The Best of The Best of KIT 1994

From January thru December,1994

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.
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.
This collection skims the Best of KIT 1994 file, which is derived from The 1994 Annual, to create a Best of the Best of KIT 1994. We understand that the sheer volume of articles and letters available can overwhelm the casual browser, and so we offer in this manner a sampling of the most interesting and informative.

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------------KIT Newsletter, January 1994 Vol. VI #1------------

Barbara Taylor Snipes, 11/15/93: ...Although I have never been a member of the Society of Brothers, I feel as though I have suffered the loss of my two sisters, Pepper Taylor Hinkey and Peggy Taylor Kurtz. My parents Howard and May Taylor (now deceased) suffered even more grievously, because of the attitudes of the Society of Brothers.
I have been alternately surprised and horrified by the stories in the KIT Newsletter. They are emotionally wrenching and have called out my experience, which although mild by comparison, is still painfully my own.... When Pep and Wendell Hinkey, and Peggy and Mark Kurtz, decided to join the Bruderhof in the early 1950's, I was pleased. They would be geographically closer at Woodcrest, and we could visit more often. And visit we did! We made frequent trips to Woodcrest, and they would come to our farm and nursery where I still live with my husband, Samuel Snipes.... We had expected -- assumed perhaps, that we would be included in Pepper's and Peggy's lives when they joined the Society of Brothers, as we always had been. We were full of questions and enthusiasm for their new life and felt very supportive.... It soon became evident, however, that we were not included. Their children were no longer allowed to visit us, because our normal farm lifestyle would create "needs," e.g. clothing, toys, recreation, that would conflict with the Bruderhof patterns of living. My parents' pictures on their walls were replaced by the Arnolds', reading material was restricted, and presents were no longer acceptable. My visits with my mother to Woodcrest were strained. We had to ask all the questions.
Once I was sent on a walk with Jane Clement and she told me there were some questions that simply were not to be asked. I felt (and still feel) confused and unaccepted by them. Jane was now a sister, and I was excluded. How am I to understand this? My sisters were no longer interested in the development of my children or in my growth as I tried to be a spiritually led person. In one of my trips to Woodcrest, I was told not to come on the property. Pep had to come out to a diner to meet us because I was accompanied by her daughter, Carol, who had been asked to leave, or "kicked out", and not allowed in, even to visit.
She, (Carol) had not apologized, to Heini Arnold's satisfaction, for having some ideas of her own. My heart still bleeds for this young woman who, by following her leadings, has been rejected by her mother. By "rejected" I mean that Pepper does not seem interested in her daughter's opinions, her career choice, her successes and concerns, her marriage. I believe that we have a lifelong need for sensitive, attentive mothering -- the kind that values us as persons, no matter what! Certainly we had that love demonstrated in abundance by our mother, May Taylor. She cared about us and respected our choices, no matter how different they might be from hers.
Pep's daughter carries the life-long pain of not being accepted. She is somehow bad or wrong in the eyes of the Community and that means bad or wrong in the eyes of her mother. I keep thinking how a loving community that follows Jesus' example would gather up daughters by birth and little sisters by blood (me), by reaching out, forgiving, and taking an interest in our lives. What I want from my sisters is the kind of equal give-and-take that I have with my Quaker friends. I long for some sharing of life experiences with my only living siblings. We have lost our parents, two brothers and a sister through death, and those of us remaining should be able to enjoy stories of our childhood, our roots, our spiritual growth and insights. We had the same parents, the same environment. We share many similarities. We even look alike! I feel very sad about the loss of Pep's and Peggy's companionship. I realize, along with other KIT correspondents, that it's too late, the rift is too great. There is something in the pledge of faithfulness to their God and community that excludes the rest of us.
I'm grateful to KIT for this opportunity to express my pain. As time goes on, and I get older and perhaps wiser, I realize more clearly that what matters most in life is love of God and loving relationships between people. Signed pledges or vows to believe certain things seem unimportant if they stand in the way of caring relationships with daughters and sons, siblings, and parents, or the loved ones of one's youth, and of course those close by. A relational attitude toward the world seems important to me. Surely a loving community would reach out to folks of divergent faiths and viewpoints and would respect and value differences. I'm wondering if those of us on the outside are carrying the dark side (the 'shadow,' or the negative energy ) for those in the Society of Brothers. Are we the scapegoats for the insiders who supposedly believe the same way, act the same way, and follow the leadership of those in power? Are they unable to recognize that this repressive, exclusionary way of life is in itself a sin against God and against those that are not allowed to visit or express different points of view? Could it possibly be loving to refuse to shake hands? Elizabeth Bohlken Zumpe, 10/22/93: Dear "Vetter" Johann Christoph! I feel a deep urge to write to you and want to ask you to read this letter carefully and try to understand the spirit in which it was written. This world is rapidly rolling towards its end, and it is up to every individual to take full responsibility for everything that is going on in our lives, but also for those trusted to our care before the Almighty God! Our Grandfather, Christoph, was a very learned man and knew all about the theological and philosophical ways men try to make their lives work out fulfillingly and happily -- but he chose a different and very unconventional way --THE WAY OF TRUE BROTHERHOOD FOR ALL MEN!...
WHAT HAS NOW BECOME OF THIS LIFE AND VISION?? Look at it honestly, Christoph, and you will see and feel that somewhere along the line something went completely and totally wrong! Now longer is this life a life of joy. No, it has become a burden to everyone who tries to be loyal to his and her vows!... From the Hutterites came this "Order of excluding members", and the first time this was used by my father and Georg Barth, when a group of some 8 men and Dorli were sent away in Paraguay for "gossiping amongst themselves and reaching out for personal power in the hierarchy of the Bruderhof life." My father regretted this deeply many years later when he realized that it had caused bitterness in your father's heart and that as a result he sent some 613 men, women and children away without a penny under shocking circumstances! But here again, we should not judge but rather learn from this for our lives and our future! I do feel, that with the beginning in Woodcrest and the absolute adoration of your father, something went rotten... Christoph, what has gone so wrong that you send away your family, accuse 15-year-old Bruderhof children of being WHORES and PROSTITUTES?? As true Bruderhof children, they hardly know the meaning of those words! How is it possible that a fifteen-year-old girl runs away at night in utter distress with the only answer to commit suicide? Where is the love that should hold such a child in security? I feel that the evil powers took hold of the community and are now destroying all that was left after the big destruction of the 1960s. It is like under the Communists or the Nazis: the little man is obeying the orders of their leader! This has nothing to do with God or with Christianity! It is power and power alone that makes you do all these things that you would not have dreamed of as a young man! Why do men always want a leader-FUHRER? I know, it's the group that has forced you into this position, but Christoph, try and humble yourself before God and everything will turn out alright...
I have to write this letter, because in my heart, Christoph, I have always loved you from the day you were born, which I remember well. Your father was so proud to have a son and a daughter, and I was so often in your family, as my mother had open TB. With this I greet you and wish you the wisdom of heart and mind and the faith that can move mountains that pile up before us.
Nadine Moonje Pleil, 5/93: Augusto's parents, Otto and Dora Pleil, were sent away from Primavera in 1960. Karl Keiderling, Bud Mercer and Christoph Boller were instrumental in sending them away. Otto and Dora were told to leave before the "Great Crisis" and exodus from Primavera occurred. Augusto and I with our three oldest children were living in Wheathill when we received a letter from Otto telling us that they had been kicked out with their youngest son, Arthur, who was in his teens. The reason given was that Arthur was not toeing the line and apparently had sold a guitar to a Paraguayan boy and kept the money.
Otto and Dora were called into the Servants' hut and told to pack. Within three hours they had to be ready to leave on the old English army truck that we had obtained through Wheathill. Their son Adolf had to drive them to Puerto Rosario where they were to take the river steamer to Asuncion. Their daughter Juanita wanted to help her parents pack and asked the housemothers if she could have a few coat hangers for them. She as told not to give her parents any coat hangers, nor to help then in any way. She was hardly allowed to say good-bye to them. We in England had no idea whatsoever of what had occurred.
Otto and Dora had been told to go to Bruderhof House in Asuncion, that they could stay there and people would help them find a place to live and a job. Now, mark my words, Otto was 70 years old at the time, well past retirement age, and Dora 57. In addition he had a heart condition that had not improved over the years. They arrived in front of Bruderhof House thoroughly soaked in a downpour. Otto knocked on the door. When someone answered it, he asked if they could come inside. They were not invited in! Otto and Dora had to stand in the rain and state their business. They were told that there was no room for them there and that they should find other lodgings. Unbelievable! Two elderly people and a sixteen-year- old boy abandoned on the street! They felt totally at a loss about where to go and what to do.
