P.O. Box 460141 / San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 / telephone: (415) 821-2090 / FAX (415) 282-2369 / http://www.perefound.org / e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
KIT Staff U.S.: Ramón Sender, Charles Lamar, Christina Bernard, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom, Brother Witless (in an advisory capacity)
EuroKIT: Joy Johnson MacDonald, Carol Beels Beck, Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Ben Cavanna
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
This is the final KIT issue of our first decade of publication! Hooray for us! (Visualize fireworks, rockets, loud band playing Keine Shoener Land or perhaps 'The International'). This decade has offered such a rollercoaster adventure! The 'ups' have been all the wonderful reconnections between people, the 'downs' having been the Bruderhof's descent into the abuse of the law courts and even worse behavior. Anyway, Happy TENTH ANNIVERSARY to KIT! May it continue to serve in ways too amazing yet to be imagined! We look forward to seeing everyone at Friendly Crossways, Aug 6 - 9, and EuroKIT, Sept 17-19, Lower Shaw Farm!
The Whole KIT And Caboodle
The Whole KIT And Caboodle
------ Table of Contents --------
Joy Johnson MacDonald
Margot Wegner Purcell
Eric Lee Goodnight
EuroKIT gathering Sept 17-19, 1999
William Kulla Fischer
ITEM - Rifton Aviation Expansion Plans
------ alt.support.bruderhof ------
P Fox, ploughman, B Purcell, P Fox, T Domer,
M Purcell, B & M Purcell, R Sender
ITEM - Plough Pub publishes She Said Yes
------ alt.support.bruderhof ------
P Fox, B Chesley, W Chesley
B Purcell, B Cavanna, W Chesley,
D Ostrom, P Forde, M Fros, Kitsucks1, M Fros
ITEM - Cries From The Heart review
ITEM - Drained reviews on amazon.com
Hilarion Braun to Sam Arnold
Hans Zimmermann - 'Wenceslao Jaime'
Joy Johnson MacDonald, 6/14/99: Dear KIT friends, for many years Ramon has sent me 80 KITs each month, which I mail on to people in England, Germany, Switzerland and Holland. I have also been responsible for collecting the European subscriptions which I pass on to Ramon after deducting postage. I am unable to continue this task and we need to find an alternative by September. It is certainly much more economical for KITs to be posted from Europe and indeed it would be good if a German reader were willing to send out 20 KITs, as the mailing cost from England to Europe has doubled since I started, whereas internal mail has hardly gone up at all.
When I spoke to people at our recent Rookwood KIT B.B.Q. there were a few suggestions but no firm offers, so I'm widening my appeal to all the European readership. I am very willing to help someone set up the mailing list and could print a few months labels for them. If Ramon and his editors have to send out the extra KITs, we may need to consider increasing the European subscription rate to cover the extra (more than double) cost of mailing from the States. I do hope someone, or several people, can take this on. With best wishes,
KIT: Thank you, Joy, for all your efforts over these years! Your job as faithful EuroKIT distributor has been only one facet of what we know is your ongoing and very loving commitment to KITfolks' needs.
Margot Wegner Purcell, Father's Day, 6/20/99: To those of the Bruderhof who read this site, I have a request. Please pass on to my Papa and all the fathers on the hofs, that we think of them especially today as Father's Day is celebrated in the USA. I miss communication with my father and being a part of his later years. I know it is not his decision alone that is keeping us apart. My parents are missing out on their children's and grandchildren's lives. My daughter sorely misses knowing her grandparents.
Therefore, J. C. Arnold, Christian Domer, Joe Keiderling or whoever else reads here, please pass on sincere greetings to all our parents on the hof.
KIT: Eric Lee Goodnight was born on June 7th to Ann Button and Dean Goodnight, arriving a few weeks later than expected. After a lengthy labor, Eric was delivered by c-section, weighing in at 12 pounds, 1 oz. He was immediately offered a very generous contract to play with the San Francisco Forty-Niners in 2018. Proud papa Dean refused the offer. "Wait until at least the kid can sign his own name," he was heard to say. BEST TO ALL!!!
KIT: Eurokit 1999 -- Tenth Anniversary Weekend at Lower Shaw Farm, Swindon, Wiltshire. Friday Sept 17th supper to Sunday 19th lunch.
Full weekend accommodation and all meals - £60
Full weekend - non resident inc all meals - £43
Day stay Saturday including meals - £18
Day stay Sunday including meals - £12
Bed & Breakfast before or after the weekend - £12
Please book direct by sending a one-third deposit to: Lower Shaw Farm, Old Shaw Lane, Shaw, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN5 9PJ. Matt Holland or Andrea Hirsch on 01793 771080. If money might prevent you from attending, please contact Ben Cavanna on 01424 716573. Please bring song books, musical instruments, sports equipment, etc. We look forward to seeing you all there!
KIT: Those of us who know of Lee Kleiss's health problems will be glad to know that she is slowly recovering from her surgery and hoping to regain, via physical therapy, as much of the use of her legs as she can. Keep her in your thoughts.
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe, 6/24/99: This morning I had a phone call from Erna Friedemann telling me that Hilde Pfeiffer, mother of Klaus, Gudrun, Horst, Isolde and Hanfried died last night from a heart collapse. She, same as her husband Fritz, will be remembered by many Bruderhof and Ex-Bruderhof people as very dedicated members who gave all their strength, love and abilities to the Communities in Primavera.
Like many others, they had to leave in the early 1960s without understanding why. Luckily Fritz was able to find a teaching job once he returned to Germany, because he was sent by the State to build up German Schools in Paraguay and with this his pension, too, was guaranteed. This was especially good for Hilde after Fritz's death some years ago. They left Germany in the early 1930s, and Fritz worked as a German teacher in the school in Colonia Independencia. Brothers went to visit many colonies, to make contacts with the local people in Paraguay and I think it was Gerhard Wiegand who first met the Pfeiffers. I remember well when the Pfeiffers came to the Bruderhof. We never had many guests, so this was special -- a whole family.
