Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fear and Loathing in the New World Order

It's dangerous to for me to read the news. I read too many headlines, spend too much time looking out from my electronic window down on the world, and I get bogged down in the reality of man's sinful nature, and to be honest, it really ruins my day.

This may or may not surprise you, but religious cults are a fascinating subject to me (though it may surprise you to know that this bit of information is pertinent to my previous thoughts). When I read about a cult getting publicity in the news, it attracts my attention. I guess it's a twisted sort of fascination; it's probably the same sort of thing that inspires people to crane their necks to see roadkill, find interest in the prosecution of a murder case or sexual crime, or become fans of CSI. So when I started reading about all this business with the polygamist Mormon sect in Texas, I retraced the media's steps as far back as May '07. This sect has been getting massive amounts of bad publicity for almost a year... the head guy, Warren Jeffs, is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted for loads of child abuse charges -physical, emotional, and sexual abuse- and for marrying off young girls to older men as they reach puberty; and even though he's been arrested and his cult forceably "disbanded" (yeah, right), Jeffs seems to be controlling his congregation from his jail cell by allegedly sending and receiving messages by way of his elders. They fear him at the same time they worship the ground he walks on.

Now, as I'm reading all this for the first time, I start to see connections with other famous cults-gone-wild, particularly Jonestown. Seeing as how I'm too young to remember the events, it probably makes sense that I only recently learned the gruesome details of Jim Jones' Peoples Temple and the Jonestown massacre of '78. If you too are unfamiliar, do some research and be as appalled as I was: the end of it all happened when over 900 people committed suicide, whether voluntarily or by force, under the instruction of "Father" Jones and the influence of his "teachings." Now I know people can be very trusting, but I really wish people would use their heads once in a while. He manipulated them initially with sleep deprivation and an overload of work; some of his people would stay awake for weeks at a time. For the record, 60 hours of sleep deprivation will start to mess with your head, and 72 hours makes you eligible for the Special White Jacket Award. Jones was also known, retrospectively, for using guilt manipulation, sex, and drugs to keep his followers hooked.

There's nothing new under the sun, it seems. Using people to feed your own god-complex, making them do your bidding through fear, guilt, and manipulation... and they give back nothing but unashamed, unrestrained loyalty. If that isn't terrifying to you, I'm very sorry, but you are jaded and you need help.

And to further your reading pleasure, the latest news from Tinsel Town is that Scientology has been turning out dissatisfied customers. A TV actor Jason Beghe (no, I don't know who he is, either) has, in recent news, publicly renounced his social religion. I don't exactly understand all the jargon he uses, though the ever-faithful and semi-reliable Wikipedia entry tried to help out, but what I do understand came through loud and clear: for this guy, the novel sci-fi religion-of-the-month didn't make the cut.
(Blogger's note: in the article, there is a link to the YouTube video that the FOXnews article references multiple times. Is a three-minute teaser for an upcoming interview with the actor. If you would like to watch it, go ahead, but be warned of an abundance of language most foul.)

This all somewhat amuses me. Could there perhaps be an ounce of sensibility left in the minds of man?

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