By Deke Sharon
Thank you so very much for responding in detail. Obviously you care a great deal about all this, which means a lot.
I would still very much like to hear from Keith himself (as he’s the head honcho), but you bring up some really good points and I’d like to know more:
Clare wrote: First, I know the people who back Rick Ross to fabricate the cult controversy through a carefully funded, politically orchestrated campaign of media and law.
Can you be more specific? Who is funding him and his efforts? And why?
(Rick Ross is the guy who has a web site with many articles about NXIVM and Keith).
And also, when doing a big web search, I have to say I can’t find any positive articles about either Keith or NXIVM. Any idea why?
I tried to find out who the realrickross blogger is, or any other info, but these articles seem to be the long and short of it, which I have to say is not impressive. Rick Ross, imperfect as he is, stands behind his work and statements.
I did find a wikipedia article about him that seems carefully vetted:
Clare wrote: Keith tends not to talk about his achievements and has always kept very quiet about the people he knows.
Hmm. His web site talks about his achievements (reading at age 2, etc.), but they’re neither very recent nor reflected in the media. And also, let’s be honest – as humble as he is, he’s a businessman who relies on his reputation, as we all do. He probably took part in the bio at keithraniere.com if not wrote it outright. Which isn’t a sin at all, and shouldn’t be seen as such.
Anyway, what has he done, since you know him well?
Clare wrote: Is he money driven? Although his past businesses have put him in a profit position of over $1 million dollars a month, he did not take this money and lives in the same house he has for the last 20 years: an $80k (purchase price) condominium in a small suburban neighborhood. He lives a very simple, modest life where he teaches voice, piano and invents—he also coaches some to the top people in the world.
So he has/had heaps of money at his disposal, but doesn’t/didn’t spend it? I’m not sure I understand.
He also got sued by several states for having a pyramid/Ponzi scheme. You gotta admit – that looks bad.
Speaking of money, Forbes Magazine said you loaned NXIVM $2 million dollars. That’s a whole bunch of money, especially to an organization that charges $10,000 for a seminar (is that right?). And it is/was to be paid off via life coaching as opposed to repaid?
Is that report correct? If so, what did the organization need so much money for?
Rational and compromising is good.
Doing the right thing is also good.
But why so many law suits? One article said that he has several cases currently pending in Albany court. Is that right? That also doesn’t look good.
Don’t get me wrong – no one has to look good all the time. But there are just a bunch of things floating unanswered. And not answering doesn’t look good.
He has a book? I’d love to read it! But I can’t find it online. How can I get a copy?
I can’t find these journals online either. What kind of journals are they, and what are the articles about? I’d love to read them.
You think he’d be smart enough to dodge all this bad press, no?
…sorry. Just attempting some levity.
I gotta say, you guys are dumping all this money and time into collegiate a cappella… why not Free Tibet?!? Or AIDS research? Or global hunger?
You gotta admit – it’s a little unusual. Your network appears out of nowhere with no background, history or experience in a cappella and all of a sudden throws an a cappella seminar twice a year free of charge at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars a pop.
I can’t find this online either. My google skills are apparently waning. Any link?
So why aren’t their testimonials splashed on the website? Or anywhere else to be found, for that matter? I’m not doubting many people have taken the training… but wouldn’t some positive words from a number of them do worlds of good to contrast claims of being a cult?
If these people are happy with their experiences, and the point of NXIVM is to help people be more empowered, and y’all have a rather significant PR problem… why not get their endorsements? It’s absolutely standard.
You have to understand: your organization is built largely on one man’s credibility, and that credibility is suspect throughout any media reports I could find online. The guy’s smart and connected… and yet hasn’t rectified the situation, and doesn’t even speak up here. In our silly little forum, where people want to support and believe him.
Again, doesn’t look good.
I’m not sure I know what you mean… but for people who don’t know him, a brief search on his name is not reassuring. Do you mean a recommendation to people that he has taught? Pull in in some big names? Wait… how about you? Wanna make a call and land the House Jacks a record deal? We’ll call the album “Get Down, Clare!” and promise the art will have an equestrian theme.
