Someone new learned about my childhood today. The Moonie part. “Really?” they asked, over and over. “Really?”

“You knew him?” they wanted to know. “What was he like? Was he insane?”

Not to me. To me he was the Messiah. How do you explain that?

How do I explain that I was best friends with his children? How do I explain that he was my Messiah? My True Father? No one really knows what that means. How do I explain that I saw no insanity. I saw no abuse. At the time I saw no wrongness. Even things that I might now consider wrong – like my mother leaving. Or not being allowed in the building where she lived for a few months, or maybe a year? (I can’t remember how long that went on. I can only remember knocking on the door to see if she could come out to give me a hug.) Even those things that now seem so wrong, at the time, they were just the way things were. Anything coming from the Messiah, or any senior Church leader, was accepted. Not questioned. Not debated.

Yes, I was best friends with his children. Yes, I loved being best friends with his children. Yes, I went to his house, swam in his pool, and ate at his table. And felt blessed to be able to do that. Yes, I loved so much of what I experienced while being in the Church – even if I would never live that life again given the choice. I felt special (although never special enough). I had fun. I had a purpose – a larger than life purpose. It was my responsibility to mend God’s heart. Again, something that someone who wasn’t there probably wouldn’t understand. I didn’t have to question the meaning of life. I was living it. We were chosen. We were starting God’s new lineage on earth. We were going to save the world.

I can’t look back at it objectively. It’s awash with too many feelings, and memories, and ingrained beliefs. It was all I knew and I knew it as Truth. How do you question Truth?

I look back and feel the ache of living away from my mother, and I look back and feel the love showered upon me by so many of my “brothers and sisters.” I look back and feel my determination to be as good and pure as possible, and I look back and feel my shame that I was never, ever good enough. I look back and remember riding motorcycles at Barrytown (now the Church’s seminary) and playing basketball in the gym that is now the library. I look back and remember watching movies at the Church center on 72nd Street and preaching on the steps of the New York City Public Library and in Times Square. I didn’t know what pornography was, but I knew it was wrong. And I knew Rev. Moon, True Father, was right.

I think my brother hates it. I’m not sure how my mother now feels. But I look back with such a strange mixture of love, appreciation, horror, sorrow, pain, confusion – and relief. Relief that I’m not there. That I did find my Way Out. I was best friends with his children. I was in the epicenter of a movement that at least partially defined the 1970s. People can’t comprehend it when I tell them, and they always want to know what it was like. I guess I can’t explain what it was like. It was what I knew.

And I’m grateful that I know other than that now.

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