Best of The 1989-1990 KIT Newsletters

The KIT Newsletter, an Activity of the KIT Information Service, a Project of The Peregrine Foundation

P.O. Box 460141 / San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 /
telephone: (415) 821-2090 / (415) 282-2369
KIT Staff U.S.: Ramon Sender, Charles Lamar, Christina Bernard, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom;
U.K. : Joy Johnson MacDonald, Ben Cavanna, Leonard Pavitt, Joanie Pavitt Taylor, Brother Witless (in an advisory capacity)
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 we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflects those of KIT editors or staff.

-------------- "Keep In Touch" --------------

------------August 1989 Vol. I #1------------

Dear ex-bruderhofers: This is a modest attempt to create a network of those of us who experienced the life within the Bruderhof and then either were excluded, expelled, excommunicated or left on our own decision. The experience of leaving was very traumatic for many, especially those who were 'kicked out' after many years of community living. In many cases we underwent the experience of starting over completely isolated from other ex-hofers because there was no way to make contact. When I started phoning around this month to interview people for a book of memories of my daughter Xavie (who died at 33 years of age of cancer at Woodcrest last year) many expressed a wish that we start some sort of newsletter. It seemed like an easy beginning for me to share the addresses of those I have contacted. I am mailing this list also to communities or organizations which may be contact points for those leaving or already out such as Pendle Hill, Gould Farm, Celo and Koinonia, so that anyone leaving will have a way to find their brothers and sisters outside. Please write to me with any current addresses or contacts or corrections you might have. So here they are. It's been wonderful talking with you all!
NOTE: I'm searching for anyone who knew my daughter Xavie Sender Rhodes and can recall specific anecdotes or incidents from her life that I can include in the book I am writing. Thank you, Ramon Sender
NEWS: Lee Kleiss said "start with some news, not just addresses," so here goes. I am just reporting what little I have picked up in passing: Alan and Edna Baer spend six months of the year in Hawaii, Luke Baer practices law, Mike and Shirley Brandes work with developmentally disabled adults, Miriam Baer is a nurse and manages some sort of rowing team, Naomi Baer is a math teacher, Ruth Baer is working with cross-cultural groups, Hildegarde Neuman is off to Paraguay to visit Dr. Cyril Davies, Chrissie Bernard owns and operates a leather clothing store in San Francisco, Jim Bernard has a long flowing beard in Hawaii, Ricia Bernard is visiting friends in the USA and Canada before returning to her home in Costa Rica. Thanks for the delicious coffee, Ricia! Duffy and Susie Black operate a plant nursery, Jere Bruner is a professor at Oberlin, Katerina "Traindel" Kleiner Bruner's 14-year-old girl is starting boarding school, Gillian Burleson is looking for a job, Albert D'hoedt passed away this August, and Constancia would, I am sure, appreciate a note. Dieter Arnold has a marketing-consulting job, the Dunlops just celebrated their 50th anniversary and. although retired from Gould Farm, are still involved, the Elstons are moving into a brand-new house, Miriam Arnold has two boys and works as a prison psychologist, Heidi Strickland just started working at the same prison as a therapist, and has three daughters, Vince Lagano has been working as a medical librarian at Kaiser hospital, Lee Kliess has been taking care of her two little grandchildren (3 and 5?) and getting ready to teach classes this fall. Very busy! Josh Maendel is in the building trades, Dave Ostrom jr. went to Central America on his medical equipment business, August and Nadine Pleil have enjoyed visits from Joergen and other family, Luke Staengl is living in a very gemutlich neighborhood in the Blue Ridge mountains, and Renatus Kluver has been visiting Ebo Trumpi. There! Not bad for not having TRIED to collect recent news when I was on the telephone, eh?

----------September 1989 1989 Vol. I #2------- ---

Dear ex-b'hofers: This continues an ongoing attempt to create a network of those of us who experienced the life within the Bruderhof. For me it has been very rewarding to connect with so many of you, and feel the closeness we share even if we never met face-to-face. My search for classmates or others in my daughter Xavie's age group is gradually paying off, although I am still eagerly searching for more names of people her age -- she would have been 33 this year. Also I have received Nadine Pleil's handwritten life story which tells of how she came to the Oaksey bruderhof during World War II as a nine-year-old, and went to Paraguay with the second boatload. She promises to keep working on it, and a friend is typing it into a word processor. It is stories like hers that make me feel there is another book in the many amazing tales I am hearing. Perhaps, as we continue with this newsletter, it will become a way for others of you to share your experiences. Please remember to write to me with any current addresses or contacts or corrections you might have. It's been wonderful talking with you all!
Addresses or 'In' or 'Out' info needed for: Charlie Masterson, Wendy Rimes, Alan Stevenson & children, Steve Button (at chiropracter's school Chicago), Miriam Button Long Island, Harold Goree, Jonathan Clement, Michael Gneiting, Pedro Gneiting, Alfredo Gneiting, a son of Claude & Billie Nelson in Washington State, Dick Wareham, Scott Wareham, Doris Greaves, Ruth Dodd, Mary Worth, Jack Melancon, Joel Clement, Joy Jones (Ft Langley BC), Jack Warren, Esther Tabor, Dave Noble, Elizabeth Johnson, Andrew Szilard, Anne Gale and Hans Wiehler, the Trembley family, the Dietsch family, Mike & Linda Cahoon, the Horning family, Matthew McAdams, Tim McAdams, Marlene Wegner Gelman, Hans Wegner, Gisela Wegner Anderson, Margot Wegner, David & Rae Whitehead, Alan & Sue Wiser, Charlie Jory, Walter Bennett, Walter Illingworth, George (Eddie) Halliwell, Edmund Cocksedge, The Welhams.
NEWS: Belinda Manley writes: "Many of us in England keep in constant and close touch with one another. My main contacts are with Buddug Evans (now 86 years old). She is lovingly supported by Killian and Lorna Zumpe who live nearby. Also by the whole Holland family and others who love Gwynn here. Dr. Margaret Stern Hawkins (now in the British Home for Incurables) with both cancer and Parkinson's Disease to struggle with. We also keep in close touch. Also, especially, with Stephen & Anne Marchant and their four children come over once or twice a year to stay with me, Also Carol (Beels) and Mike Beck come, and Michael Rimes Caine and Norah Caine. Nigel & Leonice Rimes and daughters Sheila (14) and Jeannie (11) came from Brazil to live some months with me after a disastrous flood some 4 1/2 years ago. They are back in Brazil now. Christine & Jorg Mathis live in North Wales and have adopted 3 Brazilian children (5, 2 & 2) All are writing to me. My 80th birthday party last December gathered a number of us together. I live a full and happy life & rejoined the Church of Engand after 'wandering in the wilderness' for 20 years or so. I work especially for the homeless and in counselling, and have just been given a "Diploma in Theology" after a 3-year course. My book 'No Laughing Matter' (autobiographical) is going the rounds of possible publishers. Also, my children's book, 'Theodore Theophilous: A Cathedral Mouse!!' I have rung John Arnold, and he was delighted to hear of Dieter, and will contact you and Dieter."
Arthur & Mildred Lord write: "Two of our daughters are married with 2 children each whilst Esther resides at a community village nearby. Anthony is settled in Germany. In June we spent a month with the Hazeltons in Massachusetts." Helga Pleil Chapman gave birth to Sarah Antoinette on September 15 at 9:34 am. A lovely baby weighing 6 lbs, 15 oz, with lots of dark hair and blue eyes. Welcome, Sarah!! Leonard Pavitt offers to distribute the newsletter to addresses in England and Europe, thus saving me considerable postage. Thank you, Leonard! Joyce Atkinson writes "I graduated from Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas. Since that time, I've lived in the Buffalo area working for a small electronics company." Dave Mathis works for a pharmaceutical company in quality control. Paul Sayvetz is working as a carpenter and running for the Ithaca City Council; Kathleen Marchant writes that Will died five years ago at age 83: "For many years he had been working with 'Amnesty International' writing many letters to Heads of State, etc. asking for their support and intervention for the release of non-violent prisoners." Ebo Trumpi: "Thank you for your effort to get things organized. My wife Annaliese is teaching 2nd Grade at the local school. We have two daughters, Elisa age 18, and Gloria age 11 1/2. I am working for Miron Millwork Corp. for 18 years now.
Timothy Johnson writes: "My professional career has been primarily in public health and particularly population planning with several years work in various Asian countries interspersed with my doctoral and subsequent teaching and research career at the University of Michigan. Since joining the Federal Center for Disease Control in Atlanta six years ago, I've concentrated more on programs and projects in Africa. Carol, my wife of twenty years, works for the Carter Presidential Center which focuses largely on international health and development, human rights and diplomacy." Jon Greenwood: "My wife Linda and I own a dairy farm near the Canadian border. We milk 175 cows, and have three children -- Clara, Ben and Ted, ages 8, 6 and 4."
About myself (Ramon): I'm busy giving readings from my book "A Death In Zamora," published last June by The University of New Mexico Press. It reconstructs my mother Amparo's life in Spain, and in the process of course tells much about my earliest years. I'm a contributing editor for the Whole Earth Catalog and Review, do freelance editing and otherwise devote myself to writing full time. My wife Judith has been a teacher/counselor with the San Francisco public schools for 20 years, and also has been writing follow-up studies of many of her Central American refugee kids. Her brother Jeff Levy is running for the school board in St. Paul, her home town. Gwynn's wife Buddug Evans is living by herself and would appreciate a card, I am sure. I included her address above.
Roger Allain: "I retired from teaching in 1975, and am still working hard, farming on a small 9-acre farm and giving private language lessons at home. We have a large family, and our now grown-up children are mostly living in Brazil, one in England and one in Malaysia. Norah and I have made several trips to Europe and contacted most old friends there since leaving. Enough for the day is the news thereof!"
Leonard Pavitt writes: Since reading the 'Round Robin' and seeing the list of names, I realize that as one who left in 1959 before the "Exodus' that I have never known just how many left then or since. But I sat down and, partly from the list and partly from memory, counted up to 71 ex-members who I know for sure spent a minimum of 20 years as full members of the Bruderhof. Quite a few of them actually spent several years more than that, and I have not counted the many full members who had been with us for less than 20 years simply because I had no way of knowing how long the various folk had been members. This means that those who were either expelled or left, disillusioned, have together put well over 1500 years of work into helping to build the Bruderhof communities. When the Bruderhof write their history, what mention will they make of these 1500 or more years? Will we rate a chapter headed perhaps "The Bruderhof's 1500-Year Debt?" I rather doubt it. I feel that sometime, out of simple justice, it whould be put down in black and white, not only just how big the 'Exodus' was, but also how big the contribution to the building-up of the Bruderhof communities was, from those who were put out. They also gave their all -- homes and money, the company of much love family and friends. They also, to paraphrase the words of a dear friend's poem, "Worked 'til the hot sweat poured down their faces." They also "did not fear that the sun would beat them down." And what's more, after all those years, they had the courage to start their lives all over again, from nothing, 20 years older, no job references, and many with children to support. They don't deserve to be just scattered to the four winds, and their sacrifices and courage completely forgotten.
Ramon: Here is my reply to a recent letter from a B'hofer child living 'outside' but with family at Woodcrest who was critical of the first newsletter. I include it because I think the issues discussed will be coming up frequently: "I received your letter, and of course will comply with your wishes not to be listed or on the mailing list. I'm surprised that you found the opening paragraph of the newsletter 'very negative.' I reread it just now to see if I could spot what it was that bothered you. Frankly I couldn't. As you well know, many persons have been expelled from the bruderhof over the years and found their departures very traumatic and themselves very isolated. It seems a good thing to create a support network for those leaving of others who have already made their peace with their community experiences and found their way on the outside. And why shouldn't people who lived together so closely for so many years not continue to share in each others' lives? I think, as do most others on the mailing list, that the bruderhof's attempt to kept ex-hofers from getting together is absurd. It can only stem from a kind of paranoia which implies that they have something to hide, certainly not a proper attitude for a group that tries to set an example of brotherly openness and love.
"As for your criticism of the "News" portion as gossipy,"News" by nature is "gossipy," but the word 'gossip' itself comes, I am told by Barnabas Johnson, from the old English 'god-sib' which meant a god-brother or sister privileged to speak about you behind your back. I don't have any trouble with this, and actually have some serious questions about the bruderhof strictures on this point, because it means that any leadership criticism can only come from single individuals facing the combined weight of the membership, something which usually requires more courage than the average person can muster. I lived for some years with communal groups where everybody talked about everybody all the time, down to the most intimate details, and it was a very healthy, and at times healing experience...
"I don't see the common denominator of the ex-b'hofer network as 'antipathy' to the community. Of course there are some deeply damaged by the unloving acts of the brotherhood. And in some cases the brotherhood has asked forgiveness and received it. Others have managed to keep the good memories and forget the bad, and have gone on with their lives. But I certainly have no interest in establishing a 'hate group,' but rather a way for those of us who left to continue sharing in each others' lives. This of course involves friendly human intercourse, news about what we're doing, who is where, and so on, but I don't see anything implicitly wrong or evil in this. I find in your criticism, sadly, the overly judgmental severity typical of the '60s bruderhof mentality."
COMMENT: I do sincerely hope that the new Bruderhof openness I keep hearing about -- their willingness to see where they were overly judgmental in the past -- is correct. Then we can all look forward to a time when ex-b'hofers are warmly welcomed on visits, without the need to challenge them to rejoin. As I learned from visiting my sister's Episcopal convent, the spiritual maturity of a religious community can be measured by the width and sincerity of the smiles with which visiting ex-members are welcomed.

----------October 1989 1989 Vol. I #3----------

Dear ex-b'hofers: Hello again! Here's your monthly dose of Bruderhof updates, news, gossip -- Yes, GOSSIP! Nothing like that wonderful 'forbidden pleasure' feeling you get when you unfold these pages, am I right? Seriously though, newsletter Number Two went out to 120 addresses, and of course the one to Leonard Pavitt gets passed on to an estimated 50 more in England and Europe. Roger Allain sent me his list, which includes 20 or so in South America, so hopefully the contact is spreading. Perhaps we will hit 200 by the time this one is ready to be mailed! I had thought to wait a month before mailing #3, but with the publication of the revisionist Torches Rekindled and a recent letter I received from Woodcrest indicating a certain willingness to 'set things straight' I felt it was important this third letter get sent quickly. Please pay special attention to the "A Call to the Hutterian Society of Brothers to Demonstrate Their Change of Heart" and mail me back the enclosed self- addressed postcard with whatever editorial advice you have.
Thank you so much for all the letters, telephone calls and assistance. NEWS: Tom Sayvetz,.a doctor in Virginia, writes: "My wife Halldis and I are avid horsebreeders. We raise Great Danes and horses. Holly manages the farm." Tamara Loewenthal: "I got the newsletter today, and it struck me: this is just what we needed, to be touch with each other. How many times have we told others about our lives at the community and they say, 'How fascinating!' or 'How different!' For years after I left, I longed to talk to others who had those same childhood experiences... When I read that Miriam Holmes and Rachel Burger are having a singing party, I got very nostalgic. I'd love to attend, but since it's too far, I wouldn't mind if someone in the Indiana, Ohio, or Illinois area would like to do the same things. I'm definitely game. I left New Meadow Run during college, got my degree in psychology, and moved to Bloomington because I'd heard they played Old-time music and danced here. It was the truth. I am a dancer in a step-dance troupe called 'Rhythm In Shoes.' We do American clogging, tap, English clogging and sword dances. If we can make sound with our shoes, we do it. We tour professionally; next year we go to Japan. I have two children, Ewan, 7, and Serena, 2. Both are healthy and bright. Sometimes when I think of the courage it takes to leave the community, it's clear to me that being an individual, being assertive for one's own needs, is discouraged at the Bruderhof. A support network, such as this promises to be, may really be a great thing for all of us."
Ramon Sender: The Bruderhof's publication of Torches Rekindled provides an excellent opportunity for all of us to comment and discuss some of the issues mentioned. The book describes Heini Arnold as The Suffering Servant who never meant to deal harshly with anyone, but just was not at Primavera for the mass exclusions. Hans Zumpe of course is presented as the arch-fiend, conveniently not around to defend himself. Also, it does a great disservice to the memory Gwynn Evans, because it quotes in toto a letter of repentance which he later retracted in a second letter, claiming that the first was written under much emotional duress. The book calls out for some sort of published rebuttal, and may give the impetus needed to collect the stories of many of the Bruderhof 'wanderers' into a second volume. Until such a project becomes a reality, I will be glad to make this newsletter available as a forum for critiques of and amendments to the official story.
One sentence that especially stuck in my mind from the time when Primavera was sold for a quarter of a million dollars: "The receipt of money from the sale covered travel and many other expenses and helped us send as much as we could to our people who were away." I would be interested to know how many members excluded at that time received any financial help from the community. As far as I know, the Bruderhof's attitude towards excluded members has always been "sink or swim." Occasionally I have heard of the first month's rent being paid on an apartment, but at least in the USA the advice to an excluded family was "go apply for Welfare (aid to needy mothers and children)." I bring this up not in a muckraking spirit, but out of a feeling that the Bruderhof may not be facing up to something very wrong in the way they practiced church discipline.
Recently I received a letter from Tom Potts at Woodcrest which stated:
"We are sorry if Sibyl and Xavie's life in the Bruderhof cut
them off from you and your extended family. It has happened
to many of us and in many ways it is inevitable and even biblical.
That does not mean, however, that it has to be done in a hurting
manner, and I apologize for the Brotherhood if we were harsh
and unfeeling..
"Our need is to learn from any of those who left because of our
wrong behavior so that we do not repeat our failures. If you run
across any specific instances, we'd thank you to tell us so that we
can make any amends possible at this late date."
I replied (in part): "I note your personal sorrow about the way the Bruderhof cut me off from Sibyl and our daughter Xavie. I would point out there is a distinct difference between Sibyl's deciding she no longer wanted any contact with me, and the Brotherhood's ongoing refusal throughout Xavie's childhood to allow me any contact with her. Therefore, regretfully, I can not accept the Brotherhood's apology for a lifetime of separation from my daughter. It is too facile for the Brotherhood in 1989 to put on a long face and say, "Oh, we're so sorry now if we were harsh and unfeeling then." In the meantime, Xavie spent almost her whole life without a father, and I without the daughter I loved dearly. Perhaps, once I receive some sort of convincing proof of the sincerity of your request, I will somehow be given the strength to forgive you. But it is not up to me to forgive your forcing Xavie to grow up without a father, which caused her such deep, deep pain. Only God and your conscience can do that.
Also, you have not yet spoken to the fact that I was never informed of Xavie's marriage, nor of the birth of my grandchildren, and only told of Xavie's death one month after it had occurred.
Torches Rekindled raises Heini to near-sainthood. Again and again he is skillfully shielded from having to take any responsibility for the wrongs that were done. But whether or not he was physically present for the major purge weeks at Primavera, he was the driving force behind the overzealous American team and must bear the major responsibility for what occurred. Also, the publishing of Gwynn's 'repentance' letter without ANY MENTION of the retraction he sent later (claiming the first one was written under emotional duress), is very, very unfair to Gwynn's memory and to Buddug. It only proves the sad human truth that 'the victor always rewrites history to show himself in the best possible light.'
"The word 'bitter' is bandied about much too much in regard to ex-members. It is an easy way to pigeonhole and then shrug off their valid resentment for the way they were mistreated Many of them feel righteous anger for the manner in which they were thrown out, for the many years they gave of their lives to building up the Bruderhof (under near-starvation conditions in Paraguay), only to be effectively abandoned."
From a Mennonite Reporter Editorial, July 10, 1989: The Hutterite battle currently being fought in a Winnipeg courtroom is exposing the shocking secrets of a closed religious community... The case raises many uncomfortable questions. Are we seeing the inevitable results of a community which has for centuries considered itself accountable only to God? Is this what happens when a religious group becomes wealthy? Is true communal living possible for more than one generation? One of the most disturbing elements is the assumption that a few male leaders have absolute authority to rule a group founded on radical egalitarian principles. Our history has many examples of how isolated Anabaptist groups quickly succumbed to autocratic leadership. We could chalk this up to human failure, but I suspect the tendency lies within the nature of community itself. It is precisely the virtues of community (equality, consent, submersion of individuality in the greater good) that are its dangers and make it so susceptible to tyranny. This susceptibility is aided by our theology of submission and service which easily translates into passivity... One thing is clear: this case is a deadly threat against the communal life of the Hutterite church. The Hutterite community may never be the same again.
Loy McWhirter: My family was one of the many who were left to "sink or swim" after leaving. Mostly we sank, and I don't know if I will ever come to forgive the Bruderhof for their part in the destruction of my parents and siblings... The Bruderhof powers-that-be purposely destroyed my father's emotional well-being before we left and he never recovered. He is dead now, so no amends can be made... but I am slowly coming back to life and I am very angry. I know that what they did was a most obscene form of bloodless torture. It was done in the name of God and Jesus to the children who did not choose the life, as well as to those who did 'choose,' if one can call mind control a matter of choice (emotional and spiritual blackmail).
Ramon: I have been reading John Bradshaw's two books, Bradshaw On: The Family and Healing The Shame That Binds You. His lecture series has been appearing occasionally on educational TV over the past years. Somehow I was always 'put off' by his manner, but I have found his books very helpful indeed. I would recommend them enthusiastically to anyone here. Each is available from Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. 1988 for $11.20 each postpaid. Just a few quotes:
(Healing the Shame:) "Our healthy shame is
essential as the ground of our spirituality. By signaling
us of our essential limitations, our healthy shame
lets us know that we are not God. Our healthy shame
points us in the direction of some larger meaning.
It lets us know that there is something or someone
greater than ourselves. Our healthy shame is the
psychological ground of our humility... Toxic shame
gives you a sense of worthlessness, a sense of failing
and falling short as a human being. Toxic shame is a
rupture of the self with the self. It is like internal
bleeding. Toxic shame is so excruciating because it
is the painful exposure of the believed failure of self
to the self. In toxic shame the self becomes an object of
its own contempt... Toxic shame is experienced as an
inner torment, a sickness of the soul... Toxic shame is
the feeling of being isolated and alone in a complete sense.
A shame-based person is haunted by a sense of absence
and emptiness. Toxic shame... is easily confused with
"One of the most insidious and toxically shaming
distortions of many religions is the denial of secondary
causality. What this means is that according to some
church doctrines, the human will is inept. There is
NOTHING man can do that is of any validity. Of himself,
man is a worm. Only when God works through him does
man become restored to dignity. But it is never anything
that man does himself. The theology here is abortive of
any true doctrine of Judeo/Christianity. Most main-line
interpretations see man as having secondary causality...
Man's will is effective. In order to receive grace, man
must be willing to accept the gift of faith. After acceptance,
man's will plays a major role in the sanctification process.
The abortive interpretation sees man as totally flawed and
defective. Of himself, he can only sin. Man is shame-based
to the core."
Page 88 : "A third layer of protection against the felt sense
of toxic shame is acting "shameless." This is a common
pattern for shamebased parents, teachers, preachers of
righteousness and politicians. Acting shameless embodies
several behaviors which serve to alter the feeling of shame
and to interpersonally transfer one's toxic shame to another
person... These behaviors are all strategies of defense against
the pain of toxic shame. They are mood-altering and become
addictive. These behaviors include perfectionism, judgmental-
ness and moralizing, contempt, patronization, caretaking and
helping, envy, people-pleasing and being nice. Each behavior
focuses on another person and takes the heat off oneself.
Perfectionism always creates a superhuman measure by which one is compared. And no matter how hard one tries, or how well one does, one never measures up."
Bradshaw also quotes Alice Miller's Poisonous Pedagogy rules, from which we have all suffered to a greater or lesser extent:
1. Adults are the masters of the dependent child.
2. They determine in godlike fashion what is right and what is wrong.
3. The child is held responsible for the parents' anger.
4. The parents must always be shielded.
5. The child's life-affirming feelings pose a threat to the autocratic adult.
6. The child's will must be "broken" as soon as possible.
7. All this must happen at a very early age so that the child "Won't notice" and will therefore not be able to expose the adult.
Such beliefs about the parents' absolute power stem from the time of monarchs and kings. They are pre-democratic... They presuppose a world of eternal laws... The poisonous pedagogy justifies abusive methods for suppressing children's vital spontaneity: physical beatings, lying, duplicity, manipulation, scare tactics, withdrawal of love, isolation and coercion to the point of torture. All of these methods are toxically shaming.
Another aspect of (Alice Miller's) 'poisonous pedagogy' is to impart to the child from the beginning false information and beliefs that are not only unproven, but in some cases, demonstrably false. These are beliefs passed on from generation to generation ('sins of the fathers'). Again I refer to Miller who cites examples of such beliefs:
1. A feeling of duty produces love
2. Hatred can be done away with by forbidding it.
3. Parents deserve respect because they are parents.
4. Children are undeserving of respect simply because they are children.
5. Obedience makes a child strong.
6. A high degree of self-esteem is harmful.
7. A low degree of self-esteem makes a person altruistic.
8. Tenderness (doting) is harmful.
9. Responding to a child's needs is wrong.
10. Severity and coldness towards a child gives him a good preparation for life.
11. A pretense of gratitude is better than honest ingratitude.
12. The way you behave is more important than the way you really are.
13. Neither parents nor God would survive being offended.
14. The body is something dirty and disgusting.
15. Strong feelings are harmful.
16. Parents are creatures free of drives and guilt.
17. Parents are always right.

