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Rocky

What cults tell us about ourselves

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I posted this in the Open Forum also. But I believe it also fits here.
 

 

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Amber Scorah is a writer and speaker. She has quite a story, including that of her 3 month old child dying in day care. After cutting ties with the JW she saw how she was shunned, thought of "as dead", and was on the road to finding what she felt to be a better way of living. 

-She says it was embarrassing to "realize that (she'd) been wrong" her whole life.

-the premise was flawed and "therefore the answers" were "meaningless". 

-that we're "wired" to go along with "the group". 

-how her religious beliefs were essentially a set of one-size-answers beliefs, giving the answers to everything about life, and that in her case those trusted beliefs were proven wrong, "more true than they actually are" as she states it. 

-Her call to action at the end - consider what life might be life if we stepped outside the norms of our social and religious circles and saw life from other perspectives. 

 

So lots of good ideas there. I think she was intellectually honest about her points, at least in this presentation. She doesn't create a bias out of her personal experience here and declare by fiat that all religious faiths or beliefs are wrong and need to be challenged.

I'd say her real point is that because people are born into the families, geographies and societies that they are the decisions they make are strongly influenced by what amounts to a limited or prejudiced range of selections or possibilities. I'd agree with that, on face value as well as her conclusion that there is a value to trying to see out and beyond from where we are at the moment.

She also saw that the basic human needs -  the who, what, where, when and why's of life - can be understood by different people in different ways with the end result that the outcomes are usable, "good", for them. 

 

Where I take that is that there are "truths" to life that are consistent and can be consistency known and learned by anyone anywhere regardless of their "faith" or specific religions. When I share or speak on the topic of salvation something I emphasize is that God can be seen from many perspectives - He sent His Logos, Jesus Christ and in Him we can see God, in the flesh. "What would Jesus do?" is really "what would God do?". So while there are billions of people and individual journeys, Christianity believes there is one thing that is the truest expression of God's intents and purposes. What I see that does in a lot of Christian religious thought is create a nearly impossible point of access, a tiny door that a billion people are trying to all get through and that logically we can't all access, so the standard interpretation of Matthew 7:13 and 14 is used to support that idea that the "truth" is a slender slice of reality that most won't accept. In reality if God wants "all (of us) to be saved" then the path to God though Jesus can't be impossibly difficult or even reduced to something most of us won't be able to travel. 

Ted Ferrel had his song with the line "there are many roads....that lead to to Chicago......but if you "wanna go to Heaven", there is "only one way". 

If the Church, "the body of Christ" is what Ephesians says it is, there are as many travelers and parts to it as there are people that believe, all using "only one way"........so it is a different way to understand Christianity for some I guess. Men and women want to say "my way or the highway, because this way is God's Way"........a completely horrifically wrong way to view God's plan of Jesus Christ. 

I enjoyed the video Rocky, and that thoughts it sparked. 

 

 

 

 

 

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25 minutes ago, socks said:

Amber Scorah is a writer and speaker. She has quite a story, including that of her 3 month old child dying in day care. After cutting ties with the JW she saw how she was shunned, thought of "as dead", and was on the road to finding what she felt to be a better way of living. 

-She says it was embarrassing to "realize that (she'd) been wrong" her whole life.

-the premise was flawed and "therefore the answers" were "meaningless". 

-that we're "wired" to go along with "the group". 

-how her religious beliefs were essentially a set of one-size-answers beliefs, giving the answers to everything about life, and that in her case those trusted beliefs were proven wrong, "more true than they actually are" as she states it. 

-Her call to action at the end - consider what life might be life if we stepped outside the norms of our social and religious circles and saw life from other perspectives. 

 

So lots of good ideas there. I think she was intellectually honest about her points, at least in this presentation. She doesn't create a bias out of her personal experience here and declare by fiat that all religious faiths or beliefs are wrong and need to be challenged.

I'd say her real point is that because people are born into the families, geographies and societies that they are the decisions they make are strongly influenced by what amounts to a limited or prejudiced range of selections or possibilities. I'd agree with that, on face value as well as her conclusion that there is a value to trying to see out and beyond from where we are at the moment.

She also saw that the basic human needs -  the who, what, where, when and why's of life - can be understood by different people in different ways with the end result that the outcomes are usable, "good", for them. 

