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The Way's "Good Old Days" -> Deluded Nostalgia


penworks
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they WERE NOT your "family".. at the drop of a hat, or suggestion of a *mog* you were unfaithful, unworthy, unproductive.. worthless.. you've given your talent and money to, for the most part, a proven worthless cause..

Just thought that was worthy of repeating.

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I dunno.. it just seems to me.. there are times in life when one just needs to hit the "reset" button..

I've had to do that at least three times, on different levels.. once spiritually, once professionally.. another "relationally"..

as bad an "observation" as you may consider it.. I find the "most committed" have the hardest time "moving on"..

does this make sense? Or am I sorely mistaken?

there are areas of my life, that I've abandoned trying to salvage some meaning from..

don't think I'm depressed or anything..

:)

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I spent over twenty years in consumer electronics repair..

one might consider it a "worthless cause" because of the slow decline in the repair industry.. more cheap throwaways, more training and knowledge required to repair the *same* kind of stuff (tv's, dvd players, etc) for less than before..

the last *good* year for me in repair was about 1989.

It pretty much peaked about that time.. I was good in repairing newer microprocessor based devices..

After a couple of years of decline, I hit the "reset" button.. and went back to school..

I've met corps, who've NEVER "gone back to school".. now my cousin, she "went back to school".. not in a traditional sense, but she did..

but for the most part, the lynn camp, the sowers board, etc. etc.. it's the same.. year after year, after year..

to the extent they have the "heir apparent" living on an alleged $12.00 a week stipend to further their nonsense..

gawd almighty..

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Spiritually.. I just asked a *dumb* question.. and I got an *answer*..

what would you do if you found (well.. practically) everything you thought you believed was.. well.. WRONG?

I've seen others undergo the same phenomena.. some come to the conclusion that there is no God. Myself.. I merely refuse to define Him.. one way or another..

I don't think I'm an atheist.. I just don't think I'm intelligent enough to figure it out..

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Spiritually.. I just asked a *dumb* question.. and I got an *answer*..

what would you do if you found (well.. practically) everything you thought you believed was.. well.. WRONG?

I've seen others undergo the same phenomena.. some come to the conclusion that there is no God. Myself.. I merely refuse to define Him.. one way or another..

I don't think I'm an atheist.. I just don't think I'm intelligent enough to figure it out..

tough stuff.

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I disagree. Here's why.

I understand how some people may think The Way was good “in the old days” and somehow “got off track” in later years. But I take issue with this line of thinking. I call it deluded nostalgia: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition. What exactly is that condition people are craving? I was involved from 1971-1987 and I don’t crave any of it. But I figure I’d pitch in my two cents here.

Frankly, I think it appears to be nostalgia for small fellowships with rock music or old hymns “corrected to be accurate” with Way doctrine, simple teachings (I guess), and camaraderie with others who thought like we did, and learning “what the Bible says.” On the surface, these things seem fairly harmless. But when I really think about the “old TWI days,” and these activities, I come up with some concerns:

1. The simplistic idealism that we could save the world with cut and dry Bible answers

2. The lack of mature dealings in the world. I was addressed as a child and kept from growing up while in the Corps and afterwards,

3. The gross neglect of my critical thinking faculty

4. The fact we were supposed to sell the PFAL class to people in order for VP to approve of our lives

5. The issue of whether we were “helping people” by using tools belonging to VP’s brand of fundamentalism

6. As far as I know, some still think they helped people with “the Word.” But what exactly is “The Word?” It’s very vague to me. My understanding is that when a phrase is used, there’s a definition for it somewhere. I don’t know of one for “The Word.” It is a phrase thrown around as if we all know what it means. This reminds me of the fairytale about the Emperor’s new clothes. The fact was: Emperor was not wearing any clothes. I don’t think anyone knows what The Word is.

7. Suffice it to say here, the usual explanation by TWI people and former TWI people for what “The Word” is goes something like this: you have to “use certain keys to research to discover what the original Word was.” Whose keys to research? How come we so readily accepted VP’s which he took from various other people who were fundamentalists? If it were so simple to know “The Word,” how come so many diverse interpretations persist?

But back to the good old days. Let’s say the “good old Way days” were good after all, although this is hard for me to fathom. What exactly is being referred to by this claim? IMO, VP created some sense of community with some people for awhile, but what was that based upon? The way I see it, it was based on an agreement that VP’s teachings were God’s Word, on the commitment to the common cause of VP’s delusion of “moving The Word over the World,” and on a simple love for other people - as long as they obeyed what VP said was The Word. If they didn’t, at the very least they were not as spiritual as we were; at the very worst they were “born of the seed of the devil.”