----------December 1989 1989 Vol. I #5-------- --

Dave Ostrom: Having read Torches Rekindled twice, cover to cover, I am divided in opinion and emotions. As a story related by one of the participants from his point of view, it is believable. No doubt many readers will find it fascinating and sometimes moving, as it was intended to be. But as a participant myself in the major period Merrill writes about, 1955-1960, I am confused by his narration, angered by the glib glossing over of many pertinent facts, and amazed at the audacity shown in the biased presentation of a period that left some people dead and many others in a state of mental disfunction. The entire tone of the book is a sort of shuffling, "Gee-shucks, folks, we have made some little mistakes here and there and we are really sorry. It was no big thing, and nobody got hurt, and gee-golly, we sure had some fun times along with the bad..." But I challenge the fact that there has been a change... because of an experience I had in 1984: My family and I were on vacation touring the East Coast where I took them to where I had lived. At New Meadow Run, while parked on a public road in front of NMR, a vanload of members pulled up and the driver informed me that if I didn't leave, they would call the authorities and have me removed (from a public place!). At Woodcrest, again, we were parked on a public road, taking photos of the covered bridge there, and a car with members pulled up and informed me that "If I didn't get the hell out of there they would call the authorities and have us removed." (again, from a public road). In contrast to this attitude,a few days later we visited Forest River colony. While I was not received and did not expect the same reception as a brother would, the reception I did receive still cause tears of joy for me. Joe, Ben and many others there received us warmly and with respect and true caring. At Forest River I was met with an attitude that demonstrated why my parents had given up everything and joined. At New Meadow Run and Woodcrest I was met with an attitude similar to the one that caused me to enlist in the Air Force as a young man, and which is why I continue to have many strong, angry feelings towards the Society of Brothers.
Ramon: In a recent letter from someone at Woodcrest, I was informed that anyone who quits the Society of Brothers will "still be treated as human and be loved and prayed for. And he will not be under church discipline. Church discipline is voluntary and MUST BE ASKED FOR." (sic)
I think this is an important point, because many of us are still receiving letters that are accusatory and challenging. I find it helpful to gently remind that person that I have said "I quit" and have not asked for church discipline to be applied.

--------------Thoughts to ponder-------------

From Bradshaw's Audiotape on 'Religious Addiction':
The psychology of (religious) totalism is based on absolute control of the people under you. Anybody who stands up and says one thing different -- look out! If you stand up and suggest another nuance to the doctrine, look out! Another thing that happens with these systems is that they're literally spying systems. There's a lot of ratting on each other. There really is! People tell on each other all the time... Conform! Be obedient! And boy, if you say one thing different! There's this passage in Luke where Jesus is talking to the rabbis at his Bar Mitzvah, and he's laying those theologians on their ear! He's asking them all these embarrassing questions. You don't ask those questions. "Why aren't there any Blacks in this church?" "Oooohhhh! Get that kid outtahere!" "We don't say that here! Shhh!" With every closed religious system, there's s No-Talk Rule. We don't ask why. We don't ask those questions. And if you do, you're going to be in big trouble. Either the minister will get you or if the minister doesn't get you your grandma will get you, or your saintly aunt will get you or someone else in the system will get you. "Oooooh!" The No-Talk rule is the most common one that exists in certain closed religious structures.
Miriam Arnold Holmes writes: It's amazingly easy for us SOB graduates to relate to prisoners. After all, we grew up in a total institution also, and can easily relate to people who have hardly any control over their lives. I always tell the inmates who moan and groan about being in prison that they are lucky that they can think whatever they please. We couldn't even do that. These poor souls who are almost all the product of severe child abuse are very grateful for any little bit of warmth that comes their away. So the work is rewarding.
Loy McWhirter: I feel that we have to tell the truth of our stories to stop the (mind control) machines. Ours was/is very insidious because it (HSOB) looks so good to outsiders -- such a shining example, and with many of the ideals any 'conscious person' should aspire to.
People who do you wrong at random is painful. People systematically destroying your self in the name of some ideology, whatever it may be -- Christian, satanic, militaristic, whatever, is survivable only if you capitulate and lose yourself, or disassociate -- 'break.' When you are a child subjected to ritualized/systematized destruction of the self, you have no self-protection to fall back on, or no memory strong enough of who you were to sustain you. You have to break or die, physically, emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually.
Ramon Sender: (responding to a letter from Duffy & Susie Black) Sometimes, dear Duffy, I wonder if we're talking about the same Bruderhof. You talk about your "gratefulness for the experience during the years we lived together." And Susie of the 'riches' she felt she received. And you really swallowed the Torches Rekindled apologia for Heini? I'm sorry, but I can't go along with that. I agree that Heini had a lot of charisma, but unfortunately he used it to serve his own ends. It seems to me as if you have woven a web of sweetness and light around your memories and are not really facing some of the starker truths about the closed religious system which the Bruderhof promulgates. Also I am surprised that you found the December issue disturbing, because I thought it was more 'balanced' than previous issues. One of the reasons for the creation of a newsletter staff was to bring a wider editorial point of view and I thought with their kind advice we had done a better job of not being so confrontational.
You say that you feel bitterness in some of the newsletter's correspondence. Just what IS bitterness, anyway? I think of it as anger which has not been expressed but held inside where it becomes a kind of smoldering resentment and also wreaks havoc with the health of the person. Anger can only be unfrozen by giving vent to it and expressing it. Groups such as the 12-Step Adult Children of Alcoholics provide supportive environments where this sort of healing can take place. I hope that the KIT newsletter can provide a similar supportive environment, and now that it is being read and responded to by the communities, perhaps also a place where communication can be opened up between the Bruderhof and the mistreated person. In the case of Dave Ostrom, I think the newsletter has provided an important service, because he is now in active correspondence with Christoph. Much of Dave's anger -- and even the lawsuit itself -- arose from the fact that no one at the Society of Brothers answered any of his or Marty's letters in the 'sixties.
This letters thing (Christoph claims he can find no one who saw any of Dave's early letters) has brought up the whole interesting question of mail censorship within the communities. Perhaps you could throw some light on this matter of whether letters always reached the person to whom they were addressed?
I agree with you that the first place to lodge a complaint is with the Bruderhof itself. But in many cases, the only response to an attempt to open up communication was the 'silent treatment,' no response, nothing, except for an occasional death notice. So I feel it's good to provide an alternative, a place where people who have been mistreated by the HSOB can not only renew friendships and keep in touch, but also compare notes on how they were mistreated and cry on each other's shoulders whenever necessary. What's wrong with that? What's even wrong with screaming and yelling because of the years of accumulated pain and frustration? All the Bruderhof did for me since the time I was asked to leave was to consistently refuse me any contact with Xavie throughout her childhood and act as if I was a leper with spiritual bad breath and a body odor problem. I feel no 'burden of personal guilt' as Kathy Mow called it in a challenging letter recently, because whatever guilt I may once have felt I realized came from the Bruderhof's own self-righteous, mean-spirited, legalistic and shaming attitude towards me. I am endlessly grateful for God's overwhelming love and forgiveness, which has been the ocean of delight in which I have surfed throughout the past thirty years of my life.
I don't want to get into all my personal ins and outs in a letter to you, but suffice it to say that, after two rather lengthy replies from Tom Potts, I am still waiting to hear something like a recognition on the part of the HSOB that they wounded Xavie deeply by not allowing her access to her father during her growing up. Also I am still waiting to hear these concerns answered:
1) I received no notice of her engagement and marriage.
2) I received no announcements of the births of my grandchildren.
3) I did not receive word of her terminal illness until a month after her death.
When Tom asked me why I was writing the book, I answered:
"Of course I am writing it to heal myself of the many years of a father's anguish. I hope that other fathers who have been cut off from their children by divorce or separation will find solace in what I write. I also hope that it will console parents whose children have joined splinter sects or cults, and perhaps even give some good advice. I care very little about my 'reputation' or 'making money,' as anyone who knows me can testify. Books of the sort I write barely break even financially. The most compelling reason, above all others, is that I hope the book will encourage the brotherhood to change into a more humanistic, compassionate organization for the sake of my two grandchildren who are growing up there. And for the sake of those many, many other Bruderhof graduates who have relatives within the communities. I also relive the story of two young, romantic idealists whose emotional immaturity ruined their marriage. I hope this particular part of the story will help other young people who want to drop everything, their education, their families, for the sake of an overwhelming romance. If I worried about the market for my books, I would not be the sort of writer -- or person -- I am."
I hope the tone of this letter is not too testy, Duffy. But I feel I should emphasize that I don't think you're really seeing the situation as it is. There are many, many very badly mistreated ex-members and children around. Their voices have not been heard by the communities except on a very selective basis. It's time they were listened to, at least by others who share their pain.
Best Wishes to you and Susie and your family for the 1990's.
--------------From The Archives--------------
Some young adults seem to be unfamiliar with the background of The Great Crisis except from the HSOB's point of view. The KIT Newsletter archives contain some letters from previous years which may help shed some light. The following, dated, December 1972, from Roger Allain to the Brotherhoods, could just as well have been written in answer to Torches Rekindled:
You are indignant over the cruel treatment dealt to Heini, Hardi, Hans-Hermann and a few others during their exclusions... But why do you interpret it as almost exclusively directed against the Arnolds? Don't you know that dozens of other brothers and sisters were treated just as cruelly by all of us while (they were) excluded in Primavera, Asuncion or other places?
And what of the cold, careless treatment of many unbaptized, undecided youths whom we sent away to Asuncion at an immature age without any help? What of the cruel, often brutal, treatment of children whom we excluded for months from school and family for some minor sexual misdemeanor?. Don't we all share in this collective guilt? Why do you, Heini, fail to confess the cruel way you, particularly, treated many children when you were a Hortner and later a Servant in Ibate? Do you know that several of them, now adults, say you are the brother they feared the most?
One thing your letters, and our talk in Darvell six months ago, did for me was to help me understand much better why and how so many people were thrown out of the community 10 to 12 years ago. The chief reason was your obsession with the "Arnold Question," ...that you were appalled by the 'hatred' against the Arnolds and you wanted to find its cause. But you ascribed it superficially to the presumptive envy of a few individuals, and you failed to see that right through its history, the Bruderhof has been swayed by an ambivalent set of complex and confused feelings towards the Arnolds: love and gratefulness for their faith and courage in starting the community, but also vexation over the frequently and variously recurring expressions of their patriarchalism, nepotism, pride, prepotency and privileges. The term 'royal family' offended your ears, but you failed to investigate the deeper reason for its use.
Speaking of Primavera, where most of my community experience was, I think its collapse was due to many causes of which the Arnold question was only one. Other reasons were that we had become afraid of the voice of our own conscience, and often acquiesced in Brotherhood decisions without any personal conviction for or against; we had grown callous to one another, particularly when a brother or sister was 'down' in exclusion; we had become cold and puritanical in dealing with our children; we had become cold and indifferent to the sufferings of our fellow-men (contemptuous of 'social work,' closing down the Primavera hospital); we had become experts in, and victims of, Orwellian double-think with others and with ourselves; we had become artful and opportunistic with the outside world in our dealings with wage-workers, businessmen, state officials; we had become proud and convinced of our superiority over other movements (while professing our own unworthiness) or afraid of being contaminated by them (e.g. work camps with 'world churches'); above all, we had been sinking deeper and deeper into a morass of frenzied clearances and collective introspection. These are not personal accusations against you who have written; I fully include myself in the responsibility for it all.
Dear people, even if your letters contained more personal recognitions and fewer attacks against others, they are coming too late for me, and probably for many others like me, who have managed to find a new foothold in life and have assumed new responsibilities. And they are too late to reach those of us who have departed from this life -- some of them out of a broken heart (I personally know of two members who committed suicide as a result of being rejected by the Bruderhof: Felipe Baderssich in Uruguay in '61 or '62, and Nicko in Berlin in '62 or '63.) However well-intentioned your letters may be, I fear they will only exacerbate the differences which separate many ex-Bruderhofers from your group, instead of leading to the reconciliation you want...
...Your appeal to our baptismal vows... is to me an idle and fallacious one. You yourselves ("the five of us from the States: Heini, Doug, Merrill, Gert and I," to quote from Art's letter) dissolved the old bonds and proceeded to form a new brotherhood. You sent people away, often against their will, under the pretext that they had entered the 'church' through the wrong door (and you published this pretext in the Press). To those few who, like Norah and myself, left in protest, you said yes, it was better that we went, and you wasted not one word about our baptismal vows.
In any case, your group (now) is different from the one we joined thirty years ago, although many members of it belonged to the S.O.B. in Paraguay and in Europe, and you still use the same name. You have left off being a revolutionary world movement concerned with God and the whole world, and of significance for it, to become engrossed with yourselves and sectarian perfectionism. I remember those of you with whom I lived in community for years with love and gratitude, I sincerely wish you all well, but I have no further obligation towards you, and you have no claim over me.
Note added in Nov, 1989: Having recently received and read the totally one-sided, tendentious Bruderhof history in Merrill Mow's Torches Rekindled," I was amazed that although the book deals at length with the 1960 - 61 crisis, it says next to nothing about the spate of letters that the communities sent to their ex-members in November, '72, trying to explain, apologize and at the same time accusing... The letters we received were from Merrill, Heini, Burgel, Milton, Mark, Art, Hans Meier, Georg, Hans, Ben, Heidi, Klaus, 93 (!) typed pages in all.
The following is the final draft of the 'Open Letter to the Brotherhood' discussed in KIT' Round-Robin # 4. Copies will be mailed to all five 'hofs signed by Ramon Sender. However it should have as wide and as personal an intra-hof distribution as possible. Therefore KIT readers are invited to sign and photocopy the letter, and then mail it to as many specific brotherhood members as you know and would like to reach.
January, 1990
An Open Letter to the Brotherhood
(to be read to all at a brotherhood meeting):
Sincere good wishes for the New Year! May the 1990's bring a new freedom of expression and openness of communication between all Hutterian brothers and sisters and those of us who now live in the wider community.
In a recent letter, Tom Potts stated: "Our need is to learn from any of those who left because of our wrong behavior so that we do not repeat our failures. If you run across any specific instances, we would thank you to tell us that we can make any amends possible at this late date."
It encourages us to read that the brotherhood now acknowledges some guilt for their previous judgmental and unloving behavior. Of course in certain instances a time lag of many years has occurred, and younger members cannot be held accountable for the betrayal of trust that happened then. Nevertheless, we still feel that we should ask the full brotherhood: "What specific acts are you willing to perform now in order to undo some of the pain which the Society of Brothers has caused so many?"
We note that there are many elderly ex-members living in poverty without access to Social Security (in the USA) because the Bruderhof did not pay into the system. Also there are parents with many children to support and educate. In some instances they are also paying for psychiatric treatment as a direct result of the emotional abuse the children suffered during their time in the communities. Others suffer from physical disabilities directly or indirectly caused by the heavy labor required of them as Primavera teenagers, the poor diet or other medical reasons, and do not have health insurance to cover the cost of specialized treatment.
No doubt some of these needy individuals will refuse any direct financial assistance from the communities out of their own sense of self-esteem. As someone described it, "Anybody who dared ask for money (from the community) was talked about as if they were the scum of the earth." But there might be a way to set up an assistance fund through some third party whereby ex-members could apply for financial grants-in-aid. Gould Farm might be a possible conduit, for example.
This is just one possible action which the brotherhoods might consider. It is offered in good faith just as a suggestion of a method by which you could prove your good intentions to those who were mistreated and are now living in financial distress.
The newsletter staff would also like to make two small requests: there are those receiving the newsletter who are afraid to list their names and addresses out of fear that their visiting privileges to family members residing within the communities will be revoked. Can the Society offer their written promise guaranteeing that no type of reprisal or retribution will be taken against any newsletter subscribers?
And a second newsletter staff request: now that the newsletter is openly being shared both on and off the communities, and many - even within the Bruderhofs - agree that it is functioning as a ameliorative and healing influence, would the Society of Brothers be willing to share with us the names and addresses of all ex-members and 'sabra' children living on the 'outside?' That way the newsletter could reach a far wider group without our having to run up enormous phone bills making the contacts, or waiting for the newsletter over time to spread gradually further and further.
We hope that the brotherhood will continue to be open to this dialog, and will understand that we are approaching them in a listening, sympathetic manner rather than in a confrontational or demanding one.

--------KIT February, 1990, Vol. II #2--------

Staughton & Alice Lynd: We are not among those who feel wronged by the Hutterian Society of Brothers. In saying this, we do not mean to distance ourselves from friends who feel they were wronged. We only mean to say that this was not our experience. Of course there were some particular remarks and particular meetings that hurt us or made us angry at the time. But anything of this kind is very much outweighed by the following:
We were the only full members of the Macedonia Cooperative Community who did not join the Bruderhof. After we had left Woodcrest, the Bruderhof made the decision to sell the Macedonia property. They took the trouble to seek us out, and to give us the opportunity to purchase the place and continue it.
When Alice wished to return to Woodcrest in February, 1958, with a two-year-old child and also very pregnant, the Bruderhof took her in and, more particularly, Hansuli and Lizzie Boller took in our daughter Barbara and gave of their wellbeing. Finally, when Alice asked to move toward the Novitiate, and the Brothers saw that she could not move forward, or indeed anywhere, without her husband, they encouraged her to leave. They acted just in the opposite way a spiritually imperialistic, greedy in the missionary sense, church might have acted.
Our continuing concerns, which we have fully expressed to friends at the Bruderhof, are these:
1. Reading Torches Rekindled has made us aware of ways in which Macedonia and the Hutterian Society of Brothers are fundamentally different, and we find ourselves wedded to the Macedonian basis as much as ever. We had never seen so clearly that the Bruderhof believes literally in rule by a king, in an authoritarian rather than an egalitarian governance. We don't believe that any human being is infallible, even if he may be an Elder, a Vetter, a Servant of the Word, or a witness brother entrusted with authority because of his great spiritual receptivity. Nor do we believe that females are any less the vessels of spiritual understanding than males. We believe that human beings are endowed with a conscience, and that each of us needs to use it, to keep his or her heart open and to be guided by it. We need each other because none of us can see and hear all.
2. When we were at Woodcrest in 1957-'58, we expressed the hope that the Bruderhof might start outposts in the city like the Catholic Worker houses of hospitality. We are sad that the physical properties at Macedonia and Primavera were given up. Being at Macedonia would have given the community an opportunity to be more in touch with the Southern civil rights movement than proved to be possible, and continuing at Primavera might have caused the community in one way or another more fully to encounter the spirit of the Second Vatican Council in its Latin American manifestation, liberation theology. Next to Macedonia,.the Southern civil rights movement and liberation theology have been the deepest experiences of our lives. We think they may have been the most important renewals of the religious spirit anywhere in the world in the second half of the twentieth century.
With these two concerns in mind, we'd like to lay the following before newsletter readers. May it not be that all of us- -those who stayed at the Bruderhof and those who did not -- are members of a larger community seeking to being about the Kingdom of God on earth in the sense of a more just society? We who left are perforce the "outposts." This is an opportunity, and a responsibility, and may be valued more than we imagine by those still on the 'hofs. The work of taking even small steps toward a more just society is a task so much bigger than us all that we can undertake it together, knowing that nobody has all the answers.
Leonard Pavitt: From a letter to Margaret Loewen Reimer, Associate Editor of The Mennonite Reporter: This whole business with the Hutterites has made me wonder anew what might have happened if Eberhard Arnold had simply taken up contact with the Hutterites and learnt from them all the useful and good things that they undoubtedly had to offer regarding life in community, and remained in close contact with them instead of attempting a so-called 'unity' with them and taking on the useless encrustations that time had laid on them. The Bruderhof could then have kept their integrity intact by freely following what was clearly being shown to them at that time, developing as it was given to them so to do. Possibly also to the benefit of the Hutterite Church. Instead, they have wandered through the years in ill-fitting Hutterite clothing that keeps on causing discomfort and trips them up from time to time...
Derek Wardle in his letter (to The Mennonite Reporter) mentioned that the community is capable of renewal. I take it he is alluding to the Bruderhof's renewal, circa 1960, born of their desire for complete unity in the ranks, which unfortunately entailed the loss of some forty percent of their members who were 'asked to leave' at that time. Very many of us follow the fortunes of various attempts at communal living being made in our times. It will be a matter of great interest to us all, I am sure, to note the effect on the various sections of the Hutterite Church of the Bruderhof's desire for complete unity with them. It is to be fervently hoped that such a complete unity can be achieved without causing a similar loss to the present Hutterite Churches' 35 thousand-odd members. If Derek Wardle would like to send me a copy of the Bruderhof's new book, I should be delighted to write a review that could perhaps be printed in a future issue of The Mennonite Reporter, if the editor so wished.
Loy McWhirter (replying to a letter from an HSOB couple): My clearest memory of you and all the others who upheld the Bruderhof's 'ideals' and ideologies is your standing by while my father and my family were torn apart and shunned by the very 'loving community' in which he so deeply believed and had committed himself to be truthful with. You either participated in his torment and destruction, or stood by in fearful silence. This is real. And the ones whose lives were affected are real, and cannot be dismissed with 'warm regards' and apologies.
The years that followed our exile have been painful and deeply damaging to my family and myself. I no longer am able to see my family, even though I live two miles from them, because they willingly clutch the happy lies to their hearts. I am in intensive and difficult therapy at great cost to my chosen family and myself.
I do not appreciate or trust your 'warm regards' in the face of all that has gone before, and in the light of the painful reclamation work I am engaged in. I might like to believe such stories, but I have found them to be treacherous and disappointing. I would welcome any real and tangible help towards healing the deep and long-lasting pain the Bruderhof has caused in my life. I do resent having to do the difficult work without the help of the Bruderhof or my family-of-birth.
My father is dead, never having recovered from the 'break.' I have no idea what can be done for my brothers, sister and mother since they, like so many Bruderhof cast-offs, either have been able to pretend it never happened or that it was a fleeting time filled only with fond memories. Since my siblings were so young there, it has been easier for them to forget or ignore the ways they have been affected than it has been for me.
Notes from Loy's Journal: 12/10:... The war in Paraguay Bruderhof between the sexual and the repressive, the sensuality of the place, the repression of the ideologies controlling and ordering the community. The Catholic Church has had a similar history in the place. What was the specific history of the Jesuits in Paraguay ("The Mission" movie), the arguments against church doctrine in protection of the native sensuality of the people, against the enslavement of their souls. That (enslavement) is sanctified by the Church because the 'child-like' souls of the uninitiated (and bodies, minds, hearts) are deemed available to those who consider their own purpose to be beyond question, indisputable and beyond reproach. The Bruderhof may have fallen into similar inner and outer wars, the manifestation of the wars between the flesh and the spirit, the U.S. hierarchy representing the authoritarian spirit, the Primavera brotherhood representing the practical/sensual everyday requirements of the body and soul. The children are always the sacrifice in such wars. You get a hard wisdom surviving the extremes of the battles, but you lose your innocence and childhood. It is stolen and sacrificed for the 'greater good' and the doctrines they serve. You have to die the death they live so they will not be overcome by the great sorrow and loss you embody with your small, shining, innocent life. It is why they sentimentalize childhood in the child Jesus and enshrine and distance his coming to the world of sorrow in the dark time of winter. They have murdered childhood in the bodies of their own children-of-the-soul and of their bodies...."Love that cuts like a knife."

