Sunday, December 11, 2011

From "Talking with the Spirits" - Gnosis and Accusations

Controversies frequently arise when gnosis moves from a personal encounter with the Gods and becomes a divine engagement with a community of believers. One person's prophet is another's insane cult leader: one group's holy scriptures are another group's collection of incoherent rants. Disagreement and disbelief often lead to accusations of unsavory and even criminal behavior.

Determining whether or not these claims have any merit can be a difficult task. Witch wars and theological disputes have historically led to allegations of  devil worship, human sacrifice and all sorts of luridly titillating details intended to show that the opposing party isn't just doctrinally questionable but outright evil. When we are dealing with gnosis and personal interactions with the Gods, it is important to distinguish between doctrinal differences and actual criminal activity. We may disagree in good faith about how a Deity should be served. There should be universal agreement that abuse and exploitation are unacceptable no matter what religious justifications the abuser puts forth.

Annamaria Filan (age 12 days):
not on topic but awfully cute.
To sort out idle gossip from serious issues, it may help to apply the old journalistic "Five Ws."

Who? Who committed these alleged crimes? Who are the victims of these nefarious schemes? Who are the witnesses?  Some of the people involved may wish to remain anonymous for one reason or another but  there should be at least a couple of verifiable names to be found somewhere in the tale.

What? What are the specific offenses? Instead of nebulous comments about "brainwashing" look for detailed descriptions of actual incidents wherein the alleged perpetrator abused hir power. When you hear someone is a "pervert," find out what the claimant means by those terms. Is the critic talking about consensual or nonconsensual activity: what specific behaviors does sie find offensive?

When and Where? When and where did these events take place? Abuses don't happen in a vacuum. If someone remembered them well enough to share with a third party, they most likely remembered the approximate date and location as well.

Never mind the crucifix:
she did #2 in that diaper!!!! 
Why? Why would the offender do such a terrible thing? Christopher Lee and Vincent Price made careers out of playing villains who were evil for the sake of evil. Just about everyone else is convinced they are doing the right thing, and feel their motivations are perfectly reasonable and sane.  And while we're asking the question: what are the motivations of the person or persons bringing this information forward?

An inability or unwillingness to provide specifics is a huge red flag. It suggests your source is mindlessly parroting gossip at best, or engaging in an active campaign of smears and whispered innuendo at worst.  If you can get a few clear data points, you're in a much better position to corroborate or refute claims.  If it turns out the alleged perpetrator was in a different country on the day the "atrocity" took place, or that the "victims" were actually willing participants who found the experience enlightening or even enjoyable, that's one thing. If a little bit of digging reveals a large number of disparate people telling very similar horror stories, that is quite another.