In this episode we spoke with Peter Young about his experiences in a cult, what it was like, how he got out, and what to do when you or someone else is in such a situation.
You can learn more about Peter or his work at www.authorpeteryoung.com.
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David Enevoldsen: Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Emotional Embuffination podcast. I am your host, David Enevoldsen, and here on Emotional Embuffination we are training to become emotionally buff enough to overcome any conflict in life, and at the same time we are trying to discover and maintain new levels of success and happiness. This podcast is just one of a number of resources I have available. If you want to learn more about that, check out the emotional website, which is embuff.com. That's E-M-B-U-F-F.com. When you are on the website, make sure that you sign up for the newsletter which has just quick weekly Emotional Embuffination tips that will help you on your emotional embuffination journey. Okay, on today's show, I am very excited to be talking to Peter Young. A storyteller first and foremost, Peter is the author of the Amazon best bestseller, "Stop the Tall Man Save the Tiger," which tells the story of his escape from a tiny religious cult. Peter's first book, "The Blue Team," is a novel about faith and basketball and conquering your greatest enemy. Prior to his writing career, Peter was a sports broadcaster for over 20 years, telling the stories of great athletes all over the world while working for CBS, ESPN, OLN and other networks. He now lives in Bozeman, Montana, and is working on the sequel to his book, The Blue Team. All right, Peter, thank you very much for agreeing to talk with me today. I've really been looking forward to this conversation. I've been reading your book and it is absolutely fascinating. So thank you for making the time to talk to me today.
David Enevoldsen: Before I jump into this, I want to get a lot about your backstory, but I just want to briefly explain why to me your story is so relevant to Emotional Embuffination. So, Emotional Embuffination in my mind is all about how do you deal with conflict? How do you optimize emotional states? How do you basically live your best life possible, right? And just if you'll humor me with a brief backstory here of myself, when I was little, I grew up in a very Christian household. My dad was a pastor, my mom's dad was a pastor. My parents met each other in Bible college. And so I was just inundated in Christianity when I was young. And so went to church, you know, did all the the normal Christian stuff. And when I hit high school, I started really struggling with Christianity and I ended up kind of breaking away from it a little bit after that and thinking there was just so many things that didn't make sense to me about it. And so then I spent probably the next decade and a half with this mantra that just logic, science reason, that's the answer. And I was utterly miserable. I got to a point where I was literally suicidal and had a gun in my mouth, and that, frankly, was a normal behavior for me. And then I made some changes, kind of different realizations and a bunch of paradigm shifts, and I ended up kind of swinging back to a total re reanalysis of faith and kind of my connection to spirituality and all of that.
David Enevoldsen: And so the conclusion that I came to with all that was that if I was just using logic and science and reason, it wasn't the complete picture of what was going on in the world, and it wasn't leaving me happy. But at the same time, if I was just throwing myself into whatever somebody told me on the faith front, I also wasn't happy because it seemed like there needed to be some sort of logic and reason, sort of checking what was going on and what I was throwing my belief into, on the faith side. And that's why I think this is all so relevant to what you're talking about, because you you've experienced a cult. I mean, you know a lot about cults. And I think that's an example of where you take faith and it just goes off the rails. And I'm correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounded like everybody that was in the mix of this cult was not happy and it was spreading a lot of misery and kind of the exact opposite of what we're trying to do with Emotional Embuffination. So with that intro and kind of that explanation as to why I'm so excited to talk to you and why I think this is so relevant, can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you how did you come to find yourself in a cult? Like how did this all start?
Peter Young: Sure. Well, first of all, David, thanks for having me on your show. And I always give people the Reader's Digest version of my life. So I grew up in New Jersey and like you in a Christian home, the youngest of five boys loved sports. And I was going to be the next Larry Bird. Played basketball in college, was not the next Larry Bird. And then I got into coaching basketball and I was going to be the next John Wooden. That did not happen. And then I read the book, "What Color Is Your Parachute?" Decided it was going to be the next Bob Costas of Sports Broadcasting. So I got my first job in Idaho doing the six and ten sports and then had a nice run, had a nice career in in TV. And it was in Idaho that I met my, you know, would have been future wife, Paige. And we fell in love fairly quickly and just kind of, you know, dive into the story. I basically married into unwittingly married into a tiny but destructive religious cult.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. Can you tell me a little bit about the cult? Like what?
Peter Young: Sure.
David Enevoldsen: I'm assuming you didn't initially realize that you were in a cult. Is that a fair statement?
Peter Young: You know, I didn't. Although as I write in my book, Stop the Tall Man and Save the Tiger, I had seen Paige around Pocatello, you know, beautiful, you couldn't miss her. And a buddy of mine said, you know, "Oh, yeah, that's Paige Klassen. But be careful. She's got this really weird family guru." So, before I ever even met her, I knew of the guru who turned out to be Uncle Robert, who's not related to Paige at all, but that's what we all called him. So it was very small in that it would have been Paige, her older brother, her parents, and then basically my family and another guy. You know, there was a Gary, there was a George, there was a Michael. They were kind of in and out of the picture, but it's very small. And Uncle Robert was your classic small cult leader. So, David, you and I or anybody listening, you know, Googles small cult, small religious cult, family cult, you'll get, you know, a million hits. And many of the articles will be the same. Five indicators, the ten signs, the nine keys or whatever it is, right? And they all will have at least, you know, these things in common where you have a leader and he's narcissistic. Usually he sometimes she. Charismatic, at times brilliant at other times crazy. Has a grandiose sense of self. Makes all the rules, but the rules do not apply to him or her. And often acts as a gatekeeper to God. And especially in a family cult, which is what what we had, everybody, whether it's, you know, grandparents, parents or children, eventually, you kind of all devolve into children of the cult leader. So, grandparents, parents and kids are all vying for the attention and the approval of the cult leader. So there is no grandad, dad, and son. We are all children of the cult leader. So that's what we had. It was a very slow, gradual process. You know, I didn't marry Paige and say, "Great, I'm in the cult." You know, it took years for I would have really been able to look back and say, "Yeah, that was a cult."
David Enevoldsen: How did and how did that transition happen for you? So obviously, as you said, you didn't just jump in and you're like, "Yeah, I'm in a cult." What was that evolution like?
Peter Young: So when we first got married, I thought I was going to be the best husband and father ever. I was in love with this woman. I adored her. She was everything I wanted in a wife. And I was so thankful that the Lord had brought her into my life. And even now I can look back with all the horrible stuff that's happened and still be happy that that happened. Okay. Because we had five kids. But for the first few years of our marriage, he was not around much. He lived as in he is Uncle Robert lived in Southern California. We lived in either Idaho or Montana. And while you know now I know that over all these years, Paige was, you know, constantly on the phone with him, he was not around that much. So then, slowly but surely, you know, five years becomes ten, becomes fifteen, we would have these conferences. Okay, so, you know, David, you might have gone to a Bible study growing up or you have a cup of coffee with a friend, a meeting, whatever it is. When we met with Uncle Robert, it was a conference. And so he would come up from California and maybe one, two, three times a year we would meet in person and he would just talk for hours. You know, we would meet for two or three days and he would.
David Enevoldsen: How many people were at these conferences?
Peter Young: So this would have been so I was one of five. Paige was one of five. Now, my family, the Youngs, you know, had very little knowledge about all this. And what little they did know about Uncle Robert, they thought he was really weird. But they lived all around the country. Paige's family would have been, you know, again, Paige and I and our kids, she had one older brother who believed in Uncle Robert. All the other siblings, her other three were shunned and vilified, along with all her cousins and uncles and aunts because of Uncle Robert. So it would have been just her one brother and then her parents So,I mean, there would have been like six or seven adults and a bunch of kids. That's it at all these conferences. And he would then share his, you know, theology. And there's a lot of it, you don't have to dive into, but to kind of move the story along, you know, he would share that at times. We would all take notes and we would listen very carefully. And I thought some of it was crazy, some of it was brilliant. And I guess I'll even say that to this day. You know, cult leaders don't just start spouting nonsense and expecting people to follow you. They take the truth, hook you, and then they twist it. So then, you know, many years later, Paige leaves me. You know, my life implodes. It's really horrendous. But my faith, family and friends step in and help me. And I would have been, you know, really, truly brainwashed, David, for probably maybe two and a half to three years. And it took a good year to recover and become healthy enough to admit and say, yeah, that was a cult, that was a cult, and thank the Lord.
David Enevoldsen: Maybe if I can elaborate a little bit, backing up a step. So before you start recognizing what the problem is, when you initially got married to Paige and then you get introduced to Uncle Robert, your initial reaction was, If I'm correctly understanding this guy is kind of weird. Something seems off here. How did you go from this guy seems kind of weird to okay, I'm using him as the leader or I'm believing in him like how, what happens in you that causes that transition? Do you know?
Peter Young: Well, the quick way I always say it is, I went along to get along. I went along with Uncle Robert because I love my wife and I wanted to keep my family. And so, you know, because I know you've read my book or you're into it, you know, I was introduced to Uncle Robert very early on by this bizarre dream letter that we can get if you want. But it's very key to all of this. So he wrote the letter. That was my first exposure to him because after a week or two of dating Paige, I knew I wanted to marry her. But I needed to meet her father and this Uncle Robert, because she talked about him all the time. And then I would have met him in person for the first time a couple of months later. And then we get engaged and then we get married. But the transition from he's crazy to even he's dangerous again took probably ten years. And and really it was a very gradual erosion of my confidence, my faith, my beliefs, my manhood. Really.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Peter Young: Um, and it was all mental, all psychological. You know, there was no fighting arguing. There was no sex. There was no abuse, physical abuse. There was no sleeping around any of that. In terms of the breakup of my marriage, it was just all. Uncle Robert.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah. Can you give me a sense of or just maybe give me some examples of, I guess, the Reader's Digest version of what was his philosophy. Like what is it that I guess was crazy or not or brilliant or I mean, just maybe some bullet points about kind of the stuff that he believed and promoted.
Peter Young: So the first time I was really alarmed with his ideology and theology would have been about a year after 9-11. So I grew up in New Jersey, so I had high school classmates in the buildings. I had a high school classmate who was widowed that day. So 9-11 was kind of a big deal. And it was about a year afterwards we were at a conference and somehow it came up and he started talking about how 80,000 people died on 9-11. And I always thought it was like 3,000. And then he said, Roosevelt was a Jew. Truman was a Jew, as in the presidents. And he said it with such anger and vitriol. And that was my first introduction to his anti-Semitism. So he was a raving anti-Semite. Now you should know. In my mind I could picture Uncle Robert because I was around him for so long. I am six foot five. Typical Northern European looks. Paige's family again, Scandinavian blond hair, blue eyes. Uncle Robert, who again not related to any of us, is like five six from Syria, born and raised, then came to America. But he's got olive complexion, bald head jet black hair, bulbous nose, and he's kind of got a belly.
Peter Young: So he grew up in an area of the country where anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism flourishes, really.
David Enevoldsen: Sure.
Peter Young: Which just kind of part of their culture. And he brought that with him. So for him, every war, recession, depression, you know, usury, bank runs, planes falling out of the sky, whatever it is, was a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world and thus control Christians. And for him, it would go all the way back, if you know your Bible to Jacob and Esau in Genesis. And they're the brothers. And Jacob kind of steals the birthright from Esau. Esau tries to get it back with his tears and can't. So then the Bible says, you know, Jacob, have I loved. Esau have I hated. He figured that Esau becomes Edam, which becomes modern Jewry, and Jacob represents greater Christendom. Now, it's fascinating. It's interesting. But after, you know what, 3,000 years of intermarrying really? Like every Jewish person, is, you know, trying to take over the world, really? And I would always ask all these questions. And, you know, you're not supposed to question the leader of the cult, which is, of course, what got me in trouble.
David Enevoldsen: What happens when you when you would question like, what kind of answers would you get?
Peter Young: So I remember reading something, to about, you know, cults and how, you know, the cult leader will confuse you, but then you get in trouble for asking, you know, the question and he'll make you doubt, and then you get in trouble for expressing your doubts. So when I would question things that Paige and her parents and her older brother would accept hook, line and sinker, then I could feel kind of the cold shoulder from Paige. And again, there was no infidelity, no arguing. I raised my voice at her twice in 20 years. But it was fairly obvious that the respect, the adoration, the whatever you want to call it, that a husband would seek from his wife was gone. That had evaporated. And then when I would ask him these questions, of course, then Paige would know because he would tell her. And then the answers were always, "Peter, you're an idiot." It was never, could you really explain to me like, you know, I had a good buddy from high school in college, he's Jewish. And I was in his wedding. He was in my wedding. And I'm like, I can guarantee you Dan has no idea what you're talking about. Or my buddy Dan. And I bet you a lot of Jewish people have no clue what you're talking about. You know, how can you explain this and verify it? And again, there was never an answer. It was always, you're too dumb to get it. Which of course, then Paige, in her mind would think, well, I understand it. Which again, I knew she didn't because to understand it with most of what he shared, not all of it, but to understand it was to immediately see how foolish it was.
David Enevoldsen: Fascinating. Now, in your book, you also talk a little bit about how he describes the casinos as churches. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Peter Young: Yes. Yes. You heard David correctly that he did say that. And I kind of had the same, um, you know, excuse me? You have to be kidding me when I first heard it. So and I first heard it from Paige's parents, and they unfortunately, you know, are, I believe, just completely brainwashed and have been for close to 50 years. They met Uncle Robert at a small seminary in the late 60s, early 70s, and he's been kind of the leader ever since. And so when Uncle Robert would tell them something, you could not convince, uh, Paige's parents otherwise. So he considered casinos the true churches in America. And where you would go on a Sunday is a worthless place because they didn't know the true gospel. Only he knew the true gospel. So all the denominations, whether it's Presbyterian, non-denominational, Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, whatever, had perverted the gospel, only he knew it. And to go to casino, you know, anybody can go there and be blessed by the Lord. Regardless of your success in life, your bank account, whatever. Okay, but you know, when I go to a casino and I don't know about you, I see people worshiping money. I don't see people worshiping the Lord. And he also called it his office, which made perfect sense because they would always say, We're going to the office. And I remember at our conferences, they all knew. All the adults knew that I didn't like to gamble. I mean, listen, if you want to go play blackjack and blow 20 bucks, have at it. Good luck. You know, have fun, go out with the guys. But to think you could actually do it and make a living is absurd. You know, the casinos are big buildings for a reason. And I always thought they would call it the Office because they didn't want our kids who were young to know they were gambling. But I think it was more than that because Uncle Robert never had a full time job. I never saw him work. His wife had a good job. She made the money. And so for him to go to the office, which again is the casino, would make perfect sense because, you know, he had a unique ability to pervert the word of God. So, you know, Proverbs, if you read Proverbs right, just open up your Bible and read it. You know, it's 31 chapters and there's all kind of verses about hard work leads to a profit.
David Enevoldsen: Right.
Peter Young: I mean, they say that same idea a dozen times. Well, there's nothing hard work about, you know, going to a casino. There's no benefit. Nobody benefits from it. So it was kind of like, yes, it was the true churches in America, but it was also the office. And he would go to quote unquote offices around the country to fund his mission trips. So he would go to Indian casinos around the country. Those were his favorites. And supposedly, you know, he he gamble and earn enough money to put gas in his car, literally. And
David Enevoldsen: Was he working at the same time?
Peter Young: Well, his idea of work was nebulous, a little mysterious. You know, he never had a church that I ever saw. And again, I was around him for over 20 years, never had a congregation of any kind. Never had a job where he showed up and got paid. But he would quote unquote, you know, spread the true gospel. So he would go to Washington D.C. and was supposedly on a first name basis with congressmen, senators, and representatives. Supposedly had at least one, if not multiple conversations with Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Fed. You know, again, you know, Paige and her parents just soaked all this in like they were sitting at the foot of maybe not the Messiah, but the most brilliant man on Earth. And I kind of wondered, really? You know, and I have no way to prove it if you ever actually had these meetings or not.
David Enevoldsen: Sure.
Peter Young: But that's what he would do. He would, you know, go to D.C. and back and, you know, if you looked at the box, grandiose sense of self, Uncle Robert checked it.
David Enevoldsen: Why do you think that Paige and her family were so enamored with this person? I mean, because from what you described, it sounds like a lot of his theories were insane. The you know, aesthetically I mean, you didn't paint a very pretty picture. I mean, it didn't sound like it was a very handsome dude, unless I'm misunderstanding. Like, what is it that that they grafted onto and that made them, do you have any idea or any sense of what what got them so hooked on this?
Peter Young: I do. I certainly don't know for sure. I don't know if anybody could other than those people, you know, if they were finally to come out of it and recognize how it happened. But I certainly knew the backstory, which was they met Uncle Robert, you know, almost 30 years before I ever met Paige, 25 years, let's say. So they would have met again in a singles, sorry. That's where I met Paige. They would have met Uncle Robert Paige's parents at a small seminary. I believe it was Mennonite Brethren. I'm not sure, but I think that's what it was in Fresno, California, late 60s, early 70s and Robert Booty's his real name. He would have glommed on to Jack and Cathy, Paige's parents at that time, kind of like a parasite to his host. And he's very charismatic at times. He can sound brilliant. Other times he does sound like a crackpot. And Jack and Cathy would have been very ripe for someone like that with their personality types. They, of course, already obviously had issues before Uncle Robert showed up, but with his personality very dominating. And so he was kind of always around. So then when Paige was born, you know, she knows no other world, right? She knows no other life other than Uncle Robert's the expert on everything. And I mean everything. You know, there was one time we were at the dentist's office. One of my sons had bonked his teeth. They were loose, and Paige refused to let the dentist go ahead with the procedure he recommended, which was just to install a little bar temporarily to let the teeth heal. She refused to let him do that until she'd been able to talk to Uncle Robert on the phone. So we sat in the guy's dentist chair for like an half an hour, and I was mortified. I was so embarrassed.
David Enevoldsen: And Uncle Robert doesn't have any dental training or.
Peter Young: He has no dental training whatsoever. Yes, I should point that out. He's not a doctor, but again, he's the expert on everything. So she finally got him on the phone. He said, "Oh, yeah, that sounds great." She hung up and we told the dentist, okay, let's go, we can do it. And I've got lots of stories like that where he was the expert on everything and you think, well, how could Paige think that way, right? Like you just asked, what's the appeal? Well, part of the appeal is she knows no other life. He was always this person of authority. And I can admit, even now, there are several things that he would have discussed with me in terms of, let's say, politics and economics that I had not thought of. But I thought he's got a good point. Even now, I consider myself, you know, kind of more of a libertarian. I was turned on to Ron Paul and Austrian economics and all this kind of stuff from him. He would then, of course, take everything Uncle Robert would and again spin it to places that I did not agree with. But that would take time. All of his spinning.
David Enevoldsen: It's fascinating. So I'm not, by any stretch an expert in cults. I mean, I was a psychology undergrad and I remember in some of our classes we spent some time talking about cults and some of the dynamics. So that almost makes sense because I remember, one of the things that we talked a lot about was this idea that a lot of times cults are preying on somebody in a very vulnerable, vulnerable place in their lives. So it almost makes sense that if Paige's parents kind of connect up with him at the right moment, they get sucked into his his philosophy, his ideologies. Then she's just brought up with it and she just sees him from as a child, as essentially the most brilliant man on earth, as you characterized it. Then she's sucked into it. So all of this kind of it's almost like being indoctrinated in a religion from the time you're born and never really questioning it, just assuming that's true. So I guess all of that kind of makes sense. How did you get out of this? So, I mean, at some point, obviously you had to realize consciously that you were in a cult and things were just going haywire. Like, what, can you explain what happened through that process?
Peter Young: Sure. So Paige finally got to the point where we'd been married almost 20 years. There was an immense amount of cognitive dissonance, I would say, in her, right? Because she was married and maybe by this point she certainly didn't love me anymore. But we had five kids, and I do believe that she did love me for the first few years. At what point that went away, I don't know. But she always considers Uncle Robert brilliant. 16, 17 years into our marriage, I finally caved from the pressure of her and Uncle Robert. You know, she'd never believed I was a Christian. So I finally, just to kind of get the cognitive dissonance out of my mind, finally said, okay, I must not be a Christian and allowed myself to be saved, quote unquote, by Uncle Robert, which I know was fraudulent and unnecessary and look back and it's awful.
David Enevoldsen: Well, I mean, can you elaborate on that? Because I know you touched on that a couple of different points in the book, too, which I found absolutely fascinating, I think ties into the kind of the the gatekeeper to God thing that you were. What do you mean by that when you say like you weren't actually saved, even though you'd been a Christian since you were a kid?
Peter Young: Sure. So, okay, let's let's go back. So we're really opening up Pandora's box.
David Enevoldsen: Sorry,
Peter Young: Theology okay,
David Enevoldsen: Since we're talking about it.
Peter Young: Yeah. So, okay, you know, thus the title of the book, Stop the Tall Man, Save the Tiger. Get ready, folks. This is fascinating. A few months before I met Paige, she gets baptized, and I remember I even called the pastor years later. I said, When you baptize somebody, do you have them express their faith in Jesus? He said, Yes, every time. Okay, so Paige got baptized and Uncle Robert wasn't there. Not only did he not baptize her, he wasn't there and that drove him nuts. So then a few months after that, and we haven't met yet, a few months after that, she has a dream. And in the dream it's very important to Paige. She's in a house with a boyfriend and there's a tiger on the loose and the tiger is looking to find her and kill her. She is trying to hide from the tiger, doesn't want to kill it because the tiger represents strength and honor and intelligence and other things that she values highly in life. Then the front door of the house opens and in comes a tall man. She can't see the face of the tall man. But then she hides, the boyfriend disappears and the tall man is there to kill the tiger. Okay. She has that dream. Sends the letter to Uncle Robert. Uncle Robert writes this long 24 page letter back to Paige, and she gets this letter like a day or two after we meet for the first time. So I'm six foot five. Uncle Robert is about five foot six. And again, now, looking back, it's obvious what this dream is about that the Lord was warning Paige about this guy, Uncle Robert. But Uncle Robert reads the letter, tries to pawn himself off as the tall man, even though he has a fake.
David Enevoldsen: He's short, right?
Peter Young: Knows, well, right. And he's five foot six, right? And I'm six foot five. And tries to make the tiger Paige's ego. So in Romans, Paul talks about, you know, we are saved. The old man is gone. The new has come. The tiger would represent Paige's ego or old person, and thus she's not saved. That was the key. So Uncle Robert convinces Paige that she's not saved because she didn't want to kill the tiger and he is going to save her. So in a few months after that, she does, she admits, "Oh, I must not be saved." Allows Uncle Robert to save her. Of course, if you're listening, you're kind of like, "Well, gee, Peter said, he's six foot five, so it's pretty obvious." Yeah, I'm six foot five. I had a face she did not recognize. Thus the dream. She can't tell who the tall man is. And oh, by the way, I met Paige at a singles Bible study, which again was like Uncle Robert wrote the letter because I have a copy of it on a Wednesday, mailed it on a Friday. We met on a Sunday in 1996, on October, and then Paige probably got the, you know, the letter a few days later. But we meet at a Bible study. The next week. She shows up to the singles Bible study Paige does with a boy with her.
Peter Young: I'm like, Oh gosh, stick a knife in my heart, right? And it's the guy from the dream and I've never seen him since. We meet at that singles Bible study. This guy, his name was Chad. She came with Paige, and I guess they weren't really dating and never saw him again. And that's exactly what happened in the dream. So of course, now I look back, it's like, Oh, yes, of course we missed it. And Uncle Robert was able to completely turn the dream upside down, of course, and convince Paige she believed it. Okay. So now she's, you know what, 24 and she allows Uncle Robert to save her, even though to me it's fraudulent. Not necessary.
David Enevoldsen: She was already saved.
Peter Young: Yeah, she already was. I mean, the Bible is pretty clear, if you.
David Enevoldsen: But not by Uncle Robert.
Peter Young: And, yeah, she was already, she didn't need Uncle Robert. You confess with your mouth, believe in your heart. You're saved. And she'd already done that. A few years later, Uncle Robert does it to Paige's father. And he's like in his 50s and had believed for decades. And he gets convinced. No, it was all fraudulent. I was a demonic fraud. About a year later Paige's mother, it's her turn now. She gets convinced by Uncle Robert. She's a demonic fraud. It's kind of like, you know, the phrase if a tree falls in the forest and no one's there to hear it, does it make a sound? It's like in our little cult, if someone is saved, but Uncle Robert's not there to validate it did it really happen? So it happened to Paige her parents and then, you know, 15 years later, me and I already was saved.
David Enevoldsen: Right.
Peter Young: But there was one thing that I experienced that was ubiquitous in my entire time is that, you know, I doubted every thought, every word, everything I did. Eventually, every single thing I thought did was doubted by me in my mind. And that was the impact of Uncle Robert on my life. And so kind of like what you brought up, like you've got all these people who are living these really messed up lives, fear and doubt and uncertainty. Well, how good can this person be for you if this is what he's doing to everybody? So to answer your previous question about how did I get out after all those years, that Paige considered me a fraud, right? Now, we'd been married 17 years when I finally just said, okay, I must not be a Christian. I must be missing something. In the back of my mind I knew that was crazy. But I just caved. And I wanted to have a strong relationship with my wife. And in that moment it was less of a, "Oh, I never really knew Jesus," as it was, "Oh Lord, maybe this will help bring my marriage back to where it used to be when we first got married." So anyway, you know, almost to the 20 year mark of our marriage, when she left me, she then considered me, of course, a liar, a fraud. I was never a Christian. So when we got married, the Lord didn't bring us together because he would never bring together a believer and an unbeliever.
Peter Young: Of course, me being the unbeliever. And then shortly thereafter, about a month or two after she left, it got really nasty, really quick. I became the devil. I was a sperm donor, a bloodline, a liar, a coward, a narcissist, a bully, an abuser. And she called me all these things. So, yeah, she left, took the three youngest kids with her. Convinced the children that I was all these things. And so, in effect, I didn't really leave as I was kind of kicked out. And then I didn't tell my family that my wife had left me and taken our three youngest kids, you know, 3 and 5. And for about four months. So I was not suicidal. But, you know, 2017 was a tough year. I lost 30 pounds. I couldn't sleep. I was a wreck.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Peter Young: And then as my family and friends rallied around me, that's really when I started to Lord opened my eyes and ears. And I started to really see and I would read these emails and letters from Paige and Uncle Robert and think, that's wrong. Right? And it was a huge step in my growth and recovery to ever be able to say to anything Uncle Robert or Paige said, that's wrong. Because again, I was fully brainwashed for about 2, 3 years to where I could never say that. But on the back side, when I got healthy, then I it was obvious to me at that point as it was to everybody else, everybody else saw it immediately. Yeah, it took me longer.
David Enevoldsen: One of the things that speaking as a former family law attorney, where I did lots of divorces and custody fights and kind of going through that dynamic, one of the parallels that I kept getting struck by as I was reading your book was that with just kind of a stereotypical domestic violence situation where it seems to check off a lot of these same boxes, it just feels like the cult situation is the same thing but broader in scope. You know that is to say you have somebody who's got to be the leader. They're generally very insecure deep down. But that insecurity seems to manifest in hyper control, you know, needing to control everything, convincing everybody there that they've got to ask this person for everything. An example of that. So I know somebody who was in one of these situations. It was kind of like a mini cult, essentially. So the there was an abusive husband. Abusive husband has sister and his mom convinced that he's basically the second coming. And, you know, he's just everything. He's so wonderful. It gets to the point where everything has to go through him first. The the husband's mother and the wife go out to lunch one day by themselves. The wife says, "I'm not sure what I want to get off the menu." The husband's mother says, "Well, you should call husband and ask him for advice."
David Enevoldsen: I mean, like, got that extreme where everything had to go through him. And that reminds me so much of like when you were talking about you're at the dentist and Paige has to call up Uncle Robert because, like, I don't know what to do. I don't know if we can proceed on this. We can't proceed without his say so. It seems like there's just a lot of parallels here. I mean, the narcissism, the abuse and something we didn't touch on. I think you sort of dance around this in the book a little bit. Also is a lot of times we think when in publicly, when we think of just the cults, we think of these people walking around in robes and sorry, I'm shifting topics a little bit here, but we think of people walking around in robes and drinking the Kool-Aid and, you know, chanting and banging the drum in the streets and everything. And obviously, that wasn't the case here, right? I mean, there weren't people walking around in robes or any of that stuff. But nonetheless, I mean, you have the essential dynamics here. Well, before I go too too much further, I mean, do you have thoughts in terms of the parallels between the abuse dynamic and the the cult situation?
Peter Young: Yeah, what I would have experienced and I would say also with with Paige and our children is that we were emotionally abused. So mentally, emotionally and spiritually abused by Robert. Again, thankfully there was no sexual or physical abuse at all. Um, but the mental and emotional and spiritual abuse, I can look back now and it's really obvious again with how much we doubted. I mean, we doubted so much that we would have doubted our ability to be saved without him. That, you know, gatekeeper to God was more than just gatekeeper was borderline. He was our savior. Now, nobody would have said that but Paige and her testimony. So for the Christian, the testimony is, well, here's how I became saved. Here's what the Lord has done for me. And you know, her testimony, which I have a copy of it, you know, it mentions Uncle Robert more than it does Jesus. Um, so I, I look at that like that is abuse. Again, it's not physical, but it can be just as damaging, if not more so.
David Enevoldsen: Well, and now let me circle back to where I was going a second ago before I cut myself off. Um, we like I was saying, we tend to think of like, there's the, the robes and the drums and everything. And I think along with that, very often we have the, you know, the cult leader gets to take his pick and bed whichever women in the cult he wants. Um, and I didn't necessarily hear that but in the book you talk a little bit about there's an accusation about Uncle Robert molesting someone in the family. Do you believe that that happened or, I mean, do you think there was any kind of sexual manipulation or anything of that sort? Sexual molestation, anything like that?
