I guess this ‘cult’ thing is just too interesting! After posting several snippets about the reality of New Age and Cult practices within the entertainment industry which influenced my The Prodigal Band Trilogy I took a break from that, posting about the reality of eating disorders within the fashion industry influencing a main female character.
Now, back to the ‘cult’ thing, only this time the cult is a ‘Christian’ one! That is, it is a cult that claims to be Christian, but is anything but.
Many atheists (one atheist has a YouTube channel which claims Christianity is a cult but Satanism is not) think all religions (except Satanism?) are cults–I know a few atheists, and that is what some of them think. Same with agnostics–and I used to be an agnostic (I could not quite bring myself to becoming atheist but the thought did cross my mind) so I know what I am talking about. But the funny thing is, Christianity is the only ‘cult’ or religion that atheists tend to attack…not Judaism, not Islam, not Hinduism, not Buddhism…they only attack Christianity. I will let the reader figure out why, but I have my own opinion which at this time is neither here nor there. I believe an atheist can think what they want; it’s between them and God (or the “flying spaghetti monster” or whatever).
Folks, I am being facetious, okay?
But while Christianity is a religion (IMHO) not a cult, there are in fact actual cults that claim to be ‘Christian.’ I am not talking about (what some consider cults) Mormonism or Seventh Day Adventism or Jehova’s Witnesses or any denomination or sub-denominations (by the way, I am strictly non-denominational), but actual cults that claim to be ‘Christian’ and are led by actual cult leaders. These cult leaders are actually looked upon by the followers as actual Messiahs or ‘gods.’ These folks live in cult-like cloistered-type communities. ‘Good behavior’ is awarded handsomely and ‘bad’ ones are punished severely. These bogus Christian cults are in many if not all nations.
The one that inspired the bogus ‘Christian’ cult in my trilogy is based on a movie I saw in the 1990s about a supposedly Christian cult in a rural region of Quebec, Canada. I do not remember the name of this cult but the name of the movie was “Savage Messiah.” This movie was based on an actual event where the cult leader was convicted of murder and other crimes. The cult I bring up in my books is loosely based on the notions set forth in the movie, but in the case of the books one form of punishment is getting hit over the head with a hard-cover Bible. A true Christian group, a true Body of Christ, would never do such a thing!
For the sake of making a simple and quick point, I will only include one snippet instead of the usual three or four. I could get more graphic, but that would be too much of a spoiler if you know what I mean (and if you want to read a much more dastardly snippet about this bogus Christian cult, buy the trilogy!
The snippet, from Chapter One of The Prodigal Band, concerns band leader Jack, who grew up with a father who was a ‘favored member’ of a bogus Christian cult whose leader (who appears later in the book) is called ‘Pastor Righteous.’ His father abuses him if he cannot remember a Bible passage from the Old Testament. After one incident of abuse, Jack runs away from home and is adopted by the band’s first manager, Billy Prestin, who owns warehouses and a snack shop-bookstore in the fictitious city of Walltown. Note: the Hovels is a slum area that would be torn down later. The Bible verses are from the copyright-free King James Version.
A bony eight-year-old boy frightfully shook hard enough, kneeling on the wooden bench of exposed nail heads, so that the dirt might have been scared off his scruffy arms and legs.
“Spare the rod and spoil the child—no, that’s not it!”
Pounded his frowsy-blond head with a fist. Oh God, get me out of here! I’ll be good, I promise. I’ll do anything you want. Just get me the hell out of here! “It’s ‘Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beat him with the rod’—”
The wooden room, cold and desolate marked only by a small window with a gash through its middle, shook at the pounding of large, drunken feet up the drafty creaking stairs.
“‘For if thou beat him with the rod’—oh what the bloody hell is the ending of it!”
The boy’s unpainted wood bedroom door crashed open. Oh God, please get me out of here!
A slurring voice boomed brimstone. “‘For if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.’ Proverbs 23, verse 13.”
Jack Lubin could not flee from his towering father moving to strike him. Froze. Terrified. Now, God, before he beats me up again.
“Verse fourteen: ‘Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell’.” Thrash! Went a forearm.
Jack’s cheek oozed. “No more, dad! Noooo!” Crawled from under the man. Scurry. Get me away from him, God!
A fruitless thrash. Stumble. “Yer won’t escape me, boy, yer son of a bitch from hell. Yer son of that demon witch.” Staggered to the broken window, opened it, and yelled down to his son who dripped blood as he ran away through the wasted courtyard toward the Hovels. “Yer just like yer mother! Son o’ the demons! Get behind me, Satan! Off to yer birthplace, boy. To hell wi’ yer!”
Under the Hovels archway bearing an ‘abandon hope’ sign. Across weedy cobblestones, rounding a corner, tripping over a clump of grass. Body crash. Jack’s face missed the ground. Blood still dripped from his cheek. Heard a weak footfall. He looked up.
Morwenna spoke with a wise smile. “There you are, me lad.” Went to him. “I heard you crying from across the street. And I see he beat you again, eh?” Bent down at his chest as he tried to right himself. “Yes, yes, me laddie, and his spouting about demons again. And his cursing your mother again.”
“You mean you heard all that?” Jack’s dull brown eyes met her gray ones. Of course you did. Yer that old witch me dad always screams about. Demon witch, he calls yer. But you too bloody old to be—
“Your mother?” Her mind met his. “No, laddie, I had your mother. And she had you, then he cast her out a few months later. That winter she died of cold in these Hovels. She could find no place else. No one else.”
His mind met hers. “So you are my grandmother.”
“So to speak, yes. But you must forget that. That’s not why I’m here. Listen, boy, I will see you later. Right now, get away from here, run away from that brute dad of yours. He thinks he has religion, but he knows God not. The demon’s tool, he is. Go to that man friend of yours and learn what he will teach you. So you can lead the youth from evil.”
That last escaped him.
“You mean Billy Prestin? How do you know him? And what will he teach me? He manages local rock bands, eh?”
“Rock bands, yes.” She laughed.
Now standing, he dusted himself and wiped some blood with his shirt sleeve. Cocked his head at her. “Yeh, Billy. Where the hell else would I stay? Thing is,” he continued as he turned from the old woman, “he’s a bit too busy to look after me, eh?” Quick look back at her. “And how the hell you know he’s me friend?”
Stepped away from her, waiting for a reply.
As he walked backward into a derelict, who smarted. “Eee, laddie, watch where yer ‘eaded.”
The boy jumped backward, surprised.
“Just who the bloody ‘ell yer talking to, eh?”
“That old—” Pointed to her, quick turn-around.
But she was gone.
The Prodigal Band Trilogy © 2019 by Deborah Lagarde, Battle of the Band © 1996 by Deborah Lagarde, The Prophesied Band © 1998 by Deborah Lagarde and The Prodigal Band © 2018 by Deborah Lagarde. Permission needed to copy any materials off this page.
Note: picture above taken by Deborah Lagarde from trip to Galveston, Texas. © Deborah Lagarde.