1992, 10/31. An Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living.

On this tape, I allowed myself to work out some ideas that I would have been forbidden to talk to anyone else about (Stewart Traill, the leader of our cult would have charged me with “conspiracy” if I had, which is what he often accused church members of). I was thinking critically about our leader and the Church of Bible Understanding, a communal organization where I was supposed to spend the rest of my life, if I wanted to follow Jesus.  What comes through rather loudly in this section was my extreme feeling of being forbidden to think about these things, and my having to deal with that taboo in order to examine these things more closely.

When I made this tape, I was still not completely convinced in my mind about what was wrong there. I didn’t know that I would leave 10 months later. I had become much more convinced by that time about what was wrong and why I needed to leave.

A quote that meant a lot to me at this time was, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates.)

I was guarding the church’s Staten Island residence alone while everyone was away at a weekend meeting and I decided to record myself talking about the things that were on my mind. (A guard was always left at each of the church residences and offices during weekend meetings. It was one of the few ways to get time alone and to be off the cult treadmill for a while.  A lot of brothers looked forward to guarding. One of essential requirements of getting a guard shift was to never act eager for one.)

(A note about COBU terms: middle brothers, older brothers and older sisters were terms for different categories of people in the church. The older brothers and sisters had been in the church a long time. The middle brothers had not been there quite as long.  And the new brothers, also known as the new disciples, were people we went out and brought in from the streets and stations in the city, who had been in the church about a year.)


October, 31 1992

Even the middle brothers are at this crossroads where they can choose to be like the older brothers or they can get or stay faithful to Jesus. And I see these new brothers, like Curtis M., who seem to be going the way of the older brothers. And it’s only the newest people that must be protected from the influence of the bad.

(It wasn’t clear to me at the time that the reason the new converts “went bad” after being in COBU for about a year was because Stewart Traill let the new disciples have the feeling they could do no wrong at first, until they had been in the church for about a year. Then Stewart suddenly pulled the rug out from under them, usually in a meeting in front of all the others, and from then on, dealt out the same abuse to them that he constantly gave to everyone else. I came to realize that this sudden turning of the tables on the new converts after an initial grace period was a part of the induction or breaking process that Stewart subjected every new person to here, and that it had also happened to me when I first came to the church, though I hadn’t understood this process at the time.)

I guess there’s much to say about that. If it was for me, I’d like to cry and whine about how I got ruined by those who were the older brothers when I first came to the church and didn’t get a good example from them.

(Stewart blamed this pattern of the new converts going bad on the older brothers, and he accused us of ruining them. I also wished sometimes that I could blame my own failures on those who had been the older brothers at the time when I first came to the church. In the next paragraph, I began to speak about the conditions in the church when I first joined it. That there was no plan of Christian education, only a drive to get new converts to come live with us.)

On the other side, when I came to the church, there was no plan of study. It was not like a seminary with a course of studies. There were just workbooks laying around that we could read if we wanted to. There was always this drive to witness [to gather new converts] and you just go, go, go, and your inner spiritual life didn’t get tended to.

There’s a lot I could talk about regarding this and I just wonder why that is. I’d like to really analyze it, to step into the forbidden zones and to really think. I could understand avoiding doing that if there was no profit in it. Yet, it isn’t anything I haven’t thought about before, so I don’t know if I could get myself in any further trouble (from God) for thinking about it again.

(I didn’t think I would receive any more punishment from God (than I already thought I was receiving) by thinking about these things in more detail. It wasn’t going to make it any worse than it was. In fact, thinking about these things might help me. But I was always afraid that I was in trouble with God for thinking about the church and about Stewart in this way.)

Another reason to avoid talking about these things would be if someone found the tapes and played them as evidence against me. They would say, “Listen to this contentious and weird person building up his case. Look, we have the tapes. Is this you or isn’t it?” Like the Watergate tapes. “We have the tapes. You’re totally incriminated.”

(I was afraid to record my true thoughts, because if someone found the tapes, they could be used against me in an inquisitional meeting. This never happened, but I was afraid it could.)

My question is why the new disciples die out. You could say, well, it’s my fault because I’m not in there helping them. But, I’ve often wondered if there is some kind of massive disease.

(I thought maybe the reason that the new converts “went bad” was that I was not laying down my life in this world and helping the new disciples, as Stewart said we had to do. See the note above about why the most hopeful new converts only lasted a year before “going bad.”)

