February 10, 1975
To: The participants of The Stelle Group
From: Richard Kieninger
In response to rumors and speculations about why I went away from Stelle last April 1st, I wish to share with you the many reasons for my departure as well as why I have returned
One of the most pressing needs for Stelle over the past couple of years has been to establish a well-functioning manufacturing organization and to find a chief executive with the technical administrative know-how to run it. I am not a trained business administrator, and all the directors of Stelle Industries were pleading for more centralized direction because the corporation was beginning to become a large and complex organization. I had been able to set up a sound structure, but I did not have the time or the personal incentive to run the business in light of the pressure of other duties. I have a deep-rooted dislike of administering personnel and a reluctance to make rules; so I needed someone to head Stelle Industries who is a good disciplinarian and who is good at codifying procedures. Jim Howery had demonstrated the right talents; and with the arrival. of other qualified people to support him, it was time for me to turn the presidency of the Industries over to him. However, I find it hard to convey that kind of responsibility without kibitzing, and my presence would have tended to overshadow his authority in the eyes of members of The Stelle Group. It was necessary for me to set up a situation for myself by which I would be compelled to do what I might otherwise not have the self-discipline to hold to. Therefore, I elected to depart from Stelle and regularly provide whatever advice or history Mr. Howery would need by telephone.
During this period of transferring responsibility, I intended to investigate many inventions of “free energy” motors in the country, and I did indeed do just that. I also sought financing in several commercial centers of the country because my efforts during the first quarter of 1974 had demonstrated that there was no big money for Stelle in Illinois lending institutions. In this connection, it also became necessary to demonstrate to banks that Stelle would survive and thrive without me since Stelle is not a personality cult. One of our lenders had demanded that I buy a quarter-million dollar insurance policy on my life with his bank as beneficiary due to a period of overt antagonism against Stelle from certain local farmers. The trustees, incidentally, refused to agree to such demands.
During my planned absence from Stelle, I expected to conduct research on the history of the Lemurian Fellowship and to find Mrs. Stelle should she be alive. I succeeded in both areas. I hoped to find time to write a book and to get a fresh perspective on myself and this Work. I was especially concerned whether The Stelle Group could pull together without having me to lean on and if the people could draw upon their own resources to succeed. I needed to test the new leadership to see if I could afford future absences of weeks or months to personally undertake larger tasks in the future without my being bogged down with day-to-day administrative detail. The timing of my absence from Stelle turned out to be particularly appropriate because there was very little chance for much activity in new ‘ventures or building due to the nation’s economic situation. Our own financial situation made it obvious that consolidation rather then innovation was to be Stelle’s task for 1974.
At the time I left, there were other things stirring within me which were more of an emotional nature. Primarily among these was my sense of isolation from the people of Stelle and my realization that the social advantages I dreamed of for the members were difficult for me to participate in myself. I had been informed while we were still in Chicago that my presence at parties would, place a damper on the proceedings, and that accounts in large measure for my not being invited to social events other than official functions. But Jim Howery has since analyzed my relationship to the membership with considerable clarity for me. He sees five basic reactions the participants have toward me, and they are based on fear: 1.) people dislike being seen-through and evaluated, and their fear of being found unworthy of membership soon turns to hate and the well-known “Richard crisis”; 2.) many members resent the implied political power of my status with the Brotherhoods and fear the possibility of despotism; 3.) persons who I placed in positions of responsibility and whose expertise I sought to employ in advisory positions to me resented my ineptness as an administrator and yet were reluctant to advise me frankly for fear of reprisal against them; 4.) my authoritative position aroused anger in those who opposed my views, or they became rebellious against me as a father figure; 5.) some people pretend friendliness toward me out of fear that their continuance in the group depends on their buttering me up or avoiding my displeasure. These are problems which members have poured out to the other trustees over the years, but almost no one dared confront me directly with their feelings and anxieties except as a parting shot. The net result of all these responses by the participants is that everyone was afraid to move, and they were bound up inside from growing Egoically because of my presence in the group. None of these reactions by the participants toward me were new. I have viewed them sadly for a long time, and they had been discussed with me for years by the trustees. Mr. Howery was the only person who cared enough to delineate it for me clearly after I left; and as he has pointed out, my presence in The Stelle Group has been essentially destructive. It would make little difference what I say or how I behave toward people, for my destructiveness seems to be inherent in my simply being who I am. The proof of this was demonstrated to the trustees by the fact that Egoic development of the participants began only after I left Stelle. Stelle Industries began to prosper only after Jim got rid of the “incompetents” who allegedly held their jobs by my favoritism, whereupon Jim could organize a real team instead of having more-or-less autonomous managers. I hate to admit how naive I had been in these matters before my eyes were opened. At any rate, at the end of March the trustees conveyed to me their belief that my continued presence in the group was preventing Stelle from prospering and growing. There was, however, an additional consideration which precipitated the trustee’s removal of their support from me at that time, and this centered around Gail’s disclosure of my romantic involvement with other women in the group during the past six years. My hope for effectively functioning with Stelle or with the trustees was thereby brought to an end, and so I left Stelle a few months earlier than I originally had planned.
