The cults we hear about are the ones that explode or implode, not the ones chugging along quietly long after their Rolling Stone cover story moment. Guinevere Turner has fond memories of the Lyman Family, but also unsettling ones, too, incidents and patterns far over the line of abuse. To relate them makes her want to apologize. My Childhood in a Cult.
Today, as a fifty-year-old screenwriter, I’m drawn to the stories of cults and their behavior. My next film, “Charlie Says,” focusses on the women who killed for Charles Manson and the time they spent in a prison isolation unit. One thing I wanted to show was how keeping these women in that unit trapped them for years in the echo chamber of Manson’s manipulations. I’ve always been struck by the sensationalist and reductive way that sixties and seventies cults are portrayed in the media. In a nation fixated on individualism, cults and communes are easy objects of disdain—and perhaps envy. Their members are breaking the rules, discarding the sacred nuclear family. It’s libertarianism plus sex and drugs, and it’s wrong, but do tell me more.
The truth is far more complex, though no less insidious. As individuals, how well are we positioned to say which systems of belief are right or wrong?
Further reading: I've bookmarked "The Lyman Family’s Holy Siege of America", the 1971 Rolling Stone article that did not make them famous.
Last month, I posted about “witch bottles” — containers of curious items like human teeth, fish hooks, glass shards, and undetermined liquid — sometimes found in chimneys or inside walls of old buildings where they were placed to ward off evil spells, spirits, and curses. Turns out that there’s a new book — “Magical House […]
Writing at Metropole, Sarah Balakrishnan describes the development of cemeteries in a city in Ghana. As of the 1800’s, the general practice in the seaside city of Accra was to bury the dead underneath the family’s home. Around 1888, British colonists began forcing the populace to bury the dead in public cemeteries. The requirement served […]
Presumably coming soon to ESPN’s “The Ocho” is some version of this 200-year old tradition in Malta held in honor of St Julian the Hospitaller: In the tournament, known as Gostra to the Maltese, a 16 meter-pole is covered by 15 liters of lard and fixed at an angle from the promenade into the sea. […]
Got a real music junkie on your list this year? It’s a good bet that they already have a solid pair of earbuds, but probably nothing quite like these Seeds Earphones. Here’s the thing: Wireless earbuds are all the rage right now, and there are a lot of good reasons for that. But for true […]
When it comes to the qualities of a good project manager, you hear a lot of talk about “soft skills” like leadership ability and confidence. And where does confidence come from? It comes from people who are dead certain they know the right steps to take. In other words, you’ve got to master the hard […]
You might know someone who can make a pipe out of any conceivable household object. But if they’re doing it every time they smoke, it might be time to get them a little Christmas present. And we’ve got just the thing: The Twisty™️ Glass Original Combo Pack, priced way, way down for December. If you’ve […]