In January and February of 2014 for various reasons I happened to attend a variety of church services in many different locations. I went to a memorial service for the brother of an old friend at the Community Church in Loma Rica, California, attended a graduation ceremony for a family member at the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco, took part in an interfaith musical event at the Mormon Church in Wheatland, joined Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Olivehurst for their gathering one Sunday morning, accompanied my brother to a service at Crossroads Community Church in Yuba City, and warmed the pew a few times at Grace Episcopal Church in Wheatland, where my wife is the organist.
While I sat in the church in Loma Rica for the memorial service for my friend’s brother, I thought back to the times when my friend and his many brothers would play baseball together, or pick peaches, or go fishing or hunting in the Yuba Gold fields, referred to by us as the Dredger Ponds.
My friend’s brother died at sixty-two, not much older than me. I had heard of other people passing away that were close to my age and thought, I need to make and accomplish my “bucket list“.
One thing I want to achieve before I depart this life is tell my story. Another thing I want to do is promote the faith community, including of course my own, in the best way I know how.
An Episcopalian priest at Grace Church in Wheatland said, in a sermon I heard on a chilly winter Sunday, that it’s not a good thing when we’re feeling comfortable in church. We need to challenge ourselves. We need to go beyond our comfort zone. (And I didn’t think he was referring to when Marge turned the heat up too high in the sanctuary.) That’s when I decided I would visit and learn about as many churches as possible in the Yuba-Sutter area.
So I’ll be writing about my experiences while visiting places of worship in the Yuba-Sutter area and as well, I’m writing my own story. Who knows how far I’ll get before “kicking the bucket”…
In July of 1978 I joined the Unification Church in Seattle Washington. Not too long ago, someone close to me questioned if I had ever thought that perhaps I had made the wrong decision. I listened quietly all the while thinking sarcastically, “No, I really never did stop to think about it. I’ve been under that “Moon Spell” for nearly forty years and I just can’t help it.”
Years ago, a student reporter for the University of Auckland newspaper Craccum wrote an article about how he “infiltrated” one of the evening programs of the Unification Church’s student organization CARP and how he was able to resist their “brain-washing” techniques.
Now I thought that the idea of infiltrating one of our programs took about as much courage as attending an Amway meeting and wrote a letter to the editor of Craccum stating so. I also offered to meet the reporter for lunch which I would “shout”. (New Zealand talk for, “I will pay for it”.) I wrote that if that reporter could offer me some great new insights about life and how to live, then maybe I would be his first disciple. Well he never did take me up on that offer; I’m still waiting.
Diane Benscoter, self-proclaimed ex-Moonie and “deprogrammer” (otherwise known as faith-breaker), has made a career of attacking so-called cults and has given a “Ted Talk” about “How Cults Think”. In her talk she opines about how cultists’ brains are affected, and that people like myself and my fellow Unificationists are suffering from “Extremist Viral Memetic Infection.” (Wonder if that’s covered by Obama Care?)
Not too long after viewing Benscoter’s video and finding out what’s wrong with me and my fellow travelers, I happened to go to an estate sale in Olivehurst, California. At that sale I looked through a pile of books, one of which was about how the Negro is supposedly inferior to the white man, and as “proof”, there were drawings and photographs of the white brain versus the Negro brain. Just as I was appalled at such bigotry, hopefully in the not-too-distant-future most people, when viewing Benscoter’s vile presentation, will have a similar disgust.
Many of the names of people in my stories will be changed, not simply because I’m trying to make sure I don’t get sued, but because I forget. (Maybe that’s because of that brain infection.) Also, I’ll do my best to refrain from profanity and sometimes will use “@#$%^!” but sometimes not. I’m also not here to preach about how The Unification Church is the best thing since…..well, toilet paper. Some of my stories may make some of my fellow church members cringe and saying, “Why’d you write about that?” Many of us, including yours truly, in our zeal may have done some things we probably shouldn’t have.
Now I’ve got a lot to learn about this blogging thing, and that stuff like plug-ins are not just air fresheners or what I do to the refrigerators I work on, and that hyper-links have nothing to do with Star Wars. But somehow, I’m learning. With the help of my beloved wife who is my best supporter, editor, and all-around good person, “Leaving Linda” will continue. I would especially like to thank Reverend Moon for introducing me to her in the New Yorker Hotel in 1982.
Oh, and by the way, my name is Bob Gauper and I was born in 1954 in Boise, Idaho to John and Maxine Gauper. We moved to California in 1957 where I attended schools in the Marysville area and graduated with a two-year degree from Yuba College, and was a member of the first student body at Lake Tahoe Community College. I went on to study at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but dropped out after one semester. I did however spend over eight years traveling the highways and byways of the United States and New Zealand as a “Roads Scholar”.
I was married in 1982 in Madison Square Garden in one of our church’s smaller weddings. I have four children, and unlike their Daddy, they have kept themselves out of the wrong side of a jail cell. My disabled veteran Dad (US Marine Corp WWII) lives on our property. My dog, and the rabbit I rescued from the river bottoms died recently, but our cat’s still alive. I eat tofu and like it. I very occasionally eat fried pork rinds and Vienna Sausage. I drive a Ford F250 four-wheel-drive diesel flatbed pickup which has a lift-gate I built myself, but I spend more time on my bicycle. For the most part, I’ve made my living by fixing and selling stuff. I try to attend a worship service at least once a week, but believe I can also worship God while holding a fishing pole.
And, if you’d like to know more: