Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Batshit Spirituality

"The key element of the total ideology is its focus on a single truth. This single truth, the sacred word, is the word of the leader, or sometimes, that of a deity to whom the leader is the only one to have a direct line. All knowledge comes from the leader. While the leader may change their mind as new “insights” appear, followers may never do so, although they must ever be on the alert to jump to the leader’s sudden ideological shifts."
The above statement defines exactly the kind of total ideology that consumed every aspect of The Source Family where the sacred word, as prescribed by Jim Baker became all about the letters YHVH, and the single truth that Jim Baker was a direct line to 'all knowledge'; something which changed sometimes daily depending on whatever new 'insights' that Jim Baker had during 'meditation'.  Everyone was expected to be focused on Jim Baker and his 'word' 24/7 ready to respond and act on whatever his new 'insights' were, in order to fulfill whatever it was that our spiritual leader and father figure wanted.

Here are a couple of more statements from the Aeon essay linked below that parallel precisely what Jim Baker created.
"Newman’s inner circle was composed of a set of women known as the ‘wives’ or the ‘harem’, who served as his most trusted lieutenants, as well as, at different times, his bedmates."

"Different groups have different fear-arousing themes and methods: the oncoming apocalypse, fear of outsiders, fear of punishment, and exhaustion, among many other types of threatening strategies. But the leader is always the sole saviour, the one who will lead them away from (or through) the fear they are experiencing to a wonderful safety, to paradise, to a perfect, transformed world."  
In the case of Jim Baker, he constantly and consistently warned all of us/his followers of the threat of man(kind) and the impending apocalypse where only those of us surrounding him would be safe and secure within the confines of The Source Family and where we would all then become the leaders of a 'new age' that would arise amid the chaos and destruction---a fear of everything outside of The Source Family, due to the animal nature of men and the insanity that might engulf anyone who left his 'family' was something that Jim Baker instilled in all of us/his followers, which resulted in many feeling fearful and conflicted whenever doubts arouse about whether to remain in the group or leave.  It was fear that compelled many of us to remain within the group for its entire duration.  I wanted to leave The Source Family at various times, but the fear of what might happen compelled me to continue seeking some kind of safety and solace within the group; even after I had become disenchanted and disillusioned with Jim Baker and all of his antics and his non-stop, incessant preaching/teaching 'the word of God' that he was supposedly channeling.

"Once this fear-based control is in place, it is quite difficult to break: the follower’s dissociation and disorganised emotional attachment to the leader or group makes it extremely difficult to look clearly at what is happening. In fact, any attempt to do so only creates more fear, causing further disorganised bonding to the group to attempt to ease the stress." 

"The third element of totalism is the total ideology, or, as Newman called it: ‘A historical totality that has no beginning, middle or end’. The exclusive belief system is controlled entirely by the leader, empowering him or her through the creation of a fictional world of secrets and lies."

"After a while, things that seemed preposterous seem normal."
That was exactly what happened when Jim Baker imposed the practice of qudosh on the entire group expecting the women to perform with all of the men---that was a perfect example of something which seemed preposterous was made to seem normal within the closed and secretive confines of The Source Family binding everyone even more and more to a devotional secrecy around whatever Jim Baker ordered or expected to be done.  I think that the practice of ingesting a woman's menstrual blood was the most preposterous of Jim Baker's 'aquarian teachings'.

IFC Documentary Now just came out with a parody based on the film Wild, Wild Country with a few Father Yod and The Source Family parodies thrown into the mix making for an extremely funny and entertaining show.  I think it's healthy and good to be able to look back and laugh at something that many took very seriously when it was all happening.  Humor is the best way to convey the truth about something, in this case the reality of 'spiritual' cults/groups like the Rajneesh and The Source Family cults.  I thought the few parodies of Jim Baker as Paternius were spot on, but one segment was more tragic than funny like when Father Ra-Shawbard (Owen Wilson) cries out, "What was I thinking. Get me to a hospital!" after he's struck by a car---a scene taken directly from The Source Family film after Father Yod crash-landed on the beach surrounded by some of 'his women'.  Something that was meant to be funny actually conveyed the reality of that situation that many former SF members share:  that Jim Baker's death could have been prevented, and that even Jim Baker as he lay there after crashing on the beach asked the women around him, if he should go to the hospital (he asked twice, in fact), but was told by one of his 'spiritual wives' that he could go to the hospital to seek medical help, but that it would be going against his 'teachings/beliefs'.

Now, that was a batshit moment---adhering to some crazy and delusional belief in not using modern medicine, instead choosing to allow Jim Baker to suffer in pain and eventually die, by holding him to his own batshit 'teaching'.  I've no doubt that had the women surrounding Jim Baker made the decision to rush him to the hospital that fateful day, that he would have capitulated and probably been extremely thankful, after the fact.  Instead, Jim Baker was held to his own deluded and harmful batshit 'spiritual' belief that nobody in his 'family' should seek or use medical help and in a tragic irony died being held to his own misguided beliefs.

I thought the Batshit Valley parody captured really well the extremism and insane devotion and beliefs that many people exhibited who joined the various spiritual or religious groups that sprang up, during the late sixties and early seventies; some lasting into the eighties resulting in even more long term emotional or physical damage to people; especially the children who were raised in some of the more harmful cults.  Anyone who obediently follows one man or woman who is elevated and revered in an adoring, worshipful and reverential way believing that person is imbued with magical powers or knowledge places themselves and their loved ones in potentially harmful and dangerous situations, especially if the 'religious' or 'spiritual' belief system becomes one of a totalism of belief that influences and controls everyone's speech and behavior---it's that kind of spiritual extremism that was parodied in Batshit Valley.

It's good that some of us can laugh about it now, though.  But, some of the harm done to people who gave up their lives in order to follow, obey and worship men like Rajneesh and Father Yod suffered loss monetarily, emotionally and physically or even worse the loss of a child.  Yet, for a few remaining devoted and diehard followers of Father Yod/Yahowha; the Documentary Now Batshit Valley parody is completely lost on them, because a few are still incapable of seeing the absurdity, ridiculousness, and harmfulness of it all.  Instead, a few are choosing to see it all as something great and wonderful that made them part of history, and all of their continued profuse, exalted proclamations about Father Yod/Yahowha or the exclusive batshit beliefs that were unique to The Source Family created by Jim Baker that has become a parody in itself.