Saturday, October 24, 2015

Escaping Conformity

It's really funny that those of us who thought that we were escaping the conformity, suppression and repression of society at large, by joining Jim Baker and The Source Family and believing that what he was teaching and offering/espousing was representative of a 'new age', ended up in circumstances even more conforming and suppressive than the society we were all trying to drop out from!  Imagine living for six years never doing any of the normal everyday things that people take for granted in our society like shopping or eating at restaurants, spending the day at the beach, going to a movie, or playing sports. The only time that we were allowed to go the beach was when our spiritual leader, Jim Baker wanted to go and then the entire group went en masse and would be quite a spectacle. 

But, nobody played basketball, baseball or racquetball or any kind of sport. Imagine living a life where the only acceptable exercise was hanging upside down and swinging back and forth on a bar, or going into the cold water of a swimming pool at the break of day, because those were the only really acceptable forms of exercise allowed within The Source Family.  Restriction of people's individual choices and personal activities are the result of living in a cult, especially one where the entire group of people attempt to live removed or sequestered from the rest of society, which is exactly what life was like in The Source Family.  

Every 'family' member's actions and behaviors became restricted and limited, with the exception of those who either conducted 'family' business in the outside world, or who were indulged by Father Yod, like when he allowed a select few of his 'favorites' to eat at expensive restaurants in Beverly Hills arriving in the short-lived Rolls Royce to give the perception of wealth.  But, only a few people within The Source Family were allowed unfettered access to money or a vehicle---the rest of us plebeians were stuck within the confines of the 'family' compound, unless Father Yod planned something where all family members were allowed to attend.  Jim Baker may have espoused a vegetarian diet which also consisted of milk and cheese, but he didn't encourage or do any of the other healthy exercises and activities found in society at large.  So, a kind of entropy started to engulfed anyone who remained in the family for any length of time.  An indolence prevailed within the family. I guess all of the conformity and loss of personal activity was to be supplanted and replaced with Jim Baker's ideal of life within an 'Aquarian' family.  Any activity that wasn't condoned by Jim Baker was just not done. So, imagine living virtually imprisoned within a group that had the trappings and outward appearance of a 'new age' or 'Aquarian' group, but end up having it be even more repressive than the society you were trying to escape from!  

I would like for anyone to explain to me how sitting around one man all day long translated into becoming a leader or forerunner for the Age of Aquarius? How does hanging on every word of one man, and catering to that one man's every need, and striving to emulate him in speech, behavior and dress have anything to do with the 'new age'? It doesn't, but it does have everything to do with cult behavior. So, I really want to emphasize that the healthy lifestyle which some try to present as being representative of The Source Family was all strictly according to what was approved or sanctioned by Jim Baker. No family member would have been allowed to run or jog down the street, especially the women when it wasn't even acceptable for them to wear pants or shorts.  All of the women were expected to wear dresses all of the time!  Oh, Jim Baker thought the pregnant women should walk up and down the driveway to help strengthen their leg muscles for natural childbirth, but that was the extent of the walking encouraged. But, you would have never seen anyone from The Source Family running or jogging, or going to play tennis, or really going anywhere, unless it was sanctioned and approved by Jim Baker. 

Life in The Source Family became cloistered and claustrophobic and almost suffocating where everyone's actions were overseen and extremely limited, and restricted for lack of either money or transportation and so only those very few with access to money and a vehicle could venture beyond the confines of the group. I cannot tell you the relief----the tremendous sense of freedom that it brought when what had become an unbearable and unsustainable situation finally ended!  How wonderful it was to return to a normal everyday life away from the constricted and restricted life of want and deprivations that life in The Source Family had become. 

After forty years, I feel that it is high time that I wrote about my experiences from being in this particular cult.  Because the abject conformity that was expected of anyone joining The Source Family, and the groupthink that flourished in order to achieve compliance among members in what was seen as acceptable and expected behavior was much more confining and limiting than the conformity to society that many of us from the counterculture of the sixties were trying to escape, because there was no true freedom or personal liberties living in The Source Family cult.