They came to live in Loma Hoby and Hilde, like my father, came originally from the city of Dresden in Germany and they had many laughs, as they talked in the sficksische dialect. The oldest son, Klaus, (who is married to Elizabeth Headland and lives in Mallorca) came into our school class and he knew a lot and was well educated. His father Fritz worked in our schools almost at once because we were very short of German teachers. They joined soon and took upon themselves the difficult life of the poor communities, whereas in Independencia they did have a good life. Fritz and Hilde took us on school outings to the river Tapiraquay, and Fritz taught us a lot of songs we did not know. Later he also had us for art classes and I remember well how he taught us to finger-paint making a thick paste of mandioca flour and dripping in a little paint -- we really enjoyed that.
Later they moved to Isla Margarita and we lost touch. At the KIT conference in Worpswede 1996, I met Hilde again after so many years. Like all of us, she had aged a lot and her health was very poor. In 1997 and 1998 we met her during Advent when Hans and I stayed with Erna and Werner for carol singing with the family and friends. Hilde had found peace in a strong and loving faith for Jesus Christ. She had forgiven those who had hurt her and loved to remember the good times we did have together. It was good to see her so peaceful and hear her sing the old Christmas carols and hymns with so much joy. My thoughts go out to all her children, who will most surely miss their mother intensely.
I liked the June KITletter although I am not through reading John Stewart's contribution. I think the letter written by Tim Domer to his father speaks for all of us who have aging parents and family on the inside. Thank you, Tim, for expressing it that way. I wish that I could meet you, but tell your wife and daughters that we are sort of family also. I do wish you and your family the very best and God's blessing for the work you are doing. Pauline's letter was very enlightening also and Paul Fox and Wayne Chesley speak about a Bruderhof I do not know, a hardness and lovelessness I find difficult to comprehend and understand. Hero-worship was always a lure for those in the Servants' position. The Servants in Primavera, though, fought against this and saw the danger, whereas Heini and his son really seem to wallow in it, and then comes pride and destruction. I am so thankful that we have this way of contact with each other and hope to meet many of you in August.
William Kulla Fischer, 5/26/99: Hello all! Thank you, Mel and Hilarion, for your contributions. In reading your lines, I felt more than understood your dislike of complicated, untrue stories that don't really give you a bottom line. Then I get to Hans' story "Living With The Elements," remembering the suspense whether I could go along or not, because of my age, I suppose -- 11-12 years.
In all honesty, I only recall flashes of the adventure, such as Herman Pleil showing us how to rip only one side of the palm leaves, the absolute fear of that thunderstorm slowly changing into aggression; consciously waiting, counting the second for the next flash of lightning and clap of thunder.
At daybreak, drying off as well as you could, and getting on with what had to be done. The sight of that rushing brown water in that canal was the ultimate test. Don't ask me how I crossed that canal or how I walked home!
What I do remember is feeling ten feet tall the next day, unafraid of certain people or elders.
Thank you, Hans, for awakening memories, and thank you Jere, Herman and Bob for having a hand in making me respect real power -- the elements -- and grow up. Greet you all,
ITEM: Aviation Week, 10/20/98, ran an article on the Bruderhof's planned "super center" at Stewart International Airport. The article describes Bruderhof plans to build "the largest business aviation facility" in the Northeast on a 22-acre plot at the intersection of the two main runways at Stewart.
The building is described as unusual, both in its design as well as its enormous size, a double hanger divided by maintenance shops and a glass domed terminal with amenities for all on the two top floors. The main concourse will offer retail outlets, gift shop and gourmet restaurant. A complete array of services will include the ability to obtain theater tickets, dry cleaning and transmit faxes. The VIP rooms will include computer data ports while crew amenities will include sleeping quarters, a lounge, shower, a sauna and an exercise room.
The hangers are described as "immense," each able to hold three Airbus A3's or Boeing Business Jets, according to Christian Domer, president of Rifton Aviation. Hanger doors on each side will allow easy entry and exit of aircraft. Rifton Aviation will not offer maintenance, but may rent space to specialists in these services.
Paul C. Fox MD, from ASB, 6/13/99: Readers who are unfamiliar with the growing empire of Bruderhof-controlled businesses may wonder what this article has to do with the newsgroup. It's simple:
1. Rifton Aviation Services is owned and operated by the Bruderhof.
2. Rifton Aviation Services' President Christian Domer is a powerful figure in the little circle of decision-makers who surround Christoph Arnold.
Question: will the Bruderhof start using the proceeds from the 'aviation super-center' to provide medical care for its members, instead of billing Medical Assistance? Or will they continue to plead 'poverty' in order to get the taxpayers to foot the bill?
Ploughman, from ASB, 6/13/99: What the Bruderhof does in regards to 'Medical Assistance' is perfectly legal.
Blair Purcell, from ASB, 6/13/99: Ploughman wrote: "What the Bruderhof does in regards to 'Medical Assistance' is perfectly legal."
Is it right?
Paul C. Fox MD, from ASB, 6/13/99: Ploughman wrote: "What the Bruderhof does in regards to 'Medical Assistance' is perfectly legal."
So is the sale of pornographic magazines, extramarital sex between consenting adults (of either sex), and partial-birth abortion. That doesn't make those things moral.
When we lived in the Community, and were completely in the dark about the income the Bruderhof derives from its various enterprises, we had no problem billing Medical Assistance. We were 'the poor,' after all. But things look rather different now. Without question the Bruderhof could afford to pay for medical services for its members. Instead, its leadership chooses to juggle the numbers in such a way as to put members in the 'poverty income level,' and milk the taxpayers. This is wrong!
Tim Domer MD, from ASB, 6/13/99: In order for Mr. Ploughman to know that what the Bruderhof does "is perfectly legal", he must have some inside information. On what basis do you make that claim, Mr. Ploughman?
