"Holy Smoke"

Volume Number 14--June 2000

Note: "Holy Smoke" is a newsletter about the activities of the Endeavor Academy (EA) and its teachers/leaders, Charles Buell Anderson and Theodore Hector Poppe

The legal name of the Academy is "The New Christian Church of the Full Endeavor." The Academy is also sometimes known as "Miracle Sessions" or the "Miracle Center." The Endeavor Academy is based in Wisconsin, USA--with a branch in Byron Bay, on Australia's East Coast. Charles (Chuck) Anderson started the Academy several years ago. Anderson is generally known within the Academy as "Dear One"--interestingly the same title as that assumed by the leader of totalitarian North Korea.

Mr. Anderson posits the claim that his teachings and worldview is somehow based upon the well-known book "A Course in Miracles." Though many that admire this book and specifically its copyright holders--have disavowed Anderson and rejected his idiosyncratic interpretations and teachings supposedly based upon it. In fact, he has been engaged in contentious copyright litigation regarding his use (or as some claim abuse) of that book.

Endeavor Academy appears to be constructed along classical "cult" lines, and its internal dynamics and personal experiences may well be recognizable to anyone who has studied the psychological workings of post-War groups that have been called "cults."

The Academy's teachers have tended to suggest that their experiences are mainly/better/only attainable by its members (Academy "brothers'"), and a lexicon has been developed to underline their supposed "uniqueness."

Language has also been subtly deployed to validate the cult's view of reality. This is often the case with groups called "cults" that employ "thought reform" techniques or "coercive persuasion" to influence their members. Particularly popular with the teachers in the Endeavor Academy is the corruption of scientific terms, which seems to especially impress the membership.

The core "transformation" of Academy members is a cathartic internal experience. Essentially, this is serotonin-enhancement, catalyzed by intensive group "Sessions." Because the experience is a strong one, it becomes addictive to many--with classical addictive symptoms sometimes appearing when a member is deprived of his or her "Sessions."

It's notable that a substantial portion of the Academy's members, including the two principals Anderson and Poppe, are former addicts and appear to have exchanged one addictive mode of behavior for another.

The teachings are akin in many ways to those of the early twentieth century Nihilists: "The world does not exist." "Nothing is real." "God knows nothing of this place." "All that I see is a dream."

The internal experiences are framed by these teachings, thus forging a strong worldview (whilst denying that any manipulation is taking place) coupled with an addictive pattern--a powerful mix. The typical Academy member is drawn into this milieu for a period, before such dissonance as the abusive behavior of the teachers and world hating takes a toll--often resulting in the member leaving the group.

Unfortunately, Holy Smoke knows of few former members who have not sustained at least short-term psychological damage. Many are damaged long-term, with the typical bottom line perhaps being a failure to psychologically mature whilst in the group, not unlike the effects of drug or alcohol addiction.

It seems that most people who have been involved with EA later leave. Some estimates of the group's rate of attrition run about 80%. Many former members are now networking together and some contribute to the "Holy Smoke" newsletter--with the aim of sharing information about EA with those who remain, and to others who are interested.

Many EA members imagined they were jumping into the bold unknown when they committed to the "miracle" process. Instead (as many have testified) they were merely stepping into a womb like situation: no need to think about anything; no need to face any responsibilities; no need to grow--or even grow up. One Academy graduate put it this way; "It was the ultimate escapist fantasy. It wasn't real life - it was a break from real life, but beautifully packaged. Brilliantly packaged! Packaged as reality! One of the cleverest tricks I have seen in our crazy Western Society in years."

Perhaps here it is meaningful to review some of what we've seen in recent months. So, for the record, I'll recap some highlights of the Endeavor Academy. All of the information below has been documented and evidenced (i.e. names, places, times) within previous Holy Smokes.

  • Two suicides (that we know of)

  • Two suicide attempts (that we know of)

  • Seemingly systematic emotional and sometimes physical abuse

  • The sexual exploitation of female members by Charles Anderson

  • Admissions to psychiatric institutions after exposure to EA teachers and "Sessions"

  • The majority of members have left

  • Many teachers have left

  • Financial corruption.

  • Psychological manipulation of members

  • The seeming cultivation of dependency upon the environment

  • Marriages and long-term relationships ended and children neglected or abandoned

  • Stigmatization of "The World" (i.e. everything outside the group) as "Hell"

  • Apparent suppression of individual thought--no disagreements with teachers appears to be tolerated. Dissenters are often marginalized

  • The frequent encouragement by teachers of a "separation mentality" from the rest of humanity. (e.g. "Go away and die")

  • The threat of legal action to stifle criticism from the media

  • Threats in an attempt to stifle dissent from defectors.

  • Denunciations of those who waver and/or independent thinkers.

