and Margot Purcell, Helena Whitty, 12/28/99: Dear Christoph, the season of Advent always brings to our minds happy memories of the Bruderhof. Therefore we greet you and all the brothers and sisters with love, and in the hope that the coming year may bring some form of reconciliation between us.
We also thank you for your prayers. You should know that we have never ceased to pray for you and for our brothers and sisters even when we have felt constrained to make public some of our concerns about the Bruderhof.
As you say, all of us will have to stand before the throne of judgment, perhaps a great deal sooner than we expect. Undoubtedly, all of us will also be in for some unpleasant surprises when the secret motivations of our hearts, unknown even to ourselves, are placed under the uncompromising gaze of God's justice. Our only hope to escape eternal damnation is faith in Christ Jesus and trust in His mercy.
In keeping with the wish you expressed for something positive to develop between us, we would like to suggest that you, as responsible Elder of the Bruderhof communities, remove all obstacles to visits and other contacts between former members, or children of members, and their family who remain in the Bruderhof. These barriers brought KIT and the newsgroup into existence in the first place. Their abolition would go a long way toward eliminating the need for them.
You are right: the coming years are likely to bring trials upon the whole Christian church. We hope to be able to face them in fellowship with you. In peace,
Tim Domer, 12/24/99: Christoph, the only word that is missing from you, as we approach the end of 1999, is a sincere apology to all those human beings whom have been hurt so deeply over the years by the cold, cruel, compassionless, unjust, merciless and unloving practices of you, your father and the Bruderhof power structure. I see no difference between this posting and the insincere, mocking posting you placed two years ago when you dropped your indefensible $15 million law suit against three people you call your enemies.
I do not join the Purcells, Foxes, Chesleys, Froses and others who wish you peace at this Christmas season. Christoph, I wish you un-peace. I wish you the un-peace of a smitten heart. I wish for you the un-peace of a heart that feels judged for using the name of the Lord in vain. I wish for you the un-peace of a person who realizes the tremendous hurt they have caused and who will not rest until all attempts are made to right the wrongs, to reach out in humbleness and love to those whom one has injured. Until you recognize the truth of how far the actions of the Bruderhof toward its' "enemies" are from the message of Christmas, there should be no peace for you. Until you put your written and spoken words about forgiveness, reconciliation, seeking peace and loving one's enemies into honest, sincere, concrete, tangible practice, I wish you un-peace.
I do not want a phony "peace" with you, Christoph. My father told me that unless I had a relationship with you I cannot have a relationship with him and my mother. I do not want a relationship with my parents based on anything but the love between parent and child and the love of parent and child for God.
You have it in your power Christoph, to humble yourself to the Brotherhood and admit how far the basis of the Bruderhof life is from the example that Christ lived and truth for which He died. Christ did not die so that humans could have control over other humans. He died to free us from that kind of control.
I agree with you that time is short.
I earnestly hope that true peace, based on truth and the genuine love of Christ, can be a reality in 2000.
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe, 12/28/99: Dear Christoph, I have read your posting from 12/16 and am shocked at the way you want to contact Bruderhof children and kicked-out members of the Community. If you read the postings in the KIT newsletters over the years, you will see that the most aggressive postings come from the Bruderhof members and children (also your own Christoph Andreas) and that most of us speak lovingly about our families, childhood, and our time on the Bruderhof, and wish for something new to give us chance in this life to turn the wrongs into rights.
Tim says about everything that I would like to say, except that I would like to ask you to examine your heart and mind. How can you write books about forgiveness and be so unforgiving? How can you tell absolute lies to the brotherhood and then blame us for hate and anger? How can you come to prayer with the Gemeindestunde when all these lies must burden your heart? How can you start a new millennium in a spirit of sarcasm, hate and fear of fellow men and fellow believers in the same God? Many people have tried to break the icy crust that covers your heart and mind. I would like to ask you to just for once look at the fact of the relationship of us "Outies" with you "Innies." Does it really matter before God where we stand on this earth? Is not the issue how our relationship is with God, the Creator of all things? The Bruderhof is but a drop of water in the large sea. What about all the Christians that try to find answers for the needs of men all over the globe? Do you really think that in God's eyes the Bruderhof stands on a higher and better level than the rest of the world? Think, Christoph just think for once and drop this sarcasm that is so unworthy of any believing Christians!
Admiring new altar painting by Leslie Holland: Andrea Hirsch, Jacob Hirsch-Holland, Matt Holland, Hugh Holland, Leslie.
Why do you want to become so famous and rich at the expense of the loyal members? Are you not doing the exact thing our grandfather turned away from seeking power and earthly riches? I know that I will not see my mother again in this life, but does this not bother you and give you sleepless nights? There is little more I can say except that we most certainly have not shown any aggressiveness towards you while the Bruderhof under your personal leadership inflicted lawsuits upon us, prevented book from being published, wrote wicked letters about us, spread untruth about us, and many more evil things. In the end, you are only hurting yourself and the cause you want to live for. You might laugh at my letter and say, "At least we got Bette upset!"
Yes, I am upset. I knew your parents well, and although they, like all of us, made many mistakes, they were never as evil as you are towards your own family and friends. Yes, I can say with Tim Domer, "I wish you unpeace and restless nights until you are brave enough to tell the brotherhood that the paranoia against us was a creation of your own fears and mind.. We also are not afraid of you. Believe me, we have more important things to do. I feel sorry for you. You invite the Columbine highschoolers who witnessed the shootings and you don't know them at all, nor the spirit they are in. You visit and publish books from murderers and child abusers and you are afraid of the people you grew up with and who loved you as a person.
Please consider what I am saying, because you are right. Time is running out for us. I do wish you a change of heart and attitude for the next millennium.
