What would Anne Rice do?

Original article found here, written by Carolyn Kellogg: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2010/08/what-would-anne-rice-do.html

Anne Rice, the author of “Interview With the Vampire” and its sequels, has decided that her Christian faith no longer fits with the Christian church. She announced this very personal decision on Facebook on Wednesday, generating more than 2,000 comments on two posts that went up within five minutes of each other.

In the first, she wrote: “Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

“I quit being a Christian,” she continued. “I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

In addition to the attention it drew on Facebook, Rice’s declaration was circulated widely on the Internet and by the mainstream media; even the Associated Press picked it up. She may have created more of a media splash with her departing-the-church announcement than she did when she showed up at a booksigning in a coffin.

Rice’s Christianity seemed an awkward worldview for an author who so thoroughly imagined evil vampires — sexy evil vampires, even.

In 2008, Rice sought to illuminate her journey in faith with the memoir “Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession.” She had an inner voice, she wrote, that said, “Write for God. Write for Him. Write only for Him.” Her recent books include “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” (2005), “Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana ” (2008) and “Angel Time” (2009).

Yet despite this focus on Christ and angels, Rice, who was brought up Catholic, said in her memoir that the church’s laws caused her pain. “How was I to become a card-carrying member of a church that condemned my gay son?”

If I were more of a religious scholar, I could find a church for Rice that is dedicated to Christ and not anti-gay or anti-feminist or anti-birth-control or anti-Democrat or anti-secular-humanist. I’m sure people who know more about this than I do have tried to help Rice find her way to a church that might fit her beliefs.

What I do know is that, sometimes, causing a stir can help spark interest in an author’s work. So in case you’re curious, Anne Rice’s next angel book, “Of Love and Evil,” is due on shelves in November.

— Carolyn Kellogg
twitter.com/paperhaus

Do You Think It’s Easy?

To do what I’ve done?

To come against former friends, pastors, and people who I considered family and call them cult leaders and cult members is not easy. In fact, I questioned myself. I’ve had people call me crazy. I’ve had people unfriend me on facebook and in real life. I’ve been cussed out, harrassed, and belittled.

It’s EMBARRASSING for me to put all my personal business on the Internet. I’d much rather forget this ever happened and move on. Trust me.

The worst part about it, is I’ve felt alienated by literally everyone except my family and my best friend over the years. No one stood by my side and said, “Hey Lisa, we’ll give statements with you,” or “We agree with you.”

No.

In fact, when I’ve asked people their stories or to stand with me, they’ve doubted me, called me crazy, or told me I was wrong. They’ve questioned my motives, told me I was acting out of line, or just made me feel really stupid. And I am really stupid–the bottom line is, I can’t change any one and I certainly can’t change an entire ideology (cult or not). I can’t change a person who leads thousands of people and indoctrinates them week after week.

But, in the back of my mind, I see my high school teacher, John Kopp’s poster on the wall: “Stand up for what is right, even if you’re standing alone.”

See, in the words of one of my good friends, whom I’ll call “E”, no one was our advocate when we were there. No one told us that it was a cult. No one helped us see that it was wrong, or find a way out. No one spoke up for us. No one knew. It’s our responsibility to speak up now that we know what went on there–the amount of abuse and hurt we went through–so that young people after us and staff after us don’t have to suffer the mental and spiritual abuse we did. We need to give the silent a voice. They don’t know they need it yet, but one day they might.

I feel like I’m doing the right thing. You might not agree, but I ask that if you do, you please email me your personal statement at mycultlife@gmail.com.

You Can’t Please Everyone, So You’ve Got to Please Yourself…

Years ago, when I left the cult, the words of one song stayed with me and played over and over. The song might have been something my dad or mom told me about, as they often have a good way of referring to song lyrics to tell me why things worked out the way they did or to make me feel better. Either way, these few lines seemed really profound:

But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well.

You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

I spent so many years pleasing the pastors and directors of the ministry school I was in. I did anything they asked. I worked in the office for over forty hours a week, came to their home and nannied their children, washed their dishes, scrubbed their toilets, folded their laundry, and stayed up all night with their infants when they were sick with earaches, etc. I wore baggy jeans so guys “wouldn’t stumble,” wore an undershirt to cover up any remote chance of cleavage showing, and monitored any dress or shirt or skirt I wore to make sure it wasn’t too tight or form-fitting. I sacrificed my dreams of being a missionary, to the pastors dreams of me being an Administrative girl and a pastors wife. I took their children to tennis practice, homeschooled them, made them snacks, and watched cartoons with them. I grocery shopped for the pastors.

