Trapped of One’s Own Free Will
by Jake Block
It’s a fact that you can find someone to believe in what you have to say of some product that you want to promote, no matter what the philosophy or product is. In a nation of over 323 million people, it would be news if you COULDN’T. Freedom of speech has brought us to a place in time when anyone can be a leader for the price of a soapbox and broadband access.
I’m a great believer in freedom of speech. It’s the basic freedoms that we as Americans enjoy that allows me to publish my essays here for The Sect of the Horned God, an excellent venue for those of us who march to that “different beat.” It allows me to state my views as an Administrator, or simply as Jake Block. My ideas are sometimes at odds with society as a whole. Sometimes they’re accepted. But the beauty is that I have the right to state them. I’ve been in places where I’d have found my ass behind bars for twenty years for much less.
But the same freedom that allows me to speak openly allows others the same right, no matter how noxious their notions or seditious their sentiments. There are those who would use this freedom to prey upon those who are reaching out to find some grain of truth in their lives that they can call their own. There are unscrupulous “gurus of greed” out there that will give them just that, for a price; and that price can be very high.
At one time I knew a lovely young girl named Monica who “fell in” with a Scientology group. You know, L. Ron Hubbard’s brainchildren. Now, for those of you who have been in a cave for the past fifty years or so, L. Ron Hubbard wrote a spate of sci-fi books. He also wrote DIANETICS, which on the face of things is an excellent self help book. Problem is, very few, if any people have ever made it through Scientology on a self-help basis.
After being introduced to a gentleman named “Rick,” she was slowly weaned away from friends and family. There was no deep brainwashing involved. She found a society of people who deeply cared for her. They told her so. They smiled at her as they took thousands of dollars for “auditing sessions,” telling her that one day she would be “clear” and “happy.” They cared for her up until the day she could no longer afford the auditing sessions. Then, things changed.
In their eyes, she had become a “fallen member,” and was shunned by those who’d only days before professed almost familial love for her… Rick’s love was quite more intimate. That too stopped at the end of Monica’s auditing sessions. The resulting depression that Monica felt was devastating. She eventually pulled out of it, but she’s still bitter and resentful, untrusting to this day. They’d used her and taken her money. She was lucky.
Some people who were searching found their way to The People’s Temple in San Francisco, which was headed by a likable guy named Jim Jones. Hindsight is 20/20 vision, as they say, and now that the terror of Guyana is in the past, there are those who say they saw it coming, but I remember it as it was.
Jim Jones ingratiated himself with San Francisco society, and the good reverend had quite a track record of feeding the poor and drawing the downtrodden masses of humanity that populated San Francisco’s infamous Tenderloin District to him in large building complex of The People’s Temple. He was featured in the commentaries of various news programs, touted in the popular press and thought of as somewhat of a modern day Dr. Schweitzer. Despite what the media would have us believe today, THEN, he was untouchable. By the time word filtered back that he had created the commune from Hell in Guyana, it was too late. Over 900 men, women and children had joined him to live the dream that he had supplied, surrendering their life’s savings for the privilege of living in squalor for the “messiah” that beckoned. Jones had created another cult of personality,in which his will was to be superior to those who would follow.
Cults are not always dangerous, although they are always a manifestation of some from of aberrant thought or behavior. This aberration may one day become accepted as the norm, such as in the case of Christianity’s eventual victory over Roman polytheism. In time, cults can become part of the societal fabric… or in the case of The People’s Temple and several other cults of this sort, they self-destruct.
But those who would form such cults are protected by the Constitution of the United States, as well as Constitutional bans against the unification of Church and State. Unless a cult has proven to be dangerous to society or its membership, there is little that can be done to curtail their activities. Some cults even apply for tax exempt status and get it.
It’s easy to fall into traps that allow cults to thrive. They are quite often slick and attractive. There is usually some “holy man” or guru of some sort spouting platitudes of love and goodness and, most often, you’ll find his front man (or woman) pleading his case, declaring his or her perfection and godliness above all others. It’s a cult of personality, pure and simple. It’s easy to spot, if you know what you’re looking for, and such a tender trap into which those who have their eyes wide open still manage to become ensnared.
I’ve had many people who’ve wanted to “join my group.” Well, there’s always room for one more at my table, so long as you’re able to sing for your supper. I don’t profess to be a savior, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll find me a disappointment. I despise “yes men,” and like people who can think for themselves… although I do set rules for behavior and “protocol” that serve to protect and insulate me from a world I have come to distrust, and keep at a distance.
How an you protect yourself from those that set traps for unsuspecting victims? Simply by not allowing yourself to become a victim.
No matter what the group, no matter what the philosophy, ask yourself, “What will I gain from belonging to this group, and what are they going to gain from having me as a member?” Unless you can come up with some definite answers, let things cool off for a while and consider your options very carefully.
Here are a few things you might want to watch for that are fairly good indicators that the group soliciting your membership might be a problem:
- The leader is “godlike” to his followers.
- The group leader professes to be the only path to personal perfection or “enlightenment.”
- There is a “them against us” mentality (common amongst racist groups.)
- The group will attempt to wean you away from family and friends, insisting that the separation is for your own good.
- The group will attempt to wean you away from your money or property, insisting that the separation is for your own good.
When you get right down to it, common sense is your best defense against the type of people who run what are commonly known as “cults.” Like the old saying goes, “use it or lose it.”
Now, I would like to think that the kind of people who make their way to The Sect of the Horned God would be more or less immune to the type of proselytization and recruitment that cults employ. But we all know of people who look for guidance and direction… perhaps it’s a friend, perhaps and associate… perhaps a child.
I would just urge you to keep your eyes open. There are unscrupulous people out there that will tell you anything for a buck. They’ll sell you the words you want to hear, either from a voice in this world, or a voice from beyond. Don’t fall for the scams of con-men out of a need to believe.
A while back, channelers were all the rage. Now, they’re on the decline. Why? People finally got smart. It became evident to a lot of people that not everybody could be a channel for a disembodied spirit, although that’s what it was beginning to look like. There were “spirits” for every occasion and need, all speaking the same platitudes and gobbledegook that they spoke in the 1930’s “spirit cons,” which were little more than carnival gaffs of a generation that came before.
These people were giving those of us who legitimately have something to say a bad name. But ANYBODY can so a “cold reading.” Give me ten minutes of your time and $50, and I can show you how to be the big man (or woman) at parties, saying things that are guaranteed to mean something to somebody… and you’ll look damned convincing while you’re doing it!
There’s no secret to sounding mystical and deep. Hucksters and con-men have been doing it for a thousand years in the name of religion and in the name of politics. Whatever you’re selling, there’s a buyer out there somewhere. Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware.
The Orders of The Sect of the Horned God