Ramón Sender, 12/28/99: I believe Christoph is consumed by an active and abiding hatred for those of us who have stepped forward in KIT, alt.support. bruderhof and elsewhere, to hold a mirror up to his posturing as a world-famous spiritual counselor and expert on forgiveness. This hatred he expresses by a sarcastic posting now and then to 'get a rise,' always making sure to include a hint about a well-beloved older relative's lagging health in order to rub salt in the open wounds of a cut-off family member. Then he retreats behind a blocked e-mail address with a few well-placed jabs via personal e-mail to those who reply.
He culls the harvest of reactions for negative postings that he can read aloud to the brotherhood's shocked chorus of "ooh's!" and "oh-my's"! This raises his credibility status whenever it seems to lag, or whenever he wishes to lash the brotherhoods into a renewed frenzy of paranoia against the enemies threatening them from outside.
How long can this charade continue?
Thank goodness there still exist those good, kind, loving Bruderhof members eager to work quietly on the inside to bring about a change of leadership.
Ben Cavanna, 12/31/99: Tamara, Tara and I have just returned from two days visiting with the Hollands and Mathis's. We had a lovely time catching up with all the Hollands and joining them in viewing the new altar painting that Leslie has done for Purton church. It is the Last Supper and is a wonderful mediaeval style painting. Christ and the apostles feet stick out from under the table cloth in a rather strange and fetching fashion.
The church is a very dramatic setting anyway, and with the sun streaming in through the stained glass windows it was a magical time. Children having a great time, preaching from the pulpits, telling each other stories and Leslie talking about painting and his art school teacher. We all then went to visit Caroline Holland's grave which is in the churchyard there. She was Matt and Andrea's first born who only survived for 11 days. It was lovely to hear about her short life and see her very simple head stone. Crisp cold day with blue sky and bright winter sunshine flooding over all of us.
Then on to Lower Shaw Farm for lunch and great chat. Tara disappeared off with Anna Hirsch to go shopping with Andrea, and Tamara and I went off to Purton to visit with John and Janice. John and I did a couple of little rewiring jobs and hung out eating stollen and drinking coffee. As it got dark, I set up my telescope in the back yard and we had the most amazing views of Jupiter and Saturn. The seeing was so steady that we could see seven distinct cloud belts on Jupiter and the four moons Io Europa Ganymede and Callisto flung out either side. Saturn was its usual glory with clear divisions showing in the rings.
Then Blanket over the Scope and Tamara and I went to visit Pete and Jeanette after supper. Pete is recovering slowly from his autograft, but pretty wiped out. It is always difficult to have him rest enough and not dash about exhausting himself. It was very relaxed with him lying on the settee and telling Tamara
Migg and Elsie on the boat the Ameland - September 1999
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe, Migg Fischli and Elsie at the Ameland Island cottage - September, 1999
about his time in Brazil working for the Nazi when he was chucked out of the Bruderhof in Paraguay. Roz dished out chunks of chocolate and we leafed through Pete and Jeanette's wedding album. I had not seen my photographs since I took them and I was quite surprised how good they were!
Pete really appreciates the good wishes and prayers that have been sent him. He is also facing a stem cell transplant from Either John or Matt in Jan or Feb. He is very far from being out of the woods yet.
Then on to Joerg and Christine Mathis who live about three miles from the former Cotswold Bruderhof where my parents met in 1940. They have a lovely Hansel and Gretel house with diamond pane windows and warm roaring log fire. Renatus Klüver was there visiting after his trip to Paraguay. Such a lovely family and we had coffee and traditional biscuits. Joerg gave me a tour of their lovely house with a room for each child and also a music room come spare bedroom for guests.
I then returned to John and Janice's house to sleep leaving Tamara to sleep over with the Mathis's.
Driving to Purton at midnight the three-quarter moon was just rising above the horizon, reflected in the lake. Jere, you were not hallucinating when you saw the moon on its back. This moon too was lying on its back. It happens with a last quarter moon just as it rises. It is virtually lying on its back. It gets more and more upright as it rises higher in the sky so you really only see it just as it rises. You will also get the same effect when the first quarter moon sets.
John and I then proceeded to talk till 2.30 over numerous cups of coffee.
Following morning it was back to Lower Shaw to collect Tara, and back to spend the rest of the day with the Mathis's and Renatus. We had a lovely gemutlisch day and evening including a walk round the village and along the flooding river. Football with Jonathan and pooh sticks at the bridge.
After supper Renatus got out his beautiful photographs of Paraguay and Brazil. They are just wonderful and I hope he brings them to KIT this year. For me the tears just flowed as I looked at the place of my birth and where our people carved out a haven from war torn Europe. Blood sweat tears and lives went into that project. And then the **** ****** tore it down, scattering so many to fend for themselves.
Telescope out on the front lawn to bring the joy of Saturn and Jupiter to Mathis and Klüver. It is so satisfying to introduce friends to what I love so much.
It was very hard to leave and very tempting to stay another night, but we had to get back to Hastings. Three-hour drive, but the roads were quite quiet, so a relatively easy journey.
We are now preparing to see in the new year quietly at home. I have checked out the live webcam at www.olivetree.org which is situated on the mount of olives and at the East gate in Jerusalem. It has been set up by a Christian organization to watch for the second coming of Jesus. Love,
Tamara Cavanna, 12/11/99: Dear Christoph, I don't believe we've met before, but I'm Tamara Cavanna, the granddaughter of Peter and Kate. I was really interested to read your original posting to this newsgroup and just wanted to talk with you about it.
First of all I just want to exonerate myself from the burden of being someone who has "tried to do to discredit the Bruderhof and myself in every any way possible". As I've never met you I can't possibly judge you, and I have certainly not tried to discredit the bruderhof in every way possible.
I am thrilled at your positive feelings about the new Millennium and feel that I share your prayers for working together for something positive and constructive. I hope that pieces of dialogue like this will eventually lead to further progress between Bruderhof members and others, and that people like my father Ben will no longer be estranged from their parents. For surely the separation of families from one another is one of the greatest pains and wrongs of this world. Please pass my greetings to all of my family; Peter and Kate my grandparents and my uncles and aunts, and cousins.