--------KIT Newsletter, March 1990, Vol. II #3 --------

Victor Peters, a historian at North Dakota State University and author of All Things Common: The Hutterian Way of Life, (1965) reviewed Torches Rekindled for The Mennonite Reporter. Here are excerpts (quoted with his kind permission):
Narrative confuses readers not familiar with Hutterite conflicts
...This book traces the tortuous internal conflicts within the Society's own history and its troubled relationship with the Hutterites. It generously absolves the latter of all blame and places the cause for disagreement on the Society and some of its members.
It is difficult to assess the author's share in writing this volume. He died before the manuscript appeared in print and the reader is informed that the story is presented as "told by Merrill Mow."
The writer is solicitous not to offend members of his group, and he does not discuss the details of the conflicts. The reader is left with ambiguities such as "When the underlying causes of that was wrong were revealed, a crisis developed" (p. 132), or again, "Some were fearful and others were angry, all I can say is that it was a mess!" (p. 133)
The author also appears to be overly protective of leader Heini Arnold, son of Eberhard Arnold. In one instance he writes, "we were in the very difficult situation of someone having raised questions towards Heini that were absolutely way off." (p. 139)
Often the reader is confronted with historical or devotional pablum without a focus on the problem at hand.
No doubt the members of the Society of Brothers know the omitted details, and many of the Hutterites, at least their leaders, will have some grasp of the conflicts, but the general reader is left with a nebulous narrative that confuses more than it informs...
Unfortunately, Torches Rekindled does not measure up to most of the Society's other publications. The most positive feature of the book are the symbolic torches on its cover, where a brightly burning torch rekindles another torch.
Michael Caine: I really appreciate the newsletters. Thanks for putting in so much effort. Please excuse my spelling mistakes... I only had very little school on account of too much Ausschluss (exclusion). The only complete school year was First Klasse in Isla Margarita, 1946, with Roger Allain, then followed by about three years, mainly Ausschluss, in Ibate. Anybody who knows me will tell you that I was not always a conformist -- in fact quite early in life I learned that a life of delinquency was a much more eventful life!
The older I get, the more I realize what a good life we all had as kids in Primavera. What kids anywhere in the world have a life like we did! I was taken in as an orphan by the Bruderhof when I was just two weeks old. the most fortunate thing that ever happened to me in my life... Primavera was a lot more than a cattle ranch -- it was our Heimat -- in English there is no word for that! Since leaving Primavera, I never felt at home anywhere. I have lived here in Windsor for many years, and if I were to leave it today, I would never miss it, although it's fine for the Queen of England, it is not good enough for me.
People who complain about the school in Primavera I just can't understand. After what I have seen and experienced of teachers here in England, I know we had the most fantastic teachers there. Like myself, I might not have learned how to write properly, but the things we learned apart from writing, with people from such varied backgrounds, and all the different guests who came from so many different countries. But that is one reason why a Bruderhof can only last one generation. Had we carried on in Paraguay, eventually we would have become like the Mennonites. But still that was no reason to steal Primavera from all of us! It is really sick to read in 'Torture Rekindled' (sic) how Primavera got stolen, especially those meetings in Pt. Rosario...
I remember my first Ausschluss, I was seven years old -- the long interrogation: "What were you doing with yourself in the bathroom?... What were you doing with the girls? Do you love Jesus? Your mother's sin is in you!" (I was born illegitimate, and it was never the sin of the father, only my mother) And the endless beatings with his bamboo stick. Heini really taught me the art of hatred. With him being such a creature, it is not surprising that he found more of his kind. No matter how big the jungle is, one monkey will always find another monkey, and that is how they managed to smash up the Bruderhof! I felt really sick reading what Duffy said in his letter, but then Duffy was never in Ausschluss as a little boy under Heini. Heini could take advantage of me because I had no parents. The Bollers with whom I was supposed to live were themselves often in Ausschluss because they were too honest. More than often they were treated like dirt for taking everything so seriously, like only the Swiss can do. When I think of how much they contributed to the Rohn - without the Bollers there would have been no Rohnbruderhof. Yet they were always humble people, always thinking of others all the time, especially when they lived and worked near the hospital, often 'til all hours of the night, and up again at 5 am. They really put themselves out, especially for the arriving patients and their families. I can tell lots of stories about the Bollers and how they really gave their lives to the Bruderhof cause. Til the end they kept their strong faith in the brothers and sisters and then got kicked out of Woodcrest by some *&%$# Yank over a box of nails in the toy shop.
The Bruderhof can exist only when poor because that is the idea it was founded on: 'Give your money to the poor and follow me.' That was the purpose of the hospital, and everybody who contributed to the closure of the hospital has paved his path to heaven in blood. When I was in Paraguay in 1969, a Paraguayan told me that he estimated that since the hospital's closure until that point in time about one thousand people had lost their lives, more than often just from things like the lack of a hookworm cure for a child. Merrill Mow is just blowing a lot of hot air when he says that the Freisland hospital was better equipped. That's just a load of rubbish!
I could go on and on about how I feel about Heini and Heini-ism. A lot you will know in any case, but what I must most strongly object to is: calling those disciples of Heini 'the Bruderhof.' What an insult! If you have a table or a bed at home and I come and smash it all up, you cannot call those two items a bed and a table anymore. Well, that is exactly what happened to the Bruderhof in 1961. The Bruderhof was a place where anybody could walk in as a guest. Everybody there had a concern for the poor, and most important, they always took in orphans like myself. Look at the time in the Rhon, how poor they were, and how many orphans they had...
In your newsletters there are scores of names and addresses -- you don't mind if I inquire about one or two I used to know? Like Jim Bernard, Ray, Ed and Nancy Saibin, Lee Stern and Henry Little? I see where Crisi Bernard is helping you with KIT -- she must know where her father is? In Loma, Jim and Ricia were very good friends of mine, and Jim sure left his mark in Paraguay. He was always a very hard worker, and very popular with the Paraguayans.
The Bruderhof was something very special to most of us, and that's why its destruction was so painful. My first recollection of life was the Galophutte in Isla, and just outside it, the first logs being cut up by hand over a pit, one man on top, the other in the pit. At dinner when all the men were there, the logs were repositioned for another cut, and all by hand and muscle. Kurt was carting the water from the Orangewood to the place with his two white horses, "Schimmel" and "Dodilio." When he bucketed the water from the wagon to a tank, he would sometimes tip a bucketful over us kids. He was always very popular with us kids, especially later when he had the 'Hort' -- it went without saying - down to the river. What a good time we also had with Gertrut Wegner in the kindergarten, all those long walks to Reveros, the Brennloral, Orangewood and the spring, and Abopoii, and all the stories she used to tell us. And the teachers we had at school, Franzi Whitty, Marei Braun, Fritz Pfeifer, Fritz Freiburghaus, he was my favorite, especially for history and geography. He inspired me to look up lots of different Indians all over South America. And from Trudi Hussy I learned so much about Europe that the first time I went to Paris I just remembered what Trudi told us and didn't need a map. I wasn't lost in the least! And in the Sahara I never got lost because Roger had taught us how to use a compass, from Marrakesh to Mauritania, Algiers, Chad, Niger and then to Nigeria. All in a car more than thirty years old. Without the Bruderhof background I would never have had experiences like that. The Bruderhof motto was always: 'Nothing is impossible. Where there's a will, there's a way.' The Bruderhof has given me a good life. Everybody can come up with hard luck stories. It's part of growing up. But one just has to put everything on a scale, the good on one side, the bad on the other, and the good always outweighs the bad when one had the fortune to grow up on the Bruderhof! But how much more good there would have been if it wasn't for Heini!
The thing (about 'Torches') that annoyed me the most was the way Hans Zumpe was dragged through the muck. Personally I never liked him, him being a Po Guazu (Big Boss), but what I learned later in life quite apart from the Bruderhof was what a courageous man he was. Just before World War II it was he who dealt with the Nazi authorities, the SS officers and suchlike, he being Wehrphlichtig at the time. And it was NEVER certain IF he would walk out the same door he had come in. Why the hell did Merrill Mow not put that into the book? All of us who enjoyed the Bruderhof have a lot to be grateful for for what Hans Zumpe risked for us all. Because one thing he was definitely not, and that was stupid! And Heini was never good enough to tie Hans bootlaces! So tell Duffy to put that in his pipe and smoke it! And of course Hans Zumpe never gave the 'Heil Hitler' salute. I know from lots of people how dangerous that alone in itself was. Well, I can go on and on about different things. It sure is good to hear about so many people I used to know and grew up with.
Interesting how different our lives have become, and how instantly I spend time thinking of one and the other in a kind of a daydream. Like just now I looked at your newsletter and there is the name: 'McWhirter.' Is that to do with Jim McWhirter? I remember when I was 14 in Pt. Rosario, it was raining like mad, as it could only do in Pt. Rosario, and there were some Royals in Rosario at the same time, so we, the baddies, stayed at Meggetti's instead of the house, and Jim sided with us. He had just come from Asuncion. The oxen had had nothing to eat for three days, so he went out with Atillano Sanchez to buy some alfalfa for the price of one meal in the USA. About three hours later the oxen almost died from bloating, but Jim stayed with us 'til we went back to Primavera. Then he invited me once to his family, his wife spoke a bit of German -- Loy was one of his kids?
Another family I have good memories from are the Ostroms when they were at Forest River. I was often in their family, and of course the Baers and Maendels as well. I really like the time in Forest River, especially riding round Death Valley and the university grounds where the beaver lodge was, and to Trojans and McConnelly Spring. It was really good riding on the frozen river. Forest River was really a beautiful place.
My regards to everybody who knew me, and those who don't. If any of you come to the U.K. and you got nowhere to stay and you don't expect luxury and don't mind a few cucarachas, you are welcome to stay here.
Roger & Norah Allain (from their Dec. '89 newsletter): Since (our visit to Darvell in '87) we have received well- meaning, challenging letters from various B'hofs. At first I tried to engage in a friendly, noncommittal dialogue about such points as their relationships with the Kibbutzim or the various Hutterite groups (Schmiede-, Lehrer- and Darius-Leut). My questions were ignored and the challenge renewed. So I felt I should answer more clearly and bluntly how and why a return to the Bruderhof did not come into question for us. First, we have evolved a lot in these 30 years, and we no longer uphold the kind of narrow, fundamentalistic Christian faith preached at the Bruderhof and by Peter Rideman, the prudish attitude toward sex and opposition to birth control, the male domination over women or the discretionary power of senior servants, such as we knew it at the Bruderhof years ago. And the Bruderhof itself has evolved. It has renewed, deepened and narrowed its unity with the "Western" (Canadian) Hutterites. We have no desire to join a sect again, let alone the Hutterite sect with its mixture of medieval religiosity and servitude to ultramodern, mammonistic agriculture and multi-million- dollar business practices...
Finally there came the book Torches Rekindled, going public for the first time, as the blurb said, to tell the history of the Bruderhof, warts and all, lifting the veil from B'hof errors, crises and failures. I began reading it with an open mind, but soon grew tired of the pious repetitions about following Jesus, more and more impatient with the raising of Heini to sainthood while damning Hans Z. as scapegoat, and finally incensed at the cold-blooded publication of a letter Gwynn had written in one of those insane soul-searchings we had during brotherhood crises, and then clearly retracted. It just beats me how the B'hof, whose people are so lovable as individuals, can be so insensitive and cynical as a body. The thing is so cruel to Buddug, insulting to Gwynn's memory, and stupid, really, for this breach of faith will arouse the indignation of many.
John G. Arnold:This is a short response to what Doug Moody wrote in the KIT newsletter, Is it not time, Doug, that you start apologizing for the serious injustices and injuries which you so heartlessly inflicted on others? You not only poisoned my grandmother's heart against me, but you also stated that I was not allowed to attend my mother's funeral. How is that possible? For four solid years I protested against the lies you inflicted on others. Your accusations were all false. I wrote over one hundred letters to Heini and the other servants.
Why is it that you servants had no love? With a little love and humility, in no time all differences could have been resolved. Until today, nothing has been cleared up. I shall never be reconciled to the lies you told about me.
An ex-member replies to John G. Arnold: Dear John - thank you for your report about the Bruderhof. Yes, your father was excluded several times unjustly, and by his brother at that. The Bruderhof still defends Heini and Christoph. Torches Rekindled describes it all, and that book is one glorification of Heini. There is no other description for it. Now the Bruderhof seems to have changed their tune from "repent and come back" to "we are seeking personal reconciliation, and God will take care of the rest."
Loy McWhirter: (from a reply to a letter from Elder J. Christoph Arnold) You are representative of a system that destroyed my father and crippled me. You are not just yourself, in your position. Let us not uphold and perpetuate this pretense. As you embody and participate in that system, you are accountable for its abuses, corruptions and damages. Maybe you were 'only a child' in the time I wrote about. But you have absorbed and taken up (presumably willingly) the legacy of those narrow, exclusive and life-diminishing dogmas that so systematically and heartlessly invaded and destroyed my childhood...
I deeply resent the bruderhof's consistent and self- righteous denial in regard to those of us who cannot chose your way for the sake of our own self-protection, because of the effects it has already had on our lives when we did NOT have a choice. It is not appropriate that you would insist, or even suggest, that the bruderhof is 'a need for me,' considering what I know. I do not believe that your interpretation includes my experience in a way that Jesus and God intend...
The way of love, forgiveness and reconciliation is not the easy one your message suggests. The way is difficult and the damage must be acknowledged and healed. Jesus will not do your work for you. You add to the pain and damage by your denial and sacrosanct versions of the painful emotional, mental, physical and spiritual damages of the bruderhof's history. It makes me angry and sad the way it is presented and explained as love and spiritual devotion, the torment and torture carried out so meticulously and purposefully on me and others. Torture and abuse are perpetrated in many forms: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. The bruderhof is guilty of all of these. Maybe Jesus will help you find your way to heal the destruction you condone and perpetuate with your collective denial; the damage to the lives for which you are accountable.
Maybe the bruderhof has changed. If this is so, I hope you are capable of seeing beyond the narrow and exclusive vision that has sustained it through my childhood and growing years. And to help in the ways I have found to begin to heal myself at long last. Given the trauma of my memories of the bruderhof and its servants, and its provisional truths, I cannot choose the way it offers. My own way is equally valid and true and hard- won. It is more suited to my own needs.
I am reading the book of bruderhof white-wash, Torches Rekindled. It is sickening to me; the deep and attentive concerns that are expressed constantly, self-righteously and dripping with sentimentality, towards Heini and the other adults in the positions of power. And how everyone goes on at great and oppressive length about the 'love' and 'warmth' embodied by the power-adults then and now, as the defenseless and innocent children were scape-goated and sacrificed to justify and protect this terrible pretense of love. It is a great travesty and an obscene lie which we children were tortured mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually to uphold... Perhaps some of us more than others, as an example to those of you who were 'good.' I know that Jesus will not offer you forgiveness, love and reconciliation until you come out from behind your self-serving and sanctimonious stories and safely fabricated memories and make appropriate amends to those of us who were damaged.
It you think it was difficult moving bruderhof families north, try to imagine the traumatic and frightening move it was for those families, like mine, isolated with no money or help or knowledge of outside ways. They had given all their worldly and other-worldly strengths to the 'loving community of God,' and had to struggle to survive in isolation.
I bought Torches Rekindled only because the advertisement of it promised photos of the Primavera years. I think it should be given to us survivors of the bruderhof, and we should not be made to pay for pieces of our past. I found the account, and even the photos of that time, to be sentimental lies. I lived in Macedonia and Isla from 1953 to 1959, at which time my family was shunned and cast out in a cruel and 'unloving' manner. I would like to have copies of the photos of these times and places that are available to you. And I would like to hear and be part of a true and inclusive account of the suffering sustained by those of us who lived the less accepted, less official view than the one Torches Rekindled propagates.
....I have a lot to lose by sharing with you what happened. I am subject to what I have known of your collective denial and reinterpretation. I have learned the hard-won lesson of not trusting your interpretations of what I have to say. I am not interested in having my memories and feelings distorted and reinterpreted to suit the bruderhof's well-tended version of 'truth' and reality. You may consider your motives to be beyond human reproach, but that is not my experiential memory of the bruderhof, and particularly its' more 'successful' members.
If you truly want to know more of what happened, for your own human understanding apart from the destructive system you serve, you will find a way. I hope you will have the hope and perseverance to try to hear the difficult things I try to say. I can supply you with a bibliography, so you can do some of the difficult work to understand and educate yourself beyond the subjective and controlled myths and presumptions of the bruderhof system, as I have had to do. When you keep yourself protected from the painful truths, you abandon others to suffer and die of them.
I could write much more, but it is a great effort to say clearly and with some measure of compassion these things with which I still have to struggle so much to heal alone. I must send what I write to Ramon Sender, and my friend who puts out another newsletter, for my feeling of safety, protection and support. Maybe, if I come to trust your willing ability to understand and support and help, this will not be necessary. I do hope. We shall see.
Item: From an ex-member's phone call: I know that the mail at Woodcrest was censored. One of my sons left a postcard with one of his high school teachers to mail to him his final grades. Anyway, the card came and he received very high marks on his Regents and a 99 for the semester. Also the teacher wrote, "Congratulations! It was great to have you in the class."
"I don't think your boy should have this," Heini said.
"Why not?" I asked.
"It's not good for his ego."
"But it's addressed to him," I said. "What can we do?"
"We can lose it," Heini replied. "Tell him he got a 99, but not the rest of the post-card."
"Somehow it doesn't seem right," I said.
But you didn't argue with Heini, because then he would say,
"You're sticking up for someone not in the Brotherhood?"
Well, I told my boy exactly what happened, but I also said,
"Don't tell your mother."
If someone not in the inner circle received something noteworthy, it really bothered the inner circle. And my child was the far-thest removed from the life among the Highschoolers. That he should get such a good grade was a tough nut for them to swallow.
When I left, I sent my kids letters and presents for their birthdays. But I never got a response, so I don't know if they even received them.
'Warts & All' Item (from an ex-member): I am not surprised by Heini's suggestion (reported in KIT II #2) that the teacher's postcard to the boy be 'lost.' The mail definitely was not respected. When I was in small exclusion and one of my children was on another community, the servant there read the letters I wrote to my child. When I protested, they said that because I was excluded it was necessary for the servant to know what we were writing about. Later on, two others who were servants in Primavera both admitted they had opened my mail there and that they withheld one or two letters from my family to me. Who are Doug and Ruby defending?
The Evergreen servant also read the letters I wrote to people in Bulstrode. It was the time of the Civil Rights movement and I had expressed my feelings about the whole issue. The servant opened them before they were to be mailed and called me up to his office. He told me that I should be careful not to be too emotional about these things. I was shocked by this incident and again was upset that there was no privacy on the Bruderhof. So they can say what they like about mail being respected. It was NOT respected when I lived there.
Also, newspapers were censored. They were taken out of the reading room because Heini said that there were too many things and pictures in the papers that were not good for the soul, especially for the young men -- it brought them into temptation. If you tell Doug that, he would defend Heini and say that he cannot believe Heini would do such a thing, but this whole issue was brought to the brotherhood, and the servants said this change was recommended by Heini. Only the servants and work distributors were able to read the papers. I could never figure out why the newspaper could cause so much temptation for the young men when there were so many other things that could be tempting? It was all so ridiculous!
Charlie Lamar: I believe the KIT newsletter is a significant event in the history of the Society of Brothers. Until now, the Society could count on the fact that household or brotherhood members living outside the community would be separated from each other in most cases. Members of the Society could shape their public profile much as they wanted to because, except for the publication of "The Joyful Community," no one said very much about them except they themselves. Now that there is a network of former members and householders willing to make their names public, and eager to communicate with each other, the Society can no longer manage public relations so simply, and must now decide what its policies will be in view of this new state of affairs.
Initially, they seem to have moved in two different directions. We know that they all realize they can't stop the publication of KIT; we also know that they all become very upset whenever hard things are said. But while we know that some of them do see the benefits, and even welcome the sharing of views, we also hear how some of them, apparently, do not yet understand that there really is no upright way for them to prevent anyone, except possibly their own brotherhood members, from communicating through KIT. It is sad when we hear about people who dare not put their own names on the mailing list, going over to other people's houses to read copies of the newsletter. But can the Society realistically put itself in the position of creating anIndex of Forbidden Literature? They might consider two different policies: one for those who they know will never go back, and one for those who might possibly want to rejoin: "If you love us, you won't..." But what would that do to the premise that they are not a closed religious system, as described in Bradshaw, or to the idea that their children should taste life outside the community before making up their minds about joining? Either you favor the free flow of information in decision-making, or you do not. The "outside" has in principle become a somewhat different place, now that people the Bruderhof excluded over the years have an open forum of communication.
In the past, it may have been possible for the Society to ignore former bruderhofers who had a problem with them. But now ex-bruderhofers are no longer so alone. I know that the brothers and sisters who raised me and taught me in school all understood the necessity of First Amendment freedoms in an open society, especially the freedom of the press. It may be that some of the brothers and sisters whose families have never lived outside of the community in the United States do not. But Glasnost has been good for the Soviet Union, and it will be good for the Bruderhof in the long run as well.
It may not always be pretty, but the newsletter staff all agree, we will continue to print all shades of opinion in KIT. And we would like to convey our very particular greetings to those who are reading these words in secret.
Bradshaw On: The Family, by John Bradshaw;, Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. 1988: ..."Obedience and orderliness are essential to any family and social structure. Law as a guide to human safety through its protective structure is essential to human fulfillment. Learning to be agreeable, cooperative, unselfish and meek are useful and valuable.
"However, it was obedience without critical judgment and inner freedom which led to black Nazism, Jonestown and Mylai. It was obedience absolutized and cut off from human sensitivity and natural law.
"Similarly, cleanliness and orderliness without spontaneity lead to obsessive enslavement. Law and intellectualism without vitality and emotions lead to mechanical coldness and inhuman, heartless control. Considerateness, meekness, unselfishness without inner freedom, inner independence and critical judgment lead to a "doormat," people-pleasing type person who can be ruled by almost any authority figure.
"Soul-murder is the basic problem in the world today; it is the crisis in the family. We programmatically deny children their feelings, especially anger and sexual feelings. Once a person loses contact with his own feelings, he loses contact with his body. We also monitor our children's desires and thoughts. To have one's feelings, body, desires and thoughts controlled is to lose one's self. To lose one's self is to have one's soul murdered."