They walked in the street for a while and finally met a Paraguayan man who said they could spend the night in his house. They gratefully accepted. The next day they went to the Colonia Independencia where Max Meier lived, an acquaintance of the Primaverans. They knew that Max had a farm and asked him for work. Max was astonished, but gave them a job as caretakers, which meant that both Otto and Dora had to work very hard. Max was very upset about Otto and Dora appearing out of nowhere, so he went to Asuncion to talk to the Bruderhof people. He told them that they could not impose on him like that. The Bruderhof had nothing better to say than that the Pleils had not adhered to their rules and that he should feel free to work the old couple hard. Everything had been going well for them until Max talked to the Primaverans. When he returned, he told Otto and Dora that they were being punished by the Bruderhof and he was going to work them hard, which he did.
During this time, Dora began to suffer from some eye trouble. She needed eye surgery, but they could not afford the operation. One day before Primavera was completely evacuated and sold, Christoph Boller arrived, perhaps accompanied by one of the American brothers. Christoph realized that Dora needed an operation, but said nothing and also did not tell the American brothers nor the Primaverans. Later he admitted to us that he deliberately did this. The result was that Dora went blind. There was enough money to move people to England and the States, but nothing was available for saving Dora's eyesight.
All this we heard about very much later. We had no idea what our parents were suffering at the time. Arthur, their son, had to watch all this happening. He felt helpless because he had no money he could offer. Later, during the evacuation and sale of the South American communities, Otto and Dora were told to pack and get ready to move to Germany. They were to go to Hamburg. I don't know if the Bruderhof paid for their trip or if they had to. In any case, Arno Martin and Augusto were sent from Bulstrode to Hamburg to meet them and find them a place to live. They were put in temporary lodgings and later were told off because Georg Barth, who visited them in Hamburg, said that the place was not suitable. There had been nothing else available at the time!
Otto found a job and they remained in Hamburg for a while before moving to a village called Feuerthal. Dora was unaccustomed to such drizzly, cold weather and felt very unhappy. Since one of their sons lived in Colombia, they decided to return to South America. They very hesitantly asked the Bruderhof in the U.S. to contribute towards the fare, and the Evergreen community sent them $500. We were living in the States by then. Karl Keiderling came to Wheathill with the American brothers and tried to defend himself as to why he had sent the Pleil parents away. All his excuses did not convince us. We were absolutely staggered by how they had been treated at their advanced ages! Again I must ask, was this all done 'out of love,' simply out of love? Nobody will ever convince me that what was done not only to the Pleil parents but to so many hundreds of others was done out of love. How on earth can the Bruderhof mouth the word 'love' and do such terrible things? We were totally devastated by what happened, and yet we felt helpless. We could do nothing whatsoever to help our poor parents!
Our father Otto died in Colombia of cancer in 1969, when our son Raymond was a year old. Later our mother Dora died in 1990 in Florida. She lived with her son Carlos, with her married daughter Else nearby. When we wrote to tell the Bruderhof that our dear mother had passed away, only one person wrote to us and showed some feeling and said what Dora had meant to them. It made me feel very sad. Did Dora's dedication and years of sacrifice mean so little to them? Was all that she gave of herself of no consequence? My heart felt very heavy and burdened by the thought of how the Pleils were despised. Not even after their deaths could the commune react and perhaps show a little sign of love to Dora's children. It was very sad, to say the least. I keep asking myself over and over, "Did Otto and Dora mean so little to the commune?"
I close by saying that I, as their daughter-in-law, was taken into the bosom of their family, loved and treated with respect. To this day I am thankful for how they accepted me. I will never forget how Augusto's parents reached out to me.
Dear KITfolk: We are long overdue for another of KIT's Biannual Reports (the last one was in 1992!). Amazingly, we are now in our sixth year of monthly newsletters, this one being our forty- eighth issue. So much has happened, especially in the way of personal healing, of reconnections between family members and old friends, of various kinds of networks and emotional, financial, geographical support groups, that it is hard to encompass it all except to say, in one word, WOW! Obviously KIT was a project whose time had come.
