by Peter Arnone
Mistreatment of the elderly and violation of the priest-penitent relationship
The morning Mark had his stroke I was really upset. I had a little time off that Saturday morning in late February and was on my way into town. But when I saw the ambulance I knew nobody was going anywhere. Once again, Mark kept me locked in. Over the next couple of days, until Mark died, a lot happened in the Summit Lighthouse. But that’s a whole other story. It was enough however, for me to decide to stay. Right or wrong, I did stay.
Mark Prophet believed emphatically in the divine right of kings. Not surprisingly, he believed a person of his divine office had a right to an imperial lifestyle. I think Mark’s favorite past incarnation was Louis XIV, the “Sun King” of France and creator of the Palace of Versailles. This peacock of a man inspired Mark to think the same of himself. As such, Mark would engage the commoners of Colorado Springs and invariably lock horns with them. Every now and then Mark would return from an outing and call yet another staff meeting. He would relate his horrific experience with some local moron who refused to respond to his righteousness. Or was so dark and dense, they instigated an altercation when coming in contact with Mark’s awesome, provocative “light.” If they owned a business we were forbidden to patronize them anymore. This included a barber, a bank, an ice cream parlor, and a restaurant that I can remember.
The first time I witnessed grown men kneeling down and tying Mark’s shoelaces I was repulsed. Could I ever do that? Would I ever do that? I convinced myself it was part of the path to humility. It was considered an honor to be the messenger’s companion and valet. While Gilbert was his full-time attendant, others, myself included, were afforded the opportunity to occasionally relieve Gilbert. I was never in a situation where I had to tie Mark’s shoelaces, but I once had to spoon-feed him while he was driving. Like every other attendant, I massaged Mark. And probably like every other attendant, I once accompanied him inside the bathroom. While he sat, he told me Elizabeth disapproved of this practice. I didn’t know what to think. It must have been my “test.”
While the Summit Lighthouse had a board of directors, it was in name only. I can’t remember any formal meetings. And if there were, the board was merely a rubber stamp. There were suggestions, but all the members were yes men. How could you disagree with the mouthpiece of God? Mark Prophet made all the decisions. And even if Elizabeth disagreed, he had the final word on everything.
Sean Prophet was the apple of his father’s eye. (This is not to say that Sean, as well as his sisters, got a free ride.) The only reference I ever heard Mark make of his other son, Danny, was condescending. All the time I was there, Mark never had any of his children from his first marriage visit him in Colorado. I still don’t get it. How do your own children become virtually non-existent in your life? How does your own flesh and blood get assigned to second-class status? Come to think of it, I do get it. Mark sat on a throne. Danny, and his sisters, never knew their father as a king. Hence, they would likely treat him beneath the stature Mark had created for himself. This could shatter the illusion of Mark’s new image, which would be quite an embarrassment before his staff.
Mark was portrayed as the living example of the father-figure. Unfortunately, following his example, reinforced by Elizabeth, has resulted in many sorry relationships between Summit and C.U.T. fathers and their children, as well as their wives. Mark was dogmatic, hence, a brittle man. Since most everything he preached, and even said informally, was construed as the unadulterated word of God, there was little room for flexibility. His “my way or the highway” attitude did not exempt children.
Back to Sean, we had a staff meeting regarding his going to Broadmoor Elementary School. This was before the church Montessori school could accommodate him. Sean was driven to school in Mark’s Cadillac accompanied by two men, the driver and radio operator. They also served as Sean’s security detail. Back at base, everything was monitored in case there was a security breach and Mark needed to be briefed on the mission. Once again, Mark had locked horns. This time it was with with the idiots at Broadmoor who failed to recognize that Sean was a genius. In the meeting, Mark explained the injustice to all of us, who unanimously agreed Sean was a genius. To verify this, Mark pointed his finger at, and questioned every staff member individually if he or she agreed with him that Sean was a genius. No one disagreed. But I recall one occasion when a staff member did disagree with Mark.