Peter Young: You know, um, thankfully, no. I guess the answer is no. I don't think that is the case. But you bring up a question that I can answer with a few anecdotes, a few stories, I think most are in the book, but some might not be. So, um. Okay. So the one sister So, Paige, had one sister and she, you know, confronted the family and Uncle Robert in 2000, long, long time ago, and said, I don't think he is who he says he is. I don't think he's special. I don't think he is all that he claims to be. In fact, I think he's a fraud and he's a danger to our family. And then she was the one that made these claims, you know, which to me at the time, I remember sounded like, boy, that almost sounds like Uncle Robert raped her. But I couldn't see that. And that's not what the claims were. They were more, you know, creepy, inappropriate stuff. But illegal? No, but, you know, weird. Yes. So, of course, she was then shunned and vilified over that. And, you know, again, it was I reconnect with her years later and she told me the accusations. Again. Illegal? No. Really inappropriate? Yep. So that's 2000. She was shunned. Okay, you move on. In the years and I never saw anything that would have been, you know, inappropriate in that realm. There's a lot that he did that was inappropriate.
Peter Young: I certainly saw nothing physical, but certainly there are ways to be inappropriate without being physical. For instance, a couple of years after our marriage, I lost my wedding band, couldn't find it, bought a new one. Years later, I found it. It was in an old jacket just hidden in a pocket. And I was so thrilled that I'd found it because, you know, our marriage was not what it used to be. I realized that Paige really honored and revered and adored Uncle Robert more than me. So I was so excited. I found it. Told her about it. Eh, well, now I had two wedding bands. I certainly couldn't wear two. And oh, by the way, right about that time, Uncle Robert lost his wedding band. So Paige asked me to send it to him, and I found it unseemly, but I did. So he's wearing my wedding band. Okay, a few years after that, it gets worse. A few years after that, we had five kids and we had talked about having a sixth and we it was a boy we were going to name him Matthew. And we had a date night and she got all dressed up, Paige did. We went to a coffee shop and she tells me about her burning desire to have another son. And this is sounding great to me. But then she tells me it's not for me, it's for another man. So Uncle Robert had two sons and those sons got married and had daughters.
Peter Young: They did not have any male heirs. Well, Uncle Robert's bloodline was so precious and important to preserve for mankind that she wanted to be a surrogate. Paige did, and have a male grandson to carry on Uncle Robert's precious bloodline. And I was appalled by the idea. And thank God it didn't happen. But that was the control, emotional, mental control that, you know, Uncle Robert had on Paige or, you know, she also gave to him. And then when she finally left me, uh, President Trump had just been elected was now inaugurated, you know, like two weeks after she left me. Nobody knew. We didn't even tell my kids. She goes to D.C. to be Uncle Robert's like assistant. So he's there in D.C. and they're there for two weeks together, helping to save the world, right, from the Jews or who knows, whatever they're doing. Well, you piece the puzzle, you piece them together. Right, Dave? And you've got you know, he's wearing my wedding band. She wanted to provide him with a male heir, and now they go off for two weeks together. Sounds a lot like a honeymoon to me. So, again, there was nothing sexual that I know of, and I really don't think anything happened. But there was all kinds of inappropriate things between a man and a woman who were not married. That should not have happened.
David Enevoldsen: Well. And it's almost hard to embrace the idea that something wasn't going to happen at some point if it didn't, you know, even if it didn't prior. I mean, do you think that that idea was coming from Uncle Robert or do you think this was a mutual idea or Paige's idea or.
Peter Young: Well, the surrogacy issue, I'm convinced, was Paige's idea. Now, again, you know, listen, I loved this woman and adored her. And the idea of wanting to do that is certainly one that is not selfish but selfless. It's like it's a wonderful idea. I think it was horribly inappropriate, but it was a kind thought. Right? Same thing with the wedding band. Horribly inappropriate, but there is a certain amount of kindness there, right? Right before, about a few months before she left me, they went to a doTERRA conference in Salt Lake City. So, doTERRA, they do the essential oils and Paige was really into that. And at the last minute I decided we both did, I wouldn't go at stay at home with the five kids. She goes to Salt Lake City and oh, by the way, she's got an extra ticket. Well, guess who goes with her? Uncle Robert. So, then they share a hotel room. Now, even now, I'm convinced other people may doubt me, but I don't care, that nothing happened. I mean, you'd have to see the two, you know, Paige and Uncle Robert. I do not think anything happened. But when she came back after being, you know, down there in Salt Lake City, sharing a hotel room with another man while her husband's at home with the five kids, and she was livid with me, I mean, irate with me because she was convinced I thought something inappropriate happened between the two of them, which I didn't. But it didn't matter what I said. She was convinced that I had had doubts about them. So think about the irony, right? I'm here at home with five kids. I've been faithful our entire marriage. And she goes and shares a hotel room for a couple nights in a different state, in a different city. And then I'm the bad guy when she came back.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah,
Peter Young: It was kind of like a pretty good picture of how the last few years of our marriage went.
David Enevoldsen: It seems like there again, having read through the book there, it seemed like there was nothing you could do. I mean, one of the starkest examples of that in my mind was the birthday party, the 40th birthday party that you throw. And I mean, I mean you clearly went all out. I mean, you did this whole thing. And can you speak to that just briefly?
Peter Young: Sure. So when Paige turned 40, I planned a surprise birthday party. We were kind of ranch sitting at friend's house at this beautiful ranch in Montana with mountain views and cottonwoods and open space. And so I planned a surprise and absolutely pulled it off, hit a home run. She had no idea there was, you know, 50 of friends and family there, including my parents and of course, Paige's parents. And Uncle Robert was there, which, by the way, Uncle Robert's wife hardly ever came anywhere, it was only him. And we have this wonderful celebration and she is at that moment gushing in her praise and affection for me. So happy, right? I mean, it was a really a wonderful moment. But then when everybody else left, of course, not everybody left. We're still staying at this ranch because the owners were off on vacation. So we stayed there for a few weeks and we had this little, you know, mini conference with Uncle Robert and her parents and Paige's parents. And, you know, my family and I had apparently recently been asking too many questions about the Jews or Uncle Robert's other favorite topic, which is America's sovereign national credit, which is a bizarre, idiotic idea. And so because I've asked so many questions, he had written this 9 or 10 page response, which he gave copies to everybody. And he is blistering in his attack on me and how stupid I am to ask him these questions.
Peter Young: So that night, the night of her 40th birthday party, we had this great time. We're in the house and he's leading this, you know, little mini conference and he's tearing me to shreds. And, you know, by the end of the night, Paige is looking at me like I'm an idiot, you know, and and whatever, you know, goodwill I had engendered by having this surprise birthday party was gone. I was back to being this miserable person that, unfortunately, you know, she had married. And, well, you know, she if you really know your Bible, she called herself Abigail. So, in the Bible, there's a story about Abigail. She's married to this surly drunk named Nabal who then dies, and then Abigail marries King David. Which, of course, you know, if she's Abigail, I'm Nabal, and Uncle Robert is King David. So, you know, that night, you know, I'm just again, I'm Nabal. I'm an idiot. And, you know, I think Uncle Robert probably saw the way Paige had been speaking about me that day. Probably didn't like it and had to reassert his control. And really, Paige was always his most important convert. Paige is tall, attractive. She's got two master's degrees, well-spoken. And here's Uncle Robert. You know, no job, no income, no success. You know, he doesn't look or sound like a leader. So he always had to have Paige by his side because Paige would give him instant cachet and authority.
David Enevoldsen: Interesting. Wow, this is such a crazy story. So circling back to the end of the, I guess your whole cycle with all this stuff, where did this end up? I mean, do you you said she took off with the kids. I mean, do you do you have access to the kids now? Like where where did the where did the story end?
