Saturday, 14 May 2011

Moving on, not moving in

Noel always said, you are either for us or against us. The irony is that if you are no longer against them, people who are supposedly free of the JA themselves assume that you must have re-joined. No sooner had I closed the redundant Dialogue forum, than people with nothing better to do were speculating on JAW that I had gone back to the JA.

I haven't.


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Dialogue closed

A few weeks ago I decided that since dialogue needed to be at very least two way, and as the JA had forbidden members, including the JA woman who started it with me, to get involved in the JA Dialogue group on Facebook, it served no purpose....except to testify to the stalemate. But it also signified a continuing involvement on my part, and I have decided that I don't have any interest in the JA now at all. I wrote a goodbye to all its members and closed it.

It is, as those intimate with the details will know, sadly the case that my most virulently nasty opponents have not been the JA at all in recent years, but various parties who took umbrage at my ambivalence about the JA, and who objected to me not supporting their more extreme, sometimes malevolent, positions.

It is only fair to say that the JA is not the same group I left all those years ago, just as I am not the same man. I have recently talked to Trevor Saxby, telling him that I have moved on and really have no animosity towards them now at all. I think that is good.

This blog has served its purpose...I no longer have any issues to work out through writing about the Jesus Army. I think it will be good, maybe even therapeutic (if any therapy at all is still needed), - or in a sense symbolic - to close it down.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

A Jesus Fellowship Church Graduate

My girlfriend's son just graduated with a 2:1 in Chemistry. These last three years have turned him from a boy into a confident young man. He has been going through lots of changes, learning who he is and what he wants from life. These have been very formative years.

He is the age I was when I left the Jesus Army, and it has only just occurred to me that I spent my "university years" in the JA. They weren't just any three years in my life. They were my "leaving home for the first time" years, my "becoming a man" years.

It is no wonder, then, that those three years - that very short period in my life - has become so fundamental; that the JA had such a shattering and long lasting effect on me. The Jesus Fellowship Church is my Alma Mater (my "nourishing mother").

Monday, 5 July 2010


For a few years, now, I seem to have been firefighting postings on Jesus Army Watch, not because it is my job or indeed my forum, but because I feel that it has a role to play, which is undermined by some frankly lunatic posting. Interestingly, it is not the only forum, though. John Everett's group attracts a different, more sober type.

This morning I realised that perhaps instead of trying, largely unsuccessfully, to defend the bona fides of JAW by urging greater honesty among JAW posters, I should think about what sorts of people post on the site. And I realised that maybe what we have here, in microcosm, is what we have with the JA.

People who join John Everett's group were, like me, "members" of the church and community, whereas people who post on JAW, seem to be attracted to it because it allows them complete anonymity and free rein in whatever abusive postings they wish to write...and they are or were mainly "camp followers", fringe members who were already quite damaged people before the JA met them.

In fairness to the JA, when they say that someone "was never truly one of us" it is almost certainly fair comment these days, when the church has liberalised so very dramatically. In my time the same phrase was a way of discrediting someone who might even have been a celibate elder (I believe it was once said of John Everett in a red-top, for instance).

Perhaps all churches SHOULD target the sorts of people who have the potential to be dangerous enemies if they become disaffected. In its efforts to appear less controlling (or perhaps even its desire to control less), the JA has amassed a large number of mentally ill, drug abused, unstable associates at its fringes, who when they leave and start posting in anger, have the potential to damage the JA and who are not apparently constrained by the same norms of fairness and honesty as people with less turbulent backgrounds.

The irony is, though, that they discredit the JA-Watch site more with their absurdly exaggerated claims and their paranoid rantings, which are easily dismissed by the JA and which any sensible reader will recognise for what they are anyway.

Far less extreme posting from people who really were fully committed members of the fellowship carries much greater power and is considerably more credible, which is why I do hope that John keeps his group going. Perhaps it is time to accept that JAW is no longer worth saving, ditch it and support The JA Blues.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The JA Blues

John Campbell (who controls JA public relations) urges people like Daniel Stonell not to post on forums or groups like Jesus Army Dialogue. Older members, who are generally more canny, know better than to do so anyway.

Young members, fringe members or somewhat disaffected members who wish to prove their loyalty to any JAs who may be reading (and who we have known, not infrequently, to go on to split shortly afterwards) will often express their radicalism in terms which are indicrete and therefore make the JA look cult-like, at a time when the JA is anxious to look mainstream.

The purpose of John Everett's site, The JA Blues, is to provide a haven of contact for ex-members, many of whom are very vulnerable (some having left only recently) and must not be intimidated or bullied by people still in the JA, which was why suggestions that they had demons led John to remove Daniel.