On the minus side of the equation, the Bruderhof leaders remain terrified of KIT, and have thoroughly demonized us. Christoph Arnold probably is the only one who reads KIT and then passes on to the membership whatever items paint us in the worst possible light. His original promise that reading or writing to KIT would not jeopardize visiting privileges long since has been shown up as a hypocritical lie, with more and more pressure put on the children of Bruderhof members to choose between their KIT loyalties and their family visits (with the families always insisting that "This is not coming from Christoph.") The denial of visiting rights has become more widespread in the last few months, as if the more unstable Christoph's leadership becomes, the more he needs to scapegoat KIT. Perhaps it is time to list by name those individuals whose visiting privileges have been withdrawn and wish to make their plight public. Or plan again, this time in a non-April-Fool manner, on picketing Woodcrest's front gate with CBS television crews present.
One ray of light is that there are still a few KITfolk whose family contacts are continuing to the mutual benefit of both sides, despite pressures to the contrary. If only this could be true for everyone!
Also the constant dunning of 'collegers' whom Christoph feels owe the Bruderhof their college tuition remains another outrageous demand. Threats include, once again, the withdrawal of visiting privileges until the loans have been paid as well as the B'hof's threat to go to court to force the young person to pay up. In the view of KIT staff, since parents must hand over all their private property to the Bruderhof, the Bruderhof then stands "in loco parentis" in terms of the children's medical and educational needs. Since it is standard practice for American families to assume the financial responsibility for their children's higher education, it then follows that the Bruderhof must do the same. This consistent poor-mouthing by an organization that extracted over a million dollars from Pittsburgh foundations in 1993 and whose Elder pays as much attention to his stock portfolio as to the spiritual needs of his followers, seems extremely hypocritical -- dare we say, 'unchristian' in the extreme? 'Unchristian' somehow seems a poor choice of words, since it leaves out all other ethical codes. Unmoorish? Unhindu? Perhaps we should just say "Unloving, uncompassionate, selfish and cruel."
The leadership's focus on money-grubbing spotlights their incredible 'snatch for the cash' whenever possible. This attitude, by the way, tends to prevail in any group that espouses the "Them and Us" scenario. "Out in the world" everything is seen as tainted by Mammon, the devil, etc., so it becomes fair game to grab, swipe, steal, 'vultch,' 'borrow', shoplift for the Church since this then 'launders' and purifies the ill-gotten gains for the greater glory of God. This sort of behavior would be contemptible in any family or individual 'outside.' How much more so in a group that sets itself up as the City on the Hill, to be a Light unto the World.
The B'hof cannot continue for long as it now exists, with all the power concentrated in the hands of one man who has gone back on his word, controls what people think, controls all the finances, all incoming information and correspondence, owns guns despite his so- called Christian pacifism. Most of all, he lies about what other people believe and say, such as Ramon whom he alleges is "out to destroy the Bruderhof as long as we follow Christ."
B'hof members have no way to deal with this because if they speak up to point out some of the obvious wrongs, they are slammed. Following the tradition that Heini instigated, J.C. has exerted total control over his sisters and their husbands (the 'Royal Family'). A shake-up if not an explosion is guaranteed because of the direction the system has taken. Free speech and information eventually will destroy all institutions that do not conform to the ideals of individual freedom, which after all was what the Anabaptist movement was all about when it first began. It hardly can be said that KIT is out to destroy the B'hof if all we are trying to do is uphold the ideals of its Anabaptist origins -- freedom of information and informed adult choice.
Summing up, we continue to look for ways to break the communications gridlock. Some people believe that Conflict Resolution and/or legal approaches hold promise. Others think that, for now, just increasing the amount of public information about the B'hof available via KIT and Peregrine is the best way. As time goes on no one who wishes to understand the phenomenon of the Bruderhof will be able to ignore this body of testimony.
Wendy Alexander Dorsey, 1/20/94: Dear KIT Folk, I am writing with some trepidation, but with a sense of urgency greater than I've ever felt before. The trepidation has to do with my conviction that my only real hope of "getting through" to the Bruderhof is to keep the door of relationship with my family open -- and to the fact that this door has already been closed in the past due to my unwillingness to completely disassociate with KIT. However, my trepidation over this issue is overcome (at this moment, anyhow) by a greater sense of fear and danger about what is currently happening in the Bruderhof. The signs are that the oppressive measures are increasing: that secrecy, denial and forced exclusions are the main weapons being used; that dictatorial powers are being exercised by the authorities more brashly than ever; and that the "masses" in the Bruderhof are passively allowing these things to happen. I am basing my observations on conversations with recently (within the last few months) excluded members....
