/ 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, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom, Brother Witless (in an advisory capacity)
EuroKIT: Joy Johnson MacDonald, Susan Johnson Suleski, Carol Beels Beck, Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Ben Cavanna, Joan Pavitt Taylor
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from inside and from outside the Bruderhof. We reserve the right to edit submissions according to guidelines discussed at numerous KIT conferences. Obviously, it's seldom easy to know exactly how best to carry out KIT's mission of allowing many voices and various points of view to be heard. We do not, and cannot, vouch for the validity of any opinion or assertion appearing in the KIT Newsletter. The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish must remain those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflect those of KIT editors or staff.
Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; £20 mailed f/ EuroKIT to UK & Europe
Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; £20 mailed f/ EuroKIT to UK & Europe
KEEP IN TOUCH
KIT staff recently enjoyed meeting another branch of the Allain tribe, Paulo Allain and his wife Lucy from Brazil, and their college-age son Leonardo, a Chemistry major in Tennessee. We went out for the traditional festive KIT Chinese supper, and Paulo also spent part of the next day visiting with Ramon, trading information on intentional communities and other topics of mutual interest.
The Whole Kit And Caboodle
Toll-Free Phone for former Bruderhofers in need of advice and referrals: 1 888 6 KINDER
For ongoing discussions between ex-members, members and other interested parties, access the newsgroup alt.support.bruderhof
Grace also told someone that the Bruderhof had heard, via Lukrezia Meier, that Grace was not well and had offered to come and help her. Biene, Grace's sister, rang her from the States and talked for half an hour. Biene is still a Bruderhof member. Greetings,
Many Gifts our God gives us,
Some are great and some are small,
But a wee tiny baby
is the greatest of them all.
Harmful Religion: Studies in Religious Abuse, Chapter 5, 'The Other Side Of Joy: Harmful Religion in an Anabaptist Community' by Julius H. Rubin."Do please take a copy while you can... It is webbed at: http://thingy.apana.org.au/~fun/bruderhof/rubin.html
More mirror sites would be a good idea."
Friday was a delight. We did get there early eve, set up tents then went to Cumberland for supper. The stars were out and the moon did not show till early morning hours. The birds start so early to sing, but it sure sounds lovely to hear the various sounds.
Saturday morning was sunny and pleasant. We took a walk along the lake. Due to the wet spring, the path was quite soaked in places and streams were running down the hill. Not many woodland flowers were in bloom. Had quite a downpour Saturday evening, which ruined our plans for a big fire at the campsite. We had collected wood, but there was no way we could start it after the heavy rain.
Sunday morning, I woke to the sound of a whip-poor-will very near our tent. The sun was out and the sky a cloudless blue. We moved our stuff down to the lake where we intended to have the picnic. The first to arrive was my sister Marlene with her son Mischa and my brother Adolf. This was a first for Mischa. He is studying to be a social worker and has found the "KIT thing" very interesting. This is the first gathering in many years where we had so many of my family and my Arnold cousins. There were 6 Arnolds and 4 Wegners, so it was quite a reunion for us.
It was a wonderful group. The afternoon went by all too quickly. At these picnics we have no schedule so it is lots of small one-on-one discussions, eating and looking after the kids, especially the ones who are in the water. Love to all,
For those of you not on computer, I had a heart attack last week -- I, who am supposed to be healthy! I had been eating right and exercising for a while but, as the doctor said, "You can't undo years of bad habits and 'bad' food in a year or so."
I knew I had high cholesterol, but did not know I was that much at risk for heart problems. Eating 'farm food' while I was growing up -- and following an unhealthy lifestyle later -- including my Bruderhof years (food there was not exactly heart-healthy, not was there any effort to exercise on a regular basis). I had an angioplasty at an Atlanta hospital after a none-night stay in the local hospital. Apparently I got treatment (very good) fast enough to prevent serious heart damage. If you have what you think is the worst indigestion you ever had, call 911! Now I am on the road to full recovery.
Re the last (May) KIT: I liked what Blair and Margot wrote to Christoph Arnold about forgiveness, especially the five points. If someone asks for your forgiveness, it definitely helps to know just what you are forgiving them for. And it goes without saying that you expect them to stop the objectionable behavior.
Input to Ramon regarding his request to be released from his novice vows to the Bruderhof: I have a very different view. I don't feel I need the Bruderhof to release me from anything. They did not acquire an irrevocable deed of ownership when I joined. When they ask someone to leave, they are the ones responsible for terminating the relationship. If any vows are broken, it is the Bruderhof who has broken them. They don't worry about other vows taken prior to the Bruderhof being broken, especially not marriage vows.
Are their vows somehow more holy or more binding than other vows? I do not think their 'vows' are binding in any court of law -- but marriage vows are! A divorce legally terminates these vows. Maybe we need to institute an official 'divorce' for former novices and members.
The Bruderhof is not now the organization I joined, and I will not give them permission to have any control over my life, mind or heart. If I had family there, my longing would be for that family, not the Bruderhof organization. I think they promote a very inaccurate picture of what they really are. (I married a man like that. He was loving and charming until after we married. Then he became cold, cruel and gone most of the time). I got a divorce as soon as I could manage it. I had made a 'vow,' but it seemed totally stupid for me to try to maintain that vow when the other party did not. My regret was that I had been 'suckered' in the first place.
I think people get 'suckered' by what the Bruderhof appears to be, only to find our later that is not the reality of it after it is difficult to pull out and leave, and perhaps the person has (legally) signed over their assets. They want legal control of assets and try to control our minds by telling us we are unfaithful to our vows. Poppycock! They are the unfaithful ones. My 'vows' are to serve God to the best of my ability and understanding. I would not be able to do that as a Bruderhof member. Living in a commune is not the best way to serve God. The early Christians (some few of them) tried it for a while but did not continue the practice. We don't get any information on exactly how many ever lived communally, nor when they stopped, but from reading Acts, it is obvious they did. Also, Acts 2:44, "All who believed were together and had all things in common: they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need." Has anyone noticed the Bruderhof following that?
Of course they decide who has what need, and people who have been sent away obviously don't count. They are made to suffer as much as the Bruderhof can possibly make them. If anyone is interested, there is a book available, The Dark Side Of Christian History, by Helen Ellerbe. It is quite interesting. A quote from the introduction: "The dark side of Christian history can help us understand the severing of our connection to the sacred. It can teach us the most insidious and damaging slavery of all: the control of people through dictating and containing their spirituality." Does that sound like anything we know?
I've talked to Susie and Hila. It sounds like someone is up to harassment in Phoenix. They may be going too far this time because the local police are quite interested, and perhaps also will get the FBI into it. It might be quite interesting if the FBI and perhaps the IRS get interested.
Anybody for "RevolutionFest?" Are they seriously going in that direction? They are sounding more and more like Waco. But then, if you want to pull in and stop internal problems, it's best to make a lot of noise about external problems. If I were physically up to it, I'd like to crash the party. After all, it's "come one come all." They should include any KIT folks who could make it. Register under a fake name. After all, they do stuff like that. Of course, I'm not sure any of us would want to stoop to using those kinds of tactics. We don't want to harass them. What we'd like to do is change them, but I've pretty much concluded that is impossible. I think the people who could change may not have a clue as to what is really going on. I can see why the leaders might want to get rid of computers, or at least use them only for business purposes. I think outside information was what sank the Soviet Union. It's hard to have propaganda strong enough to counter what people can see on TV or on a computer screen.
To Paul C. Fox: maybe 'Step 3' is these RevolutionFest promotions and 'conferences.' If you can incite a riot, you may get a riot. And who knows what craziness might result, especially violence because the language used is violent. It is actually quite scary. In fact a lot of what the Bruderhof does is scary to me. If they don't change, I think bad things are ahead for them. On that cheerful note, I'll stop and get this in the mail. Greetings to all,
We had a good flight with Lufthansa, with the luck that the pilot made an extra circle over Igua¨u Falls for us. This is not normal procedure, as the flight over the falls costs an extra $200 in a small sight-seeing airplane. Kulla (Guillermo) met us in Foz Do Igua¨u and we stayed the first week with his family. Naturally we went to see Margot and Cyril Davies and had a singing evening at their house, which they really enjoyed very much indeed. We sang all the old Swiss songs we used to sing in Primavera. I had brought my accordion with me, which makes group singing so much easier, and we all had a very good time. We did this more during our trip, one time in the house of Castorina in Itacurub’. All the electricity was down for more than a week due to the very bad storm we had. So we sat at Castorina's singing by candlelight and never realized that more and more people came and listened outside in the darkness. Castorina said later that the doctor from the hospital there envied her for the beautiful serenata played in her house.
We also stayed one week with Lux (Lukrezia Meier) and were relieved and thankful for the way she is coping with the loss of Hans-Jurg at the beginning of this year. Together with her we planned our trip to Friesland (Mennonite colony), to Joshua Dreher and to Itacurub’. Kulla was very helpful, lending us his four-wheel-drive Jeep. In this manner it was possible to travel on the muddy dirt roads. We planned our trip to start Monday morning, April 6th, but had a phone call from Marcello (Lux's and H-J's son) that he could not come until Tuesday to look after his parents' house while Lux went with us. Monday a terrible thunderstorm hit the capital, Asuncion. The extreme rain was something we had never experienced before. It was like a second Deluge -- flood. Bucketsful of water fell from the sky as I never thought possible! The Paraguayan people say that the thunderstorms and extreme rains are due to El Ni–o.
On Tuesday, Ludwig, Lux, Sebastian, John and I started off on our trip with a fully packed Jeep. It was a beautiful day after all the rain, and also not too hot, which suited us fine. When we arrived in Santani, we were shocked to see what the storm had done to the city! Big trees were uprooted and many houses were down or damaged, but it would get even worse. The good road ends at Santani, and what continues is a dirt road of some 30 km to Itacurub’ and Friesland. The road was in a deplorable state. During our other two trips to Paraguay we never before had seen such much mud and waterholes! The bridge over the Tapiraquay River was invisible and the road absolutely flooded for over 100 meters. The Paraguayans advised us to stay in the middle of the road while one of them walked through the mud and water in front of our Jeep. He sunk into the water above his knees. With a big prayer we continued our way, following the route given by our brave foreman, and arrived safely at our destination. In turn we then helped others stuck in the mud, and they helped us when driving became too difficult.