Mr. Ploughman should remember that what is "legal" and what is moral, ethical or "christian" are often very different issues. The Bruderhof claims to follow the teachings of Christ. More and more, however, they flaunt their "legal" rights. This includes their rights to sue, to cut off contact to and from family members, to be cold-hearted, unloving, and to follow the American dream of amassing great wealth. I do not doubt that they have researched corporate and business law to make sure that they can legally have great wealth and collect public assistance at the same time. Many wealthy people in this country do the same.
They also have a perfect "right" to try to make their elder famous, even though his actions contradict his words and leave his words empty. Certainly these are all "legal" as Mr. Ploughman points out. I do not recall any reference in Scripture, however, that indicates that Christ was represented by an attorney or that He stood on legal rights that ran counter to his words.
Why does not the Bruderhof web page indicate Rifton Aviation and their high-priced charter jet service as sources of income? Community Playthings, Rifton Equipment and Plough Publishing are all mentioned. The photo on their web page is of a smiling family in simple, traditional dress. Why isn't the family standing in front of the Bruderhof Gulfstream jet parked in front of the new "super center?" Would that spoil the innocent, simple, poor, "love-thy-neighbor" image the Bruderhof strives so hard to portray?
As Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time. You can never fool all the people all the time." One can never fool God.
Some people may be fooled by the "christian" packaging of the Bruderhof and its' elder. If one tears the packaging and looks inside, the actual product is quite different.
Mr. Ploughman, Jesus warned us to "beware of wolves dressed up in sheep's clothing." Go ahead and ride your wave of worldly success. It won't last for ever. The truth will out some day. The bigger the wave, the mightier the crash.
Margot Wegner Purcell, from ASB, 6/14/99: Thanks, Tim, for what you wrote here. I agree with what you wrote and ask "Ploughman" to answer these questions and concerns. maybe the President of Rifton Aviation, Christian Domer, could give us some explanations.
Bruderhof elders, is the membership fully informed and aware of the Bruderhof's financial status? Why does the "work force" of Community playthings and Rifton Equipment work so many hours and feel they are living in poverty? So many wonderful people live on your hofs, what do they really know? I for one want to know. Please explain.
Blair & Margot Purcell,from ASB, 6/20/99: ...We really feel, from some things we have heard, that maybe there has been some serious reconsideration of past actions by the Bruderhof. This hasn't exactly translated into any real apology to those on the outside -- hence our lack of optimism. If the Bruderhof has re-thought at least some of what has taken place, perhaps it is up to us to build on that. Still, we need some sign, some indication of movement. And, perhaps, the first thing to be discussed is how to keep public criticism to a minimum.
This indication of movement need not be public, it need not be directed to us. Others can bring the message to those who need to hear it. It's time; both sides have waited for so long.
Ramon Sender, f/ the Hummer, 71/99: Joe Keiderling mailed me a copy of a "pamphlet" (240 pps) titled The Forest River Story, 1954-57, Extracts From Letters Written By Heini And Annermarie Arnold And Emmy Arnold. At first glance the book appears to be yet another self-serving, revisionist tract, this time a rewriting of the Bruderhof's ruin of the Forest River Colony, a very sad chapter in Bruderhof-Hutterite relations. The human suffering triggered by the Bruderhof leaders' abusive behavior at Forest River has lingered on for many of those who were children in the colony at that time.
Joe Keiderling also sent a copy to Bette Bohlken-Zumpe. Each included the same letter that asked that we "not circulate the document among the colonies of the Hutterites." Meanwhile, Christoph Arnold has sent Rev. Terral Miller a copy with a request that he review it for his newsletter, which circulates among the Hutterites. Is some strange sort of titillation going on? Obviously the Hutterites should be allowed to read this carefully selected correspondence and respond at length from their own archives. A review of the book will be forthcoming in a later KIT.
Terry Miller, Hutterite Studies Centre, 6/30/99: The Herald Press has published a new translation of Peter Riedemann's Hutterite Confession Of Faith in modern English. The translation was done by Professor John J. Friesen of Canadian Mennonite Bible College. Although this is a new publication, available in both hard cover and soft cover, the Jake Kleinsasser Leut have released a 'New Expanded Edition,' also available in hard cover and soft. All of this is becoming a very controversial matter and seems to have met with almost universal disapproval amongst the Darius, Lehrer and Schmiedleut leadership, who are united under the banner of the Hutterian Brethren Church (HBC). The smaller, separate group led by Jake Kleinsasser, now incorporated under the name Schmiedleut Conference Hutterian Brethren Church (SCHBC), has added some thirty pages to their New Expanded Edition. The added material includes an endorsement by an SCHBC committee, historical material by Dora Maendel (with several historical inaccuracies), a time line and a photo of Jake Kleinsasser among others. None of this material seems to be acceptable to the HBC, except the smaller SCHBC group.
Both the Herald Press version of the Hutterite Confession Of Faith and the New Expanded Edition are available though: Hutterite Studies Centre, P. O. Box 150, Austin, Manitoba, R0H 0C0, Canada, fax: 204 466-2950.
ITEM: Lynn Garrett, in the June 14th Publishers Weekly's 'Nota Bene' column, announced that 'tiny Plough Publishing' had landed a potential blockbuster. Misty Bernall, the mother of Cassie Bernall (the student murdered in the Littleton massacre after being asked "Do you believe in God") has chosen the Bruderhof as the publisher of She Said Yes, her memorial to her daughter. Cassie was reading the Plough book Seeking Peace at the time of her death, and using Discipleship in her daily prayers.
According to Garrett, Plough staff has already enlisted the Lynn Goldberg agency to handle a $150,000 national promotional campaign that will include a five-city tour and a national print and advertising on booksense.com. Details of the book to be published September 9th, "are embargoed." Plough Marketing Manager Clare Stober is quoted as saying that subsidiary and first serial rights are also being negotiated. "There have also been film offers."
According to Stober, all profits from the book will go to a trust fund that will promote "causes that Cassie believed in." Inquiring minds wonder what those causes might be...
The Bruderhof/Littleton connection seems to have come about via Bruderhofer Charles Moore, previously a Colorado professor of theology with connections to the Bernall family.