 

Where I take that is that there are "truths" to life that are consistent and can be consistency known and learned by anyone anywhere regardless of their "faith" or specific religions. When I share or speak on the topic of salvation something I emphasize is that God can be seen from many perspectives - He sent His Logos, Jesus Christ and in Him we can see God, in the flesh. "What would Jesus do?" is really "what would God do?". So while there are billions of people and individual journeys, Christianity believes there is one thing that is the truest expression of God's intents and purposes. What I see that does in a lot of Christian religious thought is create a nearly impossible point of access, a tiny door that a billion people are trying to all get through and that logically we can't all access, so the standard interpretation of Matthew 7:13 and 14 is used to support that idea that the "truth" is a slender slice of reality that most won't accept. In reality if God wants "all (of us) to be saved" then the path to God though Jesus can't be impossibly difficult or even reduced to something most of us won't be able to travel. 

Ted Ferrel had his song with the line "there are many roads....that lead to to Chicago......but if you "wanna go to Heaven", there is "only one way". 

If the Church, "the body of Christ" is what Ephesians says it is, there are as many travelers and parts to it as there are people that believe, all using "only one way"........so it is a different way to understand Christianity for some I guess. Men and women want to say "my way or the highway, because this way is God's Way"........a completely horrifically wrong way to view God's plan of Jesus Christ. 

I enjoyed the video Rocky, and that thoughts it sparked. 

 

 

 

 

 

Right on, Brother! I enjoyed reading your response to it. :beer:

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Was going to add, her speech reminded me of how so much, everything really, is fashioned by my own perspective and how I myself choose to see things. 

It goes to the fundamentals of life, that I am me. Even if a God of omniscient authority and facility controlled every single thing I do (which I don't believe) He is still controlling "Me", who apparently needs a lot of minute involvement. And that's just the one Me, not the trillions of other Thems who would say the same thing. Even if a God of unlimited humor were building endless mazes through eternity for all of us to wander through while secretly being manipulated by device to go a way that's been already made for us, I'm still the one bumping into walls and dropping into ditches and making my way laboriously through life. Even if that's what a God were doing He's still having to do that because I am Me and able to decide and choose, even if amongst a preset and limited number of choices. God didn't create robots - if he had we wouldn't be thinking about why we're thinking and why we aren't thinking like we think we're supposed to be thinking, we'd just be doing stuff, and if thinking was one of those things we were programmed to do we would just do it.....but it's that tiny essence of a crumb of random self awareness that seems to allow me to wonder what 's going on and if I'm thinking what I'm supposed to be thinking and evendoing so with great concern but then STILL being able to just say meh! and ignore with complete prejudice doing anything that might be even a little helpful that makes me think, nope, we're given the capacity to poke ourselves in the eye repeatedly so we can see how good if feels to stop so that we can imagine what that would be like and then choose to not do it. Or in the case of a lot of people today, learn as we go and find someone else to blame. Or sampan. 

The Me involved in this has the ability to choose but not create - at least as far as we know so far, as if we could I'm sure someone would have figured out before me that chocolate should be a fruit and be a super food we have to eat every hour and would have done it by now and we'd all be super healthy and living forever by just eating chocolate. .... Course then, maybe even worse maybe man CAN really create from nothing and someone went completely insanely nuts at some point and that's how we got a world where cell phones with "unlimited plans" aren't really unlimited and always come with "some restrictions" that apply, a world where we can make a room reservation at a hotel and get there and find out that didn't mean an actual room was being reserved for us, and where some cities won't let you use a plastic straw to drink a soda but can't keep you from taking a dump on the street when no one's looking. MAYBE MAN CAN CREATE ANYTHING HE WANTS AND THAT'S WHY THIS WORLD IS SO F'D UP THAT EVEN AN ENTIRE UNIVERSE AVOIDS US AND ASIDE FROM THE OCCASIONAL ANAL PROBING TO SEE IF WE STILL HAVE OUR HEADS UP OUR ASSES, PRETTY MUCH WON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH US. 

But I digress. We do seem to have the ability to freshen up our outlooks every once in awhile, even if it's just a day hike into nature, a good book, pleasant conversation or even just a few hours of peace where someone isn't telling us how dumb we are for thinking how we DO think. 

 

 

Edited by socks
Correct-amundo! And that's what we're gonna be, we're gonna be cool.

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1 hour ago, socks said:

Was going to add, her speech reminded me of how so much, everything really, is fashioned by my own perspective and how I myself choose to see things. 