Let’s not forget, however, that this conditional camaraderie came at a price: It was held together by a patriarchal system fraught with deception and power struggles, not to mention rampant sexual, fiscal, and emotional abuse.

In my view, wishing for “the good old days of The Way” denies the nature of the group itself – a fundamentalist, narrow-minded, anti-Christian movement. Why do I say it is anti-Christian? Because people were used as a means to an end. What was the end? Believe that what VP taught was the truth. Evangelize. Sell PFAL classes. Behave according to what The Way leadership dictated.

Nostalgia for the old days also seems to deny the fact that from its inception, the cult was engineered by V.P. Wierwille, who claimed, like Paul in the New Testament, that he heard an audible voice from a monotheistic God adopted from another culture from thousands of years ago (or the voice of Jesus, as in Paul’s case) that no one else heard. This raises all sorts of issues too complex to get into here I think.

While I met many good people whose kindness made me feel loved, during my TWI years, VP’s teachings, such as telling me I was “more than a conqueror” did not help me resolve problems I brought into The Way with me. For awhile, it engendered a positive attitude in me but it did not produce a healthy self image or tolerance, understanding and compassion for others who might not agree with what I believed. I think the doctrines in many instances only instilled a good deal of denial about myself, the good in the world, other cultures, and denial about what it means to be human.

When I first took PFAL, at 18 years old, I certainly was gullible to The Way’s “answers” but the human brain is not even fully developed until 23 or 24 years old so that’s part of this scenario, too. But I also readily admit that I consciously turned a deaf ear to people who warned me not to get involved.

Not only did I make grave errors in judgment when getting involved with TWI, but I was seduced by big fat claims about the nature of the system I was in. It claimed to be a biblical research ministry but it is extreme fundamentalism. I suggest more of us get informed not only about how cults function but what fundamentalism is and the history of its development. It’s not only a way of interpreting the bible but a way of existing in the world.

Not only did I make grave errors in judgment when getting involved with TWI, but I was seduced by big fat claims about the nature of the system I was in. It claimed to be a biblical research ministry but it is extreme fundamentalism. I suggest more of us get informed not only about how cults function but what fundamentalism is and the history of its development. It’s not only a way of interpreting the bible but a way of existing in the world.

I thought this was a good video dealing with fundamentalism in support of your statement that "it is a way of existing in the world".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsAbgfAGzlE

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Not only did I make grave errors in judgment when getting involved with TWI, but I was seduced by big fat claims about the nature of the system I was in. It claimed to be a biblical research ministry but it is extreme fundamentalism. I suggest more of us get informed not only about how cults function but what fundamentalism is and the history of its development. It's not only a way of interpreting the bible but a way of existing in the world.

Fundamentalism. . . . was a movement that arose to combat what many considered modern or liberal theology. . . . it was a movement that gained momentum in the early 20th century. It was an attempt to affirm the fundamentals of the Christian faith. . . not really a sinister movement. . . . it has morphed into something else. . . . it is in large part a political movement now. . . . . . IMHO. . . and pretty much an American phenomenon.

Although TWI doggedly hold to their own fundamentals. . . . they are not really recognizable as Fundamentalists and in general are not accepted by the Christian community at large. Exactly because of the fundamentals TWI clings to. . . . . . JCNG, Are the dead alive now. . . . their understanding of The Holy Spirit. . . . etc. etc.

Not only does TWI qualify as a cult because of the mind control techniques(Lifton's 8 criteria) it practices. . . . but, from a Christian perspective it qualifies because it denies certain fundamentals.

Everyone has a worldview. . . . but, . . . and this is me. . . . rejecting one based on our experience with an aberrant biblical faith is short sighted.

Edited by geisha779
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Just so I'm clear, are you saying one shouldn't reject fundamentalism based solely on an experience in TWI?

As a morphed, uniquely American, now political, phenomenon. . .I would hope one would reject it. . . . but, having fundamental Christian beliefs is not a bad thing. . . . I believe in objective truth. . . i.e., truth having a corresponding object. . . . I also believe life takes a little faith. :)

Edited by geisha779
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As a morphed, uniquely American, now political, phenomenon. . .I would hope one would reject it. . . . but, having fundamental Christian beliefs is not a bad thing. . . . I believe in objective truth. . . i.e., truth having a corresponding object. . . . I also believe life takes a little faith. :)

Isn't "having [a] fundamental Christian belief..." different from a fundamentalist approach to Christianity?

As for me and my house, we will reject fundamentalism of any kind....

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Isn't "having [a] fundamental Christian belief..." different from a fundamentalist approach to Christianity?

