Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Product of Environment

Jim Baker loved old movies, especially movies like The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston, probably because Jim Baker saw himself in the role of Moses.  I recall when The Ten Commandments was showing at a local theatre in Hollywood and we all had to accompany Jim Baker to see the film.  Another time in 1972 a few of us had to accompany Jim Baker to see the production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Universal Amphitheatre.  Sitting in the audience with his long hair and beard wearing his robe looking very biblical surrounded by his own group of look-alike followers; Jim Baker no doubt hoping to draw attention to himself that the audience would make a connection between the central character in the show and himself.  Heavily influenced by biblical themes, Jim Baker even penned his own Ten Commandments in his new role as a 'spiritual' messiah.

Jim Baker also really loved the old Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald films and in the early days at The Mother House he would have a movie projector brought in so the entire 'family' could watch his beloved old films.  Everything was always tailored around what Jim Baker wanted, because after all The Brotherhood of The Source was his own production.  It's easy to see how much films and plays, especially ones with a biblical theme had an impact on Jim Baker, and how he began to see himself as a modern day Moses leading his own tribe of 'chosen people', because he was a product of Hollywood where showmanship and appearance were everything.

A man with questionable moral character; someone who decided that robbing banks was the best way to bankroll his next restaurant venture who looked the part of Moses as portrayed in Hollywood films---deciding to gather his own group of 'spiritual children' (as he called them) fit very well into Jim Baker's wheelhouse and the attention that it gained him, from the worshipful meiny who began to follow him.  It was exactly the kind of 'savior' role that he wanted to play giving him the ego boost and attention that he desired.  Always the showman, Jim Baker put on a good show presenting himself as a 'spiritual' father figure, and the heady lure of working in his restaurant on the Sunset Strip frequented by rock stars and movie stars alike had an exciting and intoxicating effect.

For me, it was extremely easy joining The Brotherhood of The Source where I found immediate acceptance by a seemingly loving 'father' and his beautiful counterpart called 'mother.'  The very early days in 'the family' were like being in a safe, warm cocoon where everything was provided for you.  But, as more people kept joining the entire thing grew into more spectacle than anything else, because Jim Baker was intent on having more and more people join his 'family'; something that would burn-out in a relatively short span of time.  I was nineteen-years-old when I joined 'the brotherhood' in 1970 already a vegetarian having dabbled in transcendental meditation.  I was on my own 'spiritual quest' having given away all my worldly possessions in an exercise in non-materialism; so for me it was an easy transition from being a young 'spiritual' seeker who was living a relatively homeless life to joining Jim Baker and The Brotherhood of The Source.

Although, I never really had a close affinity for Jim Baker, nor was I particularly impressed or overwhelmed by him, but I did like the vibe and the energy or feel of what was going on at The Source Restaurant, and I liked the people who were already there and it felt safe; so I remained from the very first day that I ever went to 'meditation' class (more a recruitment tool) that was held at the restaurant.  That was how easy it was to join Jim Baker's 'family' and becoming part of the motley crew who showed up.  Many were just like me---lost and seeking looking for some kind of haven or communal situation; some were unkempt and spaced out----a few borderline schizophrenic, from ingesting too many hallucinogens who were looking for a free and groovy place to land.

But, for many of us who were on our own 'spiritual quests' in search of someone or something that would satisfy our desire for metaphysical understanding; what Jim Baker was offering fulfilled that need, especially since looking for 'spiritual' teachers or groups where dabbling in Eastern mysticism was the hip thing to do in the late sixties and early seventies.  People were casting around for anything that might produce 'spiritual enlightenment' and when an older man sporting a beard and longish hair hung out his 'open for business' sign that read 'all spiritual seekers welcome'/inquire within/delicious fresh food available and females being groomed to serve and inspire'----it was enticing.  Jim Baker was offering 'spiritual enlightenment' to everyone who showed up and devotedly followed him and adopted his 'teachings' and he provided them with a place to live and food to eat.  All anyone had to do was accept Jim Baker as their 'earthly spiritual father.'  It was all so easy, and at first everything felt safe and comfortable.  But, not very long after the formation of 'the family', especially as more women joined; our new leader or 'earthly spiritual father' believed that it was his role to create a super race of 'aquarian' children and he began that by trying to impregnate several of the young women who had joined his 'family.'