For our son Sebastian this was a terrific experience, as he walked barefoot through the mud. In the late afternoon we arrived at the former Isla Margarita bruderhof where we were invited to stay with our friends Helly and Willy Braun. As we came nearer to their place, we saw that most of the electric poles were down or broken in half. The woodlands looked as though a giant lawnmower had rolled right over them. Our friends still lived in the old babyhouse. Half of the roof was gone, and the rest was just dissolving because the roof tiles were never baked but just dried in the sun! The whole place was one big disaster! The trees around the house were broken like matchsticks and the ground was covered with grapefruits and bananas, plants, rubbish, and parts of the house.
People had come from Friesland to make them a shelter for the night with corrugated iron sections. All we could do was put our arms around Willy and Helly and tell them how much we feel for their need, and give them a small financial contribution. They told us that the height of the storm lasted only 2-1/2 minutes. They were milking the cows when the tornado hit them. A village called San Alfredo has totally disappeared. Many schools, churches and villages are destroyed or badly damaged, and there was no electricity from Itacurub’ to Rosario!
As we saw that we could not stay in Isla, we continued our journey to Soria and Castorina in Itacurub’. When I entered the pharmacy that Castorina runs, she greeted me enthusiastically. When I asked her if she remembered me, she said, "Si, si! Y tu esposo Lupi, donde est‡?" ("And your husband Lupi, where is he?") Even though we really came very unexpectedly into her house, she gave us a warm welcome and a room with four beds. Lux started at once to make up our beds as we were very tired.
Castorina asked if we could drive her out to her farm to check on her animals after the tornado. It was the same everywhere, houses torn down and trees uprooted. The tornado must have had terrific strength. Corrugated iron sections were wrapped around trees or dumped by the roadside, but in spite of all this damage, no human lives had been lost. "Gracias por D’os!" Castorina said again and again. At suppertime we sang with her the song she always remembered and loved, "Immer heller, immer heller..." Next morning, we left and told her that she had been like Mother Teresa for us! She really wanted us to stay, but we had to realize that this tornado had affected all their lives. What seemed romantic to us was a catastrophe for them -- singing by candlelight, hauling water by hand from the well with a bucket was a real experience for our son.
We then went on to Joshua Dreher and things looked a bit better there, even though Joshua told us how frightening the air had looked and how terrified they were by the storm. The time with Joshua was one of our nicest memories. Singing together and burning eucalyptus leaves against the mosquitoes was just wonderful! Joshua helped Sebastian on his first horseback ride and then we baked chipa (cheese bread). This took Lux, Joshua's wife and daughter and me three hours to make them, but it is an Easter tradition. Just before Easter we managed to be back in Mingua and were able to join a Baptist Easter service in the small church there.
This too was a good experience, as we all met for a communal breakfast there. Each person brought something for the meal. Margot and Cyril also go to this church, so we picked up Margot to join us. We also sang German and English Easter songs for them, and Margot especially enjoyed this. Kulla and Joan helped us, and as Margot still had a very old songbook from Primavera that the youth group had made for her. This helped us remember the old songs. All in all, we had a wonderful and exciting trip to Paraguay, and we were able to experience the good, but also the bad aspects of our homeland. Much love to all,
It's too bad that many have to remain silent or anonymous. Hopefully that will change.
June1991 - Roger Allain: ...A sense of humor is a very precious thing, but very dangerous and rare in an autocratic society. The years I was there, it only occurred on "Polterabende" (engagement parties) and in a prudishly limited manner (nonetheless, Leonard was great in them!). Here is an example of the Bruderhof lack of a sense of humor that I experienced: during the famous and fatal 1961 brotherhood crisis in Primavera, one of the slogans brought along by Heini was "Enfurchtslosigkeit" (irreverence), starting with any suspected criticism of Eberhard Arnold. A few weeks before that, I had been reading aloud for the benefit of the schoolchildren in the Ibate dining room a story by Mark Twain about an elephant climbing a tree. Now during the "clearance," when everyone was asked to test themselves and one another, lo and behold, our sister-doctor Ruth Land came to me like an angel of the Last Judgment, solemnly challenging me to repent for my Enfurchtslosigkeit, my superficiality and my attack against the Spirit, as evidenced by my reading Mark Twain's elephant story in the dining room.
June1992 - Judy Tsukroff: ...Because I have to take a turn being counseled in my Marriage and Family Therapy program (we all practice on each other) I am using the time to sort out some B'hof experiences. The most helpful insight has been to realize why I have been so angry: Bruderhof people do not understand my pain. I have been so frustrated with them, and myself, whenever I have contact with them. They always try to clear things up, as if the problems and pain I experienced at their hands is not important. But our experiences were horrendous for us and our older children. It hurts all over again when they smooth things over with "loving" words, or simply ignore my questions and comments. But if they were to acknowledge the real harm their way of life does to so many people, they would have to make fundamental changes in their system. And they are really stuck in their beliefs -- so much so that they need to distort truth to fit their mold.
I find it helpful to understand why I get so upset when I encounter them. Their attitudes remind me again of how much I was hurt by their way of doing things, including their refusal to allow negative emotions. I cannot forgive them while they continue to ignore what really happened to me. How can I trust people who do not believe me, or who discount what happened to me as unimportant? My goal is to learn to accept them as they are, without getting upset. But in order to do this, I can only tolerate them in very limited quantities.
June1993 - Margot Purcell: ...When I left the Bruderhof, I felt that I had failed. I had failed God, my parents and myself. It took me many years to realize that I really did not have to live in the Bruderhof to be considered a good person. I could make my own good and bad decisions and not be criticized wrongly for them. I left the Bruderhof slowly. I was sent to a hospital, "far away," (hint: you will have to prove you want to stay more than some of the others) to work as a nurse's aide, told I could visit every sixth weekend. I had to write ahead every time to ask if it was possible for me to visit. I would receive a formal, typed letter stating 'yes' or 'no.' It took me a very long time to accept the fact that I really did not want to go back and that I could make it on my own. (I did have several brothers and sisters living outside, which helped.)
June1994 - ITEM: A Bruderhof Servant recently mentioned that the reason the Bruderhof Elder Johann Christoph Arnold took out a permit to carry a concealed handgun was not "to shoot rabid animals." That was a mistake. Christoph needed the permit "to shoot bears." Why? Because if the bear sees a pistol in your hand, he will run away before you are close enough to shoot it. Of course all the names that he listed as references had to be non-Bruderhof people so as not to scare away the -- bears?
June1995 - Hilarion Braun: An Open Letter to the SOB Communities: I am an SOB child and lived in the communities for 16 years and know you well. I've known KIT for several years now, and know many of the KITfolk very well, and I knew most of the in Primavera or Evergreen. You keep claiming that we, the KIT writers, spread falsehood, and yet you never identify any of these falsehoods. Strangely enough, you claim this while also claiming not to read KIT. If you don't read KIT, how do you know it to be false? You claim to be humble sinners and followers of Christ, and yet you are led by Christoph Arnold while judging not only us but also the Hutterites. You view yourselves as the only true Christians while claiming to be humble and non-judgmental. Isn't there a credibility problem?? You claim to love your enemy, and yet you forbid ex-members to visit their relatives. You claim to be pacifists and yet you buy weapons for self-protection. Why do you fail to see that these inconsistencies create confusion and disrespect?
My suggestion to you regarding KIT is that you take time to read it, just as many of us read your publications, and then point out to us what you view as falsehood. I'm sure KIT will respond conscientiously, and where necessary, publish errata.
No one I know in KIT wishes you any harm. I, for one, wish you well and hope that some day you will realize that the religious or other indoctrination of children is cruel at best, and totally destructive of the child at worst.
June1996 - Andy Harries: ...The Bruderhof also uses KIT as a very convenient enemy. In an authoritarian or totalitarian regime, the leaders often will use an outside enemy to unite its people and, if necessary, an imagined enemy, often starting a war on a trumped-up charge. The Communists used similar ideas to stay in power. They would make out that everything in the west was wicked and bad, and by controlling what people were told or what they heard, they could control the people. I believe the B'hof uses similar methods. The B'hof also has its "security department," rather like the KGB. Another result of using KIT or all outside people as being so terribly evil is that then the people there are scared to leave even if they want to. Luckily, Ruthy wanted to leave strongly enough, and had enough trust in her family outside.
I know of many non-KIT people who have been cut off from their own families on the B'hof. These people often have especially not become involved with KIT or with people involved with KIT, but have still been cut off for no reason, so they feel doubly punished. They have sacrificed friendships so they can keep a contact with family members on the B'hof, and then they still are cut off from their own family by the B'hof. We know it is the B'hof hierarchy doing it, because people there have no choice of their own.
June1997 - Joan Pavitt Taylor: ...I realised I owed it to myself to be as clear as I could, and I am clear that I find much of the Bruderhof behaviour unacceptable. I've seen too much bullying and it's damaging effects, and the only way to deal with bullying and blackmail is to take a stand. I have found in my work that small-scale, localised bullying could be dealt with by low key, discreet "We know now, so don't do it anymore" tactics. The more large scale, vicious and higher the stakes, the more public and loud the stance had to be to stop it. I also know that each and every one of us has our own choices to make on this, and we should all respect each other for our differing conclusions.
In writing this, I've noticed that I have registered fear and anger. I've wanted to walk away, resign, pretend it is someone else's problem, but having given myself the space to look at all those feelings, I've also given myself the space to remember that I don't accept bullying, I don't accept abuse, I don't accept the misuse of power. I can't walk away from this, and though I still don't know just what it is I want to do, I do know I don't want to turn my back on any process that highlights the inhumanity of people to people, but I do want to find a way to fight oppression without being oppressive myself.
A family, here in England, had been approached to help with the disposal of old furniture and clothing. They went down to Darvell, for this momentous occasion, and had some very good talks with one of their relatives, very open and to the point. But they feel that it is very strange because up until now, the both of them have been branded as liars and enemies, and now all of a sudden, when it pleases the powers-that-be, they are singled out to be part of this huge publicity stunt of the SoB. But when they wanted to know when and if they could write or visit their two aged mothers, this request was denied. On the other hand one of their out-siblings was invited to visit and has been taken in by this totally hypocritical attitude and thinks that they are Christian and caring.
So as far as I know, their children have not yet seen their grandmothers. Rather sad. Again I say... nothing has changed.