As for me and my house, we will reject fundamentalism of any kind....

Yes. . . . exactly!!! Because of what fundamentalism has come to mean. . . .

I think it is the word people get hung up on then. . . . . because you and your house more than likely adhere to a set of fundamentals. . . . it is almost impossible not to. . . . we are all fundamentalist in some respects. . . . even if we religiously adhere to what we term a non-fundamentalist faith or worldview. We make our judgments determined on a basic set of principles which guide our lives.

Christian fundamentalists or what we now call evangelical's simply do the same thing. . . .the two terms have become intermingled. . . . ..although they did not start out as the same movement. . . . . . I would call myself an evangelical because I adhere to the same basic principals regarding the Christian faith and there are not too many denominations who don't adhere to these same beliefs. But, I would not term myself a fundamentalist because of what the term has come to mean.

I submit you can't be a Christian unless you do adhere to the basic tenets, beliefs, creeds, or fundamentals of the Christian faith. . . . just as you are not a Muslim unless you adhere to the 5 pillars of Islam, or you don't convert to Judaism unless trained into and persuaded of that set of beliefs. . . .Hindu's also have a set of beliefs. . . as does Buddhism.

Having a fundamentalist faith or life is unavoidable. . . . being what we now understand the word "fundamentalist" to mean. . . is avoidable. . . .

Ironically this thread highlights the same argument which sparked the movement in the first place. . . . the need for a codified or creedal set of standards by which to determine a faith. Evangelical's and most denominations do this based on the bible. . . . and within the mainstream(how do we get that?) basic tenets are not as different as you may believe. Differences often lay in what denominations highlight or reform than within the shared codified set of beliefs.

Much of what we rebelled against when we got into TWI was mainstream Christianity. We actually fell into a harsher form of what we thought we were opposing. What we were trying to redefine.

To my ears much of what has been expounded on in this thread makes perfect sense. . . . it is still in opposition to the mainstream. . . . but, Christians are not that easily persuaded from their faith. . . . because it is more than faith in a book. . . . it is faith in a person. . . . and in the providence of God. . . . sounds like circular reasoning to some, but part of our faith is the testifying of the Holy Spirit to us. . . . that these things are true. . . . we have the witness of transformed lives. . . and the bible itself. . . even with it's flawed and fallible cannon it is a heady witness. . . we make decisions everyday . . . important decisions based on less evidence than there is for having faith in the God of the bible.

Paul's vision aside. . . . the worldview of salvation and faith is a wondrous and believable thing for many like me.

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If there's anything I learned from my way experience.. I'm really not *smart* enough to find Him. Somehow, he has to find me..

its not my responsibility.. so to speak..

I look out the window every morning..

I dunno.. maybe one has to hear the "call"..

where is it.. what is it..

sometimes, it presents itself.. and one can't understand the language at the moment..

if it was that easy.. what would the experience really be worth..

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Not only did I make grave errors in judgment when getting involved with TWI, but I was seduced by big fat claims about the nature of the system I was in. It claimed to be a biblical research ministry but it is extreme fundamentalism. I suggest more of us get informed not only about how cults function but what fundamentalism is and the history of its development. It’s not only a way of interpreting the bible but a way of existing in the world.

I thought this was a good video dealing with fundamentalism in support of your statement that "it is a way of existing in the world".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsAbgfAGzlE

Wow.

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Editorial comment on my original post's comments on the first page:

I covered many topics in that post. Reviewing it now, it's clear I covered too many. I failed to explain each one enough. Please keep in mind I do not always do my best writing when I'm addressing emotionally charged topics, so in retrospect I'd try and not to come off so snippy in some of my remarks. I apologize for the tone of it in some places, but that does not mean I do not stand by my opinions or my views.

Karen Armstrong said something that I try to keep in mind when I speak or write, but I am guilty of doing it over and over. She said something like, "Some people would rather be right than compassionate." I do not want to be one of those people. My hope is to become a person who can do both at the same time. It ain't always easy.

Cheers,

Charlene L. Edge

a.k.a. Penworks

ps - Today, in the thread "A New Lawsuit" I gave my name and will from now on.

Edited by penworks
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  • 3 weeks later...

Wow.

Thanks again to taxicab for providing the link to the Rachel Maddow report, which includes an interview with the author of, Crazy for God. It speaks to a major problem in this country - as I see it - of overzealous evangelizing and often reckless and offensive application of Bible verses to current-day events. This sort of interpretation denies the historical context of the verses and drags them into the 21st century, which in my view, is inappropriate.

