00:00 -The video starts with an intern discussing their decision to “ring out” of ESOAL (AKA quit). “I had to ring out because my health was on the line.” I think this is a pretty fair representation of the overall mindset – its considered a huge spiritual accomplishment to quit ESOAL for the sake of your health. Really? That should be a given. That should be common sense. Unfortunately, the interns are under SUCH intense pressure to finish ESOAL that common sense goes out the window.
00:57 – Staff member Sam Kimmel and other facilitators make fun of ESOAL participants. So sweet.
01:09 – Obstacle course and various ESOAL activities
03:41 – David Hasz gives a “pep-talk” to the interns about what they should be learning from ESOAL. A few excerpts with my comments in italics:
“You are reaching a rather teachable time during ESOAL.”
Teachable or brainwashable – what can you learn when you are hungry/miserable?
“You have the chance to go to a different level mentally and emotionally than you’ve ever gone before. Where you shut off your emotions – you don’t shut them off, you just process them differently – emotions would typically make you feel sorry for yourself."
Apparently, trying to take care of the mind and body that God gave you is the same thing as feeling sorry for yourself.
"They can throw anything at me for the next 24 hours and it doesn’t matter. Its 24 hours, its nothing, its nothing!"
Yeah, no long term damage could possibly be done!
"You could go through this for the next 10 years and you would not die. If your lives depended on living like this for the next 6 months, you could do it."
"Why walk away now? What am I going to do to you now that is going to be worse than what I’ve already done?"
"Its saying I can do this – I can overcome this thing."
"Its all mental…You gotta ask yourself – how much pain am I willing to endure? How much am I willing to say, I will not feel sorry for myself? I can take it."
09:17 – Rolling the Hill, vomiting
I'd like to address Dave's speech. Dave Hasz tells the interns that if you make the right mental and emotional choices, you could live like this (ESOAL conditions) for a long length of time and through God's strength, expect to survive and overcome with no long term damage. In fact, you would even be a stronger Christian and leader because of it.
So, let's look into this claim. In what ways have people lived in ESOAL like conditions (deprivation, malnutrition, physical labor and taunting) for long periods of time? I can think of two: Concentration Camps and Prisoners of War. (Note: I am not saying that ESOAL is equal to those 2 things, but that the HA is simulating similar experiences, although without the killing. Sadly, several people have reported being in fear for their life during ESOAL because of the dangerous activities they are required to do.)
According to David Hasz's thinking, survivors of the Holocaust or former POWs should be healthy, well-adjusted members of society. In fact, they should probably be extra-productive and lead outstanding lives since they've had the opportunity to "go to a different level mentally and emotionally."
Shockingly, both studies and literature suggest that people are actually quite traumatized from these events! Instead of being growing or stretching experiences, they actually provide severe psychological and emotional trauma that alters their entire life.
Let's look at Prisoners of War (POWs). Recognizing that their experience is not one that is simply overcome with willpower and determination, the Navy actually has a medical institute dedicated to this subject. The Robert E. Mitchell Center for Prisoner of War Studies seeks to aid, comfort, and ease the repatriation of past and future prisoners of war by means of lessons learned from the evaluation of former POWs.
The institute has done many studies on POWs including the medical and psychological effects of their experience, personality testing and effects on interpersonal relationships (like marriage).
Without getting into details, I think we can clearly see that serious medical professionals take these traumatic events very seriously and seek to understand the long term consequences that the participants must learn to cope with. Writing it off as "its all mental, you gotta ask yourself how much pain you can endure" is stupidly ignorant at best and criminal at worst.
From a spiritual perspective, where does the Bible ever talk about simulating these types of experiences for spiritual growth? When did Jesus treat his disciples like this? Where does anyone in the Bible use any of these methods for Godly discipleship?
In fact, if anything, the Bible speaks AGAINST these types of behaviors. Colossians 2 tells us that man-made rules and harsh treatment of the body actually do have the appearance of wisdom but in reality they have NO spiritual value. None! At all!
So on every front - pyschological, emotional, spiritual and physical - it is indisputable that no matter what spiritual spin you put on it, ESOAL is dangerous and unwise.
June 14, 2010
6/14/2010 Recovering Alumni 81 comments