Cuenca High Life logo

Opinions

Cults aren’t what they used to be

By Ray Horsley

When I was a kid the word “cult” meant a bunch of hippies living out of abandoned school buses running around naked in the Arizona desert. Ah, those were the days; innocuous groups who kept to themselves while they tried an alternative life style, ultimately disbanding or committing mass suicide, but harming nobody else.

Today’s “new cult” is a vastly different worldwide string of one agenda after another, driven by social networks, forcing all of us to join each new “movement” and conform to its every tenant with grave consequences if you don’t. What a shame. Doesn’t even offer the interest of nakedness.

I was late in getting introduced to this new cult. It was in Seattle, 2015. I had been living in relatively isolated northern Argentina for quite a while and was unaware such a thing had developed. In Seattle I roamed through a popular shopping district, all mom-and-pop shops. I noticed every one of them had conspicuously hung a rainbow flag somewhere where it could be seen from the street. This wasn’t for a special event, it was permanent. I wondered: did every single one of these shop owners really embrace the gay pride movement that much? Or did they just want to sell their stuff? I think the latter of the two is the more-than-likely here. Like labor unions, it’s not the good that’ll come to you if you join, it’s the bad that’ll come to you if you don’t.

While in Seattle I attended a church which had more than just embraced the LGBTQ movement. (My apologies if I left any letters out.) Yeah, they talked about God and Jesus, but the new agenda outshining both was your “sexual identity”. It was the first time I was introduced to the gender thing. “Hi. My name’s John, but I insist you call me ‘she’. Oh? Well my name’s Mary, but I insist you call me ‘they’” One member wanted to be called “it”, seriously! Another was born a man, changed his sex to a woman, but only from the waist up, and married another member who was born a woman and changed her sex to become a man from head to toe. All jokes about symmetry aside, this was the dominant group in the church. I saw a few traditional families, the long-time members who had braved staying on. But like the shop owners, they were forced to embrace the new agenda or, like many before them, leave.

The church in Seattle was not unique. Across the country in St. Petersburg, Florida our son, an accomplished organist, found himself at another church consumed by this agenda, riding on the wave of the new cult driven by social media. I attended the church just once. Standing up to sing a hymn I saw a man across the aisle wearing a dress! Was there a frat party after the service? No. Just a normal Sunday morning at church. This was a powerful group who had not only taken possession of this church but hundreds of others from St. Pete to Seattle, further pushing into extinction one of our last, non-governmental organizations in the country.

It was the fourth of July and our son spent a good deal of time working up a theme and variations on “The Star-Spangled Banner”. But Trump had just won that election we had. They all hated it, and they took it out on the organist by disapproving of his choice of music, even his playing; and in no uncertain terms. He threw in the towel, hasn’t played the organ since.

Who else is using this new cult, it’s bank of weapons consisting of what we call ‘social media’, to push an agenda to unimaginable power? One of the most ridiculous was the Occupy Wall Street movement which used social media to complain about the very companies that give us social media. There are others. If you’re a celebrity and you’ve had affairs with beautiful women you didn’t marry, and I think that’s most male celebrities, the cult will humiliate you to the whole world, decimate your personal relationships, and rob you of your status and hard-earned fame.

Uh, what happened to that thing called “due process”? Apparently, even our constitution is powerless against the new cult. Black lives matter? Of course they do! So do white ones. But what’s with the insinuation that black lives don’t matter to white people? There are about seven hundred thousand cops in the U.S. How many bad ones were involved in these recent tragedies? Are nationwide riots and protests all the way to Buenos Aires really an appropriate response? Evidently yes, that is, if you can get them backed by the new cult.

I have nothing against your sexual preference, but didn’t we come here, to church, for another purpose? I’m also totally against unwanted sexual advances. Isn’t everybody? But is replacing our judicial system with mob rule really what we want? This is a dangerous thing. Get the new cult behind your agenda, whatever it may be, and you’ve got unlimited, unchecked power. The cult’s endorsement of it being when it goes “viral” which brings us to the cult’s most damaging movement yet.

