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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, Benedict Cavanna, Leonard Pavitt, Joan Pavitt Taylor
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from within and from outside the Bruderhof.
The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflect those of KIT editors or staff.
Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; £20 mailed f/ EuroKIT to UK & Europe
The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflect those of KIT editors or staff.
Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; £20 mailed f/ EuroKIT to UK & Europe
ITEM: The Eighth Annual KIT Conference at Friendly Crossways will be held July 25-28th. This is BIG YEAR in the USA, so let's have a turn-out! Next Year in the U.K. Let us know if you are coming and how many you are, so we can plan ahead for the meals!
T h e W h o l e K i t A n d C a b o o d l e
Hallo, everybods! We are hoping to see a good turn-out for this year's KIT conference at Friendly Crossways the last weekend in July. This is the year for the big conference in the USA, with next year's planned for the U.K. Please note the dates once more, July 25-28, because the registration blank in the June issue was confusing. Miriam A. Holmes wants to remind everyone to bring their craft work, knitted goods, artwork, etc. to sell to raise funds for KIT. "After all, Christmas is just around the corner," she commented. 'Muschi' also suggested a workshop to brainstorm other methods to raise money. "It's time that we don't have to beat the bushes every time someone has a special need!" she commented.
Many people are wondering about the status of the current Bruderhof lawsuit against the Peregrine Foundation and Ramón. It is still in the preliminary stages, with interrogatories (requests for documents, etc.) in preparation. We are now represented not only by Michael J. Hutter who most ably represented COB members and others in the previous lawsuit, but also by Xuan-Thao Nguyen and Michael Villagra of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson, a large law firm based in Manhattan, who have agreed to defend us pro bono, i.e. at no charge to us.
Meanwhile, although donations for the Legal Defense Fund have been increasing steadily (many many thanks to all donors!), we have noted a decline in letters coming in for KIT publication. We want to remind everyone: "Do not be afraid to exercise your God-given, democratic, constitutional right to write to KIT and speak your mind!" The ultimate defense against the Bruderhof's lawsuits is the truth, and a united stand against their use of the law courts to harass others.
Miriam Arnold Holmes' book published
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe - "Friedemanns 60th"
J. M. Wall's editorial critical of CBS
Utopian Studies article on Oved's B'hof book
Guy McCombs to Sender and Walls
Ramsey Clark protests to CBS
Hilarion Braun to C. Domer
Hannah Goodwin Johnson
alt.support.bruderhof news group excerpts
July 1990 - John G. Arnold: From my encounter with Heini, I do feel that he suffered from a great inferiority feeling. He was sent to an agricultural school while Hardi and Hans-Hermann attended universities. Heini felt left out! I personally feel that Heini did hot have the brains to be an administrator. He could not cope with the Bruderhof. Under his leadership feelings, not reason, determined what actually was decided. This is not Christian.
July 1991 - Miriam Arnold Holmes in reply to Jakob Gneiting, 5/11/91: I appreciate your effort to "open the road to further understanding and respect." Unfortunately, I feel your letter failed to do that. It merely reenforced my impression of the B'hof's shaming and self-righteous attitude. Of course we all have good and bad memories of our childhood and I have, like most of us, learned and grown through both experiences. Your opinions about my experiences, however, are totally invalid because they are my experiences, not yours., You ahve never been in my shoes, therefore you have no right to judge my feelings. Nobody has that right. Besides, it is important for everyone's well-being to have the opportunity to talk about painful memories. It's good for the soul. Maybe you people should try it sometimes.
July 1992 - Ann Button, 6/2/92: ...To address your question of canceling all KIT issues sent to the B'hof, I have some input but no answers. When you see a friend following a path toward destruction or hurting themselves, you can give just so much advice, input and encouragement. The final decision is up to the individual. You can't give someone desire. You certainly can't force a change in behavior. We all who grew up in the commune know this first hand. I do not believe that the 'servants' who wrote to KIT and canceled their subscription speak for all individuals at the B'hof. I personally will take action by contacting specific people and asking if they want to receive KIT. If I get any responses, I will pass the names on to you. I challenge others to do the same.
Stop sending KIT to the general B'hof. It is their loss. Like you said, we certainly don't want to support censorship or mind control. This UNITY that they are so proud of can be a very destructive power! I feel a very strong connection with all of you and want to support KIT further in the future. Love and Best Wishes,
July 1993 - Madeleine Hutchison-Jones, 6/16/93: The more I got into Nadine's letter, the madder I got! This is a breakthrough for me -- to actually feel anger. I just can't believe how a few people got away with playing God, or rather, the devil, and created such misery for so many. It was bad enough for the adults, but to those of us who were children, the whole scene was a nightmare. It infuriates me now that there was not ONE adult who stood up for me during times of physical and emotional abuse. Every abused child suffered alone, and this in itself is such a horrendous crime. The abusers, it seemed, were all rewarded, were elevated to 'higher' positions and never ever held accountable. While we who were abused, year in and year out, have had to struggle to survive while those who created hell for us, have never, ever had to worry about a damn thing. They have lived comfortable in their homes, always secure, surrounded by 'love.' Instead of running all over the world, it might be a good idea if the elite Bruderhofs offered to help those whose whole lives were given and who now find themselves in need.