To show my commitment to making improvements to the relationship between my family "outside" the bruderhof, and those within it, I would like to extend my hand in friendship by linking up with some of the young people on the community. I belong to a world wide organisation called Model United Nations, which seeks to simulate, in conference across the globe, the working of the UN. It is a chance for people to represent different countries, cultures, religions and points of view, and, through this, become more aware of the difficulties that face the world today as we strive for peace and communication. It is a wonderful and highly acclaimed venture and this year I am helping to organise, with other university students, the first even London Model United Nations Conference.
I would love to welcome any bruderhof young people, of university age, to this. It is a fantastic opportunity for everyone and I am really keen to commit to building bridges with the community by inviting interested students to this conference. I really hope you will take this offer as a serious and peace-promoting gesture from me to you, and hope you will pass on the information to the young people of the Bruderhof. For more information you can look at our (wonderful) website, www.londonmun. org.uk, and email me with any queries you might have. Please consider it!
So that is my little contribution to a better relationship for everyone connected to the Bruderhof, it may seem silly and small, but it is what I can offer you in the way of a new start for the new millennium. Yours in Friendship,
Margot W. Purcell, 12/31/99: Christoph and all at the Bruderhof, my thoughts go to all on the Bruderhof as you celebrate New Years Eve. In years past I recall the lighting of candles on a tree in the middle of the circle as wishes for the new year were expressed.
My wish for this coming year is that Christoph, C. Domer and J. Keiderling, step aside and learn the true meaning of the word LOVE. The control these three and a few others have over all the membership is not out of love, but purely to control their little troop of followers. Christoph, you have written to us several times and stated that you love us. That is not true and you know it. You do not even like us. I think you feel threatened by the truth we write and want others to see. My wish is that you may learn to feel love and give love in return.
I know that you have been given a tremendous responsibility by the brotherhood. It is a position I could not possibly fathom to undertake. I hope you can look back at the years that you have been the elder, step back and reevaluate your achievements and behavior.
Your initial note on ASB recently was filled with sarcasm and it was designed to hurt. I had hoped that you really had intended to offer some new ways of healing the immense pain you have caused. At first I wanted to write an angry letter back, but thought, no, I would give you a few weeks to show me if you really did want to try for a new start. I have yet to see any hint that this was your intention.
I wanted to hope for a better meaning behind it and thought that Paul Fox had written a very good letter in response - to which we added our names. Why
New arrivals in the US: Leonard Pavitt, Heini and Annemarie Arnold - 1953?
did you not jump to answer this letter favorably? I had so hoped that you would be willing to read these to the entire brotherhood and ask them what they thought should be done next. But I can visualize this scenario instead: The brotherhood is told that the enemy KIT is harassing Christoph again. In answer to his wonderful note on the newsgroup to all KIT people in which he asked for a new beginning, they responded with hateful messages. The messages will be read - with an attitude given- and everyone will feel great sympathy toward you. You will not have attended this meeting as you needed to rest and recover from all the bad things said about you. At the end of the meeting all will gather at your window to sing and show support to you.
Now I ask you, Christoph, do you truly deserve this type of support and love, or is it shown to you only because the members have to do this? Please look back over the years you have been the elder of the Bruderhof. Ask yourself if you have led the members on the right path. Ask them if they all feel they can speak freely amongst each other and in the meetings without fear of reprisal. Ask yourself if the Bruderhof would be better if you stepped aside.
I sent my parents a card for my mothers' birthday and for Christmas. I enclosed a copy of your message on ASB, and I quoted one part of it on the outside of the envelope. I had hoped that this would let them feel they could open the card. I received the unopened card back on the same day that we received a discouraging letter from you. Did my parents ask about this card and the quote? Did you have anything to do with this card coming back to me?
The letter we received from you (Dec 23, 1999), offered no hope that you are looking for a change in the relationship between the Bruderhof members and those of us who also once shared your life. You state " Any sign of love however small is significant in God's eyes." I have looked forward for ten years to your first sign of love to ex-Bruderhofers and their families. You close by writing: "True peace comes from love, respect and reconciliation. It is to this that we look forward to God-willing the New Year." We have been asking this from you for many years, now is the time to start. The year you speak of starts tomorrow.
I now light the candle on the tree with my wish for true love and fellowship for all of us. Sincerely,
Tim Domer, 12/31/99: Dear Christian, it was with real sadness that I read your posting here. No, I am not bitter. Only someone who has bitterness toward me, or calls me their "enemy" could find bitterness in my postings.
Christian, you write as though you speak from some kind of moral or spiritual high ground or authority. You write that because of your commitment to the Bruderhof you have found a deep peace and a love that transcends human love. You also twist my words and the obvious points of my posting.
I will remind you, Christian, that though you claim to follow the teachings of Christ, including "love of enemies" (see the Bruderhof web page), you have personally sued three of your enemies for $15 million. You and Joe, with the blessing of Christoph, have threatened other suits, including libel suits, when people have done nothing but speak the truth or raised questions. You have been involved in placing a voice-activated tape recording under the porch of one Bruderhof "enemy." You have been involved with placing pink stickers, with a message implying sexual gratification, on phone booths. The number on the sticker was the home number of another Bruderhof "enemy". You lied in court when you said you did not know Blair Purcell. You also told me that you were Christoph's hitman. When I warned you about the serious consequences of perjury in your $15 million lawsuit, you laughed and said, "you have more faith in the court system than we do".
When I asked you about the truth of some of these and other allegations, you replied: "What is important isn't what is true and what isn't true. It's much deeper than that".
Christian, there is nothing deeper or more fundamental than the truth. When the truth no longer matters all is lost. When the truth no longer matters people can have "'peace" in their hearts because their conscience no longer bothers them. When truth is no longer important, the truth becomes whatever one wants it to be - the facts be damned.
