Introduction


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.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Another prophecy falls

Armageddon at Fellowship of Friends Apollo compound
Smoke from an August 2009 wild fire billows beyond The Fellowship of Friends Apollo compound.

[ed. - Once again, the Gods have (as he describes it) "humiliated" Robert Burton by failing to deliver Armageddon on December 21st, as scheduled. Burton has been polishing this particular prophecy for over 30 years, so it must come as a great disappointment that billions of humans will not be expunged today. With this, he maintains his perfect track record of failed prophecies, and his Ark must await future vindication.  

Now let us change the subject...

 See also: "Our ark will be composed of ten thousand people in the year 2006, and then the doors will close" and "Robert Burton humiliated by Higher Forces' failure to trigger World War III."]

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"The Cult Leader as Psychopath"

"Don Juan" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 12, 2007:
Someone asked about how one might “diagnose” the possible personality disorders on display in the person of Robert Burton.

Back in 1994, a couple of books on cults were making the rounds in the Fellowship (“The Guru Papers” by Kramer and Alstad, and “Captive Hearts, Captive Minds” by Tobias and Lalich) (OK, the rounds of some in the Fellowship). The writers of the latter book suggested that many cult leaders could properly be described as “psychopaths,” and provided a fifteen-point profile of a psychopath.

I remember being shocked at how closely the description of the psychopath fit; everything from self-serving manipulation based upon charm, to a grandiose sense of self and feelings of entitlement, to a complete lack of remorse, shame or guilt, to an incapacity for true love or empathy, to indifference to the harm they inflict on others . . . and on and on. If you haven’t seen it, check it out for yourself; it’s quite remarkable. I’ve quoted it below (parts of the book are available on the web).

What I’ve always found fascinating is that the qualities of seeming “strength” that many people are attracted to in a leader, whether of a cult or a nation, may merely be the pathological absence of normal human capacities for love, empathy, remorse, and concern for others. It is easy to manipulate someone who seeks relief from his own insecurities and uncertainties in the leader’s absolute lack of doubt in himself or his actions.

Anyway, here goes.

From “Captive Hearts, Captive Minds,” by Madeline Landau Tobias and Janja Lalich, pp. 67-79:
The Cult Leader as Psychopath

Cultic groups and relationships are formed primarily to meet specific emotional needs of the leader, many of whom suffer from one or another emotional or character disorder. Few, if any, cult leaders subject themselves to the psychological tests or prolonged clinical interviews that allow for an accurate diagnosis. However, researchers and clinicians who have observed these individuals describe them variously as neurotic, psychotic, on a spectrum exhibiting neurotic, sociopathic, and psychotic characteristics, or suffering from a diagnosed personality disorder.
It is not our intent here to make an overarching diagnosis, nor do we intend to imply that all cult leaders or the leaders of any of the groups mentioned here are psychopaths. In reviewing the data, however, we can surmise that there is significant psychological dysfunctioning in some cult leaders and that their behavior demonstrates features rather consistent with the disorder known as psychopathy.

Dr. Robert Hare, one of the world’s foremost experts in the field, estimates that there are at least two million psychopaths in North America. He writes, “Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.”

The Profile of a Psychopath

In reading the profile, bear in mind the three characteristics that Robert Lifton sees as common to a cultic situation:
  1. A charismatic leader who…increasingly becomes the object of worship
  2. A series of processes that can be associated with “coercive persuasion” or “thought reform”
  3. The tendency toward manipulation from above … with exploitation — economic, sexual, or other — of often genuine seekers who bring idealism from below.
Based on the psychopathy checklists of Hervey Cleckley and Robert Hare, we now explore certain traits that are particularly pertinent to cult leaders. The fifteen characteristics outlined below list features commonly found in those who become perpetrators of psychological and physical abuse. In the discussion we use the nomenclature “psychopath” and “cult leader” interchangeably. . . .

We are not suggesting that all cult leaders are psychopaths but rather that they may exhibit many of the behavioral characteristics of one. We are also not proposing that you use this checklist to make a diagnosis, which is something only a trained professional can do. We present the checklist as a tool to help you label and demystify traits you may have noticed in your leader.
1. Glibness/Superficial charm

Glibness is a hallmark of psychopaths. They are able to use language effortlessly to beguile, confuse, and convince. They are captivating storytellers. They exude self-confidence and are able to spin a web that intrigues others and pulls them into the psychopath’s life. Most of all, they are persuasive. Frequently they have the capacity to destroy their critics verbally or disarm them emotionally.

2. Manipulative and Conning

Cult leaders do not recognize the individuality or rights of others, which makes all self-serving behaviors permissible. The hallmark of the psychopath is the psychopathic maneuver; which is essentially interpersonal manipulation “based on charm. The manipulator appears to be helpful, charming, even ingratiating or seductive, but is covertly hostile, domineering….[The victim] is perceived as an aggressor, competitor, or merely as an instrument to be used….The manipulation inevitably becomes the end-all and is no longer qualified by the reality principle.” In other words, there are no checks on the psychopath’s behavior–anything goes. The Psychopath divides the world into suckers, sinners, and himself. He discharges powerful feelings of terror and rage by dominating and humiliating his victims. He is particularly successful when, through an overlay of charm, he makes an ally of his victim–a process sometimes described as emotional vampirism or emotional terrorism. Examples of this type of manipulation are plentiful in the literature of Jonestown and other cultic groups. It is especially prevalent in the one-on-one cultic relationship, where there is direct involvement with the manipulator.

3. Grandiose Sense of Self

The cult leader enjoys tremendous feelings of entitlement. He believes everything is owed to him as a right. Preoccupied with his own fantasies, he must always be the center of attention. He presents himself as the “Ultimate One” enlightened, a vehicle of God, a genius, the leader of humankind, and sometimes even the most humble of humble. He has an insatiable need for adulation and attendance. His grandiosity may also be a defense against inner emptiness, depression, and a sense of insignificance. Paranoia often accompanies the grandiosity, reinforcing the isolation of the group and the need for protection against a perceived hostile environment. In this way, he creates an us-versus-them mentality.

4. Pathological Lying

Psychopaths lie coolly and easily, even when it is obvious they are being untruthful. It is almost impossible for them to be consistently truthful about either a major or minor issue. They lie for no apparent reason, even when it would seem easier and safer to tell the truth. This is sometimes called “crazy lying.” Confronting their lies may provoke an unpredictably incense rage or simply a Buddha-like smile.

Another form of lying common among cult leaders is known as pseudologica fantastica, an extension of pathological lying. Leaders tend to create a complex belief system, often about their own powers and abilities, in which they themselves sometimes get caught up. “It is often difficult to determine whether the lies are an actual delusional distortion of reality or are expressed with the conscious or unconscious intent to deceive. These manipulators are rarely original thinkers. Plagiarists and thieves, they seldom credit the true originators of ideas, often co-opting authorship. They are extremely convincing, forceful in the expression of their views, and talented at passing lie detector tests. For them, objective truth does not exist. The only “truth” is whatever will best achieve the outcome that meets their needs. This type of opportunism is very difficult to understand for those who are not psychopaths. For this reason, followers are more apt to invent or go along with all kinds of explanations and rationales for apparent inconsistencies in behavior “I know my guru must have had a good reason for doing this.” “He did it because he loves me even though it hurts.”


5. Lack of Remorse, Shame, or Guilt

At the core of the psychopath is a deep-seated rage which is split off (i.e, psychologically separated from the rest of the self) and repressed. Some researchers theorize that this is caused by feeling abandoned in infancy or early childhood. Whatever the emotional or psychological source, psychopaths see those around them as objects, targets, or opportunities, not as people. They do not have friends, they have victims and accomplices-and the latter frequently end as victims. For psychopaths, the ends always justify the means. Thus there is no place for feelings of remorse, shame, or guilt. Cult leaders feel justified in all their actions since they consider themselves the ultimate moral arbiter. Nothing gets in their way.

6. Shallow Emotions

While they may display outbursts of emotion, more often than not they are putting on a calculated response to obtain a certain result. They rarely reveal a range of emotions, and what is seen is superficial at best, pretended at worst. Positive feelings of warmth, joy, love, and compassion are more feigned than experienced. They are unmoved by things that would upset the normal person, while outraged by insignificant matters. They are bystanders to the emotional life of others, perhaps envious and scornful of feelings they cannot have or understand. In the end, psychopaths are cold, with shallow emotions, living in a dark world of their own.

Hiding behind the “mask of sanity,” the cult leader exposes feelings only insofar as they serve an ulterior motive. He can witness or order acts of utter brutality without experiencing a shred of emotion. He casts himself in a role of total control, which he plays to the hilt. What is most promised in cults–peace, joy, enlightenment, love, and security are goals that are forever out of reach of the leader, and thus also the followers. Since the leader is not genuine, neither are his promises.

7. Incapacity for Love

As the “living embodiment of God’s love,” the leader is tragically flawed in being unable to either give or receive love. Love substitutes are given instead. A typical example might be the guru’s claim that his illness or misfortune (otherwise inconsistent with his enlightened state) is caused by the depth of his compassion for his followers, whereby he takes on their negative karma. Not only are devotees supposed to accept this as proof of his love but also are expected to feel guilt for their failings! It becomes impossible for members to disprove this claim once they have accepted the beliefs of the group.

