August 7, 2017

"Often cults are seen as aberrations, or a psychological phenomenon."

"Psychologists would see cult leaders as having delusions of grandeur. But I see them as something different—as baby religions... I think people are unaware how many of them there are, how constant they are."

Says a sociologist and scholar of new religions, quoted in "Why Are There No New Major Religions?/The story of one imprisoned prophet illustrates the difficulties of getting a 'baby religion' off the ground" (The Atlantic).

51 comments:

Mark O said...

I, for one, worship Ann.

Bob Boyd said...

Suddenly Hillary's ambition to preach makes more sense.

Achilles said...

Climate change is believed by millions.

rhhardin said...

Religions are the poeticization of ethics. The existing ones pretty much have it covered already, even Islam with its tribal ethics.

rhhardin said...

You can only kiss a frog into being a prince if the frog has previously been a prince.

jwl said...

"Psychologists would see cult leaders as having delusions of grandeur."

Barack Obama - "this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal"

Michael K said...

"Climate Change/Global Warming" has been doing quite well.

rhhardin said...

Climate change is end of the worldism.

The bit of ethics it takes on is the ruination of your solitary world when you talk to somebody else.

EDH said...

"Why Are There No New Major Religions?/The story of one imprisoned prophet illustrates the difficulties of getting a “baby religion” off the ground".

rhhardin said...

The end of the world is surrounded always by messages, messages, messages.

rhhardin said...

The world will end when the seventh seal is clubbed.

rhhardin said...

If Amazon builds a distribution center within a few hours drive you'll get new DVD releases one day before their release.

This may affect the timing of the end of the world.

rhhardin said...

Don't overlook Scott Adams's offer of 2 souls for $19.99 shipping included, in the pope hat video.

Combat mortality with a spare.

traditionalguy said...

Government fears free speech because that is how a revealed truth becomes a religion. Governments want to control all the religions. They use them to control minds and hearts of men. Rome wasn't built in a day, but Latin only rules kept free speech in a cage in its Empire and successors.

jwl said...

Is paganism a religion because it is thriving at the moment - people communicate in hieroglyphics (emojis), sacrifice of millions annually (abortion) and people are afraid of the weather and think God is sending us messages (climate change).

Unknown said...

Well, look at the timeline, really, of major world religions. I think the most recent is the Mormons (there's about as many Mormons as there are Jews, so I presume they qualify).

Joseph Smith, the first prophet of the Mormons, mentioned once that a religious that does not demand everything never has the power to produce saving faith. And the LDS church does demand everything, or at least a willingness to offer your own life, if necessary.

Sacrifice; personal sacrifice and the rewards that come with it, are I think the key in creating a new faith. Once it's established, then tradition carries it on. For instance, how many people convert to Buddism? Likely not many. It's all new babies being raised in the faith.

Islam and climate change spread through fear: Do this or we kill you (or you die). Christianity is supposed to spread through people making and keeping covenants with God: you change your life and God changes you for the better; you have tasted the joy of following the Lord and you share that joy with others.

Most cults don't really do much for their people: what does the regular joe get? The leader gets the money and the women, but what does Bob get? And that's why they don't grow or last.

--Vance

Clyde said...

I read somewhere once that the difference between cults and religions is that the latter have universities with football teams.

Fernandinande said...

rhhardin said...
The end of the world is surrounded always by messages, messages, messages.


The Rupture was supposed to occur on July 5th, 1998. When it didn't, Scholars determined that the Bar Napkin on which The Prophecy was written was being held upside-down, and that the correct year is 8661. Other scholars determined that the year 1998 hasn't actually occurred yet because our calendar is out of sync with the true calender. Yet other scholars determined that the X-ists went to the wrong planet. It's a subtle and complex question, so for more information send one million dollars to Rev. Ivan Stang.

Mac McConnell said...

"The story of one imprisoned prophet", as opposed to crucifixion, " illustrates the difficulties of getting a “baby religion” off the ground."

Mary H said...