Of course, here is where I would be accused of, the undercurrents, the things I’m implying or hinting at when I say these things, which others here can sense if I talk about it. “What is he really saying when he says these things? He isn’t really coming out and saying it, but we realize the implications of what he’s saying. He’s very subtle,” they would say. “He’s sharp, but he’s subtle about it. That’s why he’s so dangerous.”

And of course, what I’m hinting at is that maybe what Stewart teaches us isn’t right. Maybe he says a lot of right sounding things, but there’s some dangerous way in which it’s off-base. And this knocks the whole house off the foundation. Of course, that’s preposterous to say, but that’s what Stewart himself admitted to about his earlier teachings. That’s why it’s so hard to say he’s teaching wrong now, because he said he gave up his old teachings and that God revealed grace to him now, so you could never say that what he is teaching now is wrong and get away with it.

(Stewart Traill said that up until 1989 he had been teaching in error and acting wrong toward us, but you could never get away with saying he was teaching and acting wrong now. I found out, because I tried. The same utter censorship what was in effect before his apparent admission of fault was still in effect – and now it was even more forceful and hard line than before!

Stewart dealt mercilessly with people like myself – the dissenters and those who had doubts. But I also felt like God was punishing me. Some of that feeling came from the life of pressure, coercion, constant activity, poor diet, sleep deprivation, surveillance and more that we lived in COBU. All of this conspired against me to make me feel overwhelming pressure that was coming, not only from Stewart, but from my surroundings, from the others, from within me – and from God. This also involved keeping out any outside influence or anything different that could contradict or pose an alternative to this worldview and way of life.  And in putting down anyone on the inside who had who was suspicious of the leader and our way of life.)

I looked out the window the find out where a noise was coming from. It was just some old guy banging on the hood of his car. Of course, to speak of my inward fears, it sounded like gunshots. It could be that whenever I begin to think about these things, I get warned by God of imminent death for stepping into this area of thinking.

(I feared that I was under a sentence of death from God for thinking these thoughts and for questioning our church.  What I thought might have been gunshots (but was only someone pounding on the hood of his car) would have been God warning me of a violent death, a soon to be carried out punishment for stepping into this forbidden zone of thought.)

Maybe it’s true. Maybe when I get into this way of thinking, it’s all from a demon who influences my mind and fills it with these things. The devil gives me a lot to go on, a lot of bait. He gets me on the hook and reels me in with it.

But I’ve got to face these thoughts. Because I do think these things, but I bury them. I’ve got to come to terms with it. Maybe that’s an excuse. Maybe I ought to urgently forsake all this kind of thinking.

(The official answer about thinking like this would have been that I was looking for excuses to get out of serving God the COBU way – God’s only true way.)

I remember reading the book The Kingdom of God in America. The author spoke of the hocus pocus certain Christians use to ward off their intellectual doubts. They fall back on superstitions, so they don’t have to look at what’s really going on. They use certain affirmations of the faith to ward off intellectual doubt. In other words, they’re afraid to shake things up, because something might fall out that has been concealed and maybe it will destroy everything they’ve ever believed in, instead of it leaving them all the more convinced that their faith is real, after what is shaken is gone, so that what cannot be shaken remains.

That could be what I need to do. Maybe I should just delve into this and get into it. It may be really harmful to do, maybe not. I’m not sure. The idea is to deal with it – it’s there, so deal with it, pray about it. Don’t try to act like it’s not there. It’s like trying to act like my sins aren’t there when they are there, and instead of going to the fountain of forgiveness, trying to cover them with good works and trying to forget I ever committed those sins and to just try to be good now. Or, in the case of these thoughts, instead of dealing with them, saying, “Look, I’m having right thoughts now, I’m staying away from this now.”

What I am saying, is that maybe this means that what Stewart is teaching us isn’t right, and that there’s some fault to be found in him. And that I’m aware of this, underneath the layers of all the right things we have to say, like, “My own sin is my basic problem. Yes, I’m the one with the problem. I go to hell for my own sins, there’s no point in pointing the finger at anyone else.”

(On the tape, I rain these last three sentences together rapidly and mechanically, as a way to imitate a COBU member using a thought terminating cliché in order to cancel out doubts, to only look at his own sins and to accept that nothing could be wrong with our organization or its leader.  Robert J. Lifton’s concept of thought terminating clichés is in his book, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism.]