The Denver Post on June 7th ran a story about the Bruderhof/Littleton connection. They described Christoph Arnold, "a counselor and pastor for 25 years" as having flown to Denver to meet with Misty Bernall to discuss her book plans. According to local Pastor Dave McPherson, the Bernall family approached Plough Publishing "because they aren't too churchy."
Paul C. Fox, from ASB, 6/12/99: Dear Ploughman -- do I detect a certain amount of gloating at this favorable publicity? If Cassie Bernall derived some hope and inspiration from the words and experiences of those quoted in Christoph's book, that is wonderful.
If Christoph derives some pleasure in being thus linked with a genuine martyr for the faith, he is welcome to it. None of that alters the fact that Christoph Arnold and his policies are responsible for terrible human suffering among those who have been wrongfully cut off from their families in the Bruderhof. None of that makes Christoph Arnold's arbitrary and absolutist exercise of power within the Bruderhof any less abusive.
Christoph, remember that you (like everyone else) will have to answer to God for what you have done. He is not impressed by your books. Ecclesiastes 12 reads: "v. 12: Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. v. 13: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man. v. 14: For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."
That seems singularly appropriate to me -- especially the last verse.
Betty Chesley, rom ASB, 6/12/99: Paul Fox wrote: "If Cassie Bernall derived some hope and inspiration from the words and experiences of those quoted in Christoph's book, that is wonderful." And I believe that it also demonstrates how wisdom can work through us in spite of ourselves.
"None of that alters the fact that Christoph Arnold and his policies are responsible for terrible human suffering among those who have been wrongfully cut off from their families in the Bruderhof. None of that makes Christoph Arnold's arbitrary and absolutist exercise of power within the Bruderhof any less abusive."
Absolutely true. None of that changes the fact that this is the same leader who has refused multiple mediation efforts proposed with respected agencies to reconcile those family tragedies either. The Nigerian fathers remain cut off and outcast from their families within the communities, and now I understand there is yet another Bruderhof father exiled with his son (in Lancaster County) from his wife and daughter within the community in spite of his efforts to reconcile. All of these pathetic fruits stem from a man and a community who "stand" for peace, forgiveness and family values!
When we were leaving the Bruderhof, a Servant's wife told me that "the Bruderhof will not break up any marriages." Things have apparently changed in a very short time. Christoph Arnold and the Bruderhof may pull the wool over the eyes of their book endorsers, their political contacts and even the suffering people of Littleton, Colorado, but God knows the truth and will hold us all accountable.
Wayne Chesley, from ASB, 6/13/99: ploughman @my-deja.com wrote: "All the profits go to a private foundation."
All the attention and fame goes to Christoph. No tragedy is too great for Christoph to capitalize on. I think his next book should be called Seeking Fame. Actually I think that might be a good title for the book about Christoph and the Bruderhof movement. You Bruderhof folks have simply become weird!
Hey Ploughman, how about a real dialogue?
Blair Purcell, from ASB, 6/17/99: Wayne Chesley wrote that Christoph Arnold replied to his posting with his usual strange foot-in-mouth sarcasm. He suggested that when Wayne has his own book titled Seeking Fame ready, perhaps Christoph would endorse it.
Perhaps it is time to create a scholarly tome titled The Collected Correspondence of Johann Christoph Arnold.
What we really need is some sort of blanket assurance from JCA that the publisher would not be sued. He can send letters to us (although so far the Purcells have not been so fortunate, thank goodness), but we can't send letters to him because his e-mail is blocked.
Actually he did send us a note (he asked that it not be published) some little time ago asking "our forgiveness for where he had hurt us." Since he had earlier denied any responsibility for the harassment of our telephone help line or for the harassment and ill-treatment of our friends (including a wiretap on the phone of his own sister) and the break-up of our family, it was difficult to understand exactly what he was apologizing for.
When asked for clarification, he declined to be more specific. It is our belief that sincere apology requires that the one seeking forgiveness "own" the offensive behavior which created the need for apology. And that the behavior stop. But that would take courage. Otherwise there is always the sense of insincerity -- more or less like the insincerity evident in Wayne and Betty's letter from JCA or the one received by the Fox family.
Ben Cavanna, from ASB, 06/15/99: Ploughman wrote: "What the Bruderhof does in regards to "Medical Assistance" is perfectly legal."
Oh dear -- hit a sore spot perhaps, Mr/Ms Ploughman? Perhaps your courage might run to using your real name, or is ego death finally complete at the Bruderhof? Enquiring minds wish to know.
Wayne Chesley, from ASB, 6/16/99: Ben, you raise an interesting thought, and I'll say it straight: Johann Christoph Arnold has one of the biggest egos of any person I have personally known. Even the posting by Ploughman just emphasizes Christoph's huge ego. He wants to associate with famous and influential people, and it seems he uses the Bruderhof for that purpose. In short, the Bruderhof communities seem to largely serve Christoph's ego! One surrenders one's own self at the Bruderhof in order to build up Christoph's ego.
This is something that only recent "exiles" can relate to, though perhaps it happened with Heini (and even Eberhard) as well. I can recall many incidents at the Bruderhof which illustrate my point. Certainly the idea related by Tim Domer about his having to have a relationship with Christoph in order to relate to his family demonstrates the cult-like Christoph-centrism of the present day Bruderhof. Perhaps Paul or other recent exiles can relate to this.
Dave Ostrom,from ASB, 6/16/99: Wonder if, in the subjection of all the little egos of the 2,000-plus robots at the Bruderhof Communities of New York Incorporated, J. C. Arnold via the Domers and the Keiderlings has absorbed or taken on all those egos. If so, there is a very simple answer to all this, the man has the ego 2000-plus times the norm of any individual. Sincerely,
Peter Forde, from ASB, 6/18/99: With the sarcasm shown in earlier postings here, JCA possibly has a soul that is crying out to be brought to heel. Any person can become megalomaniac. All it takes is for nobody to inhibit that, and for at least some people to encourage that tendency. It's a thing about cults that people let themselves get unduly persuaded to push power to the leader, with results that we are familiar with...
