Dear fellow blowouts,
I’d like to begin by confessing that, like many newbie posters, I am a longtime lurker and Living Word survivor drawn to action by an unholy combination of confusion, fascination, and rage. Before I tell you why I’ve chosen this particular moment in time to dive into the pool, allow me to introduce myself according to local custom: revealing just enough information that you should be able to figure out who I am with some savvy Googling, while keeping things imprecise enough to maintain some modicum of anonymity.
I was born in a mid-sized 1980s Rust Belt city to a young couple lured into TLW by means of a local bible study and the halcyon days of Shiloh in the ‘70s. While still an infant, Gary & Marilyn sent our small family––which was to grow very large––to San Diego, where I became a child slave laborer and a pretty good musician (all things considered), picking weeds during school hours and jamming on classic rock grooves in worship services at Church of His Kingdom (plus the occasional weekend in the Valley and summers at Shiloh) through the 1990s and early 2000s. After I discovered punk rock, graduated from COHK’s insanely incompetent excuse for a high school, and a senior shepherd told me that I “read too many books,” I gave John Robert Stevens & Co. a stiff middle finger, went to college, moved across the country, got married, and even ended up with a Ph.D.
Before I left San Diego for the East Coast (where I currently live) in my early twenties, a small cohort and I succeeded in fomenting rebellion amongst a cadre of our still-entrapped peers; our numbers grew until they constituted an informal support group which, granted, mostly ever amounted to a lot of late nights drinking beer and talking shit. But I know that it’s helped a lot of people, including me. I’ve always taken pride in my ability to talk others down from the ledge, especially young people like myself, so treasured by the cult for their reproductive potentials, disposable incomes, and undereducated brains (this aptitude, among other things, led to a career teaching college students, which I did for a number of years until very recently).
It’s taken more than a decade, but I’m happy to report that through persistent needling, argumentation, and shouting in person and over the phone (but also patience, understanding, and countless changes within the institution itself), what ties remain between my family and TLW are almost entirely emotional: longtime diehards, my parents have begun to attend other churches, nostalgic for JRS & Marilyn, but also beginning to see (and perhaps even feel something like guilt for) the effects that the cult has had on their children’s lives, not to mention their own. One of my brothers, the last true holdout of my siblings, got “woke” earlier this year, which we’ve all come to see as a triumph for our family. We didn’t always get along so well (speaking only for myself, it’s taken dozens of hours of therapy to be able to forgive), but it’s likely that my family has never been closer than it is now: excluding myself, whom life and work have kept at a distance, everyone lives within a few miles of each other still, and a day rarely goes by that I do not talk to someone in my family.
But I know how privileged I am to bear such good news: many, if not most, have suffered in the wake of TLW to extents that I can only imagine. It’s true that parts of my life since leaving COHK have been wilder than others, but it was in the context of “church” that I first saw my peers die of drug overdoses and suicide, become teenage parents, sexually assault and be sexually assaulted. I’m certain that I first learned of adultery from the Ten Commandments, but the first examples of that it I saw were among pastors and other members of the spiritual aristocracy. “When else,” you may counter, “does a person gain knowledge of such evils than in the formative years of their life?” I’ve often asked myself this question and looked for answers in Dostoyevsky, James Joyce, and the annals of human history, but the responses I’ve incited by telling the story of my childhood––as I have hundreds of times––are what have convinced me without doubt that it wasn’t a normal one. The irony that the “soul realm,” which TLW has wasted so many miles of tape preaching against, while far from perfect, is not as monolithic in its embrace of greed, deception, power, and lust as the world that JRS, G&M, Silas Esteves, Rick Holbrook, ad infinitum down the hierarchy to the most fiery eyed and recently YASPed drone have invented has not passed by unacknowledged. You only need to hear Aretha Franklin to know that soul ain’t a bad thing: it’s transcendent, it brings people together, it’s maybe even the best thing we’ve got.
Today, I am a writer, and I feel responsible to bear witness to what I’ve seen, but I’ve done enough research on TLW––reading the forums and the rest of the Internet, talking to fellow survivors, tracking down every reference to the Walk, its theology, its power brokers, and their various schemes that I can in library catalogues and public records––to know that my story is a mere footnote, and I want to get the big picture right. It’s probably too early to publicly discuss my plan of attack except to say that like the best political artists of our time, I believe that the most effective way to indict evil is to give evil the room to indict itself. With that in mind, as eager as I am to talk to all of you––on the record or on background, to whatever extent you’re able––I’m also looking to expand my own library of primary sources that I’ve cobbled together here and there: tapes, This Weeks, songbooks, video footage, etc. If you have something to say to TLW leadership, I’ll help you say it, and though I can’t guarantee that they’ll listen, I’ll make sure that they hear.
If you’re willing to talk, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I promise that all correspondence will remain confidential; recent upsets to this forum have prepared me to prove that I’m not a cop (Bobby Kennedy was a good guy, and Elvis had some problems but he definitely wasn’t “nephilim,” etc.). If you want to talk but you’re not quite sure how, if you’re ready, or if you can: take your time, there’s no rush. But think about it.
In any case, thank you all for taking so many courageous steps in this forum and on FACTnet (where this journey started for me many moons ago) in the direction of transparency and justice. For more than half a century, John Robert Stevens and his sycophants have spread their insidious and self-serving lies by all means available. What better way to let the world know of the damage that they’ve done than to open the door so that everyone may hear what they have to say?
Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2018 07:53AM by walknntalkn.