But sometimes, I still wonder. We’re not supposed to think about things like that, or even to wonder about them. I have to keep quiet. I will be threatened with being put out of the church if I bring it up. Of course you could say, maybe it’s the way I stood up and railed at Stewart that time. Maybe if I had calmly presented my doubts to him instead it would have been different and I wouldn’t have been threatened with being put out.

(At a meeting I expressed my doubts, and had become a little emotional. But, I could have been completely calm and Stewart would have still reframed what I did as an “attack against our church and all it stands for.” We either agreed with this way or we didn’t. There was no middle ground. Stewart had us all backed in the corner with his accusation that we were not faithful to Christ. If we could not prove we were 100% faithful to Christ, then we could not say anything “negative” about him or say that we did not like the COBU way of life.

How dare we say anything if we were not living completely right ourselves and if we did not have a record of faithfulness?  And if we were 100% faithful to Christ, then we would not say anything negative about him or this way of life, because this way of life was from God and Stewart was God’s faithful messenger. We would be obedient to this way and to Stewart and therefore have no objections. It was a double bind from which there was no escape. And no one would consider anything I had to say if I tried to talk about it.)

I remember a few times before this, when I hadn’t gotten angry, I calmly presented my doubts. I was pushed in a corner.

I was reading about John Wesley. He was the way Stewart is with us. People either obeyed Wesley or they didn’t. Some people said, “You’re like the Pope.” And Wesley said, “I will not share my authority with anyone. You have to listen to me.” They said he was inflamed with love for his congregation. People first scorned him when he came into a new area, then they feared him when they saw he was invincible. Then they grew to love him.

Sometimes I think that Stewart falls short of being inflamed with love for us. I never feel drawn to be around him, really wanting to emulate him.

Because although Wesley had a heavy authority trip, people didn’t mind because of the way the man was. You can try to say that Wesley was like Stewart, or something like him – unless I am reading our present situation into Wesley. Then you could say, so then, Stewart is right! But maybe Wesley was of a different quality where people would be more willing to accept his lordship over them. They lovingly served him. There were probably dissenters, but Wesley was successful and very well-known, so there had to be something to it.

(I was reasoning that if it was legitimate for Wesley to have heavy-handed authority over his congregation, then Stewart’s overbearing authority might be legitimate as well. But no one lovingly served Stewart – though there were some among us who might believe, or at least say, that they served him lovingly – although this service would be in terms that Stewart was a “right example” of a faithful Christian, and as a result, beyond reproach and could not be spoken of unfavorably for any reason, under any circumstances. And Stewart said that none of us were right examples of faithful Christians.)

Like I said, maybe what we’re learning here isn’t right. If I have an area of doubt, I guess it’s an area in his teaching, about how heavily he pushes the communal lifestyle and how we must leave all our ties to the world. Yes, we must forsake the world according to the Bible, and we’re supposed to be in the world, but not of it. But the idea that we don’t live in houses. We used to have fellowship houses and now we’re living in warehouses and crowded apartments. Maybe if we had all been faithful to Christ, we would still have fellowship houses, because sometimes we had meetings with Stewart about “how should we live and how should we arrange ourselves?” Maybe it never got dealt with, because we can never get to that point. Maybe I can look at it more objectively that way. But as far as the communal life we urge people to move into, it might be better for people to live outside of the church and come visit us. But the only people who live out and come around are people like Eric.

(Eric was a subcontractor in COBU’s wood floor refinishing business. He was not a member of the church and he did not live in.)

Well, the married ones live out. If I was married, I wouldn’t live in. Whenever any of the married ones have moved in, they ended up putting their lives on the fellowship. It’s weird. They come with the expectation that, “You are going to take care of me. I had to leave everything, so I guess you are going to take care of me.” Then they find out that the church is not going to. So they do have to keep a separate life. Then the strange thing, Stewart does keep himself separate.

(Despite Stewart’s insistence that we live communally in every aspect of our lives, he did not live that way.)

Stewart lives in the church property. He maintains it, reaps the benefits of it, but his finances and everything are separate.  And, he chooses his actions, under God…well yes, I believe he chooses his actions under God. I’m not going to say he’s of the devil. I don’t want to be that way, really. Of course, if you even allow a small contention or disagreement, it’s a poison that’s going to grow and you will become that way.

(One of the main things that was not right in COBU, and which I was questioning, was the live-in communal lifestyle. The Bible does say to “be in the world, but do not be of the world,” but the COBU version of this was an extreme rejection and withdrawal from the world to a harmful degree. We were isolated and heavily influenced by our leader. I thought it was strange that we did not live in houses, though we once had communal fellowship houses in earlier years. 

I also thought that maybe if we had been faithful to Christ, we would have more normal living arrangements. According to Stewart, we were living in an extreme punishment camp style living arrangement for our own good, because we needed to “break up our hiding,” “not be off on our own” and to “not do our own thing.” Only by living this way, he said, could our rebellion and sinfulness be broken and could we be saved. And this was the reason for the deprivation and unnatural living conditions. We brought the need for this upon ourselves by our own rebellion, he said.

I also noted that the married church members, those who had married before 1980 (there were no marriages in the church after 1979 and none to this present day) lived out, so as not to burden the church with their living expenses. I also noted that while Stewart lived at the New Property (and before that, in the church-owned house in Princeton), that he kept his life and finances separate – unlike us, the live-in unmarried people who supported the church with our time and labor, receiving a small weekly allowance. 

I also said that Stewart chose his actions under God and that I did not want to say he was of the devil. I wanted to be fair and open-minded. I did not want to be one of those angry and “contentious” ex-members of the church who accused Stewart of all sorts of things, and who seemed not at peace with themselves. That angry and unsettled look that ex-members sometimes had made me think that they were of the devil! Stewart went to great lengths to portray himself as a fair man who considered God’s will at every step, while in reality, he was far from being that way. And I feared that if I let in just one small doubt about this way of life, it would be like a dam breaking, and I would begin to think about all the other things that were wrong in COBU.)

Maybe our living arrangement is harmful. There are no foundations and my responsibilities are not placed directly on me. And it could lead to a sickly dependence on the church instead of growing humanly and even spiritually, if I had to depend more on myself. Careful how you say that – if I had to depend on my own efforts.

(Stewart talked to us often about “not depending on ourselves,” so it sounded sacrilegious to use that phrase, even when talking alone, as if there were some unseen monitor on my private thoughts. So I tried to clarify it and to explain that this did not mean to depend on myself instead of depend on Jesus, but rather that I could be responsible for my life, rather than being on the artificial life support system of the cult, as if in a coma. Not making my own decisions in the name of living according to “God’s will,” really meant living according to agenda of our leader, because he was telling cult members what “God’s will is for us as a church,” while at the same time, discouraging any independent actions taken by church members. I learned to be passive and to wait for “Jesus to show us.”)

If I had to work, depending on God for my very next meal and my next jobs, it might lead me to live more dependently on God, whereas here, if I live in the church, I’m always going to get fed and everything is just slopped together. I don’t make decisions, I just follow the crowd. I could do that living out too. But, there’s no house, there’s no home, there are no individual businesses. I have no personal life to speak of. My own relationship with God might get clouded too. I have a communal relationship with God, thereby leading me to think that if I live here, I will be saved within the communal salvation. And I never grow or develop myself and I never get away to think about what I’m really doing. Because even if I did, there’s no life apart from the fellowship, so I just stay here like this. And I think that may be the problem.

That’s a way of life. Something I’ve been studying is that, if there’s a way of life, it comes from a teaching. All things come from ideas first, though they may bounce back and forth and influence one another. Our way of life is nihilistic. Stewart says that “all of life is a fraud.” There is an extreme denial of just about everything beyond immediate food and clothing, and even what we eat is not very good and most everyone here dresses poorly. This is a way of life that comes from a teaching. That’s the ethic that comes from the teaching. But also, it may echo back. We’re not very successful, so then we develop a teaching about how it’s not good to be successful, like Gibbon wrote in his book, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, about how the Christians in Rome preached against affluence, because not many of them were affluent. Most of them were poor themselves, so it was a have-not viewpoint. Maybe that was where that preaching was coming from. And there may be ways in which that echoes back and forth here, like ripples back and forth on a pond.

(I was saying Stewart’s teachings affected our lifestyle and our lack of great success affected the teaching, especially in the areas of self-denial and rejecting the world. This was my theory about it, but as time went on, it became clear to me that the real reason for the self-denial teachings was to get us to give up our own lives and plans and to work at Stewart’s plans instead. These plans mostly had to do with making money in the church businesses, but they also included finding other people and training them to live this way. Both were full time jobs which left little time for anything else.)