On the whole we are having very strange weather here in England. We reputedly have had the wettest April since records began. The advantage this has had is that we have everything early and very, very green. Much as I remember England when I first set eyes on this emerald, and, needless to say, my garden looks just wonderful, with the apple trees already in full bloom and the cherry already having finished to flower. Greetings to all of you and Thank you for keeping KIT going,
To be very honest, I will let you know that I knew Zumpe, but never liked him very much as he was one of the Servants of the Word who were none of them friends of mine. Zumpe was one of the Servants caught up in the Bruderhof power struggle, as Heini was too!
Bette, as the grandchild of Eberhard, has written about her life, which involves quite a bit of Bruderhof history. Her father and she herself feature in this history. You did not! You, Christopher, as the same age as one of my sons and he never would even attempt to give any opinion about Eberhard Arnold, Hans Zumpe, or any of the others. He heard enough about the Rhon and the people who live there, but has said that he does not know enough about all the goings-on of that specific time. So I would like to ask, "Do you now consider yourself the Bruderhof historian?" If so, I could think of others who are well versed and who would be able to give a very good, objective report about the Bruderhof of today and yesterday! I would like to read Yaakov Oved's history of the Bruderhof, as he was allowed access to the Bruderhof archives. I have also heard that he used Bette Bohlken-Zumpe's book and my book, Free From Bondage, as references, as also Roger Allain's The Community That Failed, and Mow's book, Torches Rekindled, which by the way is not accurate if we want to start talking about accuracy. We ex-people were not granted access to your Bruderhof archives as Oved was. However, most of what has been written about the Bruderhof is accurate. You on the Bruderhof know that, and therefore try to write in the negative about books written by ex-people.
Next time, before you write anything, think well and check your sources, and then give an honest account of the theme you are tackling.
In closing, do you not think that Zumpe at least deserved to hear from his wife that she forgave him? Is that not something very personal that should not have been publicized? Do you not think that Emmi-Margaret should have had at least a chance to receive her husband's letters of repentance? She never had a chance to say to her husband, "I forgive." Who in this world has the right to withhold such very personal letters from a repentant husband to his wife?
Think about that, and think about what a deep tragedy has taken place. The Bruderhof never forgave Zumpe, Heini never forgave him, and that should be taken into account when talking and preaching about forgiveness.
As I mentioned earlier, Zumpe was no great friend of mine. However I have been able to forgive! He did look after the lowliest, and he repented. He went on to the last, even though his health was not good. Think about what it means to forgive. Sincerely,
Press Release - May 8, 1998
Iraq Sanctions Challenge Reaches Baghdad, Successfully Defying U.S./UN Sanctions
Delegates to bring medical aid to hospitals, schools in five cities
May 8 -- The Iraq Sanctions Challenge, a 100-strong delegation from the United States, has successfully defied U.S.-led United Nations sanctions. Jubilant delegates, led by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, celebrated their arrival in Baghdad today. They brought tons of medicines for the Iraqi people.
Others on the delegation include Rev. Lucius Walker of IFCO/Pastors for Peace; Christoph Arnold, author and elder of the Bruderhof Community; Sara Flounders, Gloria La Riva and Brian Becker of the International Action Center; Clayton Ramey of Fellowship of Reconciliation; Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness; Kadouri Al Kaysi of the Committee in Support of the Iraqi People; Ahmed El Sherif the President of American Muslim Council, Mid-West; Sonya Ostrom of Metro New York Peace Action; Dr. Barbara Nimri Aziz (anthropologist); and Manzoor Ghori of the American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice.
...During their stay, which lasts through May 13, teams of delegates will bring medical aid to hospitals and schools in Baghdad, Fallujah, Kerbala, Basra and Mosul. "Before the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq had the Middle East's most advanced and comprehensive health care system," said Ramsey Clark. "Now Iraq lacks even basic medicines to treat preventable diseases because of the sanctions. More than 1.5 million have died as a result of the sanctions, and at least 5,000 continue to die every month. Most of the victims are children and elderly people."
The delegates will also visit the Ameriyah bomb shelter, site of the infamous U.S. air attack that incinerated Iraqi civilians during the Gulf War. They will visit sewage and sanitation facilities that Iraq has struggled to keep operational despite a ban on spare parts. They will also meet with experts studying the long-term effects of depleted uranium weapons by the United States, suspected of causing increased cancer rates in Iraq and a possible source of the "Gulf War Syndrome" suffered by thousands of U.S. veterans.
The Iraq Sanctions Challenge will also request to meet with UN officials at the World Health Organization, the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Program to demand briefings from them.
Voices in the Wilderness- A Campaign to End the US/UN Economic Sanctions Against the People of Iraq, 1460 West Carmen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640. phone: 773-784-8065; fax: 773-784-8837
A True Short Short Story
Over the past few moths I have often observed my cat Ziggy changing the settings on my bedroom radio. He turns it on, off, changes the volume, changes the stations and even the station pre-sets. He will usually do this on weekend mornings when he is making his rounds and trying to convince me that it is breakfast time. The radio is a Bose Wave Radio (incidentally it puts out incredible sound) that has all the controls on top to in the form of pressure- sensitive buttons.
I have often come home to find the radio playing, sometimes classical, but most often modern rock. One day I found 3 of the 6 pre-set buttons changed to the same modern rock station. (I keep them mostly set to NPR, or CBC classical and Jazz stations). Yesterday when I came home from work I could hear the radio blaring modern rock while still in the garage, which is at the opposite end of the house. The music was so loud Ziggy, who normally meets me at the door, missed his cue of garage door and car. My other cat Ozzie was cowering in the basement, hiding from the ruckus. I could only laugh, and feel sorry for my neighbors. So much for a boring day in the life of two cats.
I think some of the things written in KIT may be true, but they do not justify picketing the conference. Saddam Husein may be an evil dictator, but that does not justify depriving Iraqi children of needed medicine. In the same way, I think we have to see things in a true proportion and listen to new people on all issues. I believe the conferences you are holding will aid that in happening and that if KIT folks really wanted to help put things right, they'd not attack you for holding them but would attack the same issues that you are daring to tackle.
Our son Joel (13) has scanned that part (and only that part) of the KIT newsletter and we'll put it out to anyone we think would be interested in attending in a loving spirit. Peace and love,
Here's a copy of the letter I just sent to KIT:
Dear Ramon, thanks for publishing about the tractor and history of Aquarian. I read with great interest about the conferences the Bdhf are holding on Revolution, and well understand your complaints.
And they would be well justified if only KIT folks would organize similar conferences! We all know Che Guevera and many revolutionaries were also killers, and yet they believed they were killing to prevent even more killing. I also believed it during WW II. Would you condemn the people who tried to stop the war by killing Hitler ?
I think the Bruderhof and every revolutionary group stands in the need of much correction, and I stand with Jesus also. However, to fail to also give them credit for the courage (in the face of Waco, etc.) may be less than honorable. I would suggest therefore, that instead of picketing at the gate, something those favoring the status quo would properly do, that as many as possible of us should lovingly attend the conferences -- not to cause disruption, which would only help the greediest capitalists, but to stand with them in all they are doing for justice in the world and at the same time being a witness for true forgiveness where they have failed to be honorable in that way.
These conferences could, if successful for the Bruderhof, help to build the communal peace and justice movement I should have worked for when I was asked to be national Sec'y. of Education for SDS, had I not been so hung up with fears of sexuality. It may not be their intention, but by creating such conferences in connection with community they may build a very different communal movement from what they presently "enjoy". More power to them for that purpose ! I hope it happens.
As the founder of the co-counseling movement declared: "If you knew all that any individual has ever suffered, you would understand that they are doing the very best they can, under the circumstances." I believe that applies to Christoph Arnold and to the KIT folks also. If at all possible, I will attend the conference at the Bruderhof and speak the truth in a loving way. Peace and love,
5/13/98: Art to Joe Keiderling: Dear Joe, As you said in the invitation, this conference is not the place to deal with things that divide us. Those things should be dealt with, and that should be done more actively than at present, but it's really sad if KIT readers or anyone else would come to the conference to disrupt it. People who do that are playing right into the hands of the greediest capitalists and are thereby personally responsible for the death of children in Iraq, Tibetans in Tibet, and all the other sad things going on in the world.
On the other hand, I fear that Bruderhof elders share responsibility if the conference is disrupted in any way by KIT folks because those elders have really failed in their Christian duty to use the good offices of the Mennonites or others to resolve the things that divide you and KIT. In all my contact with communities of all kinds, I've found no other group that has such a loveless relationship with former members and children who have left. If it is as you indicate that bruderhof youth are running the conference, they are certainly not to blame for this, but the elders are. I hope you will make the changes required to really overcome this state of enmity between you and folks who've left, and those changes should be made before the conference! To me it's an emergency and I wish you'd see it the same way.
I hope that the editors and readers of KIT will understand that this conference is not the place to protest, and not try to hurt the poor and needy by disrupting such a daring conference agenda. If they have any love in their hearts they would come there only to help out, and not to create conflict. Peace and love,
Our pastor described the Sermon on the Mount as a great light, but without the generator. The Holy Spirit is not dispensed in it. It is like the Law in that we cannot be saved by the keeping of the Law nor can we be saved by the keeping of this Sermon. The Sermon should convict a person, it should prick one's conscience, but it is bankrupt without the salvation of Christ.
What is that salvation? In 1Cor.15:1-5, the Apostle Paul writes: "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel, you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed onto you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve."
Our poverty before God is laid bare in the Scriptures. We can in no way accomplish true purity in spirit without Christ -- 1 John 1:7 "the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." He is the source of true peacemaking: Romans 5:1 -- "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". These passages spoke volumes to us, especially in light of the Bruderhof's RevolutionFest and Generation Action conferences... the answers to our own and the world's problems are not within our selves but in Christ.
In the May/June 1998 issue of Moody Magazine, a journal published by the Moody Bible Institute, the cover theme is entitled: "Cultural Lies the Church Believes -- Are we losing our Biblical distinctives?" An editorial entitled "A Higher Agenda" includes the following:
"If we are not careful, we will think we can rely on worldly influence to get heavenly results -- fighting against a sinful people when the real enemy is Satan and everything in revolt against God's will. We will make alliances with political forces, endorsing their programs, all the while ignoring what God seeks most: righteousness in our hearts and reclamation of sin-bound souls.