Peter Young: Well, you know, I mean, in some regards, the story is still going on. But so I will I will recap So, in 2017, um, she took the three youngest. The two oldest stayed with me because they were in college and high school at the time, but I didn't tell anybody. I didn't tell, literally didn't tell my family for four months. Nobody in Montana knew for about 8 or 9 months. And I suffered quietly. And Paige and Uncle Robert still at the time, are operating under the assumption that I'm a fraud, a demonic, satanic, serpentine fraud, not safe. So I'm on the phone all the time with Uncle Robert. And you would think, wait a minute, you know, he's convinced your wife that you know you're the devil and she's left you, but you're talking to him. He was the only person I could talk to. At the time I felt like it. She left. I'm miserable and I'd be talking on the phone to him, this mad man. So that was for the first, you know, a few months after she left, it got really nasty. When my family got involved they, of course, saw it immediately. And the amazing thing is David it's not a he said she said. Paige and Uncle Robert put all of this in writing. They were so confident that Uncle Robert's right and the rest of the world doesn't get it, right? Like they don't understand his brilliance. So they had nothing to hide. So they would write these outrageous letters and emails and I would share them with my family.
Peter Young: Because if I read them, I would, you know, get thrown for a loop, couldn't sleep, etcetera, couldn't eat. So they encouraged me to get legal representation, which we did, which I was even scared to do because I'm worried. What, you know, would Uncle Robert think if I got an attorney, you know? And then they also recommended we get what's called a guardian ad litem, which is appointed by the court. It's a person to look out for the best interests of the children in a high conflict divorce. So, guardian ad litem gets involved about a year later, 2018. The kids are still up in Idaho. Paige had moved there to live with her parents. For a time at cut off my access to them. And they were all convinced that I was a devil. In fact, one of my younger children said, "You know, dad, if I were a devil, I'd want someone to tell me." So they had been convinced that they were convinced that by Uncle Robert and Paige calling me a devil, they were doing me a favor so that I would see it and finally admit it to the Lord. I'm a devil, right? So the guardian ad litem gets involved. And the upshot is she writes this jaw dropping 50 page report. She sees the cult influence, which is abusive to children, and she sees the parental alienation, which is a fancy way of saying, you know, one parent tries to badmouth the other to the point the kids don't want anything to do with him or her.
David Enevoldsen: If anybody needs elaboration on that, I actually recently did an episode all about parental alienation. So go back and check that out if you want.
Peter Young: Well, so I mean, oh, my gosh, maybe we got to do another show here, David, because the guardian ad litem, my attorneys and a family counselor, when I got the kids back, we saw this family counselor. They all said it was the worst case of parental alienation they'd ever seen in a combined 60 years of practice. And it was so obvious and stark and it was so brazen and self-righteous, the way Paige would describe, "Well, you're going to lose the kids, you know, take a hike." And so then I started to get called a bloodline and a sperm donor. And the really wicked part of all this, remember, I shared that Paige was so concerned with Uncle Robert's bloodline, how she wanted to provide him with a male heir. A few months after she left me she and Uncle Robert started to kind of go down this path of you just need to be a friend to the children, stay as far away as you can physically. That's what they told me. Do them a favor. Stay away. Just be a friend because you're not a father, Peter. Come on. You're a you're a sperm donor. You're not even a dad. Just be a friend. And then maybe one day you could earn that position. Well, I knew that was wicked, because, again, you go back to one of the hallmarks of a cult where everybody is kind of the child of the guru. Well, Paige's father had been calling Uncle Robert dad for years. We called him Uncle Robert. My children called him either Grandpa Bob or Uncle Robert. So the goal obviously was get rid of me because I'm just a sperm donor and have my children all be, in essence, the children of Uncle Robert.
David Enevoldsen: And I'm not sure if we said this before, but in the book you say this like Uncle Robert was not actually related to anyone here.
Peter Young: Not at all. Yeah. And again, you know, you know any adult, thank you, David, any adult could see this immediately, right? Like, it's pretty obvious. But again, some of my children during this process are obviously very young. And so what is kind of obvious to an adult might not be obvious to a 4 or 5 year old child, right? So they start calling him "Grandpa Bob." Is he really related? And then Jack would call Uncle Robert, you know, "Dad." So now, again, for a five year old, really? Is he our dad? This could get a little confusing. And that's exactly the way they wanted it to, where he, Uncle Robert, would be the dad of everybody and I would be out of the picture.
David Enevoldsen: So that didn't happen, it sounds like.
Peter Young: Thankfully, yes, it did not happen. So the the 50 page report was adopted as interim parenting plan by the judge. And it was obvious like everybody saw it. I mean, everybody on the outside that has any knowledge at all of the situation. It's not like, hmm, I don't know. It's obvious. So the kids have been living with me full time for five years. Um, their mom still visits on occasion. Um, supervised visits because again, the court saw how bad this was, and I still didn't want the divorce. I hated the idea of divorce. I still love this woman. Now, the woman I married is gone. Like, I have not seen her in a long time, but I still feel for that woman and care for her. I haven't seen that woman, you know, in years. Now Paige is still alive, but she's a completely different person. So the divorce, unfortunately did finally happen. Took about three years, and we fought it and fought it. She went through four attorneys. We both got, you know, spent, well I spent over six figures. And the divorce did happen. It's been a couple years now. And again, just never wanted it. I used to pray every day that she would have a road to Damascus type moment where Saul becomes Paul and then writes, you know, of course, half the New Testament that she would have her eyes and ears open like I did.
Peter Young: But you've gotta remember. I was only brainwashed for 2 or 3 years, and it took me a year to recover.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Peter Young: I believe she's been brainwashed her entire life, so I don't know what that recovery would look like. So, unfortunately. You know, I don't have any contact with Uncle Robert at all. I hardly ever have any contact with Paige. And what little contact there is very toxic. You know, in court filings, she recently called me a murderer, a documented abuser. You know, and all kinds of names. And I know the judge and everybody else sees it. But it's still not fun to read when somebody calls you a murderer. I mean, especially a woman you used to love. So it's sad. It is sad. But the kids, the three youngest, have really recovered.
David Enevoldsen: Good.
Peter Young: You know, they would have been brainwashed, too. They would have believed all this. And now they see it. I don't badmouth their mother. I know they love their mother. I don't believe their mother is healthy mentally. And so they are very well aware the children of the damage of Uncle Robert and his beliefs and his theology. So.
David Enevoldsen: How old are your kids now?
Peter Young: So the three youngest that live with me are 18, 15, and 12. And, you know, listen, I'm not a perfect dad. They're not perfect kids. We've been through a lot. Boy, oh boy, we've had our ups and downs. But, you know, their faith now is truly genuine. They truly do love the Lord. They realize what happened to our family. It's very hard on them. My two oldest children, two boys, are in their 20s. They're graduated college. You know, they're young men now on their own. They don't want much to do with me, which is very difficult. I'm not the first father to have to go through this, I realize. But it's hard.
David Enevoldsen: They don't want to do much to do with you because of all of this.
Peter Young: Well, they believe their mom. Yeah, they completely believe their mom and all this that I'm a fraud. I'm a liar. They may not think I'm the devil, but they don't believe my side of the story. They still believe their mom because they're protecting her. I get that. And it's hard to get angry with them because of, you know, everything they went through.
David Enevoldsen: Sure.
Peter Young: It's hard. I mean, anybody would have you know, the recovery from that is traumatic. I mean, again, Uncle Robert had poisoned their minds so much. You know, I have emails and letters from Paige and the two older boys and the things that they wrote in these emails, you could tell straight from Uncle Robert's devious mind. But the kids believed it and they had soaked in this incredible amount of poison, hatred, and self-righteousness and judgment. That I know comes straight from him.
David Enevoldsen: Gosh. Um, can we circle, just to kind of touch on the theme that we sort of started with what's the role that Christianity played in kind of your recovery and getting out of all of this stuff?
Peter Young: Yeah. Thanks for getting it back to something a little more positive and light, right?
David Enevoldsen: Yes.
Peter Young: Um, so, you know, I can look back now and realize that all of the nonsense of Uncle Robert and trying to be saved by him was was unnecessary, fraudulent, wicked. I had allowed myself to doubt my faith and as if I somehow needed him, which is totally unnecessary. That is probably the worst part of his theology, is that, you know, he somehow has to be involved. And that's just not true. Christianity at its foundation is you can't earn it. And it's a free gift. Okay. Um, and then anytime somebody tries to step in and say you do need to earn it or you need me, tears away the foundation of Christianity. I used to when people would have their testimonies, right? So you probably, you know, if your dad was a pastor, you've probably seen this. People would give their testimony how they came to the Lord. And tears and emotion is dramatic, right? And mine really wasn't dramatic. You know, I was a 13 year old kid. I was shy. I didn't know a lot, but I knew I sincerely believed and accepted the Lord, right? And so I would doubt my testimony. Um, now I look back on it because what happened was I was at a Christian basketball camp. I accepted the Lord, whatever you want to call it, you know, gave my life over to the Lord, accepted, surrender, whatever it is, we call it different things. Um, and then somebody asked me, you know, that night, are you a Christian? I said, "Yes." And then this person said, "Well, did you, you know, get saved tonight?" And I said, "No," because I was a shy 13 year old guy that didn't know this person who was asking me these questions.
Peter Young: But because I then lied about it, you know, I doubted whether or not I did it right. You know, and for years and years and years, it bothered me. But now I look back and it doesn't bother me one bit because I now realize that, you know, I was an imperfect person, still am in need of a perfect savior. And here I was a little kid and I asked the Lord into my life. And I do genuinely, you know, sincerely believe this. And then I lied. Well, well, duh. You know, isn't that kind of the human condition? Right? Like, that's what we humans do. Oh, that's just proof. I needed to be saved by Jesus. So when I finally recovered and became healthy, I saw all this. I recognized all of this and knew that all along I was saved. And even in my darkest moments in that spring and summer of 2017, where I'm doubting everything, I'm still reading my Bible, I'm still praying. So on one one compartment of my mind, I know that I'm saved and loved by God. And the other part, boy, I must be missing something. Because Uncle Robert says I'm still not saved.
David Enevoldsen: Right.
Peter Young: And thankfully, that other compartment got shut off, turned off and cast to the side. And so without my faith, I wouldn't be here. So in other words, when I say my faith, family, and friends got me out of it, it's faith first and foremost. And that was through my family and friends that went along with their faith, helped me get back on my feet.
David Enevoldsen: Do you have any thoughts on what I was saying at the beginning about this idea of using reason to kind of keep in check where you're going with faith. Do you agree with that statement? Do you? And vice versa keeping faith to keep the science logic reason in check?
Peter Young: Well, I think here's the way I would answer it. I'll give the analogy. You know, Uncle Robert would, okay, if you miss hit a golf ball. If you miss hit a golf ball by like a quarter inch, 100 yards down the fairway, it's way up to the left or way up to the right. Nowhere near the pin, right? Okay. Uncle Robert would tee up the right golf ball, so to speak. He would read to us from the Bible, but then he would give each and every verse his own little unique and perverse spin to it. So then five, ten, 15 years down the road, we're way away from the gospel of Christianity. Okay, So the reason I bring that up now to answer your question is, you know, we became isolated to where Uncle Robert's voice was the only voice that we were listening to in terms of our faith. We had become secretive and paranoid of everybody else, that we circle the wagons around Uncle Robert, and thus we didn't listen to any other voices. So there was no one there to say, you know, Uncle Robert told me this. What do you think? There was no, you know, as the talks about in the Bible, iron sharpening iron, we left every church we went to. You know, we'd go to a church Paige and I for a year or two, then leave, then leave, then leave till finally we stopped going and then we would just talk to him on the phone or go to our conferences.
Peter Young: So when you talk about logic, the way I would describe it is if you know you or anybody else out there has what you think is this sublime teacher that's so brilliant and yet you're not sharing it with other people like we did. We kind of kept it a secret. Well, that's a red flag. What are you afraid of? Why are you not sharing this with other people? If you think you have the truth corner, then you should be able to share people and answer tough questions. But Uncle Robert didn't want tough questions, and we didn't share with other people. Why? Because I think deep down in my mind, I knew if I shared this with my family, they'd think it was nuts because most of it was nuts. So if you maintain strong Christian fellowship, then you are open to, let's say, logical questions. Oh, you believe this? Where did you get that from? If it's nothing to be ashamed of or worried about or hidden, any question is fair game and you should be able to defend it and answer those questions. Does that make sense?
David Enevoldsen: Yeah, absolutely. I think you're touching on the same thing I was trying to get to. I think you're probably articulating it better. That's kind of where I wanted to go with it was it's just this idea in my head that if all I do is kind of follow faith and it's so easy to just follow a person that's telling me a thing and then just go down this rabbit hole of crazy ideas. And if I'm not able to sit down and kind of discuss it with other people, get feedback, deal with tough questions about those things, or if I'm getting answers to those tough questions that just are not making sense, then there might be something wrong with this rabbit hole I'm going down, you know, as opposed to if I really am truly seeking something that is going to make sense in this world, in my life, you know, that is connecting with the reality of the way the world works, then I'm not going to have this conflict between the kind of logic of the questions and the thing and believing in. So, at least that's how I'm interpreting it. So I think that I think we're on the same page, if I'm hearing you correctly.
Peter Young: I think so. You know, I went on another podcast recently and it was run by a lady who is a conservative Jew, and she talks, I think it's called Living Out Your Beliefs. And there were times they're like, should I go on this podcast or not? And I told her all about Uncle Robert and his crazy anti-Semitism and we talked about in the podcast. But I enjoyed the interview because again, we should be able to defend our faith and answer difficult questions. And if I have somebody asked me a really difficult question, I can't come up with an answer, okay. I'm not worried or scared or angry about it. I need to do a better job in my investigation and research, and we should be open to that. That helps us grow in our faith. And that's what we avoided with Uncle Robert. It was just believe Uncle Robert. There were numerous times where Jack would tell me something Paige's father, about, you know, a new belief about, you know, Uncle Robert, right? You know, casinos are churches, right? Or there was another one he came up with. Not necessary, but it was along the lines of I would ask a question about it and he'd say, Oh, I don't know. Uncle Robert can explain it, you know. And I would get a lot of that. And of course, Uncle Robert didn't explain it very well, but the idea was don't ask, just trust him.
David Enevoldsen: Well I had one more question on my outline here, which I feel like we kind of just answered in essence in that. So if you want to elaborate on this or just say that this is what we just said, feel free to address it that way. But my question was ultimately, if you feel like you might be in this situation or there's a possibility that you ever could be, how do you defend against it? And maybe we just answered that in terms of just like question and be okay with the idea of challenging things. And do you have additional thoughts on that?
Peter Young: Well, some people will ask a similar question and they'll say, well, what are the warning signs, right? What are the warning signs that you or somebody else is headed down the road of being, let's say, brainwashed or in a cult? And I always say on the back of my book, you never know you are in a cult. You only know you were in one. Nobody joins a cult. And when you're in a cult, cults don't exist. It's only when you get out where you realize, Oh yeah, that was a cult, okay. But the warning signs would be and by the way, people will say, well, they can never happen to me. I'm here to say and please read my book, it can happen to anybody. Okay? I mean, a lot of the people in our little cult had master's degrees and everybody was a college graduate. But one of the big warning signs would be if you have a friend or family member that has cut off all of their traditional relationships. So no more emails, no more phone calls, no more showing up to church, the bowling league, Friday night, morning coffee, whatever it is, right? And they've got someone new in their life and it's hard to describe what he stands for, but they've broken off all of these traditional relationships. Well, the reason why you break off all those relationships is because cults maintain control through separation, secrecy and paranoia. That's a huge red flag. Now, that's if you're looking, you know, to look out for somebody else, right? But in your own life, if somebody approaches you and you start following this or that person and there's an emphasis on secrecy, there's an emphasis on separation. Again, that's a huge red flag. If this person again is so brilliant, take your friends, take your family. And if that's not welcome, leave. That's a problem.
David Enevoldsen: Well, and again, I'm struck by the parallels with like domestic violence situations as well, because you have the same thing there where you sort of cut off, I'm an abusive husband. I want to be hyper controlling. I start preventing my wife from seeing friends and family and anybody that might be questioning me, in essence. You know, unless they're fully in support of me and what I'm saying, I don't want her to have exposure to any of these other people. It feels like a very similar dynamic. So either either situation I have a and to your point about this can happen to anybody. I remember I knew a woman who to me just seemed like a very strong, brassy woman. And I never would have thought she would have been in an abusive relationship. And she ended up meeting this guy across the country, married him, sells everything she has, goes over and lives with him. And almost overnight, he's like locking her in a closet for eight hour stretches because she misspoke and he'd leave her a bucket so she could use the restroom. And I mean, it took her a lot to get out of that. And so, I mean, to your point, I'm sure the same principle applies with cults. It can happen to anybody and abuse can happen to anybody. These domestic violence situations this hyper control. I think anybody can find themselves just wrapped up in it. And that's why it becomes so important to watch for these signs, I think.
Peter Young: And the point that I'll make is a lot of people who live near me have read my book and they say, Oh my God, Peter, I'm so sorry. I had no idea. You know, I live right down the road. I had no idea. And I tell them it's okay. Nobody knew, right? Like nobody knew. We did a really good job of hiding it and trying to keep it secret. And so that's why I wrote this book. Like I didn't really want to share my entire life and all the dirty laundry with the rest of the world. But I did because I felt such an urgency to do this, because for close to 20 years I was silent. I was largely mute, maybe not completely so, but largely silent of what was going on. And that is the most powerful tool that cults have is to keep the members quiet and keep it secretive. Because I guarantee you, you know, nobody knew what was really going on with our little cult of Uncle Robert. Well, then how many of those are there in our country where there's a group of 5 or 6 or 20 or 10 or 3 or 4, and nobody really knows. That's why I wrote the book and hope that it can be A) a cautionary tale of what can happen. And B), here's kind of what you got to do to keep your eye out. And you can see these warning signs.
David Enevoldsen: Well, that raises one more interesting question. If you're on the outside of this and you see somebody that you care about or a friend, colleague, acquaintance something and you become aware of this, they read your book and they're like, whoa, this person is in a cult or they're in some some similar dynamic. What do you do from the outside? You have suggestions to that person?
Peter Young: And that really is a hard question for me to answer because I think back 20/20 does not always give you, you know, perfect or hindsight is not always 20/20. It can be, right?
David Enevoldsen: Right.
Peter Young: So when I think back, well, what would happen if 20 years ago or 15 years ago, a church member or one of my family members, the Youngs, right, had intervened more strongly, more vociferously, and said, Peter, can you please tell me more about this Uncle Robert? Well, there's a good chance my marriage would have ended then. I don't know, right? I know that if I had, I had spoken up then to Paige Uncle Robert, I would have been, you know, the the boiling water of the frog would have been turned way up and I would have boiled. And, you know, maybe my marriage would have ended instead of at 20 years, at 15, 10 or 5. I don't know that for sure. All I know is it would have been very difficult in my position for someone on the outside to come on in years later. But early on, just a few years into our marriage, if somebody had seen it, I think, yeah, we could have tackled this issue and perhaps kicked him out of our lives and maybe things would have been different. But it's very difficult. It probably would take a ton of courage and patience for that person to say, sweetheart, buddy, pal, you know, cousin, whatever it is, I'm concerned.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Peter Young: And and then somehow you have got to get that person away from the cult members and the cult leader. You don't kidnap the person, but you got to get him over a cup of coffee. Maybe you drive them so they can't go anywhere and have a good heart to heart conversation and pray like crazy.
David Enevoldsen: And I'm looking at the clock. I feel like I could go on forever on this. I've got one more substantive question here, but before we get to that, if anybody wants to read your book, so you've got a couple of books, the one we've been talking about is Stop the Tall Man, Save the Tiger. And just as an aside, it is extremely well written, very easy to read. Fascinating story. Kind of as the cover says, it's haunting. It's disturbing almost. And it's at some points it's hard to believe that this is real. But I mean, again, having seen some family law, I believe it. But with that said, if anybody wants to get a copy of your book or learn more about you or anything, where do they go?
Peter Young: Sure. So both of my books Stop The Tall Man, Save the Tiger and the previous novel about faith and basketball, it's called The Blue Team, both available on Amazon. So obviously real easy to find. I also have a website. It's authorpeteryoung.com and you can also get a link to my YouTube page and that is again at authorpeteryoung. I love to read and write. I kind of think of myself as a storyteller. So I have, I think over 80 videos on my YouTube channel about book reviews, about books I've read, and I give a short little review on them. So that's where you can find me.
David Enevoldsen: Okay? And I'm not just saying this because like we're doing the interview, like it's legitimately a fascinating read and it is very well written. So if you're listening, please check it out. It's a great book. Okay. Um, last question I'll ask you and then we'll kind of leave it here. And this is something I ask everybody at the end of the interviews that I do on this show. If you could offer just one piece of advice to people and that you could only leave with people with just one thing, one little nugget about how to optimize emotional health or strength or just to live your best life possible, what would that advice be?
Peter Young: Sure. And I knew this question was coming. And I've been debating the two, right? I've got all these two really good ones, but I'm going to go with the the one what I would say for me would be the most impactful and that would be as a Christian, this is my identity, it would be to maintain strong Christian fellowship. And you can even broaden it to, say, strong fellowship with people that truly love you. So, you know, your your church family, but also your family. Again, in Christianity, it's called the body of Christ. Well, if you if you chop off the toe, guess what? The toe dies. Body is fine. Toe is going to die. Toss it in the trash. Okay. Same thing. If you isolate yourself and are no longer around the fellowship of people that agree with you and love you, you are in for a difficult life. You've got to maintain those strong relationships.
David Enevoldsen: Love it. And that goes right back to what we were just talking about a few minutes ago. So that's if you're not around the body, then when the crazy things happen, there's nobody to keep it all in check. So nobody to make you realize that you're going down a crazy road or something like that. Um, this has been an absolute pleasure, Peter. Thank you very much for doing the show. I appreciate it. Again, anybody listening, please check out the book or haven't read the Blue Team. But I'm sure if the writing in this one is any indication, it's also excellent. So thank you for being on the show. I appreciate your time today. And guess I'll let you go there.
Peter Young: David. I thank you very much.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. So that's going to bring us to the end of today's show. I hope that you found this useful. I hope that you found this interesting. I know that I have found this absolutely fascinating. And I hope that, most importantly, you can take something out of the show and make your life just a little bit better. I hope that there's some little nugget somewhere. Even if this wasn't just collectively fascinating and useful, I hope that there's something that you can take away here. Don't forget to go to the website and sign up for the Emotional Embuffination newsletter. Again, the website is embuff.com. Remember, keep working on this stuff. Emotional Embuffination is a journey, just like physical fitness is a journey. You don't go to the gym one time, work out and say I'm buff forever. You keep working on it on a regular basis. You go to the gym multiple times and it becomes part of your normal routine. Same thing with Emotional Embuffination. You have to keep working on this stuff. You keep practicing it, learning more about it, implementing it into your life. That's how we become stronger. At the end of the day, I want you to be emotionally strong enough to go from saying things like, "The struggle is real," to saying, "What struggle?" Thank you all for listening. I hope you've enjoyed this. Have a great week. And I will see you on the next show.