A long list of resentments between Gail and me had been boiling to a head, and it also seemed in the best interests of The Stelle Group that I pull out and let her rule the group in accordance with the different ideas she had been evolving over the years. Moreover, it was time to stop my playing Akhnaton to her Queen Nefertiti and to allow the more aggressive King David aspects of my personality to come to the fore. Were I to have remained at Stelle, there would have been a head-on collision between Gail and me as to the direction in which Stelle is to go. Then was not the time to sort out that problem.
The divisiveness of our separate functions in the group gradually widened the gap between us. The two years during which I was working about eighty hours a week to start Stelle Woodworking Gail managed the day-to-day affairs of The Stelle Group and the Stelle School in accordance with my instructions and agreement. Although she would consult with me at first on directions and policies, she tended to lean more and more on the opinions and ideas of others who were more readily available as the years went by. Soon Gail initiated her own methods, and she worked with others in committees which undertook to modify the policies of The Stelle Group and the budding Stelle Industries more in accordance with their influences. Her continual contact with the personnel of the group and her acting as a mediator between participants and me allowed her to subtly implement her evolving views as opposed to mine, and she does not brook my interference with her plans. Her eventual open challenging of my statements and opinions made people apprehensive at the lack of coherence in direction. Gail certainly has good administrative skills, and she disciplines personnel quickly and decisively, and works with amazing endurance and devotion to duty. Indeed, duty is the keynote of Gail’s philosophy; and her preoccupation with it permitted no room for a personal life between us at the Chase Street building. So to minimize overt show of conflict, I let Gail pursue her bent more freely until I could find more time to devote to the running of The Stelle Group.
My deep hunger to have a real marriage now compels me to divorce Gail. I must love the woman I live with, and live with whom I love. I left Stelle in April, and thereby provided Gail with easy grounds for divorce. Not knowing how many years she would keep me from Stelle until she decided to complete the divorce action made the length of my stay from Stelle indefinite
Late in April, while in Arizona, I was informed by my superiors that I must return to Stelle and that I am still responsible for all the affairs and the conduct of The Stelle Group. Also at that time I was relieved of my obligation to Gail presumably because of her election to avoid the generally accepted sexual obligations of a marriage contract. This is evidently a freewill choice on her part to change from her original plans for this lifetime. On the night of May 16 [,1974], I visited Stelle and spoke with Gail about my intention to again become a director of Stelle Industries, and to help develop some inventions at Stelle, and to hasten the divorce proceedings, and to also inform the participants of Stelle of my intentions. The next day, on May 17 [,1974], Jim Howery handed me a directive prohibiting me from “all contact and interference in the environment of The Stelle Group and its members” excepting Jim Howery and my family and Tom Valentine. The directive also barred me from attending any function or meeting of The Stelle Group or from functioning as an agent for The Stelle Group or Stelle Industries except by prior approval of the Trustees. This directive has not been revoked, and it was to seek its cancellation that I appeared unannounced at the September 28th General Meeting.