Since you tried to twist what I had written to Christoph, and since you write on behalf of the parents and family I have living on the Bruderhof, I will end with a letter I wrote to Daddy at the beginning of 1999. The letter speaks for itself. I received no reply.
1/23/99: Dear Daddy, it has been over a year since we were cut off. It has been a year since you and Mama were sent out, unannounced, to visit us. I do not know how much longer you and I will be on this earth together. I long, however, that there can still be reconciliation between us.
When we ultimately meet God I think we will be asked what kind of relationship we had with those whose lives He entrusted to us. We will be asked how well we kept His Commandments. God knows the truth. We will not be able to convince Him of a lie.
Even though I was cut off, I am still your son. The relationship between parent and child is so sacred that God spoke of it in the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses. "Honor thy father and mother." It goes without saying that parents should love the children that He entrusts to them. You know in your heart of hearts that I have tried to keep this Commandment and over the years have done far more than just talk about it. The things that have been said about me in the last two years, to Joseph and others, are lies and are said in an attempt to justify my being cut off. God knows the truth.
I have never been given a clear reason for being cut off. To cut off one's child is extremely serious. I would like a clear explanation of why my wife, your grand children and I have been cut off. You wrote "You have gone the way of KIT," but that does not mean anything to me. I had asked Christoph questions and received no honest answers. My impression is that I was cut off because I did not have the "right relationship" with the Bruderhof, especially its elder. Over the years you have said that the issue is not my relationship to the Bruderhof. I do not think that is actually the truth. The entire issue seems to have been my relationship to the Bruderhof. You never asked me about my relationship to God and Jesus or what I believe. I was only asked about my relationship to the Bruderhof - to Christoph in particular.
If I was cut off because you felt that I do not love God and Jesus, God knows that that is not true. I love God. I love Jesus. If you say I was cut off because I am an "enemy" of Jesus, God knows that that also is a lie.
There is no Commandment that says I must revere a human or honor some leader. That, however, is what I felt, and feel, you have asked of me. The elder
of the Bruderhof is a human being, with human failings just like all of us. He errs and will succumb to the corruption of power, like all of us. I cannot blindly follow any human being, especially when I feel they are wrong. To question the Bruderhof, its' elder or the Brotherhood is not the same as questioning God. I do not question God.
You said that it was blasphemy to say that I felt the Bruderhof treats Christoph in an almost worshipful way. It is blasphemy to treat any human being in such a way. You said I attacked Christoph and "to attack the head is to attack the center". I do not believe the any human is the center. Isn't it actually blasphemy or idolatry to equate Christoph, or the Bruderhof, with the Center? Isn't Jesus the Center?
During a visit to Woodcrest a few years ago you said "Heini, or God, is leading us from heaven". Isn't it blasphemy to place anyone, including Heini, next to God? In this case Heini was actually placed before God. I do not believe God wants us to put anyone or anything before Him.
I have many failings. I do not show enough love to every one. I fail daily in being the kind of person God wants me to be. I do, however, get up and try again. I do try to keep God's Commandments. I want to have a loving relationship with my parents. That relationship cannot, however, be based on my relationship to a human organization or another human being.
Sixteen years ago you and I fought something through. I saw the father that I believe God intended you to be. You were kind and loving and gentle. You said you wanted not only to be my father, but also to be my friend. When I spoke in the Brotherhood a few years ago you said that what I spoke was the truth. It was and still is. I believe that if we look for what is God's truth, rather than what is of the Bruderhof or human beings, there can be reconciliation.
I want to live an honorable life, to serve God and to live for the truth. I want to be able to have a genuine relationship with my parents, based on God's love and truth. Time is growing short. There is still time, however, to find God's genuine love and genuine truth. Your son,
Melchior Fros, 12/31/99: <email@example.com writes: "You will never have a relationship with your parents which is based solely on love between parent and child because their commitment and the commitment of their children who are members living on the Bruderhof understand the Gospel to far transcend that human love."
To the best of my memory, this is the first time I hear a Bruderhof representative articulate Bruderhof belief in response to a specific, tragic, situation... more so, as it relates to another follower of Christ (Tim Domer) who chooses not to join their band.
One hopes Mr. C. Domer can go a step further and tell us how he and his brethren arrive at their understanding. Regardless, his statement may be one of the most helpful for all "seekers" to read, digest, reread, and ponder some more before joining the Hof. It appears helpful if the Bruderhof gives prospective members a clear idea what some of the practical consequences of their beliefs are.
Melchior Fros, 1/8/00: Dear Christoph Arnold, I'm writing in response to your desire for communication that comes from the heart. I have come to realize there is little I can do to change the past hurtful events associated with the Bruderhof you lead. Only God can work in your heart to see these matters. But I am writing in the hope that we can work together to avoid needless hurt in the future. All the more now that you are about to begin a new Hof in Australia.
Love of God and Love of Family
My attention is drawn to the fact that your understanding of Christian faith and practice is notably different from my own in the area of love for God and love of family. It would not be unkind to say most Christians do not share your interpretation regarding family and God. For me, commitment to family is closely linked to commitment to God. This strong commitment to family is the result of my own Bruderhof-related past. Let me be honest with you: I rescinded my request to become a Novice of the Bruderhof and left your life in 1975, because it was clear to me I could never hold to the vows and live them with a clean conscience. In order to avoid later grief and untold harm to future wife and children, I chose to leave the Bruderhof.
I beg you therefore to carefully consider how you are informing prospective members of your grandfather's understanding that a commitment to the Bruderhof brotherhood exceeds all other commitments (including marriage and family). All too often, people are drawn to the Bruderhof by its irresistible outward charm. This attraction is enhanced for those who come for reasons of marital or other distress. I hope you will consider printing a brochure for all guests to read, in which you clearly spell out some of the practical consequences of putting loyalty to the brotherhood above all other earthly obligations .You will be doing guests as well as yourself a kindness; after all, are you not eager to seek out and membership those who fully understand and agree to your views in this matter? If you do not want to leave a vale of sorrow in Australia, is it not right to consider this matter carefully now?
