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Life in the Family: An Oral History of the Children of God

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2016 4:54 pm
by Wombaticus Rex
Just got a copy of James D. Chancellor, Life in the Family: An Oral History of the Children of God, I'll be transcribing some stuff and share it here.

Per the intro outline:

This work is an attempt to weave together the lives of a diverse group of people into a whole fabric. It is a cloth of many hues and colors. There are dark threads of suffering and pain and abuse, blended with the bright colors of joy and hope and the love of life. Since it is their journey, as much as possible, it is conveyed in their own words.

Chapter 1 provides a historical overview. This timeline will be useful as the story unfolds thematically rather than chronologically.

Chapter 2 is the book of origins, exploring who these people were before joining and what motivated them to turn their backs on life as they knew it, "forsaking all" for the cause of Jesus and Father David.

Chapter 3 focuses on the belief system that shapes and sustains life in The Family. There is no effort at theological evaluation of Family literature or the official Statement of Faith. Rather, I have attempted to locate and explicate the essential theological and ideological commitments that bring focus and direction to the lives of the disciples.

Chapter 4 explores the most distinctive and controversial dimension of the movement, "The Law of Love." Here I examine the shifting and evolving sexual ethos, the emergence of sexual allure as a means of proselytizing and financial support, and the most sensitive aspect of life in the Family, sexuality and children. Although I treat this topic at length in this chapter and reference it fully in other places, the intent is not to make this issue the central focus. Whereas sexuality is fundamental to Family identity, it is but one dimension of a complex corporate character.

Chapter 5 focuses on the central aspects of life in The Family: religious experience, the missionary enterprise, and the life of faith.

Chapter 6 deals with the cost of discipleship. Here we explore the emotional distress, physical hardship, and outright persecution that has often been a corollary of disciple life.

Chapter 7 relates the life experience of Father David's grandchildren, the second generation who were born and raised as Children of God and have chosen to remain. The book closes with some brief reflections on the future of The Family.

Re: Life in the Family: An Oral History of the Children of G

PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 4:29 pm
by Wombaticus Rex
By the end of 1980, The Family of Love had grown to almost eight thousand members. Dispersed throughout the world in small homes, most disciples were isolated from the larger community. In many areas of the world, disciples were out of touch with the sense of unity, sacrificial cooperation, and missionary zeal characteristic of the early years.

In 1981, Father David initiated the "Fellowship Revolution." Homes were ordered to begin weekly fellowship meetings with others in their area.


The Fellowship Revolution was accompanied by a renewed insistence that as many disciples as possible leave North America and Europe and move to the south and the east. The move was necessary to avoid a coming nuclear disaster and to bring the proclamation of salvation through Jesus to as many people as possible before The End.

The introduction of video equipment was another significant aspect of the Fellowship Revolution. In 1980, the Music with Meaning (MWM) community in Greece recorded various aspects of their life and ministry and sent those videos to the World Services HQ. Father David, who had lived in seclusion for over ten years, was delighted to have this access to his "kids." He encouraged all the Homes to obtain video equipment and begin sharing a record of their lives with him and other homes. Videos functioned to break down the isolation and played a significant role in pulling The Family back together.

In keeping with his desire to explore fully the limits of sexual freedom, Father David requested that MWM and other homes make "Love Videos," which would involved musical background and: "Our beautiful women could dance in a very artistic and soft and loving way ... I don't mean a lot of porn ... just plain beautiful beauty and artistry the way God made you in your natural beauty." Numerous Love Videos were produced.

Father David soon also offered a suggestion that homes might film some romantic or erotic scenes between couples. Disciples responded by producing videos that depicted sex acts, usually men with women, but also women with women. These more explicit videos were sent to Father David and distributed among select Homes; most disciples were not involved.

By the mid 80's, the novelty had worn off, and The Family were becoming more sensitive to the possible negative effects of these videos. In April of 1984, World Services put heavy restrictions on who could order the dance videos. Within a few years, disciples were instructed to stop altogether and erase any recordings in their possession.

- James D. Chancellor, Life in the Family: An Oral History of the Children of God p. 12-14