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How did I end up in a cult?

Someone recommended reading THE GIVER by Lois Lowry.

In a strange way, this short story helped me understand how I could have gotten sucked into a cult.

Here are a few examples of thought provoking sentences:

"Jonas sighed. He almost would have preferred to keep his feelings hidden. But it was, of course, against the rules."

"...learning to fit in, to standardize your behavior, to curb any impulse that might set you apart from the group."

"Why did colors disappear? The choice to go to sameness. We gained control of many things but had to let go of others."

"We don't dare to let people make choices of their own."

"They can't help it. They know nothing. It's what he was told to do and he knows nothing else."

"After a life of sameness and predictability he was awed by the surprises that lay beyond each curve in the road."

Re: How did I end up in a cult?

That is lovely!

Re: How did I end up in a cult?

I wrote this review for a journal many years ago:

Lois Lowry 1994. The Giver (Laurel-Leaf Books, a Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036) paper, 180 pages, $4.50. ISBN:

The Giver is an award winning story for young adults and teens with a mature theme--a "perfect," utopian society runs the risk of eliminating the richness and creativity in its human subjects. Lois Lowry wraps her narrative around Jonas who comes of age as a Twelve to become a citizen-in-training in the Community. The Community is an obscurely defined habitat and culture where weather, landscape, lifestyle, conduct, food and daily medication have been prescribed since an ancient era--"back, back, back" is how the citizens phrase that primordial time. Children ranked as Ones through Twelves receive bicycles only as Nines. Infants selected for the Community do not live with Birthmothers, but with assigned parents who can raise only one male and one female.

The Community has no hills, no sunshine, no wild animals, no snow, no potentially painful feelings like love--no extreme that might cause suffering. Injuries and illness of any kind are treated at the Nurturing Center, but anyone deemed unfit for the community is "released" or lives Elsewhere. Release, Jonas learns after his awesome "Assignment" to be "the Receiver," means euthanasia by injection at the "Center." All such ceremonies are recorded for the Hall of Closed Records. Elsewhere is a place far, far away where non-Community humans and animals live but Citizens remember nothing about that culture.

Ancient memories are magically contained in one member of the Committee of Elders. He or she is the Receiver (of memories) whose primary function is to advise the Committee to avoid policies that might return the Community to that ancient, painful era. After his singular Assignment, Jonas meets his mentor, now the Giver, who begins a magical process that could take years of daily sessions to transfer vivid, realistic experiences into Jonas's memory bank. Each time the old Giver releases a memory he is released of one more pleasure or pain that he carried for the Community. Jonas begins to feel love, death, sunshine, cold, and all other sensations in hundreds of scenes for the first time. For example, he absorbs death as a soldier on a battlefield and he enjoys sailing on an ocean. Jonas also has access to thousands of old books and records no one else in the Community, not even the Elders, can experience.

The story reaches its dramatic peak when Jonas decides to save a tiny child now listed for release. He and the Giver both decide it is time to change the Community by releasing the memories back to all its citizens. This can only be done when a Receiver no longer exists or escapes to Elsewhere. Jonas chooses escape. He steals his father's bicycle with the child carrier on it and peddles past the river, past similar Communities and into the wilderness where he crosses a mountain to Elsewhere. The story ends before we know the actual fate of the Community, but we do know that one brave young man has saved a child and is now entering an uncertain life in a more natural human setting.

In the tradition of futuristic novels like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four, Lowry illustrates the hidden dangers and destructive elements of a totalistic society. Former members of our modern cults will easily identify with Jonas, the young hero who recovers his authentic soul from the superficially happy world of the Community.

Joe Szimhart, 1998

Re: How did I end up in a cult?

great synopsis Joe. I read 'The Giver' last year also. It was a chilling reminder of what happens when people go unconscious, live with total acceptance/resignation and do not allow themselves to question.

It also sheds light on what lengths people tolerate or even revel in being an accepted member of a group, society, etc. How the 'rules', codes of behavior seem to provide a comfort, boundary which promotes a (false) sense of security about one's world. This insulation is suffocating as well, but silences the inner screaming of the original violation, whether it was physical or emotional, informed or without consent.

With prescription drug use rampant and fear-mongering/NLP an art form, we are not far from the society described in The Giver. It is definitely worth the short read- about 4 hours.