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Everything posted by penworks

  1. Right. It's the action that gets evaluated by the law, not the belief behind it, right? If anyone's interested there's a book called, Cults, Culture and the Law: Perspectives on New Religious Movements, edited by Thomas Robbins, WIlliam C. Shepherd, and James McBride. Scholars Press, Chico, CA. It's put out by the American Academy of Religious Studies in Religion. TWI is mentioned in this book on pg. 111 in the chapter titled, "Cults and Conversion: The Case for Informed Consent" by Richard Delgado. Here is a little bit from it: "Values of self-determination already play a significant role in the debate about religious cultism. On a rhetorical level, defenders of these groups [cults] ask why young adults should not be free to join whatever religious organizations they desire. Opponents respond that free choice is exactly what these groups deny. Constitutional analysis of state intervention raises consent issues, as do tort and criminal actions brought by cult members after unsuccessful deprogrammings, and suits by ex-members against cult leaders for unlawful imprisonment, slavery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraud." Delgado goes on to advocate for a consent agreement when a person joins a group, meaning the group gives full disclosure about its intentions, beliefs, etc. and the new recruit agrees to it. I know I laughed out loud when I read this article because it seems to me that groups like "cults" do not reveal their true nature right off the bat. Usually it is camouflaged by statements like, "we do biblical research" while in the back room they have people pretending to do that, or at least doing something they CALL biblical research as defined by the cult. What do you all think? Do you think a group could even be required by law to deliver a consent form for recruits to sign? And what if a recruit signed it? What exactly would that mean for that person's life?
  2. Rocky, I agree that the "do surgery on Waybrain" section was helpful. Specific insider language helped created Wayworld. Identifying how VPW redefined words and concepts to suit his goals was a huge part of my recovery. Examples include "legal." That did not mean what it normally means in society: i.e. abiding by the law of the land. In Wayworld, it meant the law of the Old Testament. So because VPW touted we were "free in Christ," so anyone who abided by the 10 commandments, for instance, was "legal" or "legalistic." Further, they were "living according to the wrong administration." since VPW said we were living in the "grace administration." These divisions are one way that bible teachers use to account for what most readers see as contradictions in the Bible. VPW got that "administration" theory (also called dispensationalism) from a bunch of others like Bullinger and John Nelson Darby , an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher from the 1800s. I digress ... I think John Juedes is amazing in that he's stuck with analyzing The Way for so long and has provided so much helpful info to so many of us. I have thanked him for that. Hope ya'll have, too. What I would caution people about, however, is that he believes people leaving TWI should seek a Christian avenue for fellowship etc. That may be helpful and appropriate for some, but not all. That path is not necessarily the best for every single person who leaves TWI. Just sayin'. Cheers! Penworks
  3. Ditto. As for the title of this thread, I would delete the word "spiritual" as the adjective for bully. Several other abrupt "defectors" include VPW's motorcoach driver, C*uck *cher. He was there one day and gone the next. I think that was in 1977 or so ... he left with the wife of one of the guys in Joyful Noise. Hush hush ...
  4. Ditto. I think the good thing about this site John Juedes' has is that he identifies himself. Also, Karl Kahler's book is full of information well documented. Here's my two cents on this topic: I found references to The Way simply by going to public and college libraries and looking through books about cults or new religions, etc. and checking the Index in each book. It is time consuming, but hey, if you want to dig, you gotta get out a shovel and put some elbow grease into it, as my dad used to say ... One example was in a library in Amsterdam! Here's my blog post about finding Melton's book there: http://charleneedge....-library-treat/ Another one is a book from the AAR Studies in Religion 36 volume. The name is: Cults, Culture, and the Law: Perspectives on New Religious Movements. Published by Scholars Press, Chico, CA. 1985. Edited by Thomas Robbins, William C. Shepherd, and James McBride. The Way Int'l is cited on four different pages. A word of caution about using quotes from this site. Most posters here use a fake name, so to outsiders, sometimes that detracts from the veracity of the stories here. In other words, they could be ghost stories. I don't have that attitude because I was in the group and can pretty much tell if something is bogus (but not all the time, I'm sure), but without an insider's knowledge, outsiders would not be able to sniff things out so well. Maybe ... Good luck, Charlene
  5. Seth, I read your comment under the article on the newspaper's site. I was sorry to read it. You said, "I absolutely hate those people, if they all died today I wouldn't shed a tear." When we say we hate people, it does not help our efforts here at GSC in raising awareness of TWI but I realize you were only speaking for yourself. IMO, hatefulness might be what TWI leaders are/were about. But it is not what I am about. And I don't think most greasespotters are into keeping hate in their hearts for anyone. But maybe I am wrong. I think hate breeds hate. We may not love TWI leaders who abused us and others, but hate is pretty strong stuff ... I shy away from it. But that's just me ...