I need to get in touch directly with God and his word and find out for myself. I may be getting influenced by things that aren’t quite scriptural. Because there have been many variations of Christian life throughout history and who is to say that our way of life here is the best thing? It’s touted as the best, it’s like a holy thing. It’s forbidden to really question it, you know. But I do question it, whether I admit it to myself or not. And others here say pretty much the same thing, indirectly. Although there are those among us who only say the officially right things. I wonder where they’re really at, when they act that way. And, I do question. I really do wonder.

This shows I need to read the Bible more. Although it’s a lot to wade through the whole Bible to find how to live. Maybe I shouldn’t look for it directly, but just try to get an overview of the Bible. And then I’ll notice those things when I come across them, rather than trying to look up all the passages on Christian life or to look back at New Testament times to see how Christians lived back then.

(I thought I should read the Bible to see how the first century Christians lived to compare it with how we lived in COBU.  In Acts 4:32, it says that “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” This verse was used in COBU to support the communal lifestyle, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the 1st century Christians lived communally.)

A lot of things are different now than they were back then, aside from the things we have now, such as cars and technology. Life was different then and you can’t make yourself live a first century kind of life. Although some people use this concept to say that adultery is acceptable, because you can’t impose a first century moral code upon modern man. A lot of things people didn’t do back then, you can do now with impunity. But that’s not the real issue I’m trying to find out about anyway. It’s a deeper thing that’s I’m trying to reach.

I don’t even know how I would study, though I do try. I will at least notice things in the Bible. For example, in the Bible it says that, “all things created by God are good and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving,” which is not what Stewart says.

(This Bible verse was diametrically opposed to COBU’s viewpoint about the use of the things in this life, the view that Stewart imposed on his followers. Stewart was and continues to be quite lavish toward  himself and his enjoyment of the things of this life. I realized that these verses in the Bible said something entirely different from what Stewart taught us about how we were supposed to live.

I was quoting1 Timothy 1-5:  “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”

This Bible verse is about false teachers who forbid marriage. Forbidding marriage is a major characteristic of COBU. Stewart never said the words, “I forbid marriage,” but instead, he came up with reasons why we were unfit to marry.)

I have read how people have lived throughout church history, but I often have this hopeless feeling that there’s really nothing I can do about it anyway. I can have all the thoughts I want about how people should live, or about how I should live, but I’m basically going to live the way we do here. Except that maybe I could be a little freer inside and not beat myself about the things I desire to do. I want to study languages, the arts, humanities and other sciences. And I find it helpful to just walk away from this whole place, to walk down the street and go for a walk.

Well, anyway, I’ll try to wrap this tape up. This has been a basic sampler of my thoughts. Okay, I could get into a tirade and try to prove that the things I’m saying are right. I’m just trying to be real about it. These are the things on my mind, and this is what they are. This is what I think about, when I think. A lot, I don’t think. A lot, I move and I do, and I go by impulse. But, if I were to give account of myself, or if I had to write for an impartial observer what I think about, well this is what it is. This is what I think about.

Again, I’m not sure about things. I just glanced at that picture of that man in terror on the wall.

(’The picture of that man in terror on the wall” was part of Michelangelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel. The part of this great work of art that Stewart Traill considered to be most important was The Condemned Sinner. A terrified man about to be cast into hell. This picture was hung up in the church offices to remind us that “You are going to die in two seconds and be thrown into the lake of fire.”  

I paused after finishing all that I had said and wondered if maybe that the fact that I was going to hell was the real issue about me, and that everything else I was talking about was just excuses to not obey God and to avoid facing my desperate eternal condition. (Stewart considered any criticism of him as just excuses to avoid serving the truth.) I was going to be cast into the lake of fire in a few seconds and all these things were just excuses to not be faithful to Christ and to not be urgent and desperate about my salvation, every second. I worried that I might be making my place even hotter in hell by thinking about these things. (We had to give up all our personal desires in order to apply ourselves full time to the way of escape Strewart described to us, which was the only way out of going to hell. We had to apply 100% effort to “Christian training” and facing our desperate condition every second, with no time for anything else.) 

Even just talking about this is all the more storing up wrath for myself. Or, this is just what I am, hell is what I’m going to get, and all this talk is just making excuses to not serve God. I remember that dream about hell I had.