They say they are living in poverty. Poverty, my eye!! What a bloody lie! I'm sick to death of hearing about their poverty-stricken ways of traveling all over the world. Am I angry! You bet! It's taken 30 years to feel angry, to feel anything, Well, cheers, everyone. Have a great summer,
July 1994 - Andy Harries 6/2/94: When the brothers came from America to England, in 1961 I think it was, before the big crisis, did they come to listen and understand so that we could come to an agreement and reconciliation? NO! They came to judge and accuse. Not only individuals but the whole community, two communities. Three men came over from the USA and knew better than two communities of about 400 people. That can't be right. What conceit and judging!
At Wheathill we were a happy and united community and we had a great leader in Gwynn Evans. He was a really great man and he was a true servant because he was also humble. Joe Blogs or anybody could go and talk with him about anything and one felt that he listened and cared. Gwynn never recovered from the treatment he was given at that time by his so-called Brothers. I don't think he felt a lot of love from them.
I have to say also, that if KIT is so evil, then that tells me logically that the Bruderhof is wrong, because we are all products of the Bruderhof. Greetings,
July 1995 - Name Withheld, 2/26/95: A Message From The Great Guru Of The Order of Divine Inspiration to the open-minded reader. ... Mr. J. C. Arnold, you are a third-generation Führer, Elder, Guru, or whatever, head of a multi-million-dollar corporation, no questions asked... How much have you and your forerunners stashed away? Those multi-millions must be somewhere, right? This despite the fact that all the common brothers and sisters believe that your group is living a life of voluntary poverty. They literally work off their *** for nothing (or is it for your personal benefit, Mr. J. C. Arnold?), only to be kicked out at the whim of the Führer, no questions asked... Isn't it so, Mr. J. C. Arnold, that you employ the same managerial techniques as all multi-million-dollar corporations? Wasn't 'The Nigeria Project' rather a very clumsy cover-up for the diversion of enormous funds to the exterior? And now you feel you are more needed in Russia, Japan and Korea? Aren't these now the hottest regions of heavy investment by international capital? In this context it strikes me, Mr. J. C. Arnold, that you give the same excuse for selling your place in Germany now as did your dad, the late Heini Arnold Vetter, back in the 1960s, in Paraguay: "That the Bruderhof cannot afford to keep the place any longer..." (With all those millions of U.S. $ from your corporations rolling all over this planet Earth? mutter... mutter...). For the benefit of uninformed or mal-informed readers, I am talking of multi-million-dollar investments, not of offering aid to needy ex-members or Sabras.
July 1996 - ITEM: ...It seems as if the Bruderhof members who met with COB steering committee members in Kingston, July 1995, thought they had expressed, during that meeting, their serious aversion to the use of "Bruderhof" in COB's name. However none of the steering committee members who attended received any hint of the Bruderhof's concern at that time, and were truly shocked when, a few months later, they were served with the lawsuit. This shows how serious the miscommunication between the two groups has become, and the need for a third party to be invited to participate as a Fair Witness or a mediator.
J: It is up to you to say anything you want to about your experience ...not necessarily what happened or led up to it, but what it felt like when you got out of the community, and how you coped with adapting to the outside world, and any thoughts on whether and in what way counseling can help people adjust to a new world outlook ...what that experience felt like.
C: It's probably important to remember that people believe in the Bruderhof life, at least to a certain extent while they are there, and that the Bruderhof wasn't, and probably isn't, all bad. So in my experience of leaving the Bruderhof, spiritual, intellectual and philosophic survival was paramount, as it probably was for many others as well.
While I was at the Bruderhof I was always listening, -- "Little pitchers have big ears" -- to the things they read aloud in the dining room, to the things that they believed. I was always checking and criticizing intellectually and philosophically. So in addition to my own spiritual experience which was private, personal and somewhat apart from the Bruderhof, I acquired a basis for somewhat discounting parts of the Bruderhof belief system even while I was there. So when I came to leave -- well I was actually kicked out and never left, because I didn't have the emotional strength to leave without being thrown out -- it was important for me to find something to replace the Bruderhof, something to believe in, something to lean on, something to coordinate with and go for.
This was in the 1960s. I would have been 17 or 18. Martin Luther King was still alive and there was a Civil Rights Movement, when the hippie 'Summer Of Love' and the "60s" were happening. So there were some things outside for me to feel I could go along with. That's what helped me. But what actually catapulted me out of the Bruderhof was the fact that I was gay.
I believed along with them that heterosexual monogamy for the purpose of having children was a ritual sacrament, if not of the church, of spirituality and life itself. So I believed I was intrinsically blasphemous in my very own personal nature. It was completely and totally important for me to be turned from gay to straight in order to be holy.
I had realized that this would not be possible in the Bruderhof, with Bruderhof people or to the Bruderhof philosophic way of life. It was entirely obvious to me that a sexual problem requires a sexual solution, whereas all that they had presented to me was a moral solution. When I told the man in whose family I was at the time that I was gay, he said, "This has grip. In the two or three years that you're praying to get out of this, it will be a very hard struggle."