--------KIT Newsletter, April, 1990, Vol II #4--------

Addresses & 'In or Out' info needed:
Lee Durgin, Carl Durgin, Ivan Mercoucheff, Emil Maendel, Kent Blough, Mark Francham, Harold Goree, Alfredo Gneiting, Jimmy Nelson in Washington State, Scott Wareham, Mary Worth, Jack Melancon, Jack Warren, Esther Tabor, Andrew Szilard,Walter Morris the Tremblay family, the Dietsch family, Mike & Linda Cahoon, Matthew & Tim McAdams, Anderson, David & Rae Whitehead, Alan & Sue Wiser, Charlie Jory, Walter Bennett, Walter Illingworth, George (Eddie) Halliwell, Edmund Cocksedge.
Former Bruderhof Members Launch New Efforts At Dialogue
by Margaret Loewen Reimer
Reprinted with permission from The Mennonite Reporter.
Waterloo, Ont.- Former members of the Bruderhof are making contact with each other and with their former communities through an initiative begun last fall. The contacts have opened discussion about the painful effects of expulsions from the Bruderhof during the 1960s.
Ramon Sender... began research last summer for a book about his daughter Xavie who died a year ago at the Woodcrest Bruderhof in Rifton, New York, at the age of 33. Sender was refused any contact with his daughter throughout her life and was told about her illness after she died. In gathering information, Sender established contact with other former members who had been cut off from communication with each other.
In early fall, Sender published over fifty names and addresses in a round-robin letter as the first step in creating a network for those who were "excluded, expelled, excommunicated or left on their own." By December, the monthly letter had become a thriving newsletter mailed to over 200 people.
Out of the dialogue has come renewed contact with the Hutterian Brethren as well. In January, Sender sent an open letter to the five Bruderhof communities in the name of former members. The letter seeks to open conversation about past "injustices" and suggests ways in which wrongs may be righted.
"May the 1990s bring a new freedom of expression and openness between all Hutterian brothers and sisters and those of us who now live in the wider community," begins the letter. "It encourages us to read that the brotherhood now acknowledges some guilt for their previous judgmental and unloving behavior."
Consider elderly ex-members
The letter urges the communities to consider assisting the "many elderly ex-members living in poverty" because they had to leave everything in the community and now receive no social security. The letter also asks for a guarantee that no reprisals, such as cutting off visiting privileges, will be taken against those who publish their names in the newsletter. Called "Keep In Touch," the newsletter has become a forum for Bruderhof "grads" all over the world to share their stories and experiences.
Art Rosenblum and Ruth Baer Lambach, former members, reported on the conference of the Historic Communal Societies Association held in South Dakota last October. "Although many aspects of communal life are covered in the conference, no mention is made of the problem of dealing with ex-members," noted Rosenblum. He reported, however, that the western Hutterites, especially, "treated all of us very warmly. No one was concerned about 'not shaking hands,' so I guess they've dropped that dogma. They are definitely treating us more like friends than before."
Lambach reported, "I'm not so sure about the union of East and West (Bruderhof and Hutterites). It is particularly in worship that I'd think the Bruderhof and Hutterites will not come together because of the Hutterites' emphasis on sticking so closely to the Bible and to perpetuate a world view of self negation along with a deep mistrust of anything that could be seen as fun."
One of the the Bruderhof leaders told her that they put "instruments and other worldly activities" in the background when the western brothers visit. The Bruderhof may have more outlets for fun -- dancing, music, art and theater -- but the Hutterites are much more frank, she noted.
"The women and girls in the colony (that conference participants visited) were very spontaneous and free in talking and joking with me... They treated me in every way like a sister."
Some of the submissions to the newsletter are bitter accounts of being expelled from the community after many years of hard work. Several express concern about the whitewashing of facts and the leader-worship illustrated in the new history of the Bruderhof, Torches Rekindled."
"I feel that sometime, out of simple justice, it should be put down in black and white not only just how big the 'Exodus' was, but also how big the contribution to the building-up to the Bruderhof communities was from those who were put out," said one reader.
Signs of hope
Others see signs of hope that Bruderhof members are becoming more conciliatory toward former members. One reader had recently spent five weeks at four colonies visiting old friends, bringing up old grievances and "why-the-heck- does-the-B'hof-do-this-anyway? type of questions." He came away "amazed at how much I'd accomplished and how much better I feel." One member had summed up the visit by saying, "We still disagree with you, but let's be friends."
Rosenblum spent five days recently at the community he left 25 years ago. "The major change I found was spiritual," he reported in his newsletter from Philadelphia, "Aquarian Alternatives." "There was now a clear recognition that the community needed to be reconciled with the many people who had been members in the past... I had the experience of being listened to with love."
Roger Allain: Regarding the Moodys' visit to the Ostroms and Ramon: I wouldn't be overly hopeful about the B'hof's new "attitudes of openness and reconciliation." Doug's answers sounded mostly evasive to me (for instance about Heini or mail censorship: "couldn't think of an instance where this had occurred.") The B'hof's history of the past thirty years has got one used to and expectant of a constant seesaw of alternating periods of glasnost openness and Tiananmen repression.
re: Staughton Lynd: I agree with him that it would have been great if the B'hof could have gone on in Paraguay and joined the spirit and the action of the modern Catholic "option for the poor" and liberation theology; also that the civil rights movement and liberation theology may have been the most important renewals of the religious spirit in the world in the past decades. In spite of protestations of "concern for the need of the world," however, the large majority of B'hof members in Primavera remained supremely ignorant of and indifferent to the fate and poverty of the masses round them.
re: Heidi Strickland, John Arnold: I was specially moved by their painful memories of their respective fathers whom I intimately knew for years. I felt special love and admiration for Fritz, and his sudden death (at work) meant a greater personal loss to me than the death of a brother or father in the flesh. I also admired Hardi for his intellectual power and historical perspective, as John so aptly says, for his cheerful openness to people and more balanced personality (in comparison to Heini who was charismatic, no doubt, but extremely one-sided and limited). I still feel sorry that, along with all the other brotherhood members, I so readily, and often so unknowingly, acquiesced in their exclusion and that of others, hardly pausing to think of the pain and trauma this would bring to their children, however young they might be. I was no longer at the B'hof during the last 25 years of Hardi's life, but I occasionally heard indirectly about his repeated exclusions and often wondered how Heini could find the knack and nerve and the brutality of squashing his own brother, humiliating him, despising his intellect and tearing down his natural gift for leadership.
One of the great things about KIT is that it didn't only put us in contact again with many old companions we had lost sight of, but it also brings welcome news from 'younger' people whom I knew as children and could hardly recognize again if I was to meet them today, and yet in whose experiences and thoughts we are keenly interested. For instance, Heidi, John, Miriam. One thing I notice with them and also with other former Primavera children is that even though they often had difficult or traumatic experiences due to the frequent brotherhood crises, on the whole they had a very happy childhood in intimate contact with their environment and the freedom to be outdoors, as Heidi writes. Another friend recently wrote to me with what joy she remembers her school days in Primavera, the good quality teaching, the hikes, the wide horizons, the heavens full of millions of stars.
Many letters in KIT might give the uninformed reader the impression of warped partiality and deep-seated hostility to the B'hof. In reality I think they may do so because very many people, young and old, suffered through years from the ruthless intolerance and religious fanaticism of a few servants and leaders, mostly led or inspired by Heini. On the other hand, all the people of different ages I have known and spoken to agree in all sorts of ways in saying that they also experienced many moments of deep joy and fellowship and real brotherly love.
As regards Torches Rekindled," my feeling is that the book, which they blindly hoped would appeal to and rally the lost sheep, is only deepening the rift between the brain-washed members and the objectively critical ex-members who were once deluded and are now revolted by the venomous attacks against Heini's opponents.
From a second letter: KIT II/2 was a very good issue indeed, and we can look forward to KIT II/3 and the still further issues with glad anticipation. I am very happy 1) that you had the idea, the ability and the energy to launch the whole thing; 2) that so many contributors responded and contribute to make KIT a really meaty publication. If you have room in one of your issues I'd like you to publish my appreciation and my thanks and congratulations to you and the newsletter staff. I wonder how you manage with the financing aspects: you must have pretty considerable costs for paper, xeroxing, mailing, etc. I wish I could be in a position to contribute, but my contribution can only be words, words...
John G. Arnold: Doug and Ruby's visit to you have precipitated fundamental truths, but I do not believe they believe in KIT. They can say anything! Meaningful negotiations can only be with the brotherhood. From my visits to the HSOB, it seems that individual members are quite weak, emotional and easily manipulated. Also, since you published a summary of my experiences, I had a call from Darvell, and last Saturday, Bob Clement and Franzhart Arnold paid a surprise visit. This was the first visit since January 1978. They admitted to the fact of the existence of dictatorships on the Bruderhof. These recognitions seem to be in a state of infancy. It seems that Torches Rekindled was born from the need to justify dictatorship. Once the HSOB truly renounces dictatorship, then Torches Rekindled will be neither valid nor reliable. My own experience of Merrill Mow is that he ruled by fear and intimidation (1977).
Mail censorship: my own destiny or past life has been determined by the censorship of letters. In 1958 I was a member of the Oak Lake community. In October of that year, the US Department of Immigration sent the permits to immigrate directly to me. Mark secretly opened these and refused to give them to me. When I reached for the letters, he refused to hand them over. He then said to me, "You and your father are a burden to Heini, and therefore I send you to England and Germany. I think you should no longer live on the Bruderhof." He said the same thing to my sister Miriam (that she should not live on the Bruderhof.)
In 1955, Christoph Arnold told me that his father Heini opened a letter from Klaus Siebert's father Herbert. Herbert told his son why he left the Bruderhof, and asked his son to join him in Germany. What right did Heini have to do so?
In January, 1977, I confronted Heini about this incident. Heini then said, "If there is a legal threat, or when there was a legal threat, I did open letters."
From the evidence of three members of the Bruderhof, I must conclude that censorship and a Secret Service was fully operational. If I had received the immigration papers, I would live in the USA today.
From an excluded son to his father in the Bruderhof: Dear Father, when you were seriously ill, I thought of you day and night, and now that you are better, I feel the need to answer all your letters and tell you why it would be wrong to see you now. I believe that God has given us a free will to choose what we want to do, and that any authority that arbitrarily orders other people about is quite evil because it destroys free will, conscience, or the essence of life. I feel it is quite wrong that you ordered me to visit you on the 'hof. I am not in the army.
When I was in the community in 1977, Merrill Mow told me what I should do to become a brotherhood member. He told me that I needed to have my head cut off and then simply accept the brotherhood without questions. To have one's head cut off is not only irresponsible, but it is an aberration that opposes any sort of genuine affection. The whole system of ruling by services has repeatedly ended in failure. The evidence of hundreds of people have proven without a shred of doubt that the brotherhood has been deceived often and that the greatest social injustices have been and probably still are committed against many members. People have become cold- hearted because they were not able to exercise their freedom of choice. This is reflected in the children's community. There is the small elite or royal family who make all the decisions and give all the orders. And there is the majority who do as they are told. It is a system similar to the feudal system in the Middle Ages, and it contains the germs of Nazi domination and methodology. On the Bruderhof, a sense of intimidation is maintained by sending people away, especially those with many but unruly children. Once children are sent away, there is no witness of any value. This is not the life that Eberhard founded.
I want to emphasize that I hate any kind of authority that disregards freedom of choice. The greatest injustices have been committed on the Bruderhof, and everybody is witness to that. Community of goods has often been a cloak covering a multitude of sins of all kinds. Wherever there is a dictatorial system in operation, the past can never be redeemed because it would undermine that dictatorship. The Bruderhof morality and love seem to be based on the Old Testament rather than being Christian. I hope this letter will explain why I feel the way I do, and it does not take away any affection I feel for you.
Miriam Arnold Holmes: About your statement on the "State of KIT," be assured that you have done an exceptional job of presenting as balanced a picture as is possible under the circumstances. To create 'an atmosphere of openness and trust' is extremely difficult if there is no basis for trust. If one's trust has been violated in the past, the person or group who have violated that trust has to EARN trust before they can be trusted again. Right? My heart goes out to you thinking about Sibyl and the Domers visiting you. I imagine that that must have been very stressful and painful. I'm sorry, but I just don't trust them. I have this nagging suspicion that they want to keep you quiet. I felt the same when they called me two weeks ago to announce they wanted to visit me the next day (this was in the middle of the work week). I told them that I had no time to talk then, and that we would have to do it later on in the year. I thought it was typically arrogant of them to think I would drop everything to suit their schedule. I would not stand for it. I also asked them, "Why now? What 's the big urgency?" No answer yet.
I loved Victor Peter's review of Torches Rekindled. Did he also mention the horrible English? It's downright embarrassing. It was good to hear from Michael Caine (an old classmate of mine). I fully agree that we had a good childhood in Paraguay, excellent teachers and exciting adventures. The bad thing was being excluded, which happened to me also. That was unadulterated child abuse.
I would like to let Loy McWhirter know how much I admired her letter to Christoph. She has very good insight and expresses it clearly. She needs to be assured that many of us support her and encourage her to continue to insist that the HSOB accept the truth and not whitewash their travesties with banal platitudes. I also want her to know that I remember her parents with much affection. I will never forget how her father, a very sensitive, quiet man, would spontaneously recite poetry in the dining room. A good experience for us kids.
A little addendum to your 'Warts and All' item: of course the mail was censored. Someone would pick up the mail at the post office and deliver it directly to the servant. He would open every letter and go over it before it would be put (or not put) in the mailboxes. I saw this with my own eyes. Also we used to have Look Magazine, Newsweek, Time, The New Republic, and The Nation, on the newsrack. Gradually they disappeared. First they cut out certain articles, probably the ones that had something about sex in them, also ads for underwear. Finally nothing was left but The Christian Science Monitor. This frightened me. Years later, after I had been discarded, I went for a visit, I believe in 1977. I asked one of my step- brothers (Fritz Kleiner, jr.) who is an avid music lover, whether he still listened to KDKA FM (an all-classical music station in Pittsburgh). He told me that they were not allowed to have radios any more. 'How awful!'
I thought. 'How oppressive!' Boy, was I glad I had been chucked out.
Charlie Lamar's comments about the significance of KIT in SOB history are so true. And I find your experience of imprinting Heini's personality during baptism preparation very enlightening. This really makes a lot of sense and explains the personal affront people take when Heini gets criticized. I can identify with that experience to some extent. I understand that people had a similar experience with the Bhagawan Rajneesh in Oregon. It's like falling under someone's spell, part of the brain-washing process. I wonder what Ben Zablocki has to say about that. [Ben agreed with Ramon's explanation - KIT]
I thought the enclosed chapter (from the book Toxic Parents by Susan Forward and Craig Buck) was important for all of us as an antidote to an idiotic piece on forgiveness by Norman Vincent Peale (which the communities are circulating):
From Toxic Parents Chapter 9
You Don't Have To Forgive
..."You may be asking yourself, "Isn't the first step to forgive my parents?" My answer is NO. This may shock, anger, dismay or confuse many of you. Most of us have been led to believe exactly the opposite -- that forgiveness is the first step toward healing.
"In fact, it is not necessary to forgive your parents in order to feel better about yourself and to change your life!
"Certainly I am aware that this flies in the face of some of our most cherished religious, spiritual, philosophical and psychological principles. According to the Judeo-Christian ethic, 'To err is human, to forgive divine.' I am also aware that there are many experts in the various helping professions who sincerely believe that forgiveness is not only the FIRST step but often the ONLY step necessary for inner peace. I disagree completely.
"Early in my professional career, I too believed that to forgive people who had injured you, especially parents, was an important part of the healing process. I often encouraged clients -- many of whom had been severely mistreated -- to forgive cruel or abusive parents. In addition, many of my clients entered therapy later claiming to have already forgiven their toxic parents, but I discovered that, more often than not, they didn't feel any better for having forgiven. They still had their symptoms. Forgiving hadn't created any significant or lasting changes for them. In fact, some of them felt even MORE inadequate. They'd say things such as: 'Maybe I didn't forgive enough;' 'My minister said I didn't truly forgive in my heart;' or 'Can't I do anything right?'
"I took a long, hard look at the concept of forgiveness. I began to wonder if it could actually IMPEDE progress rather than ENHANCE it. I came to realize that there are two facets to forgiveness: giving up the need for revenge, and absolving the guilty party of responsibility. I didn't have much trouble accepting the idea that people have to let go of the need to get even. Revenge is a very normal but negative motivation. It bogs you down in obsessive fantasies about striking back to get satisfaction; it creates a lot of frustration and unhappiness; it works against your emotional well-being. Despite how sweet revenge may feel for a moment, it keeps stirring up the emotional chaos between you and your parents, wasting precious time and energy. Letting go of your needs for revenge is difficult, but it is clearly a healthy step.
"But the other facet of forgiveness was not as clear-cut. I felt there was something wrong with unquestioningly absolving someone of his rightful responsibility, particularly if he had severely mistreated an innocent child. Why in the world should you 'pardon' a father who terrorized and battered you, who made your childhood a living hell?... The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this absolution was really another form of denial: 'If I forgive you, we can pretend that what happened wasn't so terrible.' I came to realize that this aspect of forgiveness was actually preventing a lot of people from getting on with their lives.
The Forgiveness Trap
"One of the most dangerous things about forgiveness is that it undercuts your ability to let go of your pent-up emotions. How can you acknowledge your anger against a parent whom you've already forgiven? Responsibility can go only one of two places: outward, onto the people who have hurt you, or inward, into yourself. Somesone's got to be responsible. So you may forgive your PARENTS but end up hating YOURSELF all the more in exchange. I also noticed that many clients rushed to forgiveness to avoid much of the painful work of therapy. They believed that by forgiving they could find a shortcut to feeling better. A handful of them 'Forgave,' left therapy, and wound up sinking even deeper into depression or anxiety.
"Several clung to their fantasies: 'All I have to do is forgive and I will be healed, I will have wonderful mental health, everybody is going to love everybody, we'll hug a lot, and we'll finally be happy.' Clients all too often discovered that the empty promise of forgiveness had merely set them up for bitter disappointment. Some of them experienced a rush of well-being, but it didn't last because nothing had really changed in the way they felt or in their family interactions.
"(With Stephanie, one of my clients) I told her that if she wanted to get rid of her depression she might have to 'unforgive' for a while, to get in touch with her anger. She insisted she believed deeply in forgiveness, that she didn't need to get angry to get better. A fairly intense struggle developed between us, partly because I was asking her to do something painful, but also because her religious beliefs contradicted her psychological needs.
Stephanie did her work dutifully, but she refused to tap into her rage. Little by little, however, she began to have outbursts of anger on behalf of other people. For example, one night she embraced another group member, saying, 'Your father was a monster! I hate him!'
"A few weeks later, her own repressed rage finally came out. She screamed, cursed, and accused her parents of destroying her childhood and crippling her adult years. Afterward, I hugged her as she sobbed. I could feel her body relax. When she was calmer, I teasingly asked, 'What kind of way is that for a nice Christian girl to behave?' I will never forget her reply:
"I guess God wants me to get better more than He wants me to forgive.
"That night was the turning point for her. People CAN forgive toxic parents, but they should do it at the conclusion -- not at the beginning -- of their emotional house-cleaning. People need to get angry about what happened to them. They need to grieve over the fact that they never had the parental love they yearned for. They need to stop diminishing or discounting the damage that was done to them. Too often, 'forgive and forget' means 'pretend it didn't happen.'
"I also believe that forgiveness is appropriate only when parents do something to EARN it. Toxic parents, especially the more abusive ones, need to acknowledge what happened, take responsibility, and show a willingness to make amends. If you unilaterally absolve parents who continue to treat you badly, who deny much of your reality and feelings, you may seriously impede the emotional work you need to do. If one or both parents are dead, you can still heal the damage, by forgiving YOURSELF and releasing much of the hold that they had over your emotional well-being.
"At this point, you may be wondering understandably, if you will remain bitter and angry for the rest of your life if you don't forgive your parents. In fact, quite the opposite is true. What I have seen over the years is that emotional and mental peace comes as a result of releasing yourself from your toxic parents' control, without necessarily having to forgive them. And that release can come only after you've worked through your intense feelings of outrage and grief and after you've put the responsibility on THEIR shoulders, where it belongs."
Charlie Lamar: (From a letter to Dick Domer) ...The word 'slander' has been used several times in communications from Woodcrest. It's possible that some of the letters printed in KIT do contain slander. I don't know. I was not there for, for example, to see if Heini beat Michael Caine with a stick. Neither was anyone else, I assume. If Heini beat Michael Caine and treated him as he describes, then Michael's letter is understandable. But if Michael is lying, then his letter indeed is full of slander and mockery. But that would not mean that KIT has slandered and mocked you. I don't know Michael Caine, but I think that we all, not just a few of us, need to be able to take a look at who he is, what he is, and find out how he got to be that way, as well as what he might know. The same goes for anybody.
You who live in the carefully controlled communal environment may have grown unaccustomed to the way communications are handled outside. But the readers of KIT can see that everything we print was sent to us above somebody's signature and can only be regarded as an allegation or as good as that signature until corroborated. We are not detectives; we don't have unlimited resources, all we can provide is a forum. We must count on our correspondents to supply corroboration or refutation. Outside the community, that's what people would expect. Everyone must make up his own mind about what to believe. This is standard operating procedure when reading a newspaper, for example, especially the Letters to the Editor, and KIT is almost entirely letters to the editor. But in the B'hof, you ordinarily never see or hear anything that is not the brotherhood version of things, unless you are looking at something in order to clean it up for others. So I can well understand how you must feel when you read KIT on the 'hof.
But don't forget how we came to be here. We wouldn't have a relationship with Michael Caine if we didn't print him. Most likely we wouldn't have a relationship with you if we didn't print -- Michael Caine...
We print the various responses we receive. We certainly would have printed Sandra Banas's, but the actual text of her letter seemed to be telling us not to. We will print her letter just as we received it if we get her permission, in this case, in writing, from her. In view of the professional position she is in, we should have her signature.
I appreciate your writing to let us know what your feelings are and what is most important to you. The gap between us is huge, and we need all the help we can get. Please keep on writing.
Now I would like to mention a concern that is of the most critical importance, in my opinion. You have emphasized that your life is voluntary. I too believe that any walk with God can only be real if it is voluntary. In view of this, we will be looking to see that individuals, both on and off the 'hof, receive absolutely no pressure - either to refrain from communicating with us, or to communicate, - even from family members, and that when they do write in, we will be looking to see that they are completely free to say anything they wish. That was the point of the article I wrote in the most recent KIT; I hoped you would take up the point in your letter.

--------KIT Newsletter, May, 1990, Vol II #5---------

Name Withheld: I was shocked reading those (KIT) first editions, and am more shocked and shattered as I receive each new one. I had never realized that for so many years I was part of an organization which harbored such false expressions of what started out as a community to which I felt I could give myself. I find it almost impossible to put into words the extent to which I grieve for all who have suffered under the 'regime.' And I have felt guilty that I was part, altho' I must say I had never realized to what lengths the 'rottenness' had and has gone. The foregoing is said very sincerely, since I have come to realize how I am one of those wronged, and most terribly.
Hopefully, now that so much has been revealed, the HSOB will at least admit that much of that which was spoken of over the years was, is true. So many of us have had denials of events, etc. given us individually, yet now one hears of many who raised the same sort of questions, always with apparently the same result -- we were not listened to by them about just those things to which many can attest. Are all those who are 'out' the biggest liars going? Of course not.
Up until now, there has not been "gossip" in KIT. Rather it is a vehicle for pent-up hurts and thoughts, and we all need that, because who, other than those who experienced the community, can have the faintest idea of what we mean if we voice our hurts?
Heidi Kleiner Strickland: I was outraged by some of the SOB's responses in KIT (April, 1990). To call Johannes Arnold a liar is a far cry from suggesting that the SOB is in a reconciliatory mode. From my experience, especially as a therapist, I have come to understand 'truth' to have many faces. People hear, understand and perceive information in many different ways, depending on their state of mind, their position, their opinion, their vulnerability and their defensiveness. I would hope that if the SOB is going to use KIT as a forum for their position that they do not become slanderous. It is only through true love that understanding can be achieved.
Alice Miller's thoughts on forgiveness may be relevant here: ..."Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on. Such forgiveness cannot be coerced by rules and commandments; it is experienced as a form of grace and appears spontaneously when a repressed (because forbidden) hatred no longer poisons the soul. The sun does not need to be told to shine. When the clouds part, it simply shines." p. 248, For Your Own Good.
Alice Miller explores what she calls the "poisonous pedagogy," principles of child-rearing that in many ways deny the feelings of the child. Adults experience a great deal of discomfort with their children's feelings of anger, sadness, frustration and humiliation. They exert much effort to mold and control children's feelings. I believe that the expression of feelings in the Bruderhof was extensively controlled. As children we were not allowed to express our sadness, confusion and anger at the loss of our parents. The losses were repeated through death and exclusions. There was no safe place to explore feelings and have them acknowledged -- which I believe is a basic right and need of a child.
Having grown up with Johannes, as my step-brother, from age 5, I know him to be a gentle, sensitive, kind person with a tendency towards absent-mindedness. I know how much he hurt as a child, and how he has been hurt repeatedly as an adult. I wonder why it is so difficult to recognize his pain. "Harsh love," the kind of love we were raised on, has never healed any wounds. It only allowed them to fester.
Thank you, Roger Allain and Michael Caine, for some truly delightful memories and stories of my father Fritz Kleiner. Because he died when I was 2 1/2, I have very few memories. I have missed and grieved not knowing him.
In brief response to Hans Meier's letter, I was never baptized or in the novitiate. I was challenged by the life in the Bruderhof; the challenge being to be true to the principles taught. In order to be true to the Bruderhof teachings I had to leave, because honesty was frequently not practiced there.
Finally, I must admit I am puzzled by the Bruderhof's fear of KIT. KIT is a healthy forum for communication, sharing our roots (which we were cut off from by leaving) and airing feelings that have been pent up for too long. Thank you to all KIT staff for making this newsletter possible. You are truly appreciated.
John G. Arnold - Extracts from Bruderhof History: What happened could be divided into three parts. The formative period could be classified as the whole life of Eberhard Arnold. I have my grandmother's account called "The Locked Papers." Eberhard's life was a continuous search for the truth which was revealed as a continuous revival of the Holy Spirit amongst men. It was the Movement of the Spirit, a constant awakening to new meanings of the truth. The Bruderhof should become not only a vessel of the truth, but also a focal point of true life. George Fox would have called this 'the Sea of Light.' Eberhard called it 'the Ocean of Love.' It included a special love for deprived people.
The second phase could be seen as Eberhard's death until 1960. The last two months of his life have been recorded by Emmi (Oma) and Moni Barth. Seeing his imminent death, Eberhard wrote a testament to the new elder, Hans Zumpe. I am still waiting to receive a copy of the original letter. Here is what my research has found. My information came from five members of the Rhon Hof. This letter was read in the Brotherhood:
About Heini, Eberhard expressed a deep love but also a clear warning:
1) Heini shall not be the main servant of a Hof. He needs to be guarded and corrected.
2) Heini loses his balance too easily, is too emotional, which affects his better judgment.
3) Heini should not be in a position from which he can exercise too great an influence over the souls of men. The power over souls is morally wrong.
Eberhard felt that his son Hardi was more gifted than he was, and that his (Hardi's) battle would be the fight against his own pride. Oma (Emmi) also confirmed this.
Eberhard seems to have died of a broken heart. He was glad about the Alm, but grief-stricken about the Rhon. Was Eberhard's judgment not affected by his infection and by his utter physical and mental exhaustion? Amongst members could be found a clinging emotionalism One guest openly attacked. Nobody intervened. The threat of a Nazi occupation was imminent. After Eberhard's death, the Arnold families felt hurt, forsaken and even betrayed. My grandmother taught me to read between the lines. The exclusion of Georg Barth and Hans Zumpe on the Cotswold Hof seemed quite harsh. Emi was against the exclusion of Hardi and Fritz Kleiner in 1942. The extreme harshness of the terrible exclusions in 1944, I believe, was partly due to Hans Zumpe's and Georg's exclusion in 1937. These acts destroyed the Movement of the Spirit. What happened in 1960 was partly a result of 1944, but it also was retaliation. The third period could be called Heini Arnold (1960-1982). My own conclusions are a continuous process. New insights change the whole picture. Eberhard wrestled with problems for many years. The truth emerged gradually. Solutions could often be found by historic research. The Anabaptists and Hutterites determined the direction. Real solutions could only be found in the Movement of True Life. Peter Riedemann, a Hutterite imprisoned, believed that truth would be revealed through the light of gathered believers.
In 1977 I attended a very special meeting in Darvell. The purpose was to shed light on the 1960 crisis. There seemed to be a clear separation between what the Brotherhood felt and what the servants represented. Merrill Mow and Arnold Mason defended what happened in 1960 and especially what happened in England and Sinntal. Brothers and sister objected by telling examples. To me, it seemed quite clear that most members would like to limit the power of their leaders. I kept a record in my blue and red book. David Mason recorded that meeting.
Before I ever could rejoin the Bruderhof, the following changes would need to be made:
1) The powers and responsibilities of all the services need to be clearly defined.
2) No elder or servant is allowed to appoint another servant.
3) All services should be appointed by the Brotherhood.
4) Each community must choose all services from its own Brotherhood.
5) All services should be periodically reviewed.
6) No community has the right to interfere with the affairs of another community.
KIT NOTE: On a number of occasions HSOB members have denied there ever was a letter from Eberhard warning against placing Heini in a leadership role. However we have had two other independent sources confirm this was the case. This letter has been printed exactly as it came to us

-----------Food For Thought----------

John Bradshaw: 'On Co-Dependency and Religious Addiction,' a lecture available for $20 from Bradshaw Cassettes, P.O. Box 980547, Houston, TX 77098.
Religious addiction is such a menacing addiction because the pathology is so much more hidden than in most addictions. Because how could somebody be bad, how could somebody go wrong, being a follower of God?...
A lot of what I am going to call 'co-dependency' would be looked upon as a virtue by a certain kind of closed-system religious thinking. Anybody who comes out of a family that's committed to a religious system like this is basically getting a double-whammy. You're not only getting set up to have your reality denied you, but you're also getting what I call 'parent tapes of parent tapes.' It's not just your parents that are doing it, but they bow to a higher parent that is telling you that this is what's good, this is what you should do, this is what it's right to do.
Every addiction is a kind of mini-religion. It will have its God, its rituals and its rubrics... When the addiction is to religion itself, it can be the most awesome addiction because it's the kind of addiction that it's hard for a person to hit bottom in. It's hard for him to get out of the mood alteration, especially if there's a pastor of the church, or there's a pope. You can imagine a kind of being-entrapment there. You never get out of the feeling of righteousness which is the mood alteration. It's the feeling of righteousness that mood-alters.
Why would someone want to mood-alter in the first place? If you were really comfortable with being yourself, and if we really believed that we were made in the image of God, that we were unconditionally loved by God, it would be hard to think of somebody needing to mood-alter. Show me somebody who really has faith and I'll show you a healthy person. To believe that the power that is greater than any other power loves you unconditionally -- if a person could get that at the gut level, not just at the head level, that would have to be the ultimate transforming experience. Unfortunately that doesn't happen to a lot of people...
Remember, whenever you have to play a role, you are no longer real... Co-dependents will tell you they're fine when the roof is falling in!... Hero, super-responsible, victim, -- martyr is a role too. The second you have to play a role, you can no longer be yourself. You can no longer be real. And every one of these roles have prescribed emotions that go with them. For instance. if you're playing victim, you have to have a lot of sadness, you have to look melancholy a lot. Your choices are determined by the role. The word for all these roles is a 'false self.' A false self arises. Forty years of being a hero, a super- responsible one, if you put a lie detector on me, I don't know who I am! I think I am that. I've been doing that for forty years! Once you get in these roles and they get ingrained, you think that's who you are. You think that's your essence. You think that's your identity. But the fact is that you don't have any identity. All you have is a role. And the core of that problem is shame.