Melchior Fros, from ASB, 6/19/99: Peter Forde wrote: "With the sarcasm shown in earlier postings here, JCA possibly has a soul that is crying out to be brought to heel."
Peter, I think your view is correct. There are people, a constitution and events that have made Christoph who he is today. And while Christoph can not evade responsibility for wrongs he has committed or allowed others to commit unchallenged, I do believe that behind the man's glowing, attention-seeking outer veneer is a wounded soul.
Please pray for his healing even as you/we are obligated to confront the sins for which he is responsible as Elder of the Bruderhof Inc. (48 Hours TV show). I believe that the Bruderhof Inc. constitution, to which every member must agree, encourages this condition in the present elder.
The door of my heart shall always be open to true, forgiveness-seeking, repentant dialog. Please pray for Christoph Arnold.
Kitsucks1@my-deja.com from ASB, 6/16/99: Inquiring people who drop in on this forum to learn about the Bruderhof should consider the following analogy:
A while ago, I was interested in purchasing a product from a relatively well known manufacturer. However, before buying it, I decided to do some research, so I got into Deja.com, and entered in the product name, as I knew people would be talking about it. Sure enough, there was a whole forum on the subject. After reading a bunch of messages in the forum, it appeared that the product I wanted to get maybe wasn't what I was after, as virtually all of the posts were negative to the product. However, after doing more research, including calling the company, and other buyers, I decided that the product was probably the way to go. After checking back in the forum periodically, it also became apparent that the people who were posting were:
a) pretty much the same people the whole time
b) had personal gripes about the company, and this was there way of dissuading others of using the product.
To make a long post short, I ended up buying the product, and have been extremely happy with it ever since. Oh. The name of the company is DirecPC. Thanks for listening... [posted a total of eight consecutive times on alt.support.bruderhof]
Melchior Fros, from ASB, 6/17/99: Recently there was a high school shooting in Colorado that left children dead and a nation in shock. In the aftermath of this tragedy the mother of one of the victims intends to write a book about her daughter. Recently, she was approached by a representative of Plough Publishing Company. He happens to be the elder of the Bruderhof Inc. as well. He flew to Denver to meet with the mother and church representatives of one of the victims.
Unfortunately, it appears, grieving folks in Denver did not research the Elder and the group he represents. Had they done so they would have found that the man behind The Plough, the Elder of the Bruderhof Inc.:
- was at one time licensed to carry a concealed weapon.
- has only recently threatened to arm himself yet againÉ
- in recent letters he taunts ex-members about their choice of church affiliation; questions a marital bond; mocks past struggles with masturbation; toys with others' desires to let their lives be ruled by the words of Christ.
The tragedy at Columbine High School is being sullied by an association with an editor/Elder who refuses to put into practice what he prints and preaches regarding forgiveness, love of enemies and a pacifist's refusal to bear arms. It is mocked by an unrepentant, attention-seeking man.
This unlikely association between the Bruderhof and Christians in Colorado has come about because grieving individuals did not know about alt.support. bruderhof and other forums where information about the man behind the Plough is available. It appears an overwhelming list of "gripes" by outspoken persons could have illumined minds and hearts seeped in sorrow.
The moral: don't buy the product until you have researched the facts to your satisfaction.
Ben Cavanna from ASB, 6/19/99: So kitsucks1, all the recent puffs of Plough Publishing books should be taken as indication that they are no good and should not be bought? Or did I not get your reasoning straight?
Just wondering, and nice to see more Bruderhof (tm) participation in this newsgroup. And please give my love to my parents who are not allowed to communicate with me.
ITEM: A review of Johann Christoph Arnold's book Cries From The Heart, posted on Amazon. com's on-line bookstore on 6/3/99, quotes an early June Publisher's Weekly's review: "Although the stories are sometimes moving, Arnold's brief interpretations of them are not profound and fail to teach lessons that cannot be found elsewhere in a livelier form."
ITEM: Reviews of Johann Christoph Arnold's new book, Drained, posted on Amazon.com's on-line bookstore:
A reader from Western Pennsylvania awards one star: "Derivative and poorly written. Johann Christoph Arnold seems to be churning out a new book every few months. The construction of this latest book demonstrates his production method: taking other people's stories, adding lengthy quotations from other authors' books, and patching them together with his own turgid prose. It is also striking how much less overtly Christian this book is than Arnold's previous efforts. Is he sacrificing principle in order to gain a larger market? In any event, readers looking for inspiration would do well to look elsewhere."
A reader from Pennsylvania awards one star: "If only there were an option of no stars?... This is a direct quote from Arnold's book Drained, page 4, paragraph 2:
"'In the following pages I have tried to resist formulating neat theses or presenting loophole-proof arguments. I have also tried to avoid dwelling on the roots of our feeling of being drained. Though one could write a whole book on that subject, it would be too depressing to wade through. What's more, it might not even help.'
"Arnold was right; it was depressing.
"And it didn't help."
A reader from England awards four stars: "Self promotion? Could the below review have been written by the author J. Christoph Arnold, otherwise known as Mr. Awsome? I believe it was:"
"'A reader from U.S.A awards four stars: "The best book yet, Drained is a concept that every human being can relate too [sic]. The author and the Publisher had a brainwave to name the book as such. The stories are awsome [sic] and real. I am sure it will become an all time best seller".'"
Katherine Brookshire, 6/4/99: Dear folks, I've been reading/re-reading the May KIT and there are a couple of things I'd like to mention: The first is that I'm sorry to hear about Tom Potts. I have fond memories of Tom and Florrie and their family. He did reach a ripe old age, though. Me best to all his family. The second is in response to Chris M. Zimmerman of the Bruderhof, whose letter to/about Bette and her comments on 'The First Law of Sannerz' seemed to find its way into KIT.
