14 December 2010

Days in the Cult

I keep chuckling over the comment left on the Speaking of Treason post. That Lee Greenwood song (God  Bless the USA) for me evokes a particular memory...

I remember when I joined this particular group and they took away all my clothes and possessions. They shaved my head, and by shouting threats they tried to break me of all my previous habits and ideas. They deprive you of sleep and try to drive you insane by making you spend hours engaged in meaningless tasks. Everything you do is wrong, and never do you receive a kind word.

They told me how to fold my clothes, make my bed, shave, and dress myself. They told how to speak. I wasn't allowed to use my regular name. I was taught to obey the masters at all costs. The masters taught me how to walk, run, even shoot guns. If they told me to kill someone, I was supposed to do it.

They told me when to eat, and what I could eat. They taught me endless rules and exactly how I was supposed to view myself within a hierarchical structure. I was not to think but to obey and to never question the words of the masters or the symbols of power which they wielded. I was to completely submit myself to their commands and orders. My whole life was to revolve around the group and what it stood for.

And then I remember one day they were trying to get us to start feeling good about ourselves, proud that we were part of the machine, the cult of death. They had broken many of us and were now trying to make us into the members they wanted us to be.

So they took us into an auditorium and showed us a movie. It was really just a series of video clips....soldiers in uniforms, farmers in bib overalls, women baking pies, boy scouts, fighter jets, steel workers, and policemen....and all the while the Lee Greenwood song was playing.

I'm proud to be an American because at least I know I'm free......

All of us had been living in the cult compound for weeks, away from family and friends. We had been humiliated, beaten down, and many had been deeply transformed. Everyone stood and wrapped their arms around each others shoulders and swayed back and forth, tearfully singing along.

If they'd given us Kool-aid at that moment, we probably would have gulped it down....

We really believed we were going to 'serve' and 'sacrifice' so that the American people would be free. We were going to defend their freedom.

A few months later I was in Europe unloading bombs and missiles from a cargo plane watching loaded fighter jets taking off. They were crossing the Adriatic and bombing Serbs in Bosnia. I asked everyone I worked with if they knew what the conflict was about? Did they know who the Serbs were? The Croats? Did they know anything about Tito or Yugoslavia?

Why was NATO so keen to expand into Eastern Europe? Why were the Russians so upset? No one knew, had any idea, or even cared. Maybe it was a good thing to break the siege of Sarajevo....but was the United States really engaged in altruism?

Those jets were coming back empty, and the bombs kept coming. Soon after we were unloading goods from C-5's and placing them into smaller C-130's so they could get into the smaller airstrips in Bosnia. America was putting troops on the ground. They'd be out in a year Clinton promised.

Maybe people in other countries need help sometimes, but how were we 'defending' those people in the video? How were our 'sacrifices' protecting them? How was this 'service' to our country? This wasn't a defensive war, this was an Imperial action.

I remember traveling through Croatia on my way to Hungary and seeing people tremble when they saw my American military ID card. The train conductor who at first had been semi-hostile because I didn't possess the correct visa, practically wet his pants when he realized I was American military. I always think of him when I flip through my old passport and see the big Croatian visa-sticker on the one page. He didn't want to cause trouble for me and have me complain to his superior. Was I a representative of altruistic liberty, or an agent of empire?

I remember talking to Serbs who loathed the United States and I remember other Americans being baffled by this. It never occurred to them that other people might not appreciate their country being bombed. It never occurred to them that others might not appreciate other countries diving into complex situations that go back centuries. Who is this new Rome that barges in and starts dictating to people what they will do and won't do, who is right and who is wrong? These are complex situations dating back to the middle ages, long before the United States was even dreamed of.

I remember thinking, this is all a game. This isn't about liberty and some ideal...it's raw power. Ask the train conductor, the Serb sitting across me on the train. It made me sick to think I was part of it all and it scared me that no one I worked with cared. How far could it go before they started to ask why? All that's on their minds is...do my job and get home to family, or do my job and go party. For many they wanted to keep their heads down and get their 20 years and a pension.

