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.")

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. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Traveler schools us on Burton's mannerisms

"Rear View Mirror" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 29, 2008:
Traveler wrote: "And finally, as Yesri Baba said more eloquently, whatcha gonna do with yourself once you are eternal and immortal? Oh maybe, you’ll finally show all those people who have spiraled down to the moon on their descending octaves, then they’ll see how lost they were! Na-na-na-na-na. Think: an eternity of having to put up with yourself all proper and conscious. Bwahahahaha”
LOL. You’re really getting to the heart of the matter with these comments. As long as we’re speculating on the afterlife, who knows… Maybe the hateful state that you describe above (because that’s exactly what it is — a form of hate)… is actually Hell?

There’s a new book out right now called Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy

Ironically, the cover of the book shows a huge image of the Earth’s moon with the name Apollo draped all over it.

Of course, as former and current followers know all too well, Robert Burton routinely preaches to his followers that the moon is Hell — yes the Hell that we all know and love. And keep in mind that if you are not a member of the Fellowship of Friends — all of you nearly 7 billion people out there who didn’t happen to find an fof bookmark — you are going to be “food for the Moon.” You will go to Hell.


No, fear is not a new concept in the effort to manipulate and control people.

But, getting back to that book cover, similar such coincidences are typical of what Burton will grab for his own use. He will routinely say that “Influence C” is presenting us an omen and will argue this by making the most absurd connections — for example, the birthmark on Gorbachev’s head being a sign related to Armageddon, which he predicted for the year 2006 (which, hmm, is rarely discussed anymore — quite odd).
Robert Burton called Gorbachev's birthmark an omen.
So, with this book cover, I can only imagine Burton giving a dinner at $400 a head, with 20 people packed into the dining room:

“Did everyone see the cover to the new book called Apollo’s Fire? [smiling as he looks at the person to his left, but with a certain earnestness and sarcastic glint in his eye]. Well, I find it interesting that I just changed the name from Isis back to Apollo, and this book comes out. It’s quite remarkable. On the cover, the name Apollo is draped over a large image of the moon. This is one of the most startling shocks that we’ve received.”

“What does it mean, Robert?” a follower asks.

“Well, with Influence C, it could mean anything. But it’s obviously a very strong omen. You know, I have to be honest for a change. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it is all of us who will be transported to the moon upon our deaths. Maybe I have led you all astray.”
The room grows silent, and the servers stop in their tracks with plates in hand — looking at Robert and wondering.

"Traveler" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 29, 2008:
Rear View Mirror [above]: Good scenario, but let me translate it into the way Robert actually talks:
It is interesting that we changed the name to Apollo just 44 days ago, is it not? The name of our city-state. [gazes meaningfully into the distance, tilting head to a slight left angle, activating his full-toothed smile for 3 seconds as if sharing a private poignant joke with himself] Yesterday we discovered this in a bookstore in Los Angeles. Would you show the image, dear? [picture of book cover comes on screen in the corner, all heads break contact with Robert’s left eye for a moment to take in the impression] It says Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy. [he smirks, and audience follows suit as they recognize this is clearly a message from C Influence, reminding and reassuring them of the Gods’ working relationship with the School] The word ‘igniting’ refers to the presence in your heart of hearts, in the holy Kaaba /pronounced: ka-BAH/ where you must ignite long be with the sequence. The picture represents the moon. [beat] Shakespeare said Lord-what-fools-these-mortals-be. [looks at audience expectantly, audience nods in recognition and agreement] The moon symbolizes a cold and desolate place in the universe. Marvelously, they are showing us the fire of Apollo: the destiny of those who are not trying to promote divine presence, the third eye. [points to the third eye of the person sitting next to him while the person tries to not lose his long-be] Apollo was the Greek god of beauty. [putting hands on his knees, raises eyebrows, bulges eyeballs and sports a whiff of a smile] Just as we are creating beauty every time we are present. We are creating that which is eternal. The Bible says that every hair is counted. Every time you make an effort to reach long be, you are exceedingly fortunate to escape from the treacherous lower self. The anonymous 14th century English monk said, leave me, I do not want thee. Leave the lower self, abandon the world and its meaningless entanglements. [beat] They are giving us so much now, you see. [bows head slightly and nods reassuringly] It will soon be 38 years since I met Influence C, and 32 years since my crystallization. [folds left arm over his chest, stroking chin and cheek with right hand philosophically] Christ was 33 years old when he was nailed to the cross. We must accept Influence C on their own uncompromising terms, you see. [drifts off for a few seconds, then looks at his watch] Thank you my dears, it was a lovely event. [folds hands in a ‘namaste’ gesture and gets up]
See Rear View Mirror, your interpretation of the symbolism was just much too logical and straightforward to be believably Robert. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Federal trial opens in Kelly Services case: Role of Fellowship of Friends at issue