Dianetics can get Tom Cruise to say or do about anything for them. I’m sorry, but this doesn’t support anything. Doesn’t mean you’re a part of a cult, but it doesn’t refute it either.
Clare wrote: Do you think Keith needs to recruit college students?
Recruit? I don’t know. Perhaps future leaders of tomorrow and potential seminar attendees? Doesn’t have to be a recruitment move. Could just be good business. A loss leader of sorts.
Let me ask you: Why give something free to a bunch of college students, most of whom have plenty of money or their families have plenty of money? As a demographic, they’re about as non-needy as they come. Community college students? Sure. Dropouts? Absolutely. But these a cappella singers are at private universities, mostly, and many will eventually make bank. They don’t need help.
[Ed. Note: There was an unhappy, apparently liquor-fueled party in connection to the event that went amok.]
Don’t get me wrong – I love college a cappella. More than most. Not as much as some of the freaks here. But damn close. And I have spent much too much time helping that community. But I came from it, sang it, loved it, wanted to share it and help it grow. To come from the inside is not unusual. To come from outside, so rapidly and without explanation is, as you see from this thread, suspect.
I don’t know what Keith’s motives are (and we all have many motives in life). But it does seem to have started with Keith, and then your community snapped into action. Which is also unusual. So many people all of a sudden focused on a cappella because one guy gets an idea.
I started CASA because I wanted to make a career of a cappella. I love it, and knew similar fans and singers needed a community and services. Part of my drive was altruistic – to help people – and part selfish – I can’t make a career of something without a community to support it. I make no bones.
I don’t know his motives, but so far they have not been forthcoming. And speculation does not favor unfettered altruism on Keith’s part.
Explanations in general that speak only of altruism coming from anyone who doesn’t look like Mother Theresa are suspect, so he shouldn’t take it personally.
Clare wrote: Now it is everyone’s choice who to believe Ross (see above) or Raniere (see above.)
It’s not a matter of not believing him – there’s nothing much that’s been posted by him to believe or not believe. Online you can see him posting repeatedly in another forum (HiIQ topic) and being chatty. Great! You’ve been welcomed to this community, Keith – please speak up! We’re chatty too. And have better breath than the UberMensa folks.
[Ed Note: Sharon is referring to High IQ community forums Keith occasionally commented on.]
Jesus was a criminal. The Dali Lama is a criminal. I’m not saying Ross is either of them, but a criminal act in his youth does not discredit every word he says thereafter. And he has some legitimate concerns about other organizations.
Information is information, and the source must be considered, and in Rick Ross’ case I think it is. But there needs to be other information, and I prefer first person information to second or third person information.
That’s cool! I have no doubt that Keith is capable of helping people, motivating people, providing valuable perspective and insight. And good at problem solving (although he’s got a problem right now and isn’t really solving it!)
I don’t think anyone doubts his abilities, regardless of their position on the cult issue. He’s been successful, and has built a significant organization/community that is able to quickly mobilize money and energy to make things happen. Impressive.
Please understand whereas I think you’re a very sweet, caring, motivated woman, it’s not enough for you to say you’re not in a cult. No one would ever admit to being in a cult, nor would they think they’re in one if they are. Scientology? Cult. John Travolta seems like a very nice guy, and I’m sure he could convince the world he’s not in a cult. Except that he is.
And to that end, please understand or at least accept that your testimonial isn’t enough. The questions are still floating out there.
I’d like them to go away! Who here doesn’t like $30,000 dumped into free a cappella festivals twice a year?!?
But they’re out there, and I’m stepping up to try and help them get answered to everyone’s satisfaction.
His site says he has gathered “information about controversial groups, some called ‘cults'” – which is an appropriate description of the list, from what I know. Amway is an organization with some serious problems.
The LDS church is controversial. Heck – so is the Catholic church!
I can’t find Oprah on there.
Anyway, I can’t throw that baby out with the bathwater. I consider his site a public service, if a flawed one.
BTW – can you cite any articles from the pre-Rick Ross period?
I dunno about it… but it’s hardly the only negative press. Easy enough to chip away at one story… but so many?