Novice Vow And Bruderhof Constitution
I believe one of the Novice vows and the Bruderhof Constitution are in contradiction. The Novice vow I am thinking of is found on page 301 of Torches Rekindled, by Merrill Mow (c. 1989 The Plough Publishing House). It speaks clearly of the Novice's obligation to not only receive admonition but to pass it on as well if "you feel that something ought to be corrected or abolished". If this vow is fully honored without fear of reprisal, I believe a great deal of Bruderhof-made tragedy can be avoided.
Now, regarding the more recent Bruderhof constitution, its principal author, Dick Domer, explained to me that it requires unconditional yielding to you, the Elder. My recollection is this yielding must be done even in the event you, as Elder, are obviously wrong.
It seems that out of this juxtaposition there arises a dilemma which leads brotherhood members to say they would rather all go wrong so that they can be led to the right together. I am wondering if you could consider this matter further, because so much pain has come about when members literally applied their novice vow. It appears to me that either the novice vow has to be abolished or the constitution reworded.
Something Has To Change
These thoughts are offered in the spirit of honest dialog such as you indicated you hoped for in the new year. I am not attempting to decide whose interpretation of the Scriptures in correct. God will be our judge. But I do hope that at minimum I can work with you to identify areas where there appears to be contradiction between Bruderhof faith and practice. Thank you for giving my thoughts consideration.
(Christoph wrote: "My prayer for the new millennium is that we work together for something that is positive instead of discrediting one another and creating a net of confusion throughout the world.")
Ann Nonny Mouse, 12/14/99: Dear KIT, let me edit Ploughman: "Not many people leave... Only..." This absolute "only" provokes contention. A possible correction: 'Those who cannot remain leave (some feel unfaithful to the vows they made) the Bruderhof. Sometimes they find faith elsewhere, some return. You should make sure you know about the Bruderhof before you join.
Psalm 119, CAPHL "mine eyes fail... for I have become like a bottle in the smoke;"
Fear not the night
the morning follows soon.
Among the stars
'the sun shines from the moon;
it is by these
by midnight and by noon,
that earth grows riper
and her orchards bear.
So shall we too
become known by the fruit
In all we do
as we go here and there.
While going here and there, we often meet in opposite directions. Let me not become so certain of prosperity to forget how those who lost every battle in this life are eternal warriors.
Between crack-ups for Hila's conclusion that Star is hasselhof material and Blair convincing them to stop the hassle, I noticed Tim Domer's sober comments on confidence. A con artist does indeed contrive to gain by telling "dirty" secrets; the bribery of the deception is called conniving. By using gossip (concocting perverse whims) the affront is to someone else's public image.
I believe that hope is till in some hofnicks to the point they see (contradicting myself) that whatever holds them together is a miracle. Euphoria has not ended anyone thinking this is dope. Man! The mind can be duped, but there are hidden message sin how the party line goes down: who, what and when can be deciphered, although never proven. The psychology of group think is self-defence (battles in public image) by association. So, among all those I knew face-to-face and those I read about, I seek the truth to the best of my ability integrity by conviction.
Hope is the thing with feathers....
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That keep so many warm...
Yet never in extremity
It asked a crumb of me.
With Love in Hope,
Name Withheld: Advantages of a Bruderhof Childhood:
For Xmas 1999
"Laughter is the best medicine, not grumbling or complaining."
1. Parents faithful to each other i.e. married for
life, not divorced.
2. A good education.
3. Most had brothers and sisters (not an only child)
4. Learned crafts.
5. Learned to work at school and practical tasks.
6. Never starved.
7. Parents not killed in World War II, or crippled.
8. Learned songs, dances, good culture and music.
9. No racial prejudice.
10. No overweight problems.
11. How to make a 'little' go a 'long way.'
Weren't we lucky, compared to many children in the world, including our own?
For KIT 2000
"Positive thinking heals everything. The advantage of being brought up in the Brotherhood compared to children in the world;
A new way of looking at life.
Haven't you all turned out well good members of society, useful members of society? We learned right from wrong, not to cheat or lie or steal or to exploit the poor, but to help others with our money and time and to improve the world and need of others. Thank you, Barney Johnson and the rest of the crew,
P.S. The orphans taken in were not in an orphanage.
For the Future
Heal yourselves by positive thinking and by helping others worse off than you.
Nadine Moonje Pleil, 11/16/99: I would like to relate what happened in Jan. 1991 when my father Victor died and then what happened when my mother Hilda died two and a half years later.
When my father Victor Crawley died Jan. 12th 1996 I received an early morning phone call from Dr. Milton Z. who notified me that my father had passed away early that morning. I thanked him for letting me know and we talked about how August and I could take part in the funeral. A later phone call brought the news that James and Christa Rhoads would come to pick us up and take us to Woodcrest. They would come from NMR and would arrive at our house at 12:00 noon. We got ready to leave and we thought how thoughtful the brotherhood was in making it possible got us to go to the funeral.
We arrived at 10:00 pm in Woodcrest and were immediately taken to see Victor. Hilda was already in bed so we did not want to disturb her.
Stan and Hela Ehrlich hosted us and they took us to our room which had been very lovingly prepared and there we found a lot of condolence cards from different brothers and sisters.
The next day Sunday Stan and Hela and August and I got some of Victor's paintings and sketches together and exhibited them in the Carriage House.. At lunch time I was given the entire lunchtime hour to tell about my father Victor. I was amazed that this was made possible. I was a little nervous, but everything went well. In the afternoon we laid my father to rest. There was a funeral service first at which we were present. At the burial August and sat next to mother Hilda and I was able to hold her hand. My parents had been married sixty years. Before my father died, Hela Ehrlich phoned to let me know that my father wanted to see me, however I could hardly make arrangements for a flight to Albany when I got the news about his death. Hela Ehrlich had kept her word when she phoned me to tell me that Victor wanted to see me. She had promised that she would let me know if anything should happen which I would need to know. She, Hela, went back to Victor and told him that I was coming. Victor smiled and said "Good". He was at peace as he knew I was coming and had obviously felt that he did not have long to live so he knew that I would be there to support my mother, and that I would be at her side. I have written all this to show the contrast of what happened when my mother died.
