Dying on PLA
This next post is written by a former BC who questioned an authority figure on PLA and experience life-threatening consequences.
I’ll start with this: the moment I was dying was when I felt my soul sinking into the ground during the PLA 2000 tour, in a lavish town house owned by The Unification Church in Kensington, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in London, UK. I was 16 when this all happened. For some reason, my soul wasn’t rising as you might imagine when people die, probably because it was too tired, instead, it sank. I was in a sleeping bag and surrounded by 300 other kids all in sleeping bags, lined up like goods in the grocery store with little room to walk. Asleep, I slowly realized that I was sinking through my sleeping bag, past my body, into the oriental rug and through hardwood floor, deep into the ground, creeping further and further below the foundation of the building. So I knew I was dying—but I didn’t feel the least bit sad or upset. In fact I was relieved—even ecstatic. It meant that the torment from my supposed fellow BCs would be over, that this pain from the infection raging through my body that left my neck, arms, wrists wrapped in puss filled bandages, and my body so fatigued (so. fatigued.) would be over. The ground felt cool, and was getting colder, and it was really actually quite refreshing.
How great would that be to not have to wake up? Who cares if these people found a dead girl in her sleeping bag in the morning. Good for them. They might be surprised but they’d get to spin some fantastic story about my soul paying indemnity for the crimes that my Japanese ancestors committed against the Koreans; that’s apparently how they were explaining my mysterious illness to friends— an illness that had my upper body oozing a relentless and embarrassing flow of thick yellow puss, that had me changing my bandages every hour if I had the energy and a clean bandage on me. I found out that this story was making the rounds through the 300 or so BCs who were also on that tour. Before that, someone who I went to summer camp with for years, actually asked nonplussed, if I was currently struggling with Satan. Another story that others hinted to was that I was fallen. Writer’s note: At that point in time, like many of you, I had not so much as held a boy’s hand, let alone kissed anyone, made out and definitely never lost my virginity. I was precocious, spirited, ballsy—like any teenager trying to find humor in strange places. Most things I did was for the sake of a good laugh. But I was in my heart a total straight arrow, and I believed in the church, seriously, like the best or worst of them.
On this trip, there were also elders who took me aside from the group dinners and recounted the amazing stories about my dad and what a great guy he was at the religious seminary, the New Yorker hotel, Belvedere, etc. And then they would say; Why would you disappoint him so horribly?
I wouldn’t know exactly how much I was disappointing him because I was never allowed to call him or my mom, or make any phone calls for that matter. I was being guarded 24/7, my passport was locked up, I wasn’t allowed to sleep much (I would be kept up later and woken up earlier than the others), nor take showers, which caused, what I would later find to be a trio of life-threatening infections coursing through my body. I had a very different experience from other BCs who were free to eat, shower, and sleep.
When I felt like my soul must have been half a mile below ground. I stopped, because this was it. Then I felt something big—bigger than me, bigger than everything and everyone around me, pulling me up with the utmost urgency, and I knew that this big thing gave a damn— even if I didn’t. I snapped back to my body with a whiplash that woke me up, panting, freaking out. Even if I didn’t care to live (and I really didn’t), even if these 300 other people around me, even if my religion didn’t care, God, the universe, this force, without a doubt, cared violently. This is when I realized that God did not move exclusively through organized religion, he/it moves and vibrates in anything, in everything. So my direct relationship with this force was felt for the first time under those floorboards, separate from and despite the machinations of my religion.
I immediately woke up and saw in the reflection of this gigantic ornate gold mirror on the wall opposite me, what looked like at least 20-30 white, blue glowing shadows, all very tall, standing around me and the dozens of sleeping BCs around me. Who they were, I’m not sure, I was delirious, and more importantly I was terrified that I had almost died, and so willingly. I couldn’t go back to sleep. But now I had a fire in my stomach, to get through this alive and a rabid indignity against those who’d put me in this position, including myself. I would do right by the universe, by God, by surviving this.
I got here by making the mistake of questioning the director of the PLA on the modus operandi of the Pure Love Alliance, Day 1 of the tour. My fellow BCS didn’t make the mistake of vocalizing the inconsistencies in the logic of posing as a non-denominational group when we were 99% BCs, they didn’t stand up for the not even 1 percent non-BC kids who didn’t have a choice but to read the DP and join our prayers. If you are too precocious with too many rhetorical questions for elders, you’ll see just how nasty and how quickly the machine will mobilize against you.