/ P.O. Box 460141 / San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 / telephone: (415) 821-2090 / FAX (415) 282-2369 / http://www.perefound.org / e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
KIT Staff U.S.: Ramón Sender, Charles Lamar, Christina Bernard, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom, Brother Witless (in an advisory capacity)
EuroKIT: Joy Johnson MacDonald, Carol Beels Beck, Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Ben Cavanna, Joan Pavitt Cavanna
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from inside and from outside the Bruderhof. We reserve the right to edit submissions according to guidelines discussed at numerous KIT conferences. Obviously, it's seldom easy to know exactly how best to carry out KIT's mission of allowing many voices and various points of view to be heard. We do not, and cannot, vouch for the validity of any opinion or assertion appearing in the KIT Newsletter. The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish must remain those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflect those of KIT editors or staff.
Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; £20 mailed f/ EuroKIT to UK & Europe
Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; £20 mailed f/ EuroKIT to UK & Europe
KEEP IN TOUCH
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
use "alt f" on keyboard to search by name for the following
Andy Harries, 1/15/99: We are planning a get-together for any ex-Bruderhofers and any of their friends or relatives who would like to come for one day. The day is Sunday, May 2nd, 1999, at about 11 A.M. at Rookwood School, Andover, Hants, where we have met before, and also had the EuroKIT meeting a few years ago.
It will be an opportunity to get together share, talk, listen, learn and enjoy each others' company. If everybody brings some food, including something for a B-B-Q, we can pool it and share it around. Hot drinks will be provided. There will be a charge of £3 per adults (children free) to pay for booking the facilities. For further information, please phone 01264 353800 or write to Andy and Gudrun Harries, 116 Gallaghers Mead, Andover, Hans, SP10 3BS.
KIT: Word has come that Jack Marsden died on New Year's Day, probably on the Darvell Bruderhof. Apparently, he had just spoken at a meeting. When he sat down, he slumped over and died. Sincere condolences to his wife, Mari, and their children and grandchildren. Jack and Mari, Derek and Madge Wardle and Dick and Franzi Whitty were married at the same time in a triple wedding in Primavera.
My 90th Birthday on December 10th 1998
by Belinda Manley
I am writing this letter of Thanks to all my dear, kind KIT friends who made my 90th birthday an ongoing celebration event from Saturday, November 27th (a secretly arranged affair during the July summer KIT get-together at Lower Shaw Farm with Matt and Andrea Holland, so I came to understand!). This has already been told about with letters from Joy MacDonald and Renatus Kluver together with the lovely photos by Joy and Rosie.
First in this letter I wish to record my thoughts about dear Buddug's unexpected, sudden death during the night of November 14th. She was then living at the residential house, Aaron Manor, at Bexhill on Sea, Sussex. This was where the Bruderhof sadly sent her from Darvell, Robertsbridge, where they had invited her to come from her flat in Ilford. Gwynn had died and she was alone.
I had gone with Steven and Anne Marchant, from my cottage in Blean near Canterbury, to Buddug's 90th birthday celebration. We spent a happy day there, where Jerry and Jane Marchant were arranging the celebration in the usual Bruderhof style. As Buddug's birthday was on December 11th (the day after my birthday) and because it was also Advent, there was a very happy event planned for the lunchtime. "Happy Birthday Dear Buddug" was written in Welsh across one wall. Unfortunately it needed a spelling correction (given by Buddug!!). A large birthday cake was then wheeled in from the kitchen on a trolley pushed by Advent angels (a little boy and a little girl) to where Buddug sat at her birthday table. Buddug then cut the first slice and was given help to cut it further to hand around -- while she was asked to go and turn over the Advent calendar date to December 11th. This calendar hung from the ceiling in the middle of the dining room. Further little parties went on later in Buddug's room after she had rested.
Sadly, she died before reaching her 95th birthday. I had already got her card and present. She was only ill that one day, and the doctor called to see her and diagnosed kidney failure but could not say how long she might live. She rang the bell about 6 PM and asked the little carer who came to her bedside if she would kiss her good night, which she tenderly did. Then Buddug sprightly said, "Now I will teach you to say 'good night' in Welsh." This was done, "Nos dah" being repeated until correctly pronounced! Then Buddug asked for her walking stick to be brought within reach before the carer tucked her in for the night. When her early morning cup of tea was brought to her, Buddug had already died. I really believe dear Buddug knew, as old people sometimes do, that her life on earth was just about to end. Maybe, she prepared for the journey from earth to heaven by having her walking stick handy, in case she needed it for the journey.
Buddug was cremated in Eastbourne. Sally, her niece, and husband Rolf, planned that Buddug's ashes were to be conveyed to the crematorium near Ilford and scattered very fittingly where her beloved Gwynn's ashes had been strewn. After the service, attended by a number of KIT people, there was a meal arranged at a nearby hotel. Memories were then shared and this love meal brought together the children of Bruderhof, living 'outside' for years now as adults. Bunches of flowers had been requested and were sent to be shared later with her friends at Aaron Manor residential home in Bexhill. The matron from there was present at the crematorium. Dear Buddug! May you rest in peace, now united once more with your beloved Gwynn. I would simply say "Thanks be to God" for all that dear Gwynn and Buddug gave to us in our Bruderhof years together.
All I have now to add is, once more, "Thanks to all of you, dear friends!" My celebrations went on until the Saturday before Christmas. When I had received 147 cards, some bringing Christmas greetings, I put them in a large plastic bag from where they are being conveyed into a big plastic-paged book marked "90th birthday." Another precious memory to be added to the 80th birthday album already on my shelf.
Now onwards with two more children's books coming out soon. Mary Jane Seeks An Adventure (she goes to the Lambeth Conference at the University of Kent at Canterbury in the pocket of a friendly bishop from the USA.) The second is a guide book from St. Dunston's Church through the eyes of a hedgehog who lives in the churchyard.
Terry Miller, Manitoba, 1/26/99: Anna Maendel Hofer, 78, passed away on January 11. Anna Basel was born at Rosedale Colony, but later lived at James Valley, Riverdale, Deerboine and Pine Creek colonies. A widow and mother of twelve, she left the Hutterites over twenty years ago, joining our church at Sidney and later Winnipeg. (Only two of her children remained with the colonies, one now a Hutterite minister.
Anna Basel will be known to some ex-Arnoldleuters as a sister of the late Joseph Maendel of Forest River Colony, or as an aunt of George Maendel. She was a deeply spiritual woman, leading an exemplary life in service to Christ, her family, the church and humankind in general. She possessed nothing of this world's goods except the few little things left behind in her room. All her life, in spite of numerous health problems and hardships, Anna Basel never ceased to praise her Lord. She was a real Oma to not only her own grandchildren, but those in the church and neighborhood as well. We miss her, but she has left a tremendous legacy for us to follow.
We gave her a good send-off in the best Hutterite style, with not one but two 'wakes,' each of which was attended by around 200 people. Over half were colony Hutterites. Her coffin was made by one of the colonies. Eberhard Kubassek, one of our ministers, was in charge of the funeral service in the gym of a Catholic convent in Brandon. Although our dear Anna Basel left the Hutterites nearly a quarter century ago -- and in the eyes of the traditionalists "broke her vows" by leaving -- the Hutterite elders lovingly allowed us to bury her in the Deerboine Colony cemetery next to her husband, Joe Vetter. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that we all do an act of kindness for someone in need.
Joy Jones Loewenthal, 12/10/98: At Buddug's funeral service on Nov. 27th in Eastbourne, I was told that I was probably the only one who could tell others about Buddug and Gwynn's life in particular, as it was before they joined the Community. I was told a little about their lives previous to my meeting them in 1937. Realizing that a lot of information was told to me many years ago, I apologize if some of the details are not absolutely accurate.
Gwynn and Buddug had known each other for quite a time before the were married, the Thomas and Evans families having been neighbors at one time. Gwynn's father was editor of a newspaper in Cardiff, Wales. Gwynn was the second son. The eldest was Kenneth and the youngest was Vincent, who was a reporter for a London newspaper. Gwynn read for his degree at Chesthunt College, Cambridge. While there, he augmented his income by submitting sports reports to The Manchester Guardian.
Buddug was the second child in her family. She had two sisters and one brother, who was the youngest. When she was 14, her mother died of tuberculosis -- her father was, I believe, working at sea. The family decided that the four children would run the family home. Later, Buddug trained as a kindergarten teacher, then worked in Birmingham, I think, because it was there at Carrs Lane Congregational Church that Gwynn and Buddug were married on December 5, 19??.
Halstead, in Essex, was where Gwynn served as minister, but I don't know if that was his first church appointment. They came to West Sealing Congregational Church in May, 1937, after having made two visits in order for the church membership to decide whether to offer Gwynn the position as minister. A church social was held after his appointment was confirmed, and the young people felt that Gwynn and Buddug were the right choice. Gwynn had played rugby at university, and so was physically fit enough to join in the most strenuous activities.
To begin with, Gwynn and Buddug lived in a rented home not far from the church. When the new manse was built next to the church, they moved in. They acquired a golden retriever, "Susan," which I looked after when they went on holiday. During the summer of 1938, Gwynn was in charge of the church scout group camp at Branscombe in South Devon. Helping him was a college friend, Tom Cooper, whose wife and small daughter camped across the lane with Buddug. This little girl became ill, so the Coopers returned home. Buddug was not keen on remaining alone, so she called me to invite me to keep her company for the second week.
That was a truly wonderful week in spite of a heavy rainstorm one afternoon. Gwynn organized games and walks to be enjoyed during the day, ending with cocoa and singing around the campfire in the evening.
At one time Gwynn and Buddug had a family of four living with them, the mother being hospitalized, I believe. I know they took those children to their hearts. Their house had an open door for those who needed shelter. On a Saturday afternoon, one could often see Gwynn walking through the town or in the park, complete with a pipe and his Black Forest walking stick decorated with miniature shields from the various places he and Buddug had visited.
Gwynn and Buddug usually went on the hikes organized by the church youth group. One of our favorite walks included a public footpath that ran across part of Bulstrode Park. This was the same Bulstrode what for a short time belonged to the S.O.B.
Gwynn was anything but stuffy as minister. For example, it was usual at that time for women and girls to wear hats in church. Those of us who were teenagers at that time asked if we could attend without head covering. He replied that he would rather we did come bare-headed than wear hats that would distract the congregation.
Once or twice a year there would be an evening service organized and presented entirely by the young people. Even in an ordinary service. Gwynn would ask one or two or the other of the young people to give the readings. Buddug sat in the row behind me in church. and I well remember her summer attire, a wide-brimmed hat and Liberty print dresses.
In September, 1939, World War II broke out and that brought the beginning of a difficult time for the Evans. They had family members who had visited the Rhn Bruderhof and their accounts influenced Gwynn and Buddug, who were convinced pacifists. In the early days of the War, a government edict went out that on designated Sundays, in every church in England, the priest, vicar, minister or pastor, had to include in a prayer the request for Allied victory. Gwynn didn't feel he could do that without interceding for those "who for conscience sake object.""That did not sit well for one church member, who reported Gwynn to the authorities. After that, on those Sundays, a detective sat in the back of the church to see if Gwynn obeyed the rules. I remember feeling that one of my fellow members had betrayed Gwynn. At about this time, Gwynn and Buddug planned to take in and eventually adopt two orphaned children from war-ravaged Europe. These two, a brother and sister, were waiting in Ostend to travel to England. They never came, both being killed in an air raid on that city.
Eventually, there was a current of division within the church membership - the older people upholding tradition and 100 percent compliance with that - and some of the young people who were behind Gwynn with his wider application of Christianity. Gwynn's resignation was given into the church membership about August, 1941. Just a few days before they departed for the Cotswold Bruderhof, Gwynn co-officiated at the wedding of my brother at the end of September - that was his last official duty as minister.
They were the first two of an eventual six who joined the community from West Ealing. With those of the last big group to travel to Paraguay, they left England in April, 1941.
There are many who knew Buddug as their kindergarten carer, or Gwynn as teacher, hortner or Servant. Each of us has his or her memories of those two dear people and will surely remember them with appreciation and affection.
When Gwynn went to Wheathill to travel to Germany to look for orphaned children after the war, Buddug told me how hard it was for her because they had never been parted since they were married. Some time between 1958 and 1961, Gwynn was sent away from Wheathill and worked as a porter at a Birmingham hospital. I remember thinking what a waste of compassion and brain that was, but his natural concern for others was apparent even in that menial work.
