All cultures, both primitive and modern, have certain milestones and expectations towards children as they mature into becoming useful, well adjusted adults. Some of these rites of passage are ceremonially identified, like a bar mitzvah; others are subtler such as a birthday party. In primitive cultures, male rites of passage usually involve boys around the age of 13, who are put through grueling psychological and physical torture.
Although primitive rites are considered cruel and abusive in modern culture, they are actually reasonable when you consider what a "Man" in a primitive culture needed to do in order for the tribe to survive. They needed to be able to fish, hunt, fight off attacks from others etc...After successfully undergoing their trials, these boys were considered "Men" and were then given privileges and status of such in their society. They no longer belonged around the wigwam with mama and the other women, but rather out with the men.
In America, a boy legally becomes a "man" at age 18. He is then given certain privileges afforded adult men like the right to vote, marry, serve in the army...etc. However, in The Assembly, boys were not allowed to grow up quite so easily.
In the Assembly, a person forfeits these privileges; or rather, they are stolen from him. Upon full commitment to The Assembly, a young man no longer has the right to choose were to live, whom to date or marry or where to work. While they don’t utilize physical torture, many young people, like myself, in the Assembly’s communal housing, were subjected to psychological torture and were made to feel dependent on our leaders for everything.
What follows is an absurd, yet all too true example of what a 33-year-old-boy is expected to do in the assembly:
At the age of thirty-three, I remember being part of a large group of single men, roughly the same age as myself. We were summoned together to be lectured by Betty Geftakys, who was then around sixty years old. She talked to us about our sexual desires, making a point of discussing masturbation. She, condescended to our level and put things in terms even we could understand, "It's O.K. to be hungry but its not O.K. to steal doughnuts..." Betty apparently saw her role as an older woman to include lecturing boys, in their late twenties and early thirties, about masturbation! She was always credited with such wisdom, yet looking back I am amazed that she didn’t take the opportunity to ask us why we were still sleeping in bunk beds at our age, when other men were buying houses and raising children. If she truly cared about us, she would not have continually reinforced in our minds that were young, foolish boys, dependent on her for wisdom. Of course, this raises the obvious question, “What is the reason we were always held back and made to feel like children? Was it because we were hopeless fools, or was there perhaps an ulterior motive to control behind Betty’s wisdom?
At other times we were expected to attend "brother’s" meetings. These involved being lectured about how to "spend time." In Assembly speak, this meant what you could and could not do in light of courting a woman. Why was this necessary? Because the boys were told that they were "dumb" sheep, in constant need of shepherding. Imagine for a moment you, like many Assembly members, are thirty-three years old and living under this type of bondage. Yet daily you go to work and are involved with peers who at the ages of 20-30 are much more mature than yourself, buying cars, homes getting married and raising children, and most importantly, making decisions on their own, without needing the approval of a sixty year old woman that they barely know. Ask yourself, “Why am I like this and they are not?”
The Assembly answer is that you are a really dumb sheep and you would be even worse off if it wasn’t for their faithful shepherds. But the reality is that you were brainwashed into thinking that George and Betty really care. You have allowed yourself to be controlled by people who will actually harm you.