Then I also started to take note of all the missions we supported that were headed to Eastern Turkey. Talking to people I learned that most of what was happening there was related to the American mission in Iraq. This was in the 1990's and the era of the American imposed 'no fly zones.' I later learned these were not UN sanctioned, but unilaterally imposed by the United States.

I started investigating the whole history of Iraqi-American relations, the games with Turkey, the games leading up to the 1991 Gulf War, and the aftermath. I learned about depleted uranium and was troubled as I loaded nuclear materials, boxes, crates, and missiles on planes bound for Turkey.

I had enough. I wasn't singing Lee Greenwood anymore.

I had become a Christian and the more I read my Bible, the more I was concerned with what I was doing. The military has it Chapels of course....let me just say those are some kind of bad joke.

I fail to understand how anyone could be a Chaplain in that system. They're fooling themselves.

The off-base churches were...interesting. We had people re-enlisting in the middle of Church services. It was part of the liturgy for the day. The pastors were retired military people, the politics....hard right and if you think your local Evangelical church is militaristic...you ain't seen nothing!

Sometimes when talking to people, they find out that I left the cult of death back in the 90's, and they often ask,

"Wow, do you wish you had stayed in, you know after 9/11 and everything?"

They seem surprised when I unhesitatingly answer, "No."

I usually get the impression they think I'm afraid or something. Most Americans can't seem to grasp that you might not go along with it all.

Hey, let's face it. The military has a very hallowed place in our culture, especially among those who have never been in it. What I can't fathom is all those who were in it...why do they pretend like it's something that it isn't?

I heard one of the death-cult leaders on the radio the other day. General Boykin, you know the proud Evangelical who was part of the Delta Force. You want to talk about Death Cult. Just look at the Special Forces. That's what they are. If you removed the American insignia and de-legitimized them....no one would dispute them labelled that way. If Iran or China had something similar, American studios would make horror movies about them.

Here, they're heroes....especially in the Church.

Anyway, Mr. Boykin who proudly 'served?' his country in Grenada, Panama, Iran, Columbia, Waco, Somalia, and working for the CIA,

Yes, this murderous piece of trash who dares to call himself a Christian proudly proclaimed the military was the last bastion or morality in American society....?!?!?!?

The military was filled with some of the scuzziest and most wicked people I've ever been around in my life. Everyone was sleeping with everyone. The military is filled with drunks and drug abusers, thieves and liars. Never in my life have I been around such a dishonourable group of people. It was shocking, let me tell you.

Reading all those Tom Clancy books I thought I was diving into a world of excitement and service. There were times that it was exciting and interesting, but largely I found a bunch of people who would get fired from civilian jobs for laziness and lack of initiative. It was all about shop politics and learning how to work the system.

There were some decent people in the military, but not very many. I hope they got out before they were sent off to Iraq or Afghanistan. But overall I found it to be a surreal experience which destroyed any romantic notions I had off what it was.

I think of all these things whenever I hear that dumb song....

Praise be to God I was rescued from a cult, a false religion called Americanism...and its holy crusaders, the American military.

Boykin thinks the Holy Spirit told him to enter the Delta Force. I read my Bible, prayed, and felt rather liberated as I dumped my uniforms and medals into a garbage dumpster.

We laugh at the stories of the Soviet propaganda regime. We tremble at Orwell's 1984, and there is much he had right.

Huxley was closer to the truth when it comes to the West. Let them write the books.....no one will read them. They're too busy watching Dancing With The Stars and LeBron James. You can't worry about the deceptions of our government when you're focused on your portfolio and working obscene hours to pay for you house, your SUV, and your new kitchen.

Our country is a very sick one and the American Church is just an expression of it.

I continue to pray that the Remnant will become more manifest.


Lloyd said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. The world is getting worse along with its churches. It is hard to find a true Bible believing church nowadays. I will pray for you. God bless, Lloyd

Anonymous said...

I had no idea that you, Proto, had personal experience there. It gives even more credibility to your analysis these days, (as if the Scriptures need the credibility of our experience.)
The military is regarded, especially since 9/11, as sacred by many evengelicals. We are or have been blind to its reality--that is the fruit of deception. We must challenge ourselves and our brothers and sisters to think things through in the light shed by the Holy Spirit in Scripture.
I aprreciate you telling your story here.

Protoprotestant said...


It's a long ramble, but if you're interested. The Why and How series (you can find it on the left column)explains my pilgrimmage.

I used to be a pro-military, hard-right, Rush Limbaugh fan.

I was so proud.

thereformedtraveler said...

Did you say to Victoria, check out my pillaging...oh, no I see, your.. pilgrimmage ;)
So glad that your not singing with Lee anymore. Praise Him. Thanks for this writing.

Anonymous said...

"Our country is a very sick one and the American Church is just an expression of it."

Just found this post, so glad I did. God bless you in Christ Jesus.

eliyahu said...

Proto; your insight based on experience is very interesting.

Considering the recent revelations of so many ongoing controversies in the military such as sexual assaults which are rampant and unpunished; use of torture; PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries and violence/mental illness and maladjustment among returning service members, can you comment on some of these issues?

Your description of the military as a cult is truly spot on considering all the parallels. What kind of effect does it have on a person, their social adjustment and political views when they must kill others as part of their profession? That's traumatic in itself.


Protoprotestant said...

Thanks Eliyahu,
That's a lot to consider and I doubt I have all the answers. I just remember the military as a place that was very stressful. With the caste system you constantly have to guard how you talk, everytime you step out the door you have to look around to see who you have to salute. There's a lot of peer pressure on several levels. If you don't fit in it can be come very lonely and I can see how someone would feel really trapped. You're stuck. You can't get out. You have no control over your own life. I remember some guys who were battling weight, financial troubles, and had marriage problems. Their personal space and freedom were slipping away because your bosses at work also can intervene in your life. They can put you on a diet, take over your money, punish you by making you work longer hours, dock your pay.
Overseas American GI's would go whoring and yet I think right now a lot of overseas bases are more restricted. If you're locked on the base it can start to feel like a prison. The guy-girl ratio is all goofed up. I don't mean to be crude here but a lot of girls that really wouldn't get much attention on the outside have guys standing in line for them. It's simple math. And while I can't say this is universal many of these girls are extremely promiscuous. There were some that slept with just about every guy in a particular unit. How do I know? I was there after she left and guys were comparing notes. Suddenly they all realized that most of them had had a turn with her.
There's a lot of bad stuff going on in the bars off base. There was one sergeant who was well known for performing certain acts in public. She'd just take guys over into the corner. I heard that from multiple witnesses and once I was present when it she was suggesting it.
It's just a bad overall environment. Again this is pre-9/11. Maybe it's different now but I have hard time thinking so.

Protoprotestant said...

I think a lot of people are frustrated, humiliated, trapped and they find it all rather anti-climactic. For years I had read Tom Clancy books and stuff like that and you want to get in there and be a part of it all, do something. It's not like that at least in terms of the daily grind.
A lot of wasted time. There were times where the environment in which I was working was very active and exciting. Jets roaring overhead, things happening...but for those looking for something, it doesn't satisfy.
For me...you start seeing things, noticing things. Maybe I'm different? But you start seeing a lot corruption, a lot of lies. Many of the generals are nothing less than politicians.
If you're enlisted you're really looked down by the higher ranks. Higher ranking NCO's and officers patronize you and you're treated like a child. There's a lot of humiliating stuff that's worse than High School. You put a uniform on any young guy and give him a gun and it's going to affect how he treats others. If he's frustrated and angry, stuck, sexually frustrated etc.... bad combo.
But I'm sure there's more to it than just these things. I think of that guy in Colorado and so many of these other shooters and mass killers. Our society today has raised children that have never been told no and have been essentially taught to worship themselves and to believe they're entitled to privilege honour and respect. When they get out there and find out they're not the best, no one cares about them, and that oftentimes in work environments there are other factors that lead to how people are chosen...maybe the person in charge just doesn't like you etc... I think they're essentially having toddler-like tantrums but in grownup bodies and with access to weapons far more serious than a Fisher Price toy gun. By catering and coddling their children parents today are really failing to prepare their children for adulthood. I can see how essentially overgrown brats thrown into that situation could start to snap.