When I left that cult, I was lost and confused. How was I supposed to live and operate my own life now after it had been controlled for several years, right down to the smallest decision? Was I capable of making decisions on my own without “checking in with someone else?” Did I have to pray about everything and check my heart and my motives over everything, as I’d learned in the cult?

In other words, did I have to be manipulated by the guilt even though I was free from it?

The answer I found within myself on my own journey was….NO. The bottom line is that life comes down to it being about YOU. Of course, we’re a community of human beings, so we have to be fair and just to one another. But what I’m saying is that no one can make decisions for you, or dictate your life. You are smart, and capable. And the bottom line is you can’t please everyone. You can’t please those pastors: I know when I left, I didn’t. They would have people spy on my myspace and facebook and report back to them about how I was doing. Since I wasn’t living in their group, running by their dictates, they were unhappy. But, I decided that I was the one who had to take responsibility for my own life, actions, and thoughts and I was not going to please everyone.

In fact, I was going to piss a lot of people off. And I have pissed a lot of people off.

But, my journey is not your journey. You have to please yourself. And you have to realize that “it’s alright now…you can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself.” Forge your own path, your own beliefs and your own ethics. Don’t let them be dictated to you. And when people come against you for how you’ve changed or what they don’t like about you, just tell yourself that, “it’s alright now…you can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself.” And if that doesn’t help, realize that remember that there is good in the world and there is good in your soul. In the words of Allen Ginsberg, “Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul!”


 

 

 

Ricky Nelson–Garden Party

 

I’m Bitter and Angry

Recently, an old church friend from Austin, TX deleted my Facebook Fan Page.

Her comment was simple, but really condescending (see Beth’s comment at the top of the thread):

So, of course, I had to email her to ask her why she deleted me. Usually, I don’t care when someone deletes me. After all, I know who I am, and how feisty I am, so I expect it. However, if someone says I’ve “gone over the edge” and calls it “sad” it makes me curious.

Here’s my message to her, her response, and what I had to say after finding out why she deleted me:

I think my main problem is this:

Why is it a crime for someone who’s been abused from a pastor and a ministry to be bitter and angry?

Is being bitter and angry part of a natural grieving process? I thought it was. In fact, professionals say over and over that anger is a natural part of the grieving process. In my opinion, to criticize someone for going through the grieving process is incredibly unkind.

Also, let’s discuss my going “over the edge.” In the past few months, here’s a recap of how “over the edge” I’ve gone and what she means:

I’m not a Christian anymore. What that means to my former “friends” like this lady is that I’m “going to hell” or “walking with the devil” or any number of other ridiculous terms. It also means I’m not obsessed with what she thinks, including the fact that I may cuss, support the #prochoice movement, and by all means hope that abusers of young adults and children go to jail, where they belong.

I post videos on YouTube speaking my mind. Back in the day, I was in a church where it was frowned upon for women to speak their mind. When I lived there, it was also shunned to speak your mind against a PASTOR who did wrong. I’m breaking both of those unwritten rules. People who leave cults are often discouraged from doing so. They’ve been taught for so many years that pastors can do no wrong, and that if they think their pastor is wrong, they’re of the devil. I’m going against the way I was taught, and the way these people believe by speaking my mind.

I’m less conservative than I used to be. Some even call me liberal. I don’t vote Republican anymore. I don’t carry a gun. I don’t like Sarah Palin. I don’t think having sex is a sin.

I read academic sources more than I listen to a pastors sermons. I haven’t been to church in years and am a happier, better rested person for it. I love my non-church life. I have free time to pursue my real love–writing and trashy reality TV shows. Or, having sex.

So, have I gone over the edge?

No.

Unless you’re a fundamentalist Christian. And then, I probably appear to have gone over the edge. In fact, I’m probably going to go to hell for blasphemy and sin. But, luckily, I don’t believe in hell, so it’s cool.

I’m happy in a new world with a new way of thinking that includes loving myself and others, believing in the best in people, thinking for ones self, appreciating those around me who care about me and pushing away those who don’t care about me.

These days, I’m a huge fan of respect. I respect others. I even respect others who find their religious beliefs sacred. I respect others who are very different than I am.

All I’m asking for is the same thing in return. I don’t have religious beliefs anymore. Respect that. If you want to delete me on Facebook, I don’t mind. Just don’t be an asshole about it and make a big stink. It won’t change me.

Advice

Over the years, I’ve given out a lot of advice to you, my dear readers and friends. I think I’ve covered everything from suicide to sexuality to how to argue your point with a Christian. I never set out to do this but I will say it’s a natural extension of who I am and this trait comes from my mother. My mom is the best at giving advice and seeing situations for what they are.

So, in an effort to embrace what I’m good at, I’m going to post an occasional column here that talks about issues you want to the know the answer to. A sort of “Ask Lisa” place that people can look at down the road, because I assure you for every question you’ve asked me, a dozen other people have asked the same one.

