What Makes a Cult?
Kathleen Toohill

First of all I should admit that I am not sure the word


has any meaning.

In a sense, every human activity deserves to be called

a cult.

I became an atheist at the age of 10 years of age.

When I was 7 years old, I wanted a Christmas tree.

I did what any bratty 7 year old child would do.

I whined.

Why did my parents let me live? Why do any humans let their children live?

Think about puppies and kitties. How long does it take for a puppy to get big enough to bite its bitch mother.

It’s OK to say bitch about a mother dog by the way.

You know that, correct?

How long does it take for a kitten to give its purry furry mother cat scratch fever?

Anyway, it does not take long for the mother and daddy cats and dogs to let their young know they will have to trot down to the supermarket and pay for their own organic and vegan and nutritionally balanced animal companion food.

I am seven years old. My father who was an awful father but not for this said

Stephen, the reason we do not have a Christmas tree is that we are Jews.

This meant nothing to me. I was not in Odessa or Latvia or Hungary or a concentration camp or losing a baby on the trip from Ukraine in steerage like Baba Manya my maternal grandmother who landed at Ellis Island in 1900 who first kissed the statue of liberty and second divorced the husband who had accompanied her and never learned to communicate in anything but broken Yiddish-Ukranian-English mash up.

I was in Los Angeles near Echo Park.

I wanted a Christmas tree not for love of the baby Jesus. I knew nothing about the baby Jesus. I wanted some stupid toys.

When I was eight years old we had a Christmas tree. We had some stupid toys. Which I played with for a few weeks, got bored with, and broke.

These were toys my parents could not afford. My father was not a very good father. That’s another story I am sparing you. After all, I killed my father. That’s a Greek story. Called Oedipus Rex. Never mind. Don’t report me to the FBI cold case file. The case is very cold.

When I got older I realized that all humans are insane. The reason seems obvious to me.

Are you going to live forever?

You know you won’t. Have you made your will? Have you filled out your final directives?

You are an animal. I live in a forest. I can look out the window and see some chipmunks and squirrels and bunnies. Not very fierce but if I corner one and grab it it will try to bite me and kick me. All animals try not to die but only humans know

Someday I will die. Only humans this. This makes us crazy.

I am an atheist. I have studied religion. If you live in an insane asylum and all the people around you are crazy don’t you study their varieties of insanity?

What about Communism? What about Stalin? Mao? Pol Pot?

If you are crazy you can make a crazy religion out of atheism?

In the next installment, if I live long enough I will tell you about how I destroyed a cult.

A New Age, ecological cult promoting back to nature and organic gardening. It did not get violent, though I was threatened. Destroy sounds violent. I got a good lawyer and the case went the Supreme Court of Oregon. A cult is a cult and being around one is an experience like nothing else. Stay tuned.

Like what you read? Give Stephen Kahn a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.