In early August I came to Kankakee in hope of arranging to represent Stelle Industries in the obtaining of loans for the apartment buildings through a contact I developed in Dallas. I waited six days for an audience with Jim Howery and was denied permission by letter without my having talked with any trustee. I have since learned that the trustees at that time were informing some people that I was being bugged by lower entities. Indeed, the posture that the trustees had taken was that I was essentially an enemy of The Stelle Group and that the trustees intended to defend the faith against me. At least one member was so appalled by this attitude that he urged me to push for a face-to-face communication with the trustees, but even his negotiations were turned down by the trustees. He was informed that I was obviously sick and that the Trustees would have to decide when I became well again (all decided without seeing or talking with me.) Meanwhile, the trustees have snatched at any excuse for justifying their stand. My superiors do not agree with that statement on the basis of my real motives and actual conduct. The trustees impugn my motives and instead assign to me lusts so base and sordid as to be almost incomprehensible to me. I am not arrogant or blatant or a sexual adventurer. That I do not feel guilty seems maddening to them; however, I have learned that responding to someone’s dependency needs can be made complicated in this society. The trustees ascribe to my actions the source of great pain and suffering to others, and yet these other people deny this assertion by the trustees. The trustees charge that my actions are inconsistent with their understanding of my teachings; and my statement that I have not violated my own integrity indicates to them that I need to be educated in their image. My choices were simply the lesser of two evils. The human-heartedness of my relations were positive, karmically permissible, and not in violation of natural laws by careful predetermination. Neither am I fomenting a new morality to be foisted upon the group to justify my behavior or qualify the guidelines by which societies survive. I did not choose to succumb entirely to the shriveling circumstances of my relation with Gail.
I stand accused of consulting astrology to direct my life and of holding ideas counter to the philosophy I presented in The Ultimate Frontier. These charges I categorically and specifically deny. The trustees seek to restrict the teachings of The Stelle Group to the content of The Ultimate Frontier and to what has already been published in my Observations. Jim Howery states that all my claims of alleged contacts from my superiors subsequent to the publication of The Ultimate Frontier are “self-serving ‘bulls’ and that he cannot accept them; so he must henceforth rely upon his own conscience in his leadership of The Stelle Group.
I did not convey to Jim or to Gail authority to reorganize and redirect the philosophy of Stelle. The Ultimate Frontier is but the introduction to a great deal more information which I have yet to convey to the group over future years. That it may disagree with Gail’s Stelle I can well understand. Because of the motives and views ascribed to me by the trustees, who for years have known me and must know my real self, I‘ve been tempted to suspect some treacherous motive for their stance. Their accusations have exasperated me sorely; and they are so extreme, I wonder if they are designed to provoke me. And yet I am forced to recognize more and more as they talk to me that the trustees must be reflecting the feelings of the general membership. After the meeting of the twelve representatives following the general meeting of September 28th, some members urged Jim not to let me come back. Upon my return on the first day of November, it was falsely reported to Jim that I had chewed out a member about the appearance of some buildings on the site. A few days later I attended a small party at Stelle, and two members complained about my objectionable behavior. My telephone calls are reported to Jim, and complaints are made to him about my every statement. The immediate reporting to Jim of my every move and word is poisonous in its expectation of turning up something negative when everything is turned in for official analysis and dissection. That all record files are barred to me is presumptive of my being an antagonist of the Brotherhoods’ Work. The prohibition against my engaging participants in conversation about philosophy is a very thin line to expect me to walk without being rude to people. That I may not take part in Orientations and am prohibited from counseling people is part of the trustees’ fear that I will corrupt the group with some unknown schism. The rules imposed upon my return have become insufferable. Gail picked my job assignment as a machine hand in the woodworking factory, and Jim pointed out that there was to be no question in the members’ minds that I was not returning to any position of authority in the group. Furthermore, the trustees were not going to have me sit around writing all day in house 127. My reassignment to the Membership Committee is but a front since Gail makes the decisions on the basis of her own criteria, and I do not get to see the six-month’s essays, or the job evaluations, or hear participants’ problems. All these restrictions and conditions were ostensibly set up to protect the group from me while Gail and I tried for a reconciliation. The imposition by Gail of these restrictions precluded any pretense of her acceptance of me. She has challenged me to examine whether my irritation with her and the trustees is induced by mentalism and to report to her when I can confess I have been susceptible to lower influences.