While Buddug was alone, she slipped on ice and broke her arm. That deprived her of her independence, not at all to her liking. She also had to have surgery on her thumb, and was concerned that Gwynn had not been told. Someone suggested to a Servant that that was remiss. Gwynn was informed and for that Buddug was always grateful. Gwynn returned to Wheathill for a short time, then they both left, to stay initially with Buddug's elder sister in Birmingham. Later, they moved to Gants Hill in Essex where Buddug worked in a kindergarten and Gwynn in a high school where he taught English.
Our family visited them periodically, but as we had to drive from Warwickshire and money was scarce, the visits were not as frequent as we would have liked. We were by no means their only visitors. They were always so happy to see so many of "their children" and were intensely interested in all their lives. In due course, they retired from their occupations where they had doubtless given generously of their gifts and energy.
Later, Gwynn became unwell and was diagnosed as having angina. His daily walks were curtailed, especially in very cold or windy weather. However he still helped Buddug in the home and liked to potter in their little garden. Eventually he became depressed and seemed to have lost his sparkle, During one of my visits, Buddug told me that when I visited he seemed to regain something of his old self. Maybe that was because, as Buddug said, they regarded me as the "daughter of the house." That remark has become rather precious to me.
Gwynn's depression was probably caused by the situation in the community. Doubtless he realized he was unable to do anything about it. I was also left with the impression that Gwynn had a sense of partresponsibility for some of the aspects of the decisions taken during his years in the community.
Buddug continued to keep her records of all birthdays and was a virtual fount of information for almost all of the families she had known. Of course she continued to support Gwynn, particularly during the times when he felt down.
In October, 1984, my son, Ken, phoned me to tell me that Gwynn had left us. Luckily, I was able to get a flight, so was able to go to Buddug and let Gertie Holland, who had gone immediately to be with Buddug, return home. Buddug stayed in Essex for a time, but it became clear that the time was drawing near when she would need help in daily living. She was invited to go to Darvell, although not as a member if she so wished. She did go, and it was during that time that I last saw her. I understand that she was asked to leave Darvell eventually. A place was found for her in a nursing home in Bexhill on the south coast, where she was visited by a number of faithful friends and family. It was in the nursing home that she died peacefully in her sleep on November 14, 1998. She was just four weeks short of her 95th birthday.
It is difficult for me to put into words just how I feel now that my long and close relationship with Gwynn and Buddug has come to an end. I am glad that I was able to travel to England once again to be with others for what I see as an affectionate and respectful good-bye to a loyal friend.
I greet everyone, with the fervent wish that 1999 will be the year of a breakthrough for reconciliation.
KIT: The following two letters were inadvertently filed without having been published. We regret their tardiness and send our sincere condolences to the Tsukroff family, especially to little Daniel's parents, Milo and Karen.
Judy Tsukroff, 10/29/98: Dear KITfolk, I am deeply grateful for all the loving support and communication I have received since losing Arny. I am doing well, happy in my home in Norfolk with friendly neighbors renting the apartment in my house which replaces the B & B, having visits with my family, progressing at a comfortable pace in my career, and dancing more. I apologize that I have not been able to answer some kind letters from folks like Jurg and Christine, and Lucrezia, Stan and Helen. I enclose a letter below which Milo wrote to a friend about the death last January of his 4 year old son Daniel. It was this event that somehow has blocked my writing. I don't know how to explain what happened, and I can't not mention it. So I let Milo's letter do the explaining. Those I was able to talk to about Danny/s death, on the old Hummer, and then in person at the conference, were very kind with their support. Thank you all for being there and caring.
There have been other difficult, less serious, events in the family. Then it has been so helpful to be with each other. One family member was hospitalized with an undiagnosed chronic condition the day the KIT conference ended, and is now recovering well. What always strikes me whenever something hard happens to someone in the family is our freedom to be together and help each other. We visit, phone, and dance together. All so comforting and healing. I am so grateful my whole family is free to do this, and my heart goes out to all of you who are not so fortunate. Family is a precious gift. I hope we will find ways to restore communication for those who are lost to each other by the barriers of a "well-meaning" system. With hopes that we can make progress to overcome these barriers in the new year. Love,
Milo Tsukroff, RR#5, Box 217 West Road, Pleasant Valley, NY 12569, e-mail: email@example.com, 10/22/98: Dear XXXX: Thank you so much for the card you sent us last week. Your occasional letters have touched me deeply. I can only apologize for not writing by telling you that I am still recovering from losing my Daniel.
There is a lot that I would like to tell you; I hope that I can cover it all in this letter. It seems as if I went on a long, long voyage last January 31st, and I am still occasionally out on the stormy seas. The day the fire occurred, I returned from a train trip to New York City. At the New Hamburg station, a policeman met me and told me that there had been a fire, and he then led Anna Marie and me to Saint Joseph's Hospital in Poughkeepsie. I was told that my Jacob was dead and that my Daniel was being flown by helicopter to Westchester Medical Center. I was overcome by tears for a while. Yet things would get worse. We drove down to Westchester; on the way, I mis-identified my son's body at Vassar Brother's Hospital as Jacob's. When we arrived at Westchester and looked at our son, his face was all wrong -- it was Jacob in Westchester, and Daniel was dead! Both Karin and I nearly passed out from shock.
It has been infinitely harder for me to lose Daniel than Jacob. My loss has been very intense. Daniel was a difficult child, a "second second" squeezed between two other brothers, always trying to get attention. Only Kristoffer (sometimes) and I (always) could get him under control. He was also a stubborn, "strong-willed" kid. I had built a great deal of my life around plans to raise him to manhood. Now I felt as if a living part of me -- a large chunk of my flesh -- had been ripped out of my chest. The pain has been so great that at times I can hardly bear it. I was loving Daniel with more than ordinary love. It felt as if God had given me an access portal to His infinite love, just to love Danny with! The image I see clearly is that of a room inside of me. In this room, dimly lit with a low ceiling, there is a manhole cover in the center. When I take off the cover, there is a brightly lit pool of water. The water is full, coming to the top of the hole, yet it is infinitely deep -- it has no bottom. The water is God's infinite love - merciful, forgiving, always there... this is the love that I have for Danny. What will I do with it? I cry out to God for wisdom, but still do not see clearly what I must do.
If I could, I would question God on why he took Daniel. Yet I cannot question Him, for I have seen His plan in action, His mighty hand over all that has happened. I cannot doubt Him or stop trusting Him. I have seen: ...how I could never get a job in New York City, but my current employer provided for us while we didn't have a house; ...how He kept four members of the household away who would have given our lives trying to rescue Daniel; ...how Jacob was asleep during the entire fire and rescue, and doesn't remember a thing; ...how we had a church family, many churches, many neighbors, to stand by us; ...how we ended up giving up on buying our old house and gained a new, better one; ...how our finances were bolstered during the hard times; ...how my company stood by me during my hard times. Yet I still have trouble praying. When I pray and worship the Lord, I remember that He took Danny home early, and the tears come, and I cannot say anything more. It will be a long while before I can move past losing Danny and fully come to God in worship.
One thing that I can say is that I do not have any regrets for the way I raised Daniel. I did all that I could for him, bringing him on trips and making special occasions for him. He had a wonderful birthday; he had a delightful Christmas; the New Years' visit to his cousins in Massachusetts was great. We had gone sledding a few weeks before the fire, and he was difficult, but he had a wonderful time.
You probably wonder what caused the fire. It appears that Daniel was very determined to try out lighting fires in the basement, and he finally succeeded with a barbecue lighter that Karin had carefully hidden. Karin responded immediately when the fire alarm went off. A brave boy, Daniel tried putting out the fire when Karin called for him, but he was overcome by the carbon monoxide and could not be resuscitated at the hospital. Strangely, several water pipes burst during the fire, keeping the flames from spreading too far. The firemen reported that it only took 5 seconds of spray to kill the fire! I believe that the Lord was watching over my children because the fire should have totally gutted the cellar; as it was, the damage wasn't really very bad, and Jacob, being asleep on the floor in the other room from the fire, was okay.
The house is fixed up now, and was sold by the owners. The cellar had to be ripped out. It was a "finished" cellar when we rented the place, but it didn't have proper outside access and was totally out of code. The contractor told me that there was really no structural damage to the underside of the floor. So the real damage of the fire was the highly toxic smoke, from all of the plastics in the materials I had stored in the cellar.
In the Jewish tradition, mourning takes an entire year. In that tradition, in July we dedicated my father's tombstone. My year of mourning for Daniel is not yet up. I do not know if I will be able to move past losing him, so what I am doing this year is to build new memories, going through the entire year remembering "the last time we did this, Danny was here," and the tears come again, but they will be gone next year, I hope.
I do not know why God is putting me through this. I don't know if eventually I will be involved in discussion groups, or if I will be able to put my experience to use for other people in some other way. 1 find that I am quietly mourning my son at odd times, privately. At other times I find that there are things I cannot do, because I am avoiding the hurting feelings that come back. I still withdraw - especially I like playing with model trains - perhaps too much... Once a month or so I go on a Saturday to Willimantic, and help out at the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum.
Some of what I have gone through, I put down in poems. I haven't gone back to them for quite a while; I intend to go back through them and clean things up a few months from now. I'll share some of them with you then. At the funeral, I put two of my earlier poems about Daniel into the program. I had to ask my good friend (and Willimantic resident) Tom Wallis to read them from the pulpit; I couldn't read them myself -- I was too emotional.
One strange thing I must tell you: it was around Thursday of the week before the fire that I got a telephone call from Karin. She told me that Daniel was having an argument with his bigger brother -- Danny was insisting that "Daddy was God." I talked to Danny on the phone and told him something like, "Daddy isn't God, God is better than Daddy. I'll tell you more about it when you grow up." This was unusual; I never had such a conversation with any of my children before. After losing Danny, I wonder if perhaps God Himself was preparing my little son for eternity. His ways are beyond understanding; in that I take confidence, though my eyes are filled with tears.
There was one day in March that I finally had to let go, stop holding back, and let the tears come out until I could finish. I went to Norfolk to climb Haystack Mountain. At the bottom of the state park, the Norfolk Cemetery is only a thousand feet away, so I went there first to talk to my dad before walking up the mountain. I will go there again, whenever I really need to, to talk to God.
We buried Daniel's little body in the Norfolk Cemetery on April 16th, the day after the cemetery opened for the season. Tom Wallis came from Willimantic to say a few words. Danny is buried next to his grandfather (my father), and is also near our first daughter Katrina's grave.
I realize that this is somewhat disjointed. I hope that it tells you a little of what I have been going through...
A response to Joe Keiderling's Letters to Oxford University Press
by Sam Arnold, cousin to J. Christoph Arnold, nephew to Heini Arnold, grandson to Eberhard Arnold, 1/5/99:
The five letters that Joe Keiderling, as spokesman for the Bruderhof wrote to Cynthia A. Read, Executive Editor of Oxford University Press is an obvious attempt to muzzle free speech, and to protect the very little credibility that the current administration of the Bruderhof has left, of which Keiderling is part. Mr. Keiderling uses the word 'accuracy' numerous times, suggesting that the book The Other Side Of Joy, written by sociologist Julius Rubin, and being published soon by Oxford, is probably untruthful, even though he has not seen the text. Keiderling bases his condemnation of the forthcoming book on Dr. Rubin's writings in the past, including a chapter that he wrote in the book Harmful Religion, also entitled 'The Other Side of Joy,' edited by Lawrence Osborn and Andrew Walker (SPCK 1997), and Dr. Rubin's book Religious Melancholy And Protestant Experience In America. (Oxford University Press, 1994)
I feel certain that it was not the inaccuracies in Dr. Rubin's chapter in Harmful Religion that prompted the Bruderhof to buy up all the unsold copies of the book and attempt to convince the publisher to delete this chapter from future printings of the book. Rather, the Bruderhof Executive wants to make sure that no critical press about Heini Arnold, who is the father and mentor of the current leader Johann Christoph Arnold, makes it into the same reader's market that the Bruderhof's own publishing house is staking out for its version of the truth. The reason for this seems clear to me, any criticism of the former leader would also damage the withering credibility of the present executive, which is already under suspicion of questionable religious and business practices.
Do not Mr. Keiderling's letters demonstrate the lack of depth and of faith and credibility on the part of the modern Bruderhof and show instead how shallow and paranoid they have become? The number of profound changes that have occurred on the Bruderhof since Johann Christoph Arnold became its leader in 1983 are dramatic and worrisome for the survival of the Bruderhof. These are not the signs of a healthy religion, but rather that of a sect that is out of control and fearful of being exposed for their rapid departure from the past and their cultic practices.
Mr. Keiderling has chosen to make his letters to Oxford University Press public on the newsgroup alt.support.bruderhof, and in doing so is providing the opportunity for a response from anyone who may be interested. If accuracy and honesty are ideals that are valued by Mr. Keiderling, he certainly did not show this when he posted the letters under a fictitious name. This did not help his credibility! However, what he wrote does concern me, and I will make a comment or more about each letter.
