A Conversation for Joining and Leaving a Minority Religion

Writing Workshop: A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 1


Entry: Brainwashed - A876594
Author: Z the Scout (and now ACE) who can't spell - U185843

Hi all, this is my contribution to this project A853751 at the University of Life. I'd like to know what you think..

smiley - magicsmiley - planet

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 2


Hey Z, dorry you had to wait so long for a reply.

OK a few things:
typos (I didn't read too closely, mind you) I found:
Leaving para#1: dotorine" (doctrine?)
para#3 from the end: "coragous"
last para: "instand"

Now, more generally, I don't know how the Univ. article is to sound, but this article sounds a bit narrative. You start by joining, and end by leaving. In this sense it's pretty well laid out. However, it loses a bit of weight by removing itself from a more factual telling. It sounds more personal (and more interesting, I suppose) from the way you've written it, but with less gravitas. It's a give and take, and I don't want to sound as if I'm judging this article to be poor because of this, rather I just wanted to point out to you the effect of this choice.

As it stands, the Joining section conveys the ease with which people fall into the minority religion lifestyle and the comfort they can draw from it. The Leaving section describes how hard it would be to leave, and how much support would be left behind in doing so. I feel that both of these notions only tell part of the story.

Joining can be difficult, or even slightly (or very mcuh so) forced upon someone showing only a litle interest in a religion. People with unclear ideas about the religion can be easily mislead in the early stages because of the religious participants desire to have new members, "save" the unconverted or to help folks through a difficult time. Joining can also be the result of having left a difficult situation. Leaving a spouse, recovering from addiction (which you mention) or recovering from the loss of a job/spouse/child, etc. can cause serious spiritual upheaval. People in this state may turn towards people who have good spiritual focus. . .etc etc, I just mean that there are alternatives in the joining process.

Leaving is often difficult, I agree. But I didn't feel you mentioned the difficulty of leaving a group that seriously wants you to stay. Often there are many pressures applied by religions to keep the flock together. You mention the difficulties that one puts upon oneslf but I think a better discussion of the pressure applied by the religion to keep folks frm leaving would do well.

Also, in many tight knit communities (esp. communