Saturday, August 29, 2015

Time is Short

The world will end soon. Some catastrophe is around the corner. We must rush to get out the message. We must "press-in" to save lost souls so we won't have their blood on our hands when we face the Lord. 

Hurry, hurry, and whatever you do, don't stop to think. And if you do think, think about purifying your heart and purging yourself from sin and doubt. What do you need to confess? What hidden sins do you have that you need prayer for, before the little seed of sin grows into a tree of rebellion?

And always - the Home needs funds, and the distribution quotas must be met. We, "God's chosen End-time children," have the awesome responsibility of reaching the world "for Jesus." We don't want to fail the Lord.

Whatever the tack, the theme was the same: time is short. 

With time so scarce, there was always that lingering feeling of guilt: "I should have done that already. I'm such a failure. It's almost useless to try to do something now, as I'm so late in getting started - I'd better hurry."

There was no building for tomorrow. No looking to the future. Just rushing and living for the moment, in spite of all the holy-sounding talk of "doing things in the Lord's time," there was always that feeling of failure, that whatever we do is too little, too late. It was only mitigated by the delusion, "We are the happiest people on earth, because we are God's Chosen."

Even now, many years out, when I think of something I should do or get an idea about something, my intuitive reaction is that of subtle guilt - Why didn't I do that already? Yet another bad habit that was hard-wired into my psyche during those 30 years of nonsense.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Yielding My Will

Being "yielded" was the ideal characteristic for TFI members. Dictionary.com defines this as "inclined to give in; submissive; compliant." It took me years of being told to "surrender my will to the Lord" to attain to this goal, but I finally made it.

I think the turning point for me was when I returned (to the enormous School Home where I lived) with my fifth baby after giving birth at a little clinic. It was my birthday, and I was filled with joy to have a beautiful new baby. That joy had already been tempered when someone told me at the clinic that the District Shepherd had written to me. Although trying to push it out of mind so I could enjoy the day, I was worried.

For good reason. As soon as I was settled on my bed, new babe in arms, looking forward to introducing my children to their new baby brother, I was handed a 16-page computer printout of correction from that Shepherd. This is the Shepherd who had already put the onus on me for any marriage problems we were having by telling me I was, "not just self-righteous, but really, really, really self-righteous." That 16-page list of my sins and failings, I now see, was the straw that broke the camel's back.

If I had lacked in decisiveness and confidence before, it was nothing to how I was after that letter.

Of course, mandatory public "confession" and united prayer followed, after giving me a week or so to dwell on "what the Lord was trying to teach me." (Shades of Mao and the public confessions required during the Cultural Revolution.) Naturally, I was to do even more intensive studies of the Mo Letters and the Bible as remedy (or was it penance?) for my sins. Oh, not to forget the OHRs (Open Heart Reports), where we wrote our secret sins and daily struggles and victories for our Shepherds to muse over and decide on future dealings. These were ramped-up during times of confession, when "the Lord had his spotlight" on me.

The whole idea was to break our wills and psychologically beat us into submissive, unquestioning, even unthinking, followers. Even more so for women, who were to be obsequious, fawning "helpmeets."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Self-righteousness

From nearly day one in the cult, I was told I was self-righteous. No one wants to be self-righteous. That's what Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees.  

This idea was pounded into my head year after year. One might think that being labelled as “self-righteous” was just another annoyance, but it actually had insidious psychological effects. Once that concept was hammered into me though repetition by various leaders, it kept me questioning my own thoughts and ideas. “How can I trust myself or my decisions if I am self-righteous? I am basically flawed and untrustworthy. I need to look to my wiser Shepherds.”

My other label in the group, "favoring my own children," went against the group's foundational principle of "one wife." This stated that we were to be the collective "bride of Christ" and therefore treat everyone in the group equally, children included. That philosophy paved the way for the "Law of Love" where Berg wrote, "Whatever is done in love is lawful in God's eyes," the 10 Commandments being fulfilled and finished with Jesus' death. As I already wrote, abuse and licentiousness followed.

With these two cardinal sins being held over my head, following me from Home to Home via the reports of Shepherds, there was not much room for self-confidence. I was filled with self-doubt, and I was constantly trying to go against the natural instincts of a mother in order to show my group loyalty. I hate the person I became.

The cult atmosphere and mindset is hard to break. It takes a person actually leaving its confines and stepping back, getting new input, to finally lift the scales of delusion that had become second-nature.

Today, we are faced with many insidious cults, and religious ones always seem to have the strongest grip with their false hopes for afterlife glory and punishment for desertion. ISIS is without doubt, the most hideous because of their immoral framework; North Korea is a close second. Just removing the leader will not cure the deceived followers; new leaders will sprout up like the seven-headed hydra. It is not an easy task to change ingrained mindsets. 

For me, the first step to freedom was the initial moving away from communal lifestyle with its constant reinforcement of beliefs and social pressure to conform. Then, gradually, the allure of the publications faded, weakening my misplaced faith, so that when I was shown Lord Justice Ward's statement, I had the strength to overcome loss aversion and leave behind that which I had devoted 30 years of my life to. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Inside Information

A technique used by Berg and (other cult leaders) to make their writings hold more weight was to make them exclusive. Feeling that the information we are privy to is limited and only for us, "the called-out ones," made it very powerful. The general public were allowed certain milder, or in the jargon of the cult, "milky" Letters, but for us "elite," well, we could handle the "strong meat of the word."

In line with the principle of scarcity, information is more persuasive if we think we can't get it elsewhere. Thus, the cult was set up to give its members the idea that they had exclusive information on what was really going on behind the scenes (cue conspiracy theories) and that our "prophet" had a direct link to Almighty God who deemed to tell him, and him alone, this private information.


Even weak and stupid arguments gain perceived value if they are deemed inside information.

Add to that the fact that outside information was generally unavailable, and this created a natural "hunger" for something new to read. We were not permitted to watch TV, read books, magazines, or newspapers, and the fledgeling Internet was, of course, off limits. Our only source of any information was the cult. To keep us informed about world events (or rather, the cult spin on world events) weeks-old news stories were chosen, edited, and compiled to conform with cult doctrines and sent to us in the form of "The World News Digest."


The regular "mailings" were eagerly received, and everyone wanted to be the first to read each of the assortment of publications they contained. Of course, there were never enough copies for everyone in the Home to read for themselves, so we had united readings of those the "Shepherds" felt were most important, and had to take turns reading all the others. Scarcity, again.

There were also reams of older publications to read, many rehashed into more sensible topical readings, some made into books of daily devotionals (styled after The Daily Light books, and called in copycat fashion The Daily Might), as well as bound volumes of Mo Letters (the writings of David Berg). We were really never at a loss for inside information to read, but the same old thing could get boring, and that made the arrival of new publications a looked-forward-to event for us information-starved plebeians.