"And, finally, we will be in danger of being seduced by the allure of power, believing as we achieve some measure of victory in the political arena that we really have clout.
"Perhaps such tactics will achieve their goal, changing the face of society, at least temporarily. Then we can feel good about what we have done. But one thing will not change, and it is far more important than reforming society. "Unless the gospel is clearly seen through what we say and how we act, hearts will remain closed to the message that ultimately counts. Those whom we have alienated unnecessarily will be hell-bound for eternity. And we will have failed them and denied Christ's commandment."
(Moody, May/June 1998, p.7.)
So to the young Bruderhof man who wrote "It's time to get pissed off," I say "No." It's time to be humbled and recognize our poverty and our need of Christ's redemption. It is time for the Bruderhof to return to its roots and make right the wrongs in its own house before even thinking of fixing what is wrong in the world. Peace, 5/1/98: Mel, I agree with you that personal poverty and the need for Christ's redemption have not been evident in bc3000's postings -- more an intention to accuse others and perhaps elevate himself instead.
I have been thinking about the "apologies" that came from Christoph in particular to various people -- nothing at all was specifically apologized for but there was a demand for forgiveness, and there was no restoration. Specifically here, I can point to the phone harassment campaign which not only incurred emotional trauma to the receivers but a huge phone bill. Yet we heard from at least one of the young Bruderhof men that they feel it was wrong. What is keeping the Bruderhof from really seeking forgiveness and reconciliation? Are they seeking to protect their reputation by not admitting to their wrong action(s) and making things right? It only ruins their already tenuous credibility.
Some more good thoughts from the May/June 1998 issue of Moody, p. 25 in an article entitled "Appearance is Everything" by Dr. John MacArthur:
"Hiding our guilt only compounds the sin with hypocrisy. Those who sin secretly actually intensify their guilt, because they add the sin of hypocrisy to their offense. Hypocrisy is a grave sin in its own right. It also produces an especially debilitating kind of guilt, because by definition hypocrisy entails the concealing of sin. The only remedy for any kind of sin involves uncovering our guilt through sincere confession.
"Hypocrisy therefore permeates the soul with a predisposition against genuine repentance. That is why Jesus referred to hypocrisy as the leaven of the Pharisees (Luke 12:1).
"Hypocrisy also operates directly against the conscience. There's no way to be hypocritical without some searing of the conscience. Therefore hypocrisy inevitably makes way for the most vile, character-damaging secret sins. It compounds itself, just like leaven. "Beware that sort of leaven. An ungodly culture tells us that appearances are everything. Don't buy that lie.
"The truth is that our private life is the real test of our character: 'For as he thinks in his heart, so is he' (Prov. 23:7, NKJV). Do you want to know who you really are? Take a hard look at your private life -- especially your innermost thoughts. Gaze into the mirror of God's Word, and allow it to disclose and correct the real thoughts and motives of your heart."
Perhaps most striking in this article -- "Those who think they can evade shame by sinning in secret will discover one day that open disclosure of their secrets before the very throne of God is the worst shame of all."
Christoph, Christian, Joe -- this is very real. No one is playing games here. You just can't write and sell books on forgiveness without living it out yourselves. There's a lot of people waiting for you to turn around... and there's God's throne waiting at the end of our days. Peace,
It is infinitely easier to "see" the need for it in others than to see the need in one's self. Understanding one's insignificance in the face of Christ's finished work is one thing. Accepting it is another. That's why I rejoice in knowing there are sisters and brothers out there who will be honest with me about my own failings. I count on people such as you.
Remember bc3000's "Epiphany" and "Good luck, Wayne" postings? The writer sounded supremely confident in the pathway he had chosen. I did not sense the "poverty and Éneed of Christ's redemption" that you mentioned.
...Sometimes one needs the help of other believers to see more clearly what is lacking within one's self. I had hoped the recent Bruderhof "house cleaning" and disposal of unneeded goods might be accompanied by a spiritual cleansing as well. Notice, we were asked to help with only the material clean-up.
It is not too late to get together with the Bruderhof to discuss a spiritual house-cleaning. But that will not occur until the residents of the house notice that it is dirty within. My prayer today is that I will listen carefully if a guest in my home should say, "Hey, Mel, a little bit of cleaning is in order." I hope I shall never loose my sense of vulnerability, for Jesus tells us that "apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn.15:5). I wish I could sense this vulnerability in the Bruderhof of today.
"Up my neighbors! Come away. See the work for us today..."
"...at last we detected a great flock of geese passing over quite on the other side of us, and pretty high up. From time to time one of the company uttered a short note -- that peculiarly metallic, clangorous sound. They were in a single undulating line, and, as usual, one or two were from time to time crowded out of the line, apparently by the crowding of those in the rear, and were flying to one side and trying to recover their places. But at last a second short line was formed, meeting the long one at the usual angle..." H. D. Thoreau, Journal, March 28, 1859
This use of language was not part of our upbringing. That last 30-40 years must have really changed them a lot, and I find little that reflects our past in Paraguay. I feel deeply sorry for all those of good faith, the aged and the children. Somehow a Community for God has really turned into a group of people that want fame, riches and all the things of the world we rejected in the past. I know that Hitler, Stalin and many other leaders managed to suppress the feeling of the people and lead them into flaming hell. That the Bruderhof fell into this trap can only be due to lack of faith on the leader's part and hero worship on the part of the people! Very sad! I always like Muschi's straightforward contributions!
As I said in the May KIT, Hans and I were invited to the Hutterites. Ever since I was a child, I have always wanted to meet them, as we used to write to several children in school in the 1940s. Lately I wanted to understand why my grandfather felt so sure that joining the Hutterites would be the ultimate step, to belong to a stable, Christian movement that would strengthen our members to fight German Nazism.
We left on April 13th, and it was a long flight -- ten hours. We left Drachten at 12:30 and 2 hours by train took us to the Amsterdam Airport. The place left at 4:30 P.M. and we arrived in Vancouver at 4:15 P.M. the same day! It is a really strange feeling to actually lose [gain?] a day! It was marvelous to fly over Iceland and Greenland into the snow masses of Canada, and then to see the Rocky Mountains with valleys and lakes. Beautiful! It was such a bright day that everything was very visible and clear. Hans' brother Casper, who has lived in Vancouver for now 40 years, picked us up with his wife Margaret, and we had two good nights sleep there. On the 18th, Cas and Margaret brought us to Seattle, a drive of 3-4 hours. From there we took a Greyhound bus to Moses Lake, also 4-5 hours, through mountains still topped with snow and valleys with lovely flowers on both sides of the road, very much like Switzerland. The then land became more bare and dry, with huge irrigation systems to irrigate the dry fields. It looked like the land you see in cowboy films, wide and bare, with a little ranch here and there, but mostly brown and dry.
At Moses Lake we were met by John Stahl Vetter and his cousin Susie Stahl. We drove to the colony in about a half hour. Both were warm and friendly and made us feel at home at once! We had a "little flat" all to ourselves, and took breakfast and evenings mostly at John Stahl's house. From there we took day trips to Warden, Espanola, Marlin and Schoonhover colonies. In all the five different colonies we were received with a lot of love and interest. Many, many questions were asked about the SOB and what we thought about the development of the Bruderhofe in the East. At Espanola Colony, Paul Gross, the preacher, write and author of many books had just died before Easter. His grandson Philip showed me the archives with original letters of my grandfather and father, and many, many documentary books about Hutterian history throughout its 500 years of existence -- really remarkable! At Marlin Colony the older brother of Paul Gross, Eliah Gross, and his wife Rebecka, still remember my grandfather's visit in 193031, and had fond memories of him! In all places there was total openness and trust, although sometimes I felt ashamed at the stories some had to tell me.
There was a hard-working brother who had just returned from a trip to Alberta to deliver planting potatoes with his truck. He had visited Woodcrest in the late 1970s and 80s. He was only a young lad with a Hutterite friend, and they asked a couple of ex-Hutterite friends for a talk together one evening in their room because they felt that strange things were going on. The had seen the whole community go down the hill to the burial ground holding candles and singing, so they wanted to know what this was all about. It seems that the Bruderhof was remembering my grandfather's death. So they asked questions about this, as this seemed almost Catholic to them.
First the night watchman came and asked them to break up the talk. So one left but the other stayed for a while until the night watchman came back and ordered him to leave also. This poor chap was taken to task the next day for not obeying orders, and the two Hutterites were asked to leave.
Another brother told me he was in Germany for a few weeks and thought he would look in on the Michaelshof in Birnbach. To his surprise, he met a girl there he knew from the colony and greeted her with a slap on her shoulder. This was all wrong! He was put in a house in the woods away from the central Bruderhof and could not understand what he had done wrong. Next day, he was questioned about his intimacy with that girl, and could not understand what they were talking about! A few days later, he was asked to leave, because it was thought that he must be a "Hutterite spy." A young woman told me that she was in Woodcrest in 1978 and actually she was very impressed with the singing -- the joy -- the fun everyone seemed to have. But she found out later that all of this was, as she put it, "make believe," and not real, a sort of fa¨ade or show put on to impress them.
Everyone seemed to have read my book, and found it was written without hatred or resentment, but rather in a spirit of truthful reality, which made them realize that the core of the life in the Bruderhof community was rotting and not based on the simple words of Christ: to love one another.
Now to my general feeling of "Why my grandfather Eberhard Arnold wanted to become a part of this Anabaptist movement": I think that he was absolutely amazed at what he found in the States and Canada, and that community can actually work if founded on the faith of the early Christians and the willingness to give up everything for the cause of a brotherly life. He was amazed that these people worked together in harmony for centuries, and also in what this working-together can achieve, and the joy it can bring. I think he felt that his small, threatened group would be stable in the hands of this large community. He probably hoped that all the different groups -- the Lehrer, Darius and Schmiede leuten, once again would unite together and become one with the small Rhon bruderhof, to give a witness of love and unity during this war-threatening time, as it did in the time of Andreas Ehrenpreis and Jakob Hutter.
