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The Asylum

By David Brandt Berg, January, 1973
Inmate in a cold room trying to keep warm with a blanket
David's dream about the past and present persecution and incarceration of Christians in insane asylums (also known as "psychiatric hospitals") by the American government and the Church system!
--A Dream?

That dream was so terrifying, but so real!--it really happened. I was really there. I suppose it must have been in America. The ladies running it seemed to be Americans. It reminded me of something out of Charles Dickens! I was brought into this rickety old building and clear up to the top, or fourth floor. I remember what was on every floor of that building. I was assigned to a pallet on the floor, and had only two skimpy little blankets, although it was freezing cold! There were chinks in the walls and rags stuffed in the windows, and cracks between the boards.

There must have been at least 20 of us in that one room, mostly young, but a few older ones, like in their 30's, all male and a lot of them were sleeping together to keep warm. They were all young except for me: Perhaps that's significant.--That's the people they will be picking up, the youth.-- And it was supposed to be some kind of an asylum, all supposed to be mental cases. Maybe I got to thinking about that because I was reading those articles about weaning the Jesus Freaks*.


[Jesus Freak: Originally a pejorative term applied to those involved in the Jesus movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Now some Christians use it as a positive term.]

We were definitely confined there, nevertheless, at the same time, it seemed to be some kind of charitable institution, but it was under the control of the Government, and we'd been assigned there. Of course, that's true!--There are lots of mental institutions run by religious and charitable organisations, yet they are under the control of governmental standards.

It was so cold, it seemed like there was hardly any heat in the building, and man, what an assortment of screwballs and nuts! I mean real freaks! I thought, "My God, how did I ever get in here"? It seemed like I knew they were going to try to put me away sooner or later, some way, and somehow, and they finally succeeded! I was supposed to be insane, but of course I was no more insane than I am right now, which, of course, is pretty crazy according to their standards!

You weren't allowed to have much with you. They had my one suitcase locked up in a storage room, because they told us you couldn't keep anything in the room, because if you turned your back somebody would swipe it!--And sure enough, the minute I turned my back, somebody took my two blankets, and I looked around and, of course, nobody knew where they were! So the nurses finally got me two more. People were cutting up and acting crazy and one guy was hanging out the window, and I said something about it, and they said, "Oh well, one of the nurses fell out of the other day!--(Of course we kind of pushed her!)" I thought, "Oh man, what a bunch of real weirdos!--How am I ever going to live here with these people?"

Anyway, I remember I made it through the night somehow, with my two little blankets on that cold floor. Next morning everybody was still lying there shivering under their blankets--nobody seemed to get up.--And I was starving hungry, as my body temperature was down from being so cold, and I was so hungry! So I went downstairs and found the next floor down was apparently a staff floor. They kept us nuts on the top floor, cold and stiff; but the staff floor, the third floor, was well heated with plenty of beds and blankets. We were sleeping on the floor, but the staff all had beds.

Apparently somehow I got down the first flight of stairs, and then went on down the stairs to the next or second floor.--And it seemed like half of that floor was wash rooms, shower rooms, laundry rooms, kitchen and dining hall. I went through the kitchen toward the dining hall until somebody stopped me. I heard voices in there, and apparently the staff were eating breakfast. So I said, "When do we eat?" And they said, "Oh you people don't get breakfast! We don't serve breakfast to the inmates, only the staff gets breakfast!"

So I said, "but I'm cold and I'm hungry!"--And I thought, "If I don't get something to eat, I'm going to be absolutely chilled to the bone and sick!" The ladies were nice, but quite firm, like nurses would be. But one of them looked over on the stove and there was a little dab of left-over porridge there, so she said, "If you're really that hungry, you can have that."--And she handed me this bowl and spoon, and I scooped it into my bowl. She walked out for a second, and I started scooping more out when she walked in just then and said, "Here, here! You can't have any more, that's enough!"

So i took off quick with my bowl still partly full of mush. Man, was I thankful to get that!--I really gobbled it down! So I finished off my cereal and went back up to the top floor again.--And lo and behold, somebody had swiped my blankets again! I had thought, "Well, I'll go back up and try to get warm now."--But the blankets were gone! I'd also had a few odds and ends, toiletries and personal possessions, hidden under my pillow, so I lifted up my pillow and sure enough, they were gone too, and some of the inmates were snickering! But when I first walked in, they were very quiet, waiting to see what I'd do.