In the first letter to Cynthia A. Read on August 12, 1997, Keiderling writes the following:
"I would like to request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss further our concerns regarding the accuracy of Dr. Rubin's information about the Bruderhof and to renew my request to review the manuscript for factual errors. Based on past experiences we have every reason to expect that any publication of Dr. Rubin's would have material defamatory to the Bruderhof. As you know there is currently litigation in which Dr. Rubin is named as a defendant for statements he has made regarding the Bruderhof which were unfounded, false, and defamatory. While we certainly cannot prevent Dr. Rubin nor you from publishing material about the Bruderhof, for the sake of all parties concerned we should try to avoid the publication of anything defamatory or actionable. I believe that I am presenting a reasonable solution to such a possibility."
The threat of a lawsuit does not convey the feeling that truth and accuracy are at stake here, but without having seen the book Mr. Keiderling is making a direct threat to OUP for litigation proceedings if they do publish the book in question. The Bruderhof has been an Anabaptist religion since its inception in 1920, and Anabaptist tenets do not allow for even a defense against litigation, much less the prosecution of others. However, since the Bruderhof was kicked out by the Hutterites in 1995, they have begun to use the law and the courts to enhance and protect their own interests. The Bruderhof still claims to be Anabaptist while they go about suing and prosecuting people. The fact that some of their own members are attending law school, as stated by Keiderling, is proof that they no longer adhere to Anabaptist practices. This is a fundamental change for them.
In the letter to Cynthia A. Read on October 13, 1997 Joe Keiderling writes:
"What concerns me is the distinct possibility that inaccurate or misleading information may find its way into Dr. Rubin's new book, given the fact that he has never visited a Bruderhof nor interviewed a Bruderhof member with access to current information on Bruderhof practices and beliefs."
There are two points to consider here: First, Dr. Rubin did ask to visit the Bruderhof and for access to the information that he needed to write this book, but was denied all research access by Dr. Milton Zimmerman of the Bruderhof. Dr. Rubin was up-front with them about the book that he was writing, and they slammed the door on him. He therefore had to rely on the information from former members, including some who have left recently, and outside sources. The Bruderhof can only blame itself for any inaccuracies that may be found in Dr. Rubin's book if they would not share the requested information with him. To now demand to study the text after the book was written looks like rather immature hindsight on Keiderling's part.
Secondly, as a sociologist Dr. Rubin is well aware that the spoken word of anyone living on the Bruderhof would be more suspect of accuracy than the people that he contacted who have left the Bruderhof. Members of closed societies such as the Bruderhof are not free to talk to journalists, and are not prone to give out any information to strangers that is contrary to the official word. When they are interviewed, members are trained to give the desired responses and cliches. Most cults operate this way.
In the third letter to Cynthia A. Read on December 29, 1997, Mr. Keiderling lists sixteen examples in Dr. Rubin's chapter in Harmful Religion that he claims "are either false, inaccurate, or, at very least, misleading." Surely, no current Bruderhof member could agree with anything that an outside writer would say about their religion without putting their own future on the Bruderhof in great danger, yet I am sure that I am not the only former Bruderhof resident who nodded in agreement with Dr. Rubin, at least in part, with each of the examples cited by Keiderling as being false, inaccurate or misleading. I only have time to respond to a few of them:
a) "The threat of exclusion proves a powerful and dreaded method of social control in the Bruderhof. ...Exclusion invariably disrupts families as those who remain must shun the offending brother, or watch helplessly as their loved one is forced to depart the community."
No one can deny the truth of this statement. Conformity is the bottom line of any closed sect such as the Bruderhof. For Keiderling to deny this is absurd!
b) "All too frequently, elders have labeled rebellious, intellectually curious, creative and idiosyncratic children as fallen angels, possessed by an evil spirit."
Most of us who grew up on the Bruderhof and left were fallen angels. There is no room on the Bruderhof for non-conformists and individuality.
c) "When pastoral care failed to cure... spiritual sicknesses, Bruderhof elders turned in desperation to psychiatry, with the regimen of major tranquilizers, electro-convulsive shock therapy, and institutionalization of the most severe cases."
We all know of people who were subjected to such treatment by the Bruderhof. One of my own brothers had a nervous breakdown on the Bruderhof in 1964 and was sent to the Fairfield Hills Mental Hospital in Connecticut. I saw him there and was shocked to see how much the medication that he was on had changed him. Fortunately, he was able to recover after our family was sent out and the doctors allowed him to join us. This may have saved his life! He detested his medication and very quickly weaned himself from them. The doctors warned him and our parents that he should not return to live on the Bruderhof, as the stress was too much for him. Although the family did return to the Bruderhof three years later, my brother remained detached from the Bruderhof, living at home, but working outside, and did not participate in the demands of the Church. Unfortunately, this same brother has not been seen or heard from since 1983, and we are still looking for him!
Mr. Keiderling's strongest attack on Dr. Rubin is the following statement: "Particularly galling to the young people at our Bruderhofs was this statement: 'Religious despair, suicidal inclinations and obsessions with unpardonable sin afflict many Bruderhof youth.' This one statement alone is so wildly inaccurate as to throw into question Dr. Rubin's entire thesis."
Dr. Rubin was unable to interview the current B'hof youth himself, and I would tend to question his use of the word "many" in the quote above. But besides the example I gave about my own brother, I am aware of at least five other people who in their youth on the B'hof experienced what Dr. Rubin has alleged. Mr. Keiderling knows some of these individuals himself, and is being wildly dishonest!
The Bruderhof is presently preparing yet another book, this one to present their history -- and particularly Heini Arnold -- in the most favorable light.
They believe that they are the only authority who can write such an account, and Dr. Rubin's book will undoubtedly tarnish the image of Heini that they wish to portray. It seems clear to me that they are attempting to re-write history and maybe to elevate Heini to sainthood as well. He will likely be rated even higher than his father Eberhard, who was the founder of the B'hof. Throughout his life Heini was called by that name, yet in the past few years they began to refer to him by the more reverential name of "Heinrich". This is another sign that J. Christoph Arnold is securing his own position on the B'hof.
Mr. Keiderling goes on to invite Ms. Read to a face-to-face meeting with himself or another representative so as to demonstrate to her why Dr. Rubin's assessment is so flawed. He says, "To meet a current Bruderhof member would begin to show you the value we place on each member's individuality and how, rather than suppressing this individuality, the Bruderhof way of life provides a place where individuality flourishes."
He fails to mention that only a chosen few, including himself, are allowed to exhibit individuality on the Bruderhof. If it were true that individuality flourishes on the Bruderhof, why do members not visit their relatives and friends outside, or invite relatives to visit them on the Bruderhof? He did not tell Ms. Read that beginning in 1993 no outside relatives who were readers of the KIT newsletter were allowed to visit there anymore, not even to attend the funeral of a parent! Furthermore, why does all correspondence involving family on the Bruderhof have to be addressed to Joe Keiderling or Christian Domer? Where does individuality fit into this picture?
Keiderling then writes a paragraph about people on the Bruderhof with special skills and doing service for others. Some of them are recent converts to the Bruderhof who brought needed skills. Unfortunately these people are the minority, for the majority of members do menial labor in the Bruderhof businesses, in the kitchen, the laundry and so on. Individuality and the freedom to speak and think for themselves does not exist for most people. True, they were permitted to participate in a march against capital punishment, and a group of children went to Cuba to protest the U.S. embargo of that country, but this does not demonstrate that people have the freedom to do the things that he claims. These were orchestrated public relations exercises, for if freedom was practiced on the Bruderhof the doors there would not be closed to former members to visit.
Keiderling states, "Thankfully, when we appealed to the publisher of Harmful Religion, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), they were quick to recognize their error in accepting unquestioningly Dr. Rubin's analysis."
He did not say what it cost the Bruderhof to buy all the unsold copies so soon after the release of the book, or what it might cost them to have the offending chapter removed from future editions. I was fortunate enough to obtain a copy of Harmful Religion with the chapter by Dr. Rubin included before most of the 3 to 5 thousand copies in print were bought by the Bruderhof. I have read it, and consider what Dr. Rubin wrote to be both fair and reasonably accurate, contrary to Mr. Keiderling's unsupported claims. I suspect that the Bruderhof may have had a very expensive book-burning event!
In the fourth letter to Cynthia A. Read, dated January 13, 1998, Mr. Keiderling uses a statement from SPCK to try to convince her that she should cancel the publication of Dr. Rubin's book, falsely suggesting that SPCK had removed Dr. Rubin's chapter from Harmful Religion.
This to my knowledge has not occurred. What the editors of the book, Andrew Walker and Lawrence Osborn, wrote to the B'hof is a rather lame apology, and their description of the Bruderhof is a far cry from the current Bruderhof. They write, "Eberhard Arnold and the small bands of Bruderhof communities resisted the Nazi regime. They accepted poverty and refused to bear arms. Such examples of Christian witness are uplifting not merely because of their bravery, but because of their love and holiness."
The above statement does not apply to the Bruderhof today as they cannot claim poverty, or that they refuse to bear arms. The B'hof today is very different from 60 years ago, for the founding generation of the Bruderhof in the 1930s witnessed a remarkably different communal situation than is the case today. The Bruderhof is now in it's fourth generation, and some of the problems that naturally arise in older established intentional communities such as the B'hof, including abuse and "Anfechtung" (religious melancholy), do occur. For the Bruderhof to attempt to deny this is dishonest.
And another quote from Walker and Lawrence: "Of course, their commitment to high spiritual values and the group solidarity so necessary to their successful maintenance inevitably clashes with the autonomy of the individual, which is so highly stressed in the twentieth century. This clash can, in turn, lead to disenchantment for those who will not or who cannot stay the course. There may be great hurt for those who leave and great pain for those who stay and see their loved ones depart. It does not follow, however, that there is anything intentionally abusive about the Bruderhof."
From what they wrote, it would appear that Walker and Lawrence just shot themselves in the foot here, for the title of their book is Harmful Religion, An Exploration Of Religious Abuse, which included the chapter about the Bruderhof. It now appears that if one of the religions being scrutinized has the ways and means to put up enough of a stink, as the Bruderhof obviously did, the editors would feel compelled to change their minds and then say that there is really nothing intentionally abusive about the Bruderhof. The bottom line is that it took well over $75,000 to buy all the unsold copies of the book, and surely also the threat of a lawsuit to convince SPCK put the book on hold. It is sad enough that individual Bruderhof members cannot exercise free speech, but for the Bruderhof leaders to be able to muzzle a book publisher as well is truly outrageous! We can only hope that the Bruderhof will fail to keep Harmful Religion in its original version off the store book shelves!
Joe Keiderling wrote a fifth letter to Cynthia A Read. In it he quotes from three critical reviews of Dr. Rubin's book Religious Melancholy And Protestant Experience In America (Oxford University Press, 1994). Mr. Keiderling chose to ignore the fact that the book had been reviewed in 20 academic journals, and that most of the reviews of Dr. Rubin's book were favorable, and again showed his dishonesty by including only the negative reviews.
Conclusion: Mr. Keiderling's attempts to stop Oxford University Press from publishing The Other Side Of Joy indicates a possible apprehension that Dr. Rubin may be more right than wrong about abuses within the Bruderhof if he so determined to keep the book under wraps. Johann Christoph Arnold has made the claim repeatedly that the efforts by outsiders and KIT to discredit him and the Bruderhof have caused his book sales to rise. If this is true, why is he so worried about this particular book? This is just another example of their dishonesty.
In a recent case of abuse on the Bruderhof that I am familiar with, Mr. Keiderling has played a central role to obstruct justice and healing from occurring by denying the victim any opportunity to challenge her abuser. Her abuser did not even respond to the letters that she wrote to him in which she accused him of the abuses. Instead, Christian Domer denied her allegations. How could Domer possibly know the facts of the case? Under what ethical, moral and healing practices is it considered appropriate that Joe Keiderling and Christian Domer write letters on behalf of another person for something as sensitive as physical, sexual and mental abuse? Who can take their word seriously? Does this not show the world that something is amiss and that they are more interested in protecting their own empire than in finding the truth? How can Joe Keiderling say that the Bruderhof encourages the individuality of it's members if he insists on being their spokesman? Clearly he cannot do so with honesty.
The Bruderhof began as a very poor, but sincere intentional community in post-war Germany in 1920. As long as the community struggled to survive financially, the Bruderhof remained close to its original Anabaptist beliefs. Now the Bruderhof is a multi-million dollar enterprise, and the quest for profits and the protection of its interests and secrets appear to be of greater concern than the spiritual wellness of the church and its members, or even its integrity. Wealth appears to have corrupted the Bruderhof leadership, and probably also some of its followers.