Well, totally wrong, totally wrong approach, totally wrong idea. It turns out that all they actually did in this connection was try to ensure that I wouldn't see any man naked, as though that would make a difference. And that's laughable. Whereas if anybody wants to be or is going to be turned from gay to straight it will be, if I can put it succinctly, only because they can see Jesus naked. But there was certainly no Jesus to be seen naked in the Bruderhof, if I can express myself metaphorically. Their vision was a failure, and I always knew it.
There were other ways and reasons their vision was a failure. I knew that their private property-community thinking was absolutely bogus, and I have explained that. If in this connection you want to refer to anything I've written in KIT that's fine, because I talked about private property one year, about that little garden, do you remember?
C: OK. The essence of the matter is that if you don't have anything, you can't give anything away. You have to have private property in order to share. The idea that things are automatically shared already is a contradiction in terms. So those were the kinds of big, fat issues that were hanging over my head as I looked out over the world. And whereas the Bruderhof had been a total failure in this connection, so had I; I should be turned from gay to straight.
I began to explore the spectrum of psychotherapy, psychological science and philosophy that was out there. I eventually made the discovery of Wilhelm Reich, but the actual pathway was from Teilhard de Chardin through Edgar Casey and the Aquarian Gospel, the Seth Material, that sort of thing.
A lady turned me on to Wilhelm Reich. I thought that was great because whereas before, Freud had had one disciple in Carl Jung who found the subconscious in the spiritual aspect of life, now he could be seen to have another disciple in Wilhelm Reich who found the subconscious in the body. Either of those two perspectives is inadequate on its own, so I was therefore prepared to look for our consciousness, to look for something that is positioned in between the physical and spiritual manifestation. Human (moral) consciousness, rests on a chemical, electrical system below and involves and touches a spiritual universe above, the spiritual universe being perceptible as values per se, electrical and chemical phenomena as factual per se. In between is me; in between is mind of which I am conscious, although not conscious directly of either electrical or spiritual phenomena. At least that's the view I have now.
So I looked at Wilhelm Reich and the huge question was, 'Why did Wilhelm Reich go crazy at the end of his life?' That was a troublesome question to me if he were to be useful in my progression.
I'd gone to Washington DC to be involved with the civil rights movement which at that time was becoming the black power movement which turned me off, and I became less politically involved. Among the circles I was in there was this psychotherapist who was doing group psychotherapy. He had a very good reputation and I began to be involved with that. However, I did not completely trust the process, in as much as I was convinced that I had to challenge the theoretical framework he was working in and test it and check it out. But that challenging test was never really completed. Nor did the psychotherapist really meet the challenge that I wanted to make. He was trying to franchise his practice into the McDonalds of psychotherapy, whereby he would have group therapy centers all over the place and he would be in charge of the corporation that did psychotherapy. He passed his practice on to somebody else in whom I had no trust. I suppose the word transference comes into play. I did not have positive transference to this other psychotherapist, so I just dumped the whole thing.
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J: How long were you there?
C: A year and a half maybe. So I was very unhappy, very lonely and very isolated. I was with an unexceptional circle of people, hippies, who more or less did drugs and lived common, I was going to say bourgeois lives, but they weren't really bourgeois. They were non-conformists but not very creative, not very intellectual... not people with whom I have very much contact at the moment. They weren't long lasting relationships. They did an awful lot of marijuana, LSD and mescaline which I did as well. Although the peak spiritual experiences of my life were not on drugs, some significant experiences were. But it so happened that my dope dealer's dope dealer passed along a book which he in turn had gotten from Jean Dixon which was called The Urantia Book but which none of them had read.
When I opened up The Urantia Book and started reading I said, 'Whoever wrote this book is smarter than whoever wrote the book I was just reading. How will I know if this is true?' I became a little frightened, but I recalled the words of Alexander Pope, "A little learning is a dangerous thing, drink, deep or taste not the Pirean spring". I said 'Charlie, it's been too late for you, long, long since.' and I read The Urantia Book through as though it were science fiction. But fairly soon I became convinced that it was fact. I tried to shove The Urantia Book under everybody's nose, now that I recall, even people who were illiterate. I had no idea that it would be inaccessible to many if not almost everybody. I was pretty much alone as a student of The Urantia Book for a long, long time. Only subsequently did I begin to meet other students of The Urantia Book. I met some people that were Republicans, who were pretty fun to know. They were middle class people during the time Richard Nixon was falling from power.
I began to realize that I was all finished with DC. There was nothing more for me there. But I didn't want to go out to California until I had my feet on the ground. So I thought, 'Now I have The Urantia Book -- all right, now it's time to go.' And with $35 in my pocket and food stamps, I took a ride out to San Francisco in 1972 in a Washington DC cab with the light still on top. We arrived in San Francisco with the light still on, rush hour in the morning, crossing the Bay Bridge with the other commuters. The commuters laughed their heads off at these freaks with the cab with DC plates, full of garbage- luggage, crossing the bridge.
I had gotten one phone number the night before I left Washington DC of someone in San Francisco who was supposedly a student of The Urantia Book whose number I called. And after spending nights under this that or the other person's roof for about I think maybe two weeks or a week I landed via this phone number contact in the apartment that I now have. I became the building manager because the guy who had been the building manager was getting open heart surgery from which he subsequently died. I thought the students of The Urantia Book would provide a social context that would help me to work through my changes, but they certainly did not.
