This has been a tough week for me. I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping. I work grave shift, and when I get home the sun is already in the sky. With our recent heat wave, this makes it hard to sleep. That's no excuse for not writing. I have been thinking of all of you and of a topic thatI would like to explore.
I have been cleaning out the many boxes of stuff that I brought with me the last time that I moved. I've thrown out a lot of junk. There was something that I pulled out of a box that got me to thinking, mostly of my past. Years ago I did something that is considered foolish. At the time, it was exciting and it seemed like the right direction to go. Ultimately, it both hurt and helped me. What am I talking about? I'm talking about when I joined a cult. It didnt seem like a cult, and honestly the word 'cult' is defined as a group that teaches a contraversial or divergent take on religion or worship. In other words, in a Moslem country, Christianity might be considered a cult. The only reason that Moslem is considered a religion in America is because we are more 'tolerant'.
In America there are a lot of cults. Until about ten years ago Mormonism was still considered a cult by many. Certainly Scientology is a cult and a few others. In fact, even Jehovah's Witnesses are considered cultists by many. So, what good is the definition? It is merely a guild line.
My question wasnt about cults, because 'cult' is just a word. The only thing that it really means is that mainstream religion is threatened by the growing membership and disagrees with the doctrine. This is not to say that cults cannot be dangerous, but any religion is dangerous. Some religions mutilate their young female membes by circumsizing them. Other religions have secret inner groups that have a variety of special methods of worship. In my mind it is not just an organization that makes it dangerous, it is always the person in charge. Now that person in charge may not be in charge of the entire thing. He or she may be in charge of only a handful of the faithful. But, anytime you mix power over people and religion, you get a volitile mix.
Still my question involved the message more than it did the person. An item that I pulled out of a box, had the face of our cult's founder on it. It was a homemade item, not a sanctioned item. Still there it was, his face staring up at me. I dropped the item, which was a teaching CD onto my kitchen counter. I cannot sell it as it was not a legal copy. I will either throw it away or give it away. Now I know that there are others that were in the cult with me that would just toss it. They do not want to spread anything about the cult. But, I have another friend that loves this kind of stuff.
What to do with it is not the question. I looked at the CD and read the cover. It had his face, as I've said. The teaching was about living love and joy, or some such thing. I could not escape the dichotomy. On one hand, the man was not a good example of many things. He was an adulterer, a rapist, a sadist, a drunk, a plagiarist, a thief and a fraud... to name a few. On the other hand, the message of living love and joy is a good message. It is a message straight from the bible, and a number of other religious texts throughout the world. The question then becomes, is the message still good if it is taught by a bad man? Does it lose its meaning or some of its impact if it comes from a man that does not practice what he preaches? Or is the message strong enough to withstand the negativity of such an association?
As I said, my time in the cult was both good and bad. The things that I learned about the bible have sustained me when times were tough. But, part of the reason that times were tough were because of some of the things that happened to me in the cult. I suppose that only I can answer if what I learned was a fair compensation for the pain that I endured. That still leaves the general question, is a good message, a good teaching over shadowed by the person that teaches it?
I have pondered this question for days, and this is the answer that I have reached; it is individually decided. Sometimes, the message is much greater than the speaker, and yet there are other times when the vileness of the speaker drowns the message.
Hahahaa, I guess that means that I really didnt reach a conclusion after all. For me the message was stronger. For others, it most definately was not. For those people, I am so sorry. I know that no amount of therapy can fix what happened. One thing that I did find in my soul searching for this answer was that most of our pain, collectively, has its roots in betrayal. At one point, somewhere down the line, we realized that we had been betrayed. Maybe it was by the big man. I never actually knew him, which apparently was a good thing. Maybe we were betrayed by someone smaller in rank, but all of us, were inevitably betrayed. We trusted someone and they either let us down or they became the monster and took from us something that we can never get back.
We do try however, to be normal, to fit into society and be productive. But, sometimes these questions come to mind and we must once again examine our past and see if it was still worth it all. For me it was.
Live well and be good to each other.