The Summit Lighthouse received a donation of a used colonic machine from a member who was a chiropractor in New Mexico. Mark had his pal Gilbert learn how to operate the machine and administer colonics to all of the men. A female nurse on staff learned for the women. Victor Higley was a young transient, and a member of the Summit who was accepted on staff for menial tasks. Victor refused to take a colonic. No threat from Mark would change his mind. Victor was fired and ordered off the property immediately. (Even though Mark and Elizabeth demanded two weeks notice from any staff member who might dare wish to leave.) From then on we heard what a bum “Pigley Higley” was.
Victor was not the only staff member put out on the street on the spot for offending Mark. There was Tom T. There was John Pietrangelo. But there was even the elderly woman Mary Spelzhaus who had been so helpful to Mark in getting his organization under way many years earlier.
I had been on staff only a few months when one morning there was an earth shaking incident. According to Mark, he asked Mary what she was doing. She replied she was “busy, busy, busy.” He asked her again and the response was the same. Mark stated her flippant response was intolerable to the Masters. There had to be more to it than that. I later heard there was jealousy a long time brewing between Mary and Elizabeth, and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was the opportunity to get Mary out of Elizabeth’s hair once and for all. Whatever, Mary was physically removed from the property along with all her worldly possessions. All of this took place in less than three hours. I was called to Mary’s room by Mark to help clean it. He insisted her immediate eviction was the right thing to do considering Mary’s deplorable vibration. He wanted to know if I agreed. I didn’t know what to say. So I instinctively agreed.
In the staff meeting that followed, Elizabeth chided Mary for her crying, and sobbing that the messengers were killing her soul. Elizabeth confidently explained it was really Mary’s oversized ego that was dying. She had become a sacred cow. Regardless of all the explanations, it was a pathetic display of heartlessness. There was no empathy. Mary was elderly and suffered from an enlarged abdominal goiter. Her life was the Summit Lighthouse. And now she was even banished from Saint Germain’s Keepers of the Flame fraternity. Mary found herself in a rented room in Colorado Springs. Mark had graciously seen to it that one was found for his dear old friend the very morning she was put out.
As stated earlier, there were many older ladies that Mark was able to attract to his organization. As such, there were proportionately many more older ladies to older gentlemen on staff. The esteem in which many of these ladies were held by the messengers often had nothing to do with their work or devotion, but with how much money they had contributed, and were contributing. While Mary’s usefulness had waned, she had no money and was dismissed. The Summit was not a retirement home. Everyone was supposed to work. Phoebe Hammond, the dishwasher, was in her seventies putting in 10-12 hour days, six days a week. But other ladies did even less than Mary. Only because of their financial support, were they more than welcome to remain on staff. For them, the Summit was a retirement home. Natalie Peck Phillips was the prime example. She was too elderly to do anything. While this may not appear to be unreasonable, there was an obvious favoritism toward those with money. I bring this up to contrast the stories of Ruth Jones and Ruby Williams.
Ruth Jones was a grand old lady, beloved by all. She was a graduate of Columbia University and had a career in education. She was honored, and considered to be a confidante of Mark She also prepared Sunday School lessons for the Summit. She had no children, but was like a grandmother to Erin Prophet. Her deceased husband Sydney had become an Ascended Master. You didn’t become an Ascended Master in the Summit Lighthouse without making some kind of major contribution. When Ruth passed away in 1976, she too was venerated when the messenger announced her ascension. It was obvious the major contribution of the Jones’ was their money.
Ruby Williams joined staff in mid 1971. She lived in staff housing. She had been the Summit Lighthouse group leader in Boston for many years and was the person who introduced Mark to Elizabeth. She had no children. She brought her savings, about $2,000, to Colorado Springs and gave it all to the Summit when she arrived. It was a great day. The Summit used her money to purchase new carpeting for the Motherhouse in Santa Barbara.
Ruby was quite elderly, and like others, not suited to any meaningful work. Soon, Ruby was deemed rebellious. By mid-1972 she was placed in a private home on the other side of town. Rarely, if ever, did anyone go and pick her up for services. Rarely, if ever, did anyone go and visit her. Rarely, if ever, did Mark run out to see her with one of the tasty meals he enjoyed so much at his Four Winds restaurant. And rarely, did anyone bring food to Ruby, which was supposed to be provided by the Summit in her new living arrangement.