Another example appeared in the newspaper, USA Today, this past Monday, Oct. 12, 2009, on page 11A by Tom Krattenmaker (yeah, I collect such articles) titled, "And I'd like to thank God Almighty." It covers the story of Tim Tebow's promotion of his brand of Christianity to the point of disrespecting other players' (and anyone else's) beliefs. "Tebow does his missionary trips to the Philippines under the auspices of his father's Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association. The Tebow organization espouses a far-right theology. Its bottom line: Only those who assent to its version of Christianity will avoid eternal punishment. The ministry boldy declares, 'We reject the modern ecumenical movement.'"

Unfortunately, until more Christians become aware of the history of own their religion (including an understanding of the multitude of beliefs floated in the first couple of centuries after the reports of Jesus's death and resurrection) and how these various Christ-focused movements influenced each other, this sort of religious bigotry will continue. It's the stuff "Holy wars" were/are made of. It's the grist for dividing humanity, not uniting or comforting people. Plenty of information is available. Public libraries are a good place to start. And it wouldn't hurt to become a little more educated about other religions, too. We might be surprised at what things they have in common.

I also say let's pay more attention to making our behaviors more productive and caring of others and be less concerned about promoting many "beliefs" we can never prove one way or another anyway, no matter what our religion - or lack of it - might be.

Cheers and enjoy your day. It's a gift to be alive, isn't it?

Edited by penworks
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Those who have been on the receiving end (or the delivering end, depending on how you define it)

of things science would scoff at tend to be among the slowest to be persuaded that modern science

has all the answers- because we've seen otherwise.

I know science has many, many, MANY answers, but that's far short of a Richard Dawkins-like

"science has all the answers to everything except ignorance" position.

Not for nothing are there notable scientists who are steadfast Christians....

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If you read Shakespeare. . . . I would be very suspect. . . . there is some good evidence that it was actually Francis Bacon who authored most of that work. Homer? Chuck it. . . . I think the earliest transcript we have for the Iliad is a thousand years later.

A uniform truth test(that is what we call it) for ancient documents. . . . should at the very least. . . . be uniform.

I know historians. . . . noted historians. . . .I slogged under them for six years. Don't put your faith in their hands. Don't be talked out of faith by them. . . . they are not infallible. Why do I even say this? If you have them in your tag line and are attempting to live by guiding principles set fort in their work. . . . you may have swapped one form of fundamentalism for another. . . . .this is said with respect, not malice. Respect for the abilities of good people to genuinely consider a point.

As someone who has earned two History degrees. . . . . I love the idea of people learning history. . . . . but, I would caution that there are more than two scholars of note concerning New Testament and early Christian history . . . . more than one textual criticism.

I offer a list of other well known and much respected scholars whose work I hope you will consider examining. We never stop learning. . . . or thinking and considering.

At the very least consider reading NT Wright(Aka New Testament Wright) Daniel B Wallace and Tim Jones Check out some of the debates readily available on line. . . .

Reinventing Jesus How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus. . . . Daniel B Wallace

Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" . . . . . Timothy Paul Jones

Who Was Jesus? NT Wright

The Historical Reliability of the Gospels . . . . . Craig L Blomberg

Cynic, Sage or Son of God? Recovering the Real Jesus in an Age of Revisionist Replies. . . . Gregory A. Boyd

New Testament History: A Narrative Account. . . . . Ben Witherington III

Searching for the Real Jesus in an Age of Controversy. . . . Douglas Groothuis

Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus . . . . JP Moreland, Michael J wikins

The New Testament and the People of God. . . . NT Wright

Jesus and the Victory of God. . . . NT Wright

The Resurrection of the Son of God. . . . NT Wright

The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture. . . . NT Wright

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense . . . . NT Wright.

The Truth About Jesus . . . . . Paul Barnett

The Evidence For Jesus . . . . James GD Dunn

In the Fullness of Time: A Historian Looks at Christmas, Easter, and the Early Church. . . . Paul Maier

Josephus: The Essential Works . . . . PAul Maier.

Eusebius: The Church History. . . . . Paul Maier

Fern Seeds and Elephants," Christian Reflections . . . . C.S. Lewis

More Evidence that Demands a Verdict . . . . Josh McDowell

Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up! The Jesus Seminar's Dr. John Dominic Crossan vs. Dr. William Lane Craig

The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is . . . . NT Wright

Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament . . . . . A.N. Sherwin-White

Orthodoxy . . . . . G.K. Chesterton

The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? FF BRuce. . . . . . And yes, it is a very good idea to read Bruce. . . .to know what is being challenged. . . . this is the guy to read.