Mother Hilda had told me when I went to see her in July of 1992 that she wanted me to be informed when she died and that she wanted me to be at the funeral As it happened her last wishes were not respected. The elder and his servants of the word were very nasty and did not inform me of my mother's passing. Balz and Monika phoned her sister on the day my mother passed away, it is Eberhard Arnold's birthday. Klaus Barth told Balz and Monika that Hilda had passed away and that he was sure that Woodcrest would notify me, however they never did. I did not know about what had happened until Balz and Monika phoned me at 9:00 pm that same day and told me very gently that Hilda had died. They were shocked that I had not been told. This all reminded me of when Xavie Sender Rhodes died, and what Ramón had to go through.
I phoned Woodcrest, but soon realized that nobody was going to talk to me. I left a message for one of the servants to call me, but nobody returned my call. I told my minister son-in-law who then offered to phone for me, he was treated very rudely and put on hold for twenty minutes and then he realized that nobody was going to answer him so he hung up. The next day I called again and would not let anyone put me off. I was told that no servant was available that they were all off the place. I persevered and finally got hold of Ian Winter who was so disrespectful toward me that I was simply shocked. He is at least fifteen years younger than I am.
I finally was able to ask him why I was not informed about my mother's death. He really abused me verbally with a whole lot of nonsense about how I was an unfaithful member and that I of all people should understand why I could not come to the funeral and that he knew from my mother that she did not want me to come to the funeral and wanted no other relatives etc. He finally admitted that I was going to be informed several weeks after the funeral. I told him in no uncertain terms how I felt and that he also had deprived the grandchildren of going to the funeral. He also had to admit that he and the elder did not want me to come to the funeral for fear of me polluting their Holy Ground. I told Ian that he and Christoph Arnold had no right to tell us we could not come to the funeral. I also said that I could not close another chapter of my life. The phone call was a lot longer than that, but it would take too long to relate it all here. At the end of my book I wrote in detail about the phone call.
Much later a reporter wrote an article about my book and went to NMR in order to hear the other side of side of the story and interview Milton Z. She asked him why I had not been allowed to be present at my mother's funeral and Milton said, and I quote, "Because the experience at the funeral of her father was so unpleasant." I was shocked at that, to say the least. Milton was not at my father's funeral. How on earth could he say something like that? I have since learned that the people on the Bruderhof say whatever suits them, whether it is true or not. So you see how the servants, and in this case Milton, try to convince the outsiders that the ex-members are only out to create problems.
Thus ended a rather sad experience Since then I have not received the things my mother wanted me to have nor did I receive the booklet of memories about my mother.
I wonder where does Cor: 1, 13 feature in all this? "But the greatest of these is love?" Marlys Swinger set those words to music and they were often sung in the commune. Does the commune know the true meaning of love? Do they want to know the true meaning of love? I will close with the words on the dedication page of my book written by the poet Javan " When you truly know the meaning of the word Love, then you will also know the meaning of the word Pain." Greetings to all.
Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA) Internet search traces missing relative
By Dorothy Yagodich
Dr. Vinay Likhite came from India and Nadine Moonje Pleil left her life with the Bruderhof Community in South America. The pair, related through marriage, met for the first time in March in the United States through the Internet.
Likhite is a cancer researcher living in Plattsburg, N.Y. While visiting friends in California, he used their Internet connection to begin searching for relatives with the same last name. After success with his own name, Likhite tried his mother's maiden name, Moonje.
He discovered two books connected to Moonje. One was a commemorative volume at the centennial year of his grandfather's death and the other was written by Pleil, detailing her 40-year experience with the Bruderhof Community over three continents.
Likhite was excited to learn that Pleil lived in Washington, PA. In his early years in India, Likhite heard about a young relative who had gone to Paraguay. But when Likhite's family came to the United States in 1950, the girl had slipped from memory.
Now, finding her name by using an Internet search engine, Likhite felt certain she was the missing relative. Late in the evening of Feb. 25, Pleil had already gone to bed when the phone rang. Pleil was not sure the voice on the other end was legitimate. "Maybe she thought I was a telemarketer," said Likhite, with a smile. He finally convinced Pleil he was a relative.
As Pleil listened, she recalled reading the name Likhite in a newspaper clipping about her brother's wedding, since Likhite's mother, Vimal, had attended the wedding.
Likhite came to visit in March and again for a second time in July, meeting with Pleil, her husband, August, and many of their eight children. The pair discussed the events that kept them apart for a half century.
Pleil was born in Birmingham, England to Elizabeth Elmore and a half-English, half-Indian man named Megendrah Ghose. Her parents had already separated before Nadine was born. Her father, "an educated and intelligent person," visited often and she grew to love both her father and the grandfather with whom she and her mother lived.
Ghose wanted custody of the child, but a judge ruled she would be better off with the mother. When World War II started, Pleil lost touch with her father and does not know what happened to him.
Meanwhile, her mother met and married a British naval captain, Badel Rao Moonje, who had been sent from India to serve in England. "My uncle was a good catch," said Likhite, "and she liked Indian men."
Young Nadine loved her new brother, Vijay, born of that union. But that marriage was also rocky and though Nadine carried his name, the stepfather, she says, resented her presence. When London was bombed, young Nadine was whisked off for three months to the safety of the Bruderhof Community, north in Cotswolds. But the war changed everything. Vijay, her little brother, grew up in India and Nadine grew up in Paraguay.
