|Through my "Friends From Seattle" web page, I have recently been contacted by Jim Billington, the original Life Israel. I never knew "Life" in the Love Family as he had left before I arrived in the summer of 1972. I have really enjoyed getting to know Jim. We have been exchanging emails, old stories and asking each other questions about our expediences in the Love Family. Below is my editing of the numerous emails we have exchanged as relates to the Love Family.|
I am still playing music after all these years except I am a lot better at it, than when I was Life Israel. I was teenager then and now I am a gray haired grandfather. I was not there for the mansions, the money and the big breakup, but would love to hear about my old family. I have not had Love Family contact for 30yrs.|
I was 16 years old and I was walking on Queen Ann Ave and approaching the Presbyterian church. In their old parsonage was a Christian Hippie Commune called the House of Caleb that I planned to stay at for the weekend. I was carrying my guitar, a 1947 Martin 0017, and these two hippies pull their car to the side the road. I was a block from where I needed to be. They introduce themselves as Reverence and Corky and they are part of a celebration. They explain that there will be drugs, food and women. Being a good Jesus Freak all though a new one, but a true believer, I turned them down. Then Reverence said the magic words "We want you to play music" and I said "Let's Go!".
I got in the car and we went to the house on Armour St. across from Love's House. We went in the basement and I played music to a bunch of people for several hours. I stopped and related the dream that I had that very morning, about how a voice came to me and told me to change my name to Life (true story and true dream). Then I played more music and Love came down the stairs and introduced himself and said "Hello Life". Since he had not heard the dream, it blew our minds that he would know. I never made it to the House of Caleb again. I stayed.
Anyway, all of this was a little strange for me. I had some good drug experiences. I saw Honesty often, but seldom saw Love, he didn't hang out with us and we just saw him when we had meetings.
The coronation was at a house not on Armour, it was south west of Armour street. I remember we did our spiritual hyperventilation, holding our palms up and down and chanting. The coronation was not a big deal to me, but the party was good. People I used to hang with, Imagination had a spot on Armour where he did the calligraphy and would take time to answer my questions.
Back when I was there Miriam had a different family name and I have a wonderful memory of her. A friend of mine "from the world" came to visit and brought a couple of hits of LSD with him, and so we blasted off. Since it was summer we slept in sleeping bags in the back yard of the Armour St. house with other family members. As I was tripping, I heard the cops chasing robbers who were looking for a means of escape by checking out the backyards of all the houses on Armour St. One of the robbers with a knife even checked me to see if I was sleeping, but I played it safe and escaped certain death by pretending I was asleep. To this day I don't know why the other 20 plus people sleeping in the backyard didn't notice all the cop sirens and the fleeing robbers. So after playing dead, I went to the other house that was south west of the Armour St. house in the wee hours. Miriam heard me up and came into the living room. I explained about the cops and robbers and how I had to play dead. She asked me if I had taken any drugs. I remember telling her that I had only taken LSD, but that didn't matter. She reassured me that everything was OK and made me a hot bath and calmed me down. To this day it is a happy memory of kindness on her part that I cherish. That was the last time I took LSD and the only time a robber sneaked up to check to see if I was asleep with a knife in his mouth while being chased by cops. I sure fooled him. I wasn't dead in the backyard. Good acting on my part. I still don't know why the other people didn't realize the danger they were in, but God bless Miriam.
Reverence had told me "Life, if you ever have any questions just ask" I am the type of person who has thousands maybe millions of questions. This was a big mistake. I am sure I drove them absolutely crazy with questions and I had just enough of Jesus People doctrine for others to feel threatened by my questions. My mindset was to understand and to have all the pieces fall into place, I thought pursuit of knowledge was a good thing and I thought it was especially good to aggressively pursue knowledge and understanding.
What the Love Family wanted me to do if they had talked to me, was to kick back and observe. The Love Family was not about consistent doctrine. It was about what ever Love wanted us to know at that moment and that Love was the fount of understanding and doctrine. We were to believe, have faith, ours was not to reason. I was a teenager and not developed mentally enough to recognize what was going on around me. So anyway, I am sure that over the next couple of years, that my questions were driving people crazy.
So at a meeting one time Love asked who loved their life outside in the world. I raised my hand. My thinking being, I was having a good time in the world and now I am having a better time in the Love family. So Love told me to leave and in front of the group told them I was counterfeit and even chose my own name, Life.
So I had to leave, some people risked it to say goodbye and I left with what I had on my back. I went back and finished High School, went into the Army and never looked back.
I did go back and find Beauty later that year and got her to leave too. I don't think she would have left on her own, but I had a car as means of escape. She just walked away with me and she had been one of the head women there.
Love Israel, we never sat and down and talked, we never drank coffee together. He was the leader of my family, but when we did come in contact that last time, he lied, then he said I was not part of the family.
I was angry that Reverence's name was slandered just like mine, I was angry about how Love brutalized Beauty to discipline her and how they dumped once with nothing when she was upset. I have never known Beauty to lie to me, but Love did nothing but lie to me.
I considered all the people in the room that I was MARRIED too (that was the doctrine at the time). I was true believer and my eyes were opened and I realized I believed to the core of my soul a lie and to the core of the Love Family, a person that I was told was God himself, lied to me and so I turned and moved on with my life.
Reverence was the name of the guy who died sniffing solvent, it pissed me off that Love said he died because he sinned. He died because they sniffed fumes that Love encouraged them too because it was a cheap high.
Anyway, it was free love while I was there, I felt I could ask any woman for sex, but thought I'd likely get in trouble for doing it, so I was celibate.
So that was then and this now. You can forgive and move on, which I have done, but the circle is not complete unless both sides agree to unite.
So it is what it is and I didn't give it much thought until I saw a newspaper article in which Beauty designed a sign for the sale. You see her hand and I wondered if this was my first love. It turned out she is not the woman named Beauty who I knew.
I think I left the Love family in 1971 and I left with nothing and didn't look back. I got engaged to Beauty Israel (Colleen Cole) she had been with Serious Israel before me and although we never married. I kept in touch with her during her years at Western Washington Univ and then she ended up working at Safeway in the U district in Seattle. I would love to know how she is doing.
Imagination Israel lives near me in Duvall Washington. He was a mentor of mine during the years I spent in the love family.
Jim Billington |
Formerly Life Israel
James "The Bluespoet 2001"
Email: "Wilderness Voice" <email@example.com>
|Photos from Jim's visit to the Ranch sale.|
Jim with granddaughter Angelica
Five years old on 22-Mar-2004