Friday, September 9, 2011

Soloman's Child

Written in 1980 by Tom Dulack, Solomon’s Child, deals with the mental deprogramming of a nineteen year old male, named Shelley, who recently joined a dangerous cult. When Shelley experiences significant mental, physical, and emotional damage on behalf of the cult, Shelley’s father, Allan, has several individuals kidnap and deprogram Shelley in hopes of saving his life. Solomon’s Child is startling reminder that questions the role of cults around the world in inhibiting humanity’s survival and advancement. Solomon’s Child exposes the cult behavior in contemporary religious belief and behavior.

Often times, religious organizations exhibit the same characteristics as cults. Sacred & Profane, a learning community class taught at Skagit Valley College by Anne Will and Trish Barnes, outlines the similarities between cults and mainstream fundamentalism. Cults have the following characteristics, they are “harmful, brutalizing, take money, separated, isolated, exclusive, and often run by a charismatic leader” [Will]

Shelley’s participation and involvement in the cult severely affected the progression of his physical and mental health. Shelley belonged to the United Congregation, where they preached renunciation from earthly possessions and services. Shelley became disillusioned to the point that he abstained from food. "I don't require earth food, earth nourishment; I am fed by the flame of the Holy essence" (Dulack 9) Naomi, a former member of the United Congregation, recalled that "Shelley got the bleeding ulcers, one of the elders told me. He [Elder] thinks its Satan invading him.” (Dulack 29)  In today's society, Scientology does the same thing. The cult was denying Shelley the medical attention he needed. Naomi said "This is how it works in the Unified Congregation. I came down with appendicitis, and they wouldn't let me see a doctor. The brothers and sisters, Shelley included. They said the pain was Satan invading me." (Dulack 29) Believing that evil spirits are the cause is nonsense, we understand the extent micro bacteria plays Thanks to advancements in science, we understand that the host of problems caused by malnutrition and micro bacteria and the buffer food can provided by eradicating nutrition from food is a necessity for the continual sustainable of life. micro to the cause of illnesses and when you are malnourished you become a host of deadly illnesses. Retaining and sustaining a medieval mindset about physical illness and associating them with supernatural causes is wrong, and potentially lethal.
 
Naomi, also recalled the time when Shelley was “stealing welfare check from some poor ignorant old black lady in Harlem” (Dulack 48) The welfare checks made their way into “bastard[s} pocket” of the cult leader. (Dulack 48) Scientology in our modern culture exhibits the similar behavior. Prominent Scientologists are want by the IRS for tax evasion, and denying their followers the proper medical attention when they needed it the most. There are denominations within Christianity that teach abstention from food for short periods of time as a way to show their dedication and obedience to the spirit and power of God.


Cults also erode our physical and emotional health and the ability to think critically.  In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a chart outlining the basic biological needs to the complex psychological desires man needs to reach their full potential,  Abraham Maslow said that man will not advance in becoming a unless his “Physiological Needs” and “Safety Needs” (Simons) are met. The cults imposition and dictation of moral codes in our physical and mental existence of the world inhibits the growth and environment where critical thinking skills should be applied. Shelley could not think for himself, as he wanted to contact the United Congregation for help. In the midst of the deprogramming, Balthazar is questioning the motives of the Shelley by asking “Can’t you function without them? Can’t you think, without their telling you what to do?” (Dulack 62)

Maintaining a primitive mindset, and separating themselves from society in the 21st Century, where mankind has traveled to the Moon, and genetic engineering of planets and animals is possible, poses numerous problems. The United Congregation, as well as many other cults around the world, denies their followers of the vital tools necessary to solve the problems of their everyday life. When we destroy illusions, we are in a better position to make informed, healthy decisions. Cults complicate and create illusions, and disconnect us from the world.

Cults corrode our innate human curiosity that has undoubtedly led us forward through march of time. Throughout all of human history, we have slowly advanced to this point in time through leaps and bounds. Thinking critically on behalf of Alan, Shelley’s father, saved his life. The critical thinking that saved Shelley's life was not a byproduct of religion or cult activity. Steve Weinberg disambiguate religion from morality by stating that the cult members or religious "have a moral sense which allows them to distinguish between what is religious and what is not religious. George Bush said that these terrorists have hijacked a great religion, because of their actions, their terrorist actions, don’t fit his idea of religion. Do you see what's happening there? Instead of using religion to decide what's moral, they are using their moral sense, which fortunately is a perfectly reasonable enlightening sense, to decide what is religious. And if that's the case, what’s the point of religion?" (Miller)


If Shelley’s cult was ever allowed the opportunity to gain political power, dangerous Shelley's cult activity would probably reverses the progress of the past 100 years. Reversal of hundreds of years of legal, moral, government advancement would prove detrimental to legal precedents that we hold to be sacred.  Within the United States, if the Christian Right had their way, Roe vs. Wade would be reversed making abortions illegal, Creationism would be adopted into public education curriculum, and the separation of the Church and State would be ignored. Careful consideration would be replaced by extremism thinking that would defy significant amounts of evidence. Everything we know could hang in the balance.


Solomon’s Child is startling reminder that challenges fundamentalism of religion that exists in our culture, and the threat they could pose inhibiting humanity’s survival and advancement. Through corroding our ability to critically think, cults can also filter information that would otherwise allow human beings the ability to become, as John F. Kennedy stated, what “man will be what he was born to be: free and independent”[Kennedy]

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