The lady who rented her the room was soon giving Ruby her own food. Soon there were calls to the Summit complaining. I was assigned to bring a box of food to Ruby and visit her once a week. Without exaggerating, a homeless person would have done better considering what the Summit provided. If this was anybody’s mother, there would have been hell to pay. Ruby’s complaints got back to Mark.
There was a staff meeting and Ruby was the focus of attention. Mark countered her complaints. He protested how Ruby was rebellious. The Summit was not a retirement home. Her $2,000 was a gift. Accepting it did not mean the Summit was going to take care of her. Ruby was going to lose her ascension. The Summit Lighthouse was not responsible for her. Mark had me stop visiting and bringing her anything more. The question was never answered why Ruby came from Boston in the first place.
After Mark passed away I went to visit Ruby. She had since moved to a retirement home. I don’t know how she made the arrangements or who helped her. It was certainly no one from the Summit. She called in a friend while I was there. He was a retired attorney. The two of them gave me hell.
Adela was another staunch Summit Lighthouse member who eventually joined staff. She was from Wisconsin. She was very generous and often sent the Prophet children gifts. She sent Sean the most beautiful toy fire engine I ever saw. It must have been very expensive. But I don’t think Sean ever saw it. We kept it in the mail room because it was red.
Adela loved the Summit. But when she joined staff she didn’t know what she was getting into. She soon found out you couldn’t judge a book by its cover. She was assigned to work at the Four Winds in the kitchen. She was an excellent baker. Young people could handle the long hours, running around, and organized chaos. But Adela was getting on in years. It was proving to be too much for her. And she was also concerned about the well-being of the younger staff. The baker boys had an insane schedule. These four young men in their white jumpsuits worked the night shift. They were forever bobbing and weaving as they fell asleep during services. One of them was found asleep sitting on a toilet.
Adela was a woman of strong character. She was no pushover. She was the only person I ever saw who called Mark Prophet on the carpet during a staff meeting. She had confided in Mark something personal and Mark blabbed it to staff members. Adela found out and was crushed. In that meeting, Mark became very defensive and stated it was his prerogative, as messenger for Master El Morya, to deal with the situation as he had. Adela argued it amounted to a violation of the priest-penitent relationship. She soon departed, becoming nothing more than a fringe member of the organization.
Next in Part 5: Wine, Meatballs and Horseplay
I think I see Segrid Carlson in the photo sitting next to Sean. Segrid was expelled from the Rechotzy mansion in D.C. in late 87 or early 88 for not wanting to stand 15 min doing violet Flame decrees. I saw ECP's letter of repremand to her & still have it some where. She was in her 60-70's & standing was hard for her but my mom noted to me when they went shopping she was able to shop a good long time. My mom ended up renting a room to Segrid when ECP expelled her from living any more at Rechotzy. Who's happy to stand doing repeatative phrases, even for 15 min!? Segrid's happiness showed thru when she shopped, her stregnth & vitality showed what was really going on up there in her mind & down there in her heart. But these teachings get a hold on u when God's the focus! Segrid Carlson eventually had to move from our place because Segrid was so use to being pampered as she had being a staff member for so long. My mom couldn't work, deal with me (14 at the time with our own mother/daughter issues) & tend to Segrid's needs as an elderly woman. I recall several issues with Segrid being picky with the meals my mom would make & Segrid expecting her to be accomodating. The change of environment, away from a teaching center, wasn't easy for Segrid. I remember her repeating thru the day during the time she was with us "Why did Mother do this to me? I don't understand why she did this to me?" I really think if the teachings weren't in the picture we could of helped Segrid & lived fine together but regular life, decreeing, dictations, nonsense with psychotronics, extraterrestrials, the USSR, decree vigils to keep at home, so much too much! Well when one thinks about it, if the teachings wasn't in the picture life for Segrid & my family would have been very different. My mom had to find another member to rent to her. Heard she moved around & eventually went to the apt's in Livingston, Montana owned by a Keeper. She suffered alziemer's & passed on in the 90's. Eventualy she got the attention she deserved by ECP but not right away. She had to be taught a lesson, even if she was an elderly lady.