Some basics: you can email me (mycultlife@gmail.com), Facebook or tweet to me your question. If you email me, please include “Ask Lisa” in the subject line and a keyword on what it’s about (depression, religion, fundamentalism, etc.). Example: Ask Lisa about depression. You can include a story or anecdote, just make sure you’re okay with it being posted online.

As a rule I won’t use your real name, but if you would include your state or country of residence, that would be great.

Your identity will never be revealed but please note that your emails WILL be published. All identifying names will be removed and replaced with fake names.

I’m Kind Of In An Interesting Place Right Now

I’m going through this really interesting (I say interesting because I don’t want to put myself down) phase right now. I want to blog so badly but I have this aversion to good and bad attention. What the f*ck, right? It’s every blogger’s dream, really, and really what I set out to do in the first place, I suppose. But now that I have eyes on me from time to time it’s suffocating at times. I just don’t know how to deal with it, so instead of running away, I’m talking to this great therapist here and trying to figure out if blogging is something I should let go of for good (I think that would be something I could live with but I might regret it later) or if I should just be courageous and let people see me for who I am.

Bloggers have so much pressure on them, even from other bloggers. The fashion bloggers COMMAND that we bloggers never say a negative thing on our social media or posts. “No one wants to hear about your bad day,” they say.

I’m screwed, I think. I’m so moody right now I can’t even cover it up with comedy like I used to. The doctor is checking me out right now for the moods, don’t worry, but in the meantime, I have to live with it.

As you know if you’ve followed my blog at all, I’m not the kind of person who WILL fake it even if I can. And you know what, I think that’s an awesome thing and that’s what I look for in people I want to connect with. Also, I’m so over the self-help/always gotta change thing. I’m pretty kick ass as I am. Sure I have flaws but as I grow older, they grow into strengths and I grow stronger.

When gun violence hits your hometown

Yesterday was another sad day for our nation. A shooting occurred in a high school when the gunman walked into class late and shot a young man who had bullied him. This story hits close to home because it was the high school I attended. Many of my former teachers are still there inspiring students and my own peers are now teachers there.

As it turns out, one of the heroes in the story is a high school friend’s older brother who now works there, too, and he was the teacher responsible for talking the shooter out of firing the rest of his reported twenty additional rounds.

 

130111152713-ryan-heber-teacher-story-top

(Taft Union High School teacher and hero: Ryan Heber)

My thoughts go out to Bowe Cleveland, the reported victim and his family. Latest reports say that Cleveland was critically wounded but is in stable condition.

The good news in this wretched story is that police response time was 60 seconds and a SWAT team was on campus quickly, as well. I heard about it on Facebook at 9:24 a.m. and the gun was already reported confiscated at that time. This makes me proud of my little hometown. Way to go, Taft!

Taft Union High School(Taft Union High School)

Book Launch Parties

I was just checking out a fellow blogger’s book launch party pictures on Facebook. We met somewhere online and had some discussion, and then like many online acquaintances, were forgotten. She wrote a sweet book about nice life lessons, or something. Her book launch party was sweet and peaceful and it got me thinking about the book I’m writing. Do books like mine (about cults) get book launch parties? Or do we, the authors of books on cults, put on bullet proof vests and try to avoid religious nut cases coming to get us?

Maybe a book launch party isn’t such a great idea.

 

Master’s Commission as a Totalitarian Culture

I’m in a few groups on Facebook that are for surviving cult members or various similar topics. One friend posted a link to this article and asked us: “To what degree would you say [your group] manifests “the three perfect-storm characteristics of a religious authoritarian culture: They have a strict, social hierarchy; they are unusually fearful; and they are socially separatist?””

Janet Heimlich goes on to describe the culture as: “Members tend not to be just casual worshipers. Rather, they strongly identify themselves by their faith.”

I’ve always identified Master’s Commission (MC) as operating as authoritarian, but most specifically the extreme version of it: totalitarian. While this term is usually applied to governments and political movements, I think a case can be made for MC. Totalitarianism is a system ran by strict authority, but instead of having an unlikeable figure-head, there’s a leader who is very charasmatic and likeable. A cult of personality, as Wikipedia describes it:

Personality cults were first described in relation to totalitarian regimes that sought to radically alter or transform society according to radical ideas.[1] Often, a single leader became associated with this revolutionary transformation, and came to be treated as a benevolent “guide” for the nation without whom the transformation to a better future couldn’t occur. This has been generally the justification for personality cults that arose in totalitarian societies of the 20th century, such as those of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Continue reading “Master’s Commission as a Totalitarian Culture”