I always had thought that the greatest difference between the SOB and the Hutterites was that the Hutterites live by the rules and regulations of centuries ago and the SOB is composed of modern people who come from all walks of life and cannot accept the old-fashioned ways. This is not altogether true. The Hutterites are very modern in many ways if it concerns farming the land, keeping their cattle (I never have seen such modern and clean stables before -- and I have seen many in Holland). Also they want the best teachers for their children, and she teaches them until they are able to take the High School Equivalency test. I talked to this teacher -- she has been there 12 years -- and she said that the children are wonderful to teach because they are not distracted by TV, have stable homes and have to learn German songs by heart from when they are in kindergarten. Their minds are prepared for school and they are eager, intelligent students.
Another difference that struck me is that there is no morbid pressure on feelings and searching for sins never committed. There is a great freedom, which you can feel and sense. A mother with a handicapped child can take all the time she needs for this child and give it anything the child can respond to and, above all else, all the love and cuddling this child needs. We were brought up to believe that all emotional exhibition of feelings was sinful. Parents were excluded for having "emotional ties" to their children, and vice versa. All this is unknown to the Hutterites.
I asked about exclusions, and they seldom have them. If someone would confess to adultery and wants to repent, he stays on the hof and the exclusion is only for about 3 weeks. I also asked about the phrase used for exclusions, which as a child filled me with horror: "Wir ubergeben Deine Seele dem Teufel" ("We will now give your soul to Satan"). The answer I received was that this never was their terminology. What they say is, "We give you to the evil enemy as though him you feel so deeply into sin. Go now, and mourn, and ask God for help, so that once again you might find repentance and peace in your soul."
John Vetter then explained, "From here on this person is only identified as a sinner and not ever, ever restricted in any way or kept from the necessities of life. This person will not be mistreated but will be admonished constantly. The church and sisters and brothers as a whole will pray for the person so that he will become one of the fold again. After that, never to be talked about in any way. To forgive is also to forget.."
On the whole, the Hutterites are very busy people and work hard, very hard! They have no time to ponder about "might-be feelings." We were there in the potato-planting time, and men and women worked many hours a day to prepare the potatoes for their own fields as well as for sale to other colonies. The men worked in the fields until late at night to get the potatoes planted. When that time is over, the vegetable and fruit harvest will start, and in the winter they work in the woodshop and make all their own tables, chairs, door and doorposts, cupboard, baby cribs, beds and what-have-you. It is all homemade and looks absolutely wonderful!
Now that I have been there, I can imagine what the boys and girls must have felt during the Forest River clearances! Never had they experienced such distrust from the grown-ups, and never had they felt so confused, alone and last as in that time! It must have left scars, as did our childhood experiences! Hutterite children are open and trusting and obey their parents, teachers and elders.
When you come driving up to any colony, it is simply amazing how successful united work can be. The land is bare, hilly and dusty, but they irrigated the land and farmed it. They built their own houses, and in all ways it reminds me of our start in Primavera when we still believed that we were God's children and He would lead us, and everyone gave all they had to build three lovely communities in the backwoods of Paraguay, with fruit orchards, farming, schooling, hospital and cattle! All this was possible only through faith and endurance! It was lost when brothers started feeling better and higher than others, and when they presumed that God spoke directly to them only (the leaders and elders) and the community had to obey! People became fearful and, like in Russia or Germany, they no longer trusted their own feelings of right and wrong.
The Hutterites work hard, but also have the freedom of mind, heart and soul, and can speak up if they do not like something, without catastrophic results. The preacher helps with planting potatoes, just like anybody else, and the steward looks in on the work several times a day. He has a lot of work to do, with paying taxes, negotiating for more land, speaking with the schoolteacher to see what she needs. So he can be reached all day for everything.
Looking back, I feel that Eberhard Arnold acted in good faith when he united with the Hutterites, but the small German Bruderhof had not yet matured into Hutterianism. They wanted to follow all the rules and regulations, but inwardly could not accept them. You can only become a true Hutterite, I think, if you are born into it or if you are willing and able to leave behind you all that your life was and meant to you before joining. It is tradition, faith and work that kept the Hutterites together for all these centuries. This is something that can never be forced, because then it will become rigid and loveless, and that is what happened in the past. Not everyone had the vision Eberhard Arnold had of a worldwide 'Gemeinde,' and every ambition of the different leaders after his death brought the SOB nearer to the edge of the cliff. I am very concerned about the future, and all the people within the Bruderhof! Things seem to go from bad to worse.
We stayed with the Hutterites for almost two weeks, and then John Stahl brought us to Seattle and we took the Greyhound bus back to Vancouver. There we stayed with my brother-in-law and his family, but also visited with several Bruderhof friends in and near Vancouver, which I always find a wonderful experience. We left for home on May 7th, and had a good flight back. All in all, it was a wonderful experience, which I would not like to have missed! Love to All,
5/18/98: I am including a letter a Hutterite sister gave to me. She had written this letter after reading my book, but never dared to send it. I asked permission if it was okay to print part of it in KIT. She agreed, but does now want her name or colony in it, so I will omit these:
Dear Elizabeth: First of all I want to introduce myself. I am a Hutterite sister and we got hold of your book and read it, with a lot of tears, and felt so sorry for you! I can't believe that you did not die of a broken heart with all the suffering you had to endure in the Gemeinde (community) of your Grandpa and Grandma. I really should not call this a Gemeinde at all. That is not a good name for it. Maybe "camp" is better, because in a Gemeinde you will never experience what you have been through.
Most of our women read your book with tears, and we feel so saddened that such things can happen in a Christian Gemeinde. While is was reading your book, I had such a longing to have you here amongst us in our colony so that you would be able to experience what real Gemeinde is. According to KIT and you book, you would still like to live in community, and I can just picture you here in our colony, where the true faith of our Hutterite forefathers is lived. I am sure you would be a faithful sister with all the courage you have.
I also read Roger Allain's book with deep interest. I can feel that he was a good, faithful member of the Gemeinde and practiced true brotherhood. My heart went out to him too, and his wife who seem to me a very brave woman. Elizabeth, when we read your book and the one of Roger Allain's, we felt we had to believe all the things we hear about the brothers in the east, as both books lead to the same conclusion. Terrible, that such things were going on the Gemeinde, but even at a young age you seemed to realize that something was very wrong amongst the leadership.
I believe that your father must have been a good leader! Why in the world was he treated so badly I cannot figure our. I think everything was due to jealousy, and jealousy can kill a cat! I often think of your poor mother. How come she did not complain and just ask to be with your father? I can tell you, I would never have stayed without my husband! Your uncle Heini must have a very big guilt on his conscience before God for doing so many cruel things to his own sister and so many others.
According to Roger Allain, they put Roger on new jobs all the time and like a hero, he gave everything he had to make a good job of the task he was given. I cannot see how the leaders did not realize what a good member they had. I think the leaders -- your uncle Heini -- had something wrong in his own heart and mind. A true Christian will never act this way. I also think it terrible that children were separated from their parents. No, this is not the way of the Gemeinde. In German we would say this is Tiranisch (tyranny).
So, dear Elizabeth, while I was reading your book I was longing to invite you to come and visit us so that you can experience what Gemeinde is all about. If you ever get a chance to come to Spokane, give us a ring and we will pick you up from the airport. Our son was in Germany last year and also visited the Michaelshof for five days, but I had not read your book then. Otherwise he would have visited you.
I am reading the KIT letters and, boy, do they tell you what the poor members of the Bruderhof Community have been through. All this has nothing to do with the colony life here. Also here we have our difficulties sometimes. Ups and downs will always be there, but we try to correct each other when it is necessary, and then let the wind blow over them and live as Christians as best as our understanding will let us. We see that when things go wrong, it is usually our own fault, and when we check our conscience, we will find where we went wrong.
In the Gemeinde, you will have to give and take, and I understand that you believe that too. Some of our people went to Woodcrest but are reluctant to tell about their visit, as Woodcrest paid for their trip. I wish I had gone, because then I would tell you what those guys are doing. I love the Pentecostal sermons, and will send you one, if you like. They make it quite clear from where our strength should come.
(Here the letter ends.) Love,
I was late to class on this sunny morning in Loma, long, long ago. I had carelessly lingered in the cow stall to" help" Jim Bernard do the milking. Entering the class room, my friend Chico and I knew we were in trouble. In true British fashion our teacher, Robert Headland, called us to the front to mete out our punishment in a fair manner. He asked me to lay my hand, palm up, on top of his outstretched hand. A long ruler was raised menacingly in his other hand. On the downward stroke, I (un)fortunately pulled my hand away, and Robert smacked himself mighty hard! I knelt on sharp pebbles in the corner of the class for the next half hour. We composed a little ditty to commemorate the occasion.
the teacher hit me with a ruler.
I hit him on his bottom
with a rotten piece of cotton,
And his tears came rolling out the doorway.
(Sung to the tune of "John Brown's Baby has a Pimple on His Nose"!! Does anyone remember that?) Nun also, wo war ich denn eigendlich? (Now then, where was I exactly?)
The morning's punishment was soon forgotten. In the afternoon, Robert took us out over the campo (the "air field", in Loma). He had hoped to teach us about the "birds and the bees" I suppose; one never spoke about such matters as far as I knew. For that reason, I suspect, only we boys went with him. As we walked across the campo in the heat of the day, a carancho (hawk) flew up ahead of us, and "let go" a jet of white material. We turned to each other with knowing smiles. Robert, however, remained expressionless. After a moment's pause, he said matter-of-factly, "Boys, the carancho just left his calling card." A faint smile crossed his thoughtful face, suggesting that even he was having difficulty suppressing his laughter.
We walked on, and the savanna grasses slowly gave way to low-lying bushes. The forest lay ahead. At this point Robert turned to us. "Boys, we are going to observe mother monkeys today. They have young ones with them and I suggest that you not get too close to them." "But whyyyyyy not?", we asked, almost in unison. "Take my word, boys". His reply was short. That was not a good enough explanation. I was all the more curious to see what would happen if I got too close.
We climbed uphill and entered the jungle. I believe Robert had been referring to howler monkeys. They climbed about in agitated fashion upon seeing us, peeking from concealed spots to check us out. Young ones clung to their mothers. Fascinated, I inched forward. Robert's warning was forgotten. Suddenly, a mother reached below her tail and threw her foul-smelling excrement in my direction. She missed, and I retreated in utter astonishment. Robert said nothing.