It seems perfectly clear to me that the accuracy in Dr. Rubin's book is not what Keiderling is after, for if he did he would have given Dr. Rubin the information that he had asked for. What Mr. Keiderling wants, plain and simple, is control. He wants to play God in the religious book industry, and he wants to stop the publication of another book with Julius Rubin's name on it. Keiderling's efforts to discredit Dr. Rubin in order to prevent his books book from being published is another example of the intellectual, ethical, legal and religious dishonesty that the Bruderhof Executive now practices. Keiderling's threat of a lawsuit does need to be taken seriously, but his ability to win the case is weak, his reasoning is flimsy, and his proof remains hidden, or is lacking. The Bruderhof stands a better chance of winning it's argument against Dr. Rubin by using the academic and the public forum to debate and disprove his research on the Bruderhof than by suing him and his publisher. That would be a far more respectable and dignified way to respond to his book. I look forward to reading Dr. Julius Rubin's book The Other Side Of Joy later this year, and again I will buy my copy early!
Renatus Kluver, 1/4/99: In my brief report on my visit to the Holland parents, I made a mistake in calling the pallets 'skips' I must have been quite tired. New Year's day at the Hollands, we looked at some video film, which Luke had made of his parents whilst visiting in Vienna. The Holland children had given their parents a holiday in Vienna, because Gerdi had never been back to the city of her birth and youth, leaving Austria, for reasons of safety, in the late thirties.
Her brother ended up in Mexico, but her parents were caught and ended up in a concentration camp, where they lost their lives, being Jewish. It was for her a trip down memory lane and she explained all the sights and locations they were visiting. She even found her parents' flat, where she grew up. The building was just the same as when she lived there. Leslie and Gerdi, their son Peter and his wife Janet and the other son Luke, stood in front of the door to the apartment and did not dare ring the door-bell because it was a Sunday afternoon at one o'clock.
Someone came up the stairs and asked what they wanted. Gerdi explained that this was the door of the flat where she had lived sixty years ago, but that she did not want to disturb the occupants. The chap talking to them said that he is the son-in-law of the tenants and rang the bell for them. Gerdi relived her memories, going from room to room and exclaiming all the time "Oh it is just the same as I remember it!" The main difference is that it has now got all the mod conveniences, like central heating, energy-saving kitchen equipment, etc. On the film that Luke took, one can re-live Gerdi's past to the extent to which she is sharing it. I think we sat for about three hours, revelling in her past. I think that I got to know her better during this short space in time than in all the years I have known her and her family. Most memorable.
Something else: Leslie likes to tell stories. I think that Matthias, who runs Lower Shaw Farm, has inherited this gift from him. Now one always has to be patient when Leslie tells a story, but I always enjoy listening to him because he makes even the most banal story come to life and sound exiting. If I understand him correctly, his father was a butcher. One day he took Leslie, four years old, to the butcher shop. Some live chickens had been bought and his mother wanted one of them for dinner. So Leslie's father took the squawking chicken and chopped off its head right in front of the boy. Leslie started to cry, because where the head of the chicken had been, now only a bloody mess of feathers was to be seen. To comfort Leslie, his father assured him that the poor chicken 'just had a very bad headache' and that he should not worry about it any more. The chicken would be all right. This explanation comforted Leslie but, nevertheless, he never forgot what had happened that day and later he considered becoming a vegetarian and, I think, for some time actually was one. So... that's all for now. Greetings, 1/6/99: Here is a short report from Irene Fischer, nee Friedemann, on Gwynn and Buddug, in response to German Pleil's report on the last days of Primavera. It is in German, but Irene thought that it should be OK in German, because all those who knew Gwynn and Buddug in the Bruderhof setting, also understand German.
Irene Fischer Friedemann, Bremen den 3.1.99: Noch nachträglich Allen ein gesegnetes Neues Jahr, 1999. Gerade vor drei Tagen feierten wir den Geburtstag unserer Mutter, Erna Friedemann, und erlebten eine wunderschöne Familienfeier. Bei elf Kindern, Enkeln und Urenkeln kommt ja eine große Schar zusammen. Die Baptistengemeinde der wir, wie auch unsere Eltern, zugehören, ließen uns im großen Gemeindesaal feiern.
<P>Ja, wir können dankbar sein, daß wir als ganze Familie damals von Primavera vom Bruderhof nach Deutschland gingen. Meine Mutter sollte nach den USA, mit dem Großteil der Kinder und mein Vater sollte mit Stephan und Werni nach Deutschland. Dies hatte Heini beschloßen und meine Mutter überredet, daß dies das Richtige sei. Es kam aber anders, denn in letzter Minute entschloß sich meine Mutter zu ihrem Mann zu halten, 'da sie zu ihrem Werner gehört' und so blieben wir, Gott seis gedankt, als Familie zusammen und erlebten nicht die Trennung, die viele andere Familien erlebten. Gott hat diesen Entschluß reichlich gesegnet. Fast alle meine Geschwister sind Gläubig und sind in den verschiedensten evangelischen Gemeinden zu Hause.
<P>Nachdem die Anfangsjahre nicht leicht waren (Lee Kleiss hatte uns damals im Auffangslager, bei Bremen, besucht), haben die Eltern jetzt doch ein schönes Zuhause. Auch der Bericht von German Pleil, brachte uns wieder in die Vergangenheit, da wir mit den Stängles - Joseph der Bäcker - die letzten Familien waren die Ibate verließen. Zu der Zeit wurde sehr viel geklaut und es war manchmal ganz unheimlich. Meine Eltern wurden auch als sehr Minderwertige, von jungen Männeren aus Isla Margarita, die nicht einmal getaufte Mitglieder waren, behandelt, die in Ibate in den verschiedenen Arbeitsgebieten aushalfen. Dies tut mir noch heute leid. Aber das ist gewesen und alles Gute was wir erlebten, gleicht dies mehr als aus. Walter und Marai Braun, sowie Fred Catton und ich glaube es war die Allain Familie, gaben uns einen lieben Abschied in Asunción. Wir durften nicht das Bruderhofhaus betreten und waren in der Deutschen Fauenhilfe untergebracht.
<P>Als wir dann mit dem Schiff von Asunción nach Buenos Aires fuhren, stand der liebe Peter Mathis (Senior), am Hafen und winkte uns Aufwiedersehen, bis das Schiff verschwand. Ich habe immer gedacht, ob er wohl für diese Liebestat später Ausgeschloßen wurde. Guter Peter! In Buenos Aires nahm Hans Meier uns in Empfang. Als Erstes Kleidete er uns ein und bezahlte das Hotel in welchem wir, bis zur Abreise auf dem Schiff nach Europa, untergebracht waren. Ich glaube Gott wird ihn auch reichlich für diese Tat, der aufopfernden Liebe, belohnen. Eigentlich wollte ich ja etwas über Gwynn und Buddug schreiben. Meine Eltern bestehen darauf, daß die schönste Zeit in Ibate mit Gwynn, als Diener am Wort, gewesen ist. Heini war ja mit Annemarie, auf Sending, in die USA geschickt worden und Gwynn und Buddug übernahmen die Verantwortung für ihre Kinder.
<P>Ich erinnere mich noch zu gerne an Silvesterabende. Gwynn lud uns in sein kleines Büro ein und sagte ganz Geheimnisvoll: "Let's see, if we can hear the chimes of 'Big Ben striking twelve times." Er hatte so ein kleines, selbstgebasteltes Radio und mit allerlei nebengeräuschen, konnte man den 'Big Ben' manchmal auch wirklich hören. Er sagte dann: "Listen, just listen!" und sein Gesicht leuchtete auf. Er hatte auch eine sehr gute Art mit uns Kindern umzugehen und niemand war länger Ausgeschloßen, wenn es unumgänglich war, als irgend nötig. Auch war er ein Fußballiebhaber. Nach der Morgenstunde, ließ er immer noch, oderdes öfteren, noch so viel Zeit, daß wir mit ihm ein Fußballspiel, in Ibate 'Mockeyhollow', spielen konnten. "Irene, you will make a good full-back," höre ich ihn noch heute sagen. "That's a good try," oder aber "go on like that!" So rannte er auf dem Fußballfeld, mit seiner Tabakspfeife in der Hand, als Schiedsrichter hin und her und steckte sie in seinen Mund, wenn immmer sich die Möglichkeit dazu bot und munterte uns immer wieder auf, ein gutes Spiel zu spielen.
<P>Hier fällt mir eben noch eine andere Begebenheit mit Gwynn, in Ibate, ein. Die Jugend 'boys' hatten einen Sack voll großer Unken im Mädchenzimmer ausgekippt. Sie machten das ganz >geschickt. Da ja um zehn Uhr Abends der Strom für den Hof abgeschaltet wurde, blieben sie noch so lange auf einer kleinen Nachtwanderung. Als es dann Dunkel wurde und die Mädels, Else Pleil, Agnes Keiderling und meine Schwester Marili, nach Hause kamen und in ihr Zimmer gingen, war das Geschrei und Gezeter groß. Else war die Tapferste und packte die Unken am Kragen und bugsierte sie zum Fenster raus. Das Zimmer der Mädchen war ungefähr dem Häuschen von Gwynn und Buddug gegenüber und so wurde Gwynn durch das viele Schreien aufmerksam und kam über den Hof in seien Pyjamas an. Alles was er dann sagte war "you are too noisy", und damit war für ihn die Angelegenheit erledigt und wurde nicht wieder erwähnt.
<P>Aber auch von Buddug habe ich eine gute Erinnerung. Sie war damals für die "surgery" verantwortlich. Wir haben ja immer gerne 'Doktor' gespielt und wollten verschiedenes von Buddug dafür haben. Sie füllte uns dann, in verdünnter Form, die roten Augentropfen, eine Lilamischung und auch grünes Zeug, in kleinen Fläschchen ab. Sie muß großes Vertrauen in uns gehabt haben, das wir diese Mischungen nicht Oral eingenommen haben. Es ist auch niemals ein Unfall damit passiert. Thank you Buddug. Liebe Grüße an Alle,
Mel Fros, Neu Jahr's Sehnsucht (for German readers), 1/1/99:
Nach gruener Farb mein Herz verlangt in dieser trueben Zeit.
Die lieber Voeglein, jung und alt, die hoert man lang nicht mehr.
Das tut des argen Winters Gewalt, der treibt die Voeglein aus dem Wald
Mit Reif und kaltem Schnee.
Er macht die bunten Bluemlein fahl, im Wald und auf der Heid'.
Dem Laub und Grass all ueberall, dem hat ers wiedersagt.
All Freud und Lust wird jezt so fahl, die uns der Sommer bringt.
Gott gib dem Sommer Glueck und Heil, der zieht nach Mittentag am Seil
Dass er den Winter zwingt.
(Winter and Spring are depicted in a rope-pulling-contest. The outcome is inevitable, but Miss Spring is working up a huge sweat... no, she is perspiring!)
Hilarion Braun, 12/23/98: Your piece, Angeline Barron Lundgren, published in the December 1998 issue of KIT, is one of those misleading pieces full of self-righteous microcosmic zealotry that makes me wonder why you are not back on the Bruderhof. You make no mention of Bruderhof mistreatment of KITfolk and pretend that all KITfolk are like you, except that they do not see the virtue of the Bruderhof. You insult KIT Christians who, unlike you, live very much according to Christ's teachings without escaping hardships, as you claim to do.
Why do you leave out the main topics of the KIT versus the Bruderhof impasse -- namely the telephone taps, threats and lawsuits? What good can your writings do when you create a fiction, and then pretend to present a means for reconciliation? Is putting God first compatible with threatening lawyer letters, bogus lawsuits and threats, burglary and vandalism? You claim that the proposition of brainwashing is an insult to Bruderhof members, and yet you write a one-sided story while in possession of the facts.
For the past 20 years or so, I've been thinking about the archetypal Bruderhofer, and I think he is one who likes simplistic, dogmatic pietism, while the Bruderhof leader is one who likes absolute power. What better society could there be in which to practice this enabling ritual than in the USA? Here we have a penchant for mob thinking/acting and a hatred of the heretic, coupled with an adoration of personality cultivation. Our commercial networks put up as god-like the anchors of their newscasts, as though they were prophets, just as the Bruderhof puts up its leaders as mystically entwined with the wisdom of God.
In a recent telephone conversation with Joe Keiderling, it became very clear that none of the horrible harassments we experienced in Phoenix was going to be discussed. Every time I raised any of the issues there was silence except when I suggested a change of lawyer, since his lawyer had obviously misled Joe about my alleged libel. To that Joe said, "You mean you'd go up against a Manhattan lawyer?"