--------KIT Newsletter, June, 1990, Vol II #6--------

Wendy Alexander Dorsey: My parents have expressed real concern about the newsletter. I hastened to assure them that nothing you or anyone else said in KIT would change the fact that I loved them or that I knew that I had received many blessings from the Bruderhof growing up there. They asked me not to read KIT. They also asked me not to pass on information from them to you, which latter I won't. However I do want to share some things with you: I feel the newsletter is providing a tremendous forum for dialogue between ex-members and members, as well as among ex-members themselves. You must know you are treading sacred ground and needs must walk it gently! I believe the Bruderhof is in the midst of a Glasnost of mighty proportions. You are contributing to it. It could however be perceived as dangerous and threatening to their fundamental beliefs.
When we visited Woodcrest in February, we had quite an intense dialogue, and in the end most came around to my view that I could read KIT and understand its purpose without being against the B'hof. Although I feel I am treading a delicate line, somehow it seems more honest for me to be clearly FOR BOTH GROUPS. I thought it was tremendously brave of Sibyl to visit you, and respect her for that. She in the end said that she did not want to be against you. I said I felt the people writing to KIT have real pain, anger and sorrow that need to be heard, and that you are providing a place for that. There is a real concern that you are printing lies and slander in order to get back at the B'hof, if not to destroy it. I said I thought they were giving KIT too much power, and therein lies the REAL danger. If they ignored or, alternately, responded in a genuine fashion to the letters, healing could take place (and I believe some dialogue toward reconciliation is already happening.)
Now I have written a letter to my family explaining why I am not interested, at this time anyway, in joining the B'hof. The reasons were as follows:
1) The B'hof is hierarchical in structure. I live in a church community that is more egalitarian, with shared leadership.
2) The B'hof is male-dominated (closely related to the first reason). I am part of a community that has female as well as male leadership.
3) The B'hof requires everyone to think one way about everything (or it has traditionally been so -- things are changing currently, I believe) to preserve unity at all costs. I live in a community of people who think differently on a variety of issues and who try to find a common ground of faith and action to base our communal life on - embracing the differences.
One of the main concerns raised by my family was that people who have problems with the B'hof should go directly to them -not write them in a newsletter. I said how difficult it would be for someone who had left a large community to feel the trust to go back and confront the community, especially when they presumably left because of a disagreement in the first place. There seems to be a lack of understanding of group psychology and what a powerful force that can be.
I'm glad to see that KIT is printing a variety of opinions and memories, including those of B'hofers. I think you should actively encourage this. I was especially grateful for Duffy Black's and Joyce Atkinson's letters, although I realize they probably anger some who feel they are being dictated to as to how they should remember or feel. I agree with Charlie Lamar about the need to keep the forum completely open for ALL - and you should keep the disclaimer on the heading of your newsletter. Chapter 9 reprinted from "Toxic Parents" was EXCELLENT and very relevant. Thanks! Keep up the good work. May you keep in mind always the END of the means, which are healing, reconciliation and empowerment.
Jack Elston (from a letter to Tom Potts at Woodcrest): Thanks for your letter and invitation to visit. We could not accept your offer because we couldn't afford the air fare. I missed any personal interest in our spiritual life. It reminded me of the time you came to visit us soon after we arrived here and decided to stay in the States because of the illness of Janetta's mother. You showed no interest in us. You were only concerned that we would hurt your community. I did not like the idea of the "challenge."
We were put out against our will. We were both sick and we were given $100 to start life over. Later, we asked you for financial help. You lent us $500, and at the same time we got a very self-righteous letter from Art Wiser and you about serving Mammon because we wanted to adopt children.
The community buys, sells and owns property as we do. The only difference is that we are two and you are many. I think our material possessions are given to us by God and we have to be good stewards. We shared our larger home with many people; this is the reason we want to enlarge this one.
Kathy Mow offered to lend us Torches Rekindled, but we had already paid for one. I think the book gives a good picture of the community at that time. There is a lot of praise for Heini, but none to God for what was good in Heini. I did not see much prayer to God for His guidance before the men went running around spending lots of time and money to patch up the cracks in the community. I think the kind of life you are leading prevents the Holy Spirit from moving because of the human rules and regulations that leave a person bound to non- essentials. You folks claim to be Christians. We have received apologies for 1967 but how many of us did you contact to find out how we were doing spiritually or financially? This is Christianity in action - not words!
We are members of the Four Square Church which does a lot of missionary work in Central and South America and Asia. God is moving in a mighty way in East Europe, Russia, South Africa, etc. He needs laborers to bring the Word and His love to these people. I challenge you to be a part of this work. I don't believe the community is the Church. It can be a part of it. The Church is made up of all those who love Jesus and are in God's will for their lives. Why don't you go to Times Square in New York and see what God is doing through David Wilkenson and the Church there? Maybe you can help.
Miriam Arnold Holmes: It was nice to hear in KIT II #5 from some dear people I had thought and wondered about thru the years, such as Jack and Shonaid. I have fond memories of studying 'King Lear' with Shonaid in Loma Hoby during Vortbildungschule. We had such interesting, varied teachers, and Shonaid was one of them. I can feel the hurts and pain as well as the triumphs as she and Jack experienced the past 30 years in her letter. And welcome, Arny and Judy Tsukroff! So nice to hear from you. So much fun we had dancing with both of you (also in Loma), even though you, dear Judy, were SO tired. I am happy for your discovery of Adult Children of Alcoholics and 12-Step groups. What you say about co- dependency fitting so nicely into the SOB's controlling lifestyle was very well put.
I'm much impressed with Belinda Manley's energy, vim and vigor, especially her receiving a diploma in theology -- what a noble subject, investigated by many great minds thru the years (I say 'Yuck!' to the fundamentalists who, I believe, miss the whole point, not to the study of theology!). So keep up the good work, Belinda, and give my love to all in England.
Now, dear Selma StŠngl, about your concern about some of us expressing our anger - you say it's not healthy. In my work, for many years, with people who have been damaged, especially our children, I have found that it is extremely healthy and healing for them to express their anger in a safe atmosphere. It is true that anger is unhealthy when it is swallowed, turned against oneself, causing depression and physical illness, or when anger is let out on innocent bystanders such as children. Only when we learn to vent our anger towards the persons, directly OR indirectly, who caused the hurt can healing take place. Swallowing it, repressing it and lashing out at the innocent is unhealthy. Please continue sharing your thoughts.
I would like to express my gratitude to Dick Thomson for his honesty in expressing his frustrations. I do wonder about one of his statements and would like to understand it. In his first letter to Ramon: "If your appreciation is real, show it by caring about the hurt and damage you have been doing to us..." etc. etc. I can understand the "hurt" part, because sometimes hearing the truth is very painful indeed, but I can't for the life of me understand the "damage" part. How have we damaged you in the SOB by expressing our truths and feelings? I would love an explanation. Anyone over there care to explain?
It's too bad that many have to remain silent or anonymous. Hopefully that will change.
Miriam Arnold Holmes (from her reply to a letter from a Woodcrest sister): ...What disturbs me about your letter is the underlying assumption that I am not happy, not free, that I am resentful, that I do not take responsibility for who I am, that I blame others (for my misery). Let me assure you that those assumptions are false. I am happy, I am free, I am not resentful, I do take responsibility for whom and what I am, I have nobody to blame for my unhappiness because I am happy! As a matter of fact, the most miserable time in my life was in Oak Lake (New Meadow Run). I was deeply depressed and beaten down. It was incredibly freeing for me when I decided not to return four years after I had been kicked out. That's when the stone rolled off my shoulders and the depression was lifted.
Why do you people feel so threatened by KIT? There must be a reason. I feel good when I read KIT, and I feel inspired when I write. I feel obligated to point out things that are wrong. What's wrong is wrong, regardless who the perpetrator is. I believe it is wrong to worship human beings, and I believe it is wrong when people oppress people, especially in the name of "love." I will continue to speak out when I see it. I have to.
I wish you continued satisfaction in your life, and I hope we can keep the lines of communication open, even if we don't agree.
A Bruderhof graduate: On memories of Heini -- my impression and memory of his role in my life was that:
a) He cared very deeply about the spiritual life of each of us.
b) He knew intimately what was going on with me.
c) He squelched every sign of creativity when it became threatening in any way.
d) The reason for this was that he sincerely feared for the soul of the person if he or she got too involved with their creativity or ideas -- that he thought they would get too proud and go to the Devil. This fear was based on the belief that human beings are born sinful and one must root out the sin. Time and again I was encouraged to be creative and to learn and to ask questions -- to a point -- and then quickly squelched when they or the process went too far. I could give many examples of this, but won't for now. My impression is that Heini was behind ALL of this, and in several instances confronted me directly. His little book "Freedom From Sinful Thoughts" is clear evidence of Heini's paranoia.
On the reason Heini is getting so much flack from so many ex-B'hofers: The book Torches Rekindled clearly shows how Heini willingly, in martyr-like fashion, took on the sins of a whole community (actually all of the Eastern communities) and asked for forgiveness from the Western Hutterians on behalf of all the Eastern communities. His is presented in the book as a Christ-figure taking on the sins of the world for its redemption. This explains why he is both blamed for so much and glorified for so much. A person cannot take on that kind of responsibility and not expect to get blamed for all that went wrong. Personally, I think a much healthier way of Christian living is to EACH accept blame for one's actions and EACH accept responsibility for the whole. Shared responsibility doesn't expect one person to be either the Savior or the Scapegoat. I believe we need a new model of leadership for our time -- one of SHARED leadership. Problems and possibilities are too big for ONE leader. Too much creative energy is wasted when the gifts of each person are not evoked and developed and put to use fully. That's the business I'm in -- and I hope many of us will be engaged in.
After the anger and frustration and pain and guilt have been vented and heard and healed, then we must stop trying to find Scapegoats and Saviors. Then it's time for each of us to take up our Cross and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling -- i.e. discover our giftedness and work toward the empowerment of ourselves and others for the sake of God's reign on earth which is happening now IN us and AMONG us in quiet, but powerful ways.
Joshua Maendel: (edited by KIT staff) Part IV of a comparison of Eberhard Arnold's teaching to that of The New Testament.
The SOB is now trying hard to convince us that they have changed, when over the past 30 years they hardly lifted a finger to so much as apologize to people who were literally pushed overboard with hardly a piece of driftwood to hold onto. It was a real struggle getting to the shore of some normal economic existence. What most of us heard was how we had betrayed our vow that we swore at baptism on our knees to God and "all holy ones." But I do not believe in making them "pay for it now," so to speak, because that would be subscribing to the same error that Heini committed during the holocaust of the '60s by exacting retribution from those involved in the '40s episode.
Much of what former members experienced with the Bruderhof was because of the nature of the organization and the beliefs to which they subscribed. Because of their doctrines, they cannot help being and doing the things they do.
The testimony which Naomi wrote in KIT was a fairly recent incident. If Christoph is so callous as to send people packing in a blinding snow storm, and needed to be threatened with an appeal to civil authority before he backed down, that tells me he has degenerated to a point below his father as far as compassion is concerned. I have heard of Heini sending a pregnant woman away without her husband in Paraguay, but to refuse to reach out to somebody in a howling blizzard tells me something about the present condition of the Society. They may have an "H" in front of their name and wear Hutterite clothing, and have transferred their wrist watches to their pockets, but they are still the Bruderhof.
There is a Hutterite saying preached at least once a year and it goes something like this: a crow might paint itself snow- white like a dove, but the moment he opens his mouth his true character is revealed. This may seem caustic and bitter, but when you consider the tragedy so many of us experienced trying to push ourselves into the counterfeit mold of the Bruderhof, it is time that the truth is said so that people are not sucked into their net again. I doubt if Snow White would have taken an apple from the wicked witch a second time, but just in case there are some naive Snow Whites out there, let them be forewarned.
The following is a list of 9 points that recently came to my attention which define cultic leadership. I believe they are very appropriate and depict the Bruderhof to a tee. Some may be on the mild side, because this list depicts what is going on in more loosely-knit organizations than the Society. There are many of these organizations around with gurus leading them, and the Bruderhof is no exception.
1. ISOLATION OF DISCIPLES FROM OTHER PEOPLE -- Leadership will instruct their disciples not to associate with anyone outside of their "camp." They will either separate their followers geographically, psychologically or intellectually. They will be instructed not to read or listen to any teaching unless it has been pre-approved by the leadership.
2. ABSOLUTE AUTHORITARIANISM -- The leadership will demand unquestioning surrender to the authority pattern of that leader. Anything less than "Yes, Sir," is usually considered rebellion and insubordination. This type of leader will only want "yes" people around him.
3. DEIFICATION OF A STRONG, CHARISMATIC LEADER -- The disciples will elevate the leadership to a divine place of authority where the leadership becomes the final authority over conduct, doctrine, family situations and even marriage partners. The leader is the "voice piece for God," and therefore hears God's voice much more clearly than the disciples.
4. USE OF FEAR TO HOLD THE DISCIPLES -- The leadership will unleash threats and warnings of divine retribution. The individual who attempts to pull away will experience great group pressure through such things as "personal" visits. The disciples might hear statements such as "If you dare leave us, you'll die because you are missing God," or "If you leave, you'll miss the next move of God and you life will amount to nothing."
5. INTOLERANT DOGMATISM -- Leadership will say, "Our group sees it this way" rather than saying "the Bible teaches this." Any interpretation of scriptures will not be tolerated because the leadership has been given a "special revelation" by God.
6. COERCION TO SURRENDER FINANCIAL RESOURCES -- There will be extreme pressure to give everything away for the common good.
7. CLAIMS WILL BE MADE BEYOND SCRIPTURE -- Scriptures which seemed so clear in the past will now become cloudy to the disciples because of poor leadership interpretation. The leadership will announce new insights which oppose the spirit and the letter of the written Word. These new teachings will be disguised as "fresh revelation."
8. EMPHASIS ON WORKS -- Those who work the hardest and longest for leadership will be elevated, rather than those who demonstrate a Godly spiritual life and character.
9. LEADERSHIP BEGINS TO REDEFINE BIBLICAL TERMINOLOGY -- The truth of the Word is "stretched' beyond biblical context. In the next issue, I would like to continue with a hopefully shorter digest of the counterfeit doctrines of the Bruderhof. I believe that once you understand what was behind all the things you experienced at the community or that happened to you, your hurt and antagonism will turn to the feeling "what a fool I was." Until my wife and I began to become familiar with the teaching of the Christian faith as recorded in the Bible, we had no way of knowing what was right. All we knew for sure was that we did not want to have anything to do with the SOB way of life. My sense of right and wrong from my Hutterite and parental upbringing was my mainstay during my tenure with the Society. Others, unfortunately, did not fair as well. Until you become familiar with the real things in life, you will not be able to detect the counterfeit. And what is so deadly about the counterfeit is that in order for it to be effective, it has to sound and look like the real thing. But I believe that if we place the different teachings of the Bruderhof alongside Christian principles as stated in the Word of God, the counterfeit will become evident.

--------KIT Newsletter, July, 1990, Vol II #7--------

Guillermo Fischer: Sorry to bother you again, but after reading your April edition with Hans Meier's comments I can't contain myself. This well-known "YES" he mentions is only ONE side of a three-party contract. The facts from the past speak clearly enough. Miriam was not the only one to hear the words Abgestorbenes Holz (dead wood). If this is the way this contract works, then we have come back to the simple animal herd instinct, where the odd ones are pushed out by the stronger. Simple and perfect way to end a partnership. The Community (I name it first) and God, being two to one, should surely, in the right spirit, be able to help and reconcile. In another passage, Meier goes on that people outside "were not able to unite among themselves." This statement really got me going. What a ridiculous twist to the story!
For six or seven years, my mother was scared to meet any ex-members as she had been told that in doing so, her returning to the Hof would become more difficult. As I see it, the fear therapy worked effectively.
Further, Meier's observation 'that this way of life does not leave you in peace' is amazing and perfectly true. Most people that left or were asked to leave, even the younger ones, carried on searching for truth and inner peace, each in their own and different way being faithful to this 'yes' they once gave. In my mother's case, as I saw it, this was only possible after this man- made fear had been overcome and she realized she had not abandoned God.
Meier has not realized that ex-members still cannot see these re-lighted torches for the smoke. Let's try to clear some of that smoke so the heart of the fire can be seen a bit more clearly. To sum it up, there is nothing wrong with community life if the binding factor is a caring spirit. Where it goes wrong is when man's power struggle takes over. Looking back to the battle of '59-'62, the state of some scattered victims is still clearly to be seen and needs clearing up. Greetings to all.
Ruth Baer Lambach: Excerpts from an article entitled The Spirit Or The Letter.
Oak Lake: the old hotel with its thin, worn carpets and stuffy hallways was the only living space. However the lake was beautiful and the path around it even more so. We learned to swim. The Baer children went to school and, because I had graduated from high school, I was given the job of being the kindergarten teacher for a dozen children. I took the responsibility seriously. After the children left, I carefully cleaned things up and prepared for the following day. I conscientiously watched the pre-school teacher to get ideas about activities for the children. The students my age who were going to the local high school played volley ball in the gym after school. I didn't join them because I didn't feel that I belonged. I was alone, but in my aloneness I tried to do a good job. I was confronted by the elders of the Bruderhof who told me that I was becoming like my mother. My mother worked diligently but did not share her emotions with others freely. She was not participating in the joyful community spontaneously. They recommended that either I live with another family on the hof or leave the community and experience the world for a while. That night they put me upstairs in the attic and locked me in. For two days I stayed there,. My meals were brought to me and I slept there alone. I spoke with no one. My task during this time was to decide whether I wanted to leave or not. I had no idea what life on the 'outside' would be like. I had no basis on which to make a decision. But for me it was so threatening to think of living at the same place with my family and not be with them during family times that I decided in favor of the lesser of the two evils.
The next day when I announced my decision, I was taken to Pittsburgh some 70 miles away. Howard and Marion Johnson drove me there. I remember saying goodbye to my father. He was working in the shop. He stretched out a hand and said curtly, "Mach's gut." I don't remember my mother seeing me off. In Pittsburgh we stopped at a Salvation Army to buy some clothes for me. I didn't know where I was being taken and I didn't ask. I trusted that things would be taken care of. I had no sense of what I was doing. Somewhere around 3 o'clock in the afternoon they dropped me off on the street. I walked to the nearest house with a big porch and sat down, waiting for the people to come home. I guessed that they would be nice people. It didn't occur to me that food and shelter would cost something. I had twenty dollars but no idea how much that was worth nor how to make change. When the family, the Daglish's, came home, they did take me in. They were the caretakers for the Quaker Meeting House.
For the next two weeks I walked the streets looking for a job. I walked to every hospital. Once as Hutterite I had been in the hospital. I knew they needed people to do cleaning and felt confident that I could clean. Sometimes I walked by restaurants and could see people inside, dressed up. I figured it would be a while before I could work in fancy places like that, but I could see that perhaps being a waitress was something in my future. Another time I watched an ad on television. I reasoned that I could talk like the lady selling the laundry soap.
Eventually it was through the Daglish's that I landed a job as a dental assistant. They helped me to buy a white uniform, shoes and nylons to get started. When I got my first $85 paycheck, I repaid them. Also I moved to a rooming house. For the next nine months I kept that job. Every morning I went to work, every noon ate my lunch at a lunch counter, and every evening went home. I could as well have been in prison. There was little that I understood about how to be in the world. I live in a prison I carried around with me, a prison of my own ignorance. Sometimes it was a blessing, sometimes a curse.
The Daglish's also taught me how to ride a street car. When I first got on one, I started talking to whomever sat next to me. I introduced myself to them, telling them all about myself. After several days, I realized that no one else was talking. I stopped at a drugstore and bought a paperback. The first book I read on public transportation was 'On The Beach' by Nevil Shute. The desolation described in this book matched what I was feeling in Pittsburgh. When I walked along the streets I was overwhelmed with frustration because I was used to getting to know people on a first-name basis, and I presumed it would only be a matter of time before I knew all the people that I met. But there were so many! I was exhausted even by the possibility of relating to them all. Then I noticed that they did not even look at me. They just walked by me as though I were a piece of furniture, and that made me feel even colder and more alone.
On the weekends I stayed with several different widows who had befriended me through the Quaker Meeting House. They treated me well. They cooked meals for me and we talked. They also took me to concerts and lectures. I remember going to a lecture by Earl Butz who was then Secretary of Agriculture. I don't remember anything he said, but I was aware it was an important event because so many people attended it. One of the widows did volunteer work at a hospital. I told her that she was just assuaging her conscience by doing that work, and that if she really wanted to live a Christian life she would live in community. It was very clear to me that I was out to experience the evils of private life and that it was some kind of a punishment. Inside I held to my Hutterite-Bruderhof values and judged everything I experienced accordingly.
The people I talked to must have wondered at this self- righteous attitude. Many times the police picked me up because I was walking in dangerous areas. Since I didn't read the newspapers nor listen to the radio, I was unaware of things like strikes. Also I had little sense of private property and would walk diagonally across people's back yard if that was the direction I was going. But at least I had a good sense of directions and I could speak English.
I wore my white uniform all the time, even when I went back to Oak Lake for a visit. They told me that weekend that my dress was too short. I stayed one night, and all night I cried and shook. The next day, emotionally drained, I had to go back to Pittsburgh, this time by Greyhound bus. My father took me to the bus. He pushed me on the bus to make sure I went. I felt his big paw pushing me. Maybe he could tell how scared and lonesome I felt. He used to tell us about his first time away from his family when he wasn't more than fourteen. He was desperately lonesome but didn't dare come home. So he walked to within sight of his family home and just stood looking at it across a field. During my entire nine months in Pittsburgh I didn't get my period. My menstrual periods had been normal before that.
In Pittsburgh I held out for another several months before I wrote another letter asking if I could return for good this time to try 'the life' again. With my savings of $500 I stepped off the bus just outside Oak Lake. My father greeted me. Suddenly I saw again the alive, enthusiastic father I had not seen for years. He announced that the family was leaving the next day. I took my money and put it on the steward's desk. That evening there was a love meal to say goodbye to my family. The next day my father and half the boys left with an old car, and my mother and the other half of the family left by train. They were on their way to North Dakota. I stayed. Later I learned that they had given my father $50 and my mother the same amount. My brothers tell delightful stories about the drive back to North Dakota. My father slept crouched all the way left on the driver's side while various boys took turns at the wheel, waking him up whenever the cops were sighted.
The Bruderhof, always sensitive to nuances of feelings and sentiment, moved me to Woodcrest where I could more easily make a new beginning. I lived in a small house with several other girls. Every day I cleaned the bathrooms and the floor of the entryway of the main building where people tracked through. At some level I was aware I was functioning at half- mast in a mechanical way during my entire time at Woodcrest. I was lost. I didn't know what I felt or if I felt anything at all. When I asked about specific people I had known at Oak Lake, I was asked why I wanted that information. Since I was not participating in the Gemeindestunde meetings, I was unaware, except on a feeling level, of the paranoia under which everyone operated during this time of spiritual housecleaning. I did not know specifics about how many people had left or how many others were in mental institutions with nervous breakdowns.
The house in which I lived was at the edge of a thick wood. It was very dark inside. One day I decided to cut down a small tree that was totally shading the window. I was chastised for being callous towards nature. Another time I walked by some budding crocuses but did not rejoice in their beauty nor wax eloquent about the buds as harbingers of spring. I apologized about this and used it as a demonstration of my lack of love and warmth of heart. One night I decided to sleep out under the stars behind the house. Several of the men evidently spent hours looking for me because they were worried. The next morning they took me to the Greyhound bus station in New York City. About three days later I got off the bus in Lake Park, Minnesota. I asked for a cab at the town gas station. The owner looked at me as though I were a person from outer space. When I told him I was Allan Baer's daughter, he told me he would take me to the Baers who lived on a farm about five miles out of town.
My parents knew nothing of my impending arrival. It was Halloween, 1960. They lived in a ramshackle, drafty, old, unpainted house on top of a hill with an outhouse in back. I walked up the muddy hill. Goats tied to tires bucked and bleated as I walked by. My brothers ran out of the house to greet me. Later they told me they thought at first I was a ghost.