The calamity that is happening in the Bruderhof is the increase in oppressive atmosphere which results in the gross abuse of power in the leadership and loss of identity, self-hood AND CONSCIENCE in the majority of people. THIS IS TRULY FRIGHTENING. This is Hitler Germany all over again. When intelligent adult human beings can be so fearful as to be completely blind to the abuses and wrongs that are being perpetrated ON THEIR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST, then something is fearfully awry.
Just as "innocent" Germans may have smelled burning flesh or seen the trains going to the death camps and deliberately repressed the evidence of their own senses, so, I believe "innocent" Bruderhof members are deliberately ignoring the evidence of dictatorial powers and abuses they must be seeing and hearing about (including the evidence contained in KIT, which gets through to them whether it is officially banned or not, as we well know). Granted, there's a tremendously effective system of secrecy and misinformation about what is going on at the top levels which helps to maintain the status quo, along with the very real threat of being excluded and banished if you raise your voice. Nonetheless, the evidence is clear, and it is being systematically ignored. Small voices of conscience are being raised and immediately they are squelched. This is a crime against humanity.
Balz & Monika Trumpi-Arnold, to Johann Christoph Arnold, 2/14/94: Dear Johann Christoph We are sending to you a copy of a document which is a public record available to anybody who wants to see it. On December 14, 1990, you signed a "State of New York Pistol License Application" as a Minister of the Hutterian Brethern Church. You applied to carry the firearm concealed and stated that a license is required for the following reason "For self-protection and protection of community members." All four character references were given by people who do not belong to the Bruderhof nor do they live on the Bruderhof. You purchased a Ruger automatic 22- caliber weapon on May 2, 1991 which you can conceal on your body, in your car or wherever you want it. At another date, you purchased an even deadlier Ruger 44-caliber revolver.
Nobody other than yourself knows how many times you carried those concealed weapons with you. Though it is legal because you have the permit, you violated one of the fundamental principals of the Bruderhof and the Hutterian Brethern Church. The Bruderhof and the Hutterian Brethern always refused to carry arms to defend oneself. They refused to do military service because they did not want to harm another human being.
Eberhard and Emmi Arnold, your grandparents and founders of the Bruderhof and all the other members of the Bruderhof including your parents, have risked their lives during the Nazi time and during World War II, to remain true to this conviction. The Hutterian Brethern in their 400-year-long history, rather suffered death than to defend themselves with deadly weapons. You as an Elder have violated a cornerstone of the Bruderhof life and of the Hutterian Brethern and, therefore, you should hand in your resignation. You are holding a very powerful position. Power corrupts and religious power corrupts especially deep. Are you going to shove these documents under the rug or are you going to present them to the Bruderschaft on all the Bruderhofe? We will send these documents to all the servants of the word.
Christoph, it is high time that you lay down your service before you do much more damage. We are greeting you with grave concern for you, your family and the Bruderhofe.
2/14/94: Copy of a letter sent individually To All The Servants of The Word on All The Bruderhoefe by Balz & Monika Trumpi-Arnold:
Greetings to each one of you! As you hold presently the power structure of the Bruderhoefe in your hands, we are sending to all of you three documents:
l. A copy of the "State of New York Pistol License Application" by Johann Christoph Arnold
2. A copy of the "State of New York Pistol License Amendment acquired weapon Ruger, Automatic 22 Caliber
3. A copy of the "Investigation Report" with the second weapon registered Ruger, Revolver, Caliber .44.
We are also including a copy of our letter to Johann Christoph Arnold. Please take notice that this application from Johann Christoph Arnold, as a Minister of the Hutterian Brethern Church, is a license to carry a firearm concealed. The reason given to get this license is "For self-protection and protection of community members." All character references are from people who are not members of the Bruderhof. We do not know whether you have or had knowledge of this application and purchase of revolvers and the intent to carry the weapons concealed.
How will your young people be able to claim exemption from military service should that become an issue again sometime in the future when the Elder of the Hutterian Brethern Church carries or can carry concealed firearms for self-protection and the protection of community members? The Ruger caliber .44 is one of the deadliest revolvers. Your peace witness is in serious jeopardy.