I told Joe that not one witness out of the many public statements by Bruderhof representatives was even remotely Christian, and that no one I know wanted to destroy the Bruderhof. We discussed my favorite topic, namely the expulsion of a member and his right to "retirement," and Joe claimed that any older member in need would be helped. My parents in Paraguay were 'helped," but in a very irregular way so that over the years I had to support them to the tune of $20,000 while the Bruderhof kept their reparation moneys, which were received at the Bruderhof after my parents had been expelled.
Joe also claimed that ever since he was in the Brotherhood, no one had ever been expelled!! Joe was emphatic about the hopelessness of the KIT versus Bruderhof impasse, but we did agree on one thing, namely that the invasion of Tim Domer's home was not right, and that all of us have a right to privacy.
My memories of Franzi Whitty are vivid. As a teacher she was the ultimate pacifist and idealist, and a good example of the very reasonable and healthy Bruderhof custom of not using academic titles instead of one's name. She and Edith Barron were the only teachers I had after the 2nd Grade that did not tell my mother when they had a confrontation with me. All others caused me a second punishment by telling on me. The dreaded scene at home was always an extraction of a confession, even though a teacher had told my mother in detail what had happened.
It would be super to hear from Edith Barron about her years in the Isla school. My memories are that she and my mom were very much promoting art and theater, and were monumentally energetic. When Eric Philips left for England for a while, I was entrusted the terrarium collection that Eric had established, and was allowed to continue his work of collecting reptiles and amphibia and sending them to the US and UK. With the earnings of that activity we were allowed to buy a Model T Ford. Adolph Pleil helped us rebuild the entire car while teaching us the basics of automobile mechanics. Victor Crawley designed a garage for the Model T and even helped us build it. I used to have the habit of imitating others, and apparently was quite good at it. During one of Victor's lectures to us I imitated him, and he caught me out of the sight of one eye, and simply said: "Hilarion! Genug mit (die) Quatsch!" Most non-Germans find getting the gender right quite difficult.
The other stuff in the December issue was great, and I hope all the interesting stories about Primavera will be collected and put into an anthology.
I have just begun reading a psychology book, Krankheit Als Weg by Dethlefsen and Dahlke, and it is one of those fabulous cases of good to excellent logic with false premises. At first I was going to put it away, but then I noticed how this collection of arbitrary premises with good logic makes me rethink my beliefs and find out where I have false premises woven into the fabric of my beliefs. This book could be like visitations on the Bruderhof by people who are critical, and willing to challenge the Bruderhofers on their behavior. Such a process is always stressful and often infuriating, and always stimulating. Here, Angeline Barron Lundgren's piece is a perfect example of a false "simple" premise on which she then builds her case. (See first paragraph of her piece.) Later on she draws a false conclusion about why no one listens to her, etc. In spite of all she knows, she repeats the lie that Bruderhofers put Jesus and God first. Apparently her view of "true Christianity" includes guns, lawsuits, and other violence, while she condemns KITfolk for misleading "vulnerable" people. Quite a mouthful there! In one line she sounds like a prophet: "I say, make peace and doors will open." What does this peace have to do with independent thinking? A circular argument is hardly a sign of logical thinking. My analog to that statement is: "I say, go outside when it rains and you will get wet!"
A more useful premise is one in which one defines what independent thinking is and sees whether or not such a statement is consistent with the concept of total unity. If the statement that an independent thinker reaches conclusions independently of those reached by others is correct, then the probability of a large number of members reaching the same conclusion is small -- i.e., total unity cannot be reached by independent thinkers. Of course, one could expel all of those who come up with divergent views until only one member is left, who would be in absolute unity with himself. Until Lundgren presents a credible case, few will listen, and that is what she found out, unfortunately concluding incorrectly that a story had to be 'scandalous or titillating' to be of interest, even though hers was scandalous in terms of her misleading slant.
Pauline Ellison-Davies, 51 Armoury Gardens, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY2 6PJ England, 1/20/99: Now that I'm back in England, after 4-1/2 years as a missionary worker in Italy, I am at last making contact with you all. I thought it would make a nice change to share some happy memories that I had in Wheathill.
Today I watched a program on TV about a young violinist named Maxim Vengerov. He is a brilliant performer and made my heart leap with excitement. He played with the famous conductor/pianist Daniel Barenboim. Why am I telling you this? Well, it's because watching Maxim play his violin brought back some wonderful memories of my younger days spent in the Wheathill Bruderhof. I was born and bred in Wheathill and lived there until our family was chucked out in 1961 with no money, nowhere to live, and seven children to care for. I was nineteen at the time, and the only personal thing I took with me was my precious viola. I had been privileged to have a wonderful viola teacher, Mary Anne Sayvetz, the wife of Leon who taught violin and science. They were a lovely couple, and we all adored them. They had three children, Paul, Tom and Linda who was only a toddler when they joined, and I used to look after her a lot.
As Wheathill was in England, our community was accessible [compared to Primavera in Paraguay] and therefore lucky enough to have lots of interesting visitors from all over the world, but in particular I remember all the talented musicians who visited regularly, and some even joined. We were surrounded by a wealth of music that only the very well-off would have had a chance to experience. The Hildels' grandfather used to give regular clarinet concerts whenever he visited, but the one who impressed me the most was Yehudi Menuhin, the world-famous violinist. He visited us several times, always giving us concerts for all to enjoy. He also gave violin lessons, impressing on us all the importance of practicing regularly. Can any of you remember the finger exercises he taught us?
As Yehudi was a friend of Leon's, he gave us tickets for his concerts in the big cities. We loved to go and listen to him. We had the best seats in the front row or in the boxes right above the stage. Of course he never needed music, but played everything by heart (he said that he practiced 7 hours a day). We were thrilled when he walked over to us as he played and gave us a smile and a wink. It made us feel so special!
Leon worked very hard to put an orchestra together. Does anyone remember playing in it? Let's see if I can remember! Janet Marsden. Erika Hildel, Ruth Harries, Emily, Paul and Marily Friedemann were on the violins, Mary Ann Sayvetz and I were on the violas, Claus (married to Frederika Freiling) and Joy Greenyer on the cellos, Geert Burger and Kilian Zumpe played clarinets, and Else Fros and Gabriele von Borries played recorders. Have I got it right? Anyway, those were the good old days. Life was pretty carefree for me at that time. Little did I know that this blissful life was soon to be shattered and lost forever, when the American "hit men" came to town (Wheathill and Bulstrode to be exact).
Well, what about me? Shortly after our family left, I was asked to return my beautiful black viola with a carved lion's head on the scroll. Like a fool I gave it back, knowing full well that as a student nurse I would never be able to afford to buy another. So I never played again, and my aspirations to be a violist vanished up in smoke. But the dream never left me, and in fact I'm hoping to buy one now if I can find a second-hand viola. I want to play again while I can still see enough to read music, because I am losing my sight due to a rare type of glaucoma. I have had one operation on my eye and am waiting to have another. As I am already registered as partially sighted, and the prospects are not too good, I really want to make the best of what sight I have left while it lasts. It really has made me very appreciative of all the wonderful blessing I do have, our senses are so precious. It's a shame that sometimes you have to lose one to really appreciate what you've got! All my love and best wishes,
Stanley Vowles to J. Christoph Arnold, 1/19/99: Dear J. C.: I have waited for a number of years to write what follows and maybe, just maybe, I should have communicated on the matter sooner. However I have wanted to give you an opportunity to come 'round to the idea yourself, together with the brotherhoods, but you don't appear to do so. And in any case, there seems to be little correction for you from there. I think one of the grave errors, as well as a plethora of minor ones that you and the communities have made (and particularly you, Johann Christoph, as the claimed leader), is that the same criteria of exclusion, rejection and refusal of contact with those who would wish it with their dear ones and families has been and is applied to unbaptized and uncommitted children of former residents on the hofs as are applied to the baptized ones.
I take the point that those of us who were baptized had opportunity aplenty of being aware of what would happen to us should we leave or be excluded. Though actually I do not agree to the obvious way such a so-called standard of reference has been applied. Small wonder the tendency to see KIT and its contributors as enemies of the hofs. This is on the whole, 99.9% very far indeed from the case. The majority clearly only wish the communities well and hope for a positive change in them.
However, on the evidence, you prove yourselves -- and again particularly you, Johann Christoph -- to be spiritually and psychologically inept and insensitive. Is it any surprise that most of what you are purported to write in your books on love, forgiveness, peace, etc. are rejected out-of-hand by those who see the patent hypocrisy in them? It was said of old time and still applies today, "Do as they say, do not do as they do." You know where that is from, and I adjure you to take it to heart. Then I think we would see positive changes that everyone of good will wishes, hopes and longs for.
Belatedly Published Xmas / New Year's Letters
David & Wendy (Alexander) Dorsey To All Our Friends and Family, Xmas-New Year's, '98-'99: At this time of year, our hearts and minds turn to our loved ones far away... and we want to share our annual news.
Well, the first news is that I (Wendy) am learning a new computer program, Microsoft Publisher, which is driving me batty -- but at least I made a new letterhead design for you! Ah! Learning at any age can be frustrating! Maybe next year's letter will only take me one day instead of two!!
Our house has been full during the holidays. Our housemate Barbara has her son (who is Reuben's age) and his biological mother here for Christmas. Reuben (23) and his son, Tristen (3-1/2) are here from Denver through the New Year. We shared Christmas day with another family, which made us number 13 around the dinner table.
Reuben is in the process of a career change. He will be starting a computer job in January. Up until now, he has been working as a cook in a catering business and running a small enterprise on the side setting up web sites for small businesses. He plans to continue his schooling as well, working toward a degree in Business. Tristen is great fun to have around -- full of zest and action! He gets along well with his Uncle Paulo and Auntie Eliana. He is making great strides in learning to communicate and loves his cars and trucks and building toys. It is a delight to hear his exuberant screams while playing a game of "Lego" on the computer.
Wendy's big news this year is that in June she managed to complete the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim (4-1/2 mi.)! She came in with a whole flotilla of boats behind her (not to mention a personal kayak which followed her the whole way!) -- because she was the last -- but not least -- to finish. She was greeted exuberantly by our 3 kids in the water and a whole gallery of cheering onlookers up on the rocks. Wendy says, "It was an exhilarating experience and well worth the time it took to train for the event. Even though I felt like I was the only one out there after all the fast swimmers zipped by me, it was exciting to push beyond what I thought I could do. (I was going to be happy if I got halfway. They pull you out if you're too slow.) Moral of this story -- the tortoise has a strategy worth duplicating (even if you don't win)!"
The rest of the year, Wendy's primary occupation is directing House of Ruth's Kidspace child and Family Development Center for homeless families, where she has been for almost 6 years now. This continues to be a challenging and rewarding place to be, working with children and families who are "on the edge" overcome the effects of trauma and grow toward stability and independence.
David has spent much of his year managing the dance with authorities we had to do to get Viviane the help she needs. With one of us an expert in special education and having advocated for three children with special needs over the past 8 years, you would think that it wouldn't be difficult for us to find the resources necessary to help our daughter. But even though every professional agreed with us about what she needed, we came up against many brick walls and many moments of discouragement. David's willingness to keep fighting the ridiculous windmills, finally won the day!
In spite of many disruptions to our family life, David kept up his running, his work at Manna, and his many chores around the house (he is great at fixing toilets, among other things!). He even managed to fit in a course on Old Testament at church which requires a weekly commitment for 8 months and lots of homework.
Paulo, 14 and in 8th grade, continues to be a joyful, sunny presence in our family. He has spent many a vacation day down at Kidspace with the 4-year-olds, with whom he has a winning way. Last summer, Paulo spent a week at Boy Scout Camp and was invited to come back next summer to work as a Counselor in Training. His wonderful enthusiasm makes him the right Scout for the job!
Eliana, (the same age and grade) is enjoying teen friends, music and clothes. She recently spent a hard-earned $20 to get her nails done along with her friends! Oh well, this stage, too will pass! She and Paulo both attend the Junior High group at church, which does a variety of social and spiritual activities. Eliana also sings in the junior choir and dances in the rhythmic choir.
A major step this year for our family was a change in church from St. Stephen Episcopal, where we had attended for three years, to People's Congregational with a predominantly African American congregation and vibrant children's programs. Our reason: to provide a rich cultural, educational (and hopefully spiritual) experience for our kids. The youth contingent at St. Stephens had petered out by the time we left. People's has 80 children and youth! So we are becoming acquainted with yet another community which has provided us warm welcome. The journey continues ...Love and blessings for the year to come!
Joel, Karen, Ryan & Kyle Clement, 12/15/98: Greetings from Wichita! We want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and we hope this letter finds you in good health and good spirits! We're hoping to hear from many of you this Christmas -- we look forward to getting Christmas news from you. Especially as the years go by, and some of you I haven't seen for ages, its a pleasure each December to see how your lives are going and what you and/or your children are up to.