  6. And what I find amazing is that all what we know about "the guy who was the reason for the whole movement" is based on what a few people say he did or say he said. And they do not all agree all the time. Or am I wrong about this?
  7. Actually, the family/household delineation originated with VP . I was involved 1970-1987 and during that time I heard him make that sort of distinction over and over. Once upon a time there was a brouhaha (not sure if that is the correct spelling) :-) about "household" and "family" within the Satellite Research Group, which included the research team at HQ but others were involved, too. If you check the Way magazines in the early 1980s, you'll find a Believer's Pledge of Allegiance that was a result of it. We are one household under God, etc. etc. Anyhow, it is all rubbish. Another sort of rubbish is that this distinction that Wierwille made is denied by Wierwille loyalists who blame everything wrong with The Way on Martindale who has been discredited over and over anyway. Wrong. VP began the entire Way ball rolling and it rolls on today in the off-shoots and the scattered Wierwille lovers around the world. Just a couple of weeks ago a long lost "pal" from the 1970s who is not part of The Way in New Knoxville, but obviously revealed herself to still be enmeshed in TWI dogmas, said, "But we're still the first century church in the twentieth and there's supposed to be one man of God like Paul was in the first century." She listens to VP on tape over the internet. He is still her man of God. YIKES. The myth of Wierwille just will not go away. Some people will never admit he was what he really was...it is too frightening to admit it. If you do, the walls of your safe and secure belief-life come crashing down and you must start over. That takes work. It's just too hard.
  8. Good point. Self-reflection dropped to zero in many of our cases. When you are in a box, you don't realize it until it begins to split apart and you see specs of light peek through. From all of our posts, it's apparent we are well aware of the cult problem. What are solutions? Again, last night we watched a show on the History Channel titled, America's Book of Secrets. Season 2, Deadly Cults (first aired May 10, 2013). The segment on dangerous cults was pretty good. Deadly cults Rick Ross, a cult examiner who is often an expert witness in courts, made the point, along with others who were interviewed, that our own freedoms in the US - freedom of speech, religion, and assembly, are what pave the way for cults to form legally...and easily. Rick Ross, cult awareness site To most of us, the following is not news: It is easy in our country to form a non-profit and say it is a new religion and boom, a new cult is born. And it enjoys the protections under the constitution that major well-known religions enjoy, including tax exemption status. That's one downside... Note: Remember that Europeans endured the rough seas of the Atlantic to get to this promised land so they could express their beliefs and enjoy religious freedom and boy did they get it, for the most part. Some persecutions persisted for years until those freedoms were enforced. Give a nod here to Thomas Jefferson, etc. Everyone goes through hard times in life, as Rick Ross pointed out on the Deadly Cults episode, and it is during those vulnerable times that a devoted follower of a dangerous cult comes along with ANSWERS. Those of us here at GSC can say AMEN to that! We are all too familiar with the problem of dangerous cults. What are solutions? I wish I had one magic answer, don't you? As far as I can tell, all we can do is try and head off seekers at the pass that leads into cult territory. One way is to tell our stories. GSC has had some good results in opening peoples' eyes to TWI and to cults in general. Let's not fear sharing our cautionary tales whenever and however we can. In my experience, as uncomfortable as that has been sometimes as a guest with groups of students in a classroom, in the end it is worth the embarrassment and sweaty armpits, and sometimes I get choked up. Usually I find people are thankful for the heads-up. Maybe that's the best preventive measure we have available in our country. Tell our stories. Any time that is appropriate. Otherwise, we'd be stuck with someone "at the top of government" I guess, who would have to decide which groups are destructive cults and which ones are not. Case in point, the Branch Davidians, as that History Channel show pointed out, was a "benign commune" until David Koresh showed up. He took over as prophet and we know the rest of that terrible, devastating story. I suppose I am rambling, but I just want to say---don't ever stop talking, Grease spotters. Wish me luck for another presentation at another college soon. I need new deodorant! Enjoy your weekend. Penworks