I support John in this. I am not a natural censor, but if JAs want to argue or to attack or criticise ex-members (generically, not personally), let them go to Jesus Army Dialogue (if they are brave enough to resist the church's blanket ban on posting there, which is frankly unlikely). The JA Blues is not the place to do it. Alternatively, if they would prefer not to post at a venue over which I have some control (because I am known to be rather persuasive, according to Sarah Hughes, anyway), they can always post at Jesus Army Watch.

John Everett is currently on holiday and has asked me to look after The JA Blues while he is away.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Merry Christmas, Everyone, whatever you believe

Having defended the magic of one child's belief in Santa from the cruel bullying of an older child today, it is clear to me that it doesn't matter that neither Santa nor Jesus are real (IMO). What matters is that believing in them is special to some, and there is no mileage in being unkind to them. Why deliberately make someone unhappy just so you can be right....about something that doesn't matter anyway?

Christmas is most important to children. I don't have any, so after today (the last school day), I shall just get on with what DOES matter to me. But in the meantime, I have been pulling out all stops at school -a grotto in the classroom, a xmas tree with lights on it and with presents under it, an advent calendar, party hats, sewn snowmen and origami santas, games, music, atmosphere and exchanging gifts.....and saying thank you.

How can any of these things be unchristian; indeed how can it be christian to witthold such things from children, especially children who have not made a personal commitment to the JA way of life? It is no more righteous than that bully's revelation to the little boy in my class who, was heartbroken to be told that Father Christmas doesn't exist.

So, whatever you believe, Merry Christmas, Everyone!


Friday, 27 November 2009

Stockholm Syndrome

I have just posted this on Jesus Army Watch, in response to Sarah Hughes's assertion that I wanted to control her, which is why she decided to pull out of JAD:

"I didn't want to control you. I wanted to share a
responsibility with you as an equal.

Which means that I took a leap of faith and took you at your word and trusted you. I went out on a limb in what could have been something quite which, far from controlling you, I was undertaking to relinquish control to you, a member of the JA.

Your good will and trustworthiness lasted less than a week.

But at the end of the day, I don't hold you entirely responsible because I know that you are not in control of your own life. Everyone on this site [Jesus Army Watch] knows how hard it is to resist the will of the Elders...and if you are to be able to live in peace with the brethren, you must find a way to suppress your own feelings and accept that you are wrong.

....and then demonstrate your loyalty to the brethren by attacking those whose trust you had previously enjoyed outside the fellowship."

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

No news is good news

I haven't given the JA much thought for a month (apart from contact from one ex- member who is doing well), as it has been the summer holiday and I have been flying, welding, doing family stuff etc and only really think about the JA, normally, as a distraction from work.

So this is just a pop-in to keep the thing active. I wouldn't want the JA to think that I have forgotten them ;)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The group was Sarah Hughes' idea

23rd June 2009

Click image to read it easily
I wasn't sure whose idea the dialogue group was but this reveals that it had been Sarah's and that we had discussed who would be allowed to post on it and had agreed the name and that I would set it up on our behalf.

"I want my name taking off the Jesus Army Dialogue site. No one joins from the JA cause they see it as a joke! You really are embarrassing yourself, nobody else and no one is biting the carrot. Even ex members are cringing at you.. the church gets stronger with your opposition and bitter rants so keep it up..we love it and it brings us all many hours of amusement!! especially seeing as its only you writing to yourself.. everyone else eventually sees you for what you are.. rename it "I have issues with the Jesus Army that nobody else cares about" and remove my name..."
-Sarah Hughes, Tuesday 21st July 2009

Evidence of how dramatically people's minds in the JA can be changed

Nb. The above images are in chronological order but the postings on them stack upwards (see the timings). They have been selected as examples of the positive dialogue which was ended so suddenly by the JA. Click on each to read it easily

An angry assault from Sarah Hughes today, the young woman in the fellowship whose idea it was to set up a dialogue page on Facebook when Claire Hall closed down a very positive dialogue that she, Ali and I had been having, made me feel that I should publish the starkly contrasting posts.

Ali. you will recall, said he had been in a happy bubble all his membership, unaware of how the church had beaten kids in the past and after a while decided that he would challenge the church about this and other practices. Sarah, who had been beaten herself said we needed to find the people who had been hurt by the JA and bring healing.

It was an extraordinary chain of events.

Ali went off feeling he had been commissioned by God to root out abuses and Sarah continued talking about starting the Dialogue which is in the process of dying a death, not least of all because Sarah suddenly changed her mind once the thing was up and running, citing the neglect of her mothering duties.

Both of them are now, by contrast with our correspondences, postings and texts, virulently against my efforts. It just goes to show how hard it is for individuals in the JA, however strong their independently formulated ideas and convictions, to do their own thing, and how easily they can be swayed back to the party line.