Cult Confessions Presentation, the Pilot Run

Greetings all –

Holy crap, this pilot run is happening next Sunday – a week from today. It’s December! How did that happen?

Some of you have already confirmed, or denied, if that’s the case, you can ignore the rest of this graph. If you haven’t responded, but you are planning on coming, can you send me a quick confirmation. If you might be coming … you can let me know that, too. ūüėČ

I’ve got about 15 confirmations right now. I’ve got to set up the room, etc. so it’d be helpful to know how many to expect. If you want the details, send a message and I’ll get back to ya’

 

Thank you! and Season’s Greetings! GSR

Guest Post: The “presentation” & “impressions class”…

Dear CC Readers –

Most of you probably know about the “lectures”, aka the”presentations”! Some of you may have been recruited via this exalted “school” offering. Ever wonder how these works of wonder come together? The comment below (contributed recently) deserves GUEST-POST prominence because it lifts the curtain on how “school” spins information into cult propaganda & presents it as “esoteric knowledge” to the masses. It describes the associated “school”-perpetrated feeding frenzy, that can accompany such events, when they aren’t quite as successful as planned, and now this …

The “Lecture”¬† (aka “Presentation” )

I remember working on the lectures in Boston. We got divided up into groups – ostensibly we were a part of a group that we had a “talent for” or an “interest in”. I don’t think we got to choose the group we were in or our opinion was only minimal in the decision. In each group, we divided up all the subgroupings of subject matter and we each did a whole bunch of research (or not) and then came back together and talked about it all (ad nauseam) and filtered it all through the “leader” (older student and exalted one) of the group.

Eventually, after many months of research and talk, talk, talk about it all, the “leader” wrote the lecture. And then came the fun part (the part that I had not known about): the “leader” or should we now call him the “lecturer”, or “presenter” (whatever it is now) got to practice the lecture (ad nauseam) for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks.

Here’s the funny part, as the lecturer would practice the lectures, Robert would listen and then he would say he wanted to take it home and work on it himself. So, in the end, Robert re-wrote all the lectures. He put in all the non-factual, non-researched points of view which made it all fit into the “work”. Instead of the work fitting into the world, Robert remade the world to substantiate the work. On top of that, everything that Robert put into each of the lectures was the same for all of them, so that by the end, they were all the same lecture except the subject matter was slightly different for each one.

I was in Josh’s group.

Well, the end result of it all (and yes, I do have a selective memory) was that after each one of those thrilling-identical-Robert-written-lectures we had one of those wonderful soul-bearing sessions known as “the impressions class”. This is the one that I remember. I have mostly forgotten all the others: It was a lecture that Lisa gave and she got the greatest honor anyone could get: Sharon was coming from NY just to hear her!!!!

Our “Impressions”

The lecture was absolutely dreadful – the subject matter, the delivery, the plausibility of the lecturer, everything was totally off. It was an evening from hell. Then we get to the impressions class. Four or five people got up and said what a brilliant job Lisa had done, her delivery was flawless, her subject matter showed her pure intellectual superiority to all others, she was a marvel, a miracle, in fact she was just almost as good as the Virgin Mary.

Then Robert says: “Would you like to know what Sharon thought?” Everyone was eager to hear because they were expecting Robert to shine his bright sunlight on Lisa even more so she would be doubly blessed. Robert said “Sharon hated it.” Silence. Then he went on to expand upon exactly how horrible it was (and for the most part, she was actually correct, believe it or not). Not what he (Robert) thought (he loved it because he actually wrote it and coached Lisa on her presentation and on every step along the way) but what Sharon thought.

So, there’s the rub: by condemning Lisa, he was actually condemning himself as well. But he did it because Sharon showed him the evil of his ways and he was grateful to her for that and also because he did (and still does) whatever Sharon tells him to do. Not much free will out there in cult-land.

Then, like the good little lemmings they are, everyone else in the class who had not yet spoken, stood up one by one and told Lisa exactly what a horrible dreadful miserable god-forsaken itsy-bitsy person she was (and for the most part, they were actually correct).

Lisa was, of course, devastated and after that she was “out of favor” for months. This is what they do: build you up and then break you down. Send your whole world crashing down around you and leave you standing alone in the ruins for what seems like forever. What public humiliation does to a person’s psyche is horrendous. It is crushing. It is equal to soul rape. If you have been in “school” for a while, then you have experienced it and it’s effects. Not fun.

You might have guessed that I have no love for Lisa but I have been in that exact spot before and I don’t like watching it being done to others no matter who they are. I didn’t speak in that class, coward that I was then. But it hurt me and I think that it¬†hurt everyone in that room. Everyone in that room. Not just the very few of us who might whisper the next day or the next week to someone we knew really really well that it was a real shitty thing that was done to Lisa. Everyone in that room. Maybe it hurt the people worst who are still there and still watching this scenario run over and over again in Robert’s capable hands. I got to the point, eventually, before I left altogether, when I had to walk out of the room when this sort of abuse started happening to someone in the room.

The Illustrious Aftermath

Often “disgruntled ex-students” can be very-very-very angry and hostile. They will also tell you that their lives are just wonderful – so much better than before they left the group. Here’s the thing — they would be telling you the truth. It’s a difficult thing, to be in a cult and very enmeshed for 20 or 30 years and it takes an amazing amount of courage to walk out the door. But the group takes its toll. It takes a long time to get over it and really return to “normalcy‚ÄĚ (whatever that is) – if we ever really do return to some form of “normalcy”. It’s not something you will ever forget or leave behind you. Your experiences with Sharon and Robert are with you for the rest of your life. It’s normal to be angry and sad and hurt and broken for awhile. It’s hard but it does lessen over time. I’m not sure it ever really goes away totally.

I’m saying all of this partially because it’s true and needs to be said and partially because I know that Josh and Lisa and Robert will all read this and they will all disavow the truth of it. I am just asking you to look deeper into your hearts and try to see the truth of your predicament. It’s not your predicament alone, we are all in it to varying degrees. And if you should decide to leave – or are thrust out into the world again via Sharon’s death – just remember that it is not all sackcloth and ashes but its also not all roses but it is a little of each those. And you do have friends out here who will try to help you along your way. It’s a road that many many of us have been down.

Blessings on each and everyone of you.

 

New Series – Leah Remini: Scientology and The Aftermath

Good morning Readers, this is a quick post to let you know about a new t.v. series on A&E. Leah Remini was in the “church” for decades through her family. Now they’ve exited and she’s a vocal critic. I heard about this show yesterday, so haven’t watched it. For more info, click here:

Leah Remini: Scientology and The Aftermath

Also … I haven’t read this, but here’s an article from the Washington Post:

How Leah Remini is trying to expose Scientology secrets in her new docuseries

 

Gaslight Nation

Now that we have a President Trump pending, I find myself wanting to widen my focus. When I first started this blog, I did so as a personal healing odyssey: I would tell my story and provide information for those seeking information.

I found my recovery through the writing process and I found other things, too. I found out that my little “exclusive” school, was just a carbon copy of cults around the world. I found that the social dynamics within the hallowed halls were exactly the same as the social dynamics in other cults – Children of God, Scientology, etc. etc. etc. So my campaign widened – I want to expose and address cults of all kinds. I want to do this in service to humanity, as a woman who now identifies as a humanist – someone who believes that all humans have a birthright to every opportunity to develop to their fullest potential. I believe that when societies invest in human potential, we can evolve into great civilizations.

But there’s a problem. It seems that power, control and fear are always at odds with compassion, love and authentic collaboration. Never was this more obvious to me than in this election and I fear that the nation has just elected and given mandate to power, control and fear.

I fear for myself, as a woman, as a Jewish person (remember the Jewish star tweet), as a Democrat, as a humanist who believes in diversity and civil rights for all.

After all we now have a president who called Mexicans rapists, claims to be the “law and order” candidate while unarmed African Americans are being killed by police, who said that Megyn Kelly was “bleeding from her where-ever” when she challenged his misogyny. He has a history of sexual assault, bragged about it. He’s proud of himself. The pussy grabber is now our president. What does this say about us as a country?

But what I fear more is my own complacency. When I became aware of the power dynamics in “school”, and I learned that other cults are exactly the same, I started to see them everywhere, politics, too.

I’ve seen and heard all about the social damage, both personal and societal. So my campaign widens again. I’m not sure what that means yet; I’m chewing on it. However, those of us who believe – like me – that ALL men and women are created equal and that we ALL should have every opportunity to grow into our true potential, we need to mobilize and come together, especially now that the orange grand poo ba of narcissism is our president. As a critical mass, we need speak out against racism, misogyny, hate-mongering and all that goes against American ideals, and is now represented by the incoming Trump administration.

Those who oppose the Trumpster are now told they are “stupid” and “misinformed” by the Trump Trolls. Trolls¬† have learned well from Daddy Trump and believe that if they repeat his lies enough, lies magically become truth. Thus the trolls are out there lecturing his critics: “get over it.”¬† They say. They are gloating about the big “win” (cough, can’t wait to see how America “wins”) and reveling in the national shock and dismay, proudly laughing at over half the country. Like Daddy Trump, they pride themselves in being assholes.

Kelly Anne Conning-her-Way, Trump’s Spinster-in-Chief, is claiming a mandate. If you buy into this bullshit, you are letting that camp gaslight the country. Don’t let the insults, the vitriol and the dismissal of over half the country – Clinton’s lead in the popular vote: 2.5 million people and the over 40% didn’t vote – silence you. We still have free speech. Let’s use it! As far as I know we still live in an imperfect democracy: let’s make sure the Trump camp doesn’t turn it into a plutocracy – rule by greedy rich people.

The United States of America is in danger of becoming the Cult o’ Trump. As fore-stated, I don’t know exactly what this means for me, except that I will be using this forum as a platform for my free speech, to speak out against civil rights violations.

That’s what I can do right now. More to come …

… So Many New York Memories.

About guest posts: sometimes fellow “disgruntled(s)” contribute blog comments that deserves prominence. These comments are either informative, OR are too entertaining to pass up. Today’s guest post, brought to you by my fellow evil blogger’s site, is both! You see, Robert et al neglected to mention corporate headquarters in NYC to my “class” –oops. (Yes, Virginia, Boston is merely the satellite cult¬† — sorry).¬† When one day a strange, round, overly-made up, woman, swooped in unannounced, and Robert escorted her front and center, and sycophants scurried to cater to her, and “older students” asked for her “help”, and she responded in jumbled non sequiturs, and wide-eyed recipients murmured, “Thank you, Sharon”, in hushed tones, those of us not-in-the-know watched in bewilderment.

The Sharon-Show trounced through early in my tenure. I almost quit and wish I had. Some “privileged” Boston-branch attendees pilgrim to NYC for her super-evolved “instruction.” For a peek into the inner workings, see below. Ready to throw open the curtain? Visit:Standing Up To Sharon Gans. In the meantime, I personally found the below missive horrifyingly funny, AND informative:

The beginning of class was something we all endured before we slowly phased out into the mind set of “oh god when will this be over so I can go home? It’s so late, I’m so bored, Oh dear Lord is Chris going to ask a question NOW at 11:20? That guy has no sense of the room.”

One recommendation for getting onto coffee service was this: It gave you an excuse to walk around and do stuff — to leave the “magic circle” and fiddle with things in the back. No one bugged you if you were on coffee service. You had a little aura around you that suggested that you were on “teacher business” and if anyone messed with you, they could be in trouble. You could even leave the space, saying we were low on chocolate, or almonds, and go down to the deli.

Now, a few others could also leave – I know one woman who regularly left for about forty five minutes every week to copy sustainer reports. Yes, Virginia, your sustainers, or ‚ÄúFRIENDS‚ÄĚ, as I heard they call them now, write up reports on your conversations to give to the teachers – they are divided into updates on your three-story house, and on your three centers, and anything else that might be interesting or useful: “Pamela finds the no drug rule to be silly and says she is still snorting coke at parties”; “Bobby says he wishes he could date Mary (not you, teacher Mary.)”.

The next week, or month, Pamela may find herself on the hot seat, grilled about her lack of respect for school and its powers and “rules” – she may feel guilty and slowly confess to her coke use. Bobby may get a sudden call and be asked if he would like to date anyone in school he’s been such a good boy – and soon Bobby and Mary are announcing their weddingweeee! Or…..not. At any rate, I digress ‚Ķ

Coffee service is a bitch. Don’t do it. The only way to quit once you’re on is to have a baby. You are constantly being upbraided for not having good meals when the budget is ridiculous and the food requirements are antediluvian: this one doesn’t like chicken and that one is allergic to mushrooms – once you’ve gotten through all of them, it turns out that the only thing everyone agrees on is turkey breast, and then you get yelled at for boring meals.