Ohhhh…the insanity as I read all these parts from Mr.Arnone's writtings!!!
Amina – Jeanne do you remember Segrid?
The one word that comes to mind after reading Peter’s memoir parts 1-4, and i am talking about Mark, not Peter… "Appalling."
Let me add…reprehensible, sad, pathetic. And I am someone who witnessed, close-up, the full panoply of egomaniacal acts from ECP, but reading some of these accounts of Mark turn my stomach.
Though i arrived at LaTourelle just after his passing, I grew into a particular fondness for Mark. When on staff one of my assignments was listening to, and audio-editing in minute detail, every recorded lecture Mark ever gave, and there were many which in the course of my work i heard several times. I knew the cadence and nuance of every one of his recorded spoken words, and i loved listening to him. I think Sean had a similar task in restoring the old reel to reel tapes. But to hear the stories where he mistreated and cast out devoted staff…well, that is indeed sad. After being on the Board and at the side of ECP, nothing shocks me about what went on behind closed doors, but worst of all was the inconsiderate and sometimes downright reproachable treatment of those who gave their fortunes and their lives, and were cast out as yesterday’s dregs when no longer useful.
Yes, it is appalling. Mr. Arnone’s account may sound bizarre, but it rings true, reinforcing some of what I saw with my own eyes. I knew Mary Spelzhaus especially well. An early disciple of TSL, dad recruited her (a retired schoolteacher) to live with our family circa 1960. She cooked, cleaned house, and cared for us children while my mother worked two jobs before, during and (for a period) after the divorce. It’s my understanding that Mary wasn’t particularly keen on this–she would have preferred a more spiritual role– but she was absolutely devoted to dad and did as he directed. Although she was inarguably eccentric, she served him loyally, and I was horrified to hear about the way she was thrown out, like so much unwanted garbage, when she had finally outlived her usefulness. The pretext–uttering “busy, busy, busy”–seems beyond ludicrous. Was nobody astonished or outraged? I find it difficult to believe that no one recognized such blatant inhumanity, even if they were afraid to express it openly. But whether they did or didn’t recognize it, they too must accept some culpibility for that cruel act.
I also knew Phoebe, a late middle-aged woman who worked in the kitchen when my sister Beth and I lived at La Tourelle, as older teenagers, during the summer of 1966. Phoebe was a sweet, simple soul; I couldn’t understand what fueled her sense of duty, but I became so concerned about her physical health that I volunteered to take over her duties for a day. This was a small sacrifice for a young girl–if I’d been truly generous, I would have taken over for a week. But in spite of my genuinely warm feeling for Phoebe and others like her, I was more than a little uncomfortable with the fact that they were willing to sacrifice themselves so completely (age and infirmities be damned) to “messengers” who, instead of expressing gratitude, berated and abused them constantly. During one lunch, I vividly recall Elizabeth mercilessly attacking an elderly kitchen worker (can’t remember who) because she had served a cup of coffee that was too hot. Later, when the worker returned with another cup, the tirade continued because this time it was too cold. My sister and I were so shocked at this episode–and many similar ones–that we decided to leave Colorado sooner than we had previously planned. We had seen enough–unfortunately–to know that we could never dissuade any of the followers. And so we left them all behind and went on with our lives.
Amen: I also remember Sigrid, although I didn’t know her as well as Mary S. or Crystal Anderson. I often wondered what became of her (I last saw her sprawled out on a divan, hands over her face, as my family entered La Tourelle–ushered in through a side door, of course!–the night before my father’s “funeral” service.) I do remember that she was somewhat “pampered”–certainly not in the mold of Mary or Phoebe–but I’m glad to hear that you and your family attempted to provide a place for her. Humanity, as all this illustrates, is not always a given. I DO have one memory of Sigrid which might be of interest. During our stay at La Tourelle in 1966, she discovered that dad had a handgun and made quite a fuss about it during one of the services in the sanctuary. Lots of yelling and screaming, culminating with Sigrid being “deprogrammed” in another area of the house.