First KIT Conference at Friendly Crossways

On the weekend of August 17-19 the KIT Newsletter staff, in conjunction with Miriam Arnold Holmes and Heidi Kleiner Strickland, hosted a conference for graduates and survivors of the Bruderhof communities. It was a historic occasion because never in the seventy-year history of the movement has such a meeting taken place. The Bruderhof has always warned the people they send away from meeting with each other and has never been willing to share addresses of ousted families. And although there were rumors that Hans Meier might show up from the Deer Spring bruderhof, we received word the night before that he would not attend at Sunday lunch, the only part of the weekend which we held open to a Bruderhof member since there were many people there who did not want to see anyone from the communities.
Ramon and Judy Sender, Dave Ostrom and Charlie Lamar gathered at Roger and Heidi Strickland's Thursday evening. We decided on the menus for the weekend, and on Friday formed two teams. One spent $400 at a local supermarket, while the other spent $100 on vegies at a local farm and picked up a keg of beer and some wine. Thus well-stocked, we converged on Friendly Crossways, a conference center in the rolling hills of Massachusetts' apple country near Littleton, about 40 minutes west of Boston. This place was chosen both because of its geographical convenience and also for its historical role in the early years of the American bruderhofs.
There were already a few folks waiting for us, and by suppertime we numbered thirty. Ramon had his hands full assigning rooms while keeping an eye on the Pasta Primavera sauce bubbling on the stove. Some of the men buzzed like flies around the beer keg in the patio and many very happy reunions took place between people who in some cases had not seen each other in thirty years. And what a happy surprise to see John Arnold from England! Miriam, his sister, was especially bowled over. We all were very happy to have a representative of the English KITfolk who would be able to report back about the conference across the ocean.
Although we had not planned a formal agenda, it became obvious that people really wanted to meet as a group and hear each other's stories. So Saturday morning forty of us gathered in the meeting room and started going around the circle. Tale after tale was told of crises and exclusions which the circle experienced both as children and adults. A few also mentioned that if just one Bruderhofer had spoken two loving words, he or she would have returned eagerly to the community, and yet they now felt relieved that this had never happened.
Others spoke of the hardships of adjusting to the 'outside world' without adequate preparation and with just the few token dollars the community had given them in their pockets. Many descriptions of traumatic childhood isolations and punishments brought tears to the listeners' eyes. It was obvious that in many cases people are still processing their pain. Some seemed stunned to find themselves there, to be experiencing in reality a scene they had obviously fantasized or dreamed.
After lunch we met again, and after supper we continued until1:30 A.M., still not having gone around the full circle. More and more people kept showing up including Ben Zablocki, the sociologist who wrote The Joyful Community in the mid-sixties, (now in print again via The University of Chicago Press) and John Hostetler the Anabaptist scholar and his wife Beulah. It was especially good to see Ben, and many thanked him for his book which had been so helpful to them. He offered numerous free copies to people there. Someone mentioned to him that a copy of The Joyful Community used to sit symbolically in a waste basket in the Servants' office at New Meadow Run. John and Beulah Hostetler also were very thankful to have been invited.
It would be good to be able to list all the names of those who attended, but unfortunately there were many who requested anonymity because of their fear of losing visiting privileges to family within the communities. Rather than give just a partial list, we'll just say that we had a representation in all age groups. We sang a number of songs, with Ramon on the accordion, and a wide diversity of views were expressed, all the way from church-attending Christian, original and individual forms of spirituality, to people who would not say anything about spirituality at all.
A special concern was brought up about the treatment of children within the Bruderhof, and the Sunday morning meeting focused on this issue. Many incidents were reported of young people experiencing deep depression and a conviction that they were harboring an "evil spirit." Opinions were expressed that these seem to be an inevitable outcome of their doctrinal belief in their negative obsession with sin and in the devil as an actual entity who can possess or inhabit individuals. It is our hope that the HSOB will learn from Twentieth Century discoveries in psychology and modify their beliefs which seem in many instances to lead to psychological discomfort and sickness. Many agreed that this is a terribly sad state of affairs. Another concern mentioned is that now that the Bruderhof has its own doctors, many of these cases now are treated inside the community with anti-depressants.
All in all just being LISTENED TO by forty others who knew and understood what was being said was very helpful and healing to many. A number of people wept openly, but there were also many happy moments. Also there was discussion about creating a fund to help children continue their education or pay for necessary counselling when they are ejected, as well as older ex-members in need of medical help, housing or job training. Sunday afternoon everyone said goodbye, very happy with the reunion, and with the feeling that this is just the first of many more. Considering that we announced this one only in May, we think that next year, if we give KITfolk a longer lead time, we can count on probably close to one hundred participants. And thanks, again, every one of you, for making this our first annual reunion such a smashing success!
An Open Letter to the Bruderhof Communities from a Workshop of the Friendly Crossways Conference
August 19, 1990
Almost fifty of us former members and children of the Bruderhof communities gathered for a weekend of sharing memories and concerns. Many of our memories are happy and precious. Many are not. This open letter addresses the latter.
Our former association with you gives us a unique insight into various problematic aspects of the Bruderhof communities. We therefore request that you give careful consideration to the concerns we here express:
1: The frightening prospect of expulsion leads to community-wide fear of honest communication. Members and children dread the effects of their candor. Genuine honesty is only possible if its results are not calamitous. Guaranteed financial support and the right of continuing contact with family and friends are minimal requirements for making the prospect of departure from the Bruderhof less traumatic.
2: Children must be educated and acculturated so that they may easily leave if they choose. They need to be able to make meaningful choices, get training in a field of their choice, and know that if they choose to leave the Bruderhof, they will still be respected and will not be cut off from family and friends.
3: Physical and psychological abuse has definitely occurred in the past. At the Friendly Crossways Conference, we heard numerous, detailed personal accounts of such abuse. We are really concerned as to whether this is continuing. We have many thoughts on this important subject, and want to start a serious dialog with you about it. We believe that our insights and concerns in this regard could help you understand more of the nature of this problem, address it effectively and thereby immeasurably enhance your witness to the power of love and reconciliation in the world. That witness remains ours too, and we have made this plea in that spirit.
We ask that this Open Letter be read in membership meetings on each hof. We ask that you let us know how we can help you address these questions. And we invite you to respond through the ŇKeep In TouchÓ Newsletter, now going into its second year of monthly publication.
All this we ask in deepest sincerity and seriousness,
The Friendly Crossways Conference Workshop
Christoph Arnold, Bruderhof Elder, to Tim Johnson: Dear Tim: Thanks for your letter. It was wonderful to hear from you. I really feel your concern about the KIT circular and how we can work together more. That is very much our longing, I can assure you. Thank you also for your suggestions. About the mailing list, it might surprise you that KIT has a much better mailing list than our communities have. I also want to reassure you, dear Tim, that no one has been threatened by the community that if they associate with KIT their visiting privileges will be revoked. I know this is stated in KIT, but it is not true. [our emphasis - editors] So please continue sharing with us. We are glad for any kind of contact with anyone. Should you have contact with any KIT readers, please encourage them to write directly to the community. No one who has written in a respectful way to the community has been turned away or discouraged. There is a tremendous longing in the brotherhood for reconciliation.
Name Withheld: After reading the posthumous letter from Heini to Christoph, I am beginning to wonder why it was printed in the second edition of Torches Rekindled." So many people already were upset about the first edition without that letter from Heini. What is it with the "PLAIN BROTHERS?" I really think this is going too far! Apparently the 'plain' brothers and sisters had no say and Heini got upset that the plain brothers puffed themselves up in the Bruderhof in Loma Hoby, and he for one was not used to that type of behavior.
Well, I for one, object strongly to the use of the term "PLAIN" brothers and sisters. We were always told that everyone was equal on the Bruderhof and that there were no class differences. However of course there were class differences, but I had never before seen it put down in black and white. The Servants always stressed the fact that we were all equal. When reporters came to interview the Servants to write about the Bruderhof, they were told very emphatically that everybody was treated equally. Of course we know that it was not so, and now in this letter Heini has confirmed that feeling that so many of us had, that we were not equal.
I am shocked to say the least, that this is now in print for all the world to read. Such class distinction should not even exist on the Bruderhof, but sad to say it obviously does, even today.
The word 'parasite' has been used to describe some very dedicated brothers and sisters. That is almost worse than being classified as a so-called "PLAIN" brother or sister. How is it possible that brothers and sisters who have dedicated their whole lives to the church be called "PLAIN" brothers and sisters or even a parasite? All this is beyond me and not easy to understand at all. So now so many of us know how the Servants and Heini felt about us. When we joined the Bruderhof, we did so in good faith that we were giving up a life of competition and class distinctions. We gave up everything to join the Bruderhof in order to live a life of dedication and in peace and harmony.
Susan Welham: I have been following the KIT letters with interest for the last few months. Reading the various accounts has helped me to gain perspective on my formative years. My parents were excluded in Paraguay in December, 1959. I was 17 at the time, having just spent a year as a student in Asuncion where I had experienced a small taste of freedom. I was happy to leave with my parents and launch myself into the adventure of life.
I feel like sitting here and writing FREEDOM, FREEDOM, FREEDOM - to dance FREEDOM, to cry FREEDOM. That is what living in the SOB did for me. It created an unquenchable thirst for FREEDOM. It became the driving force in my life and still is. I seek freedom from everything that stops me from exercising my God-given right to choose. Freedom to become and evolve.
I can understand my parents and others with them choosing the communal way of life, especially since the war was raging around them. I however joined the SOB at six weeks old by default. My love affair with true choice and everything it implies in diversity, adaptability, the forward thrust of evolution in the human species toward understanding and enlightenment is fairly recent. In order to feel safe in these unchartered waters, I have had to find my center - my solid core, to experience unconditional love. God does not set any conditions on love. I am loved no matter what I do. I can love myself now even though I'm not perfect. I now know that sin means to be without love. As soon as I realize (recognize) that I am without love, I endeavor to be with love again, and that does not include beating myself over the head with my mistakes or other people with theirs.
I have had many years of adaptation, trial and error, to reach this understanding of myself. My initial reaction on leaving the SOB was to try anything and everything. The word NO did not feature in my vocabulary any more. I wanted to experience my life, not live it according to some one else's idea of the truth. When I was just 19, I had my first child. Fortunately for us, my parents were loving and accepting. Marcus, now 26, is a great inspiration to us all with his vision of communal living which encourages personal freedom. Incidentally, Judy and Arni, I named him 'Milo' after your son whom I cared for in the toddler house. I used to enjoy his expressions of defiance. I was also very happy that Arni was able to introduce us to square dancing. It gave my life a new dimension. I read your letter, Judy, with great interest and I send you both my warmest greetings.
Dancing, in fact, has been my saving grace, helping me through the years of bringing up my children on my own. I had two children before I married and then two more - just what I always wanted, 2 boys and 2 girls. Divorced at 30, I looked around and thought, now what? At least I am free again. I became part of a dance troupe. We practiced and demonstrated Country and Morris dances at fairs, fetes, country markets, old folks' homes, cathedrals and concert halls. My children all joined in as did my mother and brother Geoff and family. It kept us physically fit and spiritually alive!
I also went back to school to get my high school certificate and on to the university, but found full-time study, two hours travelling each day and a young family to care for a difficult combination. So I decided to put formal education on the back burner for a while and went to live on a little island half an hour boat ride off the coast. I learned to grow food, eggs, milk, go fishing, swimming and sailing. My parents had also moved to Lamb Island and were by then keen sailors, so we were able to enjoy our surroundings to the full.
In the meantime, Geoff junior and wife had bought a 100- acre farm further down the coast, "Upson Downs." We have all joined forces here now. We hold the land as tenants in common and have the legal right to erect 8 houses on the property. We now have 6 households, each being self-sufficient financially, and retaining the right to sell their house and share should they decide to move elsewhere. Our communal responsibilities include paying the rates and maintaining the roads and fences. Otherwise we get together for meetings and workdays when we want to, sometimes at frequent intervals. At other times, if we are all busy with other activities, we have a holiday from each other and come together again with renewed vigor. Maintaining the interests of the individuals, the group and our interaction with local people and organizations simultaneously is truly challenging.
My children are all adults now, with children of their own. They have bought a 500-acre property, "Piller Valley Community" one hour's drive from here with some of their friends. Their concept of sharing (the individuals are all shareholders in a public company) is about as far removed as possible from the one forced on me as a child. No distinction is made between physical, emotional, mental or spiritual sharing. All are encouraged. Dress is optional if at all. Decision-making is by true consensus, no leader, no expulsions. Conflict CAN be a creative process. Children are respected, nurtured and given the freedom to be themselves, integrating their community experience and their interaction with schoolfriends and the world at large. The potential for positive change being exponentially greater if free exchange of materials, ideas and feelings is practiced by as many people, with as many people as possible.
Constant exchange takes place between Upson Downs and Piller Valley, yet at the same time the younger generations are running their own lives, working things out for themselves, very often teaching us a thing or two. We combine a concern for the environment, fighting against a proposed pulp mill and a toxic waste incinerator in our area. At the moment the establishment of the LETS System (Local Employment Trading System), an expanded version of bartering, is keeping us busy along with running the environment center and organizing recycling materials. Some of us also spend time working at a healing center in Grafton.
When I read the first KIT letters, I wrote a contribution which I didn't send. I have now included part of it (see next letter 'March 3rd' - ed.). I felt the need to be part of the boil- lancing process, letting the poisons out. Having read further letters in which so many people have expressed my sentiments so well, I moved on to the next stage - recognition, then letting go. I had already done a lot of work on releasing self-limiting patterns in myself: not being able to feel or express my feelings, fear of rejection, not being able to receive or express physical closeness and warmth, etc., in therapy sessions one-to-one, in groups and on my own. There has been a lot of undoing, having to go back and understand how I acquired such crummy ideas about myself. A lot of the impetus for my own healing came from my concern not to pass the same rubbish on to my children. The work I now engage in, healing body, mind and spirit, looks at all the influence that cause disease - environmental, social, pollution, nutrition, emotions, attitudes, etc., recognizing that most physical illness has repressed emotions or self-punishing beliefs at its roots.
For many years the only letters we received from the SOB were death notices. I had the impression that these reminders of our mortality were meant to scare us into submission, that the SOB needed to have its reality validated by a return of the flock. What I became particularly aware of, though, was the high incidence of cancer, which speaks to me of repressed emotions, especially guilt - not something I would want to subscribe to.
When I reflect on how I feel toward the SOB now, I realize that I feel great love for so many individuals, but at the same time feel that the system is rotten to the core. I have a picture in my mind of the SOB as Dornroschen, the sleeping princess under the spell of the wicked witch of ignorance behind the hedge of thorns of fear. Well, princess, you don't have 100 years to spare, Now is the time to wake up. I think you can rescue yourselves with a little help from your friends. Maybe if we knock hard enough and shout loud enough the princess will wake up and help to get rid of the thorns that separate us.
I call on you SOB people to rejoin the human race. When Christ said, "What you do to each other you do to me," he was talking about all others, every single one of us. Would you have turned Christ out in the cold because you could not agree with him? What terrible things had 50% of the SOB population done in 1960 that they had to be cast out, rejected and abused?
Adults had been encouraged to have big families which made survival in the outside world very difficult, with no financial base which would have normally been built up over the years. Employment skills in need of reconstruction or repair. Teenagers and children who had not been taught survival skills for the outside world. I know I was like a "Stranger in a Strange Land," suffering from culture shock. It was left to the "sinful" outside world to exercise compassion and the common human decency that compels a helping hand to reach out to a person in need.
I believe that all adults present at meetings where inhumane decisions were made must recognize and take responsibility for their actions. That the best way now to make amends is recognition of the underlying corruption and the fear that produces this behavior. It would be a great relief to know that the cycle of the sins of the fathers being visited on their children has some hope of resolution.
I have now made two attempts to put my thought and feelings down. It would be much better for me to have direct dialog with the SOB, to stand up in front of a meeting and state my truth bold and clear. I don't know if I have the strength, the personal power, to withstand the onslaught of a belief system which I have as yet not completely exorcised. I find that each time I read the latest KIT letter I still go into restimulation, so I know that there are still unresolved issues.
I have great admiration for Loy. Her pain has indeed been great to feel compelled to throw herself again and again against the blind self-righteousness of individuals who have lost the ability to access their own inner truth, who have become so disempowered, have handed their consciences over to others to be manipulated, that they are unaware of how deep the cancer goes. When I look at the pain I have experienced as a consequence of my upbringing, the tyranny made all the more insidious by the sugar coating, the lip service to loving intent, I say to the SOB, "Looking at the truth can be painful." I have wept many tears for my mistreated inner child. Lancing the boil will be painful, Those of us who have graduated, either through the force of eviction or by our free will, have also had to face ourselves in order to heal.
For the last 30 years I have tried to disassociate myself from my childhood. Fortunately for me, I had no family members still in bondage to keep the sore open and bleeding. But when I confront my self-limiting patterns, I realize it is still very much with me. That early childhood programming is so powerful that I have to confront it again and again. I have been very angry with God, the god of my indoctrination, the one who told me to deny my physicalness, that sex is bad, that sex and punishment go hand in hand, so that I could only reach an orgasm when being brutalized in some way. My partnerships have been unsatisfactory. I have been alone a lot. I have allowed myself to be dictated to by others for a while and then have escaped into the freedom I experience when alone with nature. The plants, trees, wind and sea are so accepting of me, no fear of rejection, no having to work out how to be accepted or acceptable. I am still learning to speak out, to stand my ground. No more "What's the use." For that reason I say to the SOB, "Don't be afraid to lance the boil. Only you can make that choice. But if you do, all of us who were party to the belief system which caused the disease will be there actively involved in the healing process. You might be well advised to seek the expertise of an organization like Alcoholics Anonymous, as they are well-versed in changing disfunctional patterns and addictions. The addiction to 'power over' on the one hand and 'disempowerment' on the other, so evident in my upbringing, is being fought worldwide. You are about to find out that none of us will remain untouched by the powerful force of the disempowered toward self-empowerment, self-empowerment that ultimately leads to unconditional love of ourselves and others. In order for true healing and peace to occur, it must happen for each one of us. I challenge you to come out of your ivory tower, to recognize the efforts being made all over the world about peace. If you have love in abundance, share it with the rest of us. I quote to you the "Song For The Present Day" by Phillip Britts:
He is speaking to the North, "Oh come."
He is calling to the South "Withhold no more."
One of the few physical possessions I took with me when I left Primavera was my hand-written book of Phillip's poems. I have referred to it often.
And finally, a comment on Torches Rekindled." Reading it has certainly rekindled much sadness in me. It is such an indictment against the SOB with its distortions and tunnel vision. It reminds me of blind rats in a maze. I am very surprised it was published. Did all present members agree that it represents the experience of the community as a whole? I'm glad I got out when I did. I think what we need to balance the account is the publication of "The KIT Response." When we have all had our say, and by all I mean everyone who wants to speak out and be counted, "The Plough" could publish it for us. After all, it's the least the SOB could do for its disenfranchised members. Thank you for getting this movement going and the ongoing effort to keep KIT coming to us each month. I would be happy to have my letter printed, warts and all, in the next KIT.
P.S. This statement is incomplete unless I acknowledge the key factors in my own healing process.
1) The birth of my first child. The overwhelming love I felt for this new life gave me an anchor, compelled me to start making some sense out of my world.
2) The loving support of my parents and family.
3) My own desire to be whole which led me to experience life as widely as possible and to read voraciously, often my only means of accessing other people's thought for inspiration. A few authors I found helpful were Carl Rogers ("Becoming A Person and Becoming Partners"), Doris Lessing, Carlos Castaneda, Jane Roberts (The Seth material) and recently Louise Hay ("You Can Heal Your Life").
4) A close friendship I formed on Lamb Island with Jane who had the honesty to really look at what was going on in her disfunctional marriage. Our acceptance and love for each other made honesty possible and our damaged feelings, tucked protectively away, could come out like trusting children to be soothed and healed.
I have gone on to discover how our self-image is formed, how to unlock the limitations and distortions imposed on us by our early childhood experiences, and the pain that this disfunction continues to create in our lives. My introduction to this form of healing was through the work of Gordon Stokes and Daniel Whiteside of Three in One Concepts, Inc., 3210 West Burbank Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505 tel: 818 841 4788.
5) and last but not least the unending love and support my present companion Peter has given me. For the last four years he has told me many times every day how beautiful I am, how gorgeous and desirable, how much he loves me. He asks me to imagine how much he loves me and then tells me to multiply it a thousand times to get a small measure of his true love. If I protest, he says, "I am only giving back to you what you are giving to me."
I think I have finally graduated.
P.P.S. I have so much to thank my childhood in the SOB for. The issue of power emerged uncluttered by the insanity of power over others through wealth and money, power over through education and knowledge and power over through physical strength. I could see that the most insidious tyranny of all is emotional blackmail. The need we all have to be loved and accepted, particularly in early childhood, gives those who wield power a chance to stick their claws in deep.
The only way I have found to counteract this force is to love MYSELF unconditionally. If I can do this, knowing also that God loves me totally and unconditionally. How could She not? I am Her creation. Then I have some chance of standing firm against the monster of fear that has its talons firmly embedded in the psyche of the human race.
The people in my life who have by their own efforts extracted these claws one by one from their hearts and minds, provide delightful, enchanting, exhilarating proof that love is letting go of fear, and that FREEDOM and LOVE go hand in hand.
March 3rd 1990: So many times in the last 30 years I have felt the urge to contact the people of my childhood. They would appear like phantoms in my dreams. It was as if they had all died. I could not reach them across the abyss that separated their reality from mine. I would decide to write, and then think "What's the use? We don't speak the same language."
My parents recently received some of the KITs from Leonard Pavitt which I have enjoyed reading. I think it is a great idea to form this support group. Some of the phantoms are coming back to life and we do speak the same language. I send special greetings to Clementina Jaime. I will write to you soon. I welcome the opportunity for growth in this contact with everyone who shared that strange mixture of beauty and love, distortion and fear so hard to explain to anyone who wasn't part of it. It was an absolutely overwhelming (for some devastating) experience for a child. The conflict between verbal messages (indoctrination) and messages received on an intuitive or feeling level created in me a distrust of myself on a very deep level which I have only recently been able to contact and resolve.
As children we were presented with ONE model, ONE reality, which was even (word erased - ed.) because what we were told and what really went on underneath were not the same thing. Disinformation, deliberate withholding of information, the veil of secrecy about the past. I could not contact the deep pain of my early childhood. 1947 in Wheathill, a group crisis of monumental proportions, hardly mentioned in 'Torches Rekindled.' Separation from my parents because they were in disfavor and excluded for a time. Fear of disunity decreed that "If we don't talk about things they will go away." Where they go is underground where they have the potential to cause far more trouble. I have only recently realized why I am so paranoid about gossip. What is wrong with gossip anyway? We think about each other, so why not talk to and about each other? At least it is in the open then and can be responded to.