That was a long and painful discovery. I tried to create among the students of The Urantia Book something like the intellectual and philosophic community I had come from and which the Bruderhof was supposed to be, but It most definitely did not work out. At this point I am deeply cynical about the people who do study The Urantia Book, although some of them are interesting and for whom I have respect. There are many, many for whom I do not. I began to have this life that was more focused on the neighborhood where I live, on a recycling center where I work and on KIT, for one thing ...because of a lot of reasons, some of them emotional and sentimental, some of them because this intellectual detachment that I seem to have, comes into play in a way that I think is useful, and for other reasons I have yet to explore.
As far as therapy or whatever, in addition to that first psychotherapist I've seen another one who was absolutely useless. He was merely snockered by everything I had to say. His jaw simply hit the floor and he was useless. All this while I was drinking wine in huge maintenance quantities, a liter a night. And working in the recycling center where I do, there were occasions when I felt very depressed, also behind the alcohol. So I got myself checked out because I was very unhappy you know, by going through the regular medical establishment and being diagnosed psychologically. I wanted to get free therapy through the local mental health system. So I got diagnosed as having Schizotypal Personality Disorder, of which I am now pretty well convinced that I do not. But the diagnosing shrink said that if they were going to do anything for me, I would have to stop drinking.
It so happened that Dr. Louis Thomas was tall, young and very good-looking, and dressed in the very latest, most expensive fashionable clothes. That was all I needed to quit drinking, notwithstanding that he was an idiot. So I pushed along with the bureaucracy until I got a therapist who was of some use to me. That was simply because this new guy was a little more aggressive than the last one. Even though he made mistakes, he was a little bit proactive. It didn't hurt that he was experimental; it didn't hurt that he tried the eye movement (EMDR), thing. But my interest in psychotherapy has diminished because I am going to explore RC -- Re-evaluation Counseling. I already have taken one class. However none of the people in that class have worked out as counseling partners. I am pretty much disgusted by the politics of RC. I think its entire involvement in politics is simply an enormous pitfall for the movement, and that RC would be of great benefit to a wide spectrum of people if they would simply stick to counseling and stop trying to make themselves into some kind of world betterment, government overthrow movement that they seem to think they are.
I will be doing that (exploring Re-evaluation Counseling) this fall again. I think people helping each other on a reciprocal basis is far more valid philosophically than people helping each other professionally unless there are legitimate medical problems involved. And in my own case, as far as anybody knows, there are not any psychiatric problems per se which would amount to me needing to see a medical doctor. Basically, I think people can do for each other just as well by helping each other rather than having somebody do it professionally if one is not perhaps schizophrenic, and even then I don't know.
J: Is that the main good thing about Re-evaluation Counseling, that there is no power imbalance, that you are working in partnership?
C: Well the power imbalance isn't so much what I am driving at as that the people mutually transform each other, in other words, if this, that or the other isn't working, you get to design your own strategy.
J: But do you have to be able to assume that the person with whom you are working is in any way equipped to...
C: Not only must you not assume anything, you have personally to choose them and then teach them. There is no way that anybody from as complex a background as I come from, can just walk into any old situation and have this, that or the other person automatically be the right one to heal them, obviously not. That's just the way it is.
J: Are there other things about Re-evaluation Counseling that you feel are particularly beneficial?
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C: Oh, yeah, you know, one thing that they do very well is cut through barriers between men. That's one of the huge, huge issues of my life, which I never did go into but I could.
I was the son of a woman of then 40, religious and intellectual, not a virgin, if the only thing my father ever told me that I believe is true, and a father who was an antisocial personality for sure. He checks out in the DSM 3 and 4, as an antisocial personality in every single possible category. He checks out in spades. And she divorced him before I was born. So here's this religious freak, from a New England Victorian background verging on gothic, on a spiritual pilgrimage that eventually wound her up in the Bruderhof, bringing along a gifted child that she had screwed up to the point of no return, and joining the Bruderhof when I was ten. So my life has been basically about fatherhood replacement in response to a formative situation of emotional incest and intellectual overstimulation, both to an extreme degree.
I have written in KIT about how much I like to fly airplanes, not actually fly them but how much I like to ride in airplanes, and I now know why. It's because somebody is flying that airplane. But who is flying that airplane? A man is flying that airplane. What kind of man is flying that airplane? One who's not afraid of heights, of large quantities of explosive fuel, of complicated technology, the most demanding cultural and technological involvement, all the things that my mother never was, of course. A man (who should have been my father). That is the most important issue for me.
It's been at least a generation, quite some decades of feminism and socialism, which from my point of view are both limited ideologies. So I find myself (and this is part of the problem with Re-evaluation Counseling) at odds with just about all the idealistic people of my day who are all busy trying out social experimentation of a type that is transparently ludicrous in my opinion. Just as small intentional communities are pretty pathetic from where I come from.
So it's a generation of women's liberation. To some extent, I agree with it and go along with it, but not to the extent of any kind of unisex philosophy, or equality in the sense of sameness between the sexes. I think it's ridiculous. But I'm not comfortable, however, with allies among the fundamentalist traditionalists, although they are just about the only people who have anything going along these lines. It's just paradoxical that's the case. So intellectual allies are few and far between, it's hard for me to come by anything along those lines. The thing I wrote last year in KIT expressed that.