[ed. - Sourced from]
By Ryan McCarthy
McClatchy - Tribune Business News [Washington] 26 Mar 2008.

Abstract (summary)

The Fellowship, whose Web site states that the group "was founded in 1970 in the Fourth Way tradition, also known as 'esoteric Christianity,' " is not named in Noyes' employment discrimination lawsuit filed against Michigan-based Kelly Services.

Full Text

Mar. 26--A software developer faced "reverse religious discrimination" at work because she wasn't a member of the Fellowship of Friend, her attorney told jurors Tuesday, a claim disputed by employer Kelly Services. The start of the federal trial in Sacramento in the lawsuit filed by former Kelly Services employee Lynn Noyes, 59, provided sharply contrasting pictures of the Nevada City office where Noyes worked. Noyes contends she was denied promotion to a management position because office manager William Heinz belonged to the Yuba County-based Fellowship and favored other members.

Thirteen of the 35 full-time employees were Fellowship members -- and on the floor where Noyes worked nine of the 13 employees belonged to the Fellowship, Jones said in her opening statement.

The Fellowship, whose Web site states that the group "was founded in 1970 in the Fourth Way tradition, also known as 'esoteric Christianity,' " is not named in Noyes' employment discrimination lawsuit filed against Michigan-based Kelly Services.

Noyes commuted for seven years from Nevada City to Sacramento as a part-time student to get a Masters of Business Administration degree so she could work in management, Jones said. But Heinz, "a 25-year-member of the Fellowship," selected another Fellowship member who received a $10,000 raise after six months, Jones said.

The attorney cited an anonymous letter sent to Kelly Services about the influence of Fellowship members at the office. "We are outnumbered here," the letter stated.

E. Joseph Connaughton, the attorney representing Kelly, said in his opening statement that "This case will tell a story about a man who tried to do the right thing."

Office manager Heinz had sought advice from others when a management position opened, Connaughton said. The post was first offered to a non-Fellowship member, who turned it down, Connaughton said.

"You're not going to see intentional religious discrimination," the attorney said.

He said of the Fellowship that, "I have no idea what they are. I don't entirely get it."

Members seems to be a bunch of smart and very well-educated people, Connaughton said.

Kelly Services twice sent representatives from Michigan to investigate assertions that the Fellowship influenced operations at the Nevada City office, the attorney said.

Noyes had sought $1.2 million from Kelly Services to settle the case, according to a court document.

She and other employees in Nevada City were laid off in 2004 and Kelly Services closed the office the next year.

Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Ryan McCarthy at 749-4707 or

Credit: Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Missing from The New York Times

Fellowship of Friends Apollo Auction Oregon House, CA celebrating Robert Earl Burton's crystallization
2004 Apollo Auction on the anniversary of Robert Earl Burton's "crystallization",
from the "FOF History Project"

"somebody" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
An e-mail from a Council [member]:
In celebration of Robert’s thirty-second anniversary of his crystallization, we offer the following toast:
Thirty-two years ago the greatest miracle in the Universe occurred; it is the same miraculous gift of presence and immortality that the Absolute possesses, and which we all share.
Let us toast to Robert’s crystallization: a gift that will keep giving, and a blessing that will keep blessing.
With all our Love, now and forever.
[ed. - For more on the miraculous event, see this post from 1976.]

