Deprogramming of Maria Trapp

He continues with a heading "The Deprogramming of Maria Augusta Trapp" saying that one of his children's "favorite films is the much-beloved family classic, The Sound of Music. They have watched the videotape so often that my wife and I sometimes wonder whether there is a single line of dialogue that they have not committed to memory. We are glad they like the film, because it tells a clear, clean, spiritually uplifting story, in which the protagonists rely on wits and faith for their survival, instead of the ruthless destruction of the opposition that is today a staple of 'children's' programming. Because the kids so enjoy the story and the music, we decided one fine June weekend to visit the Trapp Family Lodge, nestled in the rolling green hills above Waterbury, Vermont. There, we thought, the children might learn about the connection -- or, perhaps, the disconnection -- between art and life. So off we went on a grand family outing. The children got a kick out of seeing the place where the real Maria and the real Baron Von Trapp once lived and walked and presumably even sang -- and so, to top it off, we gave in to their pleas and bought Maria's autobiography."

"What we learned from the autobiography was that Maria's religion was even more important to her than the film lets on. Because (she says this, right in the book) after she fell in love with Captain Von Trapp, she didn't just visit Mother Superior for a bit of sung advice about climbing every mountain and then make up her own mind, the way it happens in the musical. Oh, no. She went to visit Mother Superior and asked her permission. Not her advice, mind you, but her permission; Maria needed a yes or no."

"The answer Maria received from Mother Superior took the following form: 'We prayed to the Holy Ghost, and we held council, and it became clear to us ... that it is the Will of God that you marry the Captain and be a good mother to his children.' Did I say 'permission'? This was virtually a command. Maria quotes her own nervous answer to the captain: "Th-they s-s-said I have to m-m-m-marry you-u!' Not I can if I want to -- but I have to. And had Mother Superior refused permission, so Maria suggests, she would never have married the Captain, which would have meant no spine-tingling escape from Austria following the Anschluss, no best-selling book, no singing career, no lodge in Vermont, no musical play, no Hollywood film. She would have had a different life altogether, all because of the decision (dare we say the whim?) of one individual, a religious leader, her Mother Superior."

"Let us for a moment take Maria out of the mainstream and place her not in Roman Catholicism but in, say, the Unification Church; now imagine that the decision on whether she may marry the Captain rests in the hands not of Mother Superior but of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. All at once her decision to consult with her religious superior before marrying takes on a cast either sinister or amusing, depending on one's preferences. At that point, Maria Trapp believes too deeply; she becomes a weirdo."

"Freud believed that deep religiosity was neurotic in nature, and many psychiatrists still do." He praises Robert Cole's "fine book The Spiritual Life of Children" because he "came to understand that religious commitments, whatever their characteristics, tend to be genuine expressions of human personality. Other therapists have not. That is why Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton, in their 1991 book Toxic Faith: Understanding and Overcoming Religious Addiction, probably thought they were being progressive when they decided that some religious commitments were dysfunctional and others were just fine."

"What would Arterburn and Felton have thought of Maria's decision to seek the permission of her religious leader before marrying the Captain? They do not tell us, exactly, but they do give us this account of some of the goings-on in one church's 'toxic faith system': 'The pastor, or shepard as he was called, had final say in everything in the lives of his flock: whether to buy a house, take a vacation, get married, and even whom to marry.'" Even whom to marry. So if Maria really thought she could not marry without the approval of her Mother Superior, does that make the Catholic Church a kind of toxic faith itself, at least if people take it seriously?"

After going into the history of attacks on the Mormons where even the Supreme Court labeled them "subversive to good order" he says, "So, what does one do about the Mormons, Maria Trapp, and other people intoxicated by faith -- people who not only refuse to keep quiet about their beliefs, but actually place the demands of their religions above the secular society's demands of 'good order'? When mocking them doesn't work, we have another way to deal with them. In most of the world it would be kidnaping. In our media-dominated secular society, however, it is dressed up with the fancy name of 'deprogramming.'"

"...Even if (as is certainly true) some cults are every bit as evil as the culture paints them, our mainstream antipathy toward the religions we call cults has gone a bit too far. Our tolerance for the practice of deprogramming supplies the evidence. We must not make the error of approving illegitimate means -- kidnaping, psychological battering -- because of the importance we attach to the end. Perhaps more imperative, we must resist the pressure to define what is outside of the mainstream, what is eccentric, as necessarily 'subversive of good order.' For unless one views the purpose of religion as making the mainstream comfortable, there will always be religious people -- one hopes, lots of them -- who are guided more by faith than by the standards and demands of others, and who will therefore seem eccentric."