Next, you get to make coffee and little plates and wash ugly mugs – you get to go up to the teachers during class and listen to their drink orders. Most of them drink strong alcohol. At one point there were about six teachers spread across the front, and another four guys as “tits” — teachers in training. The tits wanted to be worshiped too – they wanted recognition and power, so they began asking to be fed dinner and have drinks and coffee and little plates brought to them as well. Hubris! Annoying! No tips! And no budget increase.

We were told, “In school all things are possible – you should be able to feed ten people on the same amount of money as six – turkey is cheap”. Another note about coffee service – it will cost you money. And you have to take taxis with the food and stuff, and for some reason, they wanted you to buy Sharon’s God-awful hazelnut decaf at the Jefferson Market, which had terrible coffee, but she doesn’t understand food, so the next time she criticizes your cooking, please know that she is a peasant. I can’t even smell hazelnut without getting sick to my stomach – my last trigger.

Yes, coffee service has many downsides, but ladies (and gentlemen? Really? I hear in Boston a man dominates the cooking, but that’s the only thing he ever does in, or for school) – Ladies, it will get you a break from all the whining and posing, from the abuse of your comrades and the embarrassment of listening to the pomposity and ignorance of the people Sharon has appointed to guide you.

 

About the families …

Good Afternoon, Readers:

I just visited my fellow evil blogger’s site and feel compelled to point you to the latest post: Heartbreak

The niece of a long-time NY member contributed the latest post. I have often thought to myself, and said to others, that family and friends suffer the most from cult inflicted damage. They are left scratching their heads, wondering, what happened to the person that I love? How did this person “evolve” into a cold, flat, callous version of themselves? When did someone alive, loving, passionate, caring, generous, curious, full of life, become a flat, empty, propaganda-spouting shell?

Cults leave a wake of destruction in our social fabric. That is why I have made it my business to expose the bizarre, callous and selfish practices innate to each and every “school”. Every cult is the same and every cult inflicts the same damage: stealing lives, killing members slowly by sucking the soul and life out of them. Tearing apart families. Ruining people – stealing time, energy, money and chances for them to realize true potential.

I have too much to say about this topic – it may turn into a series of posts. I inflicted pain on my family and friends. Sometimes my husband will recall some of the crap I spouted out at him. Interestingly, I don’t remember saying, or doing, many of the things he reports. Yet, I know his accounts are true, because the stories are always true to “school” form – in my illustrious “school”-coma, I touted the party line.

When I finally confessed my cult days to friends (who, thank God, stuck it out with me through those weird five years) they said things like: “I was wondering what was going on … why you were so busy … so distant… so flat … so unavailable … why you were acting so strangely.”

How shocked was I to realize that the “invisible world” is actually very visible, as I emerged from the cult coma. But that shock is part of the recovery. I had no idea how isolated I’d become from them. I was surrounded by an invisible prison of silence and deception.

Un-“schooled” family members have contacted me over the years — some who hail from the lineage of “school” leadership. They share stories that I know are true, because they echo “school” dealings from the past (the sins of the fathers are visited upon future generations, Robert). The strategies are distinct –very– obvious. I always feel tempted to share those stories as a cautionary tale – but I don’t want to throw salt into wounds. I want to honor confidentiality. I know it’s painful and courageous of them to share these stories with me. I would never reveal the stories unless they specifically gave me permission.

Thus I’m not at liberty to share details. But please trust me: “school”, these people, this group, they, have no more humanity. They/it only care about you in so far as siphoning your bank account and getting some slave labor. It’s cult culture, take as much as you can until you suck someone dry. Run away as fast as possible. You owe them NO EXPLANATION. NOTHING. As, true to cult form, they will try every manipulative strategy and guilt trip possible — trust me, it’s only b/c they need the income.

Last week I had lunch with a woman whose adult daughter got sucked into a cult. I’m happy to report that the daughter is out, but the healing is a long, grinding process. There are children involved. The mom is tenacious and smart and determined.¬† I have met several mothers like this. With very few resources for families, they continue to fight for their loved ones.

