Who is my Neighbour? Why the fascination with cults?

Posted: November 29, 2017 by Ty in My Neighbour, Spirituality
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It is intriguing for some who view what I share in regard to media. Once you remove the political and true crime geek side of me, what is usually shared is tied to the world of cults, and not the innocuous ones that in a 100 years society will just accept as standardized religion-spirituality, but rather the abusive-murderous ones.  The question arose this week as to why? And was there a central theme within.

I am a student of human behaviour. I believe it comes from being a fiction writer that enjoys science fiction and mysteries (which is an out growth of the world of literature the comic writers of my youth opened me up to). To truly write well, you have to understand the subject which is the world. But why the cults?

Let’s accept a few things first which may be hard to stomach (and no it is not repeating the academic definition of cult that it is a collective of like minded individuals):

  • All current religions at one point or time were viewed as a heresy/cult of the mainstream when they started.
  • As one comic book writer phrased it while they were putting together Lex Luthor’s run for president in 2000. A great villain like Lex Luthor does not make his decisions based on him knowing he is the villain of the story, no, Lex is great at being a villain because he truly believes he is the hero of the story and can do no wrong for in his world he is the pure of heart.

We enter stories such as the Oasis centre in Edmonton; the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saint’s in Bountiful, B.C.; Nvixm in British Columbia, and Raelism in Quebec to name but a few close to home.  This does not touch upon the more mainstream of hale bop, Japan’s suicide cult, Jamestown, or Waco, Texas. The weird side note aside of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology. It does not touch upon the smaller movements that go unnoticed or unreported.

Yet it also does not touch upon those that may not end in sexual abuse or death, but those that leverage a person’s belief system for financial abuse. Whether it is driving a prosperity gospel, a “those who are deserving will get wealth” or the 20th century indulgence peddler that was the televangelist that fell from grace.

In the moment, they all shared their own theme, much like Lex Luthor they were out for power, prestige and yes, they believed and currently believe they are doing right.

In the moments, they become cautionary real-life parables for those that we in trust our intrinsic worth too. Yet, for the clear majority that enter helping professions or cleric roles this will never develop for there is something within the person that takes them down that path. It is a switch that may have switched before they started the journey or during the journey that allowed them to see the world through the lens that they are the supreme being and the only way.

It is patterns within cults you can see within mass murderers, spree killers and serial killers. To the lesser point, the break that causes the one that acts in isolation. To those that partner and you will see escalation (look to the case of Bernardo-Homolka, from serial rapist to serial killer once he partnered with her).

But even more than those that run these movements or partnerships, what is even more astounding one can say is how they attract followers?

That is not a hard question to answer. Anyone who has studied the hate movements or youth gang movements fully understand what drives these groups thriving even with all the reality shows, media coverage, documentaries, studies, criminal cases, and academic literature on the subject.  It is one simple desire for the human being that our world has slowly been pushing out since the mid-20th century with the drive to keep up the Jones’:

B-E-L-O-N-G-I-N-G.

Think about that. We have created such an isolating society that allows for isolation, segregation and loss of worth that these groups can proliferate. It is what happens when we shift from an understanding of a person as having intrinsic worth because they are a person, and want to treat them with dignity simply because they are our neighbour and not a number or a budget line.

Why my fascination with cults?

Simply put it shows when we fail as a society to compassionately respond with a Just Society to the question of who is my neighbour?

It shows when as a person we fail to be a compassionate neighbour to our neighbour. And yes it can be as simple just being friendly, a simple smile, a hello.

What is being a neighbour about?

Building a world, a country, a province, a city, a neighbourhood, a home that moves beyond labels to define and segregate. It is about creating space of belonging.

This week, what are you going to do to be a neighbour?

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Comments
  1. sarapeden says:

    And should we also ask for people to think about “what are you going to do this week to find a neighbour”. What encourages people who live in isolation to be able to reach out? Who knows, maybe there are potential cult members out there who would prefer a less drastic route? 🙂

    • Ty says:

      There is probably many. 🙂 I truly think we do need more free spaces persons of all ages can gather and interact, which is why investment in parks, playgrounds and public libraries are such gold mines for breaking isolation.

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