When, on December 27th, I announced to Gail my intention to divorce her, the trustees responded by immediately pressing the resignation of the woman who had encouraged me to try to work my way back into Stelle so that I could continue to unfold the philosophy and foreword the assignments given me by the Brotherhoods. After this woman was removed from Stelle, I assisted her financially and provided moral support during her adjustment since I felt responsible for her predicament. The trustees responded to this by barring me on January 23rd from my advisory capacity at trustee meetings since they decreed I was violating the sanctity of my home and was not being morally responsible especially since this woman was one of the five. I admit that I exhibit King David’s fault of rebelling against punitive authority, and I have always sought to operate justly even when it was in violation of someone’s interpretation of the letter of the law. Men write laws covering men’s duty to each other. God makes laws regarding men’s hearts. I, for one, love the Law; for following it has served me well. But there seems to be different levels of perception of reality, and I have been recently apprised by Jim that I speak truth at one level while my audience may hear me at another level and is thus deceived by me; therefore my communications can be corrupting to the group by virtue of inescapable misunderstanding.
On January 27th the trustees barred me from conducting “Open House” question and answer meetings for the following reasons: “Due to the continuance of your attempts to lead Stelle Group participants away from the basic philosophy of The Stelle Group by your statements of esoteric conjecture; general speculation about the universe; subtle rationalizations implying that your life style and behavior is above the Philosophy; your general undermining of the teaching of The Ultimate Frontier, Dr. Stelle, and the attempts of the Trustees to carry out their responsibilities in these areas by your implication of new data which negates what we have read and been told by you in the distant past; and your politically oriented behavior toward the Trustees in which you have been putting Stelle Group participants in the middle.” Such charges are imaginary and ridiculous. I think that people who have attended my Open House meetings may have a hard time making sense out of such negativity. Now because I’ve been removed from performing the tasks assigned to me by the trustees, I’ve naturally been removed from the payroll (Gail’s salary was paid in my name in December and January.) But this is all in keeping with the trustees’ prejudgment expressed in their letter to me of August 25th in which they stated that they have grave doubts in their minds as to the positive contributions I can make at this time.
I have invested a lifetime of creative energy and loving vision in Stelle and its destiny. Therefore it has been hard for me to let go, especially in light of how much I care for its people. My brief return has allowed me to see where Stelle and I both stand and the impossibility of my prison-like stay here while trying to maintain the illusion for the trustees that I have been reinstated in some of the areas where I had served before I left. I wrote an open letter to the membership in June stating precisely the reasons given to me why the Emissaries have not arrived at Stelle to teach Citizenship Training; but this was suppressed by the trustees. I see no effective way for me to be heard at Stelle or to get around the censorship imposed on whatever I write.
I do not wish to imply in this letter that my past and present behavior is either exemplar or incorrect. I hoped only to discuss here the interplay and conflict between me and Gail and the trustees so there is some understanding on the part of the membership as to what has and is happening. There are dozens of pages of correspondence between me and the trustees covering this matter, and I trust this will be made available by them for future archives. It may take me time to find a place to live nearby after my divorce; so I might be seen by some participants from time to time. I am a director of Stelle Industries and have responsibilities to carry out at Stelle in relation to those duties, and this has to do also with my monitoring the activities for which I am held responsible by my superiors. I have had no influence in the direction of Stelle since November 1st; and in fact, the trustees have essentially conducted no trustee business during the past three months other than educating me as to errors of philosophy and faults of personality and conduct.
The trustees found my departure from Stelle in April to be frightening, stranding, and inconsistent. At best it has been seen by them as dramatic. Nevertheless, there is a thread of constant purpose in the lessons I have to convey and in how I choose to nail them home. It was a hard decision for me to leave in April because I knew that I would not be reinstated in the same positions and therefore would be especially vulnerable to Gail’s authority. I do not feel comfortable making decisions about other people’s lives nor do I choose to be in high positions. I am content to leave that to those who enjoy control, for such people wield it with more forthrightness and verve. I have returned to Stelle because I was ordered to by Those who are totally aware of the situation here. Where I will be able to serve next will eventually be shown to me. For the immediate future I must be content to wait. The very personal nature of this communication is such that I trust you to maintain the spirit of its confidentiality. This is Stelle “family” business and not food for outsiders to chatter about. I do not wish to burden you with problems but rather to illuminate what has been a festering mystery to many. I hope that this will help to get the wheels of progress moving again.