Will you have the courage to take this matter up in all the Brotherhoods and call a spade a spade, or will you rationalize it and belittle it to nothing?! It might also be the time to consider whether your Elder and your servants of the word have much too much power, and to give the power back to the whole brotherhood circle. From what we can observe, you have become more and more a society ruled by a hierarchy and the individual has to suppress his own conscience to such a degree that it cannot function anymore properly. Whoever questions the leadership stands against the Holy Spirit and will be punished and expelled. Your leaders do not get the necessary corrections from the circle because people do not dare to speak out their true feelings because of fear of punishment.
Do you dare to speak openly amongst yourselves about the real questions you have about each other and about the actions of your Elder?
In August and September, 1993, thirty brothers and sisters were put in the great exclusion and at least fifteen in the small exclusion. Power seeking was given as one of the reasons. Did that power seeking involve criticism of the Elder? You are on the road to become a cult and have already some marks of a cult. You can turn the ship into better waters but only if you give up some of your power and allow and encourage the members to criticize you openly without their having to fear exclusion and expulsion of a large family into great misery.
We greet you with grave concern for the future of the Bruderhoefe.
Primavera Revelations, According To The Gospels Of Mike Caine, 2/15/94:
And It Came To Pass That A Horse Fell Into A Toilet, Caused by the Inexorable Force of Gravity. So the Lord Vetter spoke onto Bock Vetter "Go Ye Forth Into The Dungpit And Tie A Cabresto Round This Horse. For You Have Drawn The Shortest Of Six Straws And This Horse Needs Pulling Out! HONOS HABET ONUS!"
And so Bock Vetter decended down this hole, not wanting to pollute his person. Halfway down he stood on a precarius step, as Jacob's Ladder was not available, only God Vetter knows why. Also present was doubting Tomas Vetter (although there are no such doubting people, just people with varying degrees of belief). Tomas Vetter had Bock Vetter fastened to another cabresto, to which he was supposed to hold on tight, so that Bock could descend, but Tomas Vetter, being the doubting one, gave it a bit of slack. Bock Vetter involuntarily doubled up, and out of his shirt pocket fell two Alfonso Treise cigarettes. Well, Bock Vetter only got two packets of Alfonso Treise cigarettes a week, so IF he wanted more, he would have to do some quite creative crawling. If he was very lucky, he might even get a Reina Victoria packet. They were up-market, and had twenty cigarettes inside, intead of sixteen, so two cigarettes were quite important. You can't just have them falling in the dung. So Bock Vetter contemplated, then decided to salvage those two cigarettes. As he bent lower to do the salvaging, four more cigarettes fell into the muck. That was most depressing for Bock Vetter.
A most definite reason for having a Bruderschaft for just Bock Vetter and the horse. Does smoking dung damage your health? The horse would rather have eaten those cigarettes, as it was quite skinny. It was one of those creatures that was given or taken as part-payment for hospital debts, although this horse needed a hospital itself....
If any KIT reader has ever seen the sculpture by Lorenzo Bernini called Monte Doro set in rock, the steed emerging out of rock, well, here we had the same situation. The only difference being this steed was emerging out of the shit. Luckily it went down with its rear end first, so it was upright, standing on its hind legs, at the bottom of the pit. Had it been the other way, even Jesus Vetter would not have managed to heal it! But eventually it got pulled out! It lay flat on its side, dead to the world for all we knew, when all of a sudden the Angel Basel of the Lord Vetter apeared in Bock Vetter's daydream, and said onto him Name Ye This Horse 'Kloziege!' So now this horse had a name! With a lot of loving care, and the right kind of Geist, Luppie Vetter got Jesus Vetter to heal this very sick animal, but then Luppie Vetter always had a very special rapport with Lord Vetter... Well, with all that loving care from Luppie Vetter, the RichtigeGeist, the right kind of innerliche Fuhrung, Kloziege, soon enjoyed good health and turned out to be a really good horse!
Ramon Sender: On 5/17/94 I fax'd the following message to all Bruderhofs except Darvell, whose fax machine was not functioning: To the Bruderhof Servants and TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
I would like to request that the following be read aloud to the brotherhoods, or at least during individual brotherhood meetings:
...I have stated various times in the KIT Newsletter: "I, Ramon Sender, have never, ever said that I want to destroy the Bruderhof nor that I wish them not to follow Christ. Quite the contrary, I wish them well and more success in the desire to manifest unconditional love, reconciliation and understanding."
