When Gordon Neufeld asked me where he could buy Holy Candy, I learned that—in 2002—Gordon had published a book called Heartbreak and Rage, about his ten years in the Unification Church. I asked him what the heartbreak and rage of the title was about.
“I used to feel it was important for former members of cults to feel angry and hate the cult,” said Gordon. “Because otherwise you’re at risk of going back. Now I’m a little more moderate in my thinking."
But reading a recent article in the New Republic reminded Gordon of why he was angry.
"I felt anger with Moon and with the group for manipulating me," said Gordon, "for basically being a fraud."
"My book talks about the so called Blessing of 1982 at Madison Square Garden,” said Gordon. “This was still during the time when [Reverend Moon] would physically do it himself... He matched me up with an English woman. I got quite fond of her. The heartbreak was that I never actually lived with her.”
“She couldn’t handle the church life," said Gordon. "She finally quit the church and sent me a letter saying it’s over. That was 1984. I persisted for two more years and then I quit as well. She married someone else.”
“One ironic twist to the story is that marriage didn’t work and she nearly talked me into rejoining the Unification Church,” said Gordon. “But by that time I had moved on… and I wanted to pursue my writing ambition.”
Gordon joined the church after graduating from the University of British Columbia with a degree in English. After leaving the church, he returned to UBC to complete an MFA in Creative Writing. Publishing his book, Heartbreak and Rage, led to unexpected events in Gordon's life.
“The most striking effect of writing the book is that a woman who was a former member of the church read the book and wrote to me in 2005,” said Gordon. “I started corresponding with her. And I went to visit her and we decided to get married.”
Gordon won Spinetingler's Canadian Short Story contest in 2005, and he is currently writing a book of short stories about people’s experiences in different cults. In 2014, he will speak at the International Cultic Studies Association conference in Washinton DC, about the three stages of his life: before, during and after the church.
"You gradually find out who you are," said Gordon, "And you just keep working on it for the rest of your life."
You can learn more about Gordon’s writing at his website, moonbook.com