Dangerous Charisma, 2: How the Leader (Cult, Trump . . .) Unlocks the Followers

What follows is not an attempt to explain every person who supports Trump. But if the shoe fits, wear it, as the saying goes. What is uppermost in my mind as I read Post and Doucette’s analysis of the dynamic between a certain kind of charismatic leader and his/her followers is my own experience of … Continue reading “Dangerous Charisma, 2: How the Leader (Cult, Trump . . .) Unlocks the Followers”


Dangerous Charisma, Cults and Trump

Hypotheses: “in times of crisis, individuals regress to a state of delegated omnipotence and demand a leader (who will rescue them, take care of them)” and that “individuals susceptible to (the hypnotic attraction of) charismatic leadership have themselves fragmented or weak ego structures.” Jerrold Post believes the above hypotheses find support in clinical studies of … Continue reading “Dangerous Charisma, Cults and Trump”


Jonestown: the power and the myth of Alan Jones / Chris Masters. (Allen & Unwin, 2006) Review

This review is very difficult for me to write given my past student experience with Alan Jones. I’m too involved emotionally and know it’s not like my other reviews and other reviewers will surely give a more rounded view of the book. But here goes anyway — at least pending the time when I will … Continue reading “Jonestown: the power and the myth of Alan Jones / Chris Masters. (Allen & Unwin, 2006) Review”


Studying Religious Beliefs Without Understanding How Humans Work

Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne have in a recent Youtube discussion and publication both explained how they studied religion, read lots of theology, before undertaking their anti-theistic critiques. Harris begins by informing us that in his twenties he read a wide range of religious traditions; Coyne tells readers he read much theology as he “dug … Continue reading “Studying Religious Beliefs Without Understanding How Humans Work”


Where the New Atheists Have Let Us Down

Freelance science writer Dan Jones recently responded to a supporter of Sam Harris outraged over Dan’s criticism of Harris’s popular writings on the role religion plays in terrorist violence. Dan Jones’ concluding remarks strike a chord with me: (One final thing: I’ve been reading atheists like Dawkins, and older, more philosophical ones like Bertrand Russell and AJ Ayer, since the … Continue reading “Where the New Atheists Have Let Us Down”


Exploring the Links between Beliefs and Behaviour

Recent discussions here arising from responses to Dan Jones’ article, “On how to be completely wrong about radicalisation: the curious case of Jerry Coyne” and another post Who are the true Muslims in these scenarios? I have been spurred into fast tracking and updating reading on the psychology of religious belief, extremism, ISIS in particular, terrorism more generally, and … Continue reading “Exploring the Links between Beliefs and Behaviour”


How Religious Cults and Terrorist Groups Attract Members

There are interesting parallels between the processes that lead some people to join both religious cults and terrorist groups. If you once joined a cult you will very likely recognize some of the pathway others have walked to become members of a group responsible for violent terror attacks. If you joined a religious cult you knew that others thought you were … Continue reading “How Religious Cults and Terrorist Groups Attract Members”


“On how to be completely wrong about radicalisation: the curious case of Jerry Coyne”

“If every time we mentioned women to a friend he started talking about their breasts, we’d be entitled to think that this was all he was interested in when it comes to women. The same goes for Coyne (and Harris’s) almost exclusive focus on religious beliefs in the context of Islamist terrorism.“ Dan Jones on … Continue reading“On how to be completely wrong about radicalisation: the curious case of Jerry Coyne”


Did Jonathan Z. Smith Really Not Understand Ideal Types? (Part 1)

Over the summer and autumn of 2020, I’ve been catching up and rereading several important books on the New Testament, especially those that have approached their subjects from a sociological standpoint. Those works led me to others (sometimes the bibliography is more worthwhile than the book itself), and so on. I remember reading Jonathan Z. … Continue reading “Did Jonathan Z. Smith Really Not Understand Ideal Types? (Part 1)”


Bad History for Atheists (3) — Proof-texting, Circularity, Fake Facts, Insults

At about 57 mins of the MythVision podcast O’Neill underscores the importance of Paul’s claim to have met James the “brother of the Lord”. Not only is Paul’s claim from a contemporary of Jesus but it is even from one who is opposed to his source:  Paul is saying, says O’Neill, “Yeh, I have met … Continue reading “Bad History for Atheists (3) — Proof-texting, Circularity, Fake Facts, Insults”


“I’m fearful of violence in a way that I was not in 2000”

First, there was this call to Trump from Roger Stone: During his September 10 appearance on The Alex Jones Show, [Roger] Stone declared that the only legitimate outcome to the 2020 election would be a Trump victory. He made this assertion on the basis of his entirely unfounded claim that early voting has been marred … Continue reading ““I’m fearful of violence in a way that I was not in 2000””


Essential Reading for Trump Supporters

When I was a dedicated member of Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God cult I was aware of the existence of “dissident” literature that had led a few fellow members to “fall away” into the clutches of Satan. I had no desire to seek it out and read it because I “knew” it would be … Continue reading “Essential Reading for Trump Supporters”


The Historical Road Leading Fundamentalist Christians to Trump

This post follows on from Historical Background to President Trump – the Republican Party’s Shift . . . Enter the Christian Right The Christian right . . . . . . was the term widely used during the 1980s to describe a religious social movement, while today the operative term in both self-presentation and in … Continue reading “The Historical Road Leading Fundamentalist Christians to Trump”


Hercules, a Fitting Substitute for Jesus Christ

This post is based on some of the citations in the early pages of Hercules-Christus, a 1947 article by Dutch  Radical Critic Gustaaf Adolf van den Bergh van Eysinga, translated into German by Frans-Joris Fabri and posted on Hermann Detering’s RadikalKritik webpage. I have supplemented some of van Eysinga’s references in places. Other posts addressing … Continue reading “Hercules, a Fitting Substitute for Jesus Christ”