THE BLOOD COVENANT – Rena Chynoweth
I’ve been asked why a child growing up in America would connect to a hard-nosed religion, follow a strict tenet-driven cult, or adopt a hatred for the country. Reasons and behaviors are failure to be educated, reliance on a limited faith, seeking simple answers and reveling in ignorance while eschewing learning and wisdom.
Some children are born into such philosophies, faiths and hatreds like the author of this book. She provides no answer to the question. Her book and story become ridiculous and ends farcically.
Note the book is primarily available in public libraries, but it is otherwise very expensive. By obtaining a huge judgment, the family of the man whom the author murdered put an end to the author’s aspiring literary career. She is reduced to making meager diary entries.
The author reported her cult let her do many things the average American kid and teenager did. Sometimes there were no utilities in Mexico where she grew up. Her parents had their life savings swindled from them by cult/church members. Her mother would blithely comment about such situations being God’s way or will. Her father married another women, thus fully adopting the cult’s polygamist teachings. There was a lot of social pressure on girls to marry church elders, leaders or whoever else came by, at 14, 15 and 16 years, when the author says she married the church leader, 30 years her senior. She was wife number 13. She describes that he was a complete loser in bed. He finally got her pregnant; a child was born.
It was a tough life. No money, she and other wives have to scrounge for clothes, food and sometimes shelter, when they came to the US. They slept ten or more to a room. Meanwhile the old man was writing theological pieces disagreeing with other cult leaders and defining his doctrine. He spent very little time among the distaff, domestic bliss. Life carried on this way, women’s work also included bringing home the bacon.
Her husband-leader ordered author and another woman to kill a polygamist leader living near Salt Lake City. They make arrangements with two men, go to Salt Lake and murder the man. She pulls the trigger. A few years later she is put on trial and found not guilty.
The author has learned nothing. Her actions are tantamount to being a fervent Nazi, bring tried a Nuremberg, being found not guilty and returning to the Nazi fold. The author returns to the doctrine and further indoctrination from the church leader, who is hiding out in Mexico to avoid prosecution. He controls his cult from a distance.
On page 248 during her trial the author complains being in jail with “a big Indian woman who had slit her husband’s throat, and another woman who had shot her boyfriend…” They had “committed much more violent crimes…” NOTE: The author shot her victim seven (7) times at close range. The author, a twenty year old during trial, thought she “had to work out my problems on my own.” (p. 252) The author is the sort of woman who deceives herself. She prays (again and again) and the outcome “was in God’s hands.”(268) At trial so and so witness “wasn’t so bright.” (272)
Another woman from the cult commits murder in San Diego about the same time the author killed the competing polygamist in Salt Lake. The author fails to understand the legal processes or how lucky she was: “She had been convicted of …murder, even though she did the same thing a jury saw fit to acquit us for. She was merely following what she believed to be God’s will…I’m convinced that she has more than paid for her crime.” (296-297)
Next comes, “Ed may have killed a few people and stalked others targeted for murder…” but Ed’s an all right guy. (308)
The church leader is captured, taken to Utah, put on trial, found guilty and given a life sentence. He refuses to divorce the author, who has no paperwork saying she is married to cult leader. The author removes herself from the right way, so she can marry. The man who married them comes to town and says, he’s sorry for marrying her and that she is divorced. There are four centers for the cult: Mexico, Denver, Salt Lake and Dallas/Houston, where the author resides.
The cult leader dies. The body is flown to Houston where the author buries him.(334) The cult has no leader. The mother of the author comes to her senses and says, “I wouldn’t follow [proposed leader] around the corner.”(339) Next, most of the one-time cult members, many of the author’s siblings, are murdered, likely by rival cult members.
The author may or may still be following cult tenets, but her dead brother’s children are not. Her brother went to another church and joined. The author writes, “…members of the church…offered to help…The six kids are now in a stable Christian home… We feel this was the best thing for them, to be away from us and out of the “line of fire.” (366)