Its been a "quiet" year for our family. For the most part, we've had our noses to the grindstone with school and work. No real big events in 1998 come to mind -- no one born, no one died, no one married, no one graduated, no one running for President. (We won't say any more about the President, this is a family newsletter!) Joel continues to be extremely busy with his work at Cessna. The economy has helped Cessna pile up quite a few future orders for jets and things are booming right now. He will have worked close to 400 hours of overtime by the end of this year -- 99% of it mandatory. He likes his work, he likes the Citation jets, he's surrounded by airplanes at all times and when he's not working on one, he is thinking about how soon he can fly one again. He was elected to the Cessna Employee Flying Club board of directors this year and he is enjoying being an active participant in that. Joel also got his instrument-rating in June and now will have a little more freedom from weather constraints.
I "retired" from the insurance industry in June and spent the summer at home with Ryan and Kyle. On Aug. l, we had the 80th birthday surprise party for my [Karen's] mom that I had been working on for months. It was quite an event and she was surprised! We had it at the Hyatt hotel downtown, rented a ballroom, made a narrated videotape of her childhood and life, (using old snapshots and letters), ordered a big fancy decorated cake, fresh flowers for the tables, the whole enchilada! I sent out 178 invitations, many to other states, and we had over 150 people attend! Otherwise, I am just a housefrau now and enjoy being free to do field trips, read novels and help my folks when they need help. I also started an Avon business and I can say that I now know all my neighbors for several blocks in each direction. I am in my 5th year of BSF, Bible Study Fellowship, and this year we're doing the Book of Genesis. It's very fascinating and I am learning a lot, thanks to our excellent leader. By the end of May I will feel like I know Abraham personally. This is an outstanding non-denominational, world-wide Bible study and I would encourage all of you to check in your area for a BSF class. It's wonderful!
Ryan started high school this year and enjoys his classes and most of his teachers. He played baseball last summer and we did some traveling to out-of-town tournaments and sat through many ball games. I went through several bottles of SPF 40 sun lotion and also resorted to using a big beach umbrella. That was entertaining in the Kansas wind! I'm hoping Ryan will try out for the baseball team this spring at school. We found out that he is allergic to all sorts of things and has a pretty impressive hole in his left eardrum. He takes medicine now for the allergies and the hole in his eardrum hasn't resulted in much hearing loss at all. He swam several times this summer and escaped without an ear infection. We are debating whether or not to have the hole fixed surgically this summer. Ryan votes no and Joel and I are undecided.
Kyle is now a piano student with 6 months under his belt and just had his first recital. I printed up invitations and programs, then we invited 7 or 8 of his neighborhood friends over to our house and he played 2 duets with me, several pieces of his own and his teacher played a couple of classical pieces. That was quite a dose of culture for young Cindy Street residents! Kyle is nine, in 4th grade this year, and collects Beanie Babies. Occasionally I will glance out the window when the kids are playing outside and I'll see several "beanies" flying through the air and disappearing in piles of leaves. Like his mom's Avon, he'll never get rich in the beanie baby business.
That's it in a nutshell for 1998. We have been abundantly blessed, and thank God for the many good years we've had. Speaking of good years, I look around me at what is going on in our government and our nation and I'm aware that our "good years" will not continue indefinitely. I don't want to end on a pessimistic or cynical note, I just believe that as our country drifts further and further away from the fear (respect) and knowledge of God, we'll reap what we have been sowing. Now them's a sobering thought. We hope you all enjoy your Christmas break and have a relaxing holiday with your friends and families. God Bless You All!
Mike LeBlanc, 12/7/98: I just would like to take a few minutes and express my thanksgiving for my many friends in KIT. I can't possible name you all. Of special note are those that post here [alt.support. bruderhof], knowing that the Bruderhof monitors this forum. I applaud your courage, even as you grapple with the weighty and thorny questions of how to deal with your Bruderhof heritage, and its impact on your life.
I applaud John Stewart as he seeks to discover his faith, even if it's different then I would share, or even wish for him myself. We all make the choices that make up our lives. I am happy that John exercises his critical thinking faculties. I fondly accept Mel's chiding, both here and privately, about my "outspokenness." Even as I make no apologies, and struggle to build my faith, and grapple with how best to deal with things of "my people" I value the wisdom of Wayne, Paul, Betty, Blair and others as they watch me in my struggle, to heal, to rebuild my life, my faith, and to grow closer to my family. A smile plays on my face as I envision Ramon busy at work in the City By The Bay.
I can't possibly mention all of you that have come to mean so much to me, those that have welcomed me into the ever-growing "family" of KIT. I can only express my thankfulness for each and every one, each as s/he is today, however imperfect.
In this season of remembrance of my Saviors birth, and God's love for us, I only hope that I can extend in some small measure, the love He has shown me/us to all of you. This does not exclude those in the Bruderhof, even the leadership. I pray that they can turn aside from that which causes so much pain. I beseech them to turn away from the struggle for power, greed, and money that appears to us from the outside as so self evident. If we are error, I can only beg for His forgiveness.
I hope that as we draw closer to remembrance of Our Saviors birth that we allow His love to break through wherever we have hardened our hearts. I know, without a doubt, that is His wish, to draw "inside" and "outside" together in true love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
I don't say this in naive hope, but believing in a Higher Power that can break through in work miracles in all our hearts and minds. This is my wish and, I believe, God's heartcry.
Above all, I thank You, Lord, that you are there when this little lamb needs you most. I send prayers in beams to all "my people" in this time of hope, love and thanksgiving!
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe, 1/8/99: Happy New Year! We are still here in our beach house and enjoy this very much. Tomorrow we'll be home again and drive on to our grandson Wim, who will be 6 years old on the 7th and Anneke 35 on the 8th. So we will stay a night and then be in Drachten for a while.
The Hummer had some interesting discussions in it. One was about the "First Law of Sannerz. I do think Bruce Sumner is right [that the 'First Law of Sannerz' was an invention of Heini's] but will check with Erna Friedemann and Monika. At least I had never heard about this and have actually never seen it, so I do not really know the wording of the "Law". I came into the novitiate in Primavera and was baptized in Wheathill, and never saw or heard of such an important document. I do know, that at some time in Sannerz my Grandfather's oldest children , my mother and Hardy, made a little fun of the emotional talks people were having with their father. They even made up a song that they sang to tease those people. Opa was furious about this and told them. whether in writing or by word. "That all talk behind a person's back is gossip and will destroy the brotherly life and poison the relationships. Making fun of a person in a negative way would always lead to destruction. So maybe this was put up as a special warning in places (like the laundry were many people worked together) as a warning, but I never ever heard the terminology of "The First Law of Sannerz!" Even in Woodcrest of the 1960s-1961 I never ever heard this mentioned, not in Heini's family, nor from Oma or anybody else.
People who only left after 1980 should try and remember if they heard about this in their childhood or at any other time. Personally, I feel that just my Grandfather and the little Brotherhood were fighting gossip (which took place a lot in the Arnold family, with their teenage children in the Wohnkueche -- living room) and that it was seen as being very destructive at all times, but it was never a decree or law of any kind! I believe, that Heini brought this up again to make sure people were not criticizing him and his leadership, and that a nice American version was written out so that people would feel guilty even by just having a critical thought! It was a way to get complete control and this was surely what Heini wanted. I do know that Heini told the Brotherhood that Hans Zumpe eradicated this "First Law" and that the Zumpe family was a concentrated center of evil gossip about people and their handicaps. This was so much instilled into people that they really believe this, but it is not true! Just look at the Seeking Peace book, in which they say that it took my mother 25 years to cut the emotional ties to my father, who they all believe was the incarnated devil on earth and in the Community. If you want power, you just have to crush others and climb over their dead bodies to the top!
I did like the story of little Emily Hazelton sitting on her Oma's lap in the bus. Personally I believe that there is so much between heaven and earth that we do not understand, so why could a thing like that not happen? A friend of ours was in a bad traffic acciden. He was not hurt too badly but his wife was. A few weeks before her father had died, which had upset her deeply. Now she was badly injured in their wrecked car and had to wait for a while to be freed. She was in a lot of pain and her husband said, "Just hold on -- the paramedics are coming!" She said "Look now, isn't it wonderful! Papa came to bring me home! No, I have no pain at all!" She smiled and was dead when the paramedics arrived! I think this is wonderful, and why not accept that we do not have an answer for everything?
Angeline's letter in the December KIT did not shock me that much. Somehow I remember myself being at that same stage in 1984. On my last visit to Woodcrest, Christoph asked me to write "a real strong letter to all the Ex-hofers I knew so that they might see that contacts between them will only be fruitless and cause more misery, and that all contact should be through the Bruderhof leadership!" The relationship with my family was just about starting to get better (after 25 years of complete silence!) and I wanted to impress them by doing the right thing. I wrote such a letter (I must still have a copy somewhere!!) and my sister Burgel provided the addresses to which it went -- one I remember was Gerty Vigar in Brazil, grandmother to the Alexander boys. I think many of us wanted to impress the Bruderhof "as not being an enemy" and then we did -- and maybe do-- foolish things. Angeline's letter could well have been dictated to her, or at least some wordings proposed by her parents, and she was only too happy to do this for them! It is Bruderhof language and should not be taken too seriously. Maybe she is still confused about her loyalties, poor thing!
As for the phone call from Notso to Nadine and August, I find this disgusting!! All for now -- Love to everyone,
1/13/99: When I came home yesterday after some nasty and tiresome examinations in the hospital (to determine how much of my body is actually affected by this stupid MS) there was the January KIT letter waiting for me. Thank you.... I think I wrote in my last letter that I personally have never heard about "The First Law of Sannerz." So I wrote to Erna Friedemann, and her reply came this morning. It is such a sweet letter that I will translate most of it for you:
"My dear Bette:
"Thank you for your lovely letter! I do agree with you that Christmas and New Year are wonderful, but at the same time very tiring. For Christmas we had two of our daughters, Elisabeth and Heidi, with us and then Jurgen, who is a minister in the Baptist Church, came with his wife and children to celebrate my 80th birthday with beautiful fireworks, which I will never forget! The first of January the children had prepared a reception in our church. Each one came with homemade cakes, salads and all kinds of food. My great-grandchildren recited poems, which touched me deeply! I am so thankful that we are able to experience all this love from our children. We celebrated with 33 members of the family, which is grace indeed!
"All the recent news about the Bruderhof horrifies us. It is difficult for us to grasp. What has become of our Bruderhof and the life we were committed to? The mistrust and distrust they seem to have for everyone within or without is something we are incapable of understanding. How can they speak of "The First Law of Sannerz" and make each other all kinds of regulations? All this has nothing to do with the love we tried to live for in those days! I do remember vividly David Vetter (from the Hutterites -- Bette) once told us that it was the greatest form of love if we speak to our brother or sister directly about matters that we feel are not right or not in order, and this we really took to heart.
"Written orders of "A First Law of Sannerz" would, as far as I am concerned, be a wretched witness (Armutszeugnis) to anything Papa (Eberhard Arnold) stood for. Never, ever, did Papa represent laws, rules and regulations for us, but only the love for Jesus and his Gemeinde. I thought the Bruderhof said recently: 'We do not need the Bible because we live it!' All I can say is that I feel they are poor, blindly misled people!...
"Christoph and Verena sent the book Seeking Peace to our daughter Irene (Fischer) and she came to read part of it to me. What is wrong with Christoph?? I do not understand how you poor Zumpe children can stomach all this slander about your father! It truly is character assassination (Rufmord). I feel a deep compassion for your poor mother, who seems to have been brainwashed for years to make her pliable. Poor Emi-Ma! She truly loved her husband Hans. She would have and has forgiven him his sins seventy times seventy-seventy times -- that means we should forgive always, and I am sure she did. I am amazed at Budja (childhood name for Ben). He is a normal person. How can he be a part of all this blasphemy? One thing, Bette, we know for sure. Our God in heaven is merciful and we can come to Him with all our needs, big and small. So Bette, continue to be brave. The sun will reveal all evil and bring light to the darkest corners. In this sense Werner and I want to greet you. God hears every prayer, and we human are helpless to solve all problems..." [end of quote]
Franzi Whitty joined the Bruderhof in Wheathill, where it was that she met Dick, I think. Dick was Scotch and had a wonderful accent that we always tried to imitate. Franzi was Jewish and came from Austria as a refugee. She had a PhD and I think was a best friend of Anna Freud, the daughter of Sigmund Freud. All I can remember is that they did not have children at that time ad we felt sorry for her as she was very loving and good with children. I left Primavera in 1953, so the children must have come after that. I am glad her children have found their way to the Hummer and am sure they will hear many wonderful things about their parents. I did not know that Dick had died also!
There is another thing I remember: It was really 1961 when Doug Moody returned from Primavera. Heini was still at Woodcrest and Doug and others came to the Arnold living room to "share their difficult experiences in Primavera." I remember distinctly (but I am nor sure if this would actually be of help to the Whitty children!) that Doug said, "It is so difficult to be hard in our love on the older and more experienced Bruderhof members. For example Dick and Franzi Whitty -- we did not feel they were filled with the true loving spirit of the new church. so we asked them to come in for a talk. They went on their knees and begged us to "Please, do not send us away." Franzi was crying and said she would take any form of exclusion in order to find a true way, but "Please, please do not send us away!" Heini replied, "I do agree that it is difficult to follow the call for purity in the Gemeinde, but people have to go rock-bottom before they see the light. So you judgment to send them away was a good judgment!"
This scared and frightened me!
Barnabas' letter to Angeline was perfect, although I feel as I have said that I am sorry for her more than upset.; It is so difficult if you have not yet made your own choices, because you will always stand "in-between" the Bruderhof and KIT! She will have to grow up! Much Love to All,
1/16/99: I have been sick this week and read the Hummer and KITletter carefully cover-to-cover. The letters from Joe Keiderling reveal the truth of what the Bruderhof is aiming at clearer than any of us could put it, and that is: use the media to discredit any of their so called enemies -- use anyone who has power and is in good standing within church society as well as normal society to control anything written or said about the Bruderhof. Unwillingness to listen to any form of criticism (even when offered in a positive sense), the twisting of the truth to their own positive image, owning their own "twisted history" and absolute disrespect of anyone who writes without their "permission." This is what happened in the past also. Jaacov Oved told me that he had permission to go through the archives together with Chris Zimmerman. But then he wrote some conclusions, which the Bruderhof did not like and, since then, they have ignored him completely -- not even the standard Christmas card has come for him. I must try and get his book somehow! I have had a correspondence with Markus Baum, about his book: Stein des Anstosses, Eberhard Arnold 1883-1935, which I hear has been translated into English as well. I asked him about certain passages of the book. On the whole it is good and gives a good picture of the 1920s-30s, when my grandparents started their venture.
1. About E.A.'s last letters written while in hospital, I told him that these letters were very personal letters, one to his wife and one to the Servant of the Word who had been chosen in 1931 as his helper and successor, together with the whole brotherhood. I doubt very much that this original letter is in the archives in Spring Valley. E.A. had confidence that my father would lead the small community through those troubled times. It is not correct that the letter said (M. B., page 297) that Hans Zumpe, together with Georg Barth, Hardy, Heini and other "spiritually strong brothers" should lead the Community. It said, with the help of the brotherhood, Georg Barth, "maybe some of my sons, when they reach maturity."
Markus Baum answered: "The most important factor for me in writing this biography was that E.A. should not come out as a mystic person, but rather as an opponent to society with all his strong but also contradictory ideas. The only condition I asked from the Bruderhof was that all material from the family as well the archives would be made available for me. I saw your grandfather's original letter and feel that it was right to give only a short version of this in my book."
2. I also asked him, "Why is there no mention of Hans Zumpe in your book, even though it was quite clear that he was the person working with E.A. and who had the trust of the small community? I think it is good that you interviewed several members who experienced the first years, such as Walter Hussy and Irmgard Keiderling and a few others., but why is there no mention of my mother or my brothers and sisters? After all, she and Monika Trumpi are the last children of Eberhard and Emmy who are still alive! As the oldest daughter, she experienced vividly the new life her parents felt committed to! Many things would have become clearer to you if you had talked with her. On the other hand, maybe it's just as well, as my mother and brothers and sisters have been brainwashed throughout the years!"
M.B. replied: "The Bruderhof was helpful in every way. They read my manuscripts and corrected misspellings of people's names and sometimes asked me to change a name out of respect for those still living. Otherwise, they had no influence at all on the work and study I made about E.A. I did see and speak with your mother, and also know your brother Ben quite well, but for this book I used the people that brought something special into E.A.'s life and work. Those who told me about the good and the bad work of your father, I felt it was better to omit this, as the book was and is a biography of E.A. I do not feel your mother has been brainwashed or any of your brothers and sisters. The big crisis of the sixties is felt as a communal guilt and the damages made are still felt as very painful."
His letter continued for many pages. I mention this because of the total aggression towards Julius Rubin, who wanted to point out some of the carefully hidden flaws of the communal life! The book by M. Baum is actually quite good and gives the life of E.A. pretty correctly, and that is all he wanted. It had and has no interest in what happened after E.A.'s untimely death.
Now back to the Jan. KIT: I feel it is good that Joe K's letters were published as it opened the door for Julius to write his "Contested Narratives." Julius's paper makes the difficulties between the Bruderhof and us "outsiders" very clear. It is the "freedom of speech and of the press" that they are attacking, and this is one of the first constitutional rights in a democratic country! "The battle is about free speech, and the free speech is about disagreements" -- this is so true!
I do not quite agree with the paragraph of the Bruderhof where Julius writes: "The Bruderhof members have passed down control of their movement to E.A.'s son and grandson. Although this seems true now, what about the years from 1935 to 1958? These were the years when different servants lead the communities. Every Thursday afternoon they had a "Servants meeting" where they talked openly about their difficulties, joys ,worries, and how best to lead the group in the backwoods to a deeper commitment of a life with Jesus Christ as their leader! Every Hof had two, sometimes three Servants, and they were by no means just followers of Hans Zumpe. They criticized him, when necessary, and that was often, and helped him to a broader viewpoint. I remember distinctly that my father told us about things he had seen in a different, or another light, and therefore felt so thankful for the input of especially the British Servants, Gwynn, Llewelyn, Fred Goodwin and others and the Swiss input from Hans Meier. Balz Trumpi and Hans Meier, and of course from Roger Allain. There were just three German Servants at the time (when I was a child) and they were Georg Barth and Adolf Braun. These years in Paraguay we did not know how to make ends meet, but we were lead thru this time and had a wonderful childhood. Sure, there were struggles and difficulties, but all problems came into 'the "Bruderrath" (brothers' meeting) during the peeling of the mandioca (Paraguayan potatoes) after dinner.
I especially mention this as it is the Bruderhof who wiped away those years and even doubted the sincerity of members that were baptized by my father or' came to the Community at that time. Most of these members were "found to not have the right spirit" in the 1960s and were just kicked out into a world they could not longer understand or accept. Therefore I do feel very strongly that those years should never be forgotten!
So, in short, I am glad and thankful that the letters of Joe K. were published, as he wished, because it gave Julius the chance to write down precisely what had happened to him and his research throughout the years! Almost 10 years! Reading all this makes the books of JCA seem a lie and empty As none of [the reality of] his titles can be found in the Community of today, Seeking Peace seems a mockery, The Lost Art Of Forgiving a true lie, as they are so unable to forgive and forget! I Tell You A Mystery the same thing -- what mystery is there in a life that wants to control even the thoughts of its members?
I do think Julius's contribution is very valuable for all of us and I do hope that his book will eventually get printed! I like the question "Who owns the Bruderhof history?" I think all those who lived it and want to research it! The point-by-point evaluations by Paul Fox were very helpful also, as he left [the Bruderhof so recently]. This must be all for now. I will fax a copy to Julius also! I think he needs some positive reactions after all this.Best wishes,
ITEM: A 12/23/98 PR Newswire from Raleigh County, WV, announced that Judge H. L. Kirkpatrick has ruled that the First Amendment does not protect religious organizations from civil liability merely because of their status as a church. This ruling came in response to a suit filed by a young girl and her mother that seeks $750 million in damages from the Mormon Church. In their complaint, the young girl, identified only as Jane Doe, contends the Mormon Church knew that her father was sexually abusing her for five years and failed to report it as required by state law. Jane Doe alleges that not only did the Church fail to report knowledge of her abuse, but it has actually suppressed evidence of the abuse of hundreds of other Mormon children over the years.
The Court's ruling represents a serious setback for the Mormon Church and its attorneys who raised this argument in similar suits. The Mormon Church has been sued at least 26 other times for their failure to report sexual abuse of children.
In the past, the Mormon Church has vigorously defended sexual abuse suits by relying upon the First Amendment. "Because of the Court's ruling, the Church will need to re-examine its strategy in dealing with reports it receives of sexually abused children," said Michael Sullivan, the lawyer representing Jane Doe and her mother.
The Mormon Church has centered most of its arguments on the question of when does the state's interest in protecting children override a church's First Amendment rights to avoid government control. The Court responded by saying the state's interest in protecting children from the horrors of sexual abuse "will override even the most sincerely held religious convictions."
The Court examined each of the Mormon Church's First Amendment claims and found that they did not shield the Church from this suit. The Court also found that Jane Doe and her mother "have alleged sufficient gross, wanton and reckless conduct such that a jury may award punitive damages." Church lawyers attempted to distance the Mormon Church, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, from the local church in Beckley. The Court ruled that a jury should decide whether or not Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City exercise control over their local churches.
In 1994, after five years of abuse, Jane Doe's father was arrested and convicted on 37 counts of sexual abuse of a minor. The father is currently serving a 184-year sentence. The father told the children's grandfather, a bishop in the Church, who notified a senior Church official of the abuse. The children lived alone with their father at this time. The complaint further alleges that the Chief Executive Officer of Raleigh General Hospital at the time, Kenneth Holt, also a member of the Mormon Church, also knew of the abuse of the children. No church members reported the sexual abuse. The suit contends that local church leaders, mimicking Mormon authorities around the country, acted to suppress evidence of this abuse for five years.
The plaintiffs contend that the conspiracy to suppress evidence of sexual abuse of Mormon children is motivated by the Church's desire to continue its phenomenal growth, and to prevent any interference with the donations it receives. It is the fastest growing evangelical Church in the world. Members are required to donate a tenth of their gross income to the Mormon Church each year. All tithes from around the world are sent to a bank in Salt Lake City, Utah, every week. "This ruling re-affirms that in America, not the President nor any church, is above the law," Sullivan said.
Norah Allain, 10/5/98: I've been home for nearly two months and feel I want to write something. I've just finished the last KIT and passed it on to Cisco. It's all rather far behind me now. Perhaps the best thing that could be said about that KIT meeting is that no one was discussing the Bruderhof anymore! It was about renewing old friendships and perhaps starting some new ones. But that would require me to be in England and do some following up!
The day after I got back home (I had had an advance alert) my youngest daughter Tina arrived with her five-year-old girlie, Ana Maria. At first I really wasn't sure if I wanted constant company -- I enjoy being on my own, as long as I get visitors and go off from time-to-time myself. But there is a little vacant house here, used occasionally for guests, so Tina gathered her belongings and unpacked what had been left here. Cisco, who had no work at the time, came along and helped set everything up while our caseiro fell to (very willingly, as I saw!) and made her a nice big flower and herb bed just outside the house and -- hey presto! -- they are installed in a cosy little home of their own. Tina works part time helping Cisco's wife with a little restaurant to see if she can give it an extra "push." Meanwhile, she's looking for something else.
I go down and have lunch with them every day, and they usually come for tea. So we both get some company, which I really am appreciating. Ana is learning a bit of English, and we should persist in that.
The other change I suddenly discovered was that son Jacques has accepted to be sent by the firm Ciba-Geigy, to take over in Singapore where he will have to oversee their branches in ten other countries. His two sons are going to study in Perth. His brother Ebo has agreed to oversee things in Innisfree in the meantime. Francisco will help quite a bit here, and has just started on a project to grow a kind of mushroom that you have to dry and is then exported to Japan. He's also thinking later, if this goes well, of growing shitake mushrooms. There's a firm that organises a course to do this, and when you pay for the course, they guarantee that they will buy your produce. Lots of people are looking around for ways of earning their living. Ebo meanwhile is setting up his own firm, buying and selling special kinds of paper.
11/20/98: Note the date and that I haven't written any letters at all in the meantime! There's been the usual springtime losing battle with the weeds, the leaf-cutting ants, etc. Then I've been twice to Belo Horizonte for Seth sessions and conferring with Paulo, but I only stay a few days because it's here where I really want to be. I even decided that I would not stay quite so long in England again.
Now dear old Buddug died as well -- one of the really old friends -- and I'm very grateful to Joy for taking me one more time to see her. She knew who I was and was very happy to be taken out and sat on a bench facing the sea, where we enjoyed an ice cream just like children!