The leader’s tremendous need to be loved is accompanied by an equally strong disbelief in the love offered him by his followers; hence, the often unspeakably cruel and harsh testing of his devotees. Unconditional surrender is an absolute requirement. In one cult, for example, the mother of two small children was made to tell them nightly that she loved her leader more than them. Later, as a test of her devotion, she was asked to give up custody of her children in order to be allowed to stay with her leader. The guru’s love is never tested; it must be accepted at face value.

8. Need for Stimulation

Thrill-seeking behaviors, often skirting the letter or spirit of the law, are common among psychopaths. Such behavior is sometimes justified as preparation for martyrdom “I know I don’t have long to live; therefore my time on this earth must be lived to the fullest.” “Surely even I am entitled to have fun or sin a little.” This type of behavior becomes more frequent as the leader deteriorates emotionally and psychologically–a common occurrence.

Cult leaders live on the edge, constantly testing the beliefs of their followers, often with increasingly bizarre behaviors, punishments, and rules. Other mechanisms of stimulation come in the form of unexpected, seemingly spontaneous outbursts, which usually take the form of verbal abuse and sometimes physical punishment. The psychopath has a cool indifference to things around him, yet his icy coldness can quicky turn into rage, vented on those around him.

9. Callousness/lack of empathy

Psychopaths readily take advantage of others, expressing utter contempt for anyone else’s feelings. Someone in distress is not important to them. Although intelligent, perceptive, and quite good at sizing people up, they make no real connections with others. They use their “people skills” to exploit, abuse, and wield power.

Psychopaths are unable to empathize with the pain of their victims. Meanwhile, part of the victims’ denial system is the inability to believe that someone they love so much could consciously and callously hurt them. It therefore becomes easier to rationalize the leader’s behavior as necessary for the general or individual “good.” The alternative for the devotee would be to face the sudden and overwhelming awareness of being victimized, deceived, used. Such a realization would wound the person’s deepest sense of self, so as a means of self-protection the person denies the abuse. When and if the devotee becomes aware of the exploitation, it feels as though a tremendous evil has been done, a spiritual rape.

10. Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature

Like small children, many psychopaths have difficulty regulating their emotions. Adults who have temper tantrums are frightening to be around. Rage and abuse, alternating with token expressions of love and approval, produce an addictive cycle for both abuser and abused, as well as create a sense of hopelessness in the latter. This dynamic has also been recognized in relation to domestic abuse and the battering of women. The cult leader acts out with some regularity–often privately, sometimes publicly–usually to the embarrassment and dismay of his followers and other observers. He may act out sexually, aggressively, or criminally, frequently with rage. Who could possibly control someone who believes himself to be all-powerful, all-knowing, and entitled to every wish, someone who has no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for the impact on those around him? Generally this aberrant behavior is a well-kept secret, known only to a few disciples. The others only see perfection. These tendencies are related to the psychopath’s need for stimulation and inability to tolerate frustration, anxiety, and depression. Often a leader’s inconsistent behavior needs to be rationalized by either the leader or the follower in order to maintain internal consistency. It is often regarded as divinely inspired and further separates the empowered from the powerless.

11. Early Behavior Problems/juvenile delinquency

Psychopaths frequently have a history of behavioral and academic difficulties. They often “get by” academically, conning other students and teachers. Encounters with juvenile authorities are frequent. Equally prevalent are difficulties in peer relationships and developing and keeping friends, marked control problems, and other aberrant behaviors such as stealing, fire setting, and cruelty to others.

12. Irresponsibility/Unreliability

Not concerned about the consequences of their behavior, psychopaths leave behind them the wreckage of others’ lives and dreams. They may be totally oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they inflict on others, something which they regard as neither their problem nor their responsibility.

Psychopaths rarely accept blame for their failures or mistakes. Scape goating is common, blaming followers, those outside the group, a member’s family, the government, Satan–anyone and everyone but the leader. The blaming may follow a ritualized procedure such as a trial, “hot seat” denunciation, or public confession (either one-on-one or in front of the group). Blame is a powerful reinforcer of passivity and obedience, producing guilt, shame, terror, and conformity in the followers.

13. Promiscuous Sexual behavior/infidelity

Promiscuity, child sexual abuse, polygamy, rape, and sexual acting out of all sorts are frequently practiced by cult leaders. Conversely, there is often stringent sexual control of the followers through such tactics as enforced celibacy, arranged marriages, forced breakups and divorces, removal of children from their parents, forced abortions or mandated births. For psychopaths, sex is primarily a control and power issue.

Along with this behavior comes vast irresponsibility not only for the followers’ emotions but also for their lives. In one cult, for example, multiple sexual relations were encouraged even while one of the top leaders was known to be HIV positive. This kind of negligence toward others is not uncommon in the psychopath’s world.

Marital fidelity is rare in the psychopath’s life. There are usually countless reports of extramarital affairs and sexual predation upon adult and child members of both sexes. The sexual behavior of the leader may be kept hidden from all but the inner circle or may be part of accepted group sexual practices. In any case, due to the power imbalance between leader and followers, sexual contact is never truly consensual and is likely to have damaging consequences for the follower.

14. Lack of realistic life plan/parasitic lifestyle

The psychopath tends to move around a lot, making countless efforts at “starting over while seeking out Fertile new ground to exploit. One day he may appear as a rock musician, the next a messiah; one day a used car salesman, the next the founder of a mass self-transformation program; one day a college professor, the next the new “Lenin” bringing revolution to America.

The flip side of this erratic life planning is the all-encompassing promise for the future that the cult leader makes to his followers. Many groups claim as their goal world domination or salvation at the Apocalypse. The leader is the first to proclaim the utopian nature of the group, which is usually simply another justification for irrational behavior and stringent controls.

The leader’s sense of entitlement is often demonstrated by the contrast between his luxurious lifestyle and the impoverishment of his followers. Most cult leaders arc supported by gifts and donations from their followers, who may be pressured to turn over much of their income and worldly possessions to the group. Slavery, enforced prostitution, and a variety of illegal acts for the benefit of the leader are common in a cult milieu. This type of exploitation aptly demonstrates Lifton’s third point of idealization from below and exploitation from above.

Psychopaths also tend to be preoccupied with their own health while remaining totally indifferent to the suffering of others. They may complain of being “burned out” due to the burden of “caring for” their followers, sometimes stating they do not have long to live, instilling fear and guilt in their devotees and encouraging further servitude. they are highly sensitive to their own pain and tend to be hypochondriacs, which often conflicts with their public image of superhuman self-control and healing abilities.

According to them, the illnesses they don’t get are due to their powers, while the ones they do get are caused by their “compassion” in taking on their disciples’ karma or solving the group’s problems. This of course is another guru trick.

15. Criminal or entrepreneurial versatility

Cult leaders change their image and that of the group as needed to avoid prosecution and litigation, to increase income, and to recruit a range of members. Cult leaders have an innate ability to attract followers who have the skills and connections that the leaders lack. The longevity of the group is dependent on the willingness of leadership to adapt as needed and preserve the group. Frequently, when illegal or immoral activities are exposed to the public, the cult leader will relocate, sometimes taking followers with him. He will keep a low profile, only to resurface later with a new name, a new front group, and perhaps a new twist on the scam.

"ton" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 17, 2009:
“When abuses are publicly exposed, the leader either denies or justifies the behaviors by saying that ‘enemies of the truth’ or ‘the forces of evil’ are trying to subvert his true message. Core members of the group have a huge vested interest in believing him, as their identity is wrapped up in believing in his righteousness. Those who begin to doubt him at first become confused and depressed, and later feel betrayed and angry. The ways people deny and justify are similar: Since supposedly no one who is not enlightened can truly understand the motives of one who is, any criticism can be discounted as a limited perspective. Also, any behavior on the part of the guru, no matter how base, can be imputed to be some secret teaching or message that needs deciphering.

By holding gurus as perfect and thus beyond ordinary explanations, their presumed specialness can be used to justify anything. Some deeper, occult reason can always be ascribed to anything a guru does: The guru is said to take on the karma of others, and that is why his body has whatever problems it has. The guru is obese or unhealthy because he is too kind to turn down offerings: besides, he gives so much that a little excess is understandable. He punishes those who disobey him not out of anger but out of necessity, as a good father would. He uses sex to teach about energy and detachment. He lives an opulent life to break people’s simplistic preconceptions of what ego-loss should look like; it also shows how detached and unconcerned he is about what others think. For after all, ‘Once enlightened, one can do anything.’ Believing this dictum makes any action justifiable.

People justify and rationalize in gurus what in others would be considered unacceptable because they have a huge emotional investment in believing their guru is both pure and right.”
(Guru Papers p.52)
[ed. - Also see "Dr. Robert J. Lifton on Destructive Cults."]

"ton" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 17, 2009:
“That interest in one’s own salvation is totally
self-centered is a conundrum rarely explored.”
(ibid p.54)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A cult of male rape?