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"The Fellowship itself never paid a penny in settlement"*

Fellowship of Friends cult derelict Renaissance Winery in Oregon House, CA
Derelict Renaissance Vineyard & Winery structure. Where charitable donations came to die.

Renaissance perseveres in the Yuba foothills
By Mike Dunne (

Published: March 11th, 2008 01:40 PM
(First published May 2, 2007)

On a sunny slope about 2,300 feet up the Sierra foothills of Yuba County, Gideon Beinstock points out an array of Northern California landmarks.

There's the Coast Range. That snowy crown is Mount Lassen. The smudge off to the left? Sacramento. From way up here, you even look down on the area's most prominent geological feature, Sutter Buttes.

Vision never has been a problem at Renaissance Vineyard & Winery. Realization is another matter.

Since 1994, the hirsute and slight Beinstock has been Renaissance's winemaker and CEO. But over the past few years, the winery's future has become as murky as the outline of Sacramento on the horizon.

At Beinstock's feet, stubby silver stumps of vines curve across the shoulder of the hill, barely visible in waves of tall spring grass. Like other vineyards that not long ago rolled across these knolls in a rhythmic pastiche evocative of Tuscany, this plot is being abandoned.

On a hill across the way, a tractor yanks out vines of another plot. On yet another hill stands Renaissance's monolithic three-story winery; only the ground floor now is used to make wine. Here and there, olive, almond, cherry and citrus orchards have replaced stands of chardonnay and riesling. Rosebushes bloom where pinot noir once grew.

"This has been a traumatic experience," Beinstock says while driving his truck up and down the estate's steep and rocky roads. "But it was financial suicide, the way this was farmed before."

For-profit without profit

In 1971, the guarded, philosophic, spiritually seeking Fellowship of Friends acquired 1,300 acres of these hard and brushy hills 20 miles northeast of Marysville and began to build a community of refinement and quest.

In 1974, the group hired German winemaker Karl Werner, who upon first visiting the site reputedly scooped up a handful of the property's red soil, took a bite and pronounced it just the stuff to produce great wine.

Vineyard development commenced the next year, and over the ensuing decade, the energetic Fellowship converted 365 hardscrabble acres into vines, built the winery, and released wines that drew praise and a following for their structure, clarity and daring. At its peak, Renaissance was making 20,000 cases of wine a year, and principals talked of doubling output.

But today, only around 100 acres remain in vines, and annual production is down to 3,500 cases.

Renaissance -- which since 1978 has been a for-profit, wholly owned subsidiary of the nonprofit Fellowship -- just never made money, and this retrenchment is necessary to survive, indicates Beinstock.

He doesn't know how much money has been invested and lost in the enterprise, and the Fellowship's president, Linda Tulisso [Linda Kaplan], says that information is confidential.

Other complications arose. Pesticides and herbicides hurt soil and vine, and yields fell; today, however, the vineyards are farmed organically. Lawsuits accusing the group's founder and spiritual leader, Robert Burton, of sexual improprieties scared off distributors, says Beinstock; one suit was dismissed and two others were settled by the Fellowship's insurance companies to save the costs of litigation, says Tulisso.

"The Fellowship itself never paid a penny in settlement," notes Tulisso, who added that the suits were filed by former members who failed to produce evidence to support their accusations.*
[ed. - Bolds added. See below.]

Stress, but not distressed

Aside from the cutback in vines, Renaissance today doesn't look distressed. Palm trees line the estate's looping lanes. Spring sunshine ricochets off golden statues of Apollo, Victory, Athena and other classical figures high on tall ribbed columns about the manicured grounds. Migrating geese pause at ponds. A large and handsome amphitheater is nearing completion (the Fellowship includes a ballet troupe, theater group, orchestra and choir). And the former book bindery has been converted into an idyllic concert hall and tasting room, open to the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

Despite setbacks and an uncertain future, Beinstock is upbeat about Renaissance's prospects. He's a winemaker, after all, someone who knows that grapes infected with mold and looking rotten still can yield marvelously golden and luscious wines.