That model of love was very limited and limiting. Instead of opening me up to the touch of my innate goodness and worth, an understanding that this solid core will always shine through if it is ALLOWED to, I had a set of guidelines and the concept of control instilled in me which has fear, not love, at its roots. With no other model or experiences from which to gain perspective, we could not learn to exercise freedom of choice which for me is the whole point of our human existence.
Control through fear as practiced by the SOB is an abomination that people in the so-called "sinful" outside world are appalled by. The frequent response I have had from psychologists and others involved in helping me to sort out my confusion has been incredulity that a) I am still reasonably sane and b) that a group of people coming together to love and share disregard even the most basic human rights.
Censoring mail, excluding and ostracizing adults and children when they most need love, splitting up families. My sister age 9 was sent to another hof as a punishment for some minor sexual infringement. The pain of that separation is with her still. I could go on and on. A strange group indeed, with the concept of the family, brotherly love, as its aim, which then proceeds to demolish that which holds families together, openness and trust.
Fortunately my love of nature and the enjoyment of my relationship with many individuals created a balance that leaves me with many fond memories of my childhood.
I also recognize, particularly in the reconstructive work I do, that we are all in varying degrees disfunctional, both in and out of the community. But I think that in the outside world we are more likely to have our disfunctional behavior challenged because we are personally, as individuals, answerable for our behavior. We can no longer hide behind the apron of group responsibility.
When the group creates a reality which enables individuals to act as if possessed, they mirror the acts of the Hitler regime or the religious cult led by Jim Jones that committed group suicide, children and all. Then maybe the law of the land needs to be invoked. Surely souls are more important than hogfeeders!
Loy McWhirter: I have been thinking about your request/suggestion that I write the few tangible and accessible pieces I do remember of abuses and accusations - being labeled the demon child, being possessed of the devil, manifesting evil when I was a child. My memories are very fragile - of being a child at all - and the fear-of-telling and being 'rooted out' and destroyed is still very great because the child I was did not escape them...
I am thinking about the real memories of the demon child. I do not remember where and when she began, yet one time I do remember that she was isolated and named was when we were learning to make letter loops in First Grade (I was 5 or 6 years old). Mildred Lord was the usual teacher, but on this day it was the tall woman with the tiny head who always had a stiff smile on her face because, I think, she tied her hair too tightly in the bun on the back of her head. She was showing the 'f' and 'l' loops on the blackboard. She was pointing with the yardstick. We made loops at our desks on the paper with the pencil. The child liked to feel the loops making in her hand. She made bigger and bigger loops that filled the paper because they felt beautiful and round. The child saw the shadow of the woman moving fast towards her on the floor. The tight woman grabbed her and the paper and made all the children look at her letting the devil take her and make her disobey and be evil by thinking she could do better than anyone. She said that the girl's father thought he was better too because of his paintings, but he gave them for the good of the community. The girl was bad because she was making only idle marks for her own selfish and willful pleasure and that makes her evil and strayed from the good children that she knows all the others are. She said the girl must be alone again to reflect on her evil ways and root out the devil in her heart and soul. She put her in the dark corner where the coats and school things were kept. She said that the spiders and snakes would keep her afraid and then she would not go to sleep so she must attend to her task. It seemed that the child was in the dark corner for many hours and she was very empty, like the dark room. She looked for her hands to see if she was still here but she could not find them. She thought she could hear poisonous snakes and spiders moving around her and she did not move and stayed very quiet as much as she could. There seemed to be people moving in there also. She is still in there. She disappeared when someone opened the door and the brightness washed her away.
Heini was the ghost always in the background . He did not show his face.
In Memory of Two Brave Women
Miriam Brailey, a doctor from Philadelphia, became a member of the Bruderhof. As she grew older, she began to lose her sight and was confined to a wheelchair. She was sent away for a time and then was brought back and lived in Woodcrest. During her time there, a meeting occurred during which each member had to go up to the microphone and say "Yes" to confirm again that Heini was the Elder. Miriam had the courage to say "No." Heini stated that she had created a disturbance at the meeting. She was sent away to an old people's home where she died in 1976. She is not buried at Woodcrest. This is another sad ending to a long and dedicated life both as a doctor and a sister.
Maria Perez Eckroyd joined the Bruderhof in England. She had escaped from Spain during the Spanish Civil War where she lost her husband, an English Quaker, and her son, an only child. Maria travelled to Paraguay with the Bruderhof and worked hard as a very dedicated sister. She helped look after the toddlers and became a 'grandmother' to all the little ones. When Primavera was closed, she came to England and lived in Bulstrode. Maria contracted diabetes and found it very hard to keep to her strict diet. Finally she was told that she was causing too much trouble and was placed in an old people's home. It was felt she was too much of a burden. She fell out of bed and broke her arm, and then a little later she died a very lonely death. It was a very sad ending to such a long and dedicated life. She was a very loving person and deserved better than what she received. It was tragic that she had to die all alone, especially since she had experienced so much tragedy in her life.
Andreas Meier Woodcrest Bruderhof:September 17, 1990 Dear Correspondents of KIT: Your unsigned open letter of September is a poor witness to honest seeking. Most of the people who might have been able to respond to the complaints you have are not living anymore.
Could you please let us live our choice of life in peace. All this stirring up of old wounds brings only more pain and does not allow healing. If anyone has a specific hurt or need to one of us who yet lives, let them come and reconcile man to man.
What you require of the Bruderhof, how it should or should not do and believe, I find unreasonable.
We live this way because we have a conviction, and for anyone who would like to have a say and take a responsibility upon himself for what we do, he would have to first become a full member or renew his commitment. Our lives are short, the times are serious; let us live the life of our choice to the full and look forward.
Name Withheld: Does the Bruderhof prepare their young people for the world 'outside?' No, it does not! So many young people have had to face the world on their own, totally unprepared. Some did not even know how to make a phone call from a phone booth. Others had no idea how to write out a check.
One young woman who was on her own said she thought it was sinful to have a bank account. Now these things are all practical issues and can be learned. In time one adjusts to the ways of the world. Very much worse for young people coming from a very sheltered childhood is the emotional adjustment. How do they cope with the trauma of adapting, making friends, finding their feet? All this is like a slap in the face for them. It is amazing, though, how many young people, with the help of others who were concerned for them, made it through and have become successful. On the other hand, many still suffer under the impact of it all. They have anxieties and have to seek counseling in order to become well-functioning and balanced human beings.
The Bruderhof bring their children up thinking that the children will decide to stay in the community and not have to face the problems of the world. But that is not good enough. As it happens, not all young people decide to remain. Children have to be prepared for life whether they grow up on the Bruderhof or not. They have to learn to think for themselves. They need a rounded education to learn how to live in the world without their parents and without the Bruderhof in the background. They should know what they will be up against.
I would like to comment on J.C. Arnold's letter to Tim Johnson. J.C. is trying to hide behind something, what I do not know. But to say that KIT has a better mailing list than they do is simply absurd. Furthermore, to say that no one has been told that they cannot visit the community if they go the the KIT conference, or if they actively take part in writing for KIT, is even more absurd. We all know one person who was told by their family that they could not visit if they went to KIT conferences. So if the family says such things, why does J.C. not say, "It is fine. They can come even if they do go to KIT conferences." We know that Servants encourage parents to tell their children they cannot visit, so that if there is any resentment, it is directed towards the parents and not towards the community. Yes, we know only too well how that is. We went through all that nonsense. It is disgraceful to realize that we let ourselves be so brain-washed! And who suffered? The children, who often were in need of parental advice or just wanted to spend time with their families. Why does the community still think they can get away with all this stuff?!!! So many people have suffered under their cruel stupidities.
We are still waiting for them to give their word not to penalize anyone who reads KIT. Also they just cannot admit to censoring mail. I don't think we have made much headway on these issues. Nor have they admitted that so many people have suffered lasting damage to their lives from the way they were treated by the Bruderhof. It is horrifying to have to see how our children, now adults, still suffer severely under such terrible anxieties, etc.
The young people are the ones who suffer the most, especially now when we hear that not everybody gets the chance to go to college or train for a profession. If they are sent away with a large family, what foundation can they stand on? It still is hard for us as parents to find our feet.
ITEM: While visiting the Bruderhof recently, Charlie Lamar was given as an example of KIT's biased reporting the fact that a letter of from Kathy Mow to Ramon was not published in an early KIT as she requested. Originally we did not print Kathy's first letter because of her follow-up apology for it. We publish it now to lay to rest any notion that we do not present all sides of issues. Here is the entire correspondence:
November 21, 1989 from Kathy:
Dear Ramon: When you first came to visit Woodcrest (in 1957), Merrill and I spent an evening with you. You were excited about what you found at Woodcrest. You were very much aware and concerned about the need of the world, and I still remember how you expressed it. You felt that the evil and sickness of the world is contagious and is spreading like a disease, and you enthusiastically hoped that the healthy atmosphere of love and healing that you found at the Bruderhof could also be contagious. You were excited and wished it could spread all over the world. I remember being quite impressed about how you could express it.
But what has happened to that hope? What frightens me now for you Ramon is, as I understand it, you are making a big effort among Bruderhof members who have left, to work on the side that is spreading the disease of division, of false accusations, of nursing hurt feelings of hate and unforgiveness. Ramon, you should be working for reconciliation, peace and forgiveness.
It must be because of the personal burden of guilt you carry by deserting your wife and child and being unfaithful to both your novice vows and your marriage vows, that you are left with a guilty conscience which you are seeking to justify. Stirring up mistrust and accusations and trying to put brothers in a bad light will not soothe your conscience, but will only add to your guilt. I plead with you to stop and think what you are doing.
We read your Round-Robin newsletters with interest. You have my permission to print this in one of your letters. In hope that your letters will serve to bring all of us closer together and not drive in more wedges, Kathy Mow
November 30, 1989 From Ramon:
Dear Kathy: Thanks for your letter, so full of warm thoughts and uplifting advice. Even after lo these 30 years, I still remember my breakfasts in your family in Evergreen when I was groping my way out of the Bruderhof. I was sorry to hear of Merrill's death because I remember him as a kindly albeit ineffectual person in terms of offering me any spiritual guidance or support at that time.
A few things you wrote saddened me, namely that I am working "on the side that is spreading the disease of division, false accusations, of nursing hurt feelings of hate and unforgiveness." So often the qualities we imagine in others are the exact qualities we suffer from in ourselves, and in this case I sense a lot of "hurt feelings, hate and unforgiveness" streaming from the communities to those who are attempting to rebuild their lives outside the Bruderhof. Nevertheless it is true that there are some Bruderhof graduates who feel righteous anger for the manner in which their trust was abused by the Brotherhood, the unloving manner in which the famous Bruderhof 'sword of love' was applied. And there are others who as children were treated cruelly and are still in the need of counseling and help. Although the HSOB now admits to having been overly judgmental in the past, and even cruel and unfeeling at times, there are many of us who feel that actions speak louder than mere words, and are awaiting some specific demonstration of the Society's awakening compassionate concern for those 'on the outside.' And because we have tried for years as individuals to either correspond or otherwise 'put things right' with no visible results, it seems the time has come to create a support group through which we can, in somewhat the same manner as the 12-Step groups which have proved so helpful to Adult Children of Alcoholics, create a warm and understanding network for those who have left and those will will leave in the future.
I find in your letter a challenging and accusing spirit, and would like to quote something Tom Potts wrote to me recently:
"About your comment on the (HSOB) member who says, '
I quit.' It's a free country -- anyone can quit. And he
will still be treated as human and be loved and prayed for.
And he will not be under church discipline. Church
discipline is voluntary AND MUST BE ASKED FOR."
(Tom's caps)
I was happily surprised by Tom's words, and would point out to you that it's been thirty years since I said "I quit," both to the Society of Brothers and to Sibyl. So I do not need to be challenged to repent of a 'personal burden of guilt,' and 'being unfaithful to my novice and marriage vows.' It not only is a free country, it's a free universe, and God does not mind at all if we discover we made a mistake by marrying the wrong person or becoming hypnotized by a religious cult and say "I quit" to either or both. I will gladly accept your apology for attempting to church-discipline me without my having requested it, because I know that since you wrote the letter you have been suffering terrible pangs of conscience and remorse.
All the Bruderhof has done for me since the time I was asked to leave has been to consistently refuse me any contact with Xaverie throughout her childhood and treat me like a leper with spiritual bad breath and a body odor problem. I feel no 'burden of personal guilt' as you call it, because whatever guilt I may once have felt I realized came from the Bruderhof's own self-righteous, mean-spirited, legalistic and shaming attitude towards me. God's overwhelming love and forgiveness has been the ocean in which I have surfed throughout my life.
What has been very painful all these years has been the Brotherhood's ongoing refusal to allow me access to my daughter when she was a child. I don't want to get into all the ins and outs of it in a letter to you, but suffice it to say that I am still waiting to hear something like a recognition on the part of the HSOB that they wounded Xavie deeply by not allowing her access to her father during her growing up.
Also I'm still waiting to hear these concerns answered:
1) I received no notice of her engagement and marriage.
3) I received no announcements of the births of my grandchildren.
4) I did not receive word of her terminal illness until a month after her death.
All this despite the fact that I was on the 'death notice list' for Emmy, Annemarie and Heini, among others.
I am glad you are reading the newsletters. They are serving a real need for many of us. However I will not print your letter because I am sure that once you have had time to reconsider the spirit it was written in, you will write a second one more in harmony with your own sweet and understanding nature. All the best, Ramon
December 15, 1989 From Kathy:
Dear Ramon: I am sorry my last letter seems to have only brought more need. Maybe it was unwise of me to send it, and I apologize. Perhaps it is unwise to send this one, but I want to try again on just one of those concerns in your letter of November 30th.
It is a heart-rending picture you give of a father who has not been informed of his daughter's marriage, her children, her terminal illness. One would have to be pretty hard-hearted not to feel compassion for you. And I do -- my heart aches for you -- it also aches for my brothers and sisters whom you blame for it. It also aches for Sibyl.
Xavie and her mother objected to the occult literature and nude coloring books you sent to her even as a child. Xavie, like her mother, was a courageous, loving and decisive person. She firmly acted as she felt right and did not want to mix up with spirits she felt were wrong. My wish is that you could respect her decision on this. What I want to say is -- can you in your heart find the grace to stop accusing Xavie, Sibyl (and the brothers and sisters) for something that you actually brought on yourself?
The Bruderhof did not put restrictions on Xavie -- she was free to make her own decision, to say "No" to not going to a concert in New York with you, or "Yes" to meeting you in a restaurant. She was free to write to you or phone you, or tell you about her marriage and her children if she wanted to. She chose not to. I and we could only respect her wishes.
She once reported to Sibyl that she had asked you, "Please do not try to tempt me away from my commitment." After that, there were no calls from you for a long time and she was grateful for the respect she felt you were showing for her commitment.
Put it another way -- you want the freedom to say "I quit," but can you not give your daughter the freedom to say, "I don't want contact?" I beg you to see a little bit your own responsibility.
Dave Ostrom wrote me that he felt I misjudged you, that you are not working against us but seeking to be a moderator working for reconciliation. If you could understand and forgive on this, that would indeed be a step toward reconciliation. I greet you with that longing. Greetings from Kathy
January 1, 1990 from Ramon
Dear Kathy: Thank you for your letter of December 15th containing your apology for your previous remarks. I knew that given time, you would see things in a more loving and understanding light, although you are still only pointing to Xavie's decision as an adult not to see me and not to the crucial point: that I was consistently refused any access to Xavie as a child..
You write that "Xavie and her mother objected to the occult literature and nude coloring books you sent her even as a child." You must be referring to the children's coloring books by my co-author Alicia Bay Laurel which we mailed in 1973 or '74. Xavie would have been at least eighteen years old at the time, so I don't quite understand the "even as a child" remark. I found the coloring books very innocent, and since the publisher sold out the printing in regular book stores, I can't think many parents found them objectionable. However I can understand how the SOB, with its prudish and outmoded attitudes regarding the human body, might have found them objectionable. As to the remark about "occult literature," I can only think you are referring to "Being Of The Sun," a book I co-authored with Alicia (and published by Harper & Row) which contained a few quotes from Zen Buddhism, a translation of the Gayatri, a Hindu hymn to God which is perhaps the most ancient hymn known to man and traditionally used as a salute to the rising sun, and a series of songs and chants for the changing seasons and phases of the moon. If this in your eyes consisted of 'occult' literature, I can only feel sorrow for the clouding of your critical faculties, unless you are now in unity with the Pope who recently made some sort of narrow-minded remarks regarding Zen meditation. But hardly 'occult,' since Zen Buddhism is a recognized and respected world religion.
You write, "Can you in your heart find the grace to stop accusing Xavie, Sibyl (and the brothers and sisters) for something that you actually brought upon yourself?" How did I "bring on myself" the consistent refusal by the brotherhood to allow me to visit Xavie AS A CHILD? I emphasize 'as a child' because, once Xavie achieved her majority as an adult, of course she was free to either conform to the strict doctrines of the Bruderhof or be thrown out into a society about which she only had been told that it was evil and sinful.
I only feel sorry that the Bruderhof's stern and wrathful visage still terrified me to the point that I could not find the courage to insist on my legal rights as a father and force you to allow me to visit her during those first years. But I was so traumatized by my experiences at Woodcrest that whenever I phoned I always became very anxious. The truth is that I always considered those calls among the most unpleasant tasks in my life. Yet I felt my little girl calling out to me and tried to find a way through to her side.
Of course in any misunderstanding the fault never lies 100 percent with one of the parties. I should have been able to put aside the terror I felt at any renewed contact with the brotherhood and their shunning, judgmental, holier-than-thou attitudes. I should have brought a great deal more pressure to bear regarding childhood visits. But I always acquiesced whenever the solemn voice on the other end of the line said, "No, we think it's in Xavie's best interests that you don't see her." I'm speaking now especially of the years 1961-1966, when I came to the East Coast regularly every summer to visit my American mother and my sister. By the way, they also were refused visitation rights to Xavie, for which Tom recently asked forgiveness.
From 1967 through 1972 I did not visit the East Coast at all. I telephoned a few times, but these were ill-considered and distraught calls for which I recently apologized to Tom. Then in 1973 (or perhaps '74) I came East and was allowed a one-hour visit with Xavie after I insisted, after the usual refusal, saying that I felt she had been brainwashed. That was a wonderful moment, seeing her again in the diner in New Paltz. However she was on the verge of becoming a novice, and I could see her struggling with her delight at seeing me again and her realization that she had to 'toe the party line.' This tension put her in an unbearably painful position, and when she wrote later asking for no further contact, I drew back and only wrote occasionally, trying to find a delicate way to continue the relationship. But of course by then it was too late.
The only 'something' I 'brought on myself' was my emotional inability to spend the rest of my life as Sibyl's husband. The cutting and cruel remarks she made to me during the second preparation group made me realize that the healing of the relationship I had hoped for would never occur. Never once during the year and a half we were both at Woodcrest did I feel the slightest tenderness or softening of her stone-hard facade, even during the first preparation group. Sibyl would always remain 'Sibyl,' a unique character whom even Heini realized was 'different.' "Never expect Sibyl to be like other women," he told me. However, in the normal world, the break-up of a marriage does not cut the father off from further contact with his child. It is recognized that a child needs both parents, even if they are no longer together. Xavie desperately needed her father as a little girl, and it was a hateful and destructive thing the Bruderhof did to feel that their 'noble' witness to the sanctity of marriage came before the emotional needs of a little girl.
The last three paragraphs of your rebuttal do not address the main point, that of the brotherhood's purposeful punishing me for divorcing Sibyl by placing a wall around Xavie. I know as a certainty that Xavie's greatest desire as a little girl was to see her Daddy, even if only for a few visits every summer.
I cannot forgive what the brotherhood has yet to acknowledge as a cruel, heartless act against a defenseless child in their midst. What I would LIKE to hear from the brothers and sisters is a statement such as: "Yes, we now are beginning to realize what a terrible thing we did not to put Xavie's need for her father before our strict interpretation of Christian doctrine. All those childhood years without contact with you were a terrible burden for her to bear. We should have encouraged you to visit, even perhaps taken the initiative and phoned you with a kindly invitation, putting aside whatever moralistic attitudes on divorce we believe in. Sibyl or someone else should have sent you occasional reports on Xavie's progress in school and photos of her." But instead you treated me as if I was some kind of ogre or monster, a common criminal who would pollute the sanctity of Xavie's surroundings by my mere presence.
If I had been allowed contact with Xavie as a child, I have no doubt it would have healed the anguish from which we both suffered for many years because of the Bruderhof's unloving, pharisaic orthodoxies. It also would have created the possibility of a continuing relationship with her as an adult. And last but most important of all, I truly believe that she would be alive today.
As I was writing this letter, one came from Tom with a sentence that moved me very much because it is the closest any of you have come to a recognition of the terrible damage you have wrought: 'If we had been more concerned for you, we would have known that though you left her (Xavie), you could not leave her in your loving heart.' I very much appreciate Tom's words, although I would point out that I did not 'leave' Xavie. I was asked to leave Woodcrest and did so. The unbearable pressure I experienced during the second preparation group triggered a near-nervous breakdown, an anxiety attack which manifested as compulsive masturbation. I was asked to move to Evergreen, then to a job nearby. My choices at that point seemed either to request hospitalization in a mental institution or put enough physical distance between myself and the Bruderhof that my symptoms would subside. I chose the latter route, and indeed by the time I had been in San Francisco a few weeks I was able to function normally. I always felt very grateful for my body's 'ringing the alarm' before I made a serious mistake by continuing on into membership in such a repressive and totalitarian community and back into a marriage which had already caused me unbearable pain. But I DID NOT leave Xavie. I left Sibyl and the Bruderhof to save my sanity. In your eyes, one inevitably led to the other. From my own and the greater society's point of view, one event does not preclude the other. And to have crawled back to the brotherhood beating my breast just for the indescribable pleasure of continuing to live near my little girl would not have worked either, although I came very close to it a number of times. I even thought of trying to live nearby in a situation similar to the Geigers. From San Francisco I first wrote inviting Sibyl to meet with me and a psychotherapist I knew in Manhattan. The only response I received was from Duffy (I believe) saying that "outside of the Bruderhof you have no marriage with Sibyl." If that was the case, and inasmuch as the next letter from Woodcrest merely announced Sibyl's baptism into membership, I then felt I had no choice but to institute divorce proceedings and continue with my life.
I am determined not to make the same mistake with my grandchildren, Dorie and Gareth, and allow the Bruderhof to shame me out of a relationship with them. Hoping with you that the communities continue their ongoing interest in reconciliation.
Ramon: Since these letters I did receive an apology in person from the Domers and a request for forgiveness from Sibyl.

