Friday, January 18, 2019
The Cult Files: True Stories from the Extreme Edges of Religious Belief- Chris Mikul
Sometimes, books that come to me via interlibrary loan are loaded down with cover-obscuring official paperwork!
The Cult Files: True Stories from the Extreme Edges of Religious Belief by Chris Mikul is a good book to look into if you've never read anything about extremist groups but your curiosity is piqued. After a brief introduction about what a cult is (and there's some argument about the term), Mikul begins a chapter-by-chapter peek at an odd mix of groups who engaged in theft, intrigue, and murder under the guise of religion, some more seriously religious than others.
Some of the groups were well-known: the Manson Family, Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, Aum Shinrikyo, the Branch Davidians. Others, I'd known only because this area is an interest of mine, like the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, Jeffrey Lundgren and the Kirtland Cult, Nation of Yahweh, the Church of the First Born of Lamb of God. Still others were new to me: Mankind United/Christ's Church of the Golden Rule (interestingly enough, Wikipedia has no page for this), MOVE, Roch Thériault and the Ant Hill Kids, Thuggee. Honestly, this book kind of makes it seem like the potential for the existence of extremist groups is endless, and that's a little scary!
Each chapter is a brief look into a different group. It's too short of a book to really go into any deep discourse, but if you're looking to expand your knowledge on religious extremism (or at least groups who claim religious belief and then do terrible things in the name of said religion), this isn't a terrible place to start. Personally, this is a subject I've been interested in for years, so the majority of this book didn't cover any new territory for me, but it wasn't a disappointing read.