Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Beyond Belief and Why We Need Diversity of Thought

What does it mean to be in a cult? It's hard to imagine being cut off from the world and being brainwashed. This book gives us an inside view of what it must feel like. Imagine having no standard by which you can judge what is normal. Try to imagine being brainwashed into thinking something that is totally crazy and illogical, but not being able to critically think because critical thinking is forbidden. It's hard right? It's something we take for granted. We've always had someone else's perspective in our lives. Even when we wanted friends and family to think like us they didn't always agree with us. We might have even found those disagreements frustrating. After reading this book I've come to cherish those who think differently than me much more than I used to.  Being a practicing heathen, I'm not going to church, but I still communicate with my church family. This Easter we had dinner. I know when I finish the meal I'm going to get some conservative rants on taxes and gun control, but  we keep it civil. I'd given them this book earlier this year and we talked about it. I think all of us appreciate having people with different views in our life. So while this book is entertaining, it helped me appreciate how lucky I am to think freely and for myself and to appreciate differing opinions.

Top 10 Facts about Jenna Miscavage Hill and her tell-all book

Growing up in a cult means the people all around you think the same and hold the same opinions. They keep your mind locked into a single way of thinking and from expanding to include the truth of the wider experience of humanity. My last post was about imperfection. We're all flawed, but we're all flawed in unique ways. It makes sense that while we should gravitate to like minded people, we should also take in a healthy dose of differing opinions as well. Even if you don't always want to take in a conservative rant, maybe you could have some more moderate friends. You should be able to listen to your friend talk about God and Jesus without it making you roll your eyes. Being the non-believer that I am I still try my best to respect a friend's belief in God.

Even among like minded people I find that some of us have a lot differing opinions on issues. I recently had a conversation with Breeze that went on for six or more hours. At least two of those hours were on metaphysical philosophies. Even though we'd both be classified as heathens, we're very different in our approach. After talking to him for some time he really did have a positive influence on me. He helped me see how accepting others and not judging so much can be useful. I'm still me, but I think I'm a better version of myself because of all the diverse and wonderful people in my life.

Jenna tells her story about being raised in Scientology. In the book she details how she was a third generation cult member. No one in her family was going to save her. By now people see Scientology for what it is, a cult. I knew it was strange, but I didn't think it was hurting anyone. It breaks up families and treats children like they're adults, causes psychological trama, and people just mysteriously disappear. You don't have to read far into this book to realize that there's something seriously wrong with Scientology. Groupthink and brainwashing is the name of the game. Social pressure to conform keeps them from escaping. They end up speaking a whole other language they're so isolated. And yet this young woman was able to find the strength to escape.

I recommend this book highly. I'm giving my contributors a copy of this book on request. I even gave it to my conservative church family and they found it entertaining and interesting. It's nonfiction, but it has the narrative flow of a good novel. I can imagine being trapped like this little girl in the book, not being in control of your own life, wanting to escape, but realizing you just can't do it yet. The fear, paranoia, and heartbreak is hard to ignore. It's a great nonfiction book that even fiction lovers would enjoy. If you just like to read about strange shit, but are skeptical like me about supernatural phenomena, or religious fundamentalism, this books hit those areas and many more from a fresh new perspective.

Malcolm Travers
Male Media Mind