Social media helps marginal new prophets to rise up and spread their messages and gain followers. Take one example: a former D-list political operative from Illinois turned Rocky Mountain mystic named Charlie Johnston. Johnston claimed to have the backing of Opus Dei when he launched his career as "Sherpa," saying an angel had told him the 2016 presidential election would mark the start of a period of world war, the fall of governments, the destruction of world economy, civil unrest, etc. Even though the Catholic Church issued a strong warning against him, last fall his website was getting hundreds of thousands of hits. A social media megaphone allowed an apparent con artist to reach hundreds of thousands of people in a short period of time. (He's still online http://charliej373.wordpress.com/)

Imagine Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard using podcasts and twitter as they were starting out.

Kevin said...

There are two new religions, one started in 1848. Despite the failure of every state that has adhered to it, it's still winning. The other religion is Freudianism, which despite all the refutations of its individual concepts and techniques, remains the primary operating model of the mind and the self.

Achilles said...

There are plenty of major new religions. It is just that the people using/creating them are trying to pass them off as scientific/secular institutions.

Take the diversity cult for example. The things they preach are clearly contrary to reason and logic and results of objective studies. There are also glaring contradictions and inconsistencies. But if you cross them you are branded heretic and the faithful will attack you physically and try to ostracize you from polite society. They wield charges of racism as fervently as Torquemada waved his torches. A scientist who crosses the climate change cult will never get another government grant and will be fired if they don't have tenure.

The only reason they say there are no new major religions is because the secular leftists are dishonest about what they are doing.

Robert Cook said...

"It's a subtle and complex question, so for more information send one million dollars to Rev. Ivan Stang."

My favorite epigram:

"Orthodoxy is the only Heresy." --Rev. Ivan Stang

Unknown said...

Achilles: Are they really new, though? What's environmentalism but the cult of Demeter, in shiny new clothes? And lots more punishment than I think the Cult of Demeter had?

Most of the left is just the old, old, old religion of "worship the state and the King!" The Pharaoh and his court: complete control over the lives of the peasants and you worshiped whatever the priest told you to, as was told to him by the court of Pharaoh. Or else. Oh, sure, you could worship Ra or Isis or Set and so forth, but it was all religion and the state, there to care for all your needs as a human: spiritual, political, economic..... as long as you paid your taxes and did what you were told, of course.

The Pharaoh didn't care, not really, if you truly believed in Ra or Amon or the rest. As long as you followed their rule and paid your taxes, they didn't care.

Does the left care today? Not at all: as long as you mouth the platitudes, pay your taxes, and do the "politically correct" thing, they don't care at all if you really believe in "diversity" or climate change.

The difference between that and Christianity is stark. At its best, Christianity truly cares about the person and their salvation. The left thinks they can change the world from the outside: government force, primarily. If they order people to do X, then X will happen (even if they have to kill a few people as examples) and X will bring utopia, or so they claim.

Christ changes from the inside out. Once people are followers of Christ, they don't need government for the most part. Joseph Smith (again, like him or not, he was a religious genius) once said that he taught correct principles and let the people govern themselves.

Consider the difference this makes. How should a large organization fund itself? Corporations sell goods and services. Well and good, but God isn't in the business of selling salvation. Governments use taxes and force. How does the Catholic or Mormon churches fund themselves? Some business ventures, yes, but nowhere enough to pay for everything. They rely on donations by the faithful. For the Mormon church, the "law" on financing is about two paragraphs long, asking for an honest tithe.

Compare that to the IRS code, regulations, and so forth. Government and leftist thought produced that. It's trying to change the people from the outside via force, and people resent it. So they fight, look for loopholes, hide assets, etc. The Kingdom of God relies on voluntary compliance from committed believers. The people who pay tithing voluntarily aren't looking for a loophole. And so the financial laws can be two paragraphs long.

Take the ten commandments. How much law does the world require to do the same thing as the ten commandments? And so forth.

Yes, true religion works from the inside out. The left and the world has always, always worked from the outside in. Leftist religion loves using force, whether it's a temple priest of Ishtar telling you to pay your chickens or else, or today demands to pay a climate tax.

--Vance

traditionalguy said...