It goes to the fundamentals of life, that I am me. Even if a God of omniscient authority and facility controlled every single thing I do (which I don't believe) He is still controlling "Me", who apparently needs a lot of minute involvement. And that's just the one Me, not the trillions of other Thems who would say the same thing. Even if a God of unlimited humor were building endless mazes through eternity for all of us to wander through while secretly being manipulated by device to go a way that's been already made for us, I'm still the one bumping into walls and dropping into ditches and making my way laboriously through life. Even if that's what a God were doing He's still having to do that because I am Me and able to decide and choose, even if amongst a preset and limited number of choices. God didn't create robots - if he had we wouldn't be thinking about why we're thinking and why we aren't thinking like we think we're supposed to be thinking, we'd just be doing stuff, and if thinking was one of those things we were programmed to do we would just do it.....but it's that tiny essence of a crumb of random self awareness that seems to allow me to wonder what 's going on and if I'm thinking what I'm supposed to be thinking and even doing so with great concern but then STILL being able to just say meh! and ignore with complete prejudice doing anything that might be even a little helpful that makes me think, nope, we're given the capacity to poke ourselves in the eye repeatedly so we can see how good if feels to stop so that we can imagine what that would be like and then choose to not do it. Or in the case of a lot of people today, learn as we go and find someone else to blame. Or sampan. 

The Me involved in this has the ability to choose but not create - at least as far as we know so far, as if we could I'm sure someone would have figured out before me that chocolate should be a fruit and be a super food we have to eat every hour and would have done it by now and we'd all be super healthy and living forever by just eating chocolate. .... Course then, maybe even worse maybe man CAN really create from nothing and someone went completely insanely nuts at some point and that's how we got a world where cell phones with "unlimited plans" aren't really unlimited and always come with "some restrictions" that apply, a world where we can make a room reservation at a hotel and get there and find out that didn't mean an actual room was being reserved for us, and where some cities won't let you use a plastic straw to drink a soda but can't keep you from taking a dump on the street when no one's looking. MAYBE MAN CAN CREATE ANYTHING HE WANTS AND THAT'S WHY THIS WORLD IS SO F'D UP THAT EVEN AN ENTIRE UNIVERSE AVOIDS US AND ASIDE FROM THE OCCASIONAL ANAL PROBING TO SEE IF WE STILL HAVE OUR HEADS UP OUR ASSES, PRETTY MUCH WON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH US. 

But I digress. We do seem to have the ability to freshen up our outlooks every once in awhile, even if it's just a day hike into nature, a good book, pleasant conversation or even just a few hours of peace where someone isn't telling us how dumb we are for thinking how we DO think. 

 

 

WOW! That's some wicked (in a Boston dialect kinda way) stream of consciousness there Socks. :love3:

I can think of feedback to some of the individual points you made in that post, but as a whole, it's pretty cool... and quite relevant.

If God controls us, why would he make some people vulnerable to cults and then some of them start seeing things differently once they're engrossed in that cult culture and decide to change directions? (rhetorical question)
 

There's also probably a lot of paradox wrapped up in the word "create." But I'm not going to take the time to expound thereon. 

 

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Over the course of four days in November 1978, 41 years ago now, a team of investigators (including California Congressman Leo Ryan and his aide Jackie Speier) traveled to Jonestown Guyana. Jackie Speier, now serves in Congress. Ms. Speier was shot five times and left for dead. Obviously, she survived. 
 

 

We who survived the Wierwille cult, even though some did experience real trauma, escaped with our lives. 

I was in residence in the 9th way corpse's first year, at Emporia, when this tragedy went down.

Obviously, as a young adult at that time, I was vulnerable to cultic and fundamentalist influences.

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4 hours ago, Rocky said:

WOW! That's some wicked (in a Boston dialect kinda way) stream of consciousness there Socks. :love3:

I can think of feedback to some of the individual points you made in that post, but as a whole, it's pretty cool... and quite relevant.

If God controls us, why would he make some people vulnerable to cults and then some of them start seeing things differently once they're engrossed in that cult culture and decide to change directions? (rhetorical question)
 

There's also probably a lot of paradox wrapped up in the word "create." But I'm not going to take the time to expound thereon. 

 

Thanks, I started with a line and from there it kinda rolled. 

Genetics and environment.....seed, soil and care. 

Remember how in the Way's teaching there were no "accidents"? Everything was a result of our believing, at least from our "positions in Christ" as "believers"?

An accident is defined as "an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause." I think the word "chance" is the money shot there - as if something just "happens" that we by "our believing" were not able to have control over. In Way terms we were ALWAYS able to believe God for HIs promises in the Word and in so doing we were always able to receive God's will in living action and form. 