J: Yes. But why did you say that you were intellectually over stimulated?
C: Oh, when I was a little kid, my favorite book was Aristotle. If I asked my mother a question, she would say, "I don't know. Why don't you look it up in the encyclopedia?" Yeah.
J: I wasn't sure if you were going to say that if you should ask a question, she would answer it with a heap of answers and you were constantly in this environment ...
C: She didn't answer. She used to make me mad. You know, I would ask some simple question, 'Ma, sure you know this.' and "No!" She didn't know it, because she didn't know the theory of relativity. She didn't know everything whatsoever, and any answer she did give me was so open-ended and so, you know "Cover your mouth when you sneeze, cover your mouth." you know, 'Why?' "Because germs, it has been proven, can go so many feet. When I was in nursing school I had to walk through the Boston subway and open a petri dish as I went down the escalator and close it on the way up, and the following germs appeared in the...." You know, 'Where do babies come from?' "OK, here's a pamphlet." It showed a clay model of a women split in half with the fetus inside. It was all too much. That was all when I was five. "Eat your vegetables, blah, blah, blah... the starving children in Africa." "There was a missionary in China. They served him their greatest delicacy. It was a live bug under a watch glass. And so committed was he to the principal of cultural relativity that he ate it, and you should eat your spinach."
J: So what's the connection?
C: Well, the connection is that it was all much too much. But what I was looking for throughout the Bruderhof experience and never found there I found in William Blake. The Bruderhof was very anti-sexual but the William Blake poem said, "Abstinence sows sand all over the ruddy limbs and flowing hair, But desire gratified: plants seeds of life and beauty there." This was an enormous contradiction to Bruderhof philosophy. I remember thinking about things like, 'Why do we get up in the morning? It's because the sun wakes us up not because there is some kind of rule that we have to get up or whatever.' 'Why do we go to sleep at night? It's because it's dark.' 'Why should the B. children be quiet at their dinner time? It's because the food they are eating tastes good and eating is what they want to do rather than wanting to run their mouths.' So I would cook family supper. I would put garlic and shrimp and spices in it and none of the little B's. said anything during dinner. In fact, everyone was just shoveling in the food. It was wonderfully silent. If anybody else cooked, George would spend the whole meal shushing his kids. I was thinking about, 'If things can only be the natural way.' That's why it was clear to me that there had to be a sexual solution to a sexual problem. A moral or a religious solutions to a sexual problem is a contradiction in terms, and won't work. The Bruderhof was not able to deal with any of this. They were an extreme, fanatical, constrained, contradictory and unworkable attempt even then, even back then.
I would listen as I said to what I was allowed to hear in the dining room. I would listen to the defense of community over private property, but when it came down to crunch time, Eberhard Arnold's argument fell flat on its face. There was nothing there, it was not... all he did was refer to the word privare meaning "to steal" (in Latin), there was nothing else. He did not have anything at all. So the whole thing was a very well intentioned, but very, very spectacular charade. Notwithstanding that, there were an awful lot of cultural byproducts that were really, really, wonderful in some respects.
But, I've become more or less happy in life I live now. And it's a whole variety of things... psychotherapy and whatnot, that have played a small part in that. But a far larger part that's been played, as far as psychotherapy and whatnot goes, is the fact that I was always looking for what was culturally relevant and transformative. As far as my generation or the intrinsic questions of my life are concerned, throughout my entire life, and in this, I am not unique in the circles of people from KIT, because you could point to several different individuals around, who looked for philosophical survival. Quite a few of them. Quite a few nutcase people have survived intellectually somehow or other. **** comes to mind.
J: So you felt if you were surviving intellectually at least it would also help in some way in the sort of practical...
C: Oh, absolutely paramount.
J: So in a way did that condition all your survival mechanisms? You related to people if you had the intellectual connection?
C: Well, you know, in assessing whether I would get involved with any situation or with any people is whether there would be some use. Where I live in San Francisco, it's not a bad place for that sort of thing, because even if people are extremely foolish, they are sincere in what they're doing.
J: You made it sound very smooth. You took an enormous risk, a leap in the dark to travel across the continent with $35 and a telephone number. But almost with the next sentence, you were in the apartment you are still in, in the job you are still doing.
C: That's exactly what happened, with the phone number I had gotten the evening before I departed, $35 and food stamps, I landed in the apartment I'm in now.
J: You had three things and in a way, it set you up for life.
C: Yeah. And The Urantia Book, which set me up for a lot of heartache for the next 10 or 15 years until I completely processed that situation.
J: It sounds as if you found it wanting.
C: Oh, The Urantia Book circles of people are as promiscuous a collection of egregious a******* as I have ever encountered in any connection.
J: So, although they were no help...
C: Saying 'no help' is not quite fair. One of my closest friends is one of those people, somebody I turned on to RC. This is a person who is very close to me, but he has traveled in my wake.
J: Right. But back at the beginning where you said that your problem with the Bruderhof was that they simply couldn't cope with you being gay, and that you were going to find a sexual solution rather than a moral solution because you had figured out...