Likhite said his uncle, "Badel Mama", as he called him, brought the young English woman and their son, Vijay, to visit often at the family home in Baroda, northwest of Bombay. "Maya Mami was very nice to me," said Likhite, speaking of his aunt. When young Vijay was asked if he had any other brothers or sisters, he replied that he had a sister in Paraguay.
As a teenager, Likhite spent summers at the Bhonsala Military School, "now the West Point of India," that his grandfather founded, "so I could learn discipline." But it was the English aunt who schooled the young man in Western ways at the request of the grandfather. A knowledge of proper table manners was vital. "She taught me how to take small bits of food with the knife and fork. And instead of saying, "yeah," to say "yes, please" and "thank you." In proper circles, you would be dismissed for lack of good manners," Likhite said.
The late-1800s were the days of the British Empire in India. Likhite's grandfather, Dr. B.S. Moonje, sent his sons to be educated on the European continent. "He wanted all his sons to be doctors," said Likhite, whose father became a botanist, graduating from the University of Strasbourg, France, and earning a doctorate from Cornell University in the United States. His father later became the minister for agriculture in the princely state of Baroda in India. The Baroda Palace is listed among the Wonders of the Orient, built in 1890 at a cost of $4 million, with a staff of 400.
And Likhite's grandfather got his wish. Dr. B.S. Moonje has 17 children and grandchildren who are doctors, either with medical degrees or doctorates.
Besides establishing the Bhonsala Military School, Dr. B.S. Moonje was a prominent freedom-fighter who influenced the fight against British rule. "He was president of the Indian Congress Party when Gandhi was just a member," according to Likhite, and much of Gandhi's correspondence includes records of Moonje's name. But Moonje wanted India for Hindus only and
Gandhi said India should be for everybody. So Moonje began his own branch of the party. India gained freedom in 1947. But, much to his dismay, Mahatma Gandhi saw his country split into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. "Today's prime minister is a member of my grandfather's party," Likhite said.
With a doctorate in chemistry, Likhite taught at colleges and universities and then moved on to cancer research. He is married to an American, Dr. Fern Likhite, a family-practice physician in Plattsburgh. They have four children and two grandchildren.
Likhite spent his early college years pursuing a bachelor's degree at McPherson College in Kansas. Though he is a member of the Society of the Brethern, the Bruderhof was "recruiting" at McPherson at that time. Many of his classmates joined and, ironically, ended up in Paraguay.
Pleil finds it astounding that while she lived in the community, she knew many of Likhite's classmates, never realizing that one day she would come to know him as a long-lost relative.
Likhite, who grew up knowing Pleil's mother so well, said, "She had an affinity for Indian men." Pleil bears out Likhite's statement. Her mother divorced Badel Rao Moonje and then married for a third time to an Indian man. And Pleil, after four decades and three continents with the Bruderhof Community, has settled in Washington with her husband and family. Already on book shelves is "Free From Bondage," the poignant tale about her years in the Bruderhof. Pleil is working on a second book and a translation of her books into the German language.
Likhite said he was sad to learn that it was his uncle who was so insensitive to the young child, Nadine. But now, the joy of finding the long-lost relative brings happiness and will be the highlight of this year's Labor Day weekend when a large crowd of relatives is expected to gather. Likhite and his two brothers, Pleils and their children, and her brother Dr. Vijay Likhite, a surgeon from Ottawa, Canada, will be attending a giant family reunion in Plattsburgh. For Pleil, it will be an opportunity to reunite with her brother and meet his two children, Jason and Tara.
Andy Harries, 12/10/99: I have just recently come into possession of a copy of a letter that Gwynn Evans wrote to Art and Rudi on July 30, 1963. I found it quite revealing in a number of ways. We know that Gwynn and Buddug were treated very shabbily at the time of the big crisis in England in 1961. Buddug has told me quite a bit about what happened over the phone and when we used to visit her after Gwynn died.
They were split up as was common Bruderhof practice divide and weaken resistance. Gwynn was sent away and treated very badly, and Buddug also. I do not know all the details, and neither are they important, but I know that Gwynn was destroyed by the treatment he received from "the loving brothers" we keep hearing about.
In his letter, Gwynn thanks them for sending a telegram suggesting a talk and for their apology for the unjust way he and Buddug had been treated. That is just so typical of the Bruderhof leaders: treat you like dirt, destroy your self-worth and then so-called apologise! Rather, what they then do is to say "We realise now that we made mistakes, but so much was going on and there was so much confusion." That is not really an apology, but more like an excuse for having treated someone wrongly and badly.
In his letter, Gwynn turns down the offer of a talk for good reasons: he and Buddug have no intention of going back, he has heard that "the unhealthy self-circling introspections are still going on" and he doubts whether "it will ever be possible to disentangle the confused mass of truth and falsehood, etc. going on."
Apparently they had told Gwynn over the phone that Heini was still distressed on their Gwynn and Buddug's account. What hypocrisy! It was Heini who destroyed all the communities in Paraguay and England, and destroyed the lives of hundreds of the people living there.
In his letter, Gwynn writes in a very open and honest and I must say impressive way. He really understood the situation very well, and explained his position and his conclusions in a friendly way, but also as a person who was now free and could write and say what he really thought. Of course this is not and was never the case inside the Bruderhof.
I want to quote one paragraph of Gwynn's letter: "Perhaps you will forgive me my use of another analogy, which no doubt will see to you very harsh, but which is true to the experience of many of us who are now outside of the Community after having gone through some of the terrible events of the last years in the Community.
"We feel like people who are just being restored to sanity after a serious delirium of the mind resulting from an epidemic of brain-fever which infected a whole frenzied society, and we do not want what little sanity seems to have been restored to us impaired again. In this connection, I wish to say that I now regard the letters that I wrote to Heini, Mark, and the Oak Lake Brotherhood of June 3rd, 4th, 1961, as well as my letter of August 30th, 1960, to all the Brotherhoods as products of that frenzied condition, and I feel that I must now renounce them."