People here are well read, and by in large critical thinkers. It’s one of the things I like most about this community. Plus the Caddyshack references.
Thanks again for stepping up and speaking. You’ve shown yourself to be a person of great character for not shying away from adversity, and engaging in what must be a difficult, frustrating conversation. Very much appreciated!!
(BTW – I kept every word you said in this, as I didn’t want you frustrated that you were selectively quoted or responded to. I tried to give everything you said equal consideration)
Deke Sharon • 800.579.9305 • http://www.dekesharon.com
- Posts: 1584
- Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2003 8:01 am
- Location: San Francisco
– Deke Sharon • 800.579.9305 • http://www.dekesharon.com
—”Let me ask you: Why give something free to a bunch of college students, most of whom have plenty of money or their families have plenty of money? As a demographic, they’re about as non-needy as they come.They don’t need help. They more often need a swift kick in the pants.”
I’m talking about the swift kick in the pants part. That’s what Nxivm could potentially provide to these (mostly) privileged students. Think of Nxivm and its offshoots as a school of hard knocks, handing out valuable life lessons to coddled rich kids. IN THEORY. I’m not convinced about whether it actually was effective or not as I haven’t seen any data.
It’s amazing how you manage to find humour in absolutely everything, Alison – how witty to imagine Nxivm as a hard knocks counterpoint to the privileged college A-Capella groups. Almost as if Nxivm were a skint grassroots humanitarian organization put on this earth to teach the entitled a lesson or two.
Almost as if Nxivm had been cruelly mistaken for some kind of RICO cult enterprise. Still, thank heavens for the Nxivm 5, helping us to grasp a truthier truth, helping us reach that blessed state of being at cause in that old field somewhere out there, beyond right and wrong and etcetera…
Yes and I sang with similar groups – we tend to be pretty well educated and well off. Unless a cult wants to recruit people or like Scientology go after actors to get the press and bring in more suckers to a cult, these kinds of choirs are not the sort of place where those with spare money really need to spend that money. There are more deserving causes.
Thank you Frank! This is a great reminder that people were questioning this for a while. I lurked on that forum thread because at the time I used to watch Smallville and people were arguing with each other if it was a cult (most were on the cult side). In retrospect this post makes me laugh:
Postby playdeep » Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:24 am
Well put Wes. Was thinking the same thing.
Note on the food….Not sure why the food wasnt as good as last time considering it was the same food selection. The food was the same exact food they had last time except for one change….no cheese. This change was made in the bean burritos after college students complained about mucous foods last go ’round. I am sure food quality wont be an issue next time after everyone bringing it up.
On the Vanguard issue….I asked Keith about this and he laughed at it. He doesnt go by it and I almost never heard any reference to it from anyone. The closest I heard was “V” and much more often he was called “Keith”.
But this guy at the time held such a fascination to me because he was a photographer and part of the community but also a member of the cult so he was the bridge.
Postby livingfiction » Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:23 am
I love the way you write Ben, you take such care to be clear. I confess I’m jealous of that talent of yours.
I can’t say I blame NXIVM for not parading out people who have been involved in it’s program. It might make life easier for them, but look what happened to Allison and Nicki. They’re working to start an online networking company, they come to an a cappella festival, offer free admission to the members of that festival for the launch party of this company, and find themselves getting treated in a way that has best been described by each of them on this very forum. Neither of them work for NXIVM, the company they are starting is not affiliated with NXIVM, but this is the result of their forthrightness about their involvement in it’s programs.
NXIVM is not a cappella innovations, a cappella innovations is not NXIVM. I’ve been to events hosted by both companies, and frankly, apart from some of the people there, the two didn’t have a whole lot in common. I have tried to communicate this information, but it seems to be completely ineffective, probably as a result of the things Ben describes in regard to the way we establish knowledge. But this knowledge I have is as a result of what I personally have seen and witnessed, and having worked for different forms of media, I hold my own experiences, and the experience of those I know as much more valuable and accurate than any media report, article, or story.