Interestingly, in the post Christian days most Europeans really pay the good Astrologers and the good Psychics to do divination for them before making big personal and business investment decisions. Witchcraft has resumed its place as the common religion of the atheist pagans.

mockturtle said...

rhhardin predicts: The world will end when the seventh seal is clubbed. Good one.

Roger Sweeny said...

Freudianism, which despite all the refutations of its individual concepts and techniques, remains the primary operating model of the mind and the self.

No no no no no no no! That was true 50 years ago when it was common to hear that Freud had discovered "the royal road to the unconscious." But today very few people in research or treatment use a Freudian model.

In 1995, Richard Webster's wonderful Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science, And Psychoanalysis was a blow against a decaying empire. Today, it is ancient history.

Mountain Maven said...

Liberalism. Founded in the early 20th century. Peaked in 2008. Now in decline. SJWs its storm troopers

Mountain Maven said...

Vance FTW.

Gnostics vs. Christians. See NT Wright's letter in the Times of London.
Behind a paywall
http://www.dennyburk.com/n-t-wright-offers-brief-commentary-on-transgenderism/

Freeman Hunt said...

Is the main guy exempt from a bunch of the rules and sleeping with a bunch of young women?

Maybe a cult.

Those are pretty reliable tells for bullshit religion.

Fernandinande said...

Roger Sweeny said...
No no no no no no no!


Indeed, I never see Freud mentioned in any modern research or discussions about the human brain (or mind or behavior), consciousness, etc. Maybe some shrinks still fiddle with it, but a snake-oil scam or an outdated medical practice is not necessarily a religion, just as any popular idea is not necessarily a religion, regardless of whether it turns out to be correct or incorrect, or whether or not it has rules about behavior**. Does Freudianism have a creation myth?

Which reminds me -

Communism and the scientific viewpoint
"I would like to remark, in passing, since the word 'atheism' is so closely connected with 'communism', that the communist views are the antithesis of the scientific, in the sense that in communism the answers are given to all the questions – political questions as well as moral ones – without discussion and without doubt.

The scientific viewpoint is the exact opposite of this; that is, all questions must be doubted and discussed; we must argue everything out – observe things, check them, and so change them. The democratic government is much closer to this idea, because there is discussion and a chance of modification." -- Feynman

But democracy is a religion, science is a religion, not using science is a religion, not having a religion is a religion, blogging is a religion** ...

** "... try to be responsive to the post, don't make personal attacks on other commenters, bring some substance or humor to the conversation, and don't do that thing of putting in a lot of extra line breaks."

Pianoman said...

There are a number of "spinoffs" happening. A friend's daughter has gotten herself involved in something called the "New Orthodox Presbyterian Church". I have *no* idea what that means.

jimbino said...

There are no new religions because the Germans and others reflexively and with specious logic simply declare that they are simply not a religion, as recently happened with the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion.

They would likely declare Festivus not a religious holiday. Of course, in the case of Germany, we're talking about a backward country that still demands its residents pay church taxes, even if they're Baptists or Amish, for Chrissake. They act as if the enlightenment never occurred.

Somebody sometime will challenge the religious accommodations of Obamacare and other Amerikan gummint bodies that without reason exempt adherents of the Amish, Mennonite and Brethren religions from the personal mandate and show other such religious favoritism.

hombre said...

Secular progressivism is the new religion in the US. If some were to argue incorrectly that religion requires a deity or deities it is only necessary to point to the revolving door of Democrat identity politics: The Obamas, the Clintons, Bernie, Fauxcahontas. Deities abound.

Its institutionalized beliefs are derived from the progressive political agenda augmented by political correctness. Its behavioral standards flow from moral relativism and situational ethics.

It is not possible for people who believe they are their own gods to have a religion based on a metaphysical God.

Feste said...

~
"... why Are There No New Major Religions? .. “

The Candle in the Dark isn’t yet fully safe from that stuff. A miracle the candle still burns.

Uh, the Majors have a monopoly? Why the hell is there any baseball left at all, in Milwaukee? Someone pulling some serious hard-strings for a rig job like that?

... the difficulties of getting a 'baby religion' off the ground" ..