I lived in Wheathill during all those goings-on, and I was also baptized by Gwynn and prepared by him for baptism. I have to say that I can only say good about him. I found him to be a wonderful leader; he was human, understanding, supportive and helpful, but at the same time not proud or power-seeking. I believe if he had been allowed to lead the communities, we could have carried on successfully. But that was not to be. Why? Because Heini had decided that he would be Number One! He would be the leader, and to achieve that, he had to destroy all the opposition or all those he saw as a threat.
When Heini started writing strange questioning letters to Paraguay, we were all sent copies. Gwynn would read them out in a Brotherhood meeting and then we would discuss them. We felt more and more uneasy about what was going on, so we asked Gwynn to write a reply. He read out the reply in another meeting for us to discuss and approve. It was quite amazing how we felt very strongly united in what we did and in our support for Gwynn.
At one point Gwynn went to the USA for talks. I don't remember all that much what went on there, but he did come back a bit different, more subdued in his opinions. I think it was a bit like when Dubicek, the leader of Czechoslovakia at that time, went over to Russia for talks when he was introducing more freedom and democracy in his country. He was put under so much pressure in Russia that he had to cave in to their demands and came back to his country more or less a broken man. I think it was a bit like that for Gwynn. At least we felt something was different, even though we at Wheathill still felt everything he had written as strongly as before.
Then we heard that Heini and some others were coming to England, first to Bulstrode. We all felt united and determined to stay strong and stand by what we believed, and this also included the brotherhood in Bulstrode. Then when we heard that the Brotherhood in Bulstrode had caved in and been dissolved, it was a terrible shock to us. How could this happen? What were these people from America doing to us?
When Heini and his cronies arrived at Wheathill, they somehow just took over. Obviously it was all very well planned, just like a coupe to form a dictatorship. I well remember at the first meal in the dining room singing "Klein Schoener Land." When we got to the verse "Ihr Brüder wisst was uns vereint," "You brothers know what unties us," Heini stood up and said "We will not sing that verse." I can remember feeling, 'Wow, what power that man has!'
Heini did have power, and he certainly abused it. That was the beginning of the end of the Wheathill Bruderhof. It did not matter that so many people had given everything for so long to build this wonderful community. Heini decided it was wrong and bad, and destroyed it. I was asked by one of our ex-workers, Jack Brazier, on a visit to Wheathill many years later, why we had given up Wheathill. I just had to say to him that I did not know why. None of us understood why it was destroyed and what had happened at that time.
I believe if Gwynn had been allowed to continue as leader in Europe, the Bruderhof could have continued as it was. If the Servants had continued with dialogue and discussion and communicating between hofs, they could have come to amicable agreements. But unfortunately some people were too power-hungry. Gwynn was different. We common people felt that he cared about us. He was warm and compassionate and understanding. I want to wish all at KIT a Happy New Year,
George Maendel, 1/6/00: Last week our Minnesota car had two problems, it was loud (it needed a new muffler and a new pipe from the catalytic converter to the muffler), and it had an engine oil leak, so that every time the car was parked there was a small puddle of oil under the engine.
In a neighbors unheated garage I used an hydraulic jack to lift the car and place four 16 inch tall "jackstands" under it. After I had the car on the stands it took about 90 minutes to complete the repair using OE replacement parts that cost $105.00.
Unable to pinpoint the oil leak, I decided to have it diagnosed at a garage in Waterville. As with most problems, a proper definition is the first step toward a solution. On the way to the Pontiac dealer, I thought about the square-foot-size invoice that is the first step to admitting a car into any dealers shop, then I detoured to a local garage across the Kennebec River from Waterville, in Winslow.
Babe's Garage has three overhead doors facing the street, but you have to look carefully before you see them, sort of like looking at a photographic negative as it's lifted out of the chemical bath, the picture slowly appears. Babe's is camouflaged by it's unpainted since the 1950s walls, and by various hefty parts of vehicles left here and there between and beside the doors, where they look as natural as rocks on a beach. They may have been there a long time. That block?, Oh, Yeah, that's from Pete's old truck, that time he ran it out of oil after the oil pump failed, back in '69, I think it was. Babe's is that kind of place.
Going inside after the bright winter sun outside was like entering a cave, a magician's cave, as it turned out, because they were able to diagnose and repair
the oil leak on the first try, and they tackled the problem as though repairing my car was their one goal for the day. It took about five minutes to discuss the problem. The oil leak was more than likely one of three things: the main crankshaft seal between the engine and the transaxle, the gasket under the intake manifold, or one of the openings in the engine block oil passages, openings for oil pressure sensors and other accessories. Randy, the owner, suggested checking the easiest to repair possibilities first, especially since the main crankshaft seal and the intake manifold seal are each day-long, $400 jobs. We hope it's not either of those problems, he said.
We decided to start by replacing the seal on the aluminum cap above the oil pump drive shaft. The cap is installed to fill the hole in the engine block where the distributor used to be, on older versions of this engine. New technology has eliminated the need for the old ignition spark distributor, but the hole is still there and still necessary because it holds the bottom part of what would have been the distributor shaft, the part of the shaft that drives the oil pump. That part is still used, geared, as it always has been, to power from the camshaft and driving the oil pump.
The aluminum cap, which is now the top of the oil pump drive shaft unit, and which seals the hole in the block, has to be able to seal hot oil at 60 PSI. It depends on one rubber O-ring to do it, the same way the seal was accomplished when the distributor was there.
It took the mechanic, Randy's assistant and only employee, and an able helper (myself) 2 hours to replace the 25 cent seal. The area is not as accessible as it was when it held a distributor, now it's under the aluminum air intake plenum, and under the high pressure fuel lines, plus two water lines have to disconnected, as well as various vacuum lines and a handful of wires.
This morning I checked the clean cardboard I had placed under the car last night, half expecting to see the familiar, dark blotches of engine oil, but there were none, the cardboard was clean. Chalk up another accolade for Babe's Garage. The bill was $75.00, exactly.