C: I have yet to explore the potential of RC in that connection. But I am looking forward to it, because of all the philosophical systems that I have come across, of all the practical systems, RC has the most potential. They're not afraid of men being close with men. Harvey Jackins' theory is that homosexuality is unnatural and that fully healthy people would be beyond it... Obviously, the crux of the problem and where I don't agree with him is that he leaves out the genetic component. But RC leaves out the genetic component of human life altogether as do many...
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J: So it's not discriminating the homosexual?
C: Well, no he's not. They leave out the fact that people are genetically different. They try to start from the position that everybody is equal, and all the differences between people come about from the way they were treated. This is the same thesis that Communism had. It's the same thesis that Rousseau had, it's the egalitarian thesis. It is inadequate. People are genetically different, male and female are genetically, physiologically and mentally different. And even though the fact that the individuals that compose any given group are also each different may obscure a discussion of these things, no two human beings or two human groups are ever anything other than different. That twin study stuff is perfectly true. Of identical twins raised apart, if one of them is gay, there is a bigger percent chance that the other one will be too, regardless of any difference in the environment, 30%... way above the statistical likelihood for unrelated people, but not 100%. So homosexuality is not 100% genetically determined, although in a percent of cases it might be. It might be hidden in that 30%. There might be some of them that are 100% certain to be, I don't know. Certainly homosexuality occurs in all races and all cultures to some extent. But I think it fluctuates in percentage according to the amount of social change in the marriage mores at any given point in time. Obviously, ours are under enormous stress. But I always felt that my homosexuality was more environmentally determined than anything else, I could be wrong, but I felt that way. I felt that way always.
J: And that environment being...?
C: A gothic, moralistic, Victorian, Jesus freak, intellectually fanatical mother on a costly and risky spiritual and intellectual pilgrimage that led through the Bruderhof as we know, which was a wildly disastrous, wildly unsuccessful social experiment of great brilliance and the garden-variety of emotional incest.
J: What about the Bruderhof's very puritanical stuff?
C: Remember what I told you... They tried to bring a moral approach to bear on a sexual problem, a moral and intellectual approach. It doesn't work. That's why there is much more hope for something like RC. Because at least the approach there would be emotional. I already know enough from the very little counseling I have done in this connection that the potential for great success is there. Plus RC can only be expected to evolve, break up and evolve again. There's enough in that. ...What could be simpler than human beings helping each other?
J: What about Harvey Jackins -- his stated belief that homosexuality is unnatural?
C: His stated belief echoes very strongly with my personal belief that mine was environmentally caused. But his stated belief is that all differences between people are the result of how they were treated because everybody's genetically the same. So his problem with homosexuality is a subset of his problem with human genetics, and the problem with human genetics is the basic problem between socialism and capitalism at this point in time. Socialism has become identified with the egalitarian, materialistic causation theory of human behavior. People behave according to how they are treated and according to their material advantages and disadvantages. The capitalist theory is associated with the idea that individuals have differentials of talent between them. So (as far as the government is concerned, at least) let's just throw them out there and see who sinks and see who swims. Given the preponderance of the socialist in my immediate circle of people, I'm about as capitalist and republican and right wing as anybody you're going to come across.
J: But I'm still not clear, are you saying that if he's right, then maybe the Bruderhof's idea that you could, after maybe three years of struggle, be changed from homosexual to heterosexual?
C: Yeah, but not by their methods.
J: But are you saying that Re-evaluation Counseling might be the method?
J: And are you looking for...
C: Not at the age of 49. I don't know what I'11 find at the age of 49. I'm not 20 any more, even though I feel like I am 20. I'm not, and I don't care. You know, my own life and human generalities are two different things. When I was younger, I felt my own life and human generalities were far more unitary. I thought that I was much more important than I think now.
J: Don't we all. So, Re-evaluation Counseling is not primarily going to solve that problem.
C: I don't know whether it will or not and I actually don't care. It feels good. It enables me to deal with some of these things on an experiential and personal basis. And at this point in my life, I'm not concerned with any theoretical outcome. The idea that I would ever have a child is remote, not quite as remote as the idea that I would ever rejoin the Bruderhof, but approaching it. OK? It's remote indeed.
J: If I were to respond to what you say, it sounds as if you have really coped because you have thought about things deeply, intellectually and come to conclusions about a whole heap of ways of being in the world. And that in doing that, you have, if you like, made peace with yourself, and the way you are in the world and hang the rest of them.
C: Well not really hang the rest of them.
J: Well you will sort of conform and go along with laws and the values and that sort of thing but they will have to be the ones that suit you.
C: Well I have always thought I had more of a grasp on both spiritual and material reality than almost anybody that I knew, in fact anybody that I know.
J: Right, and in fact just knowing that..
C: It's very lonely...
J: But it's a very, very strong coping mechanism because if you really are in touch with reality then you have a head start on the other guys.
C: Absolutely. Not that it may do you any good in this, that or the other circumstance, but you do. The first and most important thing that I had to fathom, and as a matter of fact... and this is what I mean by intellectually over stimulated:
When I was little, 5 years old or less, I was afraid of death. And my idea of death was from watching soap bubbles. All the little children wanted to pop the soap bubble. But why would You want to pop a soap bubble? Then it's gone, and it's so pretty. It's so beautiful, then it's gone. I didn't want to pop soap bubbles. So popping soap bubbles was my metaphor for death, and I was terrified by the thought of death ...until I had a worse fear. That was the fear of insanity, which would be unlimited horror of experience, whereas death was no experience at all, in my concept. And this was when I was 4 or 5 years old.
