Author Topic: the higher power...or the making of a cult.  (Read 1555 times)

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Offline GregFL

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the higher power...or the making of a cult.
« on: September 13, 2004, 12:30:00 AM »
The premise of all 12 step programs is to admit you are powerless and surrender to god. This is arguably relatively  harmless in a VOLUNTARY setting. However, the AA dogma has been used to set up personality cult after cult since the 30s. Why is this such an easy path to cultism? What tools of AA taken out of a voluntary setting lead to coersive mind control?

This is my take...

1) admit you are powerless. This is the first step to surrendering your will, And you are powerless because they have reduced you to being so...so all you need do is state the obvious.

2) surrender to god. This is where it gets real tricky and dangerous when you mix this cultic dogma with coersion and imprisonment. We are told to choose our god, but we all know it was the group/and or Art Barker. Real religion was scoffed at and laughed at in the seed.
 

Then  Convince the inductees they are worthless, unlikable, and make them an object of ridicule  in their current mental mind set. Set up an idol and make hero worship mandatory on the path to salvation. Invent some language or change the meaning of existing language to have special meaning within the group. Give instant conditional love and community for compliance. Restrict freedom, reading and contact with the outside world and create and us and them mentality. Prevent the inductees from speaking with each other.  Reduce your most personal private moments such as urinating and defecating to a priviledge and keep a written record to remind the inductee you control everything. Introduce language and sayings that have supposed special power and healing qualities. Set up a two tier system where compliant ones get special treatment and then Offer the inductee a way to acheive this level by surrendering his personality, individuality and free will to the group.. thereby regaining  humanity and affection and basic human needs such as privacy and respect.

Mix with some sleep deprivation, fear,public confessionals, humiliation, food deprivation, rules against thinking and talking, keep the fear of public confrontation at any moment in the inductees thoughts and throw in coersion by your family and "peers".

Here you have the magic formula of the seed and other cults.


in a nutshell....




[ This Message was edited by: GregFL on 2004-09-14 10:44 ]
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Offline cleveland

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the higher power...or the making of a cult.
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2004, 09:48:00 AM »
Greg,

My memory on this is vague but I recall doing some reading on the origins of AA and the steps a couple of years back. Apparently, the Oxford Group was an early source - they were a Bible study group based in England, I believe just after World War I. Some of them went on to embrace Nazism I believe, and others went on to influence early AA, which started as an Oxford Group offshoot, right here in Akron, Ohio at the Seiberling (Goodyear Tire) Estate  (the heir to which died an alcoholic anyway). That's what I remember. So yeah, I agree that mixing 'surrender' with an unquestioning loyalty to 'the leader' or 'the group' (which is what we were encouraged to consider our 'higher power' at the Seed) is a recipe for mental slavery.

Of course, I know people in AA who swear by it. I think the difference might be that in AA 'you take what you want and leave the rest.' That would have been heresy at the Seed.

Other interesting things that we were encouraged to do were to:

Make eye contact at all times with people speaking in the group, trying no to blink if possible, to demonstrate unwavering attention;

Staying 'out of your head' which meant suspending critical thought or judgement;

No conversations with anyone outside of the Seed - except to tell them, 'you're a fucked up druggie, come to the Seed and get straight, and I love you;'

Saying 'I love you' to everyone, which reinforces vulnerability and interdependance;

No reading of books or novels or anything of the imagination, at least not until you were an Oldcomer and even then, this was looked on as leading to 'being into your head;'

Calling Art Barker or the Seed itself your 'higher power;'

Being encouraged to push yourself physically and mentally to the breaking point, by sitting in raps for 8-10 hours a day. When we stopped having Sunday raps, about 1980(?), we started playing baseball for about 8 hours followed by about 4 hours of football. Oh, and throw in a mid-day rap too.

Typical Seed day started at 5:00 or 6:00 am and didn't end until midnight or later. Add the mental stress of being 'out of your head' at all times afraid that someone would catch you being inattentive and 'unseedlike' and it was a ton of pressure. I was diagnosed with hypertension at age 20, which I am sure was due to the mental, emotional and physical stress of being a 'Seedling.'
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Offline Filobeddoe

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the higher power...or the making of a cult.
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2004, 10:01:00 PM »
GregFL,

I share your appreciation of & admiration of AA. It has been around for generations & will continue to help thousands (millions?) for many  more generations in my opinion. It is a fantastic program designed for the right reasons by people who sincerely wanted to help others and Lord knows there were many who could benefit from it.