--------KIT Newsletter November 1990, Vol II #11 --------

The Second Biannual Report On The State of KIT
Every six months or so we sum up KIT's accomplishments and future goals. In terms of accomplishments, one of KIT's primary aims has been achieved, that of putting people in contact with one other. Between the sharing of addresses and the Friendly Crossways conference, KITfolk are in open correspondence and telephone contact. News updates travel quickly along the network, and sometimes we wonder if, in an odd sort of way, our success is not putting KIT out of business. Because the more we succeed in meeting this particular goal, the less need there is for people to write in to be heard.
However there still are many KIT readers who are fearful of listing their names and addresses, signing their letters or even of writing KIT at all. Some of this fear is justified, because some Bruderhof families have judged individual members in the wider community on the basis of their relationship to KIT. Yet at the same time we have Johann Christoph Arnold's assurance that those who post their addresses and write to KIT will not be punished or penalized in any way by the communities. Quoting Christoph in his reply to Tim Johnson (KIT II #8):
"I also want to reassure you, dear Tim, that no one has
been threatened by the community that if they associate
with KIT their visiting privileges will be revoked. I know
this is stated in KIT, but it is not true.""
Although Christoph speaks in the past tense, our concern is for the future. But we should take Christoph at his word, and those of you who have been in any way coerced or threatened should challenge your Bruderhof family members on their attitude and, if necessary, quote them Christoph's own words. It is, after all, a free society we live in. Even as editors of KIT, Ramon Sender and Charlie Lamar have been able to visit relatives at the communities without any problems or challenges.
There are other KIT readers whose fear may be merely a holdover from their time within the community and should be encouraged to let go of it. Let your feelings out, people! The Friendly Crossways meeting taught us all the healing power of sharing our stories. We at KIT want to encourage those of you who have yet to come forward to speak out. If anyone is penalized or criticized for their involvement in KIT, whether for listing an address or writing a letter, we certainly will bring their case directly to Christoph and the brotherhoods and demand an apology.
Another goal has been to initiate a dialog with the Bruderhof via KIT, and this goal has been only partially successful. After an initial flurry of responses, the Bruderhof correspondence slacked off. We have urged them to write, and there have been a select few brief replies to the Open Letter. One major reason for the lack of Bruderhof response is because our readers within the communities consist only of a limited number of the hierarchy. Another reason has been their insistence on dealing only with personal grievances and on a one-to-one basis. They are unwilling either to acknowledge KIT as a forum representing the disenfranchised Bruderhof ex-members and graduates or to deal with issues dealing with Bruderhof doctrine and ideology, or of general concern. No matter how often we point out that their insistence on a one-to-one puts the person with a grievance at a disadvantage (because it places the full weight of the brotherhoods against the sole individual), we never receive a satisfactory reply.
We would like to ask for help from all our readers in making sure KIT is a place where both the HSOB and KITfolk can listen to what each other's hearts are trying to say.
Anonymous: An open letter to Ramon Sender, and other writers of the filthy tabloid of lies known as KIT:
Your slanderous lies are quickly gaining you a reputation as one of the biggest liars of the century. Yes, you are probably dying to know who we are... but the joke is on you this time -- in the same spirit of openness that pervades your crazy publication, we are withholding our names. Your letter of September 1 was the most incredible, idiotic, pernicious, slanderous, and misdirected letter yet. You claim to spread the truth, but every word from your mouth is a LIE, and you know it damn well. While Heini Arnold lived his life in love, humility, purity, and undeserved suffering, you and others (Hans Zumpe, for example) have lived lives of shameless sin. You are an adulterer and you know it! Meanwhile, your former companion lives on at one of the communities, steadfast and faithful. (Let's see if you will publish this kind of "truth" in KIT -- remember that you have promised to publish every anonymous letter. Obviously, you won't print this one, you liar!) In your letters you slander and mock Heini and allude to his "mental instability." For a change, why don't you admit that it was those evil, wicked servants in Primavera, who along with an evil doctor whose name we aren't even going to utter, who poisoned Heini with bromides and effected a psychosis to remove him from his service and cut off his witness which was so badly needed. Nice job, you hypocrites! And why don't you write about how those wicked ones in Primavera starved Heini almost to death when he was in exclusion? You are a WIMP! Face up to the real truth and repent! It's never too late. Finally, you accuse us of child abuse. Unfortunately we recall how you deserted your own daughter Xaverie while she was yet a child. Now doesn't THAT classify as abuse? IN spite of your sin (that's right, SIN) Xaverie remained faithful to her death.
Do you realize that we actually pity you? You have got yourself into a real mess, you and your breed of liars, and you will never be at peace until you repent. Until that time, why not just hold off with all this garbage about "dialogue" and "openness" and "truth". You change the meaning of these words, just like Hitler and his Nazis did.
In conclusion, we ask you once more to own up and admit to the truth. We all make mistakes -- c'est la vie -- but you have made more than a few little blunders. And don't you ever, ever, ever dare to print blasphemous lies about Heini Arnold again! So long, Eyebrows!
KIT: A photocopy of the previous letter was mailed to Dick Domer along with the following from Ramon:
Dear Dick:
The enclosed anonymous letter was received Friday, October 5th, in the KIT mailbox. Because the individual or individuals claim to speak on behalf of the communities, we are bringing the letter to your attention. Upon analyzing the style and contents, we have a pretty good notion of whom the author may be.
We do not want the level of discourse in KIT to sink to such low levels of thinking, but we need your help in this regard. Of course we are entirely willing to publish this somewhat primitive communication unless a spokesman for the brotherhood specifically states that they do not wish to see it in print.
Regarding the anonymous writer's phrase on lines 17-18, page one, "remember that you have promised to publish every anonymous letter," we have made no such promise. We retain our editorial prerogatives, and should point out once again that everything published in KIT is not my own personal opinion. Apparently many people on the 'hofs still do not grasp that fact.
I keep hoping that a real dialogue can start between the communities and the KIT readership. Is this too much to hope for?
All the Best to you and Lois Ann. Please greet John, Margaret and Sibyl for me. It would be nice to have a word about how Dorie and Gareth are getting along. Sincerely, "Eyebrows" Sender <
Ramon: In a personal phone call, Dick Domer assured me that the Bruderhof had no knowledge of this letter and that the author, of course, did not speak for the community. Dick left it up to KIT whether to publish the letter or not. We publish it because we believe it to be genuine and expresses what some people in the communities feel.
Miriam Arnold Holmes: I was deeply pained by both Andreas Meier's reply to our Open Letter and by Kathy Mow's letters to Ramon as published in the last KIT edition. What both Andreas and Kathy don't seem to realize is that there are certain common standards of decency recognized in our society which, when violated, are dealt with through government agencies. This means that we who live in the "world" have an obligation to live by these standards and, when necessary, intervene when others do not. Andreas says "Could you please let us live our choice of life in peace." I think we all would gladly do that if we were assured that the standards of decency, which include freedom from emotional abuse, were followed in that choice of life. If my next-door neighbor abuses his children, I cannot in good conscience let him "live his choice of life in peace." No, I would have to intervene to protect innocent children. If that neighbor does not want to hear what I have to say, I am mandated by law to report that abuse to the authorities. The Bruderhof is not above the law.
Similarly, in the "world," there is an accepted standard of decency which mandates (except under extraordinary circumstances) that a father has the RIGHT to see his children after a divorce. I believe many states have laws which also give grandparents the right to see their grandchildren after a divorce. The Bruderhof violated that law, dear Kathy, and then, adding insult to injury, blames the victim (in this case Ramon) for their wrongdoing. This is simply not acceptable to me and I will continue to speak out whether the SOB likes it or not.
From Andreas' letter, I get the impression he believes that we KIT people are against them. Speaking for myself, I am not. They can live the way they want to until they turn blue in the face for all I care, BUT STOP ABUSING PEOPLE. If you don't understand what I am talking about, let's get a dialog going as suggested in our Friendly Crossways Open Letter. And by the way, the people who perpetrate abuse in the SOB are not all dead. And trying to resolve these issues on an individual bases ('man-to-man' -- what about us women?) has so far proven fruitless.
Miriam Arnold Holmes - An Excerpt from Her Life Story, 1959-1961:
We used to go to Woodcrest in the summer for a couple of weeks. We'd stay in Heini's and Annemarie's family. Now Annemarie was really really a very sweet, warm, nurturing person. She always took me in very warmly. She felt I needed a rest and always said, "You sleep as long as you want. Sleep in every morning". I'd get up whenever I pleased. She would have all the housemothers and the work distributors in there for their daily planning meetings. I would sit there and drink my coffee and eat my eggs, and listen to how they planned the day. And mostly what these women really discussed were very practical issues. This one was sick so they had to find a replacement for her as the Watch that day. This one wasn't feeling well and maybe needed a day at home to take care of the house. Or they would talk about what they would get on the shopping trip. They made lists as to what they would buy for different birthdays. That kind of stuff. I didn't find those meetings really that gossipy. They were very practical, nitty-gritty, nuts and bolts meetings.
However it was a very different story in the evening. After the brotherhood meeting or whatever went on that night we would all meet in Heini and Annemarie's living room. There would be all the Arnold children, Christoph, Roswith, Annali, Edith, Monali, Else and Dorli (Doris Greaves). Doris was in Heini and Annemarie's family to help out with the dishes and stuff. I guess she was their maid because Annemarie was always so busy. It was a privileged position, so Doris was privileged to come over in the evenings and sit in on these little pow-wows. Of course I was there, and that was where all the decisions were made. Everybody was talked about. So-and-so is nice, so-and-so is not nice. So-and-so was excluded and they would talk about them, saying, "Gee, they don't seem to be doing too good yet," or "They're doing much better." Then at the next brotherhood meeting suddenly so-and-so was invited back as they had decided. I remember them talking about Mike Brandes and how Mike had such a clear spirit. At the next brotherhood meeting Mike was appointed Witness Brother. They talked about various others, and woe to you if they talked poorly about you. I am sure they did about me later on, because I sure had holy hell to pay for something, I'm not sure what. In any case that is how it was with Heini and Annemarie's family.
At one point Annemarie asked me if I did not find it sort of hard that I wasn't going to college. All her kids who had graduated from high school were going.
"Wouldn't you like to go to college?" she asked.
"Sure, I'd love to go," I replied.
At least she acknowledged that I might be thinking about it. Because we were not allowed to say, 'Hey, I want to go to college!' You had to wait until somebody broached the subject with you. Nobody ever did with me, and of course I wanted to go to college.
Annemarie did bring it up, but it was almost like the first time that somebody acknowledged that this might be going through my head. That was good.
It was now 1961, the time of the big crisis in Primavera. In those days they let novices come to the brotherhood meetings. I wasn't a baptized member, but I was a novice. So I experienced the crisis in Paraguay from that perspective. A lot of people from Oak Lake went down to Primavera and when they came back, somebody else would go down. Gerhard Wegener, Art and Mary Wiser, Mark and Peggy Kurtz, Howard and Marian Johnson went down, and of course Heini was always the talk of the brotherhood. It was a pretty big deal what happened in Primavera. It was taken very seriously. The report we heard was that the brotherhood in Primavera was completely off the track, that it had to be dissolved, and that a lot of people were living in an evil spirit so they had to be sent away. Heini was always reported as the poor, suffering, all-enduring, all-loving leader who had to be taken care of because he was not well and he bore so much. The evil powers of course attacked him more that anything else down in Paraguay, and they had to send people away.
Now it just so happened that the people who were not sent away were the ones who were old-timers, people who had joined in Sannerz and the Rhon bruderhofs, and their children. The younger generation of these old-timers were the good guys. The bad guys were the people who had joined in Wheathill, the Cotswolds even, and people who had joined in Paraguay. They were all discarded, although no specific charges were mentioned. It was basically said that the bad guys were against the Arnolds in the '40s, and wanted to rid the bruderhof of any remnants of Eberhard Arnold. These people had decided that Eberhard was an emotional romantic who shouldn't be taken seriously. They were more humanitarian than Christian. Jesus Christ wasn't as important as he ought to be in their lives. And Heini knew exactly who had been kicked out. I know he called the shots. I don't care how much Merrill Mow said that it was the overeager Americans. I can guarantee everybody that Heini was consulted about every last one of them. He knew exactly what was going on and who was being sent away. This pathetic "poor me" stuff, "I suffered because of all the people being sent away," that is a lot of bull crap. He knew exactly what he was doing.
For the life of me, I cannot figure out what he had against British people. Even in his letter to Christoph in the second edition of Torches Rekindled he speaks about the English people as if being English was like having some kind of disease. I can't figure that out. Germany and England haven't gotten along all that well through the centuries. They fought two world wars against each other. Maybe Heini was just prejudiced against the British. It was really weird.
I remember how we in the brotherhood, and I have to include myself, although of course what was reported to us was very very very twisted from what I found out later, we really truly believed that we were fighting for the very life of the Kingdom of God on earth, and that all these people that had to be sent away were on the side of Satan. We even sang a Hebrew song in the choir in those days when we had Love Meals for people who came back from Paraguay or when we were sending somebody to Primavera. It started out with some Hebrew text which I forget, but the chorus in English said, "Let the evil powers work against us. Let untruths be spoken about us. They shall not harm us. They all shall be scattered. For God is with us!" I have the feeling that is what they are saying about KIT nowadays. The same kind of thing. "There's the evil spirit fighting against us". Really a very bizarre, cultish attitude that was coming up in those days which I can't ever remember in Primavera. Maybe there was, I don't know. But I think it was definitely a Heini phenomenon. Heini turned the Bruderhof into a cult.
Now this is my opinion about Heini and what happened. I experienced that crisis from the inside, and I remember the feel of it. I remember the intensity of the emotions of the brotherhood and of the people who were sent down to Paraguay, the zeal, the real zeal to purify and to protect Heini, to admire Heini and put him on a pedestal. I must admit I bought it at the time. I was totally caught up in the whole thing. It is really scary when I think about it now that I could actually fall for something like that. Now I have to be clear, though, that I had never been on the outside of the Bruderhof except for the year at high school which really didn't count. So the Bruderhof was all I knew except what I had read in books and so forth. But those were very very very shaking times. It's very true. But the way I see it now, it was a really really cult thing which can be extremely dangerous if it is carried any further than that. And I think it was very dangerous in the sense that so many people were so deeply, deeply hurt by this horrible experience. Like I said, there were no specific charges against anybody. It was all 'atmosphere' stuff. And that is so nebulous. Nobody can defend themselves against these kind of charges. If somebody says to you 'You have a bad spirit,' or "You don't have the right spirit," you cannot reply "Yes I do." Then they would say, "See, you do!" You can't win when you're accused in this way. You really have no defenses which is why it is so insidious! It's so disgusting to me now!
A little before this big, big crisis in Primavera, we had taken in a lot of people from the Evergreen community because they closed Evergreen down. It was nice to have some new blood come to Oak Lake. Besides the crisis, of course the regular life went on. I continued working with the children, and was very active in the youth group. We did an awful lot of rehearsing and singing. At the drop of a hat we would say, "Okay, let's sing a part of a Bach cantata at the Love Meal." Some of us girls would get together and rehearse a Bach cantata and we would go and sing it. When there was an engagement, we sang a lot of Hebrides love songs. Even Paraguayan love songs we used to sing in the dining room. So we were always busy preparing something for the whole community. It got to a point where I was so exhausted taking care of ten two-year-olds and being the Watch and doing the dishes and doing extra work in the evening. When a mother went into the hospital to have a baby and then stayed in the mother house for 6 weeks, who would take care of her children? Us single girls. It seemed like I was always taking care of someone else's children! The Gneiting children, Mike and Shirley Brandes's, and they had some babies who cried all night long! I had to get up every two hours and hand them a bottle of Kool-Aid or something. That's the way they were trained. Then I had to get up in the morning and take the two-year-olds. If I got eight hours rest I was lucky. I usually didn't. It was one thing after another, tremendously hard work. If somebody approached you and asked you to do a job, you certainly couldn't say no. As I said before, the word 'no' did not exist in our vocabulary. It was always 'yes, gladly,' with a smile on your face, even though you were so exhausted that you felt like you wanted to drop. Thank God my back came to my rescue. I developed these awful lower back pains, and I couldn't get out of bed. I don't think there was a damn thing wrong with my back. I just needed the rest. So I stayed in bed for two weeks. That is how hard they worked us. It was incredible!
In those days they were sending a lot of the young people to Woodcrest. Woodcrest was always the place to be. That is where the real true spirit was. We in Oak Lake always felt a little bit like second-class citizens compared to the people at Woodcrest. Woodcrest was where "it was at," whatever "it" was, probably because Heini exuded some kind of holy spirit which spread all over Woodcrest. But it didn't quite make it to Oak Lake somehow. So we always felt a little inferior to Woodcrest. A lot of youth groups used to go to Woodcrest for this and that. That was the thing to do. And while you were there, maybe you would catch a little bit of that wonderful spirit. You felt a little more whole than you did just living in Oak Lake.
So this went on, and then of course the decision was made to bring everybody up from Primavera, and that was pretty exciting too. My father and mother came back from England around the end of 1961, I think. I really don't know what my father's position was. Mark Kurtz was the servant, and I don't know if my father was supposed to help him. I can't for the life of me remember what he did. But they did come back and Heidi went to high school. She was very traumatized by that experience. She felt very alienated from the highschoolers. She would just home and lie on the bed and cry and cry. She was one of those teenagers who couldn't verbalize her feelings. It was very frustrating to see her so upset and not able to do anything about it. I really wanted to help her out but she wouldn't talk to me.
-----------Book Review----------
Quotes from "Facing Shame, Families In Recovery" by Merle A. Fossum and Marilyn J. Mason, W.W. Norton, New York, 1986
We distinguish between the terms 'guilt' and 'shame.' Guilt is the developmentally more mature, though painful, feeling of regret one has about behavior that has violated a personal value. It emanates from an integrated conscience and set of values. It is the reflection of an integrated self. A person with guilt might say, "I feel awful seeing that I did something which violated my values." Or the guilty person might say "I feel sorry about the consequences of my behavior." In so doing, the person's values are affirmed. The possibility of repair exists and learning and growth are promoted. While guilt is a painful feeling of regret and responsibility for one's actions, shame is a painful feeling about oneself as a person. The possibility of repair seems foreclosed to the shameful person because shame is a matter of identity, not a behavioral infraction. There is nothing to be learned from it and no growth is opened by the experience because it only affirms one's negative feelings about oneself.
For many people shame exists passively without a name, Its origins are in identity development or in the premises of 'who I am.'
P. 19: A shame-bound family is a group of people all of whom feel alone together. To the individuals in the family, shame feels unique and lonely... The family system in which relationships are bound up in shame tends to demand that experience and people be judged on a goodness-badness scale. Within the family secrecy is rampant and relationships are thin and brittle.
The shame-bound family is fixed in its form and highly resistant to change, even though change is a natural fact of life...
The shame-bound family is perfectionistic. The absoluteness of perfectionism does not provide for repair. There are only two categories for people: perfect and imperfect... The important point to notice here is that within this system there is no way back, no repair available or relevant. A strike against you is a strike against you forever. Within this system, mistakes can be brought up to a person years after they were committed.
Respectful and Shame-Bound Systems
Respectful Systems Shame-Bound Systems
Violation of values Violation of person
leads to guilt leads to shame
Self is separate & part Self has vague
of a larger system personal boundaries
Rules require Rules require
accountability perfectionism
Relationship is Relationship always
dialogue in jeopardy
Produce individuals with:
accountability, repair more shame,
resolution despair
deepening and modi- increasing rigidity
fication of values
growing empathy alienation & distance
growth of self as a development of an
whole person image and of control
Christoph Arnold: Woodcrest, 11/5/90
Dear Ramon and KIT readers, On behalf of all our communities, we greet every one of you with very much love, thinking of the coming Advent and Christmas weeks which is such a special time in our communities.
Verena and I, Chris and Else were very thankful for the meetings which we had in San Francisco with Ramon and Judy, Charles Lamar, and Dave Ostrom Jr. One of the reasons we went to San Francisco was to attend a medical conference on thyroid disease, thanks to a letter from Art Rosenblum asking us to be more diet conscious. We are glad to inform you that this conference really stressed this, and those of us on our medical staff who attended the conference felt very enriched by it.
Now Ramon and Charlie made some notes which, I understand, will be printed in the December issue. They were kind enough to present us with a copy of these notes. Of course we did not come to any agreement, because we did not have the authority from the Brotherhood. We mainly came to listen, and to show the love of the Brotherhoods. In actual fact, while we were meeting on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, all the Brotherhoods in the 8 communities were meeting jointly, and were praying to God that the barriers between us should really fall, and that the bond of love, reconciliation, and forgiveness should unite us.
We were joyfully surprised that the many concerns which the KIT staff brought up were actually the same concerns my father and I always represented. For example, prudishness about sex; to have respect before all people and how Christ works in them. We completely agree that spirituality can never be forced under any circumstances. We also want our children to grow up and be able to process different facts and opinions.
Sad to say, many of the concerns expressed in KIT had been represented by brothers and sisters who left in 1961. So I invite every one of you to come and visit our communities to see yourself how much actually we have in common.
I have another suggestion to make. Ramon and Charles expressed the wish that the Bruderhof shows a true adult Anabaptist witness. This we try to do. I know we fail, but we are trying. It would be great if Ramon and Judy, and Charles themselves would start an Anabaptist community with all the KIT readers who want to join, to give us an example what a true Anabaptist community should be like. We would not be too proud to learn from you. This might be even a better idea than having a Bruderhof house in New York or Pittsburgh. In the real longing that this will open up a new relationship with every one of you, we greet you with very much love. On behalf of all Brotherhoods your Johann Christoph Arnold
P.S. No one is forbidden to read or write to KIT, or to meet with others in whatever way they wish. (our emphasis - KIT)
Ramon 11/7/9 Dear Christoph: Thank you so much for your report for KIT. It expresses very well the brotherhoods' longing for a new relationship. I was especially glad to have the brotherhoods' statement that no one is forbidden to read or write to KIT or meet with others in whatever way they wish. That I think will put to rest many fears.
Whether or not a Bruderhof house is a practical idea, I still think you might consider a 'halfway house' idea for families or individuals leaving the communities. The change is very traumatic, especially for those who have never lived in the wider community before. I think it would be a loving thing if there was a place where the rent was paid, meals were provided, counselling services by some outside agencies were available including career and job counselling.
I know that there is a tendency for the b'hof to hope that the exit experience WILL be so traumatic that it will force a change of heart in the individual. This, I think, has to be thought through, because it implies that the community feels its way of life superior to any other and that of course anyone "in his right mind" would choose to return. But this assumption leads to not anticipating the real need of the exiting person to be placed in a position where he/she can make an informed decision without any pressure. A truly loving attitude would make the person/ family as comfortable and unstressed as possible (in an obviously stressful situation). And curiously, the more you "let go" of any type of 'hidden' coercion of this sort, the more trust would remain and the better the relationship.
I must ask again regarding Christoph's remark about how at Wheathill during the big crisis (1948?) "There was a demon behind every bush." Was this meant to show how paranoid and fearful a community can become or as a statement of fact? I sincerely hope that the HB is moving away from the sort of "Boogyman" mentality which a morbid fascination with demonic possession and 'evil spirits' inspires. I woke up the other morning (after our first meeting) thinking "Repression (of feelings) plus Obsession (compulsive, repetitious cycling behavior) leads to Possession (hysterical, uncontrolled outbursts)." I think a great deal of work has been done with these mental states since Blumhardt's amazing experience. We know a great deal more about the brain and the emotions.
Above and beyond the insights science has acquired, there also remains the fact that belief in a personified Devil and demons which can invade a person's mind is not a healthy paradigm. It inevitably leads to the sorts of crises, both personal and communal, which the bruderhof has suffered so many times in the past. I would most humbly beg you to review your attitudes regarding this important issue. I think it is much more positive to think of evil as just a slower-evolving good than as some sort of sinister, demonic energy which must be extirpated surgically from the human soul.
Needless to say, these opinions are my own and do not necessarily represent those of other KITfolk. Indeed, every time KIT readers write in, they are speaking in their own voices, expressing and sharing their own memories and opinions. (There is no standard party line in KIT).
I feel very grateful for the opening of a dialog on these issues, and hope they can continue in an atmosphere of mutual seeking for the truth. On the other hand, we received as recently as yesterday a letter describing KIT as waging "a hate campaign" against the communities. But the only campaign we are waging is for the right of everyone's voice to he heard. Enough for now. More later
Miriam Arnold Holmes Nov 16, 1990: Responding to the anonymous 'eyebrows' letter in KIT II #10, I would just like to tell the author one thing in regards to the "blasphemous lies about Heini" part. I looked up "blasphemous" in Webster's and it means "impiously irreverent or reproachful toward God." Now if I remember my Morgenstunde lessons correctly, Moses' first commandment says that we should have but ONE God. Does this then mean that to the writer of that letter Heini is that God? Or does he have more than one God? Or maybe he's just ignorant and misused the word.
Loy McWhirter 10/31/90: Yesterday on the way to therapy I got this card from the SOB with an SOB regimental, saccharine baby Jesus on the cover. I take it to be a covert, direct response to my article being in KIT, to reinforce the fear and isolation expressed by my words. Usually Bruce intercepts these things, but he missed this one. I had an extreme reaction and shut down severely - triggers of the programming to die, in these words, before you speak the truth. Here are the words they wrote:
"Advent and Christmas 1990: Dear Loy, warm greetings for Advent and Christmas Time. In this dark, cold world which seems to be on the brink of war, how much we need the Spirit of Christmas to break in - that Jesus may come and touch all our lives with his loving and uniting power. In this sense we want to send our warmest greetings. May you have a joyful and blessed Christmas. Much love from Sara King from all at the Woodcrest B'hof."
This is what I respond with: "Attention Bruderhof hierarchy, in response to your bogus 'warm' Advent and Christmas greetings using Sara King as your current device to get thru to me. The war the world is on the brink of, that you can and must do something about, is inside of yourselves & within your closed communities. I am a casualty of those wars. There are many others besides me. You have sacrificed your children and my childhood for your narrow, invasive 'beliefs.' I have told you plainly, and so have many others who suffered under your systems, what you can do to redeem yourselves and heal the torment you have caused and are accountable to. Until you do so I do not forgive you, and I do not believe your God or Jesus will forgive you. I know what you have done. Those of us who survived and are struggling to heal are witnesses to your weakly disguised treachery. Your words are empty gestures. Your saccharine images are self-delusions. We will not give up. We will not go away."
Name Withheld: Tom Potts writes in the October KIT letter: "Church discipline is voluntary AND MUST BE ASKED FOR." Well, I did not ask for it. Several days before I was excluded, the brotherhood decided with Heini present that I should be excluded. I had no knowledge of what was being decided. The next day I was called into the austere presence of the servants and informed that I was to be excluded, and that in the meeting I would be asked, "Do you ask for this exclusion?" I could not have been more astonished! I felt like a trapped animal. I was told to wait outside until I was called into the meeting at which time I was to "ask for exclusion." So where does the voluntary asking come in?!! And once you are in exclusion, it is almost impossible for you to get out. The servants pester you with questions as to other sins you might have committed or perhaps thought of. There is "no rest for the wicked."
Even today, if you wish to return to the community, you first have to ASK to go into the great exclusion. Now where is the voluntary asking?!! Is it right to feel like an animal held at bay or as if a gun is being held to your head? That is how I and many others have felt. I'm sorry to shatter Tom Potts' rosy description of what and how exclusion works. I have very little patience with such nonsense. The servants in their extra little meetings decide who is excluded and who is included again. All the so-called brotherhood does is rubber-stamp it all. Whatever anyone says. it is all colored by what the hierarchy has decided. It would never be possible for us to return and subject ourselves to all the pain and sorrow again.
John G. Arnold, Oct 26, 1990 Excerpts from an Article: Without a hearing or even a talk I was evicted and condemned by the Bulstrode Brotherhood. The accusation were all false. How was this possible? I was sent to a good psychiatrist who said that I was quite normal. There had been no sex in my life whatsoever. Two single girls liked me and followed me around. I shared this. Is this the reason why I got kicked out? I had not even said a word to any of the girls. I was accused of chasing after sisters.
Once I visited Don Noble in his office. He asked me to write all my confessions on paper. This was used to get rid of me. It was a very tense time and all members experienced some silly thoughts. When living in Birmingham, Doug Moody used these records to condemn me too. If he had any love, he would have seen me.
Records Of The Leaders: Hans-Hermann Arnold, my father and Ullu Keiderling were leading Bulstrode. Hans Zumpe kept all private correspondence including Eberhard's letters locked in a vault. Harry Magee and I were asked to burn all correspondence of the two elders Hans Zumpe and Balz Trumpi. True history was burned, about 50 Kilos of letters (all about Primavera and Wheathill). Here we found also the most important and controversial letters of Eberhard. His letters from America in the early 'thirties to Emmy explaining his ups and down with the Hutterites. Eberhard had been very concerned about Hans Zumpe. He could not understand the cold nature of his attitude. He hardly wrote and Opa felt no help.
In 1961/62 Hans-Hermann Arnold was Servant in Bulstrode. Shortly after we read some of Eberhard's letters, Heini, Don Noble and Mark Kurtz came from America. Hans- Hermann and my father were disqualified and sent to America. In my last brotherhood meeting as a full member, Heini said that all of my father's life went wrong. He achieved total control. Now he had also captured and could do as he pleased with Eberhard's letters. Hans-Hermann and Gertrud were sent out for three years, and my mother and father for a long time too. Did this have anything to do with Eberhard's letters?
In conclusion I would like to say:
Loy McWhirter: The Child's-Eye View of The 'Emperor's New Clothes' and Its Effects 11/12/90: In the bruderhof, if you have something or are someone, they hide it and take it away or destroy it. You learn not to be connected so that you won't have to lose or give up anything more than you already have. You learn to operate on remote control/automatic. You don't want to feel any connection because it is too much to feel connection and have to give it up AGAIN. It's too much to feel connection and caring need or desire for anything or anyone or any part of yourself, always knowing that it will be taken away. You give up. Your feeling- connection is your sense of self. You give it up. You give up on it because you know from experience that they will tear you apart to find it, and they WILL find it, and then they will destroy it or take it away and make it their own. Search and destroy. The 'secret police' of the bruderhof. It could be anyone. They take away your things and yourself. They say you will not need it. They will provide things and self, provide for your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. But they leave you to starve to death. You die. Your self dies. What you are and might have become as a human being dies. They say, "No loss. You will live in the kingdom of heaven Hall of Fame where you will go BECAUSE you are selfless, having given up yourself to our higher good." They will resurrect it and put it to some useful purpose for their ant hill kingdom of heaven on earth. They say, "You can live without it and what we have is worth more and it can be yours as well." But you cannot live without your body, heart, mind and soul. And what they have is empty words and it will never be yours, no matter HOW empty you try to become to be filled by them, because you are no one and nowhere left to fill and they are empty of body, CLOSED hard of heart, NARROW, small of mind and dry of spirit. They give you nothing in return for what they steal and who they kill of you, because they have nothing to give and they are nothing but fabrications built after an ideal that has no human grounding and has sold its soul for power. It is a stillborn hybrid fantasy that they offer you in place of your loss. You learn not to have to be anything but the most superficial surface you must present to them so they will see you are nothing and think you are "FINE," no trouble at all, not dangerous, and won't come after you. Only then will they not mess with you because you're "FINE." IF you do this long enough you lose the ability to know you are anything else. It is all you experience yourself to be -- the surface that is "FINE." You come to believe that is what you are. And that surface is all they respond to. This is the Adjusted Child that becomes a remote- controlled grown-up. You are the remote. They are the control -- The SOB "elders."
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