San Diego, 2005.
The word burst on screen, shouted by a chorus of children voices. It followed the Jingle of “In the Family we…” Each consecutive dot showing up on screen to the tone of a countdown, then a word appeared of something we did in The Family.
The Children of God has changed it’s name many times. It’s re-brand to “The Family” was initiated after the name The Children of God became associated with pedophilia and prostitution. They figured a simple rebrand ought to fix the PR problem.
Once leadership decided children would be their new focus, they began to make videos for kids. They created a video series called “Family fun”! These videos contained everything from bible stories drawn on a whiteboard, to lectures on how not to be proud, to music videos on serving the lord. Any media that was not created by The Family was forbidden.
After “provision” appeared in bold letters on screen, a 13 year old girl followed to explain the concept of “provisioning”. Provisioning was the act of asking people in the system (anyone not in the cult was part of the system) for provisions. Anything could be provisioned. Food, clothing, cars, guitars, you name it, we could provision it. The word for us was a verb.
“I provisioned this carpet” “Can someone provision some ice cream?” and the dreaded “you can have it if you provision it”, generally said to end conversations that asked for too much.
If you were a good provisioner the communes would fight over you. You could use your status to barter for things, like your own room, or an easier work schedule. You could get out of chores by saying you needed time to research companies to provision from. It was a good career choice.
So I decided to try it.
I had been a passive accomplice to many provisioning adventures. I had stood behind the best provisioners as a child. Pro tip- Always bring a child when you are begging. I had seen provisioners work their magic on Chocolate companies, clothing stores, even furniture stores!
But I wanted to start small. So I spent the afternoon in our commune library, looking up scripts to use for provisioning. Then I called a Pizza place.
“Hi, may I speak to the manager? “
This was the opening line, they said always go straight to the top. Once the manger was on the line I launched into my script. I had picked the best one.
“Hi my name is Angel” ( A great name when you are begging) “and I am part of a missionary group that does a lot of charity work called The Family. I was wondering if you’d be interested in donating some of your pizzas to our office today?”
Straight to the point, but I worried that the manager would ask a question. He did.
“Wait, what? What’s your group ?”
“The Family. We are a christian missionary group and we do christian charity work”
I heard clacking on a keyboard, then
“What kind of christians?”
“The kind who love the Lord”
There was a pause…. but apparently this was enough.
“ I can give you two pizzas”
I was silent, shocked at how easy it was to convince this man to give me free pizza, but I regrouped quick.
“ Wow, thank you. The lord is really going to bless you for this, when can I pick them up?”
“In about 20 minutes”
He gave me the address and I convinced someone from the commune to drive me. We weren’t allowed to go anywhere alone. 20 minutes later we were in a strip mall walking towards the pizza place. We were greeted by a burly man with a red beard and tattoos.
“I don’t usually do this but I feel like you guys might need it”
“Thank you so much” I gushed. “Here is some of our literature, and please feel free to reach out any time you want to come to bible study and hear about the Lord.
“No, I know the Lord.” he said, handing me the boxes but holding up a hand to refuse the literature. “But I want you to know him too”
I didn’t know what he meant, or why he was looking at me as if I was the one that needed help. Didn’t he hear me say I was part of a Christian missionary group? Clearly, I already knew the lord.
“Well I know the lord really well actually and I serve him every day”
That ought to put him in his place.
“Just remember, there are a lot of different ways to serve the Lord.”
I kept my tight provisioning grin and responded “yes I know, and I’ve found the best one”
“But be open to the Lord guiding you a different way” he responded.
Now I was annoyed. I already had a close relationship with God to the point of involving Jesus in my sex life. Who the hell was this pizza person telling me to “get close to God”.
“I’m always open and obeying exactly what the lord tells me” I say, curtly. I thank him one last time and walk away.
“That was so cool” The person who had driven me was ecstatic at the thought of a good meal . “You made your first contact, now you can call him every time we want pizza! Did you see how he was looking at you?”
I had seen it. but he had made me uneasy.
“Yeah I think he’s a pervert.” I responded “He kept telling me to get close to Jesus but whatever, I’m already close to him. I won’t call that guy again, he seemed super self righteous. “
“Oh bummer, but at least we get pizza for lunch!”
We drive home and put the pizza on the dining room table. It’s gone in 5 minutes.