of course, the whole presentation made me nervous. a college film project, The Flock, unfinished as yet. five students from california traveled the south, interviewing people from this particular religious group. one of them had been raised as part of it, displaced from southern california to alabama on orders from the church leaders. being a minister's kid, experiencing california to montana and back, i could sympathize with with their displacement.
they lived scattered in a southern city, mostly socializing with each other. nothing remarkable, except a point brought up by the academic expert in cults: the group more important than the family. and the children disciplined by everybody, thus displacing the parents with community rules. oddly, in the interviews the parents felt the experience hadn't been 'so bad' while the children felt angry, boiled in oil.
this brought my own experiences back, living cheek by jowel with church structures, attending various activities by command, though my parents not abysmal in this. in fact my mother once yelled at a neighbor for spanking me. montana a kind of hell for her. raised a city kid in oakland, california at twenty-two she made many a faux pas and incensed the women in the church, ie. "How could anybody live with outhouses?" combined with her undiagnosable illness - she'd had a hysterectomy the next year and the surgeon nicked an ovary. i'm sure her experiences struck me to the quick, not to mention she'd a huge scar from an appendectomy when i was in the womb.
during the question and answer period, the border between individual and 'cult' very hazy. the kid from alabama didn't want the focus on him. they'd hundreds of interview hours. how were they to organize it into a compelling movie? their interview questions distilled into twenty-five, it might be interesting to pick the most significant, say eight, and give a cross-section of answers building up to the most intense query.
for me, tribal raising the norm in distant anthropology. freud said, 'the biggest drive of an individual to belong to a circle of 200 or less.' unfortunately, in our ancestors' struggles, they needed to put tribe survival before the individual. in some the kids didn't even know who their fathers were and when they were past a certain age, the doctrines of the community dictated all actions.
obviously, mixing this old style with the modern age of necessary individuality bound to create tensions and bitterness. we rebel against our parents (mostly) while establishing our own domain. where does the boundary of the group impinge on this necessity? alas, any modern mass society would fall apart without the rule of law.
since the following statement made by a modern guru - not to mention being a social hermit myself - i add it with a question mark...?