Stephen Kahn

My cults (part 1)

In Humor on February 19, 2012 at 7:22 pm

A while back I had an Internet conversation with a secular professor of religion. He criticized use of the word “cult.” I don’t have his exact words in front of me, but he said “cult” is a way of insulting people one does not like. He’s probably correct; even so, I’m rather fond of the word. I associate it it with the following characteristics:

1) Belief in something you cannot see or prove exists.

2) Feelings of companionship, support, validation, and enjoyment by being around others with the other beliefs, even when others not in the group reject, disdain, or persecute your beliefs.

3) A sense of purpose and goals to be achieved.

All my life I have perceived myself as a non-conformist, a skeptic, and as a person who does not fit into any group to which I nominally belong. I still feel that way. Now, edging towards the end of my life, I live on Whidbey Island, a place where a large percentage of the population thinks of themselves as tolerant non-conformists. Naturally, I snarkle quietly to myself, What a bunch of conformists!

However truth to be told, I now belong to several cults, which I will describe in subsequent blog posts.

  1. I think what you’re missing in your characteristics of cults is that they usually have a leader who is very charismatic & demands strict loyalty to himself. Also, people in cults usually have to give up or greatly reduce time spent with family.

    There are other characteristics of cults as well, such as sleep deprivation & keeping members busy.

    I don’t suppose any of the cults you belong to are religious in nature. 😉

  2. Hi Karen,

    My answers to your comment are too complex to put into one comment box. I will keep your comment and interesting points in mind and try to refer to it as I write my posts. I will say that one possible cult is called marriage. My wife does expect me to be faithful to her, and she does keep me very busy. “Please put the chickens out,” she says firmly to me as I sit contemplating writing a blog post and dozing off over the laptop. “Please dig us up some fresh worms and bugs; please get us some fresh water; please collect the eggs before they spoil,” the hens then tell me, so I guess they are also members of her cult, ones with some authority over me. Well, dinner is almost ready; and if I want to get fed, I will need to stop this reply. As far as the religious in nature, a couple of the cults are; though, I admit, I am a very poor adherent.

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