Burton, engaged in second favorite activity
Some enchanted evening you will meet a stranger – the appearance of your own divine Soul. - Robert Earl Burton
Back in the mid 70′s the people who knew about it were the people that it was happening to, and the people who aided and abetted it. That’s pretty much it. Of the people who it was happening to, we didn’t even acknowledge it to each other, even though most of us were frequently in each other’s proximity. People didn’t know what to say, nor to whom. And we were pretty much walking around shell shocked. - Bruce Levy on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog

"Joseph G" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 12, 2007:
I saw an ad on a Muni bus the other day that said: “I thought he was a great guy until he raped me.”

Following is copied from a gay-and-lesbian website. Sorry it’s so long but the whole thing just seems incredibly pertinent. If you don’t have time to read it, I suggest at least scanning through “Gay Rape Myths” at the end… 
Male Rape: When Mr. Nice Turns Nasty
By Brian Van De Mark
Published Thursday, 12-Jul-2007 in issue 1020

Joseph’s date seemed to be going well enough. After meeting “Frank” online, with whom he’d chatted for a number of weeks, he’d agreed to meet for dinner at Joseph’s favorite Indian restaurant. Conversation was pleasant and flowed easily enough, so they decided to take a casual walk around Hillcrest. Frank even offered to walk Joseph back to his apartment. It was about 9:30 on a Thursday evening in March. The sun had long gone down, and the cool San Diego weather lent itself well to a few warm goodnight kisses at the doorstep. It didn’t seem unusual to Joseph that Frank asked if he could use the restroom before he made the drive home. After all, they had both had several cocktails that night at dinner.


Beginning of a nightmare

But “opening the door for [Frank] that night was the beginning of a nightmare,” recalls Joseph, 34. “And the horrible thing is that I can’t get it out of my head, even though I don’t completely remember most of it.” To this day, Joseph still struggles with calling “it” rape, although he understands that what happened next was not consensual: When Frank came out of the bathroom, he walked over to thank Joseph again for a fun evening. A few more mutually enjoyable kisses were exchanged, and Joseph was ready to call it a night. But Frank asked if he could “just stay for a bit” until some of the alcohol was out of his system. “By then, I was ready for him to leave, but what can you say when someone says they don’t want to drive after they’ve been drinking?” Joseph says, recalling that he was feeling pretty tipsy himself. So, Joseph closed the front door and offered to fix them some coffee. The moment he turned to go into the kitchen, however, his “worst hell began.” Joseph recounts the scene numbly: Frank, Joseph says, pounced on him and was kissing and groping him all over. At first, Joseph tried to just laugh it off and tell Frank to go back to the sofa. But Frank persisted. The next 45 minutes are a relative blur, Joseph says. What Joseph does know is this. When he next looked at a clock, it was shortly after 11 p.m., and he was bleeding slightly from his rectum. And while he doesn’t remember everything that happened, he does remember sporadic moments of words and phrases, including his own voice saying “no” and “stop” and “hurt” and “please,” and Frank’s voice saying “relax” and “condom” and “your fantasy” and “You know you want it.” What he also knows is that he continues to feel a great deal of shame and confusion over just exactly what happened that night. And while his tears have abated, and the several-month long, every-waking-moment fear of HIV has passed, Joseph does not think he will ever be the same again.

A community issue

What Joseph may not realize is that his experience is hardly unique. In fact, it’s common enough that San Francisco has launched a campaign to raise awareness about rape in the GLBT community. The campaign, in response to a growing number of Bay Area sexual assaults on gays, includes posters on public Muni buses that read, “I thought he was a great guy until he raped me,” as well as a gay rape hotline (415-333-4357) for reporting crimes, and a Web site, http://www.mensurvivingrape.org [ed. - Link defunct]. The campaign is among the first in the nation bringing a voice to this relatively unknown issue. The Federal Bureau of Investigations estimates that 5 to 10 percent of all reported rapes involve male victims, and the 2003 Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Study indicates that 1 in 10 rape victims are male. The Department of Justice says that one in 33 men in the United States has been a victim of rape or attempted rape, compared to one in six women. It estimates that between 12 to 30 percent of gay and bisexual men have engaged in sexual intercourse when they did not want to because they felt coerced to do so – the very essence of the definition of rape in the United States. However, Detective Sergeant Judy Woods of the San Diego Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit (SDPD) suggests using caution when considering FBI or Department of Justice statistics. “It’s important to note that when you see the FBI statistics that they are very specific about what rape is, and that rape for them is defined specifically as a penis in a vagina, which fails to include, then, forced penis to anal penetration, forced penis to oral penetration, and forced object to anal penetration. Those are considered sexual assaults.” In other words, national statistics grossly underreport sexual assaults on men, if for no other reason than by sheer definition. To get a better idea of the situation in San Diego, Woods took a moment to search SDPD’s database with the key words “male victim/sexual assault.” She discovered more than 1,200 cases of reported sexual assault against men, most of which, she says, date from 2001. About 80 percent of those, Woods says, are from what the SDPD calls “brief encounters.” “We don’t use the phrase ‘date rape’ because that isn’t accurate for encounters such as meeting someone at a nightclub or on the street, having a conversation and a connection,” Woods explains. However, assures Woods, whether the violation is classified as sexual assault or rape, each is a felony and treated with the same vigilance by her unit. In fact, the SDPD uses the same protocol countywide for all assault reports, male or female – the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).The SART team investigation consists of a physical medical exam for forensic evidence, a law enforcement officer and a victim advocate. “Regardless of the gender or sexual orientation, people need to know that their situation will be taken very seriously,” says Woods, who has been in the Sex Crimes Unit for 26 years. As staggering as the 1,200 number may be to some, it doesn’t even come close to the actual number of assaults that happen, Woods says. “The numbers we have are consistent with the grossly underreported assaults across the board,” Woods explains. “It’s because of the same factors in female victims, that there is often embarrassment or the feeling of not wanting to stir things up. Sometimes people think they made the mistake, and so they just want to let that one situation go.” But Woods argues this is not in the best interests either of the victim or the community. “Preventing sexual assault is all of our problem,” Woods says. “It could be me, my son, you, your friend. We have to be responsible for our own behavior and make sure others are responsible for their actions.”

Men less likely to report rape

Often in male rape cases, though, it’s the male victims’ perception of their own behavior or actions during the assault that leads male rape to be so grossly underreported. Paul Sussman has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and works in the area of sexuality, sexual orientation, and violence and trauma. Sussman suggests there is a series of events or variables that are different for male victims of rape than for female victims of rape. “First of all, when we think of rape, we generally think of women,” Sussman says. “And so our services are generally set up to treat women victims. Men might not even know there are resources for them. Secondly, often men don’t even think in terms of male rape victim, and so it might not even occur to them that they were a victim of rape, per se.” Sussman cites Mike Lew’s groundbreaking 1980 book, Victims No Longer: Men Recovering from Incest and other Sexual Child Abuse, in which Lew explains the social phenomenon that leads people to believe that “men are not victims, and victims are not men.” “Somehow, we learn to believe that it is not OK [for a male] to be a victim, and that we are less than male, or not male enough, if we fall into that category,” Sussman explains. There is also the issue of “confusion,” which can manifest itself in a wide range of ways. For example, Sussman says, “Male victims are often sexually or physically aroused during an assault, and that can lead to some confusion on the part of the victim who might be asking themselves, ‘Why was I aroused?’ It’s not unusual for a male victim to become physically aroused or experience an erection. For one, fear and excitement are wired closely together, and both nervousness and fear can cause an erection. And, if a male is anally penetrated, the interaction with the prostrate may cause arousal and/or an erection.” Sussman explains that the more sexually or physiologically aroused victims are, the more confused they are, and the less likely they are to report the assault. Arousal also makes victims more vulnerable.

Eroticism or violation?