  9. Hello, I agree with Tazia on this subject -- that religions are cults in one way or another if we use the word "cult" as a religious idea, usually based on a "special person" that people follow and gain a sense of community from doing that. We just finished watching the History Channel's take on Constantine's political maneuverings and use of the early Christians to stabilize his empire. The show was pretty good in that it reveals how he forced the church elders to agree on what the heck they really believed and which of the many documents (gospels, letters, etc. ) they circulated should be accepted as authoritative, collected, and made official. We call that the making of the biblical canon. It was man-made. Emphasis on MAN. Of course, the series on the History channel is a simplified and gives its own slightly slanted view of the power of Christianity, but it did offer the unknowing watcher something to think about regarding the sweep of that slice of history. Let's talk about cults in terms of the Crusades Too bad about those Crusades, perpetrating evil in the name of Christ. btw...the Spanish Inquisition comes to mind. And we all know from Monty Python that "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" When I watch that, I laugh out loud every single time. My husband, too. So...a few more thoughts. What did me the most good when I left TWI was reading about the formation of the Bible, Christianity, competing beliefs, etc.. I probably sound like a broken record, but I feel strongly about people finding out what their options are before jumping on any religious bandwagon. Yay for public libraries. The problem is, many people do not end up in a cult because they are 100% driven by reason or choosing an "option." So trying to "reason a person out of joining a cult" is pretty hard. I know one person who was on the TWI research team, J*hn Sch*&heit., had been a philosophy major in college and rejected it in favor of "the accuracy of The Word" as fabricated by Wierwille. So I am thinking that emotion plays a bigger role in cult recruitment than any logical arguments or broader knowledge available from wise folks or from books. Maybe a combo of emotion and reason, like "I want the truth and this guy sounds convincing" happens (that was me). But I think that a need to connect with other likeminded and kind people may be a more a powerful draw than "Truth" offered by cults and religions. Recently I had a conversation with a Christian college student who has atheist friends and agnostic friends (there is a difference!) . He remarked on how they are moral even without religion, but he wasn't sure what their morality or ethics were based on, if not the commands of the Bible. Why does that shock people? The student had no idea what Humanism was, or that philosophy offers us a way to navigate the world and be useful, productive, kind, generous, and good for the sake of being good people, not for the sake of gaining rewards in a supposed afterlife. I tried to explain that for me, living this life on the basis of thinking it is probably the only one I get makes me want to enjoy it and use every minute for the good, if possible. As an agnostic, I am just not smart enough or enlightened enough to have the certainty (like I used to have in TWI and before that Young Life, and before that in the Catholic church) that so many believers have about their beliefs. Certainty about what God says or about your religious beliefs/doctrines, in my view, is our enemy. Certainty (and greed and a host of other stuff) was Constantine's original motivation, as a recent History Channel show pointed out. Constantine was certain God and/or Christ, gave him a sign that he would win the war against his then-enemies. Later, there were Crusades which went on for a few HUNDRED YEARS because they were certain they were right in God's eyes. IMO, certainty is the thief of democracy. It makes people NOT want to negotiate or compromise or get along. It makes some Christians bomb abortion clinics. It makes some people in politics claim that God is on their side. YIKES. Are we back in the Crusades? What happened to our democracy? Where is our common ground? At least can it be the golden rule? Maybe? Please? So, I think certainty can be scary. Last thought...cult prevention, I think, is a better way to go than cult undoing. Once a cult gets going, when people are so convinced they are doing God's will that you can't pry them out (that was me long ago), then the situation gets harder to change. Damage is done. Read the stories here at GSC if you're not convinced. I'm interested in hearing what other ideas people here might have about preventing cult recruitment. Got any? Peace, Penworks
  10. Thanks guys. This is very helpful. I probably missed this info somewhere, but about how many might be on staff these days at HQ? Cheers, Penworks
  11. Skyrider, just curious about the number, 35,000, who left ... I would like to use that figure. Can you give me a source?
