Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970. Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

But according to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish, while through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers shall be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the Internet Archive, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, the (ill-fated 2007) Fellowship of Friends Wikipedia page, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship. Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Monday, December 4, 2000

Apollo Performing Arts review

[ed. - This is an Internet Archive capture of the Fellowship webpage.]

the fellowship of friends
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Press archive
Sacramento Bee December 2000
Venturing into Sacramento’s concert scene with its Apollo Baroque Orchestra for the first time, Apollo Performing Arts from Oregon House in the Sierra made a highly noteworthy impression before an audience of modest size in Westminster Presbyterian Church Saturday night with a couple of rare treats from the Baroque, well-conducted by Argentinian Daniel Canosa. They won long applause. The major offerings were secular cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel. The Handel was particularly rare and of historical interest, illuminating an important chapter in his life that some of the concertgoing public may not be aware of.
Born in Halle of a family of surgeons, Handel first went to Hamburg to pursue music, particularly opera, because that was the only German city where he could find it. But when a prince of the Medici invited him to Italy, he didn’t wait for a second invitation. Italy was the home of opera. Handel wrote some church music at first -- Dixit Dominus is still sung today -- but by age 26 he was in England writing operas, which made him famous.
Saturday night, the Apollo Baroque selected one of the cantatas with which Handel had his first successes in Italy, “Apollo and Daphne.” It’s a kind of miniature opera, for two characters. What makes it so memorable is that the genius of the composer was evident so early. Although the characters just stand there and argue, in the style of the day, their arguing has surprises, is lit with realism and gives rise to beautiful, spirited music.
The story is from ancient mythology. Daphne is the daughter of the river god; Apollo rescues everybody from a monster. For some reason, he’s bad-mouthing Cupid. “How can you ever dream of hurting me, you sightless archer?” he says. Cupid shows him. Zoila Muñoz, the powerful alto singing Apollo, arches her back and we know Cupid just hit his mark.
Apollo has fallen in love with the beautiful Daphne, but she has sworn off love. In a slow, lovely aria, accompanied by a beautiful obbligato on Baroque oboe by Michael DuPree, soprano Jennifer Ellis explains her philosophy. She’s outside Apollo’s jurisdiction, she claims; her forest belongs to Diana. Not so, he says. She puts it plainly: “Stay away, lustful god.” There’s a rapid-fire duet, Baroque-style. Apollo warns her that her beauty won’t last. She says his love won’t last, but her virtue will.
The other gods rescue her by turning her into the laurel tree. Apollo accepts the change and promises to make her eternally green, an adornment for the greatest heroes.
The singers were owed thanks for the temper and spirit of this musical argument, which was made plain by the printing of both the Italian and English texts in the program. The small orchestra, which also included excellent work by strings and a firm, well-timed continuo with harpsichord, was also very fine.
I deeply regret I am unable to report on Bach’s Wedding Cantata, “Weichet Nur,” BWV 202, the other major work on the program. Due to a misunderstanding entirely my fault, I arrived at 7:35 p.m.; the program started at 7.
For me, this resulted in a bit of irony, however. The closing selection, announced rather halfheartedly from the stage by Canosa, was one of the most delightful duets in all Bach, “We hasten with feeble but diligent footsteps,” from Cantata No. 78, “Jesu, der du meine Seele.” It’s the song of two sinners trying to hurry to Jesus for salvation, but taking two steps backward for every one step forward, according to the rhythm of the music. They sang it beautifully and sent everybody away smiling.
William Glackin

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Sunday, October 1, 2000

Ten Years of Daily Cards is published

[ed. - Contrary to the description below, the Fellowship of Friends practice of distributing "daily cards" containing aphorisms similar, if not identical, to those quoted throughout this blog, dates back to the 1970s. Ulysses Books is associated with Fellowship member Carlos Labbate, and is the publisher of such so-called "Faux Fourth Way" gems as Girard Havens' Thoughts: Based on the Teachings of Robert Burton, Creating a Soul: Insights from a Fourth Way School, and The Prize Is Eternity: Foundations of Inner Work in the Fourth Way.]
Ten Years of Daily Cards by Robert Earl Burton

List Price: $29.00
Hardcover: 393 pages
Ulysses Books

Since February 1988 Robert Burton has provided in the form of small cards distributed to his students, daily suggestions for inner work and angles of thought related to the Fourth Way System. This publication presents all of them as given between 1988 and 1997 in one handsome volume. With an introduction by Girard Haven on the right use of Mr. Burton's angles and a comprehensive Index.

Sunday, September 17, 2000

Girard Haven suffers a stroke

Girard Haven (from The Fourth Way Facebook Group)

[ed. - It is reported that Girard Haven, Robert Burton's most loyal and trusted lieutenant for over twenty-five years,  suffered a debilitating stroke. Early on, Burton declared Haven a "Man Number 5" (a "conscious being") one of only a few students in the history of his school to be "awarded" that distinction (as measured by Burton's own inscrutable criteria.)]

Friday, March 17, 2000

Dr. Robert J. Lifton on Destructive Cults

[ed. - I am placing this in the timeline at the date of the presentation. Lifton accurately describes many features of The Fellowship of Friends cult. When Lifton spoke, the Fall of California as predicted by Robert Burton had failed to occur. Still, his prediction of nuclear holocaust and Armageddon loomed six years in the future. Notes attached to the YouTube posting:

Uploaded on Jun 9, 2008

3/17/00 - One of the leading experts in mind control, Dr. Lifton addressed the issue of doomsday cults such as Aum Shinrikyo.]