Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Time I Visited a Moonie Commune

San Francisco, March 1977. I had just finished my first business trip to the USA, and was now spending a few days walking around San Francisco. I loved the place to the point that I had changed a flight so I could stay an extra two days.

At Fisherman's Wharf I chatted with a couple. They were about my age, and extremely pleasant.

I quickly figured out they were Moonies,. Their cult was notorious for brainwashing young people, estranging them from their families, then marrying them off in mass weddings

I had read about Divine Deception a Moonie principle that justifies lying to serve the greater purpose. I had fun saying things that I knew would be counter to their beliefs, and only getting smiles and affirmations in return.

Eventually, one said: "Hey, would you like to come to our commune?"

How could I refuse? I was 26 and invincible.

We hopped on a bus and got off about 10 blocks later. I'd like to say we were in Haight Ashbury, with it's elegant homes, but I cannot be sure. I noticed a crowd standing outside a large house that turned out to be the commune. They clearly intended to stay outside.

As I made my way through the crowd towards the front door, a man said "don't go in there." Another promised, "you won't come out the same."

I just had to go in.

Inside, there were twenty or thirty young people: commune members and lost souls collected that day. The place was well-appointed; funding did not appear to be an issue.

I took a photo of my two new friends.
"C'mon, stay for dinner," they implored.

After dinner, I decided it was time to leave, but my new friends encouraged me to stay because they were about to show slides of the commune's fabulous farm outside San Francisco.

The projected images showed a bucolic, happy place. Young people lay on the grass in a big, contented circle, their feet all pointed to the center. "Mega-footsie"' I thought.

As the lights came back up, I decided it was time to leave.

"But you must stay, and come to our farm tomorrow," they implored.

I told them I had a flight to catch, and that I was leaving. I clearly showed determination, as they didn't block my path to the door.

Next day I flew from San Francisco to Los Angeles, then on to London Heathrow. This was my first flight on a wide-body, two-aisle plane (a DC-10).
March 1977, McDonnell Douglas DC-10, LAX/LHR. View from my seat.
It was Air New Zealand equipment that had come from Auckland, and, oddly, it was operated by a British Airways crew.

I got to watch movies (Super 8 film), have dinner and breakfast, and listen to several channels of music on one-hour repeat loops. The old lady next to me was suitably charming, and one of the flight attendants told me he'd had the honor to serve an investigator of a recent plane crash. "They used dental records to identify the victims," he confided.

There was no way I would have missed that flight.
March 2018, Boeing 757, MSP/FLL I still like to take photos on planes.
Note: I took the three Kodachromes, March 1977. I recently threw out my last 35mm color slide after scanning the images I wanted to keep.

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