It’s true, the producers of a cappella innovations haven’t been “on the scene” for a long time, but if only members of our own little scene are allowed to be involved in such events, then we’ll remain tiny, fringe, and as insular as any cult. It’s a festival guys, if you want to go, go, if it’s of value for your group, great, if it’s not, then don’t, just come to the concerts, which have already been established as awesome! For all I know, the members of FORK are in the Finnish Mafia, so maybe I don’t come to work for them, but I’ll sure be at any one of their shows I can get myself to!
Ben, as usual, you bring up great points, and finally, I believe hit the core of the issue. Is ACI an attempt to recruit people to take classes from NXIVM?
If the answer is no, then the festival is independent, and maybe we don’t need to harass people who try to throw a music festival. If you weren’t entirely happy with it, then perhaps post some constructive criticism in a respectful way, I know thats not all too popular with college students, as evidenced by the total lack of posting in the thread I generated for that purpose. Much more fun to hit the injured animal with a stick then help it find it’s way eh?
If the answer is yes, and there is a sort of sponsorship going on, then I’d like to see some more advertising for NXIVM at the event, be upfront about that agenda, maybe put some pamphlets out, then this sort of thread (the information seeking, not the finger pointing and accusations) is appropriate for those who may be thinking of attending one of their classes. That still doesn’t ruin the festival for me though, it is what it is, and I can choose for myself whether of not I want to support it’s sponsors.
Primary (known) sponsors of the event:
Barbara Bouchey: Financial planner, and very sweet woman. I have worked for her, but I have not supported her business. I’ll bet none of the students who’ve attended have either.
Sara Bronfman: I don’t believe she’s selling anything. Evan and I had dinner with her, and we didn’t even pay for her meal, so I’m of the opinion she’s stepping up to support her friends, and her sister (Clare is her sister) in their love of music and a cappella.
Richard Branson: I’ve never flown Virgin, but I also know he’s into many different things, so I may very well have supported one of his businesses, but my doing so was in no way related to sponsorship of ACI.
So here are the known sponsors of ACI, and I haven’ felt compelled to support any of them. I see that they’ve spent money to support something I love, I recognize and appreciate that, but it doesn’t force me to buy what they’re selling, if they’re selling anything at all. So if NIXVM were added to that list it really wouldn’t scare me, even if I did think they were dangerous. As I’ve proven I can attend an event without buying everything it’s sponsors are selling.
Postby livingfiction » Sun Apr 13, 2008 4:00 pm
Who I am is irrelevant. What I say is.”
I disagree, and you argue my point by pointing out that I am the photographer for these events, and as such am paid for my work. Does this affect my opinion on this issue? You bet it does, both because it means I’ve had interactions with the organizers, and because I’ve been photographing and filming a cappella for the past 4 years. All of these things that are who I am and where my opinions come from speak to the legitimacy and motive behind my posts and opinions, the may either add or detract from any credibility of my ideas, depending on how one feels about my position. Posting on a nameless account lacks credibility, and gives no foundation to your questions, simply state who you are, what your potential interests, and biases may be, and the relevance of your opinions will be made more understandable.
Deke I must admit I’m a little baffled by all of this from you. When did this bias develop? Before the first event you were on these boards telling everyone not to sweat it, that they could hide behind the Jacks if anything got weird, and even poking fun at people for being so thin skinned. When we went out after the show I don’t remember any of you voicing any concerns. The links and information presented at that time is the same as have been put forth in this thread. What has changed your mind so drastically?
This last post is in reference to somebody raising the alarm before the first event and not taken seriously. Whomever that person is deserves a “I told you so” lap because that person was a lone cry at the time.
Still can’t believe there is a microcosm
a’ cappella community out there. I watched a few episodes of Glee with my wife. She loved that show.
Mr. Sharon conducted himself like the virtuoso he obviously is. He reminds me of a national treasure in the UK called Gareth Malone who organized choirs the length and breadth of the country across all walks of life and struck a rare note of harmony in the nation. Mr. Sharon easily has the intelligence, skills and not to mention, the chops for a similar gambit.
For Deke Sharon, with all good wishes:
That’s a choir. It’s not true a cappella.
It’s a gift, Nice Guy, not an exam answer!
