Just Trust Me…
“A learned man is an idler who kills time with study. Beware of his false knowledge: it is more dangerous than ignorance.””
— George Bernard Shaw, 1905
“Just trust me.” I hated those words from My Father, along with the abrupt hand gesture that always made me flinch. As usual, it was impossible to disrespect him. You didn’t talk back. You didn’t even ask a question to clarify that you understood his request correctly. Ultimately the way would be made clear. And, you never needed the whole story, just your own part in it.
“I know you don’t know what’s going on with this, but it’ll all make sense in the end.”
That was how God worked. He spoke to you in benevolent suggestions. In any situation, if you could determine the highest concept in your mind of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, your thoughts would be adjusted, by your Thought Adjuster, to help you recognize the one that was His. I could never ascertain what ideas were mine versus God’s, or whether His were ever in my mind at all.
Omniscience gave God the advantage of knowing the heart and perspective of everyone involved in the big picture of any situation, and Dad was dialed in. Participants were the puzzle pieces that would fall into place, if only they were aware of His clandestine workings and would listen for his ideal suggestions. My guilt between doing the Will of God – reading and listening – versus what I selfishly wanted to do on a Saturday, at the age of thirteen, tore at my stomach. I would inevitably stay, despite the inner turmoil churning my guts — This was God’s bidding, after all.
“Just trust me.”
Dad could pray on (…prey on?) the needs of others, and through the omniscience of God, know just the right words to feed their waning spirit and answer their deepest concerns. His charisma was intoxicating, his knowledge boundless, and he could bring every conversation back to his first purpose; that of the love of God, and His plan for this very individual.
Over the years, the house had been filled with study groups of families and random individuals eager to hear Dad’s translation of The URANTIA Book. Dad radiated, describing God’s beautiful intentions for their Earthly lives and ongoing spiritual development after death.
My Father sat in an armchair at the head of the group. He thumbed through the tracing-paper-thin pages of ‘The Book’, coming to rest on a well-read section, as evidenced by its worn binding. The fire, recently fed, crackled and popped its contentment from the potbelly stove in the fireplace. Tall windows offered pale winter light, while yellow lamps warmed the page.
Most of the terminology consisted of unique multi-syllable words — Melchizedeks, Finaliters, Ancients of Days, Unseen Friends. Yet, their familiarity allowed them to easily roll off the tongue and through the thoughts of those present and eager to absorb new truths. After each paragraph, our Leader explained it in layman’s terms, putting it into perspective for those with less vision or less experience. He lived for these moments and spent every waking second in pursuit of this very opportunity. ‘The Book’ was written by Celestial Beings channeling through an anonymous man and published as such, in 1955.
“The mere fact of recognizing the personal mission of a charismatic master establishes his power.”
— Weber, Dahms, 2013
None fostered this better than the leader of this group, whose example I believe My Father truly strove to emulate. Beginning in the 1930’s, and throughout thirty years of drafting’ The Book’ itself, the group’s leader would manage group members by relaying warnings from The Celestials. My Father would take a page from the same playbook to manage my thoughts and decisions.
Am I not going to listen to God?
When I was sixteen, My Father channeled Michael of Nebadon’s voice with prophecies and directives. To me, this was obviously the next logical step in My Father’s progression along his personal path of Light and Life. One day, we would all attend Dad’s End of Life Party to see his Spontaneous Combustion as he Fused with his Thought Adjuster.
“Hopefully, I won’t someday just find a pile of ashes in his chair — Please, God.” I prayed, as intrusive thoughts invaded — ashes with singed limbs. Mom stood in the kitchen, eyes covered, as Michael of Nebadon continued his pronouncements to the study group. His chin was almost on his chest as he reached low to gurgle the voice from deep within. “And, Joshua.”
My heart jumped. My little brother Joshua stood to my left, eyes downcast.
“Joshua is long-suffering,” the Voice of Michael cracked with emotion. “so very pained — so much pain, so much pain.” He took a deep breath, exhaling in a shuddering sigh. “However, he will hold a high place in the universes.”
I was elated by the disclosure, although I felt short of breath for no reason. Admittedly, had a visitor intimated doubt, I would have found their skepticism easily dismissed. These people didn’t know the special role our family played in God’s Plan. My Father’s cult recruitment started for me as a toddler. Are such minds conditioned to be ever contained therein — no matter how far you run?
Am I not going to listen to God?
My life story falls somewhere between the movie Frailty (Lions Gate Films, 2002) and the memoir The Glass Castle (Walls, 2009) Jeannette Walls, with a uniquely complex underworld of characters all its own – Finaliters, Thought Adjusters, Unseen Friends, Ancients of Days, Supreme Beings…
While Jeanette Walls’ parents have severe shortcomings, they do occasionally admit the truth, which was never my experience growing up in a cult-like atmosphere. Even as their behaviors follow the pendulum-swing of alcoholism and bipolar disorder, when her father says they’re being chased out of town by the FBI, her mother makes absolutely certain Jeanette understands that it’s not the FBI, it’s just the bill collectors. I was given no such clarifications for any of the concepts that could have been addressed by a responsible adult.
Most people have had some experience meeting a charismatic personality who entertainingly dominates the conversation. Perhaps they have a family member who is difficult to navigate. I would proudly watch random strangers drawn in, as Dad demonstrated God working in their lives at that very moment. Every encounter was meant to bring the discussion back to the Epochal Spiritual Revelation He wanted to preach – the metaphysical intellectual dynasty he alone could advocate with such admirable precision.
Most people don’t grow up in a cult. For those who do, few have the experience of their father being the family cult leader. There are no statistics regarding this information. Although, studies show there are many more cults in existence now than there were forty years ago, and they are smaller. But for anyone leaving a system of control, I offer my story as another resource for those seeking answers.
I was trained to keep secrets. I was silenced. My only voice was spoken silently through writing prose and poems in a journal that I kept hidden away. I was trained to forget. I have amnesia around situations. However, when I read my journals or write about the event, my memory pieces back together to see it more clearly.
For years, I thought the incongruity between screaming fights, punched walls, chairs put through windows, and being God’s chosen family with My Father as God’s Prophet, must exist in my mind alone. From toddlerhood into my fifties, this contradiction plagued me.
Desperate to get hold of my own mind, I have had to go no-contact with My Father. Because of this, my Mother has disowned me. I am torn, never to be mended. It’s a discomfort that hides yet comes rushing back at unexpected times. I look back on my Father’s ultimate betrayal and my mother with her eyes covered.
What hurts most is the mind-altering destruction of my loved ones’ lives and relationships, including my own son, and the resulting backlash of anxiety and regrets faced every day.
In only the past few years, I was driven to pursue research identifying, describing, and validating the reality of my situation. I studied cults, spiritual abuse, narcissistic behavior, memory loss, and various other tendrils. I had to recognize and come to terms with my reality. I have recognized that deciding what reality you are willing to live within is vital.
Just as crucial, is the turmoil you give yourself permission to live without.
Despite His turmoil in my life and mind, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from UCONN and a Master of Science in Learning Disabilities from SCSU. I have taught elementary school for 25 years. I have been with my high school sweetheart for 41 years, been married for 34, and have three grown children: a writer, a musician, and an artist.