Sunday, July 31, 2016

My Own Moral Outrage

Today I read an article in Harper's titled The Ideology of Isolation where I read the following statement that I felt perfectly described Jim Baker's own attitude and belief towards the women in The Source Family cult; "The loner taketh not, nor does he give; he scorneth the social and relies on himself alone. Himself. Women, in this mode of thinking, are too interactive, in their tendency to gather and ally rather than fight or flee, and in their fluid boundaries. In fact, what is sometimes regarded as an inconsistency in the contemporary right-wing platform — the desire to regulate women’s reproductive activity in particular and sexuality in general — is only inconsistent if you regard women as people. If you regard women as an undifferentiated part of nature, their bodies are just another place a man has every right to go."  Man, nothing summed it up better with regards to Jim Baker's 'good old boy' mentality towards the women in The Source Family; something that he was able to hide/cloak behind the outward presentation of himself being a holy man; but make no mistake he decided as the group's head honcho how women's bodies would be utilized in his cult/group.  So, that statement in Harper's hit a nerve and addressed the gnawing, unsettling feeling that I've always had about the way that Jim Baker imposed his outdated male gender bias and views that he had carried with him throughout his life about the role of women, and injected those views into what was supposedly 'new age' and 'aquarian'....please.  There was nothing sexually 'liberating' in having one man impose his deluded belief that the menstrual blood of a woman gave him superhuman consciousness!  But, the deeper that Jim Baker delved into the extreme occult beliefs of Aleister Crowley and his own plunge into ritualized sexual madness; the more Jim Baker became convinced that was the way to achieve ultimate consciousness.  Men have dictated how women's bodies should be used throughout history and Jim Baker was no different; he just hid it behind a fa├žade or veil of 'spiritual' precepts.  Jim Baker decided that all the women in his 'family' should be impregnated and produce what he believed would be a new race of 'aquarian' children; yet he never once ask what any of us wanted/he just expected everyone to obey his directives, along with instructing the women on what their roles or duties were to be; which was to be of service to the men.  The most egregious edict of Jim Baker's was when he decided to impose a sexual ritual called qudosh on the entire group; ordering/instructing women in 'the family' to perform often with multiple men/sons; quite often one after the other.  Jim Baker decided that it was his role to decide and direct how women's bodies would be used in his so-called 'family' believing that he possessed the inalienable right as the group's leader to make those decisions for us.  When I became a nursing mother, I also distinctly recall Jim Baker referring to me as 'one of the milk cows' of the family, because he would routinely make distinctions about many of the men & women in his 'family.'  Fervent former devotees of Jim Baker balk at any statement made that portrays their savior and God in an unfavorable light saying things like, "no one was holding a gun to anyone's head."  True, no one was holding a gun to any of our heads to remain in The Source Family or to obey and abide by everything that Jim Baker imposed on the group; but that is what happens in a cult/that's what happens when people blindly and obediently obey and follow a cult leader; people end up doing things/behaving in ways that are contrary to their own moral and ethical beliefs and standards.  It was not until 'the family' ended and we all dispersed and went our own separate ways that many former 'source family' members were able to deprogram themselves and look back critically and objectively at what we had been made to do/coerced to do while in 'the source family.'  To their credit, a few got out early when they saw the disturbing direction that Jim Baker was taking the group.  The behavior of everyone in The Source Family was dictated to and controlled by Jim Baker in what he saw as being the 'aquarian' way of life.  There was never any overt dissension within 'the family' as that was seen as being negative or out-of-your-center (a 'source family' term for being angry), because everyone was expected to comply with every one of Jim Baker's edicts; edicts that he would change almost on a daily basis.  There was never any forum or 'women's groups' within 'the source family' to discuss or talk about our feelings or views; just the expectation for everyone to obey and comply with the dictates of our 'earthly spiritual father', Jim Baker and of course the 'council' comprised of women he designated as 'his women.'  So, you either got onboard and did whatever 'Father' instructed and directed everyone to do, or you faced being diminished or ostracized from the group in what became an intolerance of anything other than what 'Father' decreed in saying, "So mote it be."  The reason that so many women who were in The Source Family do not openly speak out about their experiences from being in 'the family' is out of embarrassment or a sense of shame and not wanting their own children to learn or know more about what their mothers had to endure while in 'the family.'  