What would be the most luring, the most irresistible of all agendas; the oldest and most tempting power we can dream of obtaining? It’s not anything nearly as specific as sexual orientation, racial matters, or even crucifying celebrities. It’s that age-old quest to simply control the lives of others; to force others, many many others, to submit and obey. It’s the quest for authority, pure and simple. Of every temptation since the Garden of Eden, this is the greatest of all. It’s been around since some caveman claimed to understand lightning, and then used his claim to control as many of those other guys in the cave as he could. But now that we understand lightning, what better tool to come along and take the place of it than a tiny, invisible virus of which we understand about as little as the cavemen understood lightning.

This latest movement of the cult has taken over every mom-and-pop shop in the world, every international conglomerate, every sport, every church, even most governments. It’s brought the world to its knees by tempting a tiny few in positions of authority with unimaginable powers. I’ve never seen such authoritative abuse; people arrested for playing soccer, or simply being out after some vexing hour. Nobody bothers to question the absurd innuendo that a virus is more contagious after 9 p.m. With obligatory mask use, just smiling at somebody is now illegal.

From where I live I listen to Cuenca’s new trolley, it’s bell dinging as it passes. I think the intention is that it sound quaint, just like the good old days. But it’s not really a bell. And these are anything but good old days. The conductor is so covered in a hazmat suit I can’t tell whether “it” is a woman or a man, lending an eerie foreshadowing to that church member who wanted to be referred to as “it”.

No, these are not the good old days. We’ve entered a weird futuristic time when unchecked authority has made prisoners of us all, confined to living out our lives separated from one another, suspicious of each other, and shackled to the very technology that sustains the cult. And why? To save lives? OK, without even touching the many statistics which defy this, let’s look at it in a different way.

My favorite scene as I venture out is the guy who temporarily removed his mask to smoke a cigarette. After inhaling his last cancerous gulp, he flicks the brown-stained butt into the street. Then he puts his mask back on, for the good of his health! So for starters, since when does this guy’s life matter all that much? OK, sure, he cares whether he lives or dies, but not if it means giving up a pack a day.

How many of us care whether we live or die, but not if it means giving up coke and pizza. Black lives matter, all lives matter, but does MY life matter, to me? Personally I have a pretty strict diet but I’m not without vice. I’m no stranger to alcohol. I’ve eliminated the hard stuff, but beer and wine are still on. So maybe my life, to that tiny degree, really doesn’t matter, at least not to me. And I’m the first one to whom it should matter. Maybe getting as many years as I can possibly squeeze out of this body is not really as important to me as enjoying Friday evening when she rolls around.

I’m less and less interested in how many have died. I’d like to know about just one guy who died, anybody. I’d like to know not only his age, but his weight, his cholesterol, his blood pressure, his diet, his habits, his health care, and the list goes on. Even armed with all this I’d have to be a doctor to truly understand whether or not he already had a foot in the grave.

If we spent fifty years building houses of straw in neighborhoods all over Miami, good weather all the while, and then one day a hurricane blew through, what could we expect? After fifty years of highly processed, chemically ridden, genetically modified, fat laden, toxic stuff, sedentary all the while, what can we expect when something like this comes along? Since when does it really matter to the vast majority of us who carry around an extra fifty to a hundred pounds of toxic fat, whether we live or die? We’ve made and continue to make choices everyday which keep us on the edge, right where we are now. Do we blindly continue with nary a word about the extreme to which we’ve compromised our immune systems, our obesity being the only visible evidence among a sea of ailments holding us at death’s door? Any conversation about that, not the virus that’s killing us but the life style that’s killing us, would be against cult rules.

In the end this whole thing might just be nature’s way of pruning an over-populated earth. Nature doesn’t care about joining the cult. It’s gonna do it’s thing no matter how we try to stop it. But the cult has its own agenda. It appears to be treating life as if it were the one supreme thing to be valued above all else, even though our individual life styles reflect anything but that. For the new cult there is no sacrifice too great to make for its latest agenda, even if it means obliterating the quality of life, even if it means death itself.

Wait a minute. That last one really defies logic, but not according to the cult. The cult dictates that we cripple the world with economic disaster and all it’s side effects. Maybe we should start doing the math. How many increases in domestic violence equal one virus death? That’s a subject which doesn’t have the cult behind it yet, hence the increasingly oppressive police state. So as cult members, we’re the ones producing the police state ourselves. And you’d better join, too. Otherwise, you’ll be heavily fined, possibly thrown in prison, all for something that just three months ago you never would have dreamed you could be jailed for. Welcome to the new cult.