Superfecundity and selection pressures.

Nobody knows my superfecund private thoughts. I married this woman, “Present Mirth,” as her name has been, because she said “yes,” and she fell immediately in love with Mel Gibson’s ass, and she made a shrine to worship it (faithful though she be!), and she forced me, forcibly, to watch, “Mad Max: Road Fury,” changing her idolatrous whoring ways over to Tom Hardy.

Quick-life. Quick-death (sorry Mel) - efficiently - without ever going outside the house of our private pleasures.

Pianoman said...

As for the "last major religion", it all depends on your definitions. Scientology calls itself a "religion", and it has between 100K-500K adherents worldwide. There's 800K Unitarians, and that's definitely a religion.

If you define CAGW as a "religion", you'd have a lot more people than that.

It's hard to define Mormonism as a separate "religion". Mormons would claim they are Christians, and conservative Christianity would define it as a "cult". Certainly the early days of Mormonism were cultish, but the organization has definitely mainstreamed itself over the past 100 years.

Achilles said...

Vince said...

"Achilles: Are they really new, though? What's environmentalism but the cult of Demeter, in shiny new clothes? And lots more punishment than I think the Cult of Demeter had?

Most of the left is just the old, old, old religion of "worship the state and the King!" The Pharaoh and his court: complete control over the lives of the peasants and you worshiped whatever the priest told you to, as was told to him by the court of Pharaoh. Or else. Oh, sure, you could worship Ra or Isis or Set and so forth, but it was all religion and the state, there to care for all your needs as a human: spiritual, political, economic..... as long as you paid your taxes and did what you were told, of course."

I am trying to decide if I am going to let you have that one.

The diversity cult is antithetical to the racial purity most state religions had previously but it has the identical goal of thought conformity.

CAGW is fairly standard government regulators seizing power to save the world stuff I guess. But the corporatization and profiteering adds a new angle. Maybe not I don't have time to look right now.

JaimeRoberto said...

The Church of Diversity seems to be going strong.

JohnAnnArbor said...

The world will end when the seventh seal is clubbed.

That there is funny. Reminds me of this comic strip.

Luke Lea said...

We've got Scientology, Synanon, Lyndon Larouche, and probably a bunch more I've never heard of. When I was living in the Haight-Ashbury an Indian Hindoo Guru-type (though he may have been from Brooklyn) was just in the earliest stages of organizing a cult. When I walked into the room he was handing out titles of nobility to those wanted to get in on the ground floor. The king of Italy is the one I remember.

Pianoman said...

CAGW has some religious parallels:

* Pope == Al Gore
* Cardinals == Michael Mann, Democratic Party Leaders (Schumer, Pelosi, etc)
* Priests, Bishops == Pro-CAGW Scientists
* Indulgences == Carbon Credits
* Heretics == Denialists

Also, there's the expectations -- of *course* you believe in CAGW, how could any right-thinking person NOT believe it!!

Fernandinande said...

From Drudge just now -
Atheists thought immoral, even by fellow atheists: study

"Participants were given a description of a fictional evildoer who tortured animals as a child, then grows up to become a teacher who murders and mutilates five homeless people.

Half of the group were asked how likely it was that the perpetrator was a religious believer, and the other half how likely that he was an atheist.

The team found that people were about twice as likely to assume that the serial killer was an atheist."

Here's the actual question: (which the MSM didn't report correctly, of course)

Serial killer...Their dismembered bodies are currently buried in his basement.

Which is more probable?
1. The man is a teacher
2. The man is a teacher and [does not believe in any gods. / is a religious
believer.]


Answer #1 is always correct since it includes #2, so only people who didn't answer correctly were reported in the study?

Here's the study; as near as I can figure out, they saying the error rate (since all answers mentioning religion are technically incorrect) - "conjunction errors" - are more likely if you're feeling judgmental?

Another -

“A 42 year-old woman was out of town on vacation. She had dinner at a restaurant, finished her meal, and left without paying the bill.

Which is more probable?
a) The woman is a teacher
b) The woman is a teacher and [does/ does not] believe in God”

Again, answer (a) is always correct; the answer indicating belief either way is always incorrect.

