One of my hobbies is reading about New and Emerging Religious Movements (NRMs).
That’s the academic term for what the media calls ‘cults’. Not all NRMs are cultish, but all cults are NRMs until they’ve been around a couple centuries.
I’m utterly fascinated by them, which I think stems partially from growing up in an area with a high percentage of Mormons and being told I was excluded from their Temple. Unless I went through all the work to get a recommend.
But if you tell me there’s secrets, I want to know them. So when I was younger, I spent a lot of time in the library’s religion section. And now that I’m older, I… still spend a lot of time in the library’s religion section. But I also use this handy device called ‘The Internet’, and I’ve satisfied my curiosity as to what happens during the LDS Temple ceremonies.
One common thread of NRMs is that knowing the secret knowledge of the group makes you special. This is a part of NRMs because it’s also been a part of pretty much every religion in the history of ever, and hey, you gotta go with proven marketing strategies. Even us Christians used to spend three years in study before being initiated into the Church through the mystery of baptism.
Now it’s a six month class. Well, at my shack, anyway.
This idea in religions of all shapes, sizes, and ages, leads to the inevitable divisions of people into groups. We know the secrets. We know the truth. We are the special ones. Those who don’t know the secrets are different.
Us vs. Them.
And we are humans. We like feeling special. We like finding out secrets. We like our black and white answers– you’re in, he’s out, we’re right, they’re wrong.
The problem with Christianity is that when you get to the heart of the faith, the secret that lies there is that yes! You are a special, amazing, wonderful, beloved child of God!
And so is everyone else.
Even– and especially!– those who are not like you. Those who do not know this secret. Those who know the secret but don’t act like it.
Those who hate you.
Those whom you hate.