But, I don’t know. I’m not sure.

With a lot of things, it will turn out later that what I was thinking was right. Of course, what confirmed it was that Stewart said it later. I remember one day, three years ago, I was raging about life in Woodruff, thinking that “You need a lobotomy to live like this. That’s the only way you could handle living like this!” Then I went to the meeting that evening and Stewart said to us, “You live like you need to get a lobotomy.” He said the same thing I had been thinking. And sometimes I wonder, was God leading me to think that? Of course, if I admit that, then I would have to admit that God is leading Stewart. I think he does, but that there’s room for error. And I’m in big trouble, even to say that.

But, I would be thinking something during the week and I would say to myself, how dare you think that. I worried that I shouldn’t be thinking it about. But when I’m not watching myself so closely, I’m thinking it anyway, because this is what I think. I would have to caution myself and be worried about these thoughts and yet, this is what I think. Do I think what I think? Am I afraid to think what I think?

At these times I wondered, what was that? Was that God? There it was, Stewart said the same thing I had been thinking. And I wondered if God would lead me in my thoughts.

(I had been thinking about these things, and Stewart said them soon after. So, what? Was God leading me to think about these things? After all, if Stewart said it, it was legitimized. So then, I wondered, are these also things God is leading me to think about – even if Stewart is NOT  confirming them? Did I dare trust my own thoughts? Could God lead me to think that Stewart was not acting right or teaching incorrect things?)

In last week’s meeting, Stewart talked to us about how we want to accomplish things, but are we depending on God to accomplish them? He asked, why does anyone not abide in Christ? All men have a natural desire to accomplish things if they’re normal and not brain dead. The ones that don’t abide in Christ go off on their own to accomplish things, apart from Christ. Stewart said that we have a drive to accomplish things, but are we going to do it in Christ or go off on our own to try to do it without Christ?

And all through the week before this meeting, I had been thinking about how I’m not accomplishing anything and that I’m wasting my life. And then this meeting comes. It’s like an answer to my prayers, or an answer to what I’m thinking. Of course, it’s a condemnation or something.

(I was condemned then for not believing Stewart and having doubts about him. Because look, through Stewart, God had just confirmed my own gripes about not accomplishing anything in my life, so all my railing against Stewart was condemned by God. Therefore, I should be in complete agreement with Stewart and not think anything bad about him or think that he mistreats us. Because of God’s confirmation through Stewart, I was ratted out, I was caught. If Stewart, God’s spokesman, said the same things I had been thinking, and if I believed what I was thinking, then I was condemned for having any thoughts against Stewart, because God speaks through Stewart. I wish I could explain this better.)

Well then, if I accept that, then I accept that what Stewart speaks is true. Yes, sure I’m thinking that I want to accomplish things. And I’m also thinking that what Stewart says isn’t true. I go to a meeting with Stewart – there, he says exactly what I’ve been thinking about and provides an answer. A testimony that what Stewart says is true.

I’m willing to accept things that Stewart says, but there’s always his insistence about denying ourselves and denying everything in this life and giving up everything that gets to me. It really sets me off. That’s another thorny problem altogether, and I’m not going to get into that here. But I was talking about justification for the things I’m thinking and saying on this tape. It’s like, supposedly, I’m being inspired by the devil or a demon to think about all these things. No, I can think of quite a few times where I was being led by God to think about certain things. I get led along to question my life. It’s God waking me up, saying, “What are you doing? You should ask yourself what you’re doing.”

Sure, I have no power to change it, unless God gives it. But then just to sit there dormant or brain dead about it because I can’t do anything, that doesn’t seem right to me either. And maybe God will make a way for me and maybe my thinking about it might be a first step in God waking me up. Just me saying to myself, “Look at the way I squander my time, there’s nothing distinct, there’s not a distinct bugle [1] about anything. Why don’t I do something about it, why don’t I organize myself, why don’t I study more, why don’t I do this or that?”

And all I can say is, that is what I’m trying to do.

([1] The reference about the bugle is from 1 Corinthians 14:8: “And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?”)

Read the next section of Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry Cult Leader here: The Unwritten Rules Of Life In COBU.


(These pages, as well as my other pages, A Day In The Life Of A Cult Member and The Tangled Web, are part of the source material of my book, Captive Congregation: My Fourteen Years in the Church of Bible Understanding, which is available as a Kindle book or in paperback.)



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