Monday, January 26, 2009

Ruminations on Life Inside a Cult

Yes another TV related post. I watch a lot of TV, what, wanna fight about it? (Speaking of TV related posts, i've been meaning to put another one up on my current brain crack The Real Housewives of Orange County, but damn, there is so much flying around the brain on that one.)

Anyway, yesterday I watched Life Inside a Cult on The National Geographic channel (I refuse to call them Nat Geo, same as I refuse to call The History Channel just History.)

The show focused on the Strong City Cult in New Mexico lead by a man calling himself Michael Travesser (His given name is Wayne Bent) who believes that he is God and predicted the end of the world on October 31st 2007. All members of his cult have given up working in the outside world and all their disability and social security checks as well as current and future inheritance goes to him. He also uses his status as leader of the cult to have sex with women in the cult and lay naked with young girls as a religious experience.

I'll give you a moment to let all that sink in and vomit if neccesary. What am I saying? If.

Ok, now that we've all done the technicolor yawn and gotten a Breathsaver...

Of course the world didn't end on Halloween 2007. The camera crew wasn't allowed in the compound at the supposed moment of whatever was supposed to happen (Travesser was very vague about what was supposed to happen that night, only telling the crew that he would receive a new physical form. His lackey Jeff said that world would be judged, but I don't recall that occuring either.) but they were allowed to stand at the gates to the compound as his followers cheered and danced and shouted freedom. What exactly they were freed from wasn't clear. Afterwards no one would say wether or not he did receive a new form, so we can all figure out the answer to that.

Now I could rant all day about this man and his mind control, his theft of his follower's money, and the criminal acts he's committed with minors, but the last time I started in on that sort of thing it took four klonopin and a tranq dart to bring me down.

No, what i've decided to rant about is what has stuck with me even more all that and made me really sad.

In the opening scene two girls, I would say about 14 to 17 years old are walking and talking about how happy they'll be to go to (what I presume, again, this wasn't made very clear) heaven. Because "they weren't meant to live in this world".

Now throwing out the logic of God wouldn't put you weren't supposed to be, I ask, really?

This is so sad to me. Now i'll be glad to get to heaven too. I'll see my family and freinds who have passed on, and all the kittehs i've loved and lost, and of course be in the presence of Jesus, but that doesn't keep me from living my life here on Earth to it's fullest.

Travesser says later in the program that the outside world is empty. I think it's as empty or as full as you want it to be.

Yes, you can go out into the world and smoke rock, have stupid sex with anyone you meet, marry for money instead of love, spend your life in persuit of material things, and die as empty and worthless as a crushed soda bottle.

Or you could visit an art museum and take in the creativity of your fellow humans. You can sit in a park and watch the squirels and birds and be awed at how they always have enough of what they need. You can go to a library and read books that you'll remember your whole life. (Shameless plug here for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.) You can climb a lighthouse and think about all the lonely hours the keeper spent up there running the light to keep sailors safe. You can marry someone who is your best freind, who you can't wait to see everyday. You can have a kid, plant a garden, build a house, get a dog.

Of course no discussion of this is complete without me bringing needle work into it. What is empty about making a birth sampler for a freind's baby? Making a quilt? Knitting a sweater?

Or what about people working in hospice care? Or training seeing eye dogs? Or volunteering in a soup kitchen? Or teaching people how to read? You really think their lives are empty?

To me the lives of the people in Strong City seemed empty. They didn't work. I'm sure they did work around the compoud, maybe growing food and cleaning up and such. But in their off time they only seemed to sit and listen to Travesser. When they weren't doing that they were talking about him and what he had said. And of course some time was taken up by the girls and their laying naked time.

I know all this is a moot point. I know that if Travesser was to allow his followers outside the compound or even to think that going into the outside world was desirable then his hold over them would loosen. That it is imperative that they see the world as empty or his sweet life of free money and child abuse is over. I know this.

But it just makes me so fucking sad.

I want to shake these kids. (Fuck the adults, they're a lost cause.) I want to buy them nail polish and makeup, Super Soakers and Playstations. I want to give them a Happy Meal and let them watch Spongebob. I want to make them ride bikes, blow bubbles, go to the movies, and listen to the Jonas Brothers until they wake up and realize that life is great outside the compound. That you don't have to live in a trailer in the desert to be fulfilled. That God isn't a creepy old man who wants you get naked with him. That God put them on this Earth for some reason, that they are supposed to be here, and maybe they should try and figure that reason out instead of sitting around hoping for the end of the world.

As for Travesser, he's the type of person who makes me fervently hope that Hell is real. In the meantime his sweet life of domination and sexual assault has come to an end.

In December 2008, Wayne Bent was convicted of one count of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. On Dec 30th he was given the maxium sentence for these crimes, 18 years. However, eight of those years were suspended. (I would really like to know why.) He'll have to serve at least 8 1/2 years before being released.

I've always heard that prison is Hell for child abusers. Again I fervently hope this is true. If not that's ok. Hell is Hell. And I hear it's especially bad on false prophets.

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