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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.

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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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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:34 am 
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A lovely book review by Mary Wakefield in The Spectator
See https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/08/sex ... -brethren/

Quote:
Sex and the sect: the infamous Brethren

Long after it became mired in scandal, the cult continued to exercise a powerful hold over Rebecca Stott.

You can never completely leave a religious cult, as this strange and touching memoir demonstrates. Patterns of thinking, turns of mind, will linger with and haunt former members long after they escape.

Rebecca Stott was born in 1964 into the Brethren, a low-church sect that had broken away from the Anglican church in the early 19th century and then broken away from itself, bifurcating into factions as movements set on purity and unity usually do.

Cult is a strong word, but Stott’s branch of the Brethren really earned it. Her great grandfather, a sail-maker, joined the Brethren in Eyemouth, a fishing village not far from where I grew up in Northumberland. Back then the Brethren there was founded on frustration with the tax-collecting Kirk.

By the time Rebecca was born, down south in Hove, it was no longer a righteous protest movement. Any brotherly Brethren love had evaporated and the elders, among them Rebecca’s charismatic father, Roger, had taken to shunning and persecuting. It had become, says Stott: ‘One of the most reclusive and savage Protestant sects in history.’ Inevitably, its leader was a sex pest.

When Rebecca was eight, JT Jr, the then head of the church, indulged in a little spree that became known as ‘the Aberdeen episode’. On the eve of some great church council, he drunk himself into a stupor, then demanded that any attractive Brethren wives be delivered to him in bed. Some women went willingly. Some elders offered up their wives.

For Roger Stott, the Aberdeen episode was a deal-breaker. ‘It was like waking up from a prolonged bad dream,’ he told his daughter. He left the church and, though it cost him his job and his friends, exposed JT’s hypocrisy to as many members as would listen. Oh, for Scientologists in the mould of Roger Stott.

Roger celebrated his freedom by listening to the Beatles. His wife joined the Anglican church. For Rebecca, eight, and her siblings the break wasn’t as clean. No one had thought to tell young Rebecca, after they left the Brethren, that the End Times were no longer on their way. So:

I’d stand with my back to the wall in the playground watching the children [in her new, normal school] skipping rope, singing their complicated rhymes, and I’d be conjuring Tribulation scenarios, imagining tidal waves sweeping across the tarmac, storms tearing down the playground walls and trees, the four horsemen galloping across the rooftops, lights out and sea levels rising.

In the Days of Rain is a double memoir: it describes both Rebecca’s own childhood and her father Roger’s life. It is not, though, in any way a misery memoir and that’s what makes it such an attractive and interesting book. Perhaps the publisher longed for a fashionable denunciation of faith. Instead In the Days of Rain feels almost nostalgic for the original, raw, faith of her forefathers.

As she tells their tale, Stott hears the ghostly chorus of dead Brethren aunts:

I hear them gathering in the wings…They’re telling me to look at the pornography, the internet, the self-harm, the levels of depression and the empty churches. These are all signs of Satan’s dominion, sure signs of his evil working in the world. These women have my big bones and wild hair; they are serene gracious dignified…They’d tell a different story if I let them.

My feeling is that in a soft, barely audible way, she has let them. Their different story is a whispered counterpoint.

Stott, though an atheist now, seems almost fey, otherworldly. As her father lies dying she says, ‘It’s coming’ without knowing quite what:

I opened the window and we each picked up one of my father’s great gnarled hands, just as the owl passed by the front door, just as my father took his last breath.

After Roger’s death, she feels his spectral presence, urging her to write their shared story. She sees him in a swarm of wasps that pursues her through his garden.

She has me seeing signs too. A pair of Stott twins were my dearest childhood friends. We grew up just down the road from the bones of Rebecca’s Stott ancestors. It makes me feel oddly close to this lovely book.


Footnote: I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the bit that says he “demanded that any attractive Brethren wives [plural] be delivered to him in bed”. Maybe he did, but it is news to me.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:04 am 
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Book review by Jessamy Calkin in The Telegraph

'I grew up in a cult'

Attachment:
Rebecca with Roger.jpg
Rebecca with Roger.jpg [ 46.22 KiB | Viewed 99 times ]
Rebecca with her father, Roger. Credit: courtesy of Rebecca Stott

Historian and novelist Rebecca Stott, who was brought up in a Christian cult, remembers her father, Roger, in 1983.

This was taken the year after my father came out of prison [for fraud and embezzlement – he had developed a roulette addiction] and just before he started working for the BBC. He was living in digs in Tunbridge Wells – my parents were divorced by then – and had very little money, so I would cut his hair.

Whenever I came over, he’d have lined up films he wanted me to watch, music he wanted me to hear, passages from books he wanted me to read there and then so that we could talk about them together. He was just like a big kid. In the end, me and my siblings would just give ourselves up to it.

There would always be plenty of wine and great slabs of bread and ham and wholegrain mustard, however poor he was, and we’d sit in front of the TV with a stack of videos that he’d recorded. He never did anything in half measures. In between there’d be the most amazing conversations – ‘what did you think of that?’ ‘What did it remind you of?’ You’d always leave with your head spinning.

Whenever my father talked about literature and art and painting and music, it was peppered with the most infuriating hyperbole. ‘Auden, of course, is the third-greatest poet of all time,’ he’d say.

‘The thing about literature is that it gives us the great questions, it doesn’t dish out rules or easy answers. It makes us think for ourselves.’ His breathless enthusiasms and passion for literature were driven by a perpetual sense of prohibition.

I was born fourth-generation Exclusive Brethren. That meant that for decades my family kept themselves to themselves, living separately from the world in an extreme conservative Christian sect that in the 1960s, just before I was born, turned into a cult: it introduced a new leader and scores of new rules – you couldn’t eat with non-Brethren, you couldn’t live or socialise or even share party walls with non-Brethren.

There were terrible consequences to the new extreme separatism that was established – suicide and breakdowns and people being shut in their homes until ‘they’d got themselves right with the Lord’. We left when I was about seven, because there was a huge scandal when the leader, then in his 70s, was found in bed with a much younger married woman. Eight thousand people left – though 40,000 remained, who could never make contact with us again.

My father spent the rest of his life damaged by that, but also trying to work out what had happened to them all. How, he wanted to know, could a group of decent Christian people have allowed that to happen? On his deathbed he was still wrestling with that question, and the task that he gave me was to take his unfinished memoirs and try to figure out the answer.

My book is an attempt to make sense of growing up inside a cult, and my promise to him was that I would try to tell the story of his life and its aftermath, which of course was my aftermath too, because we all lived through the fallout from that experience.

We lived in the turbulence my father made in his wake, because he was volatile and unreliable and always getting into scrapes. But I’ve never met anyone like him. A day spent with him was like the last day you had to live, and you knew you’d lived it richly.

In the Days of Rain, by Rebecca Stott, is published by 4th Estate (16.99)


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