Friday, February 13, 2009

A Psychoanalytic Critique of Cults in the Catholic Church: Part II

When I entered the room I knew there was something very special about this dinner we were invited to. I was wearing a striped shirt. Everyone else was dressed up in ties and white shirts with faded navy blue pants. I wished I could dress like they did. We went through the night of Lord's Day and soon began to return for whole weekends. We were welcomed and everyone was very nice to us and soon I began to want to help Mom and Dad with the changes we were learning. I loved the big meeting--especially the music. I had never heard such a big sound before and the songs were new and exciting. Some of them were sung in parts, women and men, and others had sign language that the women did. Everyone was so happy, the women glowed and the men were all so serious but positive and friendly. Soon we began to have the kinds of prayer meetings I had only seen at Church or people's houses in our own house. They all began with music, soon a guitar stand would sit next to the dinner table. I worked to learn to play the faster tempo music and also began to learn some Spanish songs from the Spanish prayer meetings at Church. My siblings seemed to not quite get it, but I knew that I wanted everything that this new life from Akron had to offer. I was no older than six or seven years old. You see, I had seen it all before. I mean, I was no stranger to the raising hands during worship or the other things that other people would have found strange. I had always loved to go to prayer meetings and when they were in our home, when I was "asleep" I would try to listen in. But until now things at home were never this serious or this organized--this official. But the seriousness made it seem more important and soon I jumped into the process by trying to grow in prayer and reading the Bible and writing my own songs. I would consult with my sister to see how they sounded and she would always give me feedback that mostly said that I sounding like I was howling. But I knew that these changes were "for the Lord". With time I began to understand the urgency of this movement and began to revere the leader, Mr. Herman. He had written a book! I was so impressed by that. I had never known anyone who had written a book. This book, A Cultural Approach to Christianity, laid out every aspect of the Christian life. It explained what was wrong with the world today and how to fight it by living a radical Christian life. And it went into grave detail to put everything in its place. From how to dress, eat, behave, worship, and more, it was clear--painfully clear. The pain was all the spanking. One of the biggest changes were generous helpings of corporal punishment for violations of the precepts of the cultural approach. Now I knew that we weren't doing all of them, but I wanted to. I hoped that we could become Servants of the Cross someday. They wore special patches on their oxford shirts and sometimes wore a brown colored pants instead of blue. My brother was really young but he was not deterred by any of this. He would do anything to break rules and even when I tried to warn him, he would willingly disobey and pay for it. But, he had to learn somehow. I struggled the most with the food. It was so gross. The first time I took a step back was when I felt that I couldn't physically eat the dense peanut-butter and jelly sandwich and was ordered by one of the leaders to be spanked by my parents--and they did. That moment was the first time I felt an intuition of injustice. But, on the whole, I was committed to seeing our family grow in this new lifestyle. When Dad quit his job at Church--where a lukewarm priest had taken over--and devoted all of his time to the charism of the community, family renewal, I was proud. When we were to move to Mexico to help Mr. Herman start a new mission, I was excited. It was "for the Lord".

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