from steam - Thursday, August 07, 2003
accessed 2784 times
A little on the nature, sincerity, and consistency of WS apologies.
In talking with current members of “The Family” I often encounter a variation of the statement; “I know mistakes were made in the past, I even concede some were drastic and caused pain and suffering, but Maria and Peter have apologized for these things, they are in the past. It is a shame that time and energy which could be going to our good works, and improving our current situation in “The Family” and other positive endeavors, instead must be spent re-addressing old history”. Many don’t articulate it well but most try to convey that general point.
This attitude opens a Pandora’s box for me because it is loaded with so many assumption and presuppositions that I consider erroneous.
Firstly I find irritating and naïve the dictum that these issues are all only in the past, which I will address in an article asking “Is the abuse all in the past?” While there is to an extent truth that most of the major issues regard another era, much in the current setup still causes harm and the structure carries enormous potential for more harm.
Secondly the A priori approach to the belief that energy not spent dealing with “The Past” would actually be directed towards something positive rather than some initiative on a subject such as “”spiritual orgies”. Or “Jesus spends months preparing striptease for Mama’s birthday” revelations, of a twilight zone variety. These "latest" crazes may be to crazy to actually be headlines for “The Onion” but they certainly have that feel. (Momentary digression, have a look at www.theonion.com sometime if you are in the mood for a satirical laugh)
But, even conceding the unlikely possibility that redirected attention could have a positive impact; we proceed to the third built in claim. That Zerby and Kelly have apologized, and the closely related concept (although not identical one) that they are sorry.
Let’s briefly examine this “long history” of apologies (and I believe this list to be complete but if any know of others, correct me, especially any current Family media folk)
Way back in 1985-86 when they say they first realized through the questionnaires at the Mexico “TTC” that not all of the sexual contact with minors was done in a “loving way” and the kids just didn’t like it. A policy was published that it was now not acceptable or expedient. Because although it wasn’t “wrong” many couldn’t handle it right and did practice it wrong. Did they flagellate themselves with a desperate “prayer for Magdalene” for having encouraged “the stumbling of these little ones” even if they considered it unintentional. No dice, repentance of that magnitude was reserved for real sinners like “self righteous” people (you could easily tell who they were the ultimate manifestation of this problem being an ingrown toenail).
The contrition they offered was this "explanation": “Although we know the Lord revealed to us that there is nothing automatically wrong with sex with minors, nevertheless some can’t handle this freedom wisely and therefore it is not “expedient”. –Oh well. Of course as far as they were concerned in the inner sanctum i.e. Berg and his household it was “well handled”, and therefore continued as evidenced by Mene’s treatment and there refusal to deny the accusation.
In 1993 when “The Family was having kids removed from their homes by the authorities by the hundreds we came out with a statement on Child Abuse. Oh listen to the truly “heartbroken for the suffering kids” statement they made. “We do not condone sex with minors and hereby repudiate any writings by anyone in the group that may seem to do so”. This by inference repudiated Bergs many suggestion of sex with minors including such statements as “Maybe daughter can even learn a little FF’ing from Mama. At 12 or 13 they can certainly handle a lot more Fucks. Wow that’s a hot one, don’t publish that”! (Taken from a letter in the large flat reddish volume covering the 1200’s.) And many more all clearly documented in the “Judgment of Lord justice Ward” But the way they canceled his writings was so sneaky, they wouldn’t even come right out and admit “yes Berg encouraged it, yes it happened, yes people were hurt yes we are sorry”. Certainly not the behavior expected of Christians or even sorry people.
No other admission of anything came out until they lost the British court case. When the judge ruled that they lost custody of Sammy because “The Family” was a dangerous environment for kids, WS was very worried that this would lead to many court losses and potentially the dismantling of the group. At no time before then had they felt their back so against the wall. The Judge offered that they could keep Sammy with court supervision if they met very specific requirements, one of which was to finally admit that the actions and policies from the top were directly responsible for the suffering and abuses of minors, that Berg did encourage sex with minors (commonly referred to as pedophilia) that he fostered an environment that put kids at risk, and that many minors suffered as a result. Well with no wriggle room at all they bent just as far as they had to publishing “Bergs apology from the dead” which stated “I accept that as the originator of some of these ideas, I have to take the blame for the fact that some people were hurt by the application of them”.