Many of the women who joined 'the family' who saw Jim Baker as their 'spiritual father' became conflicted when he changed the rules and decided that he needed to have sex with them and/or impregnate several of them; all under the guise of their participation in helping him create a new 'aquarian' race.  Many of us threw ourselves into following and adopting Father Yod as our 'earthly spiritual father' where unflagging devotion and obedience to the man became absolutely essential for anyone who wanted to remain in 'the family.'  There was never any room for anything but whatever Jim Baker/Father Yod/Yahowha 'channeled' from the ethers to impose on his group of gung-ho prostrating followers.  Your only choice was to 'get on-board' with whatever Jim Baker devised or leave, or be kicked out.  Absolute commitment and adherence to the words and directives of Jim Baker, who we all called 'Father' became mandatory.

But, for many of us who joined; we became inured to the conditions in 'the family' that went from aplenty for everyone to only those pampered and favored by 'Yahowha' benefitting where life in The Source Family became increasingly stressful, indolent and dubious and many of us found ourselves incapable of extricating ourselves or our loved ones from 'the family' as things grew progressively worse.  As more people joined who were solely into venerating and deifying Jim Baker; life within The Source Family became about positioning----getting next to 'Yahowha' and about 'spiritual' one-upmanship of whose kundalini would rise up their spine first claiming 'enlightenment' so sought after, by those who hovered around their new found 'spiritual father' in ever-increasing honorific ways feeding Jim Baker's messianic complex even more and more.  The hero-worship and/or deification of Jim Baker grew to ludicrous proportions where life in 'the family' was all about indulging his ego, like being a rock star/lead singer of Yahowha 13 and going out to play concerts at local high schools trolling for new converts, while trying to look cool performing with a pair of shades and his shirt unbuttoned just enough to expose his huge medallion looking more like a new age pimp than spiritual father, while the rest of the members of 'the family' sat on the sidelines as spectators.

The majority of people who joined The Source Family had absolutely nothing when they joined and were mostly just people looking for an alternative or free place to land, or who had joined only because they followed their spouses, siblings or friends in joining and remained because of those familial connections.  Many people who joined The Source Family remained simply because everything was provided for them, and they only had to obey and comply with whatever edict Father Yod/Yahowha imposed on the group.  But, for anyone who joined The Source Family, it quickly became apparent that everything revolved around the veneration and hero-worship of Jim Baker and the catering to his every whim or desire where the entire group dynamic became one of ever-increasing worship of the man, who renamed himself 'Yahowha' as he nurtured a group bubble of delusion around himself.  Towards the end of his life living in a luxury Hawaiian setting in the expensive bedroom community of Lanikai on the island of Oahu; Jim Baker spent the remainder of his days sitting/holding court surrounded by his most loyal followers where on occasion 'outsiders' would be brought in and presented to him where those family members surrounding him would laugh and giggle as if they were privy to something the 'outsiders' were not.  Giving the appearance that 'Yahowha' and only his most devoted followers possessed something that people outside The Source Family did not was crucial in maintaining the illusion.  The illusion that people in The Source Family were 'leaders of the new age' who possessed secret, occult 'teachings' they had gleamed from 'Yahowha' that had become the group mentality that was fomented in The Source Family, and was something that persisted in several of his followers well beyond the death of their avatar.  An imperious smugness and sense of superiority was embedded in a few who had loyally followed and worshipped Jim Baker and became the outward expression of The Source Family experience more than anything else.

The entire Source Family experiment had come to its inevitable end, due to the incessant worship and adulation of Jim Baker and the pervasive groupthink that everyone in The Source Family obey and abide by the man's supposed 'teachings.'  After The Source Family disbanded a year after Jim Baker died, there were a couple of former members who desperately wanted to continue living exactly as they had, while in The Source Family; especially a couple of the men and women who had been treated like rock stars and royalty while in 'the family' who wanted to maintain their perceived status and so with a heightened sense of themselves being 'spiritual' teachers; some ended up creating abusive situations in trying to gather their own group of followers trying to replicate life in The Source Family.  But, that is something that the film doesn't show.  Many people from The Source Family had a difficult and arduous time adjusting back into normal society when the whole thing finally ended.  Those of us who remained in The Source Family had become products, or rather victims of the biblically-themed environment/collective bubble of delusion that had been created by Jim Baker---something and someone that crash-landed in the short span of six years.