Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ten Things I Learned from Joining a Cult When I was 18

When I was 18, in the summer of 1971, I got sucked into a cult. It was a fake Catholic group. It was totally not recognized by the Catholic Church, and hardly recognizable as looking Catholic. Yet dissatisfied, disillusioned people fell for it, both life-long Catholics and new converts such as myself. No, please, don't guess that it's this organization or it's that organization because, as far as I know, it's not in existence today. If it is, it is very small.

Now, not to give you the wrong idea about the gullibility of the people, the group did have a true priest, a retired Catholic priest who was senile. He still had the presence of mind to offer the Mass but not to be aware of what was really going on, or what the leader was really about.

I wasn't with the group long - barely a couple of months - but it was long enough to have a cataclysmic effect on my life...and long enough to learn a few important things. Just to be clear, I didn't learn the following things from the cult itself. I learned them from having had the experience of being in a cult. It's reverse-learning, if you will, or learning from your mistakes and the mistakes you've seen others make.  

1. Don't give away everything you own.

2. Don't try to start your life over from square one. 

3. Don't let anyone mess with your head.

4. Don't be more religious than the religion you profess.

5. Don't let the group talk you into dressing three degrees differently than the rest of the world (unless that's how the religion you profess dresses; for example, I except Amish or Orthodox Jewish people from this one, because the dress is a part of their religious culture, not part of a spurious offshoot).

6. Don't dwell on the negatives in the world.

7. Keep the commandments, or whatever your rules or guidelines are, and carry on. 

8. Keep faith that God is good.

9. Know that you are not less than anyone else, and at the same time, that your group is not better than everyone else.

10. Know that there's a wide, wide world out there and that most of the people in that world are essentially good at heart.

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