Take Jessie, for example. Jessie, 32, is a self-described “leather boy,” and frequently participates in leather bondage and S&M scenes. Jessie says he is considered by most of his friends to be a pretty “worked-out muscle stud on the outside and a teenage fem-boy on the inside.” That is, Jessie says, his sexual encounters tend to be with people who are willing to overlook his larger, masculine exterior to dominate his more submissive interior. Last year, Jessie thought he had met someone who might be a good match for just that. Jessie, who says he has about 13 years of experience in the leather-boy role, is very particular about safe words and safer-sex play. His erotic moments come from pushing limits, but never from violating the agreed-upon boundaries. When Jessie met “Phil,” he was pretty confident that Phil was capable of playing within those parameters.
After a few play sessions, however, Jessie noticed that Phil’s erotic arousals came when he was pushing the agreed-upon boundaries further than Jessie liked. However, because they had a pre-set form of communication, where Jessie was barred from speaking in Phil’s presence, with the exception of the safe word to indicate a need to stop the play, Jessie felt he was unable to really discuss his concern with Phil. Jessie sensed that Phil actually became aroused by Jessie’s use of the safe word, rather than respecting the role it played in their scenes. Also, because Phil is an active member of the leather community in San Diego, and, in fact, often a leading voice in that community, Jessie was afraid to confront Phil for fear of being alienated by the group. While Jessie knows that if he were to come forward to members of the leather community, that such a charge would be taken very seriously, he is still concerned that Phil’s stature in the leather community would trump any concern Jessie has. “The leather community is really good about policing their own,” Jessie says. “In fact, it’s not uncommon for those of us who like scenes that take us to the edge to get references from others who have played with a partner we are considering. But with [Phil], it’s different.” Jessie fears that it would be a “his-word-against-mine” scenario, and he just isn’t sure how it would end up. After all, Jessie, himself, likes pretty extreme play. Consequently, beyond the leather community, seeking help seems unlikely, he says. “How seriously would I be taken if I went to some authority and said, ‘Well, I invited the guy over for a rape scene. But we had boundaries, and he showed up to do just that, but without the boundaries? Yeah, I was already tied up and gagged when he got there. Yeah, I was blindfolded and had the word “bitch” scrawled on my back in marker.’ How seriously do you think they would take my concern?” Jessie’s attempt to define the line between eroticism and violation became more pressing one Saturday night: Phil had arranged for Jessie to service several of his friends. And, Jessie says, what began as an erotic scene ended, at least for Jessie, as a night of horror, shame and confusion. Phil, showing off to his friends, responded to Jessie’s safe words with comments such as, “Yeah, that’s right, I know you don’t think you want it, but you do,” and “Shut up, boy, I didn’t ask how you felt.” Phil even took some duct tape and put it over the gag so Jessie’s words became completely muffled. At some point, Jessie says he just froze and stopped protesting, since every time he did, it just incited more aggression. Jessie says he understands, on one level, that what happened was rape. On the other hand, confusion nags. “Maybe on some level I wanted all of that,” he says. Much of Jessie’s uncertainty comes from the fact that he finds the very scene he took part in erotic. Further, Jessie says that his own physical response is part of what causes him to question the assault element, since he experienced a high level of physiological arousal, including an erection and multiple orgasms, during the episode. Finally, Jessie says he questions whether it was really rape, since he himself is a 6-foot-1-inch man and weighs 245 pounds, while Phil is a 5-foot-10-inch man and weighs about 160 pounds. At any point, Jessie suggests, he should have been able to stop the scene.

Physical strength not a factor in avoiding rape

Not so, says longtime rape crisis hotline counselor Yvonne Lewis. “It’s so tragic to hear [Jessie’s] story,” Lewis says. “Tragic because it’s precisely why male rape is so invisible today. Size, physique, none of that matters when psychological control is in play. I don’t care if you’re a linebacker for the Chargers and the rapist is a 4-foot-9-inch horse jockey. Control isn’t about size; it’s about psychological [control]. [A recent paper] says: ‘Male rape in the 21st century resembles nothing so much as female rape in the 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries. Men are afraid to come forward for many of the same reasons women were [and some still are]. [Men] fear they would be blamed for their victimization, that their sexuality would be the issue, not the defendant’s wrongdoing, that they would never escape the stigma, no matter how blameless they were.’ Just because [Jessie] wore a certain type of clothing, and showed up to do a certain thing with one person, does not make him less of a victim of gang rape than the college student jumped in an alley coming out of a late-night biology lab at UCSD.” Holly Desimone, a leading rape awareness advocate in Calgary, Canada, recently turned her attention to the issues of gay male rape after meeting with Judy Shepherd, mother of the late Matthew Shepherd, who was murdered in 1998 for being gay. Judy Shepherd, who speaks frequently about the hate crime, is a leading voice in the movement to raise awareness of the issue. Desimone, a rape survivor herself, began to see a pattern emerging among rape and violence cases as they related to homeless persons, gays and lesbians, and people with disabilities. “There is this tendency to lump the rape into the hate crime,” Desimone explains. “And I think we need to separate the two from each other. Rape is rape, and beating is beating, and we can’t lose sight of the fact that many of the victims that we champion as victims of hate crimes were also victims of rape.” SDPD’s Detective Sergeant Woods agrees with both Lewis and Desimone. Woods says her department makes sure all factors of every reported attack are investigated and prosecuted. “I want people to understand that this mentality of ‘nobody is going to listen to me’ isn’t true,” Woods says. “We will listen. Let me just give you an example of when nobody thought we would listen, but we did. On Aug. 8, 2006, Joel Kuchmann was convicted and sentenced to 206 years to life in state prison. He was convicted of holding three people at gun point – a transvestite and two transgender individuals in August of 2005. He was convicted of three counts of rape with a foreign object, forced oral copulation, as well as robbery with a firearm. He was also convicted of dissuading a witness from reporting the crime.” In other words, each and every crime committed was charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and the resulting sentence was not simply a hate crime sentence, but rather a series of sentences for the series of crimes committed. At the time, prosecutor Dwayne Moring issued a statement that he was “pleased with the verdict because. in this case, a defendant preyed upon individuals who he believed would be too frightened to report the crimes he committed against them.” The department’s vigilance in bringing Kuechmann to justice, Woods says, is a prime example of the SDPD’s policy of taking every victim’s case seriously. “If there is a gay man out there who is assaulted, he should know that the SDPD treats all cases equally,” Woods says. Another powerful element in the process is that the SDPD’s protocol is strictly victim-driven and, with the exception of domestic violence or child molestation, can be stopped by the victim at any time. “A person’s identity is kept confidential during the process, and people need to know that our protocol is victim-driven,” Woods explains. “At any point, an adult victim can terminate the process. People need to know that it isn’t a case of just getting a ball rolling that they can’t stop. At any point, a person can call back later and stop the process. But people should come forward as soon as possible, because the sooner we get the toxicology and forensics, the better the case is going to be.”

Condoms don’t make it OK

Another area of confusion among male rape victims has to do with condom usage. “A lot of times, you will hear a male victim of assault explain away the actual act of rape if the perpetrator uses a condom,” Lewis explains. “The thinking there tends to be that if the perpetrator used a condom, then it can’t be rape, because rape is an instantaneous, violent, spur of the moment, testosterone-filled moment, and using a condom means the perpetrator is engaged in some form of rational thought during the act, which leads to confusion on the part of the male victim. This is different than female victims’ thinking, actually. Condom or not, rape is rape, in a woman’s mind. But for some reason, we get a lot of hesitation from male victims when the issues of condoms are factored in.” There is one other area of interest when it comes to male rape, Lewis says, and that is rape within a relationship. “People don’t always think about coerced or forced sexual encounters within a relationship as sexual assault or rape,” Lewis explains. “After all, most people in a relationship have probably had sex with their partner when they weren’t necessarily in the mood themselves. And, to some extent, that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is a partner who is a little drunk, or a little high, and forces their partner into a sexual encounter that is unwanted and unwelcomed. Rape isn’t just about strangers.” Cory, 38, knows this all too well. He recently left a relationship that he finally came to understand as abusive. In fact, Cory says, he was probably raped by his partner of nine years more than 200 times. “I know that sounds extreme, and maybe people don’t understand, but when [Kevin] would come home from a night out with some friends, he would come into the room and wake me up by getting physically aggressive and sexual with me,” Cory recalls. “It’s not just that I wasn’t ‘in the mood’ or ‘up for some play.’ He would pin me down, tear off my shorts and just begin to either rub himself against me, forcefully jack me off, or, sometimes, even [anally penetrate] me.” Cory tried discussing the problem with his family, but they couldn’t understand how a man can be raped, especially one who had erections and ejaculations. How was that congruent with a lack of desire? Like so many others, they believed a person could only become physiologically aroused if one is enjoying the act. So, Cory turned to his friends. Unfortunately, most of the responses centered around telling Cory to “loosen up a little” or “Well, if that’s what you have to do to keep [Kevin] monogamous, then suck it up.” Cory says it got to the point where he would just take sleeping pills, so that he could sleep through any late-night assaults. Cory felt very alone in his struggle. “Friends and family need to gently encourage the victim to get help,” Sussman explains. “If, for nothing else, just to know that they are not alone. It can be a very destructive, corrosive feeling to think, ‘I’m the only one it happens to.’ That can make a person feel even worse. And being informed gives a person choices, whether that’s an Internet chat group on this theme. That can be a very safe first step into it. People have to be able to understand how this has an impact on them. It’s sort of like being gay 30 years ago in Davenport, Iowa, say. One might have thought, ‘I’m the only person on earth that’s gay.’ In the same way, a person in a relationship, who is a victim of sexual assault today, may think they are the only one that this is happening to.”

Fear of disclosing sexual orientation

One of the leading reasons men like Cory don’t come forward about sexual assault is out of fear of disclosing their sexual orientation. Both Cory and his partner are active military, and disclosure of their sexual orientation could lead to being discharged – in essence, being fired from the only jobs they’ve ever known. As a result of the continued sexual assault and abuse, as well as his inability to go to the authorities, Cory says he is doing his best to cope with the hostility and anger he has for Kevin, as well as the sleep disturbance he now experiences. All of these reactions are extremely common, Sussman says. In fact, a male rape victim’s response is often that of post traumatic stress syndrome, with depression and anxiety being significant factors. “Add to all of that the shame that gay men often have surrounding their homosexuality, and you have a person who is at risk of being extremely vulnerable psychologically and emotionally,” Sussman says. As for Cory, he says he wants to stay strong. And part of that strength means not being in a relationship for a while. The issues surrounding gay rape are as complex as they are painful: shame, confusion, solitude, physical trauma and the fear of HIV transmission. But there is help for those who have been victims of gay rape. And, as cities like San Francisco become more open about the dialogue, there is hope, as well.

Gay rape myths

Myth 1: Men can’t be raped.

According to the Department of Justice, 1 in 33 men in the U.S. is a victim of rape or attempted rape.

Myth 2: Male rape only happens in prison.

While statistics may suggest that the number of daily prison rapes exceeds the number of daily rapes in society at large, rape of both males and females does happen every day, whether by strangers, friends or even partners.

Myth 3: It wasn’t rape; it was just rough sex.

A gay man can be violated, and it is considered rape if the acts continue beyond the consensual activity.

Myth 4: He just had too much to drink, so it’s not really his fault.

Alcohol is a leading factor in sexual assault, and it is not a legal excuse for a rapist’s actions.

Myth 5: It isn’t rape if you’re in a relationship.

Any sexual act that is the result of being coerced, forced or is non-consensual, whether it is a stranger, a friend or a partner, is considered rape. A partner can be charged with the same crime as a stranger.

Myth 6: He was aroused, so it wasn’t rape.

Male victims can be sexually or physically aroused during the rape due to psychological causes or fear or excitement, as well as physical causes such as the stimulation of the prostate. It’s not uncommon for a male rapist to go out of his way to make sure the victim does have an erection – and possibly even ejaculate – as this adds to the victim’s confusion and subsequent non-reporting.

Myth 7: Men are strong protectors and providers, so they can’t be raped.

Whether through physical or emotional coercion, threats or drugs (such as the “date rape” drug, GHB), men can be victims of rape.

Myth 8: The police or medical team will not take me seriously.

The San Diego Police Department has a Sexual Assault Response Team in place countywide to respond to all rape victims, including male victims.

Myth 9: Oral copulation is not rape.

If you are forced to commit any act of a sexual nature, including oral-genital contact, it is sexual assault and it is classified as sexual assault and subject to the same protection as vaginal or anal penetration.

Myth 10: Male victims don’t suffer as much as female victims

All victims suffer, and the variables that may contribute to the trauma experienced vary a great deal. And while male victims are not at risk of pregnancy, there is a much higher risk of internal damage and tearing, and, with that, comes a higher possible HIV-transmission risk.

[ed. - The following was included in the above article, but omitted from Joseph's post. Whether or not you are a heterosexual male in The Fellowship of Friends, this is sound advice:]
What to do if you are raped
  • Get to a safe place, be that a friend’s house or family.
  • Call 911 or the police dispatch if the crime has just occurred. You will be directed as to where you can seek medical attention, both physical and psychological. (If you go to a hospital, despite any embarrassment or uncomfortable feelings you might have, make sure they perform a rape kit. Preserve all possible forensics. Don’t bathe, douche, chew gum or gargle anything (there is just as much DNA in saliva as semen), and don’t wash any clothing, bed linens or other possible objects that may have collected fluids.
  • Write everything down that you can recall.
  • Remember that this is not your fault, and that there are whole networks of professionals who are there to help you.
In May, South Africa passed legislation to broaden the definition of rape. It now includes forced anal or oral sex, irrespective of the victim or perpetrator’s gender. The new legislation also recognizes male rape, which was previously classified as indecent assault, and widens rape to include sexual penetration with an inanimate object or animal genitalia. 
Last month, Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly also broadened the definition of rape victims to cover both men and women. 
"'I see' said the blind man" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 12, 2007:
Male Rape. Thanks for bringing it up Joseph in 261.

The perpetrator of rape is traditionally the one who penetrates the victim without permission.

Although there have been attempts to bring charges against women who have forced men to have sex with them, I don’t think it has ever been made to stick because having an erect penis is seen as evidence of arousal and therefore of complicity in the act of penetrating another. It looks very different from a man forcefully penetrating a woman or other man.

The only cases I know of where someone has been sexually abused even though it was they who had the hard on, is with minors or the mentally handicapped. In these cases the victim has been stimulated in order to be taken advantage of. Think Michael Jackson masturbating boys in his bed.

Viagra changes things rather. If it can be proved that a man has been stimulated with sodomize in order for him to be sucked or made to fuck another man when he was not aroused by that other man, you surely have the makings of a case for rape.

Not only that, but if a system is in place to turn this into a production line of penises for sucking and stimulating the prostrate, it includes institutional rape, where the organization that knowingly creates the necessary conditions is guilty of rape.

Out of all the circumstances for a smart criminal attorney to earn his spurs, this has to rate high. It is a great opportunity to win fame and glory for putting away a perverted monster and destroying the institution that fed a homosexual elementary school teacher come prophet and head of a clut’s appetite for heterosexual men. You can just see it in the papers, can’t you.

We have an authority figure who is the founder of a church and self proclaimed angel, a system of victims looking to replace themselves with new meat so they can move on from suckee or poker to procurer, an institution that actively supports this in all ways, money that changes hands for the soul purpose of making this possible, drugs administered and pornography shown (straight, not gay!) to the victims in order to make them erect, so they can be milked of their sperm, explicit and also more obscure threats for those who do not go along with this including the withholding of ‘benefits’, victims who for the most part come from a background where abuse is acceptable, favors and benefits for complying (as with all prostitutes, you never give them enough to leave, but just enough to lock them in), round it all off with lots and lots of mumbo jumbo, peer pressure, economic hardship, fraudulent immigrations statuses (an R1 visa is not for sex slavery) and the insecurity of vulnerable young men and this is what you get.

If you feel love for Robert Earl Burton, affection for Isis and your dear friends and place value on the years you have spent in the Fellowship of Friends, that is not a good enough reason to refuse to look at what is going on in your name.

Do Robert Earl Burton’s crimes amount to the ‘systematic rape of numerous vulnerable men?’ (around 700 men abused, 10,000 instances – after all he currently has sex for around 3 hours with 4 people a day – do the maths.)

If you heard this about some other ‘esoteric school’, what would you say?

Just to anticipate a ‘no-one put a gun to their head’ argument. Prostitutes who enter their profession unwillingly are tricked, drugged, deceived and threatened into it, no one holds a gun to their head either. Once they are in, it is very hard to get out. As with everything else, humans adapt – especially if a system exists to accommodate them. People can do the most outrageous things if it seems that it is normal within the group of people that they belong to. The Fellowship of Friends has without doubt made all of this possible, you could even sympathize for Robert Earl Burton as he has been let down by the cowardice and petty self-interest of his loving students. The Fellowship of Friends supposedly consists of people who are on a higher level than ordinary life and yet this corruption and crime goes unchecked. What a wake up call. It could almost have been done on purpose to show us what we are really made of.

"Joseph G wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 13, 2007:

#284 “I see” said the blind man [above]:

“…if a system is in place to turn this into a production line of penises for sucking and stimulating the prostrate, it includes institutional rape, where the organization that knowingly creates the necessary conditions is guilty of rape.”

I have to confess my previous complete ignorance about the definition of rape between men. If you are NOT gay, why would you ever think about such a thing? Seeing the ad on a Muni bus was a revelation of sorts for me. (“I thought he was a great guy until he raped me.”) Of course, I thought. That is what’s really happening.

The gay community is not so naive when it comes to respecting ethical boundaries around sex between men. These boundaries have apparently been validated by US law and are being enforced by police departments, at least in cities with sizable gay populations.

If you read the definition of rape in the article cited in my #261, rape and sexual coercion are clearly defined by law to include precisely the type of activities that are Robert’s standard operating procedure. Even more pernicious: this criminal activity has become institutionalized by both the passive/permissive as well as the active/proactive support of the FOF organization.

The common myths about rape between men were also a real eye opener for me, seeming obvious now but a blind spot previously. e.g.:
Myth 7: Men are strong protectors and providers, so they can’t be raped.

In fact…”whether through physical or emotional coercion, threats or drugs (such as the “date rape” drug, GHB), men can be victims of rape.”
Isn’t this why Robert is able to be so brazen? As a practical matter, psychologically, how does a young hetero male admit to being raped? The only way for a straight but vulnerable young man to buffer this degrading experience is by labeling it. Consensual, loving, non-formatory, a blessing…any words that allow one to move forward with some shred of self respect.

Consider several other myths (quoted):
Myth 6: He was aroused, so it wasn’t rape.

Male victims can be sexually or physically aroused during the rape due to psychological causes or fear or excitement, as well as physical causes such as the stimulation of the prostate. It’s not uncommon for a male rapist to go out of his way to make sure the victim does have an erection – and possibly even ejaculate – as this adds to the victim’s confusion and subsequent non-reporting.

Myth 4: He just had too much to drink, so it’s not really his fault.

Alcohol is a leading factor in sexual assault, and it is not a legal excuse for a rapist’s actions.

Myth 5: It isn’t rape if you’re in a relationship.