It's all a semantic card trick though - I'm positive Dr. Wierwille knew that "accidents" aren't really ever possible as pure "chance" by definition but that they only live and function in our own world's of understanding and perspectives. In other words, there's ALWAYS a cause or reason for everything in life but it's only when something happens outside of the expected or "normal" path and range of possibilities that it is an "accident" and at that time, call it by whatever name or label we wish, it is what it is....and if it's completely unexpected and was something neither we nor anyone else planned for at that time and place, then it's an "accident". But it can't be without cause. 

Two things I see a lot of in the Bible's history are serendipity (the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way) and gestalt (an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts), two non biblical words that describe what I'm thinking. Again, "chance" being something entering my field of vision unexpectedly but not without cause. Gestalt covers the ability mankind has to "fill in the blanks" as it were, in a list of factors, allowing for perceptual organization. We look for pattern, structure which in turn produces meaning. The Bible covers how man can see God through His creation, and that God has declared Himself in it and through it. Similar kind of thing. 

Wayfer teaching was based on silos, like silo'd thinking. In the Bible mankind makes their plans, good or bad,  but God's design is at work and is ultimately served. To the average Pastor or Priestess struggling on their next sermon or where to get more donations, serendipity's gonna bite 'em in the ass before they see it coming - and when lightning strikes the conditions of it's presence announce it's coming, but only if we're paying attention. So, yeah. 

Like the phrase "everything happens for a reason" - sure, but the reason may not be that it's part of the Big Guy's Plan, it may just be because I did something really stupid. Or something really smart. 

I think the idea of you joining the Way being a susceptibility to joining a cult is possible, buuuuut my guess would be it's not solely that. 

I never felt I joined a "cult', although I certainly had a year or two where I deliberately extended VPW a range of authority and accountability over what I did to allow for me to learn what I wanted to learn. But I always knew he was kinda living his own dream there in Ohio, and that while he had his own motives that weren't exclusively self centered he was definitely working in  his own interests.....in other words I knew from Day One that what we were doing there wasn't the only way it could be or even should be done, rather it was the way he decided he wanted to do it and that now I in turn decided to participate in and contribute to. A lot of the earlier vision he'd discussed went south, and perhaps he'd never had any intention of doing some of the things he talked about but clearly the direction he went in was creating it's own set of dominoes, causes and effects, that would push the Way forward on it's own path - one that was very much of his own making. 

I was young, "if i knew then what I know now", I might do the same thing but I wouldn't do it for as long. 

 

 

 

Edited by socks
Yep.
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3 hours ago, socks said:

Thanks, I started with a line and from there it kinda rolled. 

Genetics and environment.....seed, soil and care. 

Remember how in the Way's teaching there were no "accidents"? Everything was a result of our believing, at least from our "positions in Christ" as "believers"?

An accident is defined as "an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause." I think the word "chance" is the money shot there - as if something just "happens" that we by "our believing" were not able to have control over. In Way terms we were ALWAYS able to believe God for HIs promises in the Word and in so doing we were always able to receive God's will in living action and form. 

It's all a semantic card trick though - I'm positive Dr. Wierwille knew that "accidents" aren't really ever possible as pure "chance" by definition but that they only live and function in our own world's of understanding and perspectives. In other words, there's ALWAYS a cause or reason for everything in life but it's only when something happens outside of the expected or "normal" path and range of possibilities that it is an "accident" and at that time, call it by whatever name or label we wish, it is what it is....and if it's completely unexpected and was something neither we nor anyone else planned for at that time and place, then it's an "accident". But it can't be without cause. 

Two things I see a lot of in the Bible's history are serendipity (the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way) and gestalt (an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts), two non biblical words that describe what I'm thinking. Again, "chance" being something entering my field of vision unexpectedly but not without cause. Gestalt covers the ability mankind has to "fill in the blanks" as it were, in a list of factors, allowing for perceptual organization. We look for pattern, structure which in turn produces meaning. The Bible covers how man can see God through His creation, and that God has declared Himself in it and through it. Similar kind of thing. 

Wayfer teaching was based on silos, like silo'd thinking. In the Bible mankind makes their plans, good or bad,  but God's design is at work and is ultimately served. To the average Pastor or Priestess struggling on their next sermon or where to get more donations, serendipity's gonna bite 'em in the foot before they see it coming - and when lightning strikes the conditions of it's presence announce it's coming, but only if we're paying attention. So, yeah. 

Like the phrase "everything happens for a reason" - sure, but the reason may not be that it's part of the Big Guy's Plan, it may just be because I did something really stupid. Or something really smart. 

I think the idea of you joining the Way being a susceptibility to joining a cult is possible, buuuuut my guess would be it's not solely that. 