I am very technical person incase you have not noticed my friend. 😉
This is lovely, thanks for the kind words. And indeed I know Gareth, we made a TV show a couple summers ago for BBC one called Pitch Battle, was a blast. Lovely guy, hope we work together again.
I read your Wikipedia entry Mr. Sharon. You should be a household name! – I missed Pitch Battle but I’m going to catch up over this yuletide. Thank you and I too hope you do something with Gareth Malone again.
“ . Nxivm is an ethics and critical thinking education program of international distinction and repute. It is not a “cult” by any definition. The prominent people of the world know this. If one believed individuals such as Rick Ross, they would think Oprah, the Pentecostal Churches, Mormon Churches, Amway, Waldorf schools etc. etc. etc. are all “cults.” Just remember, media likes a controversy and no media had called Nxivm a “cult” until Rick Ross created the controversy.”
What a patient man. Unfortunately it takes great patience to break down Espian logic and contradictions, like the above. What a huge time suck, but worth it to fend off interlopers. He did a great service to his community and the people in it.
I’m one of those people that thinks all of the things she listed are indeed various types of cults. Some more damaging and dangerous than others. NXIVM does have much in common with the Catholic Church, it’s an older misogynistic pedophile rape cult that serves the wealthy.
If only Clare were so steadfast in her belief in not following the words of convicted criminals… oh well, that was as close to college as she’ll ever get.
Bronfman could have become the first jewish nun. LOL
She was working on her GED while waiting for sentencing, so perhaps a college degree is possible in prison – but I wouldn’t recommend any major that uses logic. LOL
Scott – I have asked you to use a moniker, or at least stop using the LOL – so that when other people use LOL they are not mistaken for you. Would you consider this request? Thank you.
—Bronfman could have become the first jewish nun. LOL
And here is the “Jew” thing again.
Why is the fact that Bronfman has a “Jew” dad important?
Clare Bronfman’s mom is Christian. The Jewish religion only considers, a Jew, a Jew if the mother is Jewish. Non Jew mothers cannot have Jewish children.
Scott, Christianity subscribes to the same viewpoint. Bronfman is Christian like us.
Frank, this whole “Jew” thing you allow
‘He-Haw Boy’ to promote is bullshit.
Of course, you’ll redact ‘He-Haw-Boy’ as offensive, but not “First Jew Nun”. Whatever bro.
FYI: Frank, I don’t believe you are paisan. I believe you are a jewgene. It explains why you reside in New York and Florida.
You’re a…J-Bird( Jews who go to Florida 1/2 a year)!
BTW: I thought you banned Amway-Johnson.
–The Jewish religion only considers, a Jew, a Jew if the mother is Jewish.
Only the really Orthodox–or you could say “nitpicky” Jews–consider it this way, I believe due to Abrahamic lineage of Isaac through Sarah. Otherwise, whether a Jew is half-Jewish from the mother or father’s side isn’t as important to most of them and they are still considered so if they adhere to the faith of the Jewish parent.
One Hollywood family that had all three Abrahamic religions as part of it was the Arquette family. The mother was Jewish daughter of a Holocaust refugee, while the father was a Catholic until he converted later in life Islam to become a Muslim which he died as. I’m not sure what the children consider themselves as except for the fact that none of them currently adhere to the faith of their father.
Anonymous- 6:42 am
—Jewish religion only considers, a Jew, a Jew if the mother is Jewish.
Do you get the GIST of the information I am trying to share with Scott Johnson?
I guess my MOTIVATION in writing to Scott escapes you.
Clare Bronfman is no more Jewish or Christian. She is a mix.
—believe due to Abrahamic lineage of Isaac through Sarah.
I am so glad you are an Old Testament Scholar.
BTW: You missed my point.
And I have answered you, do you remember the answer or are you going senile? LOL
I am not senile yet, as far as I know, But then do most senile people even know they are senile?
Unfortunately, I cannot accede to your request to make all other commenters adhere to your standard. People can be anonymous or they can have a handle or use their real name. But you have a hybrid, you use anonymous but then sign off as LOL. The problem with this is that when anyone else uses LOL [it is a common initialism], it appears to be your comment.
