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"What most call freedom is bondage with a longer chain."
- Steve Marshall
Assessment Criteria for Cults
We live in a new world of high speed internet communication, and it
is estimated that there are about a billion websites. Many of these sites
are for science, religion, and business and some are hawking various products.
Many others are promoting programs for self
improvement, political positions, monetary enrichment schemes, and
fantastic ideas. Some of the more tantalizing ideas are those of some
sort of secret or empowerment program that delivers one from unwanted
aspects of the human condition.
Some of the "gurus" proposing these have written books and have a
somewhat effective promotional organization and actually have a small
but loyal following.
The promoters sometimes rather nakedly imply that empowerment and
escape from our current human condition is available through some
ancient way, the Vedic way, the Hindic way, the Mayan way or some
other version. All well and good but we find no mention of the elements of godlike wisdom,
character, purpose and values–love, nobility, mercy, equality, honesty,
acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, courage, humility, reason,
etc.,–that are the real engenderers of more deeply intimate, satisfying
and fulfilling human lives and relationships.
And where is the focus on unity of purpose, values and paradigm that
are so necessary to a healed reality and its unfolding where there is no
discord, and greater and greater increase of morale is delivered to the
sons and daughters of God? How many of these "ways" must be taken on a
leap-in-the-dark faith rather than an embracing through an
intellectually responsible understanding? Where are any significant
tangible, apprehensible results available to assay or witness? Where is
there any demonstration that is inspiring to a careful, critical thinker?
Of course, one hallmark of some of these new "religions" is that
engaging in reasoning or critical thinking is a deal killer, or at best is just one not
recommended and lonely path among many. And often these cultic movements don't
even talk about God, which–guess what?–tends to make their leader an idol or
the supreme being by default.
A charismatic, personable and/or powerful presence/presentation is
not enough to awaken MY faith in any man that implies he is the embodiment of a savior
of the world without these substantive dimensions. They usually control–whether this
control is heavy-handed or just clever–an organization that turns on
THEIR decisions. Historically, this kind of leadership is sought for
power and control, for ego fulfillment.
So! Not for me! Not even IF there ARE elements of
empowerment available. I want it ALL, AND I CAN’T BELIEVE IT CAN BE
DELIVERED BY AN ORGANIZATION OF UNCRITICAL FAITH AND FOLLOWERS!
We should agree that the world needs a spiritual wakening to the
truth, a universal healing, and a restoration to the unfallen condition
that was planned and initiated by the creator; to a reality and
environment that goes way beyond just a restoration to the Golden Age.
The life and message of the J-person was a foundation or cornerstone
that one can build on for one’s concepts of ideal reality because it was
a demonstration and elucidation of equality, forgiveness, nobility,
mercy, compassion, humility and non-judgmental acceptance of humans as
having eternal and infinite value. It came with many examples of
tangible healing, even when that threatened the greater import of his
message or the effectiveness of his ministry.
You may want to review the basic package of what we really need and
want, that I have winnowed out of our common innermost soul, by quickly
visiting the aspects of the IFISEEKUS package in the header above. It
must be noted that out
of all these subsuming facets, the last one that we should want
delivered is empowerment, because we wouldn’t want that until we are
ready to handle it–in freedom–with responsibility.
It is suggested that the above criteria be applied to any consideration of
joining ANY movement, especially one that is led by a charismatic or