1993, 06/04. Living Under the Iron Fist of The Fellowship.

June 4, 1993

Dear Mom,

This is a follow up letter to our phone call.  It is good and also helpful knowing that I have a place to go in the event I should ever need it.  This helps a little to reduce anxieties that I have over this matter.

But, I’ll have to tell you about all the issues involved in “leaving” and why it is not such an easy thing for me to do.  There is so much more involved than buying a train or plane ticket and throwing a bag over my shoulder and walking out.

Some of these issues are, briefly:

1)  These are just about the only people I know.

2)  Questions concerning my salvation if I leave.

3)  What happens, or seems to happen, to everybody else who has done this.

4)  Probably the extreme culture shock, sense of purposelessness and disorientation and other things that I would face.

5)  Is this what God wants me to do?

This list, though not endless, is very involved and has a definite effect on me and on everybody else who has made the same decision or even has only thought about it – and most everybody here does from time to time, whether they admit it or not.

I will probably do what most anyone does when they don’t know what direction to take – keep doing what I am doing now for the moment.  Perhaps some change in my environment will help me see which way to go.  Of course, this Sunday will in itself be a landmark, because supposedly then, “we will review the results of last weekend’s meeting to see who is who and who has done what and who believes whom.”  But so many times in the past, there have been these big build ups to earth shaker weekends where the great divide will be made, only to do something completely different.

(One example two years ago, Stewart said that “anyone who couldn’t say they’ve reached repentance by Sunday can’t be in this church any longer.”  I figured I hadn’t and certainly couldn’t present my proofs.  How do you “prove” that anyway?  So I resigned myself to my fate, only to find we had a Bible study on some other subject and this subject wasn’t mentioned – and nobody reminded him either.)

But, reviewing such past events doesn’t help the apprehension level much.  They’re just “past knowledge.”  So, one can live in quite a state of turmoil here.  But I have been feeling the ledge I’m out on get narrower and narrower and I’ll probably fall off somewhere.

There is also talk of us warehouse residents moving to the office, so we won’t be so alone.  This means sleeping on a piece of floor somewhere, only to have to rouse yourself quickly when the Sisters come into work, unless I can find a closet somewhere like some Brothers have.  Ridiculous, huh?

Anyway, while praying about this in the morning, “non-resistance” is the word that formed itself in my mind.  If that’s God’s viewpoint, I can see the appropriateness in it.  If I resist, in any way over anything, then that issue, whatever it is, then becomes a rallying point for people to come after me with, and short of leaving (as a way out) I will wish I never did it because I will have made it much worse for myself, won’t get what I want, will probably lose even more than that certain item or issue and to top it off, will have to make a public apology or at least get hounded about making one.

I mean, I would like to say (to them) that I think it’s normal or reasonable for a person to have a private space (even if he shares it with three people) that he can keep locked and also arrange some of his personal things around him.  This is normal for a 36 year old man and not asking for too much.  But if I were to say that, it would set off a hue and cry about how we are not here for “I want.” (“I want,” according to our teachings is “the very core of sin.”) It’s not “I want,” but “God’s will,” because, “Jesus said to give up everything concerning this life because you are going to lose it very soon anyway.”  To disagree with this means to disagree with the very heart of the teachings of our church and in one way or another, with the founder of said church, so my “crime” then goes one level deeper and moves way beyond a little spat about living arrangements.  Things escalate very quickly and in a certain specific direction and that is why neither I nor anyone else clamors for some kind of boundary or a minimal level of personal rights.  Such a thing is unheard of.  So you can see what I am up against here and why I go around with a cork in my mouth over any personal wants or desires.  (As I wrote in my earlier letter, I am considering whether the price is worth what I receive here.  I understand that “if you are eager for the kernel, you must tolerate the husks.”  There is a price for everything.)

It’s time for me to wrap up my letter.  This reads like a page from my diary.  I go around thinking like this almost all day.  It probably sounds like an emotional tirade.  If it does, tell me.  I don’t talk to anybody about my inmost (or even outermost) thoughts anymore, due to our “passive surveillance system,” which I think I described to you already.  I even keep my diary in code.  If somebody picked that up and read it, it would be all over!

I’ll write you some more letters.  Write me some too.  Let’s talk about something else besides all this as well sometimes.  I am out door to door canvassing today and will do a little floor work this evening.  Maybe I’ll write a book about all this some day.

Love,

James.

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