Cults for Dummies: Talking to God
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" If you expect some kind of hung-over "Happy New Year" from us, forget it! The New Year started on November 1, and this is just a day when the numbers change. We are not Ancient Romans here.
On the other hand, we're suckers for the Philadelphia Mummers Parade. Eight solid hours of men in gaudy dresses decked with feathers is tonic to the sore soul.
"Mr. Applegate," my old ancestor Satan, reminds me that there's an interesting date in this year's calendar: June 6. That would be 6/6/06. Better stay home that day and work on an afghan.
We've been discussing cults this week here on your hotline to the bored gods.
A great number of cult leaders claim either to have had personal conversations with God (or Jesus), or actually to be God, Jesus, or "Mr. Applegate." Let's look at that closely.
Do you know anyone who converses one-on-one with a deity? We're not counting prayer here. I mean a real two-way conversation.
What are the numbers? Maybe in America alone, 100,000 a year.
Here we call these people schizophrenic, bipolar, or psychotic. Most of them spend their days pushing around shopping carts and mumbling to the deity. Others, like my late mama, hear God only during manic episodes.
How do we handle these people?
We fill them up with medications and lock them in loony bins.
The Native Americans took these folks at face value and left them alone. Some other cultures consider them prophets.
What makes these human conversants with the deity different from cult leaders is that their conversations are mostly personal. Sort of "My Dinner with Jesus."
Cult leaders are eager to share their personal moments with God. They want everyone to know how special they are. This can be a lucrative pursuit, especially if God gives them a mission that doesn't include shooting at presidents and does include taking donations.
So, who is holier: the cart-pusher or guys like Moon and Maitreya who keep fancy (and largely incomprehensible) web sites?
Take your pick. I'm not going to choose for you. This should be a very personal decision. However, I will pass along that when my mama heard Jesus, she said he was very nice. He told her that Maury Povich was sending her love messages from the television and that all the lawyers in our hometown were out to get her.
You can't form much of a cult around that kind of information, but in all truth it's no nuttier than some of the cults out there.
The moral of this post: If you walk down a busy street and see someone talking to himself, you can best bet that such a person would make a crack cult leader.
Of course, you must rule out those people talking on cell phones with the earplug. That's probably just a businessman trying to sell your company so he can terminate your benefits package.
PHILLY MUMMERS ROCK
KEEP YOUR MACY'S YAWN YAWN YAWN PARADE
THE MERLIN OF SOUTH PHILLY (FOR A DAY)
Image courtesy of Philadelphia Weekly Online