There are times when I want to smash my cable box to bits. I scroll past 1,000 channels every night and feel punished because I don't like the Andy Griffith Show or because I don't want to watch college football or some bisexual Vietnamese tranny's search for love.
But today I felt blessed, I hit the History Channel and was delighted by the line up: a look at cults through history, a special on Pablo Esobar, a docudrama on the Jonestown massacre capped off with a report on blood diamonds. Finally, my DVR would exercise itself beyond taping The Golden Girls and The Simpsons.
I went about my day and when I came home I thought to treat myself to Jonestown: Paradise Lost. I should have stuck with the Vietnamese tranny.
The documentary delves into the last days of the cult's members who had left the U.S. to settle in the Guyanese jungle. What started as a peace movement in San Francisco eneded with the murder of a U.S. Congressman, Leo Ryan, an NBC crew, and of course, 914 church members. Though the term "mass suicide" has been used to describe the mayhem of Jonestown, it turns out many of the church's members were killed by their fellow worshippers.
And I got to thinking, as I often do, about how any wacko can brandish a "God Stamp" and get people to renounce their humanity in the name of "faith."
One man who escaped Jonestown and survived the ambush that killed the Congressman left his four-year-old son behind, still thinking that he would be in better hands with the People's Temple. The Advocate ran an interview with him in 2003 in which we learn that the Jones cult was the only church that marry him, a white closeted man, and his African-American girlfriend. I found myself hating him for being so stupid, but then again, that's what cults are supposed to do, make you stupid.
It was, understandably, hard for me to pick up and make our planned salmon dinner, so James and I had to talk about the film just so I won't have nightmares about it tonight. This turned into me standing up for the Jehovah's Witnesses who are, unfairly, labeled a cult. And I don't know why the converation went there, but having just seen what cults really do, and knowing that sometimes the JW's get a bad rap, I just felt like saying that my time with them was very positive and even the coming out process was full of love and understanding (and yes, offers to pray for my gay to go away). I spent a lot of time trying to teach people about God, Jesus, hope -- but it was always upbeat, it was never "the man is out to get us, drink up and die now." So I had to put that out there because I'm still a man of faith and it scares me when faith can get twisted around to spawn evil.
Anyway, purge yourselves of the images of Jonestown and look at the other face of faith. You can even pray for celebrities -- which is more in line with the Bible than killing people.