Thursday, March 05, 2009

THE KING OF KODGERS VISITS A DYING CULT

Never mind the spelling--they welcome such as me. Their neighbors speak well of them. (I asked several)
You'd have to admit--they're aiming high.
I drive in with just a smidgen of trepidation----thinking: Here comes a new adventure!
A lovely, well kept pool, open to all it seems--the neighboring kids come often they said.
Elect Philip Lake greeted, subtley screened me and toured me.
Elect David---taciturn---Did not readily engage.
Elect Star --The soft spoken leader of the group succeeding Elect Gold.
I couldn't restrain myself---I flirted with her!The main building was exactly 120 feet long by scriptural decree and was one large room with kitchen,dining and living area.
My first meal with them. They did not object to my curiosity or photography. Notice the absence of a fork and the measuring cup with exactly one cup of water. The white stuff is sweet cream the yellow is apricots. I enjoyed the meal--felt virtuous
They sing every night at 7:30 before retiring. I did my best to keep the tune.
A songbook page--regularly amended. This song written by Elect Star is to the tune of Born to Lose.
The arrow points the spot where the new age begins.

Definition of cult: A minority religion regarded with disapproval by the majority.
(I remind my readers that Christianity itself was once a cult. Also that I use the word here in a non pejorative sense)

Traveling Interstate 8 between Yuma and Gila Bend, Az I suddenly recalled hearing about an odd religious group living far out in the desert beyond Sentinal. Inquiring at its only store, I learned that the group still functions—and got directions. I have time and curiosity so I found them, miles out a dirt road, and drove boldly into their palm lined driveway, parking by a large swimming pool.

A thin, 80ish guy came out and introduced himself as Elect Lake Philip. I was ready with my intro: I’m Randy; I’ve heard about your good work here and wanted to come meet you. In minutes I was warmly ensconced into the heart of things, taken on a tour, introduced all round, invited to dinner and to stay the night. I accepted.

Winning my way to the warm is the upside of my “pleasing personality.” Trust me there is a downside!

Dinner was strange if not bizarre. Each plate contained a date and a banana, a sweet paste of nuts and seeds, cream and apricots. No meat! And most surprisingly, no forks. (they are associated with meat eating) Each person received EXACTLY the same amount of food; carefully measured. We drank water from measuring cups. They told me the practice of measuring was based on scripture. After a hand holding ritual of thanks, we ate in silence.

At precisely 7:30 we adjourned to the comfortable living room to sing. The songs were all new; Songs they had written, though often the tune was familiar. Turns out, New is a big word with these folks. Anyone joining receives a new name. I sang out loud getting into the spirit of things; beginning to feel comfortable with my new friends-----odd octogenarians.

They sleep separately–no sex–ever. I slept in my rig. Next day they all came to see the Stealth trailer–especially interested in my solar power. They aspire to get off the grid .

Before noon I finally managed to get with Elect Star, the leader of the group. As she was carefully measuring out food she answered my questions about their history and doctrines. Here’s their story in summary: In 1949 a charismatic female preacher in Canada (later renaming herself Elect Gold) had visions of end times and a special mission. About a hundred of the flock joined her but the number dwindled to 12 when she was defrocked by her church. They wandered the US, living in tents and vehicles, for 12 years, barely earning enough to eat. Another vision showed them this particular 80 acres and they managed to buy it. They’ve been here for 40 odd years, making a lovely oasis of it. A generous benefactor willed substantial money to them so that now no one needs to work for money. They just go about their assorted interest and simple rituals. Occasionally they travel to visit family, and friends come here to visit. Walk-ins like myself are welcome.

Elect Star and I had a great time sharing boondocking secrets. She knew about the Slabs, Quartzsite and Oh My God hot springs.

Their founder died at age 98 and is buried in Buckeye, Az. They cling to the belief that they are the harbingers of a new age–showing the way with their lives –and that this particular spot is where the great transformation will begin. I think they liked me and would have had me stay awhile, but after another carefully measured meal of beets, beans, dates and the requisite one cup of water I bid them farewell. They provisioned me with a big bag of really good dates.

I like these people–think they are harmless and even well meaning–modern day monks and nuns approaching life’s end holding on to their founders vision. Better this life than one of assorted addictions but much less than a life of self actualization. I didn’t have the heart to ask if they sometimes doubted the visions and doctrines of Gold. World weary people are sometimes drawn to this sort of mystical escapism ----soothing perhaps in the short run—boring in the long—I saw it in their eyes as I drove away—they wanted to go with me!

6 comments:

ladynomad said...

Been by the place, but did not stop. Looked it up on the web, but must be another cult with the same name because the story was different. Interesting. I'm glad you stopped and shared your insights.

wisesongbird said...

Fascinating reporting, as usual. Appears the group will follow in the steps of the Shakers. The Shakers were most creative and productive. Seems the inheritance may be a deterrent to meaningful existence in spite of the purpose. Were you able to find out when the last member joined the group? Thanks again for sharing your adventures.

Randy said...

Yes I did ask. Several folks, over the years have joined only to leave shortly after. The stringent requirements, like those of the Shakers, proved too much to endure. No Sex, No meat, No excitement, No luxuries, No power in governance. I speculate that their endgame will go like this: A Johnny-come-lately will come to nurse the ailing last members, officially join the group, become the inheritor, sell the place and run away with the proceeds.

Anonymous said...

The King Kodger has the knack for finding those who go out of their way not to be found. Then he is able to get these eccentrics to talk
about themselves. Thanks for
telling us about these characters that most of us would never encounter.

bushman said...

The more I look at that meal, the more it looks good. At my age, a small meal is better; around here, it would be sold as an upscale, health food.
The pity of the group is the purity, the desire to be pure, which of course creates an impossible conflict & unhappiness, I assume.

Anonymous said...

Methinks Elect David is sneaking into the pantry at night. Noticed the others seem to be quite thin...