But this time I was really mad! This first time I hadn't wanted to raise a fuss about it, but when I looked all around and couldn't find the blankets (apparently they'd hidden them), I didn't want to get these crazy kooks stirred up, so I thought I'd just better go down and report it. So I went down to the second floor again, and I saw one of the ladies in the washroom or laundry room, and I told her what happened, and asked her if she had any more blankets I could have. She was very nice and said, "I'll try to find you some.--That happens all the time!" So she looked around and found some blankets hanging up to dry, and she pulled down a couple off the rods. But one of them was awful scratchy, so I looked up and saw a softer one and asked if I could have that one instead. And she said, "Okay!"--And I was very thankful to get two blankets again!

It was all so real, and I was so cold and hungry! I thought, "My God, am I going to have to live with these kooks up here in this horrible place?" I thought, "Man, I wonder if there's any way I can get out of here."--And I began looking around for a way out. They said several people had already fallen out the windows and gotten killed trying to get out, or absolutely simply falling out!--Or been pushed out! I thought, "It's awful to have people think you're really crazy!" I was just as sane as I always was, but these other guys were doing all sorts of crazy things and acting weird, and I thought, "My God, how am I ever going to live! They steal you blind every time you turn around!"

It's just like they knew I was different from them.--They knew I was sane and they were crazy. I remember this one guy was hanging out the window screaming his head off, and I thought, "My God, that nut is going to fall for sure!"--But he just came back in laughing like it was a big joke. It was an old frame building, and one part of the wall was knocked out where somebody had gotten hurled right through the boards by the mob when they had gotten mad at him! It was all patched up and everything was a mess!

So anyhow, I folded my two little blankets neatly on my pad again. There was only one table in the whole room, and it was near my bed, so I got out a few papers and things to read and work on. But I turned my back just a few minutes about something, or went down to the toilet on the second floor, I think, for when I got back, damn it, if they hadn't swiped my blankets again that the lady had just given me! This time I was really mad, and thought, "Kooks or no kooks, I can't let them get away with that!"

So I went around to every pad ripping the blankets off and looking underneath for my covers, and sure enough, in this one big bed where there were six of them sleeping, or pretending to be asleep, there, under the top cover, were my blankets! I pulled them out, and the six guys just giggled like crazy people will! Demons can be very impish sometimes! That was the last thing I remember, recovering my blankets. I curled up on that little bed, cold and hungry and shivering, wondering how I would ever survive, and thinking, the ladies running it were kind, but the place was horrible!

And about that time I woke up! It was so strong it literally woke me up, and I was downright worried! It was really something! Wow! So that's what it was going to be like! I couldn't see how I could survive, as it wasn't going to be easy living with all those kooks! And I thought, "Lord, I've never had to live that rugged, except in the Army!" I've always had to keep warm, and been rather frail, and had to take care of my health, and didn't see how I could survive living in that place! I woke up, and I don't think I'd ever been so thankful in all my life to find out I was back home here! I thought, "Wow, what luxury! What comfort!--Nice and warm, and plenty of blankets, and heat and loved ones, peace and quiet, security and plenty to eat!" I thought, "Oh God, never let me complain again! Help me to be thankful while I can still enjoy it! If that's what it's going to be like, we certainly ought to be thankful for what we have now!"

After I woke up I got to thinking, "If they can get away with what they're doing right now in the States, illegally kidnapping the kids and holding them prisoners, actually imprisoning them and bragging about it in the newspapers, and bragging about taking away their Bibles, and holding them prisoners for several days up to ten days, then of course this could happen!--The government lets them do it! This is exactly what began to happen under Hitler!" The police and people just stood idly by while Hitler's private Storm Troopers did their dirty work! I thought, "If they can get away with holding their own children prisoners and mentally torturing them, to literally make them give up their faith, I mean it's happening and they're bragging about it!"

What do the Christians and sincere church people think about that? I suppose they have the same attitude the German church leader, Martin Niemoeller, had when Hitler began to persecute the Jews!--"Well, it's not my problem! The Jews weren't any good to us anyway, so it's not bothering us, and since they're not our religion they deserve it!" But soon he himself was in prison also! It's quite obvious the American government and the American police like Hitler's have agreed to just look the other way! Our enemies have got the American System on their side! I said way back in Dallas, that they were going to make what we're doing, in changing kids' lives with Jesus, just as illegal as peddling drugs!

Who would have dreamed that this soon, right now, there would be some Americans claiming to be Christians actually persecuting other Christians, illegally kidnapping and imprisoning them, torturing them, taking away their Bibles, and bragging about it in the newspaper!--It's amazing, that they would even dare to do it in the first place! But not only that, they are getting away with it, and boasting about it, and being encouraged in it by American government officials like Reagan and Nitler*!


[David's nickname for Richard M. Nixon, the 37th President of the United States 1969 - 1974. He called him Nitler because it rhymes with Hitler.]

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family International


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James Arendt
James Arendt

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