I have been watching cult documentaries with fervour. I love them so much and every time I do I always wonder if I could be susceptible enough to join one. I do not think anyone is above joining one by the way.
Now, given that I am not religious, it limits the number of cults that I could join. However I recently I watched Seduced and The Vow about NXIVM which is a cult based on self help/personal growth and new age/empowerment/spiritual rhetoric. Cults are evolving y’all.
But let me not get ahead of myself. What is the definition of a cult? According to dictionary dot com the definition is a variety of things but the basic tenets are that there is an ideology that brings people together, object or person of devotion, existence of rites and ceremonies and then the things that separate it from organised religion – isolating people, requiring loyalty, worship of one specific person among other things (Read this).
I think NXIVM really hit me was because it is a self help organisation. They have the wording of self help and then once you are deep in, it goes off the rails. I mean, they preached productivity, calorie control, gyming and physical activity and also things like you didn’t need 8 hours of sleep. Watching these documentaries was truly something.
And this makes it different in that if you aren’t religious, it is easy to avoid the religious based cults. However we are almost always looking for ways to improve ourselves, to find purpose, to be better, to grow. And this can lead you into a cult.
Especially now as things are tough and statistics are showing we aren’t as religious, we are looking for other ways to escape and find ourselves and community. It could be easy to join a group of people on the path to better yourself and the next thing you know, you are being
asked ORDERED to have sex with the leader. Whew.
And you know the thing about these leaders is that when people watch these documentaries you wonder how people would follow them. And I think in underestimating them is one way people fall into the trap. I mean look at Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Heaven’s Gate, Bikram, Gwen Shamblin – all of them. They are truly fascinating.
All this to reiterate that I think we are almost always susceptible to joining a cult. As one of the ladies said “We all want to believe”. And as the cult expert said, the mind is a fragile thing and we are all subject to influence.
Finally let’s remember that capitalism is a cult so we are all participating in one albeit for some of us begrudgingly.
(You know, it’s sad in a way because behind all this, we are looking for meaning and purpose because the truth is, the world as it is doesn’t make sense).