Introduction to Research in English Literary History . . . . important to understand the truth test

Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent . . . . . Wayne Booth

Jesus Among Other Gods . . . . . Ravi Zacharias

An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists: By the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice Simon Greenleaf

Edited by geisha779
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Fantastic list, Geisha779. Thanks for adding this insighful information. It is an important distinction to repeat...that faith and education are distinctly different, and as far as reading is concerned, there is no end. And as far as interpretations of what "faith" is, or what "Christianity" is, there is no end either it seems...

As a friend of mine recently said, "Scholarship does not lead one to God. And one's faith does not justify unethical behavior especially when one is exploiting the minds and lives of young [or any aged] people." He said that in reference to many ill effects of TWI's and it offshoots' efforts to promote and indoctrinate their beliefs as The Truth.

BTW - I'm currently reading, The Gutenberg Elegies - The Fate of Reading in the Electronic Age by Sven Birkerts. Let's hope reading lives on!

Cheers!

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Not only did I make grave errors in judgment when getting involved with TWI, but I was seduced by big fat claims about the nature of the system I was in. It claimed to be a biblical research ministry but it is extreme fundamentalism. I suggest more of us get informed not only about how cults function but what fundamentalism is and the history of its development. It’s not only a way of interpreting the bible but a way of existing in the world.

I thought this was a good video dealing with fundamentalism in support of your statement that "it is a way of existing in the world".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsAbgfAGzlE

While I appreciate this video I get a bit leery when someone starts pointing at surveys and drawing conclusions. One has to find out about the sample. That is, who exactly was interviewed, how many, who performed the survey, what were the questions asked, and how were those questions framed. There are people who are trained in conducting surveys because it's easier than most of realize to mislead people in one direction or another.

I just find it hard to believe that 1 out of 3 conservatives believe that Obama is the Antichrist. Frankly, I would find it hard to believe that one out of 3 conservatives are even Christian, much less fundamentalists. Of course, I don't have any facts to back up my claim, I'm just saying that I would take this interview with a grain of salt.

It would seem the individual interviewed wants to make a case against fundamentalist Christians and brand them as nuts. Some are, no doubt. But fundamentalism doesn't hold the corner on acting idiotic. There are idiots everywhere, many of them get elected to U.S. Congress and they exist on both sides of the aisle, and they are involved in every issue.

I'm not defending fundamentalism. What I see as a main problem in this country and the world is that we are spending too much time looking for someone else to blame instead of working together to find solutions to our problems.

I do appreciate seeing this video because it's important to expose oneself to different points of view. I especially like his comment about, "saving Christianity from Christians." I thought that was funny. I think he intended it maliciously, but I still thought it was funny.

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Geisha, thanks for the book list – will have to check out some of those from the library. I have MacDowell’s “Evidence” and Zacharias’ “Jesus Among other Gods” – great books. Very cool on your history degrees. It’s funny how things like history interest me now. Wasn’t the brightest kid academically and dropped out of college. Although I was working on my masters in PFAL for 12 years – but hey, dropped out of that too. biglaugh.gif

I was wondering if you have ever read “Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Faith and American Culture” By Herbert Schlossberg. I thought it was a very challenging read in the way it got me to re-examine my perspective and especially assumptions. Something one person said in review of this book on Amazon really struck me as so applicable for dealing with the TWI mindset: the power of your worldview lies in the fact that it is hidden.

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Geisha, you include a lot of works by NT Wright. Who's he, and what are his creds? How about a quick bio?

T-Bone - not too bright? Huh? Pass me the sunglasses next time we meet. Just cos you dropped college doesn't mean you aren't bright.

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Gosh thanks Twinky icon_redface.gif – well, I have come a long way since then. Don’t know how to quantify that academically – it’s mostly been just reading up on things that interest me. Back in my college days, I was a fine arts major and at the time didn’t see the point of learning all the other stuff in a typical liberal arts program. So a lot of it was lack of motivation - which hit me big time during a review by one of my professors. While he was critiquing my paintings when suddenly the practical side of life slapped me upside the head with a sobering thought “who the hell is gonna pay me to make them a painting.” Guess if I had to do it all over again with what I know of myself now I would have gone for a degree in something technical. Ah well, wish in one hand.. . and hold a PFAL book in the other – both worth about as much as a pile of crap. anim-smile.gif

Sorry for the detour into my past – but I think this stuff sort of relates to this thread – after dropping out of college I was a prime target for TWI. Thinking over the sharp points Penworks listed in her first post, they have such resonance with me. I mean PFAL seemed like a magical power to give me answers to everything in life and the means to attain it. Boy was I gullible.

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