Stephen Kahn

Posts Tagged ‘cults’

.01% of the way to religious belief

In Hard to tell on May 1, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Quite a while back, when I just began writing about cults I belong to, the lovely, intelligent, and ever hopeful of converting me KarenO wrote, “I don’t suppose any of the cults you belong to are religious in nature.”

On the contrary, Karen, my sweetie. [If you will forgive the presumptuous familiarity.] Across the street from the the Island Athletic gymnasium where I work out (yet another of the cults, yet undiscussed) stands Trinity Lutheran Church. On the readerboard each week appears an inspiring message. About a week ago, it said something to the effect of, “Skeptic? Doubter? You are welcome here.”

Of course, readerboards do not have enough space for footnotes. If there were, the footnote would say, “Assuming you are at least 80% of the way to faith.”

In my case, I am at about .01% of the way to faith. Nevertheless, I participate in this evangelical Protestant Christian cult.

Clan Cult (#2 in a series on cults)

In Hard to tell, Humor on February 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Among the earliest human social units were clans. Human beings are very social creatures. Even in the earliest days of human existence, it probably was not common to find just Mom and Dad and maybe Dick and Jane and Spot wandering around on the African Savannah by themselves. Probably there were at least a few aunts and uncles in the group as well. When one clan met another, they had to make quick decisions: Eat them? Kill them? Marry them and create in-laws? All of the above?

At some point, as humans began to reason, they began to rationalize and generalize. My clan is better than your clan. If times were difficult – food and water in short supply – vicious predators in abundant supply – they began to imagine better places over the horizon. They also began to imagine worse places over the horizon. (#1 – Belief in some things you cannot see or prove exists.)

“Let’s move over the hill!” Cried some. “Let’s flee over the hill!” Cried others. Eventually a decision was made, and the group – some happy and some not – went along with the clan, figuring there was safety in numbers. (#2 – Feeling of companionship, support …)

As the clan advanced or fled, they said to one another, “Hang on! We’re almost there. I can smell water! I can smell food. The grass is getting greener with every mile we advance.” Or, “Keep moving! I think we’re getting away! I think they’ve lost our scent! Don’t stop now; we’re almost to a cave where we can hide!”  (#3 Sense of purpose…)

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.