Seems like I remember, after I'd been at Woodcrest at least long enough to be a member, Heini talking about it and then had it printed up and distributed. I didn't hear about it when I was first there, and don't remember it being discussed in our baptism group (It may have been, but I didn't remember it). We had a similar 'rule' at Macedonia, which may or may not have originated with the Bruderhof. One was supposed to take a 'problem' directly to the person involved rather than just gossiping about it. For people living close, it does make sense; however when I tried to apply it with my parents, it just created hurt feelings. I probably did not explain it sufficiently ahead of time, though.
But back to KIT and Chris Zimmerman's letter: I'd write directly to Chris, but have no idea if he would get it or even where he is. So I'll use KIT, as he apparently did. First, I'd like to comment on his language. When I was in the Bruderhof, children were not allowed to even hear such expressions much less use them. Apparently the Bruderhof has become much more worldly, using common worldly expressions. I still find it offensive. My parents, grandparents and relatives did not use such words. Once in my life I heard my father say 'damn' when he hit his head while changing a tire in the rain -- and in the mud! I was shocked, but the provocation was rather severe.
I do not use such terms, nor do either of my sons. My grandchildren have picked up some terms at school, but upon being told the words (of which they did not know the meaning) were not good things to say, they did not repeat them. They do say some things now that they are older, but it is not approved of by the adults and not what they hear at home. So I am, to say the least, disappointed that people who have grown up in the Bruderhof seem to find in necessary to use such terms.
Chris mentions Matthew 18 as the apparent source of the Sannerz First Law. I must say that I don't read it that way. Also I suspect that Christ does not know much about conflict resolution. This is a very brief 'take' on my reading of Matthew 18 (using The New Oxford Annotated Bible), verses 1-35, sayings on humility and forgiveness. (Be like children) but in v 8-9, He specifically says 'If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off.... if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away." I don't remember seeing people in the Bruderhof with one or no feet, or one or no eyes. Obviously they don't take that part of Jesus' sayings literally.
But if one sheep goes astray, "he leaves the ninety-nine and goes in search of the one who went astray... and rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray." One certainly does not see that at the Bruderhof. There is a lot one could say about how the Bruderhof treats the "lost."
But to continue with v. 15, "If another church member sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses."
I believe one would normally tell the two or three 'witnesses' something about what the problem was. Is that 'gossip?' v. 17 "If the member refuses to listen, tell it to the church" etc. Where is this business of Servants of the Word and Witness Brothers discussing various brothers' and sisters' (members') weaknesses and/or problems and deciding what they want the solution to be? And then just telling the brotherhood in such a way that the brotherhood has no choice but to agree?
And then in v. 21, Jesus continues about forgiveness 'seventy times seven," being beyond calculating. v. 34-35 are concerned with what happens to those who do not forgive brothers and sisters 'from your heart.'
I don't believe forgiveness 'from the heart' involves keeping families from seeing each other and not telling family members about the illness or death of their loved ones.
In my opinion, the Bruderhof has become a cult involved in making icons of people and rules. I don't see any relation to the teachings of Jesus. I don't see anything of "selling what they have and giving to the poor." I do see (hear about) jet airplanes and trips all over the globe (for certain people).
Chris Zimmerman says KIT should stop gossiping; what does he call what the Bruderhof does in talking about KIT? How is it any different? And incidentally, who is Chris Zimmerman (which family) and how old is he? [Chris is one of Dr. Milton and Sandy's sons, born in 1968]. I think this is enough for now. I hope to see you (KIT) at Friendly Crossways. I'm going to try and get there.
My son Paul is doing well with his Mail Boxes, Etc. business in Miami, and Tom, Diana, Geoffrey (12) and Stephen (9) just came back from a vacation in Costa Rica. They loved it and hope to go back sometime. I'd love to go too! Greetings to all,
Hilarion Braun f/ the Hummer, 6/23/99: One of the aspects of human behavior that has fascinated me all my life long has been the want of power by some and the absence of it in others. On the Bruderhof it was very evident in the servants, and even now those servants who are ex-bruderhofers have not dealt with that aspect in their writings. For Eberhard Arnold and Heini, being a servant was not enough, they had to be elders. I remember Hans Hermann Arnold being the least arrogant servant. Somehow, even in his face there was that look of doubt and concern. I had the feeling that had I told him about my doubts regarding the office of the servant, he would have smiled, and maybe even agreed.
Georg Barth also seemed quite down to earth, and I told him that I thought a real Gemeinde did not need or want servants. Out here in our glorious capitalistic world, the drip and splash testosterone is getting old, and it is almost comical how people in management positions strut and pout to the delight of the worker who has long figured out that such power abuse doesn't lead to happiness. One does wonder how long it takes people in power to realize all that the powerless have long known.
Here in Arizona the Mexicans and native Americans are the powerless, and yet in many ways seem to be ahead of the Anglos. A Mexican recently wrote that in America the blacks say: "We shall overcome," while the Mexicans say: "We shall overcome with the permission of the Anglos." In very much the same way the plain brothers and sisters labored hard, and eventually sacrificed their identity for the cause which in the end was very simply the adoration of Heini and a distortion of the past.
It's utterly amazing how much detail people seem to remember about Sannerz, the Rhoen Bruderhof and Eberhard, and how little they remember about Primavera. The myth on the Bruderhof has always helped to explain away any concern anyone had. For example, if one questioned why a servant family was getting more goods and food than a regular family, it was obvious that the questioner was in a wrong spirit, and I wonder how this might have given servants a persecution complex.
Eberhard Arnold was constantly traveling, and I'm sure someone questioned the wisdom of this, and very quickly had to eat his own words. "I mean, how could you question poor Eberhard who suffers so much, because he loves us so much. Every time he travels he is away from his beloved brotherhood, and this is terribly painful for him." Any normal reaction to such control nonsense would have been: "I don't believe this answers my concern." Instead, I'm sure, the questioner suffered pangs of guilt and remorse and begged for forgiveness.