Feste said...

... but if she was a 42-year-old math teacher ...?

YoungHegelian said...

I find the author's assumptions about historical processes are some pretty damn big assumptions. The assumption is that ideological systems evolve primarily in response to external forces, such as government interventions, rather than due to the their own internal logic is a popular one in the social sciences. That doesn't mean it's true. It's also an assumption that allows the social scientist to make fundamental judgements without knowing the "systematics" of the religions he studies, which is another very good reason to be suspicious of this explanation of historical forces.

The reason that the major faiths are the major faiths is because, at the level of internal consistency, they make sense. They explain not only the ways of God to man in an intellectually & emotionally satisfying way, but they have foundations which allow not only the syncretic absorption of other systems (e.g. Greek philosophy into Christianity), but also permit the building of coherent systems of theology, case law, ecclesiologies, etc. One can spending a lifetime in study of any of these aspects of the major world faiths & still have lifetimes of work yet to go.

Feste said...

~
The major religions make sense when caving in to the transcendental temptation (Kurtz), or without the transcendental temptation, only when granted most generous inferences.

The Candle in the Dark of science (Sagan, “Demon Haunted Universe”) is itself a major set of tools (not a rigidly unified formally precise ontological system), though extremely fragile, under ongoing attack from the demons of the Major religions historically pressuring science, not a pretty sight, and the persistence of the major religions hasn’t been because “they make sense” due to “internal consistency.”

More like religions salvaged only by correlated understandings. Which are not the same as making sense.

To make science into a major religion is scientism. Not science.

Science as global consent to rigorous objective ratiocinative standards, and always testing theory-laden facts - is globally - our best chance of understanding it all.

Love taught me trust. Pain taught me wisdom. Present Mirth, my wife, keeps me confused between the two.

Bill Crawford said...

Pianoman - There are a number of "spinoffs" happening. A friend's daughter has gotten herself involved in something called the "New Orthodox Presbyterian Church". I have *no* idea what that means.

I was in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (www.opc.org) once. Didn't know there was a "New" one (unless the name of the specific congregation is New Life of something.)

Anyway, it is a conservative Reformed, Christian denomination.

Lucien said...

@Fernandinande:

The survey seems a lot more about Bayesian logic.

The form of the question is "Which is more likely, that the person is an X or that they are a Subset of X?"

For anyone thinking clearly there is only one logical answer.

(So does that mean that those disfavoring atheists are irrational?)

Robert Cook said...

There are a lot of kooks spouting their crazy beliefs here on this thread. Are they religious beliefs? Does it matter?

TDP said...

Leftism is a religion - they worship Big Government and their Grand Poobahs manage the power. Islam is also a religion that is also a form of government.

Both are authoritarian even totalitarian. Leftism is of course rooted in communism and Islam in Muhammadanism. Both have a strong propensity to violence. Both are intolerant and oppressive of those who do not submit to their power and their correctness on all things.

Neither respects any authority, any rules that is not of their creation. Certainly not the US Constitution.

There is a strange affinity, a friendship, between the two. They are friends in the 'enemy of my enemy is my friend' sense. That enemy is not America per se, as both want to conquer and control America. Their common enemy is the basic tenant upon which America was built and ostensibly operates: Individual liberty. Both the Left and Islam believe they are the one true source of liberties, rights and freedoms for all those under their power.

Both Islam and Leftism are, operationally, forms of totalitarian government. At a fundamental level the two have more in common with each other than either does with America or the West.


urbane legend said...

mockturtle said...
rhhardin predicts: The world will end when the seventh seal is clubbed. Good one.

rhhardin is in good form on this topic.

In the late 1990s, he said, it was revealed to him that he was the son of God.
Why did this take so long? Why did this have to be revealed to him? I think there would be some indications early in life, wouldn't there? God is a creative force, and controls all of the cosmos. Mr. Mushaddeq never showed any signs of this?

n.n said...

Baby, huh. That's ironic. Pro-Choice that preaches religion at the twilight fringe, denies individual dignity, rejects intrinsic value, conflates logical domains, is a cult.