March 10, 2003

Interesting commentary from Camilia Paglia:
Cults multiply when institutional religion has lost fervor and become distracted by empty ritual. Early Christianity, for example, began as a rural rebellion against the fossilized Temple bureaucracy in Jerusalem. In 1950s America, the political and professional elite were still heavily WASP. Prosperous congregations were overly concerned with social status at church or at its annex, the country club. Roman Catholicism, searching for social credibility, was steadily purging itself of immigrant working-class ethnicity, a process of genteel self-Protestantization in music, ceremony, and decor that in middle-class parishes is now virtually complete. Many of those attracted to cults in the sixties and early seventies were escaping mainline denominations where bland propriety was coupled with sexual repression. It is a striking fact that few young African-Americans joined cults: surely the reason was that the gospel tradition, rooted in the South, invited emotional and physical expressiveness, stimulated by strongly rhythmic music.


--via another controversialist, Rod Dreher

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