Also, it is obvious that The Seed took many of the good ideas of AA and incorporated them into the program.

I never felt like I was "addicted" to any drugs, like alcoholics really are addicted to alcohol. But I certainly was powerless to overcome my dependence on doing drugs to fit in with my peers. I didn't have what it took to say "No" when it came to being self-destructive.

My experiences had alot in common with alcoholics. Also, like in AA it is widely accepted that you must "hit bottom" or "find yourself in the gutter" before you are ready to accept that you are "powerless" & need help.

Art Barker was naturally charismatic & the founder of this AA-like program, but never, never did I feel like he expected to be worshiped! I did not worship him or the group & never met anyone who felt that way.

I was taught to seek a higher power & told that it was necessary to get well, but it was NOT the group or Art Barker. It was "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can & the wisdom to know the difference". The Serenity Prayer helped me during the program & to this day is very important to me. Also, the name of the Seed (as you know) came from a biblical verse that says something like "if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed ... nothing shall be impossible to you".

Religion wasn't ridiculed or scoffed at while I was there. We didn't have bible study & while the Seed is probably more secular than most AA groups, most of the seedlings were Christians & looked to God for help.

In my humble opinion, you are confusing Art who has a large ego & likes to be stroked with someone who expected/demanded worship (ala Jim Jones or David Koresh). I think that is a stretch.....
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Offline Anonymous

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the higher power...or the making of a cult.
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2004, 11:09:00 PM »
Quote
On 2004-09-13 19:01:00, Filobeddoe wrote:

"GregFL,



I share your appreciation of & admiration of AA.


You misrepresent my opinion here, hopefully not intentionally.
I have zero appreciation or admiration for AA. It has spawned countless cults and has a relapse rate, according to internal AA documents, of 95%, incidentialy the same rate the non AA devotees relapse.  However, if people want to voluntarily join AA, I have no problem with that choice.
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Offline GregFL

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the higher power...or the making of a cult.
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2004, 11:22:00 PM »
Quote
On 2004-09-13 19:01:00, Filobeddoe wrote:

"GregFL,




Art Barker was naturally charismatic & the founder of this AA-like program, but never, never did I feel like he expected to be worshiped! I did not worship him or the group & never met anyone who felt that way.



I was taught to seek a higher power & told that it was necessary to get well, but it was NOT the group or Art Barker. It was "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can & the wisdom to know the difference". The Serenity Prayer helped me during the program & to this day is very important to me. Also, the name of the Seed (as you know) came from a biblical verse that says something like "if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed ... nothing shall be impossible to you".



Religion wasn't ridiculed or scoffed at while I was there. We didn't have bible study & while the Seed is probably more secular than most AA groups, most of the seedlings were Christians & looked to God for help.



In my humble opinion, you are confusing Art who has a large ego & likes to be stroked with someone who expected/demanded worship (ala Jim Jones or David Koresh). I think that is a stretch.....



       

"


You are confusing the steps with the serenity prayer. In addition, it was encouraged to say, "the group is my god" or "art is my god" during rap. ALmost anyone here will confirm that. In addition, You had to get permission to go to church. I am not religious now but only point to this as evidence that the religious nature of the AA dogma was Art and the group, not a tangible god.

And Art never demanded worship?

How about this song?

Art Barker and Shelly
Shall we tell you how we feel
you have given us your riches
We love you so
we love you so

Sung over and over, row row your boat style, for up to 1/2 hour at a time until your eyes glazed over?

Staff openly spoke of him as the Savior of americas youth. Art Spoke of The Seed army, he adopted at least one staff member, made most of them cut ties with their families, had them all inter-marry....

Open your eyes and see the elephant in the room my friend....


Some quotes for ya....


"he even knows what I am thinking right now"

Current Mayor of Dania Beach and longtime Seedling Robert Chunn, speaking of Art Barker earlier last year to a reporter while traveling in a car.

 "If the Seed doesn't become a model program in this country in five years, you can forget about the nation. The Youth will crawl off and die, and it'll be a whimpering kind of death."

Art Barker

 "jesus said a long time ago, you can't be a prophet in your own town"

Art Barker, speaking to the St Pete times.
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Offline cleveland

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the higher power...or the making of a cult.
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2004, 09:58:00 AM »
Greg and Filobeddoe,

I guess I fall somewhere in the middle here. I have seen AA help people, and I have debated with myself at time whether the Seed 'helped' me. I certainly survived it and emerged stronger - BUT - the more I think about it and read these posts, the more I am convinced that there is a destructive element here. I think it's a real problem with our society.

