The Church Militant: My High-School Friendship With a Domestic Terrorist

River Irons
9 min readApr 10, 2021
Photo by Joseph Allen on Unsplash

I can think of a couple of possible reasons why Richard and I might have started leaving letters in that coffee can in the woods. I just don’t remember which one was actually the deciding factor.

I met Richard F. Keyes III when I was about thirteen years old, in the phase of my life between my mother’s discovery of the Society of Saint Pius X and my father’s death four years later in 1991. I had been homeschooled and completely isolated for three or four years. During those lonely times, my mother was driving me and my siblings an hour from Clinton, Maryland to Vienna, Virginia at least once per week to attend Mass and other Traditional Catholic practices. These services were held in a ranch-style brick house, the basement of which had been converted into a chapel. I’ve mentioned before that since the long trips to the chapel in Virginia were my only human contact outside of my home, I learned to manipulate my perception of time so that my life felt like a string of endless Sundays.

In the cold reality that existed unaltered outside of my deliberately warped perception, time really was dragging on quite slowly for a child with nothing to do but read and study. Being homeschooled, living without television and popular culture, and being almost completely isolated from the rest of the world was a…

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River Irons

I grew up in a cult. I escaped. I still search for freedom from oppressive constructs. Digital Artist, Storyteller.