This isn't collapse, but conversion, he says, noting that after three decades of experimentation, Renaissance knows what grape varieties will grow best on what sites. Chardonnay and riesling have been replaced with such varieties as grenache and syrah, which he is confident will adapt better to the steep, rocky slopes and the area's hot summer days. Grafting and replanting continue, and new vineyard techniques are being introduced.

Beinstock isn't interested in making mainstream "international style" varietals, but wines that represent the North Yuba appellation that is home to Renaissance.

"I'm looking for a real stamp of the place," Beinstock says.

What might that be? Through three decades and three winemakers, certain stylistic threads have been consistent in the wines, and he intends to continue to capitalize on them. Renaissance wines are solidly structured, opening slowly and gracefully, and are long-lived when they do. They tend to be more lean than lush. They have an equilibrium about them, and by today's standards, they are downright old-fashioned when it comes to alcohol levels. The newly released Renaissance 1999 Sierra Foothills North Yuba Vin de Terroir Cabernet Sauvignon ($49) has just 12.7 percent alcohol, yet it is rich with the smell and flavor of cherries and eucalyptus, with firm minerality in its feel.

Cabernet sauvignon is Renaissance's signature varietal, as also shown by the ripe, supple and layered Renaissance 2000 Sierra Foothills North Yuba Cabernet Sauvignon ($30), but Beinstock is no less confident in the future of wines based on varieties identified with France's Rhone Valley -- syrah, grenache, viognier and the like.

In his corner are the bright and juicy Renaissance 2006 Sierra Foothills North Yuba Viognier ($30), abundant with honeysuckle, apple and peach; the concentrated, spicy Renaissance 2003 Sierra Foothills North Yuba Vin de Terroir Syrah ($35); and the unusually accessible Renaissance 2000 Sierra Foothills North Yuba Vin de Terroir Granite Crown ($40), a refined blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.

Renaissance wines are hard to find in the Sacramento area -- Beinstock says San Francisco is a more receptive market for the wines -- but they can be ordered online.

Toast to the future

A decade from now, he sees Renaissance comfortably stabilized. Vineyardists will be overseeing about 50 acres, he expects. Yields will be at precisely calibrated levels to produce monumental wines. The migration of the best grapes to the best sites will be complete. And Renaissance wines most likely will be sold only in California, largely through specialty stores catering to a clientele that appreciates the distinctive style that North Yuba produces.

"We have a much better understanding of this place now," says Beinstock. "We're getting the best varieties onto the best sites so we can focus on quality. We're going small scale and being very precise. We're building for the future."

He can see it all around.

* The Fellowship itself never paid a penny in settlement,' notes Tulisso...

As others have pointed out, the plaintiffs never produced the evidence, because there was a financial settlement by the Fellowship's insurance company before the discovery phase would normally have taken place. So, the Fellowship would pay in other ways - insurance rate hikes or even lack of coverage.

Ames Gilbert wrote in an e-mail to the editor, July 29, 2013:
Yuba County kept pestering FoF for taxes based on the enormous square footage of the winery, as they were entitled to do. The FoF eventually reached an agreement—they would fill in all windows and doors of the upper two stories with concrete so they could not possibly be used, and Yuba County would stop demanding taxes on those parts. Demolition was not an option.

After all, Burton had the place designed as a nuclear bomb shelter, and thousands of cubic yards of heavily reinforced concrete is not going to pulled down very easily. This was duly done, and the whole monstrosity painted a sort of pinkish red, visible from the main road.

