Storytelling deserves our close attention.
A huge part of a guru's marketing and the social scene around that guru
is created and maintained by story sharing - miracles, healings.
Think about it.
Our first contact with an exploitative person or group is via the stories told or hinted at by a group and its disciple/recruiters.
So one can get valuable information about any group, however secretive, is through the ways its loyalists tell stories, what kinds of stories they value -- and the kinds of stories they reject.
Every group, including the ones discussed here on CEI message board, has its stories and storytelling patterns.
Each group has stories it cherishes and it is equally defined by the types of story material it ignores.
As a prospective recruit, you hear such stories. Group members MUST repeat these stories for their own benefit
; it maintains their own commitment to the group, despite the sacrifices and, yes the doubts they can't help but feel from time to time.
If you happen to hear such stories and show any appearance of interest, no matter how subtle, you signal you are safe and just might be a prospective convert, further down the line.
If you look horror stricken, show disgust, or let out a snort of laughter, you
reveal that you are most certainly NOT a potential recruit.
If you are at the very least willing to keep listening and look courteous
when hearing a group's cherished story material, you indicate that you are
at the very least, probably not hostile, and may even be a potential recruit.
We define ourselves, form and maintain relationships according to the stories
we listen to, stories we tune out or actively reject.
Through storytelling we join groups, stay in groups, and leave or are rejected by groups.
These have to do with the kinds of stories you hear told
about a church leader or guru.
Stories of miracles and healings
(Descriptions of healings are often the very first information you get from a recruiter. The recruiter is often a trusted friend, work buddy, relative.
Without your awareness your friend or relative may be involved in
a high demand group, perhaps this person is not aware of it, either.
Your significant other will probably mention this person or the group
as part of his or her life. It is common to mention sessions with
a trusted therapist, yoga classes, etc.
You're used to your friend being involved with this stuff.
You become familiar with the names and places tied to your pal's own
Here is where you get reeled in.
Things happen. Your life gets difficult, even traumatic. You take a lot
of hits from many directions. You're floundering.
(Substitute 'psychotherapist', 'yoga teacher', 'energy healer')
When you're in crisis is when your defenses are down.
This relationship means more to you than ever.
This is when your pal mentions some tales of healing, some rather special
things done by this pastor or other person whose name you already know.
You love and trust your friend. Because you're in crisis, you need that friend more than ever. So, you're likely to trust what the person is telling you.
You make an appointment with the pastor for a counseling session. Or you accept your friend's invitation to come worship at the church.
Once you are there, you're going to be welcomed. If you continue to attend, you
will meet other members of that church and hear their tales of healing.
You will now hear more stories.
How the leader got his or her calling
How the church was founded
See what's happening? You've joined a story sharing network.
How a group tells stories and what stories are told are part of the sect's "courtship process" -- and part of how the sect creates and maintains its
identity.Storytelling is a big part of cultic recruitment
One doesn't learn much about a group's secrecy around finances until after one has been a member, by which time you're in trouble.
We still have a chance
to flee if we pick up on these early warning signals and take them seriously.
If you heed your feelings of disgust, fear, and you leave right away, instead of remaining and your shock fading away -- you are not recruited.
This is why recruitment through friendships and love remains so important
We endure awkward social situations on behalf of friends or a beloved relative that you'd not put up with, otherwise. Remain too long in that awkward social situation - you risk getting used to it.
Hear enough second hand miracle stories about a leader, and you risk forgetting warnings to test the spirits and that false saviors abound.
Stories. Tales. We shape each other's identities by the stories we listen to and -- we set our boundaries by the stories we refuse to listen to.
If you keep listening to certain types of stories, you adjust yourself
to the group that tells and retells and creates these kinds of stories.
The point here is you keep listening to these stories.
Do this and your sense of possibility changes. Things that seem shocking or revolting no longer do so. You've gotten accustomed to this.
*Disciples tell devotional stories about the leader. Perhaps the leader does not mention these incidents. But--disciples who are in favor with the leader keep the miracle chatter going.
If you do not join in on this sort of talk, you remain an outsider.
You are like someone who is in a foreign country but refuses to change your dollars
into the local currency. You never quite fit in. .
* The leader works miracles. Perhaps the word 'miracle' is never used, but might as well be. People talk about amazing synchronicities and healings in their lives and are sure the leader or the groups rituals caused it all. The leader appears in a favored disciple'd dreams.
If you join in the miracle talk, you are included in the group. Through social influence you become convinced the leader is working miracles in your life. The leader appears in your dreams.
Stephen Batchelor describes how he pulled this on himself.
As you go deeper into the group, you hear additional stories, stories not told
* The leader's illnesses are caused by demonic or astral assaults because of
negative thinking from former disciples or from doubts held by current disciples
*Those who criticize or leave the group suffer horrible fates
* Special prayer groups are set up to meditate or pray on the leader's behalf and being in these special groups is a badge of status, even if the leader
seemingly knows nothing of this. (In some cases the leader does know nothing
about the subgroup, and the subgroup may someday secede and form a new spin off cult in competition with the leader's cult)
•No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
•There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil
These form a pair.
And, "no tolerance for questions or critical inquiry" -- this is not always enforced in an obviously harsh manner.
An effective way to enforce this is through ridicule and shaming, often non verbal.
* Laughter that seems affectionate but is actually shaming
* The group goes silent when an episode of critical thinking ruins the devotional mood.
If you have come to depend on the group for emotional support, especially if you already have friends in the group, sudden exclusion from the group's shared 'vibe' through this kind of shaming, silence, eye rolling can slash like a whip. You've already become reliant on the group's affection, perhaps you hope
to be brought further into the group.
Making a blunder and being suddenly cut off from the group's 'tribe vibe' can feel agonizing.
A leader may come across as benevolent and loving. However, that leader may
have senior disciples who inflict punitive discipline. These higher ranking
disciples act as enforcers, and also as gatekeepers. This preserves the leader's benevolent loving reputation.
The word 'reputation' is key. After all, the leader permits these enforcers
to do his or her bidding.
When you are reeling from a shame attack, you have difficulty remembering all this.
Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 12/30/2017 07:03AM by corboy.