1993, 06/07-10. What Goes On In The Dark Here. Our Little Secrets.

June 7, 1993

Dear Mom,

Just thought I’d drop another note in the mail.

Sunday’s meeting was not so critical as I thought it would be, but it was still quite intense.  The Bible wasn’t opened (no Bible study) but there were ten hours of shouting, claiming, voting and proving and a lot of pressure, with an intermission for dinner.

By the way, do you have any questions for me or is there anything you want to know more about or that I have not explained sufficiently?

I don’t want to just be raving on and on.  It’s a nice spring day today.  Right now I am in a university area.  Across the street, some people are filming, probably a class project.  A young man and woman flirting around happily.  One of those “boy meets girl” things.

Love,

James

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June 10, 1993

Dear Mom,

Please excuse the stationery that I’m using here.  I am on my way by train out to Locust Valley, Long Island to do some work.  I didn’t have any paper, so I grabbed this.  [I was writing on the back of Christian Brothers flyers.]

I got your recent letter.  I must say I was mildly shocked at your opening line where you said that there seems to be enough evidence to arrest Stewart.  It took me a while to realize why you said that.  Then I remembered that I wrote you about “810” and my time spent there.  (“810” is our unofficial jargon for 810 North Broad Street, the building we rented there, but it is also used to indicate the whole episode there.)

I doubt there is actually evidence of the kind law enforcement can make a case of.  The Philadelphia police, who are more hostile to us than the New York police, who are at best indifferent, have tried numerous times to no avail.  They have our complete accounting paperwork and probably a lot of other stuff from a raid in 1985.  This raid was staged with all the standard props and fireworks.  People were roused in the middle of the night by cops with guns drawn.  A Sister woke up with a shotgun in her face.  Quite a show of force for a midnight raid on a house of people that were still kids barely out of their teens.  I think the cops were apprehensive.  This might have been right after the other Philadelphia police raid on “The Move,” who were bombed out by police.  But in their case they were holding off the cops with guns for weeks.  This is one of the reasons why you wouldn’t want law enforcement to handle our “problems.”  (I was living in New York at the time this happened.)

Basically, authorities deal on a confrontational basis.  What I would really like is a Christian version of “real estate appraiser.”  Something like a group of Christians making an independent report and evaluation on us.  This is like when you find out you have cancer, going to another doctor for a second opinion.  Someone I could trust, then I’d be able to be more sure about what’s real or not.  Something like this would go a long way in helping me, although it is highly unlikely by the very fact of our isolation.

Stewart has also announced recently that he (and now we, because he told us) have special knowledge about what faith is and that it is safe to say that all (yes, all) other Christians are starving and need to know this(!)

I imagine that the next step would be some program where we go to other churches and enlighten those poor starving souls.  This I could put up with, because it would cause interaction with others outside our little world.  Their input could certainly stir up our own stagnant waters.  Outside eyes and evaluating minds couldn’t help but find things to criticize.  With this, I would bet that much that goes on here could no longer take place, being that it’s necessary, in order to continue, that it must go on behind closed doors.  I don’t think that Stewart has contacted other pastors about this either.  Alas!  Such a thing could never be!  I think Stewart realizes that any contact with responsible, sensible outsiders would weaken his hold on us.  In order to maintain that hold, he must be seen as all-wise, irrefutable and invincible.  In order to do that he must remain aloof from anyone who could remotely pose any problem.  The myth must be upheld and we all play along.

Enough for now.  Yesterday we had a tremendous lightning storm which was preceded by a shock wave of hurricane force winds that were bending the poplar trees across the street till they bent sideways.  I saw a wall of wind and water coming across the Hudson.  The sky was so turbulent that it actually was green.  There was so much dust and wind in the streets that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a tornado suddenly appear.

Today is fresh and cool.  Just had a nice train ride out to Locust Valley.  I am now finishing this letter in the waiting room of the small suburban station here.  It’s pleasant here.  I’ll probably come out for the next few days.  We are installing a new wood floor in a furniture shop that makes reproductions of antique furniture.  The building used to be an old blacksmith shop.

The latest torrent of letters, I suppose, goes a little way in making up for thirteen years of non-communication.  I suppose that some of the tales I have to tell can create horror and astonishment.  But I am trying to be factual.  Will continue to write.

Love,

James.

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