"dick moron" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 4, 2008:
115 Daily Contradiction
The winery has become more of an elite operation as it downsized. The recent writeups by experts like Mat Kramer and Parker rave about the wines. With wine making less is often more. Think Lafitte Rothschild vs. Gallo.
Lafitte Rothschild produces about 30,000 cases of wine in a good vintage. Hardly a small operation and Robert Parker has “raved” about Gallo wines in the past. If you don’t believe me, look it up.
The question is, what does the profit/loss sheet show for the RVW [Renaissance Vineyard and Winery] over the years. If you funnel enough of church members donations into a bloated, mismanaged, winery that blows money out of it’s ass, you might occasionally make a decent wine.
You were not around then, but the first so-called “Winery donation” request claimed that the winery would be making a huge profit by 1984 and the donation money would be repayed to the church. Of course this never happened, and the failed business continued to suck-up members hard-earned donations like a queer pseudo-teacher named Bob sucks semen.
So now RVW provides a nice side hobby with perks for Gi_eon Beanstalk [Gideon Beinstock] while he runs his own private winery business. As for the Apollo Olive Oil Company, this is a private venture that apparently feeds off of FOF free labor and resources for the gain of certain individuals like Steven Dumb_ck [Steven Dambeck].
If the serfs and peasants don’t rebel against this exploitation, I guess things will keep on keeping on until the money runs out.

"hardtruth" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 8, 2008 at 8:38 p.m.:
Look up at the hills, the vineyard is substantially dead; look at the winery, it is a molding ruin; look over at Girard, he is a broken man muttering superficial nonsense; look over at Robert, he is a ridiculously vain and pompous homosexual fixated on money and boys while rambling on in an obviously diminished mental condition. Listen to the “teaching” from the older students, it is propaganda intended primarily as a stop-loss measure for the increasingly skeptical membership. Look around for your lifelong friends, they have left. If supernatural influences were ever involved in this embarrassingly goofy experiment in iniquity then they have obviously withdrawn their blessing. The Fellowship of Friends is clearly in a descending octave and those that remain in it are certain to sustain enduring damage to their spiritual wellbeing as the rotting enterprise continues to collapse.

[ed. - The following excerpt from a Sacramento Bee article provides an update on the status of Renaissance Vineyard and Winery.]
"An old-fashioned zinfandel" [ed. - Link no long active.]

By Mike Dunne
Special to The Bee
Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2011 - 12:00 am

When people talk about wine regions they'd like to visit, Oregon House just never seems to get mentioned. This is understandable. For one, it's about 20 miles northeast of Marysville, itself so remote and isolated it doesn't draw many visitors, despite its Gold Rush history and relics.

Secondly, Oregon House boasts just a handful of wineries, only one of which ever generated much buzz. That would be Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, an outgrowth of the philosophical and guarded Fellowship of Friends, which bought 1,300 acres of hard rolling land in northern Yuba County in 1971 and began to build a community devoted to spiritual enlightenment and artistic refinement.

One of the group's varied endeavors was the winery and its surrounding 365 acres of vineyards. Over the next couple of decades, the Renaissance label became celebrated for wines of solid structure, clarity, daring and longevity, particularly cabernet sauvignon and riesling, varietals generally not given much hope of withstanding the withering aridity and heat of the Sierra foothills.

During the past decade, however, the fellowship put more effort into its ballet troupe, theater group and other artistic ambitions and less into Renaissance. Most of the vines were pulled out, and production was cut back sharply. Today, it farms just 44 acres of vineyard and makes only around 2,500 cases of wine annually.

Hills that once sprouted vines are now given over to roaming herds of horses, cattle, llamas, ostriches and camels, which is a whole other story.

One of Renaissance's remaining stands of vines is planted to zinfandel, a variety that the fellowship's winemakers never much embraced. Renaissance, in fact, hasn't made a zinfandel under its own brand since 2002. The man who managed Renaissance's vineyards for 30 years, however, always had faith in the zinfandel, and still does.

That would be Grant Ramey, who in 2004, with business partner Eddie Schulten, established his own winery, named Ramey Schulten. David Ramey of Ramey Wine Cellars in Sonoma County, however, didn't care for the resemblance in names. When he let his displeasure be known, Ramey and Schulten in 2006 changed the name of their winery to Grant-Eddie.

Now everyone is happy, especially Grant Ramey, in large part because his wines are being well-received, especially his zinfandel.

(Read more at Sacramento Bee.) [ed. - Link no longer active.]