Characteristics of a Cult

I’ll just leave this here…

  • Zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader or its ‘Truth’
  • The leader is above the law
  • Leaders dictate how members should think, act and feel
  • Doubt and dissent have harsh consequences
  • The ends justify the means
  • Submission/subservience is demanded
  • Guilt and shame or fear and intimidation are used to influence

 

  • The group is somehow better than all others and only those who are special enough may join
  • Us versus Them mentality
  • Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group
  • True believers feel there is no life outside the group
  • Gender roles are strictly defined and adhered to by the group
  • Group-think (due to harsh consequences of dissent)

There is a great list and breakdown of various characteristics on Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (Matt Slick)

And here’s an interesting (partial list) created in 2009 The Guardian (Rick Ross) I only used the points directly concerned with the leader, rather than points concerning the group and/or its members

Warning signs of a potential cult leader:

  • Absolute power with no accountability
  • No tolerance for questions or criticism
  • No meaningful financial disclosure
  • Feeling/Instilling feelings of persecution from the outside world

 

There have been many organizations considered to be cults that later evolved into society-recognized religions/movements/what-have-you. So, where is the fine line that separates a ‘real’ religion/movement/etc. from a drinking-the-juice-aid/only-the-crazies-do-it cult? What do you think?

 

 

Trickling down takes a certain gravity

Drip, drip, drip…does it ever become a flood?

What do the people who think they’re in charge mean by trickle-down economics? They mean that they pass laws that benefit the wealthiest pocketbooks and, in return, the money trickles down…to them. They get money to pass more laws to benefit the wealthiest and the money trickles down again…to them.

We’ll call this the Money Wheel. No, the Economic Cycle… Ooh, no, The Price is Right.

My education focused on social and political developmental issues, things like education (and a rant on that is coming soon) the need for safe roads and youth programs, and also free elections and a multiple party electoral system where no one ideology can gain the majority and those who are supposed to be representing the people are no longer able to represent their own economic interests instead.

We have entered a truly capitalist age in the United States. Currently, we are seeing a massive expansion of corporate interests and protections, but this comes at the cost of resources our country has long valued. These economic changes come at the cost of blessings that we have taken for granted…

Clean drinking water, for example. Silt, oil and god-only-knows-what-else can pollute the ground water to the point that our water treatment facilities are unable to adequately clean it. If they shut down, we’ll have to hope the microscopic organisms don’t kill us first. (Ask around any area flooded after a hurricane, they’ll tell you how nightmarish ‘no water’ can be.) That means, we’ll either poison ourselves with chemical agents trying to disinfect the water, or we’ll get used to the taste of petroleum. Either way, it’s a remarkable change from what we have now, with enough clean water access that we can dig massive holes, fill them up with water that won’t kill us via some awful flesh-eating bacteria, and play in it.

For comparison: I used to live in Africa. If I wanted to play in water, I had to take my chances next to the sharp-toothed wildlife. To drink the water, I walked a half-kilometer, pumped the water into a bucket I then carried home on my head, boiled it and put it through a filter. There are some families over there who must designate one member to nearly exclusive water duty, and it takes hours to get enough to supply the family for the day. Would you like to switch over to that system? Because that might be coming…

The majority of us value our resources and understand that our society is not just capitalist. If so, we’d all be registered as corporations. We wouldn’t care about education, healthcare, food or water. We’d be in the ring every day, fighting for own survival…

A society has other concerns than money, and those concerns must be met. Just look at Maslow’s Hierarchy (and consider where we might be on this scale):

We must balance the things we need to survive into the future with the economic interests of today. Clear air, so we can breathe, clean water, so we can live. The bees are already in danger because of human actions, and they are extremely important to the environment and the way life lives. If you’re not concerned, if you’re skeptical of a need to protect the environment, then you don’t understand the consequences.

Side note: if you’re a Christian arguing against things like climate change and the importance of forest preservation and species conservation, I suggest you take a look back at Genesis, where God creates Adam to be a caretaker of the earth and all things in it. Are you doing your part? When you stand before the Creator on judgment day, neither ignorance nor disbelief will be a proper defense for the way you, personally, probably treated the environment around you.

All right, all right. I’ll put that particular soap box away and come to my point. Trickle down economics is a myth. They’ve been trying to rationalize this lie for decades now, and it still doesn’t pan out. Do you really think that the richest people who have stockpiles of money don’t have enough to hire more people for their corporations? They can invest in everything but people, we’ve got computers and robots and advanced research & development happening every single day, and you think they can’t afford to pay somebody $10 an hour to…what are you going to do for them, anyway? Sweep the floor? They got a Roomba.

It’s a pyramid scheme, and you’ve been taken. Quite frankly, we’ve all been taken—hostage, that is. There is no trickle down, and no, there is no real trickle up, either. There is a small benefit to giving more money to poor people, because they will actually spend the money in their local economies, unlike rich people, who only buy designer brands and fly to foreign countries for handmade specialty items.

We need a radiate out program, instead. (Historically, people in charge don’t like that idea.) Pump the money into the middle class and you suddenly create upward mobility. They will both spend in their local economies and invest in large corporations. We need entrepreneurial programs to help ordinary folks with a vision open their own businesses. We really do need a return to Main Street, and I can see this country clamoring for it.