In the end, this all seems like madness to me. Vibrations, allignments, second deaths, karmas dissected by decimal points… I see nothing wrong with people believing what they want to believe, no matter how incredible it may seem to me, but when they give their power away and justify cruel, inhumane acts it warrants condemnation. My father, corrupted by power, became a monster of sorts, but I’m afraid he didn’t do it on his own. I don’t want to punish victims –especially the children who were brought into the movement by their
parents—but I hope they can take responsibility for their own part in this tragedy. And I also hope, with all my heart, that they can find peace and get on with their own lives.
I always wondered why my parents/teachers would appear to avoid the Arnone family and property warn us away from Peter’s house, citing his violent and angry temperament. I had always wondered why he was angry.
It’s so sad how everyone was programmed to ostracized the detractors and critics painting them with a blackened brush loaded with entities and bad energy. What garbage.
This account of Mark really breaks down the mythical creature that was Mark… the commanding voice behind that rambling speech on the Rose of Sharon and such… He was allotted sainthood status by the time I was cognizant of his relationship with ECP, so he was as mythical as St. German and El Morya. A noteworthy account, indeed.
you reminded me of Sigrid’s yelling with my mom! Boy, when she got mad, she roared! So I was able to picture Mark, your father’s bellowing voice against her roar, all too perfectly!
Didn’t meet to many people in the “teachings” who were capable of yelling like my mother!
I learned alot during this time, seeing what I did go on between my mom & Sigrid. And seeing how things unfolded for Sigrid because she wasn’t pampered at the other homes she moved in, as she had been use to on staff and with my mom. My mom treated her like a queen, my mom was raised to honor senior citizens but with the teachings expectations, it was hard. Remembered Sigrid saying how much she missed my mom and being grateful to her for all her kindness & generosity. Sigrid so having to ubdruptly renter regular civilian life, so to speak , was a very big blow to her mentaly/emotionaly. How could anyone not see what a shock this was for her? It was part of her initiation on the path, so no one couldn’t argu with that important aspect of one’s Chelaship! As I came to understand & learn this. This was & is the mind set in SLH/CUT/KotF Fraternity.
You have to write a bk! It will most likely benefit colleges & universities in thier studies of cults & religions. These educational studies need your bk!
Besitos (that’s little kisses in spanish) to you Becky,
Thanks again for sharing so much of your life. It sounds as if you knew Sigrid far better than I did. And obviously, the experiences of your youth were VERY unusual, to say the least.! Fortunately, the flip side of adversity is that it often brings wisdom–and you’re now able to spread some of that around.
Re: writing, I tried to fictionalize some of my life growing up with dad in a novel I began circa 1988 called (ironically) “The Priest’s Daughter”. I never finished it, preferring to concentrate on fiction that isn’t overtly autobiographical. But I’ll certainly offer my input into anything my siblings may decide to write about their experiences with CUT. And I’ve decided to be more open (as my posts on BSJ show) than I’ve been in the past.
Take care! B.
@Lobug, that’s funny but not so funny. The whole teaching about “entities” is simply a way to avoid responsibility. Did something bad? The entities made me do it. Don’t like something someone said? They’re possessed with demons and entities. It avoids all rational argument and for a believer it’s the ultimate ad hominem attack.
Peter is just a regular guy who happened to be around when a lot of bad stuff went down. And he wouldn’t keep his mouth shut. So of course they wanted to keep that damaging information under wraps. Hence, he’s “possessed.” They say that about me now too ;-)
@Becky, thanks again for all your contributions. It means more to me than you know!!!
@H.S., I want to know what you remember from the infamous staff meeting tapes. You know, the ones in the locked cabinet. I’d give my bottom dollar to have copies of those today. I only had occasion to listen to a few when I was head of AV. They were the ones that it seems my parents knew would be damaging, so therefore were reserved only for “permanent staff” who had already signed permanent commitments.
There’s a “treasure trove” of evidence of deplorable tactics documented in those early staff meetings. Not to mention wacky political stuff like the “Illuminati tapes.” Or the one called “oral sex and clearance.”