I would like to add that I continue to search for ways to improve my relationship with the community. To that end, I recently offered to meet with my son-in-law John Rhodes in the presence of a neutral conflict resolution person, but he refused. However, I continue to hope that some day we can open a dialogue regarding visits to the grandchildren and other ongoing concerns. I am sure everyone would agree that it would be to everyone's benefit if the current climate of distrust and fear could be replaced with one of open communication.
Perhaps I should repeat that my sincerest hope is that the Bruderhof will remain true to their founder's ideal of an open communication and relationship with others in a living witness to Christian love and true brother/sisterhood.
Please acknowledge when this correction has been read to the various brotherhoods. Sincerely -- and thank you,
Dick Domer,Woodcrest Bruderhof, 5/17/94: [in reply to the above Fax - ed] Dear Ramon, You have apparently been complaining about the fact that word is going around that you have said, in effect, "as long as the Bruderhof represents faith in Jesus, I will try to destroy it." For your information, two of us, including myself, heard this from you on a phone call with you about two years ago. You can't hide behind a denial, Ramon. It was quite clear that it is our faith in Jesus that drives you against the Bruderhof.
Not only have you said it, but your actions speak even louder and in public. You try to get a newspaper to print an attack against the community, personally trying to work up a reporter against us. You advocate going into the local high school and harassing Woodcrest students and conducting a sign-waving demonstration at Woodcrest's drive. You and your followers talk about lawsuits against the community, over and over again. You get Julius Rubin, who is no Anabaptist, to get up in an Anabaptist conference to read off a tirade of hate and lies which you wrote but did not have the guts to read yourself.
There is one thing you are destroying, Ramon. And that is also deliberate. You are destroying all respect in a lot of young people who grew up in the community for their own background and for their own parents. You encourage especially unstable people to vie with one another to write the most hateful diatribes. This does not destroy us but it destroys something very important in the lives of these young people. You produce in these vulnerable people a war within themselves because in their deepest heart they cannot deny the reality of Christ they did experience. So, dear Ramon, come out from behind your screen. You can't deny what is so obvious. I ask you to have the decency to print this letter in the next issue of KIT. Sincerely,
Ramon Sender to the Bruderhof Servants and TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN, 5/18/94: Since Dick Domer insists that I said to him and 'one other person' over the phone that "as long as the Bruderhof represents faith in Jesus, I will try to destroy it," I would like to request that the following amended message be read aloud to the brotherhoods, or at least during individual brotherhood meetings.
What Dick Domer and "one other person" heard me say is incorrect. Why? Because I have NEVER felt that way! Why would I say something I have never felt or believed? Therefore I would correct Dick Domer's impression of what I said and hereby repeat for everyone that:
"I, Ramon Sender, have never, ever, said that I want to destroy the Bruderhof nor that I wish them not to follow Christ. Quite the contrary, I wish them well and more success in the desire to manifest unconditional love, reconciliation and understanding."
Please acknowledge when this correction has been read to the various brotherhoods. Sincerely,
Ramon: Because Dick Domer's letter refers to "a newspaper attack," I think that we should mention the following. An article about the Bruderhof that included interviews with graduates and survivors was supposed to have appeared during April in the Kingston, New York, Daily Freeman. What began as a review of Bette Bohlken-Zumpe's book became a much bigger story when the reporter discovered that Christoph owned a permit to carry a concealed weapon. However the Managing Editor killed the story because he felt that the many allegations of questionable behavior on the part of the Bruderhof leadership were not severe enough to warrant reporting. Also, because Christoph had turned in his handguns, that particular item seemed to him to be no longer newsworthy. Could the fact that the Managing Editor has many friends in the county's Rod and Gun set have influenced his decision? Or perhaps that a well-known Kingston attorney paid him a visit on behalf of Woodcrest a few days after Dick Domer was contacted by the reporter?
Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe to 'Viewpoint,' Mennonite Weekly Review: This is a response to a letter written by my brother-in-law Martin Johnson from the Pleasant View Bruderhof to the MWR 7-21-94 in answer to a book review by Katie Funk Wiebe June the 9th "On my Desk" and of Elaine Sommers Rich's comments April 21st 1994 "thinking'.... " concerning my book Torches Extinguished: Memories of a Communal Childhood.:
Any one who has truly read my book with an open mind will feel that there is nothing within that wants to destroy the Bruderhof communities started by my grandfather, Dr. Eberhard Arnold, in the 1920s. No, my concern lies much deeper: How on earth is it possible that a Christian community rejects their own children and twists their words into lies to make them fit the enormous fear of being exposed to what they really are? I do not intend to get into discussion of my word against your [Martin's - ed] word, but I do want to react to some serious accusations. The answer to almost all problems concerning the Bruderhof lies in the power of their Elder -- their leader. In the last Plough : issue of Summer/Autumn 1994, my uncle Heini Arnold defined what leadership means:
"True Leadership means service, so it is a terrible thing to
use it as a position of power over others. When such abuse
of leadership takes place in a church community, it is especially
devilish, because brothers and sisters give themselves
voluntarily, trustingly open-heartedly to the church. In a
dictatorial state, people might yield to a greater power even
though their soul rejects it as evil. But in a brotherhood of
believers, where members trust their leaders, the misuse
of power is real soul-murder!"
Ramon Sender 11/29/94: I believe that in connection with some recent testimony from a seeking Christian brother (and B'hof graduate.) I have been able to put my finger on the corruption at the heart of the Bruderhof. What is it? It involves the vow taken at Baptism "always to speak out if one sees that the Church is moving in the wrong direction." The irony is, if one speaks out, one is slammed into church discipline and THEN the truth comes out. And what is the truth? That the REAL baptism is not the baptism by water upon confession, but a baptism by the fire of church discipline, i.e. by the new member's willingness to surrender to church discipline whether applied correctly or not. You must be willing to be crucified by the Servants for the sake of your brothers' sins, the rationale being that, since we are all sinners anyway in the eyes of God, what does it matter if it was this particular brother in question that erred or not? The tragedy is that what dies in this crucifixion is the voice of the individual conscience -- and truth. What emerges from the surrender to the will of the leadership ("Whether I am actually guilty or not, I am guilty because we are all guilty and I must submit to the Servants' superior vision.") is a hollowed-out husk of a person, completely malleable by the leadership.
The Bruderhof leadership is very skilled at helping the new brother through the baptism by water upon confession of his sins. They are equally adept at manipulating the brother through church discipline and'the baptism by fire' whereby the individual conscience is forced into a posture of total surrender. But they are equally skilled at making sure that the new brother never receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit but remains forever a worm, forever out of direct touch with God, constantly reminded of this fact and open to being manipulated at the whims of the hierarchy. It sounds horrible -- and the truth of the situation is that it is horrible. It has been extremely interesting to hear this brother tell his story, because he is very clear-sighted, and sees exactly how, step by step, he was led towards the Servants' goal of denouncing the voice of God in his own conscience (my words). He also pointed out, however, that this 'baptism by fire' process is not completely conscious on the part of the leadership. It is more like, "Now it's your turn to experience what I experienced when I was 'out'." It parallels the initiation rituals practiced in boys' schools or fraternities. But in terms of the teachings of Christ, it is an abomination and sadistic heresy.
The heresy that one must allow church authorities to crucify oneself in order to faithfully follow Christ's example can be refuted by Scripture, and here I quote from a more knowledgeable friend:
"Accepting false accusation in imitation of Christ is easy to rebut. Christ never agreed with the accusers that he was guilty of the false charges they made. He said to Pilate '...therefor he who betrayed me to you hath the greater sin...' implying that the false charges were sinful. Jesus said the devil is a liar and the father of lies, implying that untruth is of the devil... He said 'I am the way, the truth and the life...' implying that what is not of the truth is not from Him... He defended himself vigorously against the charges of the Pharisees and Saducees. Jesus suffered 'for the sins of the world' but not in order that religious authorities could inflict suffering on others... that is a diabolical twisting of the Christian doctrine. Jesus very certainly said, 'Inasmuch as you did it (i.e. anything) to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it unto me.' If the Bruderhof authorities want to claim the right to make false accusations in the name of Jesus for the sake of His humility, then there is no further arguing with them... They haven't a leg to stand on according to Scripture... One could go on and on. There is also 'For freedom Christ has set you free.' He did not die for you so that you can be enslaved by religious authorities."
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