My New Blog

As you may have noticed, my last five posts (one, two, three, four, and five) have been quite different from the usual cult/religion writing I’ve done in the past on this blog. For about two years now, I’ve toyed with the idea of closing this blog and I made several attempts to do so. I’m a writer and not all writers stick with the same genre their entire lives. I felt it was time for me to explore my pre-My Cult Life love of art, romance and other subjects, but I never felt like this blog was a good space for that. I was sad to see this chapter close, though.

I wasn’t quite ready to move on and I also needed to spend more time in the creative zone with my ideas to see where this new desire was taking me. Taking a new direction blogging can be a complicated endeavor. One that shouldn’t be done in haste. So, after two years and a lot of planning, I’m ready to move forward with my new blog. It’s simply called Lisa Kerr: Life, Chronicled.

Header

 

The important thing for me was to have a name that didn’t box me in (like “My Cult Life”) to a specific subject. It can be very hard to change directions when the spirit of the blog (and readers) expect one niche topic all the time and that’s what happened here. (Not that this niche topic wasn’t insanely interesting. It was.)

It was also important that the new blog helped me do what I’ve loved doing sometimes on this blog and other times on Facebook: chronicle my daily life. I think I’ve found the perfect way to move forward.

Of course I’m excited to discover where my writing will take me and what new skills I’ll discover as a writer–reporting and writing about cults has been limiting creatively. While I don’t regret starting this blog or where it’s taken me, it hasn’t been an artistic outlet; it’s been a therapeutic and healing outlet. Those things are essential to life, but sometimes we need to close one chapter before we can discover the full beauty in another chapter.

I hope you’ll join me on this new blog journey, even though it will be void of religion, cults and politics. Here are a few posts to start you off with:

  1. Clarity
  2. A Few of My Favorite Things
  3. Finding Your True Talent
  4. The Great Outdoors
  5. A Few Mini-Disasters We Handled in Stride

And you can find my updated social media accounts on the new blog, as well.

 

It’s Been Awhile

It’s been awhile since I’ve had anything to say here. If you need the tl; dr version, anxiety + intellectual property preservation = brief respite from this blog. Not to mention that the blog (amazingly) became something I didn’t anticipate-a hub for real investigative journalism on cults and abusive religious groups. But let’s be honest. When I started, I was a published sex writer with a bad attitude who really just wanted to write about my every day life. And I’ve gotten away from that for a variety of reasons (see above). Some bloggers can handle the constant attention with grace; others freeze up.

I’ve debated whether to change the name of this blog and archive the old material or whether to start a new blog under a new (more anonymous) name. I’ve actually started two anonymous blogs, but they haven’t had the pull that these had. I wasn’t as passionate about them as I was this one.

Recently, a blogger I used to read changed her blog name. It didn’t change the direction of her blog all that much because she literally wrote about her daily life before that and didn’t go off on investigative journalism tangents. I’m not sure I could pull that off as easily, but I think I could. I’m mulling it around right now–having bought a new domain name and I’m working on plans. A lot of time and research goes into blogging. It’s not just like “Oh let me sit down and type on this keyboard thingie!” There are legitimate technical and business plans that operate behind the scenes.

As a writer (and here’s a protip for you newbies and up and comings), your number one job is to protect your intellectual property and ideas. Your number two job is to get yourself out there. Some people reverse those priorities, like I did when I began to blog. I was naive about the scope of what would go on and how far my blog would reach. I would say that’s an amazing problem to have and I have no regrets. My career has been a huge surprise and despite all the downsides to success, the upsides have been amazing. In fact, I think one of the perks was getting to a point where I achieved “gold status” (Reddit joke, sorry) and let myself take an extended break from working my damn ass off so much. My break still includes writing a novel, writing articles for publication, blogging, developing extended business plans, editing and consulting writing clients, and rewriting my memoir, BUT it’s a lot less work than what I was doing. Thank god.

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a lot of personal information online and I hope you know that you’re not just readers, you’re friends.┬áMaybe one day, when I’m successful enough to go talk about being successful, I’ll share a bit more into what this past year has been like and why I made the decisions I made.

Until then, I hope to continue with regular updates until I figure out my next step and most of all, I hope to catch up with you all.

xoxo,

Lisa

An Interview for BreakThru Radio

I was recently interviewed for BreakThru Radio for a story on cults. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“There was a lot of behavior modification from the way we dressed to the way we talked,” [Lisa Kerr] tells BTR. “We had every moment planned out for us, so we didn’t have a lot of contact with the outside world.”

After high school graduation, Kerr moved to Austin, Texas to be with the group. Secluding her in a dormitory-styled building, her days consisted of eating, sleeping, and praying one hour each day with the group.

Benscoter experienced similar isolation as she was tasked with fundraising for the church.

“I was cut off from my family and I was made to believe that Satan was working through them. These techniques were used to control my thought processes, decisions, my view on the world,” she recounts. “One of the most power tools of mental manipulation is religion.”

Both Benscoter and Kerr’s experiences instilled a belief that they could not leave; however, both eventually found a way with the support of their families.

Kerr describes her breakaway as a gradual falling apart after three major events, which reveal just how strongly the Master’s Commission controlled her life. Firstly she was not granted permission by the church to attend college to pursue her dreams as a writer. Then, her pastor revoked his permission for her to date a guy from within the church. Her disillusionment was finally cemented when her parents visited and offered her a way out.

For Benscoter the path was far less simple and despite being initially dissatisfied by aspects of the Unification Church she remained very committed even after her parents expressed concern. Her mother wanted to hire a deprogrammer to hold her against her will; however Benscoter willingly agreed to meet with them.

“I was very resistant at first, but after some time I started listening to what they had to say,” she says. “I agreed to talk to them because I believed that I was certain in my faith so I was surprised when a lot of what they said made sense for me.”

It took many years of counseling and volunteer work at a cult rehabilitation center for her to move past it all, with music playing the largest part in her recovery as it helped her reconnect with the world and herself.

Overall, the experience made her more cynical and critical, she says, and she will not believe anything without the facts.

Kerr experienced a lot more hate when leaving the Master’s Commission. Initially silent, she began to feel like she was being watched from social media.

“They wanted to appear like they were my friend [but] it was almost as if they were there to spy on me and report back to them,” she describes. Her fears were confirmed when some of the pastors’ wives called her and claimed they’d heard she wasn’t doing well.

Kerr says this went on for almost a year after she left. On one occasion, after she posted a picture on her Myspace account wearing a tank top revealing some cleavage, the comments became nasty. (Part of the strict dress code of the Master’s Commission was not to show cleavage.)

“You start to question your morality and whether you even have a good side,” she says. “Deep down you know that you do, but you have been taught that the things you are doing are bad. [After leaving], for me this was just experiencing a normal college life.”

According to van Twist, there’s a misconception that people who join cults were vulnerable in some way, however that is untrue.

“Research has found that even the most controversial groups appeal to white middle-class Americans [like Benscoter and Kerr],” she says.

You can read the full article here.