J: And you had figured out those two...
C: When I was little. This is what I mean by intellectually over stimulated. I was hooked into thinking about, not Kirkegaard by name, but the philosophy of Aquinas, Kirkegaard and Aristotle, and all the intellectual ideas my mother made have grappled with when I was small.
J: You had the intelligence to be able to do it, but you also had something else that drove you to do it because really intelligent people can grasp things quickly but they may not be in touch with reality, they may not be grappling with these sort of philosophic questions at whatever their age or maturity, and yet you actually had it at that very early age.
C: I did. And as to why, well it's just the kind of person I happen to be.
J: When did you know that you were so head and shoulders beyond other people in your ability to grasp concepts.
C: Oh, I always thought I was terribly smart.
J: Did you get any validation of that?
C: Yes, of course.
J: So in fact not only did you know it, but the way people reacted to you reinforced over and over again that you were smart. But what about the Bruderhof
C: They thought it was awful and put me down for it. So I wouldn't learn anything in school. I just daydreamed and drifted away and did rotten in school. I wouldn't learn the multiplication table for months and months and months. It was this horrible, horrible thing. Finally, C******, D**** W********'s wife said, and it was entirely outside of Bruderhof propriety for her to say this, she said, "How come a smart boy like you doesn't know the multiplication. table?" And of course, the next day I knew it.
I didn't forget that. This was part of my anti-Bruderhof ammunition. I was concerned with their philosophy of people having no ego. I disbelieved this philosophy. I did not agree with it. I don't know if I then formulated or since formulated the metaphor that an ego is like a skeleton; without it, people are merely puddles. But at least I knew back then that without pride I had no existence. In other words, the things that they were putting down were necessary things. I knew this and I did not buy their line at any point. Now I wasn't there from infancy. I wasn't programmed by them as many people were from infancy on. I had been very, very heavily programmed in some other way by the time I got there at the age of ten.
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J: What difference would it have made.
C: I think that my ego was terrifically strong. It had been very, very much reinforced but in its own way, in a paradoxical fashion, but by the weird background that I had. I was extremely stuck up.
J: You said that your ego was very strong, and then was reinforced. It strikes me that you would have been, as a baby born in the Bruderhof, a child with a huge ego, with certainly a clear acknowledgment to yourself, of your value, your smartness, your perceptions and stuff like that. Although it would have been drummed out of you as much as possible, it sounds like it might have been there and continued to...
C: One of the things my mother said that I can't disagree with is, "Stay out of the subjunctive." I have no idea on that one. But she always said, "Stay out of the subjunctive." She's got an awfully smart mouth, if you ever met her. I don't know whether you did.
J: I can't remember if I did. I feel that I should've because I believe you were in Woodcrest at the time I was there... So really you actually had all the equipment you needed right inside yourself. However damaged, beaten about, programmed, and it sounded as if very little of it got through to you, you nevertheless walked away from the Bruderhof with so much of yourself intact. But I'm wondering about the emotional impact?
C: Well, I've left out the emotional damage. I have not discussed that, the extent of that.
J: Have you used your intellectual ability to cover over the emotional stuff, to rationalize the emotional damage as much as possible?
C: Probably, but I'm not really sure what you mean by that.
J: Well, for example we heard where S******* was saying something like, "I just have to get on with my life. Sure, other people have had worse things etc., etc." A minimization, a rationalization, a way of not having to say, "Ow, it hurts a lot."
C: When I'm in an RC session, I may indeed look at feelings per se. I don't often do that. Sometimes I do... But I enjoy life, I enjoy having a cup of coffee in the morning. I enjoy going to the work I do which I love and which is very simple work. I get to do manual labor. It's a great pleasure to me. I get to ride around the city in a truck and see all different parts of the city. I start my week in a beautiful valley park pulling barrels of recyclables out of this wonderful glade where they have classical music concerts, pulling the champagne bottles out of the vineyard, as it were. I love doing this, so probably the reason I didn't talk about the emotional stuff to you is that it was just something I got through. I was telling you the way I did it. You know, I did understand and do understand, have always understood that it's the ideas of a culture whereby people believe and get through life. The ideas and ideals of a culture are responsible for human experience. Although my experience was miserable, I knew that if I remained connected to the ideas that I would find a pathway, or at least that it was my only chance of finding a pathway through. Indeed, I have been very, very, very, lucky. ...So that's what happened to me.
J: You had already figured out well before the age of 5 that you were much more in touch with reality than anyone else and also that you were very smart. That's a powerful combination.
C: Well it produced an almost magical, you know, a superstitious belief that I was more important than I was.
J: You have also just said how much you like your job and feel very fortunate in having it. But I wonder if you had been in a different environment, a very intellectually stimulating environment or if you had carried on living with your mother and she had not joined the Bruderhof that you might have ended up as, what, as a Professor of Philosophy.
C: If my mother had kept me and not found the Bruderhof. I would probably have wound up a basket case. They took me away from her after about two months.
