Communes and Cults

Communes and Cults

by Kathlyn Gay
     
 
This book considers the similarities and differences of communes and cults, their development in North America, their appeal, and their problems. Some of the groups discussed are the Shakers, the Oneida Community, the Rainbow Family, and the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). The author also profiles some of the self-styled apostles and religious leaders and

Overview

This book considers the similarities and differences of communes and cults, their development in North America, their appeal, and their problems. Some of the groups discussed are the Shakers, the Oneida Community, the Rainbow Family, and the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). The author also profiles some of the self-styled apostles and religious leaders and discusses their particular visions, destructive or otherwise. "Killer" cults, such as the Branch Davidians and Jonestown, are included.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Vicky Burkholder
Gay writes from the unique perspective of having been raised in a religious commune, and she touches on both communes and cults in her book. Not all communes are cults and not all cults are communal, she explains, and she discusses the development of, as well as similarities and differences among, various groups including Mormons, Shakers, and Hare Krishnas. She neither advocates for nor condemns any of the sects, but shows their good and bad sides. Many of the cults start out with altruistic intentions to help the homeless and needy according to Gay, but they eventually move on to less socially acceptable activities. Gay offers basic information, not going into any real depth on any subject. Her further reading list is extensive, and the chapter notes are numerous and also useful for further research. Zeinert explores more cults than Gay but touches on communes only as they relate to cults. She provides various definitions of cults and looks at how cults have fared in American history. Zeinert includes basic information on a wide variety of cults, from apocalyptic, utopian, and revivalist to spiritualist, satanic, and voodoo. Scattered throughout the book are black-and-white photos of the people and events mentioned. Like Gay, Zeinert offers an overview but no opinions as to which cults are good or bad, and she covers her subject with little depth. Her reading list and end notes are short, and many of the sources are older than ten years. Both books would be good starting points for students seeking basic information on a wide variety of cults, as opposed to in-depth information on a particular group. Although the books contain some of the same information, they have enough differences to make them both of value to a collection. Index. Biblio. Source Notes. Further Reading. Note: This review was written and published to address two titles: Communes and Cults, and Cults. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P M J (Readable without serious defects, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
School Library Journal
Gr 7 UpGay discusses both religious groups and secular societies, including "intentional communities," which see themselves as models for social change. Examples of the latter type are groups associated with Dorothy Day's Catholic Workers movement and counterculture communes such as Morning Star and Wheeler's Ranch in California. Gay makes clear that communal living can provide a supportive and positive environment for some people. She defines characteristics of cults that pose dangers to individual members, as well as to the public at large. She finds such characteristics in Jim Jones's People's Temple, the Unification church, the Church of Scientology, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the Branch Davidians, Move, and the Order of the Solar Temple. The author cautions that an increase in the number of "doomsday" cults may be expected, calling attention to the use of the Internet by recruiters and detractors. There is a brief discussion of deprogramming, but this title focuses on the social and historical aspects of such groups. At present, controversy rages as to whether Scientology is a dangerous cult, and some may object to its inclusion as one. The author does not mention communal experiments by Jewish groups, such as Mordecai Manuel Noah's Ararrat, near Buffalo, NY, and various colonies in New Jersey, in the Middle West, and West. All in all, this is a valuable title, clearly written, and informative. Completed before the Heaven's Gate events, it seems almost prophetic.Libby K. White, Schenectady County Public Library, NY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805038033
Publisher:
Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/28/1997
Series:
History and Social Studies Series
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.33(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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