Cults and madness

Religious artwork
Religious artwork (Photo credit: Pixabay)

The news, it is said, is really about getting people to talk. Its value has geographic importance and also the reporter’s interest which will spark the interest of others. Social conditions can also determine its worth. So, before it becomes, ‘stale news that causes indigestion’, meaning all the perspectives are reasoned and after the nine days, ‘it is gone with the gabbing’, I, therefore, must give my penny section perspective before the tenth day. By now you all must be wondering what I am talking about. Well, let me ease the anxiety. This of which I speak is the Heroes’ Day lunacy, in the community of Montego Bay and by extension social media network, swift postings of what can best be described as a weird blood-spattered event on Sunday night, 18 October 2021, on the grounds of the Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries.

Cult or Culture

I will not attempt to join the chorus of persons to vilify the individual that is alleged to have carried out the sacramental act that caused astonishment among those of us that possessed a smartphone, long before the daily or regular news networks across the island reported the incident.   Whenever events of this nature and I mean, it’s not the first time that events similar to this have been carried out within the sanctity of the church setting. Though not local, David Keish and Waco 2015, and the Jim Jones Massacre come readily to mind. While this may be the first of its nature, the churches in Jamaica are always beset with sins of the flesh or the strong desire for sex resulting in sex outside of marriage, adultery or fornication. Then there are members of the different religious organizations or denominations that condemn each other and express disapproval of their actions and deeds as not being Christlike.

But, let us look at the meaning of the word “cult”. The Collins Dictionary listed over ten principal positions, however, it explained it like this, any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have some insight into the nature of the disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific. In a simple form, Collins described a cult as a group of people that worship a place, person, or thing, ritualistically. Now which religious space in its ritual is not reverencing a place person or thing? In the Muslim world, one must at least once in his lifetime visit Mecca for Hajj This involves men walking around the Kaba, the holy house then proceeding inside to march around a Black Stone to then kiss it. But they are bombing their brothers and others to Paradise in the name of Allah. Then there is the act at the Wailing Wall by the Jewish community, but they, too, bomb the Palestinians into the hot excrement of hell. These are rituals handed down from generation to generation.

In the Christian experience is The Crucifix, Holy Communion, and water baptism. The principles form the basis for division because of belief or better yet denominations sects, cults or culture. So where did this culture of cult develop if the principle of a God is one, then why do so many ideas saturate the global space resulting in “Jah kingdom going to waste”, further bearing witness that man is at a loss. The Collins Dictionary’s research on cults, pointed out that the principle had its genesis in the 1700s and saw its growth skyrocketing since 1888. The Jamaican space has immortalized in its verbal history people such as Mother Ramsey, Di Lawrence as infamous “curse” breakers.

The bread, the blood and the magical ring 

“Nothing But the Blood of Jesus”, the sacrifice for blood is entrenched in the book of the Christians, from the slaughter of animals to the killing of Mary’s son, Jesus, or his crucifixion. Do we have any research material (I tried digging up to no avail) that would explain the impact on human behaviour, the eating of waffle or unleavened bread as the body of Jesus as well as the drinking of wine/grape juice representing the blood of Jesus, on the limbic system of the brain? This I juxtapose with findings from research led by the late  Professor Frederick Hickling which revealed that up to 40 per cent of Jamaicans, between three and six times the global norm, exhibited personality disorders. In 2016, he argued that when a broad range of conditions, such as personality disorders, psychosis, and dementia were taken into account, the prevalence of mental illness in Jamaica exceeded 70 percent. Hickling was a graduate of the Wolmer’s High School for Boys, the University of the West Indies and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Therefore, am I silly to ask, “Can this mental illness contribute to issues such as crime and indiscipline and some degree, a magic charm phenomenon that many people especially men travelling with that little New Testament Bible in their back pockets opened at the Book of Psalms chapter 23 or 37, or that ring that burns the finger when danger lurks?”

The waltz with cults

There is a school of thought that witchcraft/cult is present in many societies and new cults are formed with the increasing growth in urbanization. Violence by and against alleged obeah workers, obeah men represent but one aspect of multifarious urban insecurity (but only in songs). The action today is also commoditized. Sacrifice is one of the tools or rituals done to achieve deliverance. The modern practitioner is, in microeconomic terms, a rational economic agent motivated by non-satiation and greed. Another contemporary dimension to the issue of cults can be found in the new Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, which generally depict godliness and success in terms of overcoming the devil. These movements have popularized the thinking that material fortune is universally available, but access to it is inhibited by the devil, and all it takes to appropriate success is to get evil out of the way.

David R. Muhammad is a former morning host on Visions Television and a former member of the Palace Amusement Media Movie Review Committee. He is currently the Student Protocol Officer of the Nation of Islam’ study group – Jamaica.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *