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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:20 pm 
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Brother John, you have understood well enough, but I would need the author’s permission to say more.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:25 am 
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Thank you for the confirmation Ian. I guess all will be revealed in good time.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:50 am 
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I'm glad this is just Brother John and not Bible John!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:37 am 
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Having lived in the city where Bible John committed his murders, I remember whispers among Brethren about possible suspects among their own flock. The girls that Bible John had approached or attacked described his rather Brethrenish style of conversation. Norman Adams commented on these rumours in his book Goodbye, Beloved Brethren. However, they were only rumours with hardly any evidential support that I know of. The Brethren are not by any means the only source of sexual predators fond of quoting the Bible.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:22 am 
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A frequent ex-EB contributor to this site who passed away a few years ago told me once that he was interviewed by the Police as a possible suspect. He was not impressed!


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:32 pm 
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Another favourable and detailed review, this time by Grace McCleen in The Guardian

Quote:
Rebecca Stott’s account of life in a fundamentalist sect in the UK known as the Exclusive Brethren opens with the weeks she spent caring for her terminally ill father. Following his death, Stott, to fulfil her promise to him, has set out to trace four generations of her Exclusive Brethren family, from prestigious Australian forebears on her mother’s side, to an apprentice Scottish sail-maker on her father’s. Rebecca, like her father (whose memories she relays), endured harsh discipline as a child of Brethren parents, as well as hours of boredom in congregation meetings. She also inherited his literary leanings: her father was one of the last Brethren permitted to attend university, where he experienced what could be argued was his true conversion, courtesy of reading CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity, following which he assumed a leading role within the sect.

In the story as Stott tells it, all goes reasonably well until the succession of James Taylor Jr as head of the sect in the 1960s results in a separation rule that means Brethren are no longer permitted to live in communal buildings unless they use a separate entrance, nor to eat with unbelievers, including fellow-workers and family members. A “ruthless gestapo” is set up to enforce these ideals; Stott’s father is a member of this force. These so-called “priests” visit homes, forcing confessions of deeply humiliating “sins”, usually of a sexual nature. Solitary confinement or expulsion from the organisation frequently ensues, even if the wrongdoer is repentant; nor are the interrogators immune, fearing exposure even more than their victims.

This paralysing environment of fear continues until 1970, when an alcoholic, demented Taylor is found in bed with another man’s wife. When Stott’s father stands up in the midst of the assembly demanding “a simple relation of the facts” he is “withdrawn from”. The upshot is that half the Brighton meeting walk out with him and globally, 8,000 more Brethren follow; in time, these splinter into new factions. Stott’s family leave the Brethren, an experience she describes as like “being lost in a town where all the signs had been changed into a language I didn’t know”. For her father, the aftermath of extreme devotion features materialism, adultery, divorce, addiction, bankruptcy and prison; for her the “beauty” of Darwinism, musicians, poets, shoplifting and teenage pregnancy.

Stott deploys her multiplicity of skills to good effect: as a historian, she delves into newspaper clippings, tape recordings, archive materials, a host of memoirs and books on doctrine, theology and the Exclusive Brethren. As a novelist, she makes the tale dramatic, especially the scene where her father is expelled from the Brethren, and that in which hundreds of Brethren from around the world gather in Alexandra Palace in 1962. As an essayist, Stott weaves ideas together with ease and economy: chance, Tribulation, Yeats’s gyres, Zeus’s “seduction” of Leda and Gabriel’s visit to Mary are yoked almost magically within the space of a single conversation the teenaged Stott has with her father while driving to a production of Macbeth. Still she cannot finally account for the destruction wreaked: there “was no … explanation I could offer my father or my younger self”, Stott writes; “there was no culprit to be caught, no handcuffs to be placed on the wrists of a single murderer or thief”. The result is a state of radical unknowing.