It's this twisted, controlling mixture of myth, maudlin obsession with glory, and an obsession with preservation of the status quo that made it all possible. The main elements were well in place in the beginning as is evidenced by some of the earlyites who stayed to worship Heini, and who kept a portrait of E. Arnold on their night stand. These same witnesses felt that the sick, thick, tense atmosphere in Woodcrest reminded them of the spirit in Sannerz.
I had many long talks with Dwight Blough, in whose family I lived, and his adoration of Heini was pathetic. Dwight was also overly critical of Primavera, especially that the "young people in Primavera did not respect the servants there." Obsessively he tried to trick me into an anti-Arnold statement or anecdote that would prove widespread anti-Arnold sentiment in Primavera. One day he told me that his friendship with me was wrong, and that from that moment on it was to cease. I had never trusted him, and was convinced that this nonsense came from Heini. I'm sure though, that Dwight was the disciple Heini could never have had in Primavera. I also believe that the kind of adoration Dwight gave Heini is very unhealthy, and showed a gigantic flaw in Dwight's character.
Sam Arnold f/ the Hummer, 6/26/99: Hilarion said: "I remember Hans Hermann Arnold being the least arrogant servant. Somehow, even in his face there was that look of doubt and concern. I had the feeling that had I told him about my doubts regarding the office of the servant, he would have smiled, and maybe even agreed".
You may be right in what you say, because my father did not crave power, nor did he like it. The responsibility of being servant bothered him, and he was stressed out by the job. But he also adored his father, and his focus was set on doing what Eberhard would have wanted. While he probably had many doubts about the office of the servant, he had no doubts about the path that the Bruderhof members should follow. From the values and rules he tried to instill in us, that path seemed overly straight and narrow. There was very little negotiating room.
Hans Hermann's career as aspiring servant was brief. He was made Servant in 1952, but his record became tarnished upon his return in 1955 from the U.S. He was asked to tell a young Primavera woman, Rosemarie Kaiser, that the man that she loved was going to marry someone else. When she became upset he put his arm around her to comfort her. She immediately told this to Hans Meier, who then put my father into the big exclusion for this. So right after being away from his family for two years, my father was sent to the Waldhuette for months, and we were not allowed to visit him. He was also denied medical treatment by Hans Meier for an open sore on his leg. Heini was able to use that incident to keep him from becoming a threat to him.
My father would not divulge many of his thoughts to us, or negative information about others, including Heini. But it became clear to us that he was very upset about the closing of Primavera and El Arado. and the human suffering. We were living in Bullstrode when Primavera, Wheathill and Sinntal closed, and he had to oversee the closing of Wheathill. He was very stressed at that time, and had a number of blow-ups at home that were probably a result of that stress.
Heini moved our family to the U.S. where he could keep a better eye on my father, who was not made a Servant again after 1962. Hans Hermann was in Ausschluss most of the time while we were in Evergreen and Oak Lake, and then our family was sent away for three years as well. Even after the family moved back to Evergreen and lived in the house behind the shop, my father continued working outside.
Heini also moved Hardy's family to the U.S from Bullstrode. Heini made sure that both his brothers were kept apart, and out of the brotherhood. Hardy was also sent out at least twice.
I am certain that the dramatic and cruel changes brought by Heini and his American buddies was the root of my father's "lack of unity." After he was diagnosed with cancer in 1972 and given 6 months to live, the family was immediately moved back into the hof and he was reinstated as servant by Heini. What a farce!
Hans Hermann's final request was to clear up the disaster brought about by the closing of the communities in Paraguay some ten years earlier. But Heini was very firmly in control at the time, and the "clearance" became a whitewash. A number of Bruderhof leaders such as Art Wiser, Merrill Mow, Doug Moody, Georg Barth, Hans Meier and a few others wrote lame letters of apology for the mistakes that they had made in handling the Primavera closing. These letters were sent to a small number of ex-members. Georg's letter was the best that I saw, but there was no letter from Heini! Heini was never implicated in any wrongdoings, nor did he admit to any. My father was in no condition not to accept this one-sided gloss-over, and so the clearance was considered finished.
Maybe it is time now to call on Christoph's B'hof to hold a conference on the way the numerous communities were closed in the late 50s and early 60s, including Forest River, El Arado, Primavera, Sinntal, Wheathill, and Bullstrode, and to open it to all who want to participate. If Christoph wants to be seen as being sincere about forgiveness, he owes it to all the people who were affected by his father's actions to be heard, so that their questions can be answered, and some sort of closure be made for the victims. Maybe this could become a joint B'hof-KIT project to begin the long-awaited healing between the B'hof and its former members. Until the B'hof can address its past wrongs, they are living a lie! A lie that no quantity of Plough Publishing House books, no matter how cleverly written by whomever, can hide about the B'hof past.
Hilarion Braun f/ the Hummer, 6/26/99: Sam, thanks for the info. I'm still overwhelmed by it, and I'll answer later in detail. I do not think that there will be the kind of healing that you speak of, but that doesn't mean I don't hope for it. I never was able to talk to your dad, but I remember watching him many times, and I guess my conclusions were right. The destruction of Primavera and the other communities is so criminal and dark that I don't think the perpetrators will ever own up to it. Above all, the romantization of Eberhard Arnold is understandable, but a typical human reaction. Your dad may have ultimately had to oppose his dad for representing a Heini-like power cult. There is nothing in all of the historical accounts that contradicts this. It is not that Eberhard Arnold was unusually bad or evil, but that he was power-crazy. He did it in a more sophisticated way than Heini, because he was intelligent, and Heini was not, but that doesn't make it any different in terms of the outcome. Love,
Ramon Sender f/ the Hummer, 6/26/99: It's interesting to study 'alpha malehood' in other species. Alpha is a tough job. You are the one who must always be on the alert to challenges from the bachelors eyeing your herd of females, and also you are the one who must defend against the marauding leopard. You sleep with one eye open, and your levels of paranoia and suspicion must remain high. You die young, either from stress-related illness, from wounds inflicted by the victorious new alpha or from the leopard's claws.