I would have not have remembered this incident as keenly had it not been for a trip my family took to the Haagenbeck Zoo, just outside of Hamburg, Germany, in 1962. We had no car at the time. We took an U-Bahn from our village of Gross Hansdorf, an hour's ride into the big city. At the zoo, I was impressed with the lack of caging for the wild animals. They seemed to be in their natural habitat. Mr. Haagenbeck was world-renown for creating cage-less animal viewing, using moats to keep animals and humans separated. The monkeys, however, remained in large enclosures.
My family gathered around the howler monkey cage. We were delighted to see them again. "O, genau wie wir sie in Paraguay hatten!" ("Oh, just like we had them in Paraguay!") sister Susi said excitedly. My sister Tanneken was pressed hard against the wire fence as a throng of folks closed in. And then, without warning, "IT" happened! The crowd literally fell backward! When Tanni had sufficiently recovered, the unpleasant task of cleaning her jacket remained. This time, I tactfully concealed my laughter. Papa did too!
But wait! The story does not end there! Let me fast-forward now to about 1990. Around this time, Janet and I took our children to Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. The primate house was of great interest. It is set up in such a fashion that spectators walk around at a fairly high elevation, while the primates are viewed from ravine-like habitats below.
In the gorilla section, a young male was sitting on the branch of a rather tall tree, which put him in approximately the same elevation as spectators. He was visibly annoyed, for he kept thumping his chest and howling threateningly. Spectators mimicked him. This annoyed him all the more! Suddenly, he put his hand to his mouth, spat whatever it was he was chewing into it, and hurled the stuff in our general direction. I ducked, and was unsoiled, but an elderly gentleman next to me was not as lucky. I pointed out that there was some "foreign material" on his coat, but he either did not hear me, or else he did not see what I meant. He walked on blissfully.
We reported what had happened to the zoo keeper and were told that this young male was responding threateningly to people who were tossing things into the ravine. The gorilla apparently took these intrusions personally, as his several women-companions were in heat.
This makes me wonder what Robert had been trying to teach us on that hot afternoon, long, long ago.
I also remember those awful cat fights at night, when all the cats would fight and yowl. I was so scared of those noises that I would collect some grapefruits from our grapefruit tree and place them under my bed to throw at the cats when the jumped through our windows while chasing each other. Remember, we didn't have our parents around to comfort us, as they were at their meetings. I also remember being scared when the cattle would break through their fences and come onto the hof and over to our grapefruit tree to eat our grapefruit. I can still hear the munching and crunching sounds of them enjoying all those ripe grapefruits that dropped from the tree. For some reason we didn't appreciate these huge sweet fruit because we were spoiled by the wonderful oranges and tangerines we had.
I also remember that pet duck/hen cross you had that would come into our house and lay its large blue eggs on our beds. I remember that sometimes we would run around at night in our nighties and when we saw the lantern of the night watch coming we would jump into beds and pretend we were asleep. I didn't realize until later that when you are asleep your eyelids are relaxed. Mildred Lord would try to pry our eyelids open and I would work so hard to keep them closed. We were really scared of her!
I also loved those palmkugeln or pindos, but didn't gather them like you did Mel. Ugh! I loved to eat the yellow flesh under the crunchy green shell, and then do you remember those pindo-cracking stones (or was it a chunk of wood?) that we had on the Isla school grounds? Eventually it would develop an indentation in the center that would hold the nut in one place and we could then take another rock and pound it on the nut to crack the shell and enjoy the tasty meats inside. Didn't they taste a little like the meat of a brazil nut or hazel nut?
When were you in the Bulstrode bruderhof? I remember walking to Gerrards Cross and also walking the other direction to swim in a hotel swimming pool. I also remember going to my first movie ("Polyanna") which the community must have decided had some redeeming value. I remember hearing about an underground tunnel from the main building out to the grounds and the tower. I loved those beautiful blooming rhododendron bushes in the park and the lake, the sheep in the fields bordering the park who would get sick from eating those yew berries.
Oh well, just rambling! I will start working as a part-time naturalist at the Y-camp 1 hour northwest of D.M. next week. I will be able to pick my hours, so it won't interfere with my trip to England. I enjoy reminiscing with you neighbour. Greetings to all,
Don, I encourage you not to fall into the trap of equating salvation with community of goods! When we recognize our need before God and open ourselves to what Christ has done on our behalf, we have begun the journey of faith. I am particularly sensitive to this point because for a long time in my life, community of goods was held up as the hallmark of a true believer. That said, I retain a fondness and respect for those who live in Christ-centered community today. I hope you will find your heart's desire in your seeking.
In closing, I'd like to post this lovely Swedish folk song for springtime. Many of our asb readers will recognize it.
Soft breezes blowing,
New green a-glowing,
Sun warmly shining, melting the snow
Brooklets a-hurry, onward they scurry,
Down to the ocean gleaming below.
Wake, O my heart
and join in the song,
New life is stirring,
Earth is reborn!
horn notes are swelling
Gay carols telling
Sorrow and cold must go.
Thrushes a-singing, crickets a-ringing,
Cattle are calling, eager to go,
Sheep in the valley no longer dally
Upward they climb where once was the snow.
Wake, O my heart....
Wayne Chesley, 5/14/98: I'll weigh in here with a few comments. Let me state right out though that I do not at all see that the New Testament teaches community of goods as a "requirement for salvation". Nor do I see that the New Testament churches, or post-apostolic churches, practiced the sort of "communal lifestyle" commonly associated with "community of goods". In fact, let's get strictly biblical about this-- the phrase "Community of Goods" is not in my bible. Don wrote:
"Let me repeat "one would expect that community of goods would be the common practice since (1) the Lord Jesus said that His disciples were to love one another (John 13:34-35) and no one could be His disciple unless he gave up all of his possessions (Luke 14:33), and (2) the Church in Jerusalem set the example that would be followed by all of its daughter churches (Acts 2:44-47, 4:32-5:11)."
The apostles, while they were with Christ, seem to have had a "common purse". This certainly is a practical arrangement for a group of men traveling about as they did. But I do not see reports in the Gospels of the immediate surrender of all goods by Jesus' followers to some sort of communal steward. Don wrote:
"The Bible repeats that ALL members shared all things in common. How much clearer can it be? It does not say that some shared but says all shared.
It does indeed report that in the Book of Acts. It is true that the believers had "all things common" in this church. But I don't want to suppose (as some do) that they lived in a commune which owned and controlled all capital and resources. There are ways in which one can have "all things common" and not have the type of institutional setting common to groups who try to emulate the Jerusalem church.
Paul C. Fox wrote: "Moreover, the letters of Paul clearly reflect situations in which Christians owned private property... In short, as far as I can see there is no New Testament evidence that Christian community is essential to salvation, or that one can only follow Jesus truly in a communal setting.
It's a fact. Nothing Peter Walpot wrote can make the New Testament or the writings of the early church say differently. Don wrote:
"It is only the Holy Spirit who can prove to one that he must love his neighbor as himself. If that love is not in one's heart, then he is unlikely to be convinced by any words of mine or even of the Lord Jesus."
Be careful here Don, If something is not taught in the New Testament, no matter how noble an idea or practice, then it is not on a good foundation. You seem now to appeal to a sort of mystical inner movement to confirm the righteousness of communal living. Beware of that one, because it is a killing spirit that denies the truth as reported in scripture in order to prove a particular doctrine.
...We have to account for the whole of Christ's and the apostles' teachings and practices. If dispossession and communal ownership were pivotal to salvation, Paul would not have appealed to the Corinthian Christians to take a collection, he would have admonished them to immediately give all their money and possessions to the church and he would have conducted the business of raising funds for the Jerusalem church with the treasurer of the Corinthian commune. He did not. I do not suppose that the Corinthians (or Galatians) were living less by the teachings of Jesus (to the point of risking their salvation because of their selfishness) than the members in Jerusalem. Paul wrote:
"I do not deny at all that community is one possible way of discipleship. But there is a great danger in equating community with discipleship. Little by little one's faith in Christ becomes instead faith in community. One can become convinced that 'without community it is impossible to please God,' thus severely limiting God's grace and mercy. One can also begin to assume that 'because we live in community, everything we do is pleasing to God.' In the end community, like everything other human endeavor, can become the object of idolatry."
To this I give a hearty 'Amen.' It is possible indeed to so emphasize and institutionalize communal ownership so as to abandon the very love which should lead us to generosity and sacrificial giving. Some groups have become dens of thieves in the name of Christian community. Don wrote:
"To recap, I believe that community is God's plan for His Church, for the Body of Christ. I believe that it is the highest command of love. I believe that anything less then community life is falling short of the love that the brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus are to have for each other. The opposite of community life is selfishness, isn't it?
No, Don, the opposite of community is not selfishness. And community itself is no relief from selfishness -- you know that. Love and selflessness, from inside, not imposed as a structure in a commune, these are what God requires. Communal living is not the answer to a selfish heart. I would write more, but we do have a new baby at home, and the family calls for (and deserves) more attention right now. Peace,
Don Murphy, 5/14/98: Wayne wrote:
"I'll weigh in here with a few comments. Let me state right out though that I do not at all see that the New Testament teaches community of goods as a 'requirement for salvation'."
Nor do I. All things are possible with God, as the Lord Jesus said concerning the rich young man who went away sad when told to give up his possessions (Mt 19). Wayne wrote:
"Nor do I see that the New Testament churches, or post apostolic churches, practiced the sort of "communal lifestyle" commonly associated with "community of goods". In fact, let's get strictly biblical about this -the phrase "Community of Goods" is not in my bible."
Acts 2:44 "All who believed were together and had all things in common"
Acts 4:32 "Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common."
Acts 4:34 "There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold."
All things in common and community of goods mean the same thing, don't they? Jesus told the story about Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16), ending it by saying that if a person will not listen to what is written in the Bible "neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."
Wayne wrote: "But I do not see reports in the Gospels of the immediate surrender of all goods by Jesus' followers to some sort of communal steward."
Yes, this only happened after Pentecost, after the founding of the Church (Acts 2 & 4). Wayne wrote:
"It is true that the believers had "all things common" in this church. But I don't want to suppose (as some do) that they lived in a commune which owned and controlled all capital and resources. There are ways in which one can have "all things common" and not have the type of institutional setting common to groups who try to emulate the Jerusalem church."
How could they have all things in common and not do so? What other way is there? Jesus said to love one another. That is the center of His Kingdom. God is love and all who live in love live in God (I John). That is a fact.