"This brings us back to Maria Trapp. Had she grown up in today's America instead of Europe between the world wars, and had her religion not been Catholicism, perhaps she would never have gone to Mother Superior seeking permission to marry; more to the point, she might never have been a person of the sort who would go to Mother Superior for permission to marry. But if she had been the type to ask, and if she had done it, she would likely have been ridiculed for letting some religious leader control her personal life, much like the Western press poked fun at the 25,000 people who were married by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. And if the ridicule did not persuade Maria to change, perhaps some well-meaning deprogrammer, hired by her worried parents, would have snatched her up and subjected her to psychological battering until she renounced her devotion to the eccentric, domineering Catholic cult. And this would have been sad, because it would have meant no book, no play, no film for our kids to enjoy."

"And, incidentally, no religious freedom either."

He says Americans should respect the power that religion holds over many people: "Religions are in effect independent centers of power, with bona fide claims on the allegiance of their members, claims that exist alongside, are not identical to, and will sometimes trump the claims to obedience that the state makes. A religion speaks to its members in a voice different from that of the state, and when the voice moves the faithful to action, a religion may act as a counterweight to the authority of the state."

He says "the Supreme Court was ironically right in 1879 to call the Mormons 'subversive,' and why segregationists were right in the 1960s to apply the same epithet to the Souther Christian Leadership Conference -- for a religion, in its corporate self, will often thumb its nose at what the rest of the society believes is right."

"Democracy needs its nose-thumbers" because they strengthen the nation. He says, "When Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States early in the nineteenth century, he wrote, in Democracy in America, that the young nation's 'religious atmosphere was the first thing that struck me on arrival in the United States.' Indeed, Tocqueville claimed, America was 'the place where the Christian religion has kept the greatest power over men's souls.'" He saw this was a good thing.

"...in Tocqueville's view, this meant that liberty was tempered by a common morality: 'Thus, while the law allows the American people to do everything, there are things which religion prevents them from imagining and forbids them to dare.' Put simply, as political scientist Rogers M. Smith has noted, Tocqueville 'believed that the support given by religious to virtuous standards of behavior was indispensable for the preservation of liberty.'"

"For Tocqueville, religions provided Americans with the strong moral character without which democracy cannot function; but, perhaps equally important, they helped to fill the vast space between the people and the government created in their name -- a space, Tocqueville recognized, that the government might otherwise fill by itself. In many countries, Tocqueville noted, people relied upon the state to solve all problems, and concomitantly lost their liberty." And that is exactly the thesis of this chapter. America gave up religion, especially the Christian belief of men being the patriarchs in the home and in society, and now it has degenerated to President Clinton.

God had worked to elevate patriarchy to be more Godly but Satan won by abolishing it with the women getting the vote. Men became feminized and turned to government instead of religion. Tocqueville knew this would happen if America gave up its religion. By giving up patriarchy it gave up the core of Christianity. Religion was crippled when women got power. Tocqueville saw America strong because it was centered on men focusing on the local. God was in the process of raising men, but women were impatient and usurped their power. Carter writes that Tocqueville "was pleased to see that America had found in its plentitude of private associations, 'associations in civil life which have no political object,' a replacement for the aristocracy that once stood, in theory, as a bulwark against government tyranny: 'The morals and intelligence of a democratic people would be in as much danger as its commerce and industry if ever a government wholly usurped the place of private associations." America is in danger now because government has taken over.

God was working in the last 400 years to prepare the world to accept the Messiah by raising its understanding of patriarchy and the woman's role in the home. Satan corrupted it and eventually destroyed it. Because women do not obey men, religion is dead. Christianity is weak. God had wanted men to respect other religions and to respect religious leaders. Instead the Messiah has been tortured and jailed by Koreans, Japanese and Americans. He is laughed at as a joke. He is trivial to people because religion is trivial. And religion is trivial because it has been lobotomized. Socialist/feminists have won. Professor Carter writes in the hope that America wakes up and begins to respect religion. He, unfortunately, has been feminized and rejects Ephesians 5 that says men are the head of the house. He is blind like everyone else to what has happened. Sadly he has helped the very people he tries to fight who work to make religion weak. Still, I'm grateful for whatever people can offer.

