I read as much as this as the Google preview would let me. It's sadly not available at any library near me. I'll be watching for a copy, though. Reall...moreI read as much as this as the Google preview would let me. It's sadly not available at any library near me. I'll be watching for a copy, though. Really interesting read.(less)
Fine run-through of the various mind-altering and brainwashing techniques employed by modern cults. Also, I was pleased to see a section devoted to th...moreFine run-through of the various mind-altering and brainwashing techniques employed by modern cults. Also, I was pleased to see a section devoted to those crappy new-agey motivational programs which are forever being pushed on me by devotees. (I work in a store with a large metaphysical section in an area with a large number of actual cult members. They can be hard to avoid.) However, if you're actually interested in the history and development of modern cults, this book will be disappointing. It's mostly strings of anecdotes with identifying details edited out, relayed with an off-putting tinge of hysteria. Quite probably I would be hysterical too, if, like the author, I'd spent years being terrifyingly hounded by cult members. But the constant THEY ARE EVERYWHERE AND THEY ARE COMING FOR YOUUUUU, while possibly valid, was slightly less than helpful in a serious study. I also found the section on the dangers of meditation to be a little weird. Again, she provided a string of unattributed anecdotes, including one strange quote from a women who had found herself accidentally Hindu, to bolster her claim that meditation alone can produce permanent mental damage. It wasn't very scientific, is I guess where I'm going with that - did these people have underlying problems? Were there any other factors involved? Is it a bad thing to find oneself Hindu? Bottom line: if you're a psych student interested in mind control, this is probably the book for you. If you're a white suburban Christian paranoid about weird asiatic cults stealing your children, ditto. If you're more into a sociological view of religious movements and the development of cults, you won't find what you're looking for here. (less)
When I lived in San Diego, the Sri Chinmoy vegetarian restaurant was a block from my house. My roommates and I ate there all the time - that food was...moreWhen I lived in San Diego, the Sri Chinmoy vegetarian restaurant was a block from my house. My roommates and I ate there all the time - that food was seriously delicious. We had one rule: no conversation about the decor, Sri Chinmoy, or any of the photos displayed in the eating area. The servers seemed to be listening at all times, and any remark at any volume, whether it be curiosity or skepticism, prompted a flood of pamphlets, photographic evidence to back up the Guru's rather improbable feats of strength, leaflets about upcoming events, and invitations to attend any of their numerous free meetings. We tried to focus on the food.
It wasn't easy. TV sets in every corner showed the Guru meeting very famous people, giving speeches, or playing various instruments. The restaurant's stereo played nothing but Sri Chinmoy original compositions. Sri Chinmoy drawings shared wall space with photos of the aging Guru lifting giant weights or large animals or vehicles of various sizes. Adding to the surreal atmosphere were the servers themselves, wearing homemade cotton pjs and matching expressions of dazed weariness. They didn't look like radiantly happy followers of a fitness and health food guru. They looked like they subsisted on valium and sawdust. Sometimes I'd see one or two standing at the back door smoking cigarettes with fixed, grim stares. All this changed on brunch or event days, when the people who ran the place came out, all bright smiles, to charm the diners. But the waitstaff didn't leave us with the impression that joining up with Chinmoy was going to fill us with either enlightenment or bliss. (But the neatloaf!! So good!)
Cartwheels in a Sari explains a lot of what mystified us about the whole Sri Chinmoy thing - the tired disciples, the crazy claims, the crappy music. You would be hard pressed to find a more deeply insider account than Tamm's: as the Guru's 'Chosen One', she had a unique view on the workings of the cult. Yeah. I'm going to say 'cult'. I wished there had been a little more detail about how she managed to unbrainwash herself - the ending is a little abrupt - but, on the other hand, that wasn't the point of the book. And I was glad to have so many questions answered honestly, with no need to fend off any more pamphlets. (less)
Bizarre sex practices! Hallucinogenic revelations! A coke addled leader smoking expensive cigars while his followers starved! Sounds pretty exciting,...moreBizarre sex practices! Hallucinogenic revelations! A coke addled leader smoking expensive cigars while his followers starved! Sounds pretty exciting, am I right? You wouldn't think so after wading through this incredible dry account of one of the longest-running communal experiments of modern times. I'm sure actual academics will be pleased with the wealth of carefully annotated detail in this book. And LeWarne is admirably fair in his coverage of the Family - it's certainly no apology, but not an indictment, either. Researchers interested in alternate lifestyles or modern Christian sects will find this a useful resource. But it sure could have been more lively. (less)
I've been on sort of a cult binge, and this particular book really stood out. For one thing, it comes with a CD, so you can check out the psychedelic...moreI've been on sort of a cult binge, and this particular book really stood out. For one thing, it comes with a CD, so you can check out the psychedelic stylings of the Source musicians and listen in on a morning speech delivered by Father Yod himself. It also comes with recipes, including a really amazing-sounding cheesecake. So top marks for packaging. I also really enjoyed the way the story was put together - lots of photos, lots of personal narratives from various group members, and even some seriously dissenting viewpoints from former members. It felt really well-rounded and fair, even though the author is clearly still really into the Source thing herself. And the story itself is fascinating - how Jim Baker, a former bank robber who killed two men with his bare hands, became transformed into 'Father Yod', a health food, tantric sex, and yoga guru with a large and devoted following. Even more fascinating is Baker's apparent sincerity throughout. What a trip. (less)
Gone to Croatan will remind you that the history of America, from the beginning, has also been a history of resistance, interdependence, and cooperati...moreGone to Croatan will remind you that the history of America, from the beginning, has also been a history of resistance, interdependence, and cooperation; full of people who dared to live and love in defiance of maps, boundaries, taboos, custom, religion, and class. From the Calico Indians to the Whiskey Rebellion to land pirates, nomads, labor organizers, and more, the stories in this book can fill even the most cynical reader with a sense of hope and possibility. This is the sort of history that can help shape the future.(less)