Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Thursday, March 27, 1980

"The Hell Letter"

Robert Burton Fellowship of Friends "Hell Letter" to Sharole Manering - Sheila Cousins
Image source
From an archive of Stella Wirk's website:

[ed. - Stella's website has also been captured on fourthwayschool.org]
[Stella wrote:]

This is known as "the Hell letter" for reasons which will become clear.

The letter below was sent to Sheila Cousins, also known as Sharole Manering, who had fallen and injured herself in 1980 and had gotten behind in her monthly payments to the Fellowship of Friends.

Sharole died in 1982 after a long struggle with cancer. Her mother was very upset to find the letter from FOF among her papers.

Sharole's mother also was disturbed to find out that Fellowship members had come to visit Sharole in the hospital, to sit and stare at Sharole, and eventually talked Sharole into returning a cameo "given" to her by Robert (the reason for this is unclear).

You see, Robert "gave" lots of cameo "gifts" to the women in the group, and they had to PAY for them! The prices weren't cheap, some up to several hundred dollars!

Sharole's mother was very angry about this, and demanded return of the cameo, with no success. She finally requested the help of Karl Werner (winemaster at the time) and he quickly came to her aid to effect the speedy return of the cameo rightfully to her.

Sharole would have wanted it this way; she was too weak in the hospital to deal with FOF students who came to see her, and could hardly stand to have them sitting there staring at her. We know about this because we lived in Nevada at the time, and we visited her frequently. She confided in us these things. Her mother told us about the cameo scenario, and she was mad as hops. We suggested she contact Karl.

The late Karl Werner had a sense of fairness for such things, and if anybody could accomplish the cameo's return, it would be him. He, one of the few rare ones, could speak up to Burton and any of the hierarchy. He was unimpressed by people acting snooty.

When Sharole died, the only person "assigned" by Robert to attend her funeral was Doris Elizabeth. When it was discovered that Harold and I were still in Sparks, Nevada, Doris decided to allow us to represent FOF as we were going to the funeral anyway.

We represented ourselves at the funeral, and chalked up another notch for the inconsistencies and insensitivities of FOF members learned from the leadership.

Here is the letter which upset Sharole's mother deeply because she realized her daughter had kept this letter with her for two years, no doubt very hurt by it herself. It has come to be known among ex members as "The Hell Letter."

Fellowship of Friends

March 27, 1980

Sharole Manering
Philadelphia Centre


Dear Sharole,

As you requested, herein are the angles the Teacher offered to you.

"Tell Sharole hello for me. And tell her to remember that she is working with Influence C and that she needs to be a good businesswoman with them. Tell her that she has held on this long and that there is no reason that she cannot hold on eternally; that is, until she becomes an angel. Remind her that this is C influence speaking directly with her through me. Remind her that this is their way of warning her and that she has to become current with her donations now or she will have to leave the Fellowship. Tell her that the only other place to go is hell."

Those are his words, Sharole. Good luck to you.

Sincerely,

JB/dh


From the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Centers (Fellowship of Friends) website:
Can I leave at any time?

Yes. Your monthly donation represents your commitment to participate for one month at a time. You can view membership as an experiment: Did I get what I wanted during the past month? If you inform us that you are leaving, you will be removed from the roster immediately. Moreover, anyone who is inactive for three and a half months is removed.

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