He correctly writes, "To insist that the state's secular moral judgments should guide the practices of all religions is to trivialize the idea that faith matters to people. When Martin Luther King, Jr., declared in his 'Letter from Birmingham City Jail' that a 'just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God,' he was not bandying words he was stating a bedrock commitment to the authority of God as superior to the authority of the state .... Nowadays, such commitments are evidently suspect, the mark of the fanatic, especially when urged in the service of positions often described as right wing."

America, he writes, must respect religious people who feel "religion is more real, more alive, more vital than the good opinion of others, which is why Maria went to her Mother Superior for permission to marry and why many followers of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon are willing to grant him the same privilege. The essence of religious martyrdom is the sacrifice that comes from the refusal to yield to what one's society demands."

Religion is a very subversive force

People must understand, he writes, that "religion is really an alien way of knowing the world -- alien, at least, in a political and legal culture in which reason supposedly rules. The idea that a group of people will refuse to bow, either to law or to what some are bold to call reason, is, of course, a very subversive one in organized society. But religion, properly understood, is a very subversive force; subversive, at least, in a state committed to the proposition that religious ways of looking at the world do not count. No wonder, then, that our political culture seems to be afraid of it."

Americans fear the UC now. What will happen in the future when the Church has millions of members? The first candidate for high political office will have to do as John Kennedy did when he ran as the first major candidate for President who wasn't a Protestant. He was a Catholic and had to answer questions about his relationship with the Pope. Would he do as the Pope said? He answered saying he would not. What will a follower of Sun Myung Moon or whoever is in charge of the Church say after Father dies? Our connection to Father or Mother or the True Children are closer than the Kennedy families are to the Pope. I hope America grows spiritually to not fear the UC. I hope those who run and eventually achieve political power are only men, not women, and that they will legislate for limited government and not use government force to make people do what they think is right such as banning drugs and pornography, making abortions illegal, supporting big government programs like social security and taxing the rich more than others. Even though we speak strongly against homosexuality, we should not legislate against them in any way. We hate the sin, but love the sinner. President George Bush was one of the speakers who came to Father's inauguration of his organization Family Federation for World Peace in 1996. He repeated what his wife, Barbara, had said in a speech that it is more important what goes on in the houses of America than what is going on in the White House. It's more important what goes on in blessed couples homes than what goes on at Church headquarters.

Stu Weber spoke at a Promise Keepers meeting once at a stadium of men. Weber said statistics show that more than 70 percent of young criminals come from fatherless homes."

"'The root of all wrongs?' he asked. Failure in the highest office in the land: the dad. It's the greatest title you'll ever have, and the most powerful office."

"Weber used the metaphor of a relay race to describe how fathers must pass on their 'heart' from generation to generation."

"You can't have sloppy hand-offs or fade at the finish. We need to recognize the incredible power that God has invested in us as individuals."

The Kingdom of Heaven of the Family

Father is more interested in the Family than he is in the Church or State. This book is about the keys to building the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The key is families living close to other families. Father says we are to guide our life, not by political or religious leaders, but by superior families: "we should learn from the exemplary family" and we are to focus on helping other families " to guide the family which is in a bad situation. In such a way, let us establish the Kingdom of Heaven of the family. We should clearly know that the Kingdom of Heaven on earth cannot be established without the Kingdom of Heaven of the family." In other words the most power is in the family. God wants power to be placed in the hands of families to solve all problems. He says, "The family is the micro-church; it should be the agency of heaven. It should be the family that God wants to visit. At least three families should run one household ... the harmony among men is most important." It's more important because it is patriarchal.

Lao-Tze advocated limited government

Lao-Tze in 560 B.C. advocated limited government: "As restrictions and prohibitions are multiplied in the Empire, the people grow poorer and poorer. When the people are subjected to overmuch government, the land is thrown into confusion .... The greater the number of laws and enactments, the more thieves and robbers there will be. Therefore, the Sage says, 'So long as I do nothing, the people will work out their own reformation. So long as I love calm, the people will right themselves. If only I keep from meddling, the people will grow rich....' If the Government is sluggish and tolerant, the people will be honest and free from guile. If the Government is prying and meddling, there will be constant infraction of the law .... Verily, mankind have been under delusion for many a day! Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. (Don't overdo it.)"

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