It’s Sunday November 18th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1978, Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones led hundreds of his followers in a mass murder-suicide in the South American country of Guyana. Now, we might be paraphrasing just a bit, but we’re pretty sure there’s a passage in the Bible that reads, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man…especially one that is instructing you to inject your child with cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid soft drink.”
Like crows, maybe that’s why we call a flock of believers a murder. Because all too often (e.g. most wars, witch-hunts, ethnic cleansings, honor killings, human sacrifices, suicide bombings, indigenous peoples annihilation, The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Thirty Years’ War, The Holocaust, Islamic Jihad, 9/11 and The Norwegian Massacre - just to name a few examples), that’s exactly what believers do. We hear it all the time. The people who commit heinous crimes like the ones you’ve mentioned aren’t true believers. They’re false believers. Their perverted versions of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, (insert any religion here) aren’t real religions. They’re cults.
Now granted, it’s entirely possible that the people of Jonestown were inept fools living on the fringe of society lacking the cognitive capacity to comprehend that they were part of what most all of us would agree was a cult. Even still, let’s discuss. What exactly is a cult, and how is it different from a religion? Both have supernatural or deistic beliefs. Both practice rites, rituals and ceremonies. Both have systems of moral laws or doctrines. Both have dogmatic adherence to myths. Both have reverence of spiritual leaders. Both have sacred ideology. Hmm. When you really start to boil it all down, the fundamental difference seems to be that religions have mainstream acceptance and cults have mainstream repudiation (see our collective rejection of Jonestown above).
For all of you who claim to be true believers of a real religion, we have some questions for you. Is your belief system malignant or benign? If it’s malignant, how do you justify to yourself and others your belonging to a belief system that seeks to dominate and enslave? Does your belief system see this life as a test run? If so, doesn’t that do everyone (and everything) in this life (regardless of what they do or don’t believe) a tremendous disservice? How will you handle an ever-changing world that continues to increase with people who don’t believe in any religion or cult? What will you do when tolerating others who are different from you (like people who don’t believe in any religion or cult) comes into conflict with your belief system? At that point, does your benign belief system become malignant? At that point, will your belief system use force (e.g. pressure, intimidation, oppression, torture, and/or murder of individual people and/or collective bodies of people) to maintain and/or expand its power to dominate and enslave?
For all of you who claim to be true believers of a real religion, we have some closing thoughts for you. We think you are uncertain. We think you are insecure. We think you are fearful. We think your belief system (which is probably malignant) exploits your vulnerabilities by providing to you make-believe answers to the questions you have yet to answer. We think you find comfort, solace, and peace of mind in the make-believe answers you’ve been provided. Like others before you, we think you have been dominated and enslaved by your belief system. We think you have lost the ability to think (and feel) for yourself. We think you have been slowly yet surely remade in the vision of your belief system. George Orwell said, “We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.” We think you are more concerned with keeping and protecting your own belief system (religion or cult) at all costs, even when your belief system (which is probably malignant) breeds hatred, contempt, suffering, violence and war.
That makes you supremely selfish, and selfishness is the quintessential symptom of ego. “As the ego is no longer running your life, the psychological need for external security, which is illusory anyway, lessens. You are able to live with uncertainty, even enjoy it. When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life. It means that fear is no longer a dominant factor in what you do and no longer prevents you from taking action to initiate change. The Roman philosopher Tacitus rightly observed that, ‘The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.’ If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.” Thanks, Eckhart Tolle. Dear believers, having said all that, will you still pray for us? We are uncertain as to whether or not you will, but we’re comfortable with uncertainty so we’re okay with the infinite amount of ways you can engage or ignore us. Now, take a leap of faith, click on the links below, and download our brand new podcast episode today! Doing so will help us grow our cult (of personality). Look in my eyes, what do you see?