I saw a comment on a forum the other day about the death of Mom & Pop stores, and how they’ll never come back. But that’s not true. The comment focused on bigger businesses, like Walmart and Target, and the importation of cheaper, foreign-made objects. That has their place, and it’s a valuable one to our society. Everyone should have the right to affordable soap and underwear, right?

But raise your hand if you’d rather shop for something special at a local boutique. Raise your hand if you’d like to buy a handmade piece of jewelry that no one else has—all for a good price from a local artist. Raise your hand if you have a favorite independent coffee shop that suits your personality exactly. How about fresh bread, yummy pastries? Tell me why Farmer’s Markets do so well if Mom & Pop’s have gone the way of the dodo.

This country isn’t all about big business, that’s just what the baby boomers focused on. And, to be brutally honest, I’m getting tired of them deciding our future, when they won’t have to pay the consequences for their bad decisions and tunnel vision.

We are a people. A tribe, a nation. In spite of our differences, we’re all supposed to be on the same side, one team. That’s a functioning society, where we all contribute, are allowed to contribute and respect each other’s differences and opinions and unique perspectives. But, for too long, we’ve been treated like a corporation, with clear favoritism, cut-throat hiring practices and little opportunity for advancement. Now, they’re turning us into cage-match fighters, looking for survival.

So, take a minute to think… Let’s pretend rich people and corporations really do hire more people when they get a kick back from the government. Do you think they’ll hire you? Are you close enough to get a job with them? Are you qualified for a job with them? How do you think the current economic plan that’s making its way through the Senate and the House will benefit you? You, personally. If your answer has a ‘but’ in there, it doesn’t. It won’t help you at all.

Our society needs to balance the economy with other interests. How about healthcare, education, saving our national treasures and reducing crime. All the things we have issues with today are a direct result of poor and/or nefarious financial decisions. We need to stop walking party lines in this country and start remembering that we’re all in the same boat. And the people we trusted with our oars are steering us toward a waterfall.

~~~

That’s my bone to pick…

You won’t always agree, and that’s okay. I’d still love to hear your comments, so long as you can manage to keep yourself respectful, because we all deserve a little dignity. Be human, you know?

Cream Will Rise

The world is in flux right now. All over the planet, various governments, nation-states and peoples are…well I could make a list, but we all know, the issues have dominated world headlines for a long time already, and I have limited space. Besides, this is about books, not world affairs.

Except…

Authors play a really important role in society. Throughout history, we’ve written truth in a way people found relatable, we’ve fought for change in ways people could empathize with and we’ve warned of factors detrimental to society, whether or not the message was received. We’ve been banned and exalted, we’ve been mocked and admired. We’ve been limited, and we’ve been given free rein to expand however we wanted.

We’ve come through a golden age of literature, and are now hurtling into a faux-competitive unenlightenment period where prices are lowering and trolls are increasing. There might even be new limits on what we can write soon—new censorship. I suppose there’s always backlash against an economic revolution, and that’s exactly what we’ve been experiencing, in terms of authorship and literature. The evolution from traditional publishing to self-publishing. We’ve gone from too few books in the marketplace to too many, both limiting in their own ways, and with new regimes coming to power, who knows what other restrictions may soon apply.

And where am I going with this? Most people consider books a luxury item, and technically they are. Food, water, shelter—those are the necessities. Books, toilet paper, soap—those are luxury items. So why are we paying more money than ever for certain luxury items, and yet book prices continue to fall?

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If you’re reading this, you’re probably a person willing to pay a fair price for a good story. It might even surprise you to know that some people out there refuse to pay for a book, and they never have to, thanks to various programs, author incentives, etc. But plenty of other people have posted on this topic already, so what is my point?

 

In the First World, which is where most of us reading this live, we are moving toward a new era. Everybody has their own theories, and God knows I’m no economist, but I see a trend toward artisanship, a return to personal touches and fantastic customer service. Big chain stores are great for some things, but we’re willing to pay more for something special, something handcrafted, something of quality.

With the world in flux, truth becomes its own commodity, as does fiction, entertainment and escapism. Everything you find in a book. This is why authors are so important—in every genre—and many of us are crafting quality items to serve a grand role and not getting much in return, and not just financially. Books push us past our boundaries, they give us the world, a new understanding of ourselves, they help us empathize…the list goes on.

And yes, I believe this is true of erotica, as well. Erotica, which has always been under attack, digs into the human psyche in ways that make many people uncomfortable, laying bare secrets and desires, needs we’re too afraid to admit to. That’s why this genre has always been as censored as it has—not because of nakedness and sex, but because ‘obscene’ has always secretly included ‘things that make you ashamed of yourself.’ With the explosion of Erotica into the light, people finally understand that their ‘deviance’ probably isn’t so deviant, after all.

With all these changes in the world—political, social and economic, we must adapt, as artisans and businessmen. So, my point is, predictions have been made that prices will now begin to race to the bottom, and to some degree, they will. But the cream will rise, as it always does. If you, as a reader, want quality books, you will pay for them, and we, as authors committed to giving you quality books will work ever harder to provide you with entertainment worthy of your time and money. Not every book will be for every person, but the craftsmanship inside the covers will excel to new heights.

A very smart woman I know recently pointed out the difference between a writer and an author. Her definition has to do with honing your craft, and that goes hand-in-hand with my point above, that authors play a very important role in society. I plan to accept that challenge, and I think the majority of readers will, too.