Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cult: A Love Story, Alexandra Amor

Cult, A Love Story (Ten Years Inside a Canadian Cult and the Subsequent Long Road of Recovery), Alexandra Amor.  Smashwords, 2011.
511 pps on e-reader, including footnotes, a glossary of loaded words, resources, and appendix.

Author Alexandra Amor chose to tell her story of cult involvement by utilizing a changed name for the woman who is the leader.  In the book, the leader is referred to as Limori.  In early chapters, Limori appears as a benign but somewhat wigged out psychic teacher of meditation to a small circle of Vancouverites one night a week.  Limori channels.  The identity of the channeling spirit is at first the light of "God".  But something changes and Limori becomes the mouthpiece of "God".  Amor does not possess enough self-trust to identify Limori as a malevolent leader and so she stays on.  

The meditators get used to Limori's outlandish claims in varying degrees and begin to accept her as their guru-- chief human in charge of their spiritual development and as the one who is in tune with "God" and able to speak to what this "God's" will is.  The "God" that Limori claims to channel has many opinions, chiefly involving any wealth obtained by any of the group members and its redistribution to Limori but also including more mundane happenstance such as who shall sleep with who this week.  Limori and her followers eventually wind up at a fishing resort/meditation center left to one of her followers in a will, although of course "God" wants the will for the camp to be signed over to Limori's name.

Alexandra Amor doesn't like it when Limori singles her out for special negative attention.  [She is not real fond of some of Limori's special "rewarding" attention either].  Limori is given to chastising members in front of other members and punishing them in various ways. Still she remains as an unpaid staffer of Limori's camp, just like everyone else.  Amor leaves after Limori steals away her lover by divine commandment.  

sapphoq reviews says: Cult: A Love Story  was difficult to read because the author is very skilled at conveying her pain and distress during the ten years or so that she was involved with Limori and Limori's cult.  Amor is very knowledgeable about her subject matter and taught me how to tell the difference between a religion or organization that has symptoms of being cultish or cult like and one that doesn't.  She refers to The Guru Papers and also to books by Robert Lifton and by Steven Hassan.  Cult: A Love Story points up the danger of accepting another human being as one who has a special hot-line to the deity of choice without question, thus yielding to authoritarian rule.

Amor does not leave the reader with a few words about how she got out of the cult.  Instead, she gives information from experts in the field of freeing people from thought control.  She also indicates that she has herself done the work required to free herself as suggested in the following paragraph which I quote from her book:

          pp.406-407    "Time alone heals nothing.  Let's be
          clear about that right up front.  Walking away from
          any sort of traumatic experience, including being in
          a cult, and pretending that it didn't happen will leave
          your wounds festering and weeping forever...healing
          is work and we have to work at it and if we don't, no
         matter how many years pass, it will be as if the trauma                       happened yesterday."

I highly recommend this book without hesitation to anyone who has been caught in a cult, large or small, as well as to students of psychology and those who have a personal stake (such as family members belonging to a malignant group) in the subject matter.

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