Drug and alcohol abuse are huge problems. I have seen my mother succumb to total alcoholism, and I have other family that have stopped drinking thru AA. And I am fine with that as long as you can 'take what you want and leave the rest.' At the Seed, it was ALL or NOTHING. And yes, I agree with Greg that Art encouraged hero worship while appearing to play it down. In Raps, 100% of the people in higher power raps said, The Group or Art Barker is my higher power. Not healthy!

We are also missing small towns, churches and family - it's not Mayberry in America anymore. Not to glamorize the past, there was racism and inequity and small-mindedness - but now it's violent rap and consumerism and sex and violence and waving the flag! Everyone is confused about what is the right thing to do and many people are looking for a Savior, whether it's George Bush or John Kerry or Jerry Falwell J. Lo or Crips and Bloods. Or Scientology!

Everybody from Scientology to Synanon to the Oxford Group to the Seed has demanded Total Honesty - and then mobilized people's sense of shame to have them yield their will. I don't think the Seed was particularly evil - they just wanted you to be a faceless part of the group and Worship Art - but oh there is potential for abuse here.

So we are ripe for cultic thinking. At the same time, people need something to believe in - that is missing. Everyone will find someone of thing to follow.
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Offline GregFL

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the higher power...or the making of a cult.
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2004, 11:17:00 AM »
Good post Cleveland. I too have watched alcohol destroy a person in my family, and I have also watched AA type treatment further erode my family and seen it fail first hand.

I have also listened to the rabid AA types talk and they have a religious fervor about them. Then I will talk to the next guy and he will tell me AA helped him but he doesn't go to meeting anymore.

What really helped that guy? Steps? serentity prayers?

Perhaps he just choose not to destroy himself anymore and AA was in his life during that time.  AA operates under a myth that Alcoholism is a disease. It is a choice, a bad one at that, and a compulsion, and a developed physical craving , but it is not a disease. There is no "alcohol gene", your cells do not "cry out for alcohol" six months after quitting drinking, "once an alcoholic always an alcoholic", "if you are drinking you are sinking" and the myriad of myths promulgated under the AA model. Does AA work? For a few yes. For others it becomes a replacement for their compulsion to drink and AA becomes the focus of their lives. For many others it becomes a crutch and an excuse for their failures and relapses. They are powerless, after all...they have a disease, after all. For many many others it becomes a temporary diversion in their lives and they either continue to fail or choose to stop all on their own.

I find AA devotees annoying, but I support their right to choose to go there. When the court system starts ordering people to go worship a higher power, I have a problem with that.  A big problem.

And finally, all this talk about AA negates the fact that The Seed was anything but an AA program. They do not lock you up, Isolate you, belittle and humiliate you, sleep and food deprive you, prevent you from speaking to outsiders, demand you cut your hair and wear your clothes in a certain way, pulbically sexually humiliate you, poke you in the back when you don't pay attention, force you to keep your back off the back of the chair for hours, force you to face foward or be stood up and screamed at,force you to say you love everyone,force you into chairs 12 hours a day with no fluids and deprive you of your right to determine when to move your bowels in AA.

The Seed, like heavens gate and Synanon, was the bastard cult child of AA and had less in common with it than it had differences.





[ This Message was edited by: GregFL on 2004-09-14 10:09 ]
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Offline cleveland

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the higher power...or the making of a cult.
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2004, 02:31:00 PM »
Greg,

Very powerful. I agree with you. I am not comfortable with compulsion.

When it comes to kids, adolescents, I recently watched a powerful but disturbing show about an 'outward bound'-type program for kids with behavioral disorders. The idea was to plunge the kids into a tough, wilderness area with backpacks and 'counselors,' force them to break down and then rebuild their confidence. Same thing that's done in the military, a gang, a cult. It was powerful to watch the kids break down, cry, and swear to change. But will they? For how long.

One of my best 'pre-Seed' friends became a well-known musician and TV personality; another went to prison for selling drugs, had his teeth knocked out when he was raped in prison, and later lost a leg in motorsycle accident. They were both my friends; they were both good people at heart. One survived adolescence, the other didn't. What makes the difference?

