Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Church or Cult?

This could be a drinking game where one recites varying dogma, rituals and beliefs and tries to guess where it applies and frankly there is little to distinguish cults from established Religions.  Can you tell the difference?

I just finished watching Leah Rimini's Aftermath after having a discussion with a local Barista about Scientology and the odd dynamics that it seems to have on its members and more importantly on those who decide to leave the "faith."

We laughed and said that there are parts of it we could embrace - Aliens, Naval style uniforms, and of course odd cruises be they of the travel or celebrity kind.  There is a type of mania that is only found it truly Evangelical and extreme faiths that require a dedication to belief and that includes Mormonism, Amish, Jehovah and Christian Science.  But in all honesty there is little variation between that and most mainstream faiths.  Each have sects and branches that veer on the extreme to the crazy.  Faith does that as it is suspension of disbelief that requires one to embrace any number of dogmas that transcend reality.

I have always had belief in God but my belief comes from the idea that it cannot hurt and I am not sure he came first or we did and in turn needed something outside of ourselves in which to believe and in turn embrace to avoid total narcissism.  But that is about it.  My Father took one look at Christian Jesus in the 60's and said, "That guy is a pot smoking Hippie and so not going there!" And so from now on in our home Jesus was always called The Baby Jesus as what can you say bad about a baby?

I went to dozens of Church's when I was young, the longest the Catholic one.  I never have been Baptized or officially joined any Religion as while I find it interesting it is not something I felt compelled to join.  A Gypsy from birth I suspect.

For the same reasons I find fascination with Scientology I could say the same about the Catholic Church. The idea of one man being the leader of the faith, the writings revered and the varying members/aposoles/cardinals/sea orgs or whatever you want to call them to ensure that the teachings are adhered and duly spread onward.   Missionaries or Scientology recruiters can you tell a difference?    And if you have never seen the Book of Mormon perhaps you should it will rock you to your special underwear.

To pledge undying fealty to a faith and tithe your income, your children and confess all your sins, to be excommunicated if you fail to follow the teachings and laws/dogmas/bullshit means giving up everyone and everything you have ever believed in sounds good.  Brings the question - Scientology or Catholicism?

Forced marriages, arranged marriages?  Scientology or Hinduism or Islam?

Bizarre outfits, repression of women, caste system - Hinduism or Scientology?

Worship an Alien or a mythical being?  Whatever as you can see the parallels exist.

But when Scientology and Catholicism seem to merge is about children in ways that sickened me.  After last night's episode where the women who were molested and abused as children shared their stories I woke up to another revelation about the Children of Priests.  The same Spotlight crew that uncovered and investigated the Church's abuse for decades in Boston now has a series about the children of the Priests from largely consensual relationships that have led many to question their paternity and in turn the Church's obligation to acknowledge these children.

And this comes after I finished watching The Keepers;  A Netflix documentary about the investigation into a the unsolved murder of the nun Sister Cathy Cesnik.  Sister Cesnik taught English and drama at Baltimore's Archbishop Keough High School and former students believe that this murder was an attempt to  stop her from revealing her belief that one of the Priests,  A. Joseph Maskell, was guilty of sexual abuse of many of the female students at the school.  

The harrowing stories of survival by the victims of this Maskell sickened me and they oddly parallel those I heard last night on Aftermath.  The same desperate pleas and in turn rejection by the authorities of the "church" cannot be denied.  And even L. Ron Hubbard's own words that vilify children to somehow excuse or support this are quoted in Biblical like references throughout the series.   A "religion" that requires Children to sign their lives and rights away for BILLIONS of years is not only absurd it is insane and yes illegal.  And yet families allowed this as they believed.  Ah yes the ability to believe is the ability to deny.

I live in the Bible Belt and I have ventured into the Church's here on occasion out of curiousity. And you know what they say - curiousity killed the cat.  I have a few lives left and I have decided it is not worth the risk.

The first question you are often asked here is, "What Church do you go to?" With 91% of the residents here being Christian it is surprising how Nashville claims diversity when so few people here are not of the norm. There is nothing but God here and frankly I don't think it matters what you call your God as long as you call him. The pressure to belong to an organized faith is distressing and again what I see here does little to inspire me to join. They are smug, judgmental, paranoid, racist, sexist, homophobic and boring as hell. Whoops I said a bad word! Aside from the Jesus love they are incredibly poorly educated and in turn their world is one of abject poverty. Irony considering the Churches here rival malls for scale. But there are many many storefront Churches and dilapidated buildings that function as Churches that align every block within every block.

When I wandered into the smaller and blacker Church I was deeply uncomfortable. Not because the Congregation made me feel as such, as I had greeted the Pastor and said I moved in across the street and thought I would meet all of my neighbors and that they were my first, but it was the lecture, the scold, the admonishment of which I am now familiar.   The service was long, very long and emphasized discipline be it personal and in turn patriarchical. In other words, spare the rod, spoil the child. The Amens and Uh huhs, dominated and punctuated the Pastor's pauses and in turn I saw nodding of heads and acknowledgments that spanking, beating and challenging children to behave was the way to the Lord. I smiled and then left after the Service immediately.

Then the next in the town of Franklin was a Mega Church and in turn white. There I heard the prosperity pulpit and how those will take what they want and they have not earned that and those who have must know when they are to hold onto their purse and in turn decide whom they will provide and that it begins with those whom matter. In other words, charity begins at home. I was bored after 20 minutes and then when the Musical portion started I quietly excused myself to myself and left. No one spoke to me or acknowledged me so missing me was not going to happen.

I plan on going to more in the next few years being here. I need to try to seek a balance and in turn perspective about a place until now I had a benign relationship with. But of late I have never seen any institution so willing to seek collateral damage in order to stay relevant. They want believers and they want them anyway they get them. They want to institute all their rage, their fears and their beliefs onto everyone to alieviate their own guilt and shame. Conformity breeds contempt and I have nothing but contempt for these who profess to have a higher connection.

I see very little difference between Scientology or Christianity and down to hate, the phobia and the control can you?

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