There’s too much to say about this … so I’m gonna stop myself and have a day. And feel grateful that my life is “school”-free and I came out relatively unscathed.

About Yom Kippur

boxford-2When I was a kid, my secular and academic family would hike on Yom Kippur. As non-observant Jews, we created some rituals around some holidays, but they fell away over the years. Yesterday, I returned to the hike and took myself to the Boxford State Forest.

I like the idea of reflecting on atonement and forgiveness. I’m not a forgiving person and I am suspicious of those who claim to be forgiving — much easier said, than done. In theory, I understand that forgiveness is freedom. In my rare better moments, I’ve experienced that freedom. Most of the time, I wonder what forgiveness would feel like.

I did not sort out forgiveness yesterday; but I did accept the woods as my temple. I got to unplug from all the noise (including this unbearable presidential campaign) and observe this holiday in a way that resonated as authentic and true to my history and beliefs.

Since my little “school” dalliance, I, personally, feel that I can’t trust, or join, any organized religion. Humans are too fallible, too irresponsible with power. We are too easily intoxicated by it. I’ve seen too many religions being used as excuses for abusive behavior (including evangelical “Christians” justifying their support for a presidential candidate who has repeatedly demonstrated himself as a serial sexual predator). The hypocrisy is too much for me. It makes me furious.

If I want to connect to God, I can simply walk out my front door and watch the leaves change colors, or the sunset paint the sky.

I’ve spoken with many ex-cult members who call their experiences spiritual rape — including my “school” mates.¬† Yes cults are spiritual rapist – taking advantage and sullying the best in their members, much like the misogynist pig who is trying to bully his way into the Oval Office. I still don’t know about forgiveness; I do believe, though, that it’s possible to reclaim and heal your spiritual or religious practice, what ever that may be.

“School” claimed that we humans are born soul-less. Without “school” — allegedly — we remain soul-less. Never fear, though, you can manufacture a soul if – and only IF – you sign the dotted line, hook an I.V. drip into your bank account to feed the queen’s retirement funds, til death do you part, disregard your family, friends, thoughts, emotions, needs, hopes and dreams for the illustrious “aim” of recruiting others who will do the same. If you prop up her staged presentation of “evolved woman”, you, too, might, manufacture a soul (no guarantee) . If you don’t, you simply live out your days as an empty shell. “School” gropes spiritually, whereas Drumph grabs and gropes with his tiny hands — as proclaimed proudly in the audio tape released last weekend.

Yep, folks. This is the “school” version of spiritual rape and every cult spins a different tale, but perpetrates the same violation. So for ex-cult members, reclaiming your spiritual practice is a crucial aspect of recovery; when a predatory group hijacks you — mind/body/heart/spirit — it’s important to reclaim every facet of your true identity. No outside “source” (as Robert used to call “school”) can dictate your relationship to God.

 

Once upon a time, “The Study” was …

cc_evrymn-plybll_10-12-16 “School”, which was “The Theater of All Possibilities” and, before that, The Everyman’s Theater:

I stumbled across this interesting tidbit of cult history, while searching for something else: a play bill for sale – for a mere $125, this snippet of 70s-cult memorabilia could be yours!!!¬† Look closely, you’ll recognize some names.

Here’s the link: http://www.abaa.org/book/912324069

I found the write up particularly interesting … here’s some info about the illustrious and enlightened “school” days of yore:

Passport [unusual playbill for Tennessee Williams’ “Camino Real,” put on by the San Francisco-based Everyman Theater]“Everyman Theater, San Francisco. [1973], Eight-page program, about the size of a passport with dull green covers, attendee‚Äôs name written in as with a passport, accompanied by the signature of the ticket seller (Jack McRitchie), and a rubberstamp that one can imagine being applied with a flourish at the time of purchase. The Everyman Theater was a front for a Bay Area cult group led by Alex Horn and his wife Sharon Gans. The group, based on the philosophies of George Gurdjieff, would invite attendees to stay after the show for meetings, then to attend additional study groups, and before they knew it they could have the luxury of paying to toil on the communal ranch in search of spiritual liberation. There was a series of expos√©s of this group in various San Francisco publications of the late 1970s. This booklet does not mention anything about beatings, scheduled pregnancies or farm labor, but it does list all the performers and production staff, with a Note from the Director about the deeper meanings of William‚Äôs play. Horn and Gans are listed as producers.”

