Things That Begin: Exordium

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” - Matthew 7:15-20

I’m here to set the record straight. Or maybe more accurately, deliver my version of the record. I won’t tell you this isn’t biased, because everything that we read, and certainly every thing that we write has a bias. Mine has been formed over more than four decades, informed by experiences - some that many people have, and several that very few do. Some of the highly personal things I share here are things I have waited for years to say, to protect my children and extended family, but must be shared in order for you, the reader, the voter, the community resident, to understand the nature of these people who would be our local leaders. Some things in these stories will contradict what you think you know about Marble. Some things will confirm what you have heard. My goal is not to destroy the lifestyle of the people who live at Marble. I support their right and desire to live in a community of like-minded people. Most Marbleites are good people, good parents and good citizens.Whether you agree with their version of citizenship or not, they are for the most part, law-abiding and respectful members of the larger community, and I respect the right they have to live as they have chosen. The leadership of the church there, and their intent to bring “dominion” to the greater community through local government is a different story.

There were enough terrible and wrong things that happened during the nine years I spent at Marble (1995-2004) that I feel no need to glamorize or embellish the story. There were enough weird things that happened that the story is hard enough to believe even without adding drama. I do not claim to have a flawless recollection of my time there, but as I have written this I have been pouring through my journals and church notes, and reaching out to others who were there to compare memories. Most of these people will corroborate my recollection on the record if needed. Some are still too worried about the fall out to do so. Some things at Marble have changed, but experiences I have had in recent years have been enough to convince me that the highest level leaders that are in place there have only learned to mask their holy directive more carefully, for legal and strategic reasons.

In the Beginning

I wasn’t raised at Marble. Most people that I meet assume that I spent my growing up, or formative years, in the small community that sits above the Columbia River just where Lake Roosevelt ends and only a few miles from where the mighty stream comes into the United States from its point of origin in Canada. The truth is that I DID spend some of my most formative years there, as a sheltered young adult with no exposure to real life or "traditional" education. My parents moved to Colville when I was 12, after they found the small-town ideal they had been seeking when they visited some people they met at a home school conference in Portland. Anne and Barry Byrd hosted our family for a visit to northeastern Washington, and once mom and dad figured out the logistics, we moved. In 1987, Marble didn’t exist yet. It was formed a few years later after a group of investors bought the 500 acre site of the town which had died out in the 1960s.

When the church began to establish a community on Marble Flats, my parents visited a few times, but the fact that girls at Marble were allowed to wear tight Wranglers and line dance was a turn off for my family, who at that time was involved in the Advanced Training Institute, and part of that lifestyle included a vow I made to God to never wear pants again (a vow I have since broken, but more on that another time). Marble was simultaneously too worldly, charismatic and, well, just weird, for my parents to fully invest in back then, as were most churches we visited, including many in the area around Colville. We never found a long-term church home that my parents were truly happy with. The lack of social and spiritual connection left me yearning to belong. In some ways I was unintentionally but perfectly groomed to fall in step behind leaders that would manipulate and guide my virgin mind.

The sermon notes in my journals begin in early June of ‘95. I listened with rapt attention as the Byrds and other leaders delivered diatribes against the state of our nation and the broken relationship with God that we all lived in due to lowered standards - “halfway covenants.” I have several notebooks full of very thorough church notes.

From the time I was a young girl, I was in earnest pursuit of a meaningful spiritual walk. In short, I was something of a zealot as a child, witnessing to "park rats" in Yep Kanum and such. The fiery passion that I heard from the pulpit of Marble filled a constant yearning I had, not only for the connection with other people that homeschooling had denied me, but an elite and specialized opportunity to relate to God on a plane that most people would never get to experience. As I learned from the leaders there, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to be in everything. Every class, every prayer session, every bit of it, and I religiously kept notes for everything I was allowed to be involved in. I say allowed, because even as a card-carrying, newly inducted member of the community, I had to prove myself and be “qualified” to take certain classes and join certain groups, a standard I would soon find myself unable to attain, for all of my heartfelt trying.

To clarify for my audience now, I no longer call myself a Christian. I do have a relationship with God. I do not believe that the bible is our only means of connection to Him nor is it the only moral code available to us, and many ancient philosophers would agree with me. I do believe that a group of leaders who twisted those scriptures to their own purposes and abused so many people psychologically, emotionally and in other ways, should be held to the same brutal and subjective standards which they imposed upon others. 

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