with William Pennington
I like learning about cults. No matter how I try and hide from it, I can't deny my fascination with these not so quiet and forbidden little coves of people thinking they're doing right.
In college, I once took a basic religion class, and we all had to give a presentation on a religion of our choosing. I choose Jonestown, and I served everyone Kool Aid afterwards...and a few people didn't drink it. I probably should have served it BEFORE my presentation.
When I found that Wisdom of Eck book, nestled in a bookcase in a Tucson thrift store, I felt like I stumbled upon some forbidden fruit. I bet my former Midwestern small town mates would have called it: Stupid. Hippie. Shit.
Here is a video from the spiritual leader, describing soul travel.
Well, maybe it is. But I think Eck is interesting enough to look into, if only as a tourist...not to join, but to see exactly what the heck they do.
Being a fan or tourist of cults, I see them similarly as I do a side show or a curiosity shop...as in, I can't believe it exists, and I better enjoy it while its still here. The fact that it does exist might remind us again that all is not perfect in the world, and those Eckankar-ites are only trying to make it better for themselves.
I don't want to assume that cult = scam, but so often the two go hand in hand...the leader is often exposed as a fraud, taking all the income, and leading lambs to the slaughter.
Even if this Eckankar is a scam, and their motives ultimately unjust, is it hurting you or someone who isn't a willing participant? A friend of mine once knew a member, and she was lovely and sweet. Travelling to Venus was great for her, and her soul never felt better.
I don't want my cults to be politically correct, mostly because I'm not a member. As a lifelong non conformist, I can't join any club without feeling controlled by some powerful force that's guiding me. If I were a member, I'm sure I'd have a different level of interest.
Eckankar has been around since the 1960s, born from a culture fed up with the religious right. This religion was also born in Las Vegas, then spent a lot of time in California, and since 1990, calls Minnesota "home".
If you're lucky enough to have family in Minnesota (as I do), you can visit their headquarters in a suburb east of the Minny Apple. Otherwise, you can visit their two Washington State locations. One in West Seattle, as mentioned on the podcast, the other in Bremerton.
Either one just may be the place you're looking for.
Here's a video of Eck youth describing their faith.
I have one final question. What is the difference between a cult and a major religion? Is it merely a difference in the number of members?