Any sexual act that is the result of being coerced, forced or is non-consensual, whether it is a stranger, a friend or a partner, is considered rape. A partner can be charged with the same crime as a stranger. 
I am not writing this to try to provoke legal action. I am writing it for the victims, and for the enablers. Think about it. The correct expression is “rape”! Not “abuse of power.” Not “gay lifestyle.” Not “conscious love.”
If you were ever in that room, you knew it then. But something in you made you forget…that you really did not want to do it. You were coerced. You were raped.

If you were not in that room but you know this is true, shame on you. Shame on you.

Quoting again: “Control isn’t about size; it’s about psychological [control]. [A recent paper] says: ‘Male rape in the 21st century resembles nothing so much as female rape in the 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries. Men are afraid to come forward for many of the same reasons women were [and some still are]. [Men] fear they would be blamed for their victimization, that their sexuality would be the issue, not the defendant’s wrongdoing, that they would never escape the stigma, no matter how blameless they were.’ ”

Whether multiple rapes of male students by RB can be legally proven is not my issue or my aim. The bigger issues are recognition of the truth and subsequent emotional healing by the victims, as well as hopefully an awakening of conscience and responsiveness within the FOF community.

With love to all, both in and out,

Joseph G

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A loss in the "life family"

[ed. - Robert Burton instructed followers to sever unnecessary ties with "life people," including family who were not Fellowship members. He often cited his own "work" in this area by recounting his hospital visit with his critically ill mother. On that occasion, despite the obvious suffering it imposed upon her, he refused to break his self-imposed task of silence.]

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 2, 2012:
Apparently, Robert Burton’s sister Betty passed away November 21st:
Betty Joyce Burton
[ed. - Link at http://obit.duggans-serra.com/obitdisplay.html?id=1135312 now defunct]
Born in Arkansas on Jul.7, 1930
Departed on Nov. 21, 2012 and resided in Redwood City, CA.
Visitation: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012  8:30 am
Mass & Christian Burial: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 11:00 am, Holy Cross Cemetery
Betty J. Burton
1930 – 2012
Our loving sister Betty passed on the morning of November 21st following a battle with pneumonia. She was predeceased by her domestic partner of 50 years, Lawrence (Larry) Geraldi (2007).
Due to wartime shortage of workers, Betty began her lifetime restaurant career at age 14. She attended Berkeley High School then settled in San Francisco where she worked with Larry in his restaurants, most notably the Domino Club and later, at Salutos in Burlingame.
Betty is survived by her sister, Frances Carter, brothers, Robert and William (Clara), nine nephews and their extended families and Cora Cruz, her dear friend, affairs and care manager.
Arrangements are done by Duggan’s Serra Mortuary, 500 Westlake Ave., Daly City where viewing will be held on Wednesday, Nov.28th at 8:30 am and the Mass of Christian Burial at Holy Angels Church at 11am followed by Committal at Holy Cross Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the American Red Cross.
Robert mentioned Betty during a meeting September 21, 2011.

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 2, 2012:

WhaleRider [blogger],

What struck me in Betty’s obituary was to see Robert referred to merely as a family member, not a god, not a “conscious being,” and to see actual names of family members he devalued as “life people.” It just seemed so ordinary. Another peek at the wizard behind the curtain.

For someone considered by his followers the most important being on the planet, except for the few anecdotes he has volunteered about his encounters with “C Influence,” precious little is known of Burton’s pre-Fellowship personal history. Yet, as someone mentioned (not you Someone, but maybe you WhaleRider), these early years likely had a profound influence upon the future cult leader.

When he mentioned Betty last year, it was the first time I heard of him referring to a sibling by name, actually acknowledging their existence.

Many of us followed his example, and early exercise, breaking off contact with our “life families.” (At the same time, while Robert clearly distanced himself from his family, Fellowship students were called upon to provide his mother various services – housekeeping, gardening, delivery, etc. – when she resided in Sacramento.)

So now we have Velma [sic - Velma E.] Shock, Betty, Frances, William. As far as I know, for us, his father’s identity remains a mystery.

"jomopinata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 7, 2012:
According to the 1940 census record of Mineral Township, Pulaski County, Arkansas, Bobbie Burton’s parents were Velma E. Burton (32) and Edgar Burton (34). The children listed in the 1940 census are Bettie (10), Billie (8), Fannie B (5) and Bobbie (1/2). The record list Edgar’s occupation as stock dealer, and indicate that the the family owns a farm.

http://archive.org/details/TheEsotericHistoryArchive_542

In subsequent posts, "jomopinata" added:
According to the 1940 census record of Cook County, Illinois, Alexander Horn (10) is listed as an inmate of the Marks Nathan Jewish Orphan Home, South Albany Avenue, Chicago.
http://archive.org/details/TheEsotericHistoryArchive_665

I take Edgar’s occupation of “stock dealer” to refer to livestock, which lines up neatly with the “butcher” information that was published somewhere.

By the time Horn was 10, he had lived at the orphanage for five years, according to the census record.

An article about Alexander Francis Horn, then five years old, appeared in the Chicago Tribune on February 9, 1935. The child Horn was alleged to have spread the alarm for a fire that broke out in his home.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Renaissance: For Red Wine Lovers Who Think They’ve Tried Everything

[ed. -  I include this for its interesting retrospective on Renaissance Vineyard and Winery.]
Posted by Fredric Koeppel on his blog Bigger Than Your Head
I think I first wrote about the wines of Renaissance Vineyards and Winery in 2001, when I mentioned in what was then my weekly newspaper column (distributed nationally by the Scripps Howard News Service until 2004) the Renaissance Late Harvest Riesling 1993 and, under the winery’s second label, the Da Vinci Late Harvest Riesling 1987. In the succeeding 11 years, I have reviewed numerous wines from the small producer in the remote North Yuba appellation of the Sierra Foothills north of Sacramento. Renaissance became noted, under the tutelage of Gideon Beinstock, winemaker there since 1994, for its hands-off approach that produced wines of admirable spareness and elegance, low alcohol, an almost fanatic resistance to new oak and an unheard of delay in releasing wines, as in sometimes 10 or 12 years after harvest. The winery and vineyard occupy a large estate on land purchased by the Fellowship of Friends in 1971; the group is controversial in its beliefs or at least its former leadership, and as a business entity (separate from but owned by the Fellowship) Renaissance has had to shake off the perception that the Fellowship is a cult.
The inspiration for creating a vineyard came from German-born Karl Werner, the founding winemaker at Callaway Vineyards, way south in Temecula. Under his guidance, members of the Fellowship chiseled terraces from the steep slopes at altitudes of 1700 to 2300 feet and drilled 150,000 holes to plant vines. The first harvest, in 1979, took 20 minutes and produced one barrel of cabernet sauvignon. [ed. - The first harvest was actually in October 1978.] Werner died in 1988, and his wife, Diana, took over winemaking duties. When Beinstock became winemaker early in ’94, he turned the winery away from its former goals of deep extraction and heavy, densely tannic wines to minimal manipulation, gentle extraction, no yeast inoculation and, gradually, to organic methods in the vineyards. Due to Beinstock’s efforts, Renaissance has produced a series of remarkable, authentic and largely age-worthy wines (in minute quantities) that are like nothing else in a California besotted by super-ripeness, toasty new oak and sweet alcohol.
Beinstock, for the past few years, has worked on a side project, that is, his own winery Clos Saron. He is no longer winemaker at Renaissance, and I would say, alas that such is the case, except that I don’t know the circumstances of his departure. I do wonder what the direction will be for Renaissance without him.
What I offer today are notes on three of Beinstock’s red wines, the Claret Prestige Red Wine 2001 and 1997, the Renaissance Premier Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, and, a piece of history, the Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon 1984, one of the last wines made by Karl Werner. Yes, a small amount of the latter wine is still available, and I urge those who are fascinated by the history of the California wine industry or who are looking for a unique and quite wonderful wine to track it down.
These wines were samples for review. Image of Gideon Beinstock from mobile.indievinos.com.
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The Renaissance Claret Prestige Red Wine 2001, Sierra Foothills, North Yuba, is a combination of 29 percent cabernet sauvignon, 25 percent merlot, 19 percent malbec and nine percent each syrah, cabernet franc and petit verdot, a sort of classic Bordeaux blend except for the presence of the syrah. The wine aged 25 months in what is described as “old oak 225L barrels (American and French),” exemplifying Beinstock’s typical avoidance of new oak. The color is radiant medium ruby shading to lighter ruby at the rim. At eleven years old — and the wine was released just two years ago — this Claret Prestige is ripe and spicy and buoyant, with notes of macerated red and black currants and cherries profoundly framed by gripping acidity and graphite-etched tannins in a package so complete, so well-balanced that it feels timeless. A whisper of black olive and dill adds detail to the expansive depth and breath of the wine’s structure and replete yet spare flavors, though the whole feeling of the wine is deftness and lightness. A true marriage of elegance and power. 12.6 percent alcohol. Production was 128 cases. Now through 2020 to ’25. Excellent. About $65.
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The Renaissance Premier Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, Sierra Foothills, North Yuba, at 15 years old, is, in four words: Not. Ready. To. Drink. A blend of 79 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent merlot and six percent cabernet franc, the wine aged 27 months in American, French and German oak barrels. It was bottled in March 2000 and released in September 2010. This Renaissance Premier Cuvee 1997 features towering (but not astringent) tannins; stunning (but not sharp) acidity; forceful (but not overwhelming) granitic and graphite-like mineral elements; and glimmers of ripe, fleshy, spicy and slightly roasted flavors of red and black currants and mulberries. For all this and despite its forthright rigorous character, the wine feels fresh and invigorating, but I wouldn’t touch it until 2015 or ’16, and it’s a cinch to go the long haul, say 2027 to ’30. Alcohol content is 13 percent. 370 cases. Excellent. About $65.
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For 1997, the Renaissance Claret Prestige, Sierra Foothills, North Yuba, is a blend of 43 percent cabernet sauvignon, 13 percent merlot, 12 percent cabernet franc, 6 percent each syrah and sangiovese and 3 percent malbec; the wine aged 27 months is “old oak 225L barrels (French, American and German).” Benefiting from fine weather, the vintage was excellent overall in California, with potentially long-lived cabernet-based wines of exceptional quality; certainly this Claret Prestige and the preceding Premier Cuvee exhibit the deep and profound structure of true vins de garde. The color is dark ruby at the center with a slightly lighter rim; it takes some coaxing, but after a few minutes a ripe, fleshy bouquet emerges, shot with notes of macerated and smoky black cherries and raspberries with touches of black currants, dried fruit, potpourri and sandalwood. Gripping acidity animates the package, while pretty darned hard, unyielding tannins — dusty and granitic — lend deep support through an engaged through fairly austere finish. 12.6 percent alcohol. Production was 430 cases. As with the previous wine, try from 2015 or ’17 through 2027 to ’30. Excellent. About $55.
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Now for the treat. Only 54 cases remain of the approximately 1,200 cases that Karl Werner made of the Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon 1984, North Yuba; Werner was the estate’s founding winemaker. This is 100 percent cabernet sauvignon that aged — are you ready? — 34 months in new German oak barrels; that’s right, German oak. At 28 years old, there’s not a thing either fragile or sharp or diminished about this wine, which feels like a finely sifted amalgam of every essential element a cabernet sauvignon should possess but in a barely perceptible autumnal mode. It fills the mouth with a packed yet supple sensation of dried red and black fruit, potpourri and pomander, woody spices like cloves and sandalwood, soft powdery tannins, still lively acidity and bass notes of underbrush and graphite. Truly lovely. 13.5 percent alcohol. I wouldn’t be surprised if this wine drinks well for another decade. Excellent. About $65.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Winery president denies marijuana trafficking link