  12. Good morning. Last night I wrote my response to the report on this event. This morning it was sent to my website subscribers at 9:00 am. You can read it at: The Way celebrates 73 anniversary of ... ? Cheers, Pen
  13. My oh my. 73 years. How time flies when you're having ..... fun? Fundamentalism? http://sidneydailynews.com/news/religion/8561/the-way-international-celebrates-73rd-anniversary
  14. Love that quote! Read some of his work in college. Euripides, that is... BUT, the "answer nothing" part...depends...
  15. Hi, it's Charlene here, just to say that this account nails the phenomenon. Thank you, DWBH. Just one little change.. The Second Corps men were ordained after one year on the field post graduation. So graduation was '73, ordination was '74. Well, all I can say is: this is a broken record of VPW self-serving rhetoric.
  16. Fascinating background about JAL. I appreciate your telling us your part in the spin-off situations and how that all played out. In 1987 when I left TWI, JAL came to Orlando to run a meeting and asked to stay with us overnight. We were not interested in his new ministry gig but said sure, hospitality being something we still liked to offer. JAL and I had a conversation. He hoped to win me over to his new gig. I challenged him. "If I'm going to go around saying 'thus saith the Lord' about anything, I want to be sure about what I'm saying, and at this point, I'm not sure about anything." My sense was, and still is, that any accuracy of the Bible was a pipe dream. The cannon of Scripture varies, so right there we have a slippery slope. Later, the more I read and thought and pondered and wondered and re-read, I figured the path I was most at peace about taking was aiming me towards agnosticism. Now, I'm getting off topic... Back to JAL When I was recruited at ECU, he and P#t were the state leaders of N.C. There was no Way Tree yet. That invention came later. The guys who lived in the Way Home with JAL and P#t were students at ECU in training to enter the Way Corps. Many of them are mentioned here at GSC (E8rl B*rton, G#erald W#enn, D*ke Clar$, etc.) They had a schedule that included communal study, witnessing, and running the coffeehouse on Saturday night. Some of this is reported in book, The Way: Living in Love, by El#na White&ide. ...Just as an aside, El#na did not ask any of us who ended up in that book whether she could use our real names. For some people, she used both their first and last names. For me, only my first, Charlene...this gets interesting because of all the different paths taken by people in the book after they left TWI.... Anyhow, JAL at ECU (oh, don't we love the acronyms) was on a roll. He is still on it. When I watched a few minutes of his recent YouTube gig, I had flashbacks. He has not changed his kindergarten-like-explaining tone of voice or mannerisms. I, too, am sorry he is suffering with an illness these days. He meant well during those years that I first knew him, but there must have been something he felt he had to prove by sticking with the fundie thing so long. Cheers, Pen
  17. Just curious about Ermal's part in VPW's agenda. He never said much. The first time I met VPW, Ermal and Harry W. were with him. They are in the motorcycle shed on the cold November day I arrived from ECU for a women's advance, 1971. That scene is part of an early chapter in my book. Yikes. Where is the publisher I need for my book? Hellllooo. Don't worry Greasespotters, I will find one. And I do not plan on begging. Anyone with a sound mind and paying attention to the news every day realizes a topic like, Seventeen Years in a Fundamentalist Cult, just might, well...might be a hot topic OR something to help people get to sleep. Depends on your point of view. Cheers, Pen
  18. I don't know about DWBH, but count me in as curious about when you were "in" TWI. And whether you are "in" an offshoot. Just curious. My cats taught me to be curious. I blame them.