Also at one point they published an open letter to former members with some form of apology for the cruel attitudes towards them. Often treating them like dirt even if they continued to be TS’ers, and tithed to WS just because they weren’t “DO”. (Although the apology wasn’t worded that strongly.)
Finally much later when James Penn’s letter hit the newsstands, exposing their vicious and cruel treatment of Berg’s granddaughter Mene, and many Family members received it, being unable to sweep the issue under the carpet, they belatedly offered a very weak apology for the treatment of Mene only. This after having spent over a decade vilifying her, so her name had become a synonym for the dangers of questioning Berg, as it leads to a road where Satan absolutely controls you. They periodically kept this character assassination up with jewels like the one in 93’ where Berg had a vision of Mene as a blood dripping vampire (a status it took other ex-members years to attain, unfortunately it doesn’t feel like such an achievement now that we are all “Vandari”).
This sketchy history of half-hearted and carefully worded apologies, offered only when there was nowhere to hide, constitutes the vast history of nebulous apologies, that are being referred to when you hear “these issues have been addressed”. When I lay out this case I invariably get an incredulous insistence that they are sure there were more in depth apologies, because they have totally bought “The Family’s” propaganda line. Unfortunately that is all of them.
Now on to types of apologies, which is what I wanted to write about initially. I see three distinct types of apologies with varying degrees or levels in them.
Type 1: The proverbial “I am sorry I got caught” That at its deepest level of self-reproach may extend as far as “I am sorry it happened, it shouldn’t have and I truly wish it didn’t”.
Type 2: This is a mental acknowledgement that one has actually done something wrong, often it may include rationalizations about how the heart was in the right place, etc but at least acknowledging to ones self that whatever the reason, ones actions were “wrong”, and may go as far as to see another person was deeply hurt by ones error. This level may go as deep at times as to feel a genuine empathy and remorse over the pain and suffering others have experienced as a consequence of ones actions. Even if one still feels they were motivated by good intentions. Those who had positions of responsibility in the group and felt quite sincere often express this type of repentance/regret, but in many cases they truly see how they have hurt others. Although often it is accompanied by the conflicting feeling of also considering themselves to have been a victim.
I will concede a "Type 1" Mea Culpa on the part of Zerby and Peter, and I do not rule out that at times aspects of their feelings could be a type two to some degree. Although such twinges of conscience likely are temporary, and if they do experience them deeply, they probably later see them as Satan’s condemnation.
However the final, and in my opinion only acceptable level of contrition. Is one that hits right in ones gut. An intense emotional reaction that wells from within, and doesn’t even think of rationalizing, or assigning portions of blame. It is the reaction you would imagine all but the most psychotic individual having if a little kid ran out in front of their car and they accidentally killed him. The deep seated horror at ones actions regardless of blame level, circumstances etc. A situation where one would just give the world to make things right, and take away the suffering of the individuals, hurt through ones actions. It is hard to describe, but easy to picture and grasp. A person experiencing that type of contrition is not even capable of worrying about the technical wording of his apology, what is a “fair” level of penance, considering the extenuating circumstances, era, etc. And one thing is for sure. If you interact with someone in that state, you know it instantly, Words don’t need to convey it, (although they certainly will apologize), and their entire demeanor speaks of the stricken state this innermost reaction has left them in.
If anyone in “The Family” is reading this please ask yourself, truly, honestly is this the reaction a true “Christian” (picture martyrs being attacked by lions, kind of Christians, or David Livingston) would have when they see the intense pain and suffering their actions have caused. And finally is this the reaction that my ultimate leadership, the ones that I have entrusted with complete faith in their link with God, the ones that are supposed to be closer to him than all the Christians of the past, have shown.