Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Cults for Dummies 2: Keep Your Head

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It's just tragic to think of the number of gods and goddesses who used to have temples erected in their honor and now have to work the night shift unloading stock at Target. Employ a bored god today! They don't ask for much, only a living wage and a standard benefits package.

The bored gods are particularly galled when they see bright young men and women snookered into working their keisters off to make some other human wealthy and powerful, all in the name of religion.

No matter how pretty and modest the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's web site is, the fact remains that he's made a vast fortune because he's convinced a lot of people that he talked to Jesus, and Jesus told him how to unify the Christian church across the globe.

What this has to do with owning conservative newspapers and sticky bun companies is beyond me. Maybe Jesus likes sticky buns.

Some ex-followers of the Reverend Moon claimed that the recruiting tactics used to elicit their praise and worship were beyond acceptability. Anyone who expresses even a vague interest in Reverend Moon is invited to a dinner where people hang on their every word, bombard them with affection and compassion, and then invite them to attend a camp where they'll be introduced to The Rev's philosophy in greater detail.

Boy, does this sort of thing rile the bored gods!

At Moonie camp, new recruits play childhood games, sing camp songs, receive numerous friendly hugs, and get about half the sleep they need to see straight. They sit through long, impenetrable sermons on theology and the deep love the Rev has for them.

By the end of a week of this, they would believe in that turtle upon whose back the earth rests.

They go to work for The Rev, where they still don't get enough sleep and have to marry strangers picked for them by The Rev.

Sounds nuts, doesn't it? How could anyone fall for that?

Read on:

Two years ago, when Anne was still a good church lady, it came time to have her older daughter, The Heir, take Confirmation class.

The Heir's Confirmation experience began with a compulsory trip to a camp called Keswick that is staffed by young men and women who want to be Christian pastors.

No parents were allowed at Keswick during the weekend.

The Heir and the other young teens with her played childhood games, sang songs, were bombarded with compassion, and stayed up late into the night confessing their problems and weeping about them. The leaders of the camp were so very interested in everything these youngsters had to say. And of course the leaders held out the promise that, with a mere altar call, the youngsters could enjoy the eternal protection of Jesus.

The Heir, a shy and retiring youngster who thinks deeply about many topics, felt distinctly uncomfortable, but she went along with the program.

Unlike the other teens who attended, however, The Heir came home and started thinking about her Keswick experience.

Then she started combing the second-hand bookstores for information about cults. She found a 1970s-era book about Reverend Moon and his recruitment techniques.


The moral of the story is, cult tactics can crop up in the darnedest places, and it takes an independent thinker to challenge the system. It's just not enough to be wary of Reverend Moon. Your local youth pastor might have the same playbook, if not exactly the same motives.

Well, they do ask The Heir to tithe.



Scott said...

Actually something very similar happened to me as a young child, some Christian groups do 'brainwash' completely,, so being that I ask zillions of questions they booted my ass out pronto... they don't like logic alot...

Go hug you Heir for having a brain that works on its own and knows how to think through things,,, very smart yound lady.... Hug her good....
It is great to have a child I bet whom you know will follow through on thinking about what is being said, and research, or ask enough questions before jumping in the sheep corral. Damn good for her!! and the Parents who instilled this in her... I like, I like ,,, a thinking young person,, there is hope.

Anne Johnson said...

You would love The Heir. She is very special indeed.

Athana said...

Good for the heir! You must be proud. I'm glad you're teaching school, Anne; maybe you can influence a few more kids to follow in the heir's footsteps.