  19. Oh, thanks chockfull, for the Lulu idea. Yes, they are good. I think our old friend C&*istian Abr***m used it to publish his two books. One is, The Secret Curse Surrenders. Loved that. But prepare yourself for a wild ride into Indiana Campus-land... Anyway, I may go that route. There are a few irons in the fire. Cheers, Pen
  20. Yeah, Victor Bernard. Yikes. This talk show on YouTube really stirred things up. Let's hope it got some viewers thinking... I mentioned VB in a blog post recently. http://charleneedge....flage-of-cults/
  21. Steve mentioned the problem of "the artificial language we used to distinguish ourselves from outsiders." I like that point. Identify that artificial language (I call jargon) and you're half way out of TWI. The other half of the way out is to break the habits (behavior) that issued from that false identity built by the jargon. Like a house of cards, one flick of the finger and it all begins to fall. Also kick the habit or the compulsive feeling that you have to preach that artificial language. At this point, I'm referring to the evangelism of offshoot TWI folks who have not stopped to examine their jargon. What would happen if they just sat down and thought about the implications of what they are perpetrating? Does it promote bigotry or expose it? I know many TWI offshoot leaders from way back. If any of you are reading this, may I suggest taking some time off from promoting second-hand stuff from TWI and quietly examining what it means. Ask yourself, is this the kind of world I want to be a part of...one that pits people against each other using religious beliefs? Anyhow, perfectly happy people run the offshoots, and they feel they are fulfilling what they're supposed to do on the planet. But maybe, just maybe they might admit to a tiny doubt about that. Maybe they'll ask themselves, What's the worst that can happen if one of those teeny doubts turns out to be true? Change is possible. But like getting old, it ain't for sissies.
  22. Oh man, this made me weep. So happy to be here with such a brave person as yourself...and so many others. Cheers to you, Pen
  23. Well, I don't know about the rest of you from my "generation of TWI followers" but I feel sick about the lack of adult responsibility that Dana's story brings to light. I keep thinking about it over and over. IMO every parent who dumped TWI dogma and TWI-style behavior, i.e. denigrating others of different beliefs among other gross things, on their kids, is responsible for helping their children recover from the bigotry. I don't see any attempt by the minister who did the memorial service for Dana's father taking any responsibility to help Dana. There is much trouble, with a capital T. People like Dana's mother may not have the strength or understanding yet, to instruct her children. Well, I hope we welcome her here if she ever arrives, and that we don't throw stones at her. Weren't some of us in the same boat of denial as she was while we were enraptured with TWI? So, I wonder how the GSC community can fill the gap of offering informed -- informed! -- counsel for this next generation of kids damaged to one degree or another by the behavior of their brainwashed parents? Are we offering that here, or do we argue back and forth about man-made dogmas, out-of-context Bible verses, and worn out plagiarized interpretations of Scripture masquerading as truth? If we keep dragging the kind of Christianity that the apostle Paul invented into every conversation we will never unwrap ourselves from our problems. I don't care who we are, have we said to our children in the privacy of our own homes, "I'm deeply sorry I fed you the bigotry of TWI, which in large measure is based not only on VPW's craziness, but also on St. Paul's brand of Christianity, yes, ohmygod, just read the verses where he turned people over to Satan for disagreeing with him. Can we say, "I will get myself educated about what happened to me in Wierwille's cult, and I will try and share what I've learned with my child." Will more children (now adults with their own children, like Dana) have to come here among strangers to learn the truth about what happened in their parents' lives? I would be at the very least embarrassed, but more like stricken with guilt, if my daughter had to learn all this truth which is largely terrible dirt about TWI, from other people, not from her own mother. And oh yeah, have I owned up to my part in all the past crap? Have I tried to make amends? I realize I am probably preaching to the choir tonight. But I guess sometimes choir members are the only ones around to listen... Penworks
  24. That was a great use of free time. Novels! I had no idea they had any out there in CO.
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