  • Scientology style campaigns of vilification of defectors and outside critics

  • Statements that cancer, heart attacks and the like may afflict critics and/or skeptics

  • Misleading statements made by EA teachers to cover their failings

  • Promises of transformation, which never materialize

  • The ultimate disempowerment of many individuals who become involved

And torturous, circular, self-serving and illogical rationalizations to excuse all the above

Here are some examples of such rationalizations:

  • Leaders are somehow "saving" people by attacking them

  • Legal threats regarding detractors/critics are "inspired by the Holy Spirit"

  • Critics are expressing what the group labels as "grievances"---and criticism is thus dismissed as invalid

  • "There is no world," therefore all the abuses have no relevance--and lies are not really lies

  • All critics are "dead ones" who cannot see reality

And above all, the failure of Academy students to have a lasting transformation is the fault of the individual student and never the teachings, or the teachers.

Charles Anderson talks the most awful nonsense--borrowing concepts from physics, which he doesn't understand, but typically no member critically comments. This seems like the old story about "The Emperor's New Clothes"--people are not ready to face the consequences of stating the obvious.

Charles Anderson describes himself this way, in a piece modestly entitled "The Dilemma of a Savior of the World"

"My awakening to Christhood or Mastership is in its very occurrence a verification that God is. And in His verification of me do I verify and proclaim His reality. As a Savior I am beset with the divine obligation to save the world. The absolute responsibility is mine to lift the burden of death from man..."

"The wholeness of [an awakened master's] thinking inevitably makes the objective rationale of limited consciousness seem absurd... He must now deal with his absolute, unqualified certainty that the objectively constructed world is totally meaningless, except to the necessity of bringing about the revelation that established his own transcending consciousness..."

Now wasn't that modest?

Here is how Mr. Anderson explains his rambling, often seemingly incoherent, teachings.

"Strange as it may seem, it is necessary that I make my message complicated in some regards, or the fractured imagery you call self in your dream could not hear me at all. Since you are devious by your own conception we must lead you to the Light of Truth by your own devious route..."

"The notion of spiritual communication, that is, mutual self-recognition occurring in conceptual duality, must involve the possibility of non-specific deferential self-expression..."

"Has it ever occurred to you that the only way you finally escape disease is through becoming completed diseased?"

"Time is the notion of "event." Space is the "event" manifested. Space is congruent Time or event. Self-identity in Space/Time is the continuity of congruent events. The closer the cause to the effect the less linearly sequential the continuity of time."

Well, this is not quite how Jesus communicated, nor the quality of the "Sermon on the Mount," but maybe times have changed.

Margaret Singer, Ph.D., a leading expert regarding cults, offers six conditions to illustrate "cult" dynamics. It seems meaningful to compare Singer's six conditions to the pattern of behavior, which is evident within the Endeavor Academy.

Singer's Six Conditions are:

  1. Keep the person unaware of what is going on, and how she or he is being changed a step at a time.

  1. Control the person's social and/or physical environment; especially control the person's time.

  1. Systematically create a sense of powerlessness in the person.

  1. Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments and experiences in such a way as to inhibit behavior that reflects the person's former social identity.

  1. Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments and experiences in order to promote learning the group's ideology or belief system, and group-approved behaviors.

  1. Create a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and refuses to be modified, except by leadership approval or executive order.

Dr Singer added that typically:

  • The group has a top-down, pyramid structure. The leaders must have verbal ways of never losing.

  • Members are not allowed to question, criticize or complain--if they do, the leaders allege that the member is defective--not the organization or its beliefs.

Holy Smoke recently received an email from one of the Academy's many departed "Master Teachers." This was published in full within The Echo (a weekly newspaper in the Byron, Australia). Here is an excerpt:

"I'm no champion of causes, which are obviously divisive--this is why I left the academy. I've no intention of taking up the struggle against the established disorder; it will inevitably collapse under its own weight."

"The failure of Endeavor Academy is the failure of all self-sustaining ministries. In the end, they simply run out of juice (on the other hand, a quiet ministry leaves the greatest impression, as it is the least beholden to the bloated whims of self-satisfaction). I suggest that all EA graduates look forward to the tranquillity of non-assertion, and the security of the acknowledgement of a job well and truly done..."

The Academy is starting to disintegrate, but leaving a trail of personal damage in its wake.

Holy Smoke often closes on a humorous note--perhaps to lift the somber tone of its contents a bit. Here is one of the funnier emails recently received from an EA "graduate" and obvious Chuck Anderson devotee who seems to be cloning Mr. Anderson's style of communication.

"This academy is dedicated to the certain truth that the mind of man and the destiny of Mankind, by its very nature, transcends the temporal observational situation of objectively self-constructed reality in and by which it delineates and defines itself and that the conceptual mind of a human being is a [deep breath] transitional point in space/time in an inevitable evolutionary conversion of noncreative thought that brings about a total reassociation and recognition of Identity that is an open forum of continuing unlimited revisional transformative possibilities this inevitable evolutionary realization that there really is an alternative to this insane place entirely outside and beyond your own capabilities, which are unrecognizable in the conceptual continuity of preexistent thought form that constitutes your human condition and has persisted as an illusionary appearance predetermined in the totality of instantaneous recovery that occurs at the moment of your apparent separation from eternal reality."

Hey, who needs Einstein, with genius like this?

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