Isn’t that inspiring.

Cult Leaders, Narcissists and Presidential Candidates, oh my …

Once upon at time, I made a decision to keep politics separate from this blog. I likened “School” spin to the spin of one the dominant political parties. A reader took offense and I decided that, since this blog is about cults, which recruits Democrats, Independents and Republicans equally, it wasn’t worth treading on landmines.

However, this presidential election is so over the top, that I’ve decided to break my own rules. Why ? Because every time Trump opens his mouth, he displays the characteristics of a sociopathic, narcissistic, cult leader. Let me count the ways:

  1. Cult leaders lie. Cults are built on deception, just like Trump’s campaign. You know when Trump is lying, because his lips are moving. But he characterizes HRC as “a liar”.
  2. ¬†Cult leaders do and say heinous and abusive things and then project their sociopathic behavior on to others, most typically an opponent. For example, after years of, championing the ridiculous and racist birther movement, Trump declares: Obama is an American citizen, period. And that HRC is (of course) responsible for the birther bullshit — as if we didn’t notice Mr. Trump offering Obama the produce your birth certificate and I’ll make a big donation to some charity deal (funny, b/c Drumph never really follows up on promised donations, but that’s another post, for another day).
  3. Cult leaders are great at deceptive marketing, pitching one thing and delivering the opposite, for selfish financial gain: as is well known and documented, a fair number of ex-Trump University¬† students are suing the school for fraud. Additionally, Trump is well known for hiring and then bilking contractors. Of course, Trump accuses HRC of being “crooked”. It’s a catch-phrase of his campaign.
  4. Cult leaders feel that societal laws and expectations of decency don’t apply to them. In fact when confronted on various and frequent infractions of law and decency, cult leaders can’t compute them – the presiding notion being: what do those lowly things have to do with evolved, entitled beings, like me. They feel that they are royalty and should be treated as such, by everyone. Trump regularly disparages, insults and degrades minorities and women. Then, when confronted, he denies what he’s done; saying things like “that was a joke”, or “I never said that.” In fact, at times he pouts like a child when people expose his heinousness — saying “it’s not nice”.


    When Megyn Kelly confronted him on calling women “disgusting” and “fat pigs” — i.e. doing her job as¬† a reporter — she was ” … not nice” (poor little Donald). In fact, Drumph went on to say that she was ” … bleeding out of her … where-ever” … Oh, yea, but that was a joke.

    When asked about federal discrimination lawsuits over housing during the debate, Trump’s only response was that he was proud of himself for 1) having properties in both New Jersey and Palm beach; 2) not admitting to discriminating against blacks, in NJ, 3) in Palm Beach (where people are “very rich”), holding back from discriminating, when he could have —¬† I love irony and this is classic: only a racist would tout those things — clearly racists attitudes — as “accomplishments”. It’s apparent that he sees nothing wrong with discrimination. He’s, in fact, proud of himself for not discriminating.

    Lets move on to women, because no where is this more screamingly apparent than his behavior and attitude towards women: Trump’s true color were exposed yesterday when someone released a tape of him bragging about grabbing “pussy”. Add this to a growing list — fat shaming; the slut shaming; cheating on spouses; calling his own daughter “hot” and seeing nothing wrong with “wanting to date her”. And of course the newest revelation: it’s o.k. for Howard Stern to call his daughter, Ivanka, a “nice piece of ass” – or whatever it was. But, of course, this is just “locker room banter” – humor. How many ways can I say this: Trump is an asshole.