[ed. - This is an excerpt. For a bird's-eye view of  pot growing on Fellowship of Friends land, at a Fellowship-owned house, enter these coordinates into Google's satellite view: 39.344624,-121.239933 (2013 image). Link to story and video at news10.net now defunct.]
Image: news10net
Written by
George Warren

OREGON HOUSE (YUBA COUNTY) CA - The president of a well-known winery linked to a federal investigation into marijuana trafficking denies any involvement in the drug trade.

A 223-acre parcel owned by the Fellowship of Friends, a spiritual organization that owns the Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, was among seven properties targeted in search warrants obtained by federal agents in September.

In the application for the search warrants, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent said a confidential source told him several members of the Fellowship of Friends grow marijuana on their individual properties to sell outside of California, using drivers and commercial shipping companies.

The source said the growers turn over a portion of their profits to the Fellowship of Friends, and that the organization's leaders are aware of the source of the money.

"We make very good wine, but no, we're not in the drug trafficking business," said Greg Holman, president of the Fellowship of Friends and the Renaissance Winery.

Holman said only one of the property owners identified in the search warrants was a current member of the Fellowship of Friends, and that he had been unaware the member was involved in marijuana cultivation until the September raids.

"It came as a complete surprise to me," Holman said.

[ed. - Another bust in the neighborhood. There's no indication of a connection, though there is a Fellowship member with last name Koss.]
Yuba County pot tied to Texas plot

Mystical Religious Sect Accuses Feds of Screwing Up

"Ames Gilbert" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 26, 2012:
In other news [from KCRA Television, Sacramento]:
Fellowship_of_Friends_cult_pot_bust_Oregon_House_CA
Image: KCRA
 
MYSTICAL RELIGIOUS SECT ACCUSES FEDS OF SCREWING UP
Drug ring tied to mystical religion, fact or fiction?

OREGON HOUSE, Calif. (KCRA) —

Angela Spillers stood in the doorway of her fiancé’s Oregon House home and acknowledged that federal drug agents seized dozens of marijuana plants from the property more than two months ago.

However, it is what has happened since then that has her upset.

“They tried to make this sound like something out of a movie or book. But they’ve realized they have no case,” Spiller told KCRA 3.

On Sept. 20, federal drug agents executed a series of search warrants on properties in and around the town of Oregon House.

In a search warrant recently filed in court, Brian Nehring, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency, alleged that multiple members of “a self-described sect of Mystical Fourth Way Christianity” were engaged in a marijuana-growing network aimed at raising money to pay for fees related to membership.

The sect was identified as The Fellowship of Friends.

More than two months later, federal officials confirm that no indictments, or arrests have been made in connection to this search warrant.

“Something’s fishy here,” said Wayne Mott, a spokesman for The Fellowship of Friends.
Mott told KCRA 3 that agents never searched their main property, nor did they question any members on the premises.

“I don’t think they have a case. I think they are embarrassed,” Mott said.
A DEA spokesperson said that because this is an ongoing investigation, there is no comment at this time.
___________
If you go to: http://tinyurl.com/cjmdrt3 you can see a KCRA TV news video, and see Wayne Mott being interviewed outside the main entrance to Apollo, the headquarters of the Fellowship of Friends. [ed. - Link to http://www.kcra.com/news/Mystical-religious-sect-accuses-feds-of-screwing-up/-/11797728/17554220/-/gd08p1z/-/index.html is now defunct.]

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Trading wine for wine palms?

Palms line the roadway at the Fellowship of Friends Apollo Compound in Oregon House, CA

[ed. - A humorous discussion on the forum of the International Palm Society suggests The Fellowship of Friends was still, as of recently, attempting to barter with its surplus wine inventory, most likely in another attempt to circumvent tax laws. This Fellowship "practice" dates back to the 80s. Only if you fail in bartering, then pay cash.]

"Dooms Dave" wrote:
A while back, a religious sect had a winery up in Grass Valley [sic], and they wanted to adorn the grounds with Jubes [Jubaea chilensis, Chilean wine palms]. They also made a good sweet white wine, which they offered to trade for the Jubes. If you didn't want the wine they paid cash.

They bought A LOT of Jubes, of all sizes, up to big ones. They gave me a nice bit of cash for mine.
Dave continues:
After I sold almost all of my jubes at the time to them, someone told me that the Fellowship of Friends was a religious group that worshipped the Jubes or something like that. Not everyone was enamored of their acquisition of Jubes for that purpose, if that's what it was.

I can think of worse things to worship than Jubes . . .
 Then Dave uncovers the truth...
Beep, they sure sound like a cult, all right.

But, they had a bit of style, at least. That white wine (they gave me a few bottles) was good; Riesling, if I recall. Nice, crisp, sweet with a bite. Perfect with some white beans and some salmon.

http://www.culteducation.com/group/927-fellowship-of-friends/7223-trouble-taints-a-cerebral-sanctuary.html

"Oregon House, Calif.--Deep in the Sierra foothills, at the end of a twisting road, lies Apollo--an oasis of high culture in the outback. A mock French chateau houses a museum and library stuffed with rare art and books. A vineyard on terraced hillsides produces award-winning wines.

"Apollo is the worldwide headquarters of the Fellowship of Friends, whose 2,000 cerebral members believe that keen self-awareness, a positive outlook and immersion in life's finest things--from Baccarat crystal to Johann Sebastian Bach--offer a path to higher consciousness."

"They have been led on this journey for 25 years by Robert Earl Burton, a former schoolteacher who has guided everything from when his followers bear children to what sort of shoes they wear. Burton tells members he speaks with 44 angels who watch over his flock--among them Abraham Lincoln, Plato and Jesus Christ--believers say. Burton also has predicted that Apollo will be the lone surviving outpost after a global nuclear holocaust in 2006."

"Disillusioned former members say the fellowship is more than just another California curiosity. A growing number of them--as well as some academics--call it a cult that entraps its mostly well-educated members with a false promise of spiritual evolution. A recently ended lawsuit and accounts from ex-members echo that claim and add another: Burton, they say, has for years seduced young males in the group."
CLICK ON THE LINK FOR FULL STORY

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Robert Burton continues to recruit young Russians

Fellowship of Friends Moscow Russia Open Meeting Advertisement with Gurdjieff and Ouspensky

[ed. - Burton cannot seem to decide whether Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and The Fourth Way are in or out of his teaching. It appears he'll use whatever lure is necessary to maintain the flow of "fresh meat," as young male heterosexual recruits have been termed by members of Burton's inner circle. The domain for the Russian website (4thway.org) was created by Fellowship member Alexander Komov in St. Petersburg. Similar campaigns were undertaken in Argentina (blog has been removed) and Brazil.]