I, like Stott, grew up in a religion which was not something that entered one’s life only on Sundays or at certain times of year but was the anatomy of my existence; a religion in which there were weekly meetings and a body of elders, women wore headscarves, sex before marriage and association with unbelievers were forbidden, further education viewed as dangerous and excommunication practised. At one point, when Stott mentions the Brethren’s use of the term “worldly”, I thought I was reading about the same denomination. I was not, and there are differences in our experiences: Stott left when she was seven, I remained until my mid-20s; however challenging it was being part of such an organisation or creating a life afterwards, I do not share the unequivocal view Stott takes of her erstwhile faith as entirely negative.

But there was something that resonated deeply as I read In the Days of Rain: the sense of being tortured by an inability to feel sufficiently sure of things one’s very life depends on. Have I managed to “take the Lord into my heart”? the young Rebecca wonders; “Sometimes I’d be sure … then a day or two later He’d be gone again.” When a friend’s mother tells Stott “it was all right not to know” shortly after her family leave the Brethren, the idea astonishes her; not long after she experiences something like a conversion in a Catholic church, moved by the music and spectacle, where for “a moment” she “stopped striving to understand”. The relief is seismic.

When every thought and impulse is given over to an infallible and omniscient Being, a person cannot develop an inner compass or uncensored emotions – a state that besides being agonising can also be fatal to one’s sense of self. Getting to a place, subsequent to such an immersion, where it is all right not to know, then allowing oneself to be open to whatever emerges next, is, as Stott hints, an undertaking worthy of real devotion.

• Grace McCleen’s novels include The Land of Decoration, published by Vintage.

To order In the Days of Rain for £14.44 (RRP £16.99) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.
See https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/ ... ecca-stott


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:57 pm 
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Rebecca was interviewed by John Williams about her book, and an account of the interview has been published in The Independent. It is copyrighted by The New York Times, so presumably it has been published there too.

Here are some extracts.

Quote:
Rebecca Stott Q&A: childhood in a cult
Recent allegations that singer R. Kelly has detained women against their will has brought the cult back into public consciousness. Rebecca Stott talks to John Williams about her book 'In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, a Father, a Cult' and the 'collective PTSD' she and the other victims of an extreme religious sect are still exorcising

Quote:
Below, she talks about the emotional drain of writing it, the “collective PTSD,” or post-traumatic stress disorder, that she found, and more.

Quote:
What’s the most surprising thing you learned while writing it?

How much worse the history was than I had thought. How shocking it was. If we go back to the point that I was researching and that my father couldn’t talk about, 1959, the sect was taken over by a man named Jim Taylor Jr. and became what can only be called a cult by all the criteria experts agree on.

Quote:
Since the book came out, I have had on average three or four letters or emails every day from people who lived through this same period and haven’t been able to tell their children what happened, about the horrors, the suicides, the breakdowns, the people being expelled. They say that for the first time they’ve been able to have conversations with their children and grandchildren about why they’re a bit odd, or why they can’t talk about that period in their lives or pick up a Bible or go to church.

What we’re really talking about is collective PTSD. I knew it happened to my family, but I didn’t know – I do know now – how bad it was. We need to remember that cults can flourish not just in the desert or remote places but in suburbs as well, and that people have the capacity to do this to each other.

Quote:
My father was still in the aftermath of the cult when he died. He was still wrecked by it, shaped by it, struggling to answer questions for himself. When he left the Brethren, he thought: “I can do anything I want now. There are no rules.” He lived with such excess that he made life very difficult for those close to him, and for himself. He was an astonishing man, very brilliant, very talented, but wrecked by being born into a controlling, world-hating group.

Quote:
Persuade someone to read “In the Days of Rain” in less than 50 words.

Cults – religious and political – work in similar ways. I set out to learn about the cult I was born into in the 1960s, the decade my father described as the “Nazi decade.” I did it as a promise to my father. What I discovered was far worse than I could have imagined.


See http://www.independent.co.uk/Arts/rebec ... 48721.html


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:17 pm 
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Another very favourable book review, this time by Doug Childers in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, published in Virginia, USA.

Among other things, he says,
Quote:
“In the Days of Rain” is fascinating and beautifully written, and readers will likely find it resonates as hauntingly as a gothic novel full of shadows and dark, threatening figures that are, it turns out, all too real.
For the full review see http://www.richmond.com/entertainment/b ... 55dbf.html


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