You're a parent, so you know what I am talking about. Before I went in the Seed I tried Nichren Shonen (or something like that) Buddhism, did drugs with friends, got high, (tried to get) laid - anything to feel like I was a part, and accepted by my peers. Personally, as an adult, I reject anything that compels me to 'surrender' my will. It's a question of maturity. How do you help someone grow up? Certainly Seed-type solutions are appealing in that they are dramatic, but they are loaded with problems. How many people thrive in the military only to fall apart in civilian life later? I don't think you can 'force' someone to grow up in this way.

I agree, at this point, that alcoholics 'choose' to drink. The drug DOES cloud their ability to say no, though. Hey, I used to smoke, it is more than just a choice. It's an addiction. BUT - every addict at some point thinks about the benefits of being stoned as opposed to the well-known risks of using any drug. And they make that choice. That part of it is not a disease. AA may work for some people but I think a lot of their dogma is crap.




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Offline Anonymous

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the higher power...or the making of a cult.
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2004, 07:00:00 PM »
me too
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Offline Somejoker

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the higher power...or the making of a cult.
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2004, 07:49:00 PM »
Click on the video link....



http://www.sho.com/site/ptbs/topics.do?topic=12

Catch the show if you get a chance...and then perhaps reflect on Art's claimed 90% success ratio of which he was still claiming recently.
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Offline Filobeddoe

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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2004, 11:20:00 PM »
Quote

GregFL wrote,
 In addition, it was encouraged to say, "the group is my god" or "art is my god" during rap. ALmost anyone here will confirm that.


I was never encouraged to say or heard "the group is my god" or Art is my god".

If I would have heard those statements, even at my young age while in the program... it would have been a real tip-off that I was surrounded by some real wackos.

I am surprised that cleveland seems to share your opinion? Are there others who felt they were supposed to consider Art as their saviour or higher power?

It wasn't my experience and everytime I hear you mention it, it tends to take away from other points you make that are otherwise valid. I keep waiting to hear someone say Art was a wife beater or kicked his dog.  :grin:  

Just my opinion....

PS Sorry I mistook your comments on AA as praise for the organization. Evidently I was mistaken and we differ on it's merits.
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Offline GregFL

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the higher power...or the making of a cult.
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2004, 11:50:00 PM »
no problem on any difference in opinion or perception Filobeddoe. This is after all a discussion forum and if we always agreed, there would be nothing to discuss.

I just think you plain don't remember the steps rap and the whole Higher power routine.  The rap leader would insinuate that anything at all (a la AA) could be your higher power then would call on kids and ask them what their higher power was. Almost to the man it would be the group or Art barker, and this was never challenged, people would agree, the rap leader would go into a tirade about how the group was also his higher power, etc etc. I Personally repeatedly professed the group as my higher power and proclaimed myself powerless without it in rap session after rap session.

The thing is, most people have forgot most of this stuff. I had also but as part of the project of maintaining this website I have spent considerable time researching the seed and the memories flooded back to me.  Step raps were an almost everday occurance in the morning, and the higher power schmeel was drilled into you over and over.

Finally, I find myself in disagreement with many people on the merits of 12 step treatment in general. I am comfortable with the conclusions I have drawn and take no offense with others that haven't come to a similar conclusion. The offense almost invariably comes from the other direction.

 I would respectively like you to consider that AA may not be all its cracked up to be and do a little research on the cultic aspects of AA. One day in December of last year  I got into a  debate with about 20 AA guys in a hotel of questionable repute  in Costa Rica while they were having a meeting in the lobby!The ironic part is that the hotel has a casino and bar right there and these guys hung out there the whole time I was there, in a bar casino setting but drinking coke and tonic water. This was the Los angeles AA group, a semi famous very cultic branch of AA. I observed for a moment, walked over to the tables they had pulled up, sat down with my beer and listened. Eventually they asked me a question and I told them what I really thought.


  What a hoot! Me vs 20 AA guys, me with beer in hand, the guys getting loud and angry, calling me an alcoholic and me calmy counterpointing every thing they said. Some got disqusted and left because the could not get me angry nor could they really back up anything they said. Others did everything in their power to convince me I was wrong and became frustrated that I would not buy their "victim of alcohol" routine but instead placed the blame squarely on their individual weaknesses and inability to control their compulsive behaviors.  Other People gathered around including hotel employees and listened. Many people nodded in agreement as I spoke and People for days came up to me and talked about it.


 :grin:
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