But, the majority of us have simply tried to forget about being forced to service men/sons; some we hardly knew, and know in our heart of hearts there is no way in hell that we would ever repeat the experience and certainly would not want our own children or grandchildren to follow or believe in anything that Jim Baker was extolling; the only exception might be the benefits of adhering to a vegetarian diet and perhaps a handful of other things that did not transgress the physical, personal and psychological boundaries of women.  So, I have chosen to speak out and verbalize the embarrassment that many of the women felt, from their time spent in 'the source family' and their regret for allowing a man from the WWII generation who believed that women should sexually service and serve men to decide how their bodies would be used; an attitude that is still seen in many men which continues to disempower and disenfranchise women within our society.  The Source Family may have had the appearance or window dressing of being 'new age' with our long hair and white homespun garb of robes and handmade dresses parroting whatever Jim Baker extolled about either the 'mysteries of the Pyramids' or how we were heralding in the new age of aquarius, but below the surface for anyone who actually lived in the group and spent any length of time in the group; the loss of personal choice and freedom ensued primarily among the women, who were forced to 'obey the teachings of their earthly spiritual father' and 'love their earthly spiritual father more than themselves' which meant performing whatever acts or actions that Jim Baker/Father Yod/Yahowha (all three of him!) purported to have 'pulled from the ethers.'  The moral outrage that I felt over forty years ago in The Source Family cult has remained with me to this day.  There are still some things that I just cannot bring myself to write about simply because some things are just too embarrassing, but remain as a constant reminder and the reason that I will not remain silent in the face of the continued efforts by some to promote life in 'the source family' as being the bellwether or pioneer of the 'new ageism' or conscious healthy living, or mind-expansion revival taking place in the world today.  Aside from adhering to a vegetarian diet, many of Jim Baker's beliefs and dictates were for his own self-gratification and have no place in any current relevant dialogue or progressive movement/conversation that is going on today; aside from it serving as a warning.  It is deceptive for those who continue to present only the window dressing of The Source Family to make it look appealing and to be viewed in a favorable light by the public leaving out entirely the fact that Jim Baker expected men and women to perform a sexual ritual which caused more harm than good and that was the equivalent of a physical and psychological abuse of power.  I have conceded that when I first joined 'the brotherhood of the source' that I enjoyed being part of a group and the camaraderie and joyful feelings of being with other free spirits who were happy to have found what appeared to be a healthy & wholesome group, at first.  But Jim Baker, empowered by his new role as our savior-cum-spiritual father decided that in his newfound role he would make decisions about how men and women would behave and interact with each other; never asking any of us if we were 'ok' with his edicts or if we felt 'comfortable' with anything he imposed, because Jim Baker also believed that he needed to 'test' a person's loyalty or commitment to him, because he was convinced that all his decisions were being 'channeled' from God.  The public is being duped into believing that Jim Baker was ahead of his time and that The Source Family were shiny examples of wholesome, healthy living leading the way for the entire new age movement, and the sexual ritual/practice of qudosh which became the most important practice extolled by Jim Baker is left out entirely; something that the handful of diehard 'Yahowites' (devoted followers) neglect to tell people about this most predominate and important of their leader's so-called teachings.  You would think the fact that babies were allowed to die without receiving any medical help would be enough to dissuade people from wanting to promote Father Yod or The Source Family as being forerunners of anything, much less a healthy 'new age.'  It is my feeling that now, more than ever there needs to be more moral outrage; a combination of disgust and anger towards men who continue to believe that they have the right to make decisions about women's bodies.  The Source Family was a travesty of women's rights and the rights of children to receive medical treatment; especially when it was available.  It is time that people felt a moral outrage about men who think/believe that they should be the ones to decide what happens to a woman's body or to the bodies of their own children.

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 scripted 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 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 people 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.  But, 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 would do 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 became the group mentality that was fomented in The Source Family; 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 was the outward expression of 'the source family' experience more than anything else.  The entire 'source family' experience 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 deluded '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; they 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.