J: Two months of age or two months after reaching the Bruderhof.
C: Two months after I got to the Bruderhof.
Within just a few months of my arrival in the Bruderhof they saw that I got a splitting headache when she'd speak to me in the morning, for example. So they put me in another family. The only thing I was afraid of was that I would ever have to see her again. I did not hate her. I just wanted never to see her again
J: So realistically what would your future have been if she had not joined?
C: I can only imagine I would have been insane. I would have gotten so f***** up I don't know what would have happened. I would have been a total nutcase. I can't imagine.
J: Even though at that age, once kids go to school they spend much less time with their mother?
C: I don't know whether I would have been able to cope with, high school. I have no idea, I just don't know, I couldn't stand it. See, that's just one reason that it was hard for me to disbelieve in many aspects of the Bruderhof any earlier than I did. The Bruderhof did far better by me than it did by almost anybody else, you see, because they had been so wise in taking me away from her.
J: You know, I'm thinking this is really very interesting. Who was intuitive enough to make that connection and respond to your needs?
C: I mean it was under his scrutiny that this all took place. And D*** M*****, whom I have no doubt was just as evil as people say he was, was involved in putting me with Jack Melan¨on who was the brilliant protégé (of Heini). This was some kind of psychological experiment, an attempt at Christianity on their part. And they failed. But there was some sort of legitimacy to what they were attempting, even though we all know what we know about Heini's motivations.
J: Well, this is particularly interesting because you would have been a marked kid, the minute that you arrived, because you were an only child, your mother was a woman with just one child and no husband. You would have stood out like a sore thumb...
C: I stood out like a sore thumb intrinsically as well as being marked as just one child with a mother and no father. But there were other women with one child that came along.
J: Were there? Did the Bruderhof have many?
C: Not necessarily many, but there were single women with maybe several kids. There were the S*******, there was K**** B*********, a woman and one child. K**** did not last in the Bruderhof; my mother did. K****'s relationship with her son was good; mine with my mother was not. K**** actually had two; the other son stayed with her former husband.
J: I think you were extraordinarily fortunate, that you were treated in this way, not in fact stigmatized.
C: Well, I was stigmatized, as I thought, intrinsically, in as much as I did believe in the sacramental concept of human sexuality at that point. And the questions of whether there were such things as genetics and differentiating people intrinsically was an open question in my mind, all that while. I was fascinated by the aristocracy and ancestors. I had asked my grandmother when I was little who my ancestors were, because I hoped they were aristocrats. My mother's mother stomped her foot. She was a school teacher, and her modus operandi was to be writing on the blackboard or whatever, and if something was going on behind her back that she wanted to bring to a halt, she would stomp her high-heeled, old-lady boot, you know. So she stomped her foot and said, "I think they're Irish." Which was like saying 'I think they're scum, pond scum.'
J: When did you learn that you were gay?
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C: Oh, I knew for sure that my feelings for men, of which I had been fully conscious all along, were homosexual, I knew that around puberty. I started looking things up in the encyclopedia. The last time that I had sexual feelings for a woman was when I was in the second or third grade. I was watching a woman who had recently given birth and had very big breasts, nursing a baby. That was the last time I had sexual feelings for a woman. That was one particular woman and one particular occasion, by the way, not just anyone. That was the last time.
Oddly enough, I now realize I can recall having sexual feelings towards my mother on several occasions, but they were creepy. That's the whole basis of my belief that my homosexuality was environmentally generated. I thought when I read Freud that the Freudian mechanism for the explanation of homosexuality made complete and perfect sense to me, as far as my own understanding of it was concerned regarding my own background and my own self. You do see different boys under different circumstances with different mothers coming out in different ways and it is all very problematic. But I do recognize... What I told you about the twin study stuff: there is a 30% larger chance. A big chance, but it is not 100%. So I always thought it was this creepy screwed up background. My mother was very extreme, moralistic and intellectual. She was into all this health food stuff according to the amount of calories and vitamins and whatnot that was in the food, not how the food tasted. And if she wanted to cook something that tasted good, it was sweet and sour spare ribs, ugh! Or like English food, cold baked beans. They had them at Andover until I intervened.
J: They never!
C: Yes they did, your sisters! I said, 'It's not possible that they want these cold.' They only got heated up because I heated them. They were going to open those cans and sling it at the people just like my grandma.
J: So, you were 10 years in San Francisco before you met up with Ramón ?
C: Probably more than that. When did I meet up with Ramón, '89?
J: Not before KIT? I thought he did have just this small circle of people that he knew.
C: Yes, Vince.
J: Did Vince know you, or what was the connection?
C: Ramón thought, as he thought back on the community, that I must have been gay and that if gay, was very likely to be living in San Francisco. So he looked in the phone book.
J: Sherlock Holmes! So Ramón knew you in Woodcrest as a child and he then later sussed that you might be gay. That's pretty incredible.
C: Not rocket science.
J: Well, probably not for him or for you. But I would have thought for the Bruderhof, homosexuality almost did not exist as a definition...
C: Well, he came from outside.
J: You mean, he was knowledgeable about a lot of sex stuff and so on.
C: Probably not with men.
J: No, no but what I mean is he was...
C: Sexually sophisticated? Not necessarily.