I never felt I joined a "cult', although I certainly had a year or two where I deliberately extended VPW a range of authority and accountability over what I did to allow for me to learn what I wanted to learn. But I always knew he was kinda living his own dream there in Ohio, and that while he had his own motives that weren't exclusively self centered he was definitely working in  his own interests.....in other words I knew from Day One that what we were doing there wasn't the only way it could be or even should be done, rather it was the way he decided he wanted to do it and that now I in turn decided to participate in and contribute to. A lot of the earlier vision he'd discussed went south, and perhaps he'd never had any intention of doing some of the things he talked about but clearly the direction he went in was creating it's own set of dominoes, causes and effects, that would push the Way forward on it's own path - one that was very much of his own making. 

I was young, "if i knew then what I know now", I might do the same thing but I wouldn't do it for as long. 

 

 

 

I've thought about that idea a good bit. I wish I could say that I knew from the start that it wasn't the only way God might want things done. But I didn't. I've also pondered the reasons and factors that led me to be open to Wierwille and his ministry. For me, having been born into a Catholic family was one. Then having Christian believers I knew (and others I hadn't known before) witness to me gave me food for thought... and certainly if I knew then what I know now... well, I can relate to your musing that you wouldn't have done it for as long.

But I am thankful that I left when I did. Taking it a step further, my experience in twi is a large part of what made me who I am today. I will hit the magic Medicare age very soon (this month). I'm glad I won't be repeating some of the mistakes I made in my youth. 
 :beer:

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So couple more thoughts - "creation", a word I like. Biblically used for something God did, does. 

Mean - to cause or make something happen, to exist. 

So peeps create all the time, we do that everyday, I'm doing it right now. I AM THE ONE AND I CREATE! WORSHIP ME! 

Not really, but I think the thing that separates God the creator from what I do is that at some point there was no earth, no "universe" no twinkly stardust from which to create these earthly blobs of wonderfulness, and then God made it to be, made it come into being with the distinction that there was nothing there to work with before. God "willed" it into being and it was. Then. 

There's a whole line of philosophical/religious thinking that goes to the will, the "thelema", you're probably familiar with it. There's a history that goes back into eastern, Egyptian religious mythology and that concept of will and the concepts of personal transformation and affirmation. In a way, I get the comparisons between Judaism and Egyptian religions because Judaism essentially counters polytheism with One God, Jehovah, who is Creator and Sovereign. And it kind of figures - many gods seems very much like man's mind at work, whereas one God is an outrageous idea in comparison........and etc. etc. Nietzshe's nihilism was a step into articulating the freedom of man's will to re form himself by his own will, with the spiritual implications that everything is a product of the mind. Will. And stuff. Crowley, "Xeper", even some of the current interest in DMT and chemical "technologies" for enlightenment and entry into the so called spiritual realm, etc. etc. 

By any other name, "self improvement" - only in that realm I'm not just trying to paint my house, I'm changing the fabric of my universe, or something equally dramatic. Or not - really, it's probably not a bad idea - "be the best you that you can be, and YOU get to decide what that is, not your Daddy or your Priest"......again, doesn't sound bad and could be even healthy, but there are limits to what that can do. There may be some thinking they're changing the tides of time and space by dancing around trees in the woods and no one gets hurt either way, but if there's no borders on that picture we have seen how perverted a picture the mind of man can "create", given the opportunity and freedom to do so 

Some interesting public figures work in the arena of personal transformation, and I'm not thinking of the Tony Robbins types who essentially spend a buck of sweat trying to convince people they need to get their ass off the couch and go do something - a fine message at it's core, but some others in music, the arts, government, etc. 

Anyway - ANYway, the question I was getting to which I think puts all this mushy parsing of "create" is - that - if God in the beginning created "the heavens and the earth" and we understand that to be a "it's not here, now it is" and we go from there in Genesis, then yeah - the ol' question of - what was there/here before that that was different? because it had to be different if Genesis creation is not here/God wills/now it's here. 

I take that to fundamentals then  - spiritual and physical. God - call it God's Kingdom,  including "angels" etc, was "spiritual". A higher plane of "life". Since the spiritual universe can be understood at all and in any way, as it's been revealed into the physical world, I would assume that both in it's original more pristine state as well as it's current somewhat degraded state, the physical realm in some ways reflects the spiritual universe, of God, that preceded it. 

Quack. Who knows, right? Anyway, I do use the word create freely now, and with the understanding that it means to reform or reimagine/redesign from existing materials. Maybe so elegantly that it seems like magic! but there's no magic. 

 

Edited by socks
Let's just wait and see what comes out of the river....

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