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View Full Version : Beware of Zendik - Something sad and sinister lurks below the facade of this farm


Wowbagger
8th September 2009, 09:12 PM
This year, at Dragon*Con, there were a small number of folks accepting donations for bumper stickers saying "Stop Bitching, Start a Revolution!", with the URL Zendik.org below that. On Monday I decided to chat with one of them, curious to know what sort of revolution they had in mind:

He assured me that it was one of altruism and peace and love and all sorts of good stuff like that. He stated he believed that humans are not inherently evil, but certain aspects of society are making us evil. We did not have much time to get into specifics on that. Though, he also happened to mention that he lived in some sort of community farm, with his fellow brothers.

With my Skeptic Sense tingling, I decided to briefly conduct some very preliminary research on the group, basically by typing "Zendik" into Google. It should come as no surprise that they appear to be a cult.

Here are some examples of things I found:
http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/cover/2005/cover1104.html ("The Zendiks do decidedly more bitching than revolting...")
http://angrysummerquietfall.blogspot.com/2008/07/zendik-follow-up-they-are-cult.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wulf_Zendik
Official Site: http://www.zendik.org/

If only I had spoken to one of them sooner, I probably would have devised some way to get a warning out, to more people. Perhaps we should have a cult-detection discussion as one of the panels, next year, or something.

Anyway, this thread is for anyone who wants to discuss any and all matters concerning Zendik. If you have some interesting information to share, that would be nice. If you wish to refute my accusation that they are a cult, that would be interesting to hear, as well.

One particular thing I am curious about: They seem to offer workshops in various arts and trades: painting, welding, music, bio-diesel making, etc. Does anyone have any experiences with these workshops? Are they basically covert recruiting seminars? (Similar to how Scientology's and The Landmark Forum's workshops operate?)

I am also looking for ideas on how to warn other D*C attendees about their true nature, if anyone has any. Thanks!

Caustic Logic
9th September 2009, 12:56 AM
Way back in the early 90s I got hold of a Zendik Farm 'zine somehow. Had an owl on the cover and quoted founder Wulf Zendik on spiritual enlightenment and stuff. Seemed pretty neat at the time. The guy was old, can't imagine he's still around almost 20 years later. Damn, I'm getting old myself...

That is all I know.

Wowbagger
9th September 2009, 07:07 AM
The guy was old, can't imagine he's still around almost 20 years later. Damn, I'm getting old myself... Apparently Wulf Zendik died in 1999, but his farm continues on. Looks like his wife, Arol, is in charge.

Vortigern99
9th September 2009, 09:20 AM
I live in Austin, TX, where the commune was based for many years, so I used to encounter these folks frequently in the late 80s through the 90s. They always seemed like nice, idealistic young people. I went out to the Farm on one occasion, and nothing I saw or heard there surprised or shocked me. They're just interested in living healthful, moral lives, unattached to what they see as the dominant American culture of capitalism-at-any-cost and war-mongering.

I could never live among them, owing mainly to their anti-monogamy rules. Promiscuity and open relationships are all well and good, but even if I weren't now married (which I am), it would be difficult for me to give up the dream of a lifelong partnership with that one, special woman. So on that basis I personally disagree with the Zendik lifestyle.

Other than that, I haven't read, heard or seen anything that makes me believe they are a "cult" of "brainwashed" adherents. Their members tend to be thoughtful, conscience-driven folks with solid work ethics and lots of love for one another. That can't possibly be a bad thing.

ETA: Looking again at the thread title, OP and attendant links, I have to say I wholeheartedly disagree with the assertion that "something sad and sinister lurks below the facade" of Zendik Farm. I see none of the classic signs of cultish practices or behavior, particularly in the fact that anyone is free to leave the commune at any time.

Wowbagger
9th September 2009, 09:42 AM
ETA: Looking again at the thread title, OP and attendant links, I have to say I wholeheartedly disagree with the assertion that "something sad and sinister lurks below the facade" of Zendik Farm. I see none of the classic signs of cultish practices or behavior, particularly in the fact that anyone is free to leave the commune at any time.I originally intended the title to be a question: "Does something sad and sinister lurks below the facade of this farm?", but it didn't fit. I might have it edited, somehow, I guess, in light of your comments.

Caustic Logic
9th September 2009, 01:16 PM
I originally intended the title to be a question: "Does something sad and sinister lurks below the facade of this farm?", but it didn't fit. I might have it edited, somehow, I guess, in light of your comments.

On the other hand, it could be a supposition you started from that evolves with the thread. Also, Vort's interaction with them was a long time ago, and they may have become more cult-like afterwards. Oddball people in groups might have a fragile balance of oddity and sanity that can be easily upset by, say, the death of a founder, causing a change for the worse. More current info would be needed to get a good handle on what's up. You have the most current info of anyone yet, and you got a bad feeling from it...

Also Vort, thanks for the info and views, probably not many here with direct experience.

Vortigern99
9th September 2009, 01:19 PM
It's okay with me if you let the title stand as rhetorical. There are many examples on the JREF of assertions being made in thread titles, which are then roundly refuted in the discussion to follow.

If someone can produce what they believe to be a single "cultish" practice or behavior on the part of the Zendiks, we have ourselves a discussion. If not, it would appear the accusation is unfounded.

ETA: Yes, my association/familiarity with them was over a decade ago now, prior to the founder's death. It's certainly possible they might have gone astray or developed bad habits in Wulf Zendik's absence, and his partner's subsequent takeover of leadership. That said, the 2004 Washington City Paper article linked in the OP appears to offer a balanced view of the Zendiks, and no aberrant, abnormal, pathological or cultish practices appear to be in evidence. I invite anyone to demonstrate that this has changed in the last 5 years.

rockinkt
9th September 2009, 02:08 PM
<snip>
.... That said, the 2004 Washington City Paper article linked in the OP appears to offer a balanced view of the Zendiks, and no aberrant, abnormal, pathological or cultish practices appear to be in evidence. I invite anyone to demonstrate that this has changed in the last 5 years.


Bumper stickers are evil.
Bumper stickers with URLs on them are more evil.
Selling said bumper stickers for donations is even more evil.

Where's J. Edgar and his Effa Be Eye when you need them?
:D