Additions and improvements have meanwhile been made to Tina's house, and it looks as though she has really settled down. However I don't take anything for granted any more, nor am I worried about my "old age" and having someone to look after me. Actually, Seth confirmed what I had already noticed. He said that I'm rejuvenescing and, if so, there a point to it. Personally, it gives me time for extra spiritual growth which I should otherwise have missed and, more importantly, it allows me to become a part of a world-wide spiritual awakening that should and must bring about a radically different earth and humanity.
No amount of knowledge and philosophy can save you from the actual pains of growing, the worst of which is simply learning that anything and everything is possible, but no one, not even God with a capital "G," is going to give it to you. It can only happen if you yourself will it into being, and in this particular world we are in at this particular time in its history, a tremendous effort is being required of humanity to throw off the old ideas and norms that have kept us for so long locked in frustration, watching while awful things keep happening all around us.
Somebody last year gave me a present, with a little card on which was written a thanks to me for just "being." This was someone I had just met on a short trip of a few days, and when I got that card, I knew the answer to the question, "What can I actually do?" It still leaves one with daily decisions, of course, but I know what really matters and where the action takes place.
It was the seventh anniversary of Roger's death on November 14th, and also his birthday on the 28th. There doesn't seem to be time for celebrations, but we talk about him quite a lot and wonder how he would have reacted to what is happening now. I also wonder how he himself thinks about his life now, and whether he would be able now to understand me better. I imagine so. I believe that must be what happens in the "in-between life" pauses -- one thoroughly digests what happened in the last life and "fixes" that knowledge and eventually begins to plan another one. This must involve all sorts of consultation and planning with others as well, so that some kind of blueprint for a life is there already at birth, which the new personality is then left to decide how to develop. This means there are infinite numbers of probabilities for everyone, and reality becomes incredibly fluid and vivid, not that I'm understand more about the whole business of this New Age and the various different scenarios being projected at different times and from different sources.
It's a probability on a grand scale, but what exactly transpires is never certain, there being not only billions of us humans involved in making it happen but also, apparently, countless other beings as well. Then there's the concept of the "spacious present" in which the past and the future simultaneously exist. If you think a lot about that your mind begins to wobble, and get the feeling of how limited is all our present 'knowledge.' Now it's high time I stopped this letter and went and fed my hens, etc. Much love to all,
by Paulo Allain, 1/18/99
There must be a way to overcome religious tyranny. This is a cancer which is gnawing at the very source of life, joy and human fulfillment. Religious dominance, dictating our lives, our thoughts, our laws and codes of behaviour is the prime goal and modus operandi of the worst enemy of humanity -- so cunning and so sly that he does not even have a regular name, address, philosophy or anything that can permanently identify him, except by one important trace: his actions and objectives are not designed to bring uncommitted love, fulfillment, freedom and beauty into the lives of his victims and followers (although that is precisely what he advocates). His objectives are not revealed under the form of words, songs, art or industry -- because he uses these instruments to camouflage the real intent: dominance.
By cunningly exploiting the weak points of human psychology -- and mass psychology -- by introducing fear, uncertainty, instability and sudden changes in the message, avoiding any long-term predictability, this terrible enemy of humanity has managed to take the words and banners of all the highest leaders of humanity, including Jesus, twisting the meaning of a message gently into something different, introducing new points of view and putting things into a different light.
But his cunning is so overwhelmingly superior to that of most humans that most of us can hardly recognize these changes before they have evolved into an openly offensive "doctrine" or philosophy. This unnamed enemy of humanity is so tricky that he has managed to influence the mind and heart of leaders. and slowly and gently subvert their message and modus operandi into something very different.
There is a very good example of this in the Bruderhof break-up of 1962. I was a teenager when I became aware of Heini's sudden changes of humor. He could at some moment be a charismatic leader, singing the German hunting songs (Jagdlieder) with us and making jokes. Shortly thereafter, he could be looking fiercely into the eyes of some brother or sister or a child, questioning him on something as if it were a question of life and death. I was usually bewildered on these occasions, although I fortunately did not get into trouble myself. But I suffered on behalf of my friends and pals.
How could such a leader come back after a few years and break up the entire community? In my opinion, it was not just Heini himself, but he was the pioneer, following unwritten and unseen instructions of this enemy of humanity under the disguise of a "new spirit".
Our enemy is still active in other areas, such as the economy and politics. Just look into the Monica Levinsky affair and you immediately can recognize there is something hypocritical in the charges. But at least in these two areas, the contradictions between the alleged principles guiding the decision making process and actual performance is reasonably apparent.
What makes religious tyranny so difficult to pin down is the elusive nature of the leaders, arguments, biblical citations and so forth, because their context is not specified. How can one understand and recognize the difference between genuine love and "religious dominance love"? I think that the clue is: results and forecasted results. By examining the results of a philosophy, dogma or instructions, and forecasting the results of proposed action, one can cross-examine to see if a principle is being followed or twisted. For instance, if there is a prohibition against something without a clear and understandable justification, there probably is a hidden purpose of domination behind it. Take for instance the prohibition against masturbation. There are no sound arguments to justify this. But by prohibiting masturbation, on the other hand, one can instill fear, guilt, retard maturity and create dependence on the approval of others, curbing the upcoming of competitive leaders, etc. This is a strategy of the religious dominance enemy to keep people from becoming fully developed humans.
I will offer you another example of current religious dominance that is even worse than the break-up of Primavera in 1962. It is a plea to take up the arms that we can fight with -- i.e., information -- to help each one of us to develop awareness and criteria for discerning between the apparent and hidden motives of religious principles and their application to our lives. Example:
The Taliban's War on Women
by Sarah Dowswell, 1/7/99
"The government of Afghanistan is waging a war upon women. The situation is getting so bad that one person in an editorial of the Times compared the treatment of women there to the treatment of Jews in pre-holocaust Poland. Since the Taliban took power in 1996, women have had to wear burqua and have been beaten and stoned in public for not having the proper attire, even if this means simply not having the mesh covering in front of their eyes. One woman was beaten to death by an angry mob of fundamentalists for accidentally exposing her arm while she was driving. Another was stoned to death for trying to leave the country with a man that was not a relative. Women are not allowed to work or even go out in public without a male relative; professional women such as professors, translators, doctors, lawyers, artists and writers have been forced from their jobs and stuffed into their homes, so that depression is becoming so widespread that it has reached emergency levels.
"There is no way in such an extreme Islamic society to know the suicide rate with certainty, but relief workers are estimating that the suicide rate among women, who cannot find proper medication and treatment for severe depression and would rather take their lives than live in such conditions, has increased significantly. Homes where a woman is present must have their windows painted so that she can never be seen by outsiders. They must wear silent shoes so that they are never heard. Women live in fear of their lives for the slightest misbehavior. Because they cannot work, those without male relatives or husbands are either starving to death or begging on the street, even if they hold Ph.D.'s. There are almost no medical facilities available for women, and relief workers, in protest, have mostly left the country, taking medicine and psychologists and other things necessary to treat the sky-rocketing level of depression among women.
"At one of the rare hospitals for women, a reporter found still, nearly lifeless bodies lying motionless on top of beds, wrapped in their burqua, unwilling to speak, eat or do anything, but are slowly wasting away. Others have gone mad and were seen crouched in corners, perpetually rocking or crying, most of them in fear. One doctor is considering, when what little medication that is left finally runs out, leaving these women in front of the president's residence as a form of peaceful protest. It is at the point where the term 'human rights violations' have become an understatement.
"Husbands have the power of life and death over their women relatives, especially their wives, but an angry mob has just as much right to stone or beat a woman, often to death, for exposing an inch of flesh or offending them in the slightest way. David Cornwell has told me that we in the United States should not judge the Afghan people for such treatment because it is a 'cultural thing', but this is not even true. Women enjoyed relative freedom, to work, dress generally as they wanted, and drive and appear in public alone until only 1996 -- the rapidity of this transition is the main reason for the depression and suicide; women who were once educators or doctors or simply used to basic human freedoms are now severely restricted and treated as sub-human in the name of right-wing fundamentalist Islam. It is not their tradition or 'culture', but is alien to them, and it is extreme even for those cultures where fundamentalism is the rule. Besides, if we could excuse everything on cultural grounds, then we should not be appalled that the Carthaginians sacrificed their infant children, that little girls are circumcised in parts of Africa, that blacks in the deep south in the 1930's were lynched, prohibited from voting and forced to submit to unjust Jim Crow laws.
"Everyone has a right to a tolerable human existence, even if they are women in a Muslim country in a part of the world that Americans do not understand. If we can threaten military force in Kosovo in the name of human rights for the sake of ethnic Albanians, Americans can certainly express peaceful outrage at the oppression, murder and injustice committed against women by the Taliban."
Mirjam Silberkuhl, 1/1/99: Dear Joe Keiderling! By coincidence I came across your letter to Ms Read from December 12th 1998 on the upcoming publication of Dr. Rubin's chapter in the book The Other Side Of Joy. Remembering my own experiences in the community during my several years stay there, I would like to comment on a few of your paragraphs as well as some of Dr. Rubin's.
I do agree that some statements of Dr. Rubin sound almost made up (as does the one on the community youth which you quoted) or exaggerated. Others, however, I wish you would try to understand as being quite close to reality. What bothered me most about your letter is your obvious inability to maybe use of some of the criticisms as useful hints to "think things over" (as you like others to do) as a community.
I find it rather naive of you to believe that talking to members of the community will prove Dr. Rubin's statements wrong. That's just as ridiculous as wanting to question ex-members who are angry about or were hurt by methods of the Bruderhof on the subject because they would want to prove just the opposite of what you write. Why -- and I think you should really think about this -- do only "servants" and a few chosen (or "the elite," as Rubin calls it) have access to letters of the newsgroup? Why do you keep it a secret to the rest of the community? Why don't others have the right to express their opinion on criticism or even wrong and absurd statements about the community? Why is it that all the community hears about such things is that "the church is being attacked by the 'outside'," "the devil uses these people to destroy the church"...
Are you scared members might "think things over" or ask you questions which you might not want to answer? Concerning the paragraph which starts, "If you were to visit one of our communities, you would find people from an astonishing variety of backgrounds and nationalities, people with widely varied interests..." What you mention here is in my eyes astonishingly superficial considering you are trying to bring across the individuality of the Bruderhof members. I don't find it very convincing.
I don't think a different background, different interests, different education ensure the individuality of a person. A personal belief, a personal opinion -- or in the first place the right to form your own opinion, an individual way to find solutions for personal or other problems, etc. -- are just as important. How often, however, do sentences used by people in the community begin with "We believe," "We think," "We don't agree"...??? I do believe you want to encourage members to have their own ideas and opinions, but only so far as it does not threaten the unity of the community. I noticed the university courses young people study are all going to be useful in one way or another to the community. What if someone wants to study singing in order to become a "proper singer"? You would be worried that singing might become too much the center of the person's life, wouldn't you?
Finally I would like to encourage you to become a bit more open-minded also for criticism on the community. The interpretation of your life by people not living in the community can in part be very useful for you to question also your own way of living. I hope you will make good use of it!!! Maybe you need to be a bit more aware of the fact that the devil does not only come from the "outside," but just as much from the "inside" ...
I have one more question: Who is [Dr.] Jason Ortiz? I look very much forward to hearing what you think about this. Yours,
Betty Chesley, 12/9/98: On a personal note, just before we left the Bruderhof (and I was convinced that Wayne was wrong, prideful and in darkness), I asked for and was given a number of the Bruderhof books on marriage, etc, hoping that reading and absorbing them would help "fix" our problems. For my devotional time, I read them in the mornings, not necessarily my Bible. Later on, I started to listen to Elisabeth Elliot's broadcasts called "Gateway to Joy." I liked her down-to-earth approach to things. I was most struck by her constantly telling people to read their Bible -- their Bible! That was one thing I was failing to do, and our life was very difficult with Wayne pulling further away from the Bruderhof as he was learning more about them and I was clinging to the Novice vow (another story!).
At any rate, I put away the Bruderhof books, read my Bible, and got on my knees imploring God to work out this situation according to His own will. I even gave up my clinging to the Novice vow to Him, although I did not understand it all, but I really threw myself open to Him. That is when things began to change in our lives, the Bruderhof became clearer to me as well as my own compromise of faith -- taking the words and expectations of men over those given by our Lord. That was my real step toward freedom and wholeness as a believer again, putting aside their books, reading the Bible, and throwing myself open to God.
We need to be open and honest and direct -- and we need to be all of those things in love. I believe it is only possible through Christ. And this is where I believe that the Bruderhof leadership is failing its flock for Christ has not been the center of the life there. Political agendas and gemutlich gatherings won't cut it in working out our salvation.
As the Apostle Paul wrote: " If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." 1Cor.13:1-3
I am not saying that I am there either, but I believe that, thanks be to God, I am on the road there. Our companions we will know by their fruits. Peace,