Yes, I am sure that they [the Corinthians (or Galatians)] too followed the teachings of Christ and His apostles, including the selling of possessions (Luke 12:33, Luke 14:33) and the sharing of all things in common (Acts 2:44). But it would not necessarily mean that Paul would ask the treasurer for money, although perhaps he could have, but it is not what he did. Could the treasurer give away the church's money on his own accord? Probably not.
Certainly "some groups have become dens of thieves in the name of Christian community," but that is no reason for abandoning the Way of the Lord, is it? As you write, " Communal living is not the answer to a selfish heart," but it is an aid to overcoming selfishness, isn't it? When I must live together and work daily with others, I either must learn to overcome my natural selfishness or leave and live by myself where I can do as I please.
Since I met the Lord in 1975, I have known many intentional communities and many people who have left the communities. I have found that almost all who left have no desire for community life again, that is, a desire strong enough to make them actually seek community life again. Once they get burned, it seems that they then throw out the baby with the wash. They look back on the bad experiences instead of looking ahead to the Kingdom of God.
The Bible teaches us that we must suffer many trials and tribulations on the narrow path to the Kingdom and that many will start out but few will go on to the end. Let us be counted among those who do not give up but continue on to the Kingdom. We can only do that with the help of the Holy Spirit and our fellow travelers on the Way of the Lord. Thanks for listening,
Paul C Fox, 5/15/98: Hi Don, it almost seems that you have made three passages in the New Testament into the basis for your interpretation of all of Scripture and the history of the Early Church. On the basis of those passages you conclude that community of goods must have been the norm for the New Testament church, and you then proceed to ignore or explain away all evidence to the contrary. You "see" community of goods where it did not exist, because by your presuppositions it had to have existed. If the facts do not demonstrate community, so much the worse for the facts!
You keep trying to have it both ways. You deny that you equate community with salvation, yet again and again you claim that it is next to impossible to be a disciple of Christ outside of community. You say that community is voluntary -- but to live outside of community is to risk eternal damnation.
I'm not sure there's much more to be said on my part. The evidence that full community of goods was not common in New Testament churches is abundant and incontrovertible -- unless you are determined not to see it. I can only say that I think it is extremely dangerous to base one's faith on a narrow interpretation of a handful of Scriptures. It can lead to a kind of spiritual elitism which presumes to disown all of God's children who do not measure up to a standard which is nowhere demanded in Scripture. It renders the Gospel irrelevant to the masses of people whom Christ came to save, and makes it the exclusive possession of a tiny band of people who have "seen the light."
Be careful, Don! I detect in parts of your writing a tendency to equate "love" with "community." It is precisely this equation that has led to the Bruderhof dealing with outside family members in such a loveless fashion. In the Peace of Christ,
Sam Arnold, 5/23/98: Each individual has their own conscience which they must live with throughout their lives. Ramon, in his posting on 3/24/98 on ASB suggested that when people live in community -- particularly on the Bruderhof -- the individual conscience is replaced by a group conscience that develops into a type of 'egotism' in which the members believe that their group conscience is beyond anyone else's reproach or judgement, and also the individual conscience of each participant.
It also appears that the longer a person is a member of a group conscience, the less likely that the person's individual conscience will be able to assert itself when it feels at odds with the group conscience. An illustration of this was when Wayne Chesley, still a novice member of the Brotherhood, questioned the Brotherhood's "unanimous decision" to make harassing phone calls to the KIT hot-line in an attempt to block its use and frighten Joel and Karen Clement and also Blair and Margot Purcell. His individual conscience could not go along with this decision, and he was sent away for challenging the group conscience. This makes me wonder how many other individual consciences also felt "No, this is wrong!" Yet their mouths still said "yes." Wayne, thank you for heeding your conscience, and for paying the price for doing so!
The Bruderhof phrase "It doesn't matter if what we do is right or wrong, as long as we do it together" clearly states that the individual conscience on the Bruderhof must align itself with the group conscience. The group conscience is of course controlled by the triumvirate that runs the Bruderhof. This is how unanimous decisions are made!
When decisions are made that are somehow interpreted as being unanimous by all of the participants it does not mean that the decision was outstanding or beyond questions. Rather, it means that power politics and control over the personal lives are responsible for the outcome. This control does not come from "above," it comes from greedy, powerful and sick human beings!
I wonder if Wayne's conscience would have caused him to question the Brotherhood's decision if he had been a member for 2 years? For 5 years? Just the thought of this makes me feel ill!
This drive to collectivize (driven by control-hungry leadership) must overcome every last resistance, one of the strongest being the individual conscience. The Bruderhof deals with the individual conscience by taking it away -- like they take away your money or possessions, it is not allowed to you. They will say that "you have to give up your own ideas of what's right and wrong" rather than trying to persuade you saying, "this is right and this is wrong".
So it was a "mistake" on my part to appeal to the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in objecting to the Bruderhof's calling and harassing the ex-members' 800 number. I could show objectively (and my conscience bristled over it) that Jesus told us to love our enemies and to rejoice when they say bad things about us, but this assertion of my conscience and of Jesus' own words in opposition to the group conscience was unacceptable.
But I think the individual conscience does not die nor is it absorbed entirely. It is placated. One learns over time, I suppose, to ignore that inner voice. After I was dismissed from the brotherhood for raising my objections, a fellow came up to me (one who had "repented" of his objections to the same activities) and said he understood how I felt, but he could not be "a conscientious objector against the Brotherhood".
It was (is) plain to me too that others objected inwardly to certain things going on at the Bruderhof. I'm still not sure why they do not have the courage to speak up. But I suppose it is for the reason that many ignore their conscience -when you leave the Bruderhof you can take your conscience with you, you have to leave everything else behind. I think there are few in the Bruderhof who would face the poverty and uncertainty and discomfort of leaving "the Life" just over a matter of conscience. The Bruderhof has most members hooked, like a pusher and his cocaine. Why pay a price for the sake of conscience, or the words of Jesus, when life is so easy? I don't think then that the conscience becomes less weak over the years, I think one becomes more comfortable and more skilled at suppressing one's conscience and ignoring objective, verifiable truth.
Mel Fros, 5/25/98: Sam, and Wayne, you have started an interesting discussion. And Don Murphy, I appreciate your participation. Don, allow me to express a few thoughts. You have become a follower of Christ more recently. And now you are living communally. I commend you for both. Living in Christian community is not an easy task, as you well know. However, participating in this news group gives you a chance to learn much about the mistakes that have been made -- in community and individually -- when believers do not remain firmly anchored in their faith.
I commend you for sounding a warning about "putting down the Bruderhof". At the same time, I think you need to be aware of the recent events that led to the formation of this newsgroup. You are personally familiar with what John Stewart experienced. Like him, many of us have tried repeatedly to raise issues regarding perceived sin with the Bruderhof , in keeping with the words of Matt 18: 15-18. That process has led nowhere despite the Elder's claims that the dividing Wall can be dismantled.
There is one thing the Bruderhof cares about: it's public image. Because the leaders refuse to deal with me and others privately and in good faith, I feel a need to take my concerns to this public forum. Jesus dealt with the hypocrisy of the ruling religious elite of his day in like manner. I see this forum as a place where the broader church of Christ, yourself included, can be informed about matters that the Bruderhof refuses to settle privately in accordance with the words of Jesus in Matt. 18. Please don't mistake this for Bruderhof-bashing.
In reading your response to Wayne Chesley, I get the sense that you are not familiar with some of the basic issues being addressed. Sam Arnold brought up a concern in his "Group Conscience" posting, and Wayne responded with observations regarding a "personal relationship to God." You need to understand the context in which these issues are being raised.
A Bruderhof novice takes certain vows. The biblical basis for one of them would appear to be Matt. 18:15 and Eph. 5:11. Taken from page 301 of Torches Rekindled, 1989 edition, the third vow reads: "Are you ready to accept every admonition (where this is justified) and the other way around, to admonish others if you should sense within our community life something that should be clearer or would more fittingly bespeak the will of God, or if you should feel that something ought to be corrected or abolished?"
It is not possible to commit to such a vow if the individual does not daily take on the responsibility of maintaining what Wayne terms "a personal relationship to God". It is precisely for the well-being of the whole Body of Christ that the individual member must perform his God-given function. Each member of the Body must clothe his function in love.
One pitfall of communal life such as the Bruderhof enjoys happens when individuals suppress the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit out of a sense of fear. May you and your community be empowered by God to grasp this danger and see that it does not happen among you.
Don wrote: "There may be major problems with the Bruderhof's lifestyle, but that is God's problem, isn't it? He has not placed you nor me as judges over them, has He?"
Don, 'God's problem" is also your/my problem. If you remain silent in the face of sin, you become co-responsible. Each member of the Body must do its task, and do it well. I believe God has given us all the tools we need, among them a finely-tuned conscience, to meet the challenges of life within the Body. "God's problem" is to convict the believer of sin. But it is your and my duty to bring it to the attention of the erring believer. And posting on this news group does not mean we are judging them. But that is a matter we can take up another time, if you wish. Don wrote:
As you well know, there are many within the Bruderhof who seriously try to follow Jesus, many who you can tell are part of the Body of Christ."
Absolutely Don! However, to "seriously try to follow Jesus" means to be honest, vulnerable, and open when one senses something is not in keeping with God's Word. Therefore, even the most sincere of believers must take active and daily responsibility for what transpires on the Bruderhof or your own community. That is what John Stewart, Wayne and Betty, the Foxes and others have done. And see where they are today. I pray that you will have the wisdom and the humility to learn from these matters. Don wrote:
"Yes, each member of the Body of Christ knows the righteousness, peace and joy that comes with being part of the Kingdom of God. Yet if they separate themselves from the Body, it is as if a leg or arm were to separate from your body, it would die on its own. All must be united together to be part of the Body, just as the Lord Jesus and His disciples taught."
I agree with the "peace and joy" you mention. But please don't make the mistake of equating the Bruderhof with the Body of Christ. The Bruderhof is but one part of it. Please keep in mind that a number of ex-members did not choose to "separate themselves from the Body" (the Bruderhof in this case). They were forced out for speaking their conscience in the context of Jesus' own directives in Matt. 18! The Chesleys and the Foxes, among others, seek to remain faithful members of the Body of Christ in Maine and in Pennsylvania.
I appreciate your participation, Don. I hope you will understand the unique perspective from which many of us write. Once again, thank you for the reminder about Bruderhof-bashing. Perhaps sometime you would be interested to discuss with us what should be done when a whole church sides with the erring party in a dispute. Greetings,
Blair Purcell, 5/26/98: I am one of those who has, without doubt, made many mistakes and it appears certain that even more will be evident before I meet my maker.
Living in community, however, as a means of an appropriate expression of Christian faith will never be one of the means by which my worthiness for salvation will be judged. At the same time, I will always admire those who do live in Christian community and my personal opinion (not judgment) is that those who are so called can well live as role models whose demeanor and practice serve as beacons leading those of us who hear the "call" less clearly.
Nonetheless, it is impossible for me to believe, as Don suggests, that God would lead us into any spiritual knowledge without the personal cognizance needed to recognize truth and to be able to rationally discern between that truth and "wolves in sheep's clothing."
If we are to believe the "simple" brothers of the Bruderhof are deeply devout Christians (and I do), then we must still challenge them for abrogating personal (yes, Don, personal!) responsibility for those who speak and act as they have in their names -- and, indeed, God's name as well.
Actually, while not certain, I believe that the leadership which has led the Bruderhof so far astray (filing lawsuits, harassment of several different kinds, wiretaps, etc.) also remains convinced of their own "place" of admiration in God's eye. So, are they Christians who have gone astray? Or are they not Christians at all? Is self-delusion sufficient to bring one to the edge of perdition?
Another question of community comes to mind. The Bruderhof, on its website and in The Plough magazine, has been quite vigorous in its attack on American institutions of justice and foreign policy. While not necessarily agreeing with specific, albeit democratically established, laws, rulings and practice (I, too, am against the death penalty and I marched with King in Montgomery, AL, both before and after the death of Viola Liuzzo), I am a little tired of seeing the Bruderhof bash the country to which it came for a better life.
There has always been room in this nation for those who dissent; men and women have died (we remembered them yesterday - Memorial Day) to provide an atmosphere in which dissent can, if not flourish, live without the threat of state action or mob action which might lead to abridgement of the right to speak freely. The Bruderhof came here to take advantage of that very atmosphere - defended by those who, while not necessarily pacifists, were willing to step forward when those freedoms were challenged. Neither were these men and women warmongers and heathens -- they simply did their duty.
And those who live in community enjoy the benefits protected by those who died to guarantee our freedoms. Those who live in the Bruderhof take advantage of government programs designed to help the needy (WIC and SSI come to mind) and institutions which allow them to fly their $20,000,000,00 jet aircraft safely (FAA), they also take advantage of the intellect of folks like Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and -- Bill Gates.
I don't begrudge them the use of the cornucopia of ideas and goods created by this society to which and in which they can prosper, I only ask that they recognize the nature of the society which attracted them and which welcomes them and which would admire them -- if it were not for the tearing apart of families, the harassment, the threats, the wiretaps. That activity belies their claim of Christianity and turns them into opportunistic jackals, attempting to tear apart the very fabric which allows them to exist. To say these concerns are "off-limits" because the Bruderhof professes Christianity is patent nonsense.
Perhaps Bruderhof bashing would cease if the Bruderhof stopped bashing its children, its families and the countries which provide the very atmosphere in which they might furnish an important witness. And, Don, I'm not speaking here at all of the Fan Lake Brethren. I am only speaking from personal knowledge. And I never lived at the Bruderhof. Memorial Day greetings to all who observe it,
Margot Purcell, 5/26/98: Sam Arnold wrote: "Each individual has their own conscience which they must live with throughout their lives. It also appears that the longer a person is a member of a group conscience, the less likely that the person's individual conscience will be able to assert itself when it feels at odds with the group conscience".
I have been reading the last topic, 'group conscience,' with great interest. I have picked out these few lines of Sam's to comment on. As children raised on the Bruderhof, we were taught at a very early age that decisions are made for us. Most of us had little possibility of any decision making in our daily lives. Since we were a unit with so many others the days/weeks/months/years were planned for us. We learned to accept with joy! Clothes, food, school, trips, all were planned for us. In these small ways we were being prepared for the unity. I recall many an evening when the brotherhood meeting had finished, we would run to ask our parents what decisions had been made. Of course not every meeting produced decisions the children could hear.
The Bruderhof is now in its third and fourth generation. This latest generation has been quite ingrained with this pattern. I have talked to many ex-bruderhof raised children, and they like myself, had great difficulty accepting the decision making role in our personal lives. I feel that with a few individuals who are "leaders" on the hof, they easily sway the followers to "vote" with a like mind. The power these "leaders" have is great and dangerous. Thank you for sharing your ideas and thoughts, everyone,
"I would like to point out in this connection that in the Bruderhof the gift of "spiritual discernment" is invoked to effectively choke off dissent from the views of the leader. I can recall numerous instances when a Servant (minister) would silence a dissenting brother by declaring that he had "brought a wrong spirit" or (God forbid!) "brought a democratic spirit" into the brotherhood.
"The Elder in particular is believed to have this gift of spiritual discernment to the highest degree. This places almost anything he says or does above criticism..."
I just want to add my 'Amen' to what you wrote, Paul. It was our experience too that Christoph's word was the bottom line, no matter what the unanimous (sans one) decision of the "brotherhood" was. I think the weird twists and turns in practice and causes and associations that one sees in the Bruderhof now reflect the mind and will of one man alone, Christoph. It would make an interesting study to see how linked the Bruderhof is to Christoph, and to sort out what makes Christoph (and the Bruderhof) tick.
Wayne Chesley, 5/30/98: I wrote, "...It is an essential defect in the Bruderhof's understanding of biblical Christianity that God desires a corporate entity, to which he offers salvation, and through which he will redeem the world. The Bruderhofers cannot understand a personal individual relationship to God." Don responded:
"Seems that neither does the Bible. Not that I want to defend the Bruderhof, but I can see that you are on the wrong path. The Lord Jesus and His apostles taught a corporate entity, which is the Body of Christ, the Church. It is not individuals, each on his own, but a body with many members as Paul teaches us in I Cor 12. It is only when we are part of this Body that we can find salvation. Individually we are separate from the Body and live a selfish life, not loving our neighbor as ourselves. There are many admonishments in the Bible that the disciples should be of one mind, in complete unity. Individualism is in direct contrast with this teaching. It is only as we die to self that we can live for Christ, that Christ can live within us."
So do tell me Don, which of the three (or four, or seven) branches of the Hutterites must I join in order to find salvation? Is it not perhaps that the Body of Christ is not as small as a single organized legal entity, but that his body is made up of all those who follow Him?
Really Don, all of what you have written seems to suggest that only those who are members of a particular communal sect will pass beyond God's throne of judgement (and that, regardless of their individual commitment to Christ). It even seems that you hold the Bruderhofers in greater esteem (are they still Hutterites who will thereby gain their salvation?) in spite of their abrogation of individual responsibility and the sins of their corporate self.
Is your salvation dependent on your being a member of a Hutterite (or Bruderhof) colony?
Paul C. Fox, 5/31/98: Don, it seems to me you are using a double standard. You "refuse to judge the Bruderhof," yet you feel very free to judge all Christians who do not live in full community of goods, and condemn them as selfish and self-deluded -- all on the basis of a handful of Scriptures taken out of context. Please note that not one of us has any objection to community of goods as one way of living a Christian life. If you are capable of self-reflection, you might want to ask yourself why you so desperately need to believe that community is the only way of living a Christian life. Peace,
Mike LeBlanc 5/31/98: Don wrote:
"A person may fool themselves into thinking that they have an individual commitment to Christ while they live in their selfish, individual lifestyle, seeking their own way in the world. Many people build their own Golden Calf; many, as the apostle wrote, follow a false Jesus, one that they create in their own minds.
"A true follower of the Lord Jesus will love his brother as himself, which, in practical terms means that he will share all things in common with him, not keeping anything for himself. This can only be done in community life, not in an individual life style."
Maybe you can explain that to the Apostle Paul, who spent much of his life in mission, not in community. I think you have made an idol of the communal life. I believe we need should not limit what God has in store for us. Also, think on this: it is easy to exchange individual private property with communal private property.
"A true follower of the Lord Jesus will follow Him wherever He leads, community or not."
I need to be a steward of whatever God chooses to give me, be the talent, money, experience, skill, knowledge, whatever. I need to be a conduit for His power to flow to believers and unbelievers alike. We are commanded to go and spread the Good News, not live in community. We love our fellow man regardless of where he happens to be, both physically and spiritually. Cloistering oneself in a communal setting seems to limit God's power in our lives. But we each need to follow Him in the way He shows us. To let where we happen to live divide the body of Christ would be a great tragedy (and ultimately against His will). I don't wish to debate this further, as ultimately He will need to convince you of His will, not me. I bid you peace in your search to live out His will in your life. God will make His will known, at His time.
One definition of wellness goes as follows: "Wellness concerns your social interactions, your mind, your feelings, your occupational happiness, your spirituality, as well as your physical health." Another similar definition: "The physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of each of us cannot be considered as separate. Each influences the other, thus a physical illness or pain will be connected in some way to the emotional, mental or spiritual parts of us."
It would not surprise me if there are a number of individuals coming to the conference who have knowledge that they can share with others on this subject, so that we can help each other, rather than bringing in outside "experts" for the session.
I do not want to push this idea, but only mention it as a possible session, and see what the reaction from others are. Maybe we could put this idea in KIT and see what interest there is. Yes?
There are likely many books on the subject, but here are a few that I know of and can recommend as reading material to start with: 1. Wellness Book, by Herbert Benson and Eileen Stewart 2. Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom - by Christiane Northrup. ISBN 0-555-37953-4 3. The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success - by Deepak Chopra. ISBN 1-878424-11-4 4. Living Yoga - A Comprehensive Guide For Daily Life, by Feuerstein, Bodian and Yoga Journal ISBN 187477-729-1
1. The first book of the Bible is Guinessis in which Adam and Eve were created from an apple.
2. Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark.
3. Unleavened bread is bread with no ingredients.
4. Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.
5. Soloman had 300 wives and more than 700 porcupines.
6. The people who followed Jesus were called the 12 decibels.
7. One of the opossums was St. Matthew.
8. The epistles were the wives of the apostles.
9. Paul preached acrimony, which is another name for marriage.