In this sense, one has to feel compassion for Heini. I think his life was an unending nightmare once he had gained the coveted eldership. So many bodies lay strewn in his path, and he was not the sort who could easily accommodate to that sort of guilt. No wonder Harriet had to give him a shot every evening before bedtime.
How can I sum up what the 'powerless' have long known? Perhaps: "We can enjoy the simple pleasures of a quiet life while the 'leaders' grunt and lock horns to see who can scramble to the top of the manure pile."
It amuses me when I see a documentary about the 'primitive' Amazonian Indians. They arise at their leisure, hoe the tarot for an hour before the sun gets too hot, take a dip and then a siesta. When they awake, they play with the baby, weave a basket and then in the cool of the late afternoon catch a fish for supper. After the meal, they blow hallucinogenic snuff up each other's noses and watch the 'pretty pictures' in the flames of the fire, which are probably more interesting than our TV.
This is the 'unenlightened' life of the savages, whom we must of course hasten to civilize by tearing down the jungle and harnessing them to the 40-hour work week. Of course I am romanticizing a lot, the closer truth being that these poor people have been terribly exploited and no doubt suffer from hookworm, amoebas, our diseases, and die early. But the great irony is that their simple life is more in harmony with how we are designed to live than how we live today, working 80 hours a week to pay off our 'labor-saving' devices.
Ah, Rousseau... how right you hopefully were! May we all return to the gardens and groves to be nurtured by ecologically correct machines smarter than we are. What am I saying?
Wenceslao Jaime, Estancia Primavera, Paraguay
by Hans Zimmermann, 10/09/98
As a young person living in Primavera, and for many years thereafter, I always wondered what the real history was of that area which seemed totally wild when we first arrived. However, there were many indications that this had not always been like that and there must have been prior settlements which were abandoned for one reason or another, leaving as their main clue sweet orange trees which by now were engulfed by the natural forests.
On October 3, 1998 I had the opportunity to visit Wenceslao and Teodora Jaime in Sunbury, Ohio. Wence, who is approaching his 89th birthday is a Paraguayan native, born and raised in the immediate vicinity of Primavera. He became one of our most trusted native employees, living with his family on our property while his children attended our school in Primavera learning both German and English. Later they joined the Bruderhof and eventually made the move to the USA. They left the community after a few years, preferring to live the close private family life they were used to in Paraguay.
I knew the Jaime family fairly well, and the older children at school. As a small boy I frequently visited their house in Isla Margarita with my dad, which was across the campo (prairieland) from the workshop and sawmill. The carved wooden animals which they had around the fire place and used as stools, made a great impression on me. We frequently went to pick sweet oranges which grew in the woods up the hill from their rancho. Wence remembers my father well from his effort in planting the Cedar Wood. He remembered me mostly from the last years when I was working in the Estancia with the cattle.
I was looking forward to this visit and came prepared. I had sheets and sheets of questions for Wence. For me, he is one of the last living links with the past, as virtually all his contemporaries have died. I had so many questions that his head must have been spinning and when he could not remember the name of a person, event, or place, he became a little frustrated, saying "I know this. I know this, but the name just does not want to come to me!" However, he warmed up to the task and relished the opportunity to talk about his life, places, events, and people we both knew. It made it easier for him once he realized how much I knew and could still remember. We talked for almost two days. The first night on the day of my arrival he could hardly sleep because he was trying to answer many of my questions. We talked until after 11 PM, had a couple of glasses of wine, by which time I was dead tired. I had driven 1250 miles straight from Colorado with just a nap in the car. In true Paraguayan tradition, I slept virtually in the same room with Wence and Teodora. It was just the accepted thing to do.
After nearly two days of talking -- and Wence did most of the talking, with Teodora helping when Wence could not understand me (he cannot hear at all with one ear and only poorly with the other) -- a totally new picture emerged for me about what Primavera was like before we had arrived. Also what Primavera was like 70 to 80 years prior to our arrival, after the devastating war that took place from 1865 to 1871.
When the Spaniards sailed up the La Plata river, they came to what today is the capital of Paraguay, Asuncion. Here they encountered a Guarani tribe whose cacique (chief) was called 'Paragua' and from this name came 'Paraguay.' In our time, the native Paraguayans still called Asuncion by its Guarani name Paragua-i (the last letter being pronounced "ue"). To help pacify and civilize the native Indians, the Spaniards gave the Jesuit monks the authority to build missions in the jungle. The Jesuits built numerous missions, or reducciones (colonies), mostly in southeastern Paraguay and a few in north and central Paraguay. It was a most interesting experiment in a theocratic government. with two white men and 2000 Indians in each colony.
Voltaire (the French agnostic) is said to have remarked, "If anything could convince him of the rightness of Christian religion, it was the Jesuit experiments in Paraguay. They were so successful, that the civilian and military government was afraid they would become too powerful. They withdrew the mandate and ordered the Jesuits to leave the missions, leaving the native Indians to themselves, and in this way the missions were virtually abandoned. San Estanislau or Santani, located about 25 miles east and inland from Primavera, was one of those missions and later became a military outpost. The Guarani Indians were not as belligerent as other tribes and assimilated fairly well with the newcomers while at the same time preserving their native language.
When traveling to Santani, people took a boat up the river to Puerto Rosario. In those days the road to Santani followed the path of least resistance; that is it went over the campos wherever possible. A direct or shorter way would have meant cutting a path through the dense forests, a daunting task in those days. Therefore the road followed the edge of the forest in a generally eastern direction. To the left were the forests, and on the right the flood plains of the river Paraguay and its tributary Tapiracuay. The heavy gray clay soil is an ideal conditions for the Carandai Faecher Palm tree, a.k.a. palmetto) which were generously sprinkled across the plain so that from a distance it looked like a palm tree wood. Farther inland, the soil became more sandy and the Carandai ceased to grow. One stayed on campo all the way to what is now the Mennonite colony of Friesland and Campo Tapere. A narrow gap opened in the forest before the road entered onto what was our Campo Guana.