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 28, 2012:
Familiar Fourth Way School “Non-Profit Organization” recruiting on facebook.
Upcoming open meetings in Moscow, Kiev and Nizhny Novgorod offer an opportunity for reverse bookmarking!

From the Moscow meeting announcement:
Esoteric School of the Fourth Way holds a series of introductory lectures on the principles and methods of conscious human development. Meetings will be held in Moscow on 10, 11 and 12 November 2012. Beginning at 19:00. Admission is free. Registration by phone: 8 (926) 210-9367

"Janna" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 2, 2007:
On a different note (Critical Mass) [blogger] – being Russian myself it slightly saddens me to see which role Russians played in the school… A “special” role. Most Robert’s sex toys are Russians.

Oh well. But, hey, if you ask an average American around here what do they know about Russians they’ll likely mention mail-order brides, Russian mafia, Brighton Beach and Russian prostitutes… It is what it is…

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 26, 2007:
Dear all,

The Fellowship of Friends “come–on” (#23-144, or thereabouts) stimulates me to offer a list of questions that a prospective student should ask, in one form or another, before joining. I started this list because a friend who has been through the Fellowship experience joined another 4th Way group (started by an ex–FoF student!) and had some second thoughts, and asked for input. I’d say that any prospective student owes it to his or her self to not only get answers (and write them down, in detail), but to have someone less partial go over the answers with them. Ideally, some one who joined would also have a “buddy” to check in with after agreed periods of time to see if pre–stated aims and directions were being adhered to, and in general provide a ‘reality check’ and grounding. Ideally!
This list can surely be improved, so I put it out there as a group project…

Some Questions to ask before making a commitment
QUESTIONS TO THE TEACHER

Mechanics and set–up of group/school:
  • How are payments structured?
  • Is the group organized legally as a non–profit or church for IRS purposes?
  • How transparent is the accounting?
  • What power does any board hold?
  • Do you serve at the pleasure of the board?
  • Exactly what degree of independence does the board have?
  • Please give examples of when the board effectively countered your decisions?
  • Are board meetings open to students, or do students have access to minutes of meetings?
  • If there is no board, what steps have you taken so students can hold you accountable for your actions, including financial decisions?
Relationship with teacher:
  • How do you measure students’ abilities beforehand to undertake difficult work?
  • What methods, in detail, do you use to prevent students entering a dependent role?
  • How do you prevent infatuation?
  • How do you deal with fear?
  • How do you prevent ‘spiritual materialism’ developing in ‘your’ students?
  • Do you feel invested in the success or failure of your students?
  • What do you do with failures?
  • What value do you place on the idea and practice of personal verification?
  • Are your students required to give up their will to you, as their teacher? If so, is this permanent or for a set or limited period of time?
Sex energy:
  • Are you married?
  • Do you claim celibacy?
  • Do you undertake to never have sexual relations with your students?
  • Please give examples of tasks concerning sex energy.
  • Describe how you presently channel/use sex energy, and will you describe your history in that regard?
Exercises:
  • Do you give out generalized/group exercises?
  • Are any exercises individualized?
  • What are the criteria for making such exercise ‘individual’?
  • Do you fully explain the purpose of the exercises beforehand?
  • Do you have helpers, and if so, what are their qualifications, and are they permitted to set exercises themselves?
  • Are there rules or codes of behavior that must be followed by school members? If so, what are they and how are ‘infractions’ handled?
  • Is there any appeal from your decisions, and if so, how is this handled?
  • Do you and your students work with the Fourth Way idea of Good Householder, and if so, what forms does this work take?
Dynamics of student body/school/group:
  • Is there a limit to the number of students you are willing to work with?
  • Is there a hierarchy?
  • If so, what is its basis?
  • What steps do you take or intend to take to prevent the needs of the organization overtaking the needs of the students with time?
  • Are you prepared to dissolve the organization if this happen?
Measurement of progress:
  • How do you test for the necessary ‘normalcy’ required of prospective 4th Way students?
  • What do you do if mental illness manifests nevertheless?
  • How do you describe the nature of the risks necessary to face before graduation?
  • What criteria do you and the student use to measure progress?
  • How do you empower students or teach them to take back/discover their own power?
  • How do you define conscience?
  • What is the use of conscience?
  • What are your teachings regarding conscience?
  • How do you separate conscience from subjective morality?
  • At what point is there graduation?
  • What happens to graduates?
On asking questions:
  • Will there ever be any questions on any subject that are unsafe, unpalatable, or otherwise objectionable if asked in good faith?
  • Will you take personal questions, that is, questions about your path, your conduct, your history?
  • Do you make contracts with your students, specifying goals, payments, efforts, limits, and results, concerning the temporary giving up of will to the teacher apparently requested of 4th Way students, and what steps are taken to ensure that this is indeed temporary and results/goal driven?
  • Do you in any way put pressure on students to limit their contacts with non-students, family?
  • What are your policies regarding talking about the work, exercises, meetings, experiences with the teacher, with non-students?
  • With ex–students?
Group work:
  • Do you organize group projects?
  • Do you join in them yourself?
  • Do you join students in experiments whose outcome you do not know (take risks)?
  • What is the primary objective/aim of your school?
  • What are secondary objectives/aims of your school?
Your work:
  • Do you believe the ends justifies the means? Regarding awakening?
  • Do you have a sense of humor?
  • Do you encourage a sense of humor in your students?
  • Do you regard yourself as still being on a journey yourself, or do you regard yourself as in any way ‘completed’?
  • Do you believe that you can learn from students or situations as they present themselves?
  • Do you claim to be conscious or enlightened and, if so, do you classify yourself (per the Fourth Way tradition) as a man #4, 5, 6 or 8?
  • Who are/were your teachers and what is their lineage in relation to the Fourth Way or other schools of awakening?
  • Why did you decide to become a spiritual teacher?
  • What are your personal goals/aims as a spiritual teacher?
Other sources, inspirations, teachings:
  • Apart from your own book, do you use or recommend other 4th Way books?
  • Those by Gurdjieff? Ouspensky? Bennett? Orage? Nicol? Others?
  • How do you feel about other teachers, other teachings?
  • Do you ‘mix and match’, and if so, what are your criteria?
  • Do you require exclusivity? That is, can I also study/meet with other teachers/traditions?
  • Do you make specific claims about your level of being?
  • Do you claim powers?
  • What levels of obedience do you require (tasks, suggestions, orders, etc.)?
  • Does your school have a ‘task’ or aim beyond teaching paths to increased consciousness of students?
  • Do you consider your school to be a ‘Fourth Way’ school?
Access to students or graduates:
  • Are there students available who I can talk to, over a period of time, so I can judge their degree of dependence or infatuation or fear myself?
  • Who can (voluntarily, of course) speak something of results gained, states attained, exercises and tasks they have undertaken, and results gained—or are they asked to withhold this kind of information? I’d also be looking for differences between ‘resident’ and ‘non-resident’ students, including, if possible, results.
  • Do you have any objections to me asking the questions below of current students?
  • What do you think of these questions?
  • If you were asking questions of a teacher or students, what would they be?
Relationship to students who have left:
  • What is your policy regarding the relationship between current and former students?
  • If there are restrictions, what is your policy if those rules are broken?  

 QUESTIONS TO ASK OF CURRENT STUDENTS
  • What methods, in detail, do you use to prevent becoming dependent on the teacher?
  • How do you recognize and prevent infatuation?
  • How do you recognize and deal with fear in the student–teacher relationship?
  • What limits, if any, do you place on what the teacher asks you to do in order to awaken?
  • Do you think that you have an operating conscience?
  • Do you think that conscience can be developed?
  • Do you believe the ends justifies the means? Regarding awakening?
  • Are you willing to act on your conscience if it tells you that the teacher is wrong, or is setting you wrong tasks?
  • Are you willing to leave the school if your conscience says you should or must?
  • Do you think you will be in this school for the rest of your life?
  • If not, how long is the most you will stay?
  • How do you think you will recognize that you are ready to graduate?
  • If you believe that you are ready to graduate, will you act on that, or wait for the recognition or permission of the teacher?
  • What methods do you use to prevent becoming dependent on the group?
  • Would you take a paid position with the group?
  • If so, what precautions do you or would you put in place to prevent you becoming dependent on this position a) psychologically, and b) materially?
  • Do you have a position of authority within the group? If so, please describe your role and its importance within the organization.
  • If not, would you take a position of power/responsibility with the group?
  • If so, what precautions do you or would you take to avoid becoming corrupted by the power?
  • How long would you hold such a position?
  • On what basis would you or do you hold or transmit authority within the group?
  • Please describe the chain of authority between the teacher and you.
  • How do you view the legitimacy of each person in authority of those ‘below’ the teacher and ‘above’ you?
  • What do you think of these questions?
  • If you were asking questions of your teacher or students, what would they be?
…a lot of questions to be sure, but you are putting your time, money, effort, body and even your life on the line, so why not try to make the right decision? You cannot have too much information in these circumstances.

From someone who’s Been There and Done That,

Ames