  5. Part two of the laws of society don’t apply to me: Trump feels entitled to withhold his tax returns from the public. Therefore when the New York Times does its job as a newspaper and releases his taxes, he spins it as a conspiracy theory against him — a “rigged system” (of course, the rigged tax system has been treating him very well, as we all learned, but that’s another post). Trump feels threatened by facts, therefore will only debate HRC if his statements are not fact checked by the moderator. Ummm. Where to begin … I have never heard a presidential candidate argue against facts and fact checking. Why won’t Drumph release his tax records? What is he hiding? I guess Trump knows that the facts will work against his viability as a candidate.
  6. Cult leaders reduce complications of human nature down to catchphrases. They then repeat the catch phrases endlessly, as though repeating them makes them irrefutably true. Trump’s economic plan: America never wins anymore. Blame everything on TPP (don’t mention corporate greed); cut taxes for rich people and get rid of regulation (it worked so well in 2008); Trump’s immigration plan: build a wall; send Mexico the bill (not gonna happen and everyone — I mean everyone — knows it); ban Muslims from entering the country (… freedom of religion, anyone?)¬† Trump’s National Security plan: send more American troops to Iraq and Syria; Russia won’t go into the Ukraine (oops, because Russia is already in the Ukraine) … for everything else: Obama and by proxy HRC have “ruined this country … just visit the mid-West … you’ll see”. That’s pretty much it.
  7. Cult leaders have surrogates that take on their voice, characteristics and behaviors. We saw Pence use Trump bullet points quite calmly in the recent VP debate — he couldn’t defend his boss, but he could further the message: the country is imploding! Immigrants are dangerous! HRC hid emails! Pence managed to spout out bullshit, while looking presidential (which, apparently, didn’t bode well with his boss, who doesn’t like it when surrogates look better than him). Bill Maher had one of Trump’s economic advisors on his panel recently. Just like his boss, the dude couldn’t let anyone else on the panel finish a sentence, especially the women. He would interrupt as soon as someone was exposing Trump’s BS, to spin it back to Trump bullet points: the country is imploding; our economy has been ruined by Obama; black Americans are living in war zones; blah, blah, blah.
  8. Cult leaders have adoring followers who take on this fantasy world and defend it, no matter what. Trumpeters know he’s lying when he says he’s gonna build a wall. They support him for tweeting insults between 3:30-5:30 a.m, aimed at a former Miss Universe, like the junior high school bully who has been up all night stewing over a recent humiliation, and can’t stop himself from behaving in a manner undignified –at best– for anyone, let alone someone over the age of 9; let alone someone running for president, saying “He has a right to defend himself.” They seem o.k. to elect a president with the maturity level of a pre-teen boy, the bully on the block.
  9. Cult leaders live in a self-fabricated fantasy world and then expect everyone to cater and prop up that fantasy.

Trust me, propping up Trump’s fantasy will not “Make America Great Again”. It won’t help you. It won’t help me. But he’s sure to make America work for him, just look at what he gains to benefit from his tax plan.

All of this is to say – please don’t stay home this November: women, African Americans, Latinos, let’s please keep the orange narcissist out of the White House.

About EnlightenNext: another Mass-based cult …

This fascinating video documentary, produced by The Atlantic, not only interviews ex-members of now defunct cult EnlightenNext, but Andrew Cohen, ex-leader, who called his “teaching”, “evolutionary enlightenment”.

How Well-Meaning, Intelligent People End Up in a Cult

Interestingly, Cohen sat down with The Atlantic and admitted that his ego took the wheel; he says that he’s apologizing to ex-members. Is it possible that an ex-cult leader could sincerely be taking responsibility for the damage he inflicted? In this particular interview he can’t bring himself to admit to hurting others; but he does say he’s traveling the world to ” … sit down with people who feel that they’ve been hurt.”

In turn, the ex-members interviewed spoke, without blame or vitriol, about mystical experiences, glimpses into cosmic knowledge, experiences of a hypnotic state, thousands of hours prostrating themselves and repeating the following phrases:

To be free is to know nothing …

To be free is to be no one …

To be free is to have nothing …

…and worshiping a picture of Andrew, i.e. “God”.

Cohen describes a bit about his own spiritual search and the teaching that he claims “unfolded” when people started to follow him. He describes how he started to believe his personal feelings were “objective truths”. He admits to making “a lot of mistakes.”

One ex-member describes the exit process this way: ” … it’s got to feel like coming out of prison and entering the world again … everything was amazing.”

Both ex-members, and ex-leader, admit that they don’t really understand what unfolded.

I admit that I am dubious of Mr. Cohen’s apologies as sincere. But it is this type of dialogue that will shed light on this bizarre and damaging phenomenon called cults. I hope that he is – in fact – able to take responsibility for his hurtful, ego-driven, actions. Maybe Cohen can begin contributing to healing, reconciliation and solutions. In the meantime, though, this video is a start and a worthwhile 20-minute viewing.

How Well-Meaning, Intelligent People End Up in a Cult