I was pretty sure I’d love this book, because I grew up in a cult and as an adult I’ve done some work in counter terror. The story focuses on Phoebe, a Korean-American college student who becomes enraptured by the magnetic personality of John Leal, who runs an exclusive cult. The cult members all live together in a big house, and Phoebe ends up moving in with them. Leal has ties to North Korea, which intrigues Phoebe too. Read more
On Tuesday I turned thirty. Happy birthday to me.
I’m making up for never talking about or celebrating my birthday in the past by themeing a few posts around the number 30 this week. Also because it’s easy to come up with post titles that way, and I’m feeling lazy. Read more
A few months ago, I read an article – I think it was in Vogue magazine – about this person who’d written a debut novel and managed to get an unprecedented advance for it. She sounded interesting, and the novel sounded like it’d be right up my street, mainly because the article said it was about growing up in a cult, which I did.
And then a couple of weeks ago, a copy of a book dropped through my letterbox and I started reading it. I didn’t make the connection until I was a few chapters in, and then I thought, Wait a minute. This is that book.
A couple of weeks ago, two of my friends came over for dinner. One is a committed atheist, the other a vague Christian. And me, a… well, a scar.
The conversation turned to religion at one point, and my atheist friend said that she didn’t understand how anyone intelligent could possibly believe in a god. How she is stunned to see scientists and people like them expressing beliefs in entities whose existence can’t be empirically proven.
I have had an odd life. I often feel like I’ve lived several of them already, in fact. One of them was as a cult member.
My mother started going along to their meetings when I was three-ish. She joined properly a few years later, and I didn’t manage to extract myself until I was in my late teens. I had many negative experiences growing up in a cult (naturally), but I also learned some good lessons from it, and had some positive experiences too. So today I thought I’d focus on the latter and share some of those in a post.