In short, you have appropriated LOL as your trademark and it is in the public domain. So how about using LOL as your moniker?
Here we go again with the racist remarks from Scott Johnson….
Now we know why Mr. Sharon was high priority on the NX naughty list. Clare prolly needed dozens of EM’s after reading this. Keith prolly fainted.
Btw, Jane Doe #2 revealed her identity today in a CBS interview…sun, sun, sun here it comes!
Heidi I am so sorry I was mean to you. LOL
I have been unemployed and unhappy with my life. LOL
Warning: The comment above is from a phony Scott Johnson. The use of the LOL was done deliberately to fool the public that Scott was apologizing to Heidi. This is why I asked the real Scott Johnson to take a moniker.
It is sad to witness how bereft of analytical or independent thought Clare Bronfman showed herself to be herein, and she could not pay genuine attention to what Deke Sharon kept pointing out to her, so patiently, politely and even gently.
Rick Ross has been a very worthwhile source for me, for 15 years or so. I love him the way that I love Frank Parlato, for his dedicated work exposing dishonesty and tricky hypocrisies, designed to enrich its “upper-level” tier of prosyletizers AND to enslave the ones who get trapped beneath such dogma and delusionary experience, at the sacrifice of their very hearts, minds and spirits.
“Clare-stupid” is an accurate descriptive of her thought processes, but it is certainly nothing to celebrate. Clare can be helped, though. First, however, she’d need to be able to see that she could really use some help. Now I feel more sad for Clare than exasperated.
An earnest educator is not someone who makes you feel wrong or stupid or inadequate. Instead, like Deke Sharon does with Clare Bronfman, you are presented with specific opportunities to use your own intelligence, and perhaps in ways that feel new and inspiring. This is the opposite of Keith Raniere, who he is or what it appears that he really wanted.
His ugly act is over, except for his influence over a few stragglers, who are evidently still lost in a deep pit of neediness and confusions and continue to dream that Raniere had any answers, beyond his concealed motivations of sick, selfish and twisted attempts at dominance, sexual poisonousness and nauseating self-aggrandisement.
This is what Nancy Salzman tried to glorify and to enrich herself by espousing and helping to “organize,” the very essence of the perverted Raniere’s hideousness, fashioned into a so-called human potential movement. There’s a sucker born every moment, and both Raniere and Salzman relied upon this kind of vulnerability in others and exploited it, through a glass and darkly, sometimes lethally.
“Clare-stupid” has been a masterpiece all right, as a sucker, as a monied mark to use and to abuse. Still grateful to Raniere? Huh, Bronfman? Little Bo Peep.
That’s an astute generous observation. It really does speak to the qualities invaluable in a good leader. The more sincere and matter of fact way he portrays himself, the worse Espians on that thread are for the contrast.
This guy Deke Sharon is a master communicator, very impressive with his mixture of firm relentlessness with soft charm and humble civility. Amazing how you can feel his integrity and skin in the game ready to fight the good fight. Thanks for sharing this Frank, it’s actually inspiring.
Idk. A capella groups scare me. They’re always raising hullabaloo and engaging in Tomfoolery. Sounds dangerous if you ask me.
They also threw poop around during the event. [redacted]
A little bird told me what happened that night. To find out more, look for my soon-to-be-released work of fiction, available at [redacted].
If KR is shipped to Tucson, you don’t need to worry. The border is near. I am sure that in Mexico there are people who would offer him their house for as long as he wants.
Very impressive. In his brief reply, Mr. Sharon delivers a master class in critical thinking and civility. He would make a very formidable lawyer. Maybe saying that doesn’t do justice to the real good he did—I think he routed a lot of impressionable young people away from NXIVM.
The respectful arguments seem so—-anachronistic. 2008 was not that long ago, but given how brutal net discourse is these days, the a cappella forum feels like it’s from another era.
Yes, Deke reminds me of Scott. LOL
Well, they’re both men. However, I would argue there is quite a dichotomy between the two men. Deke is intelligent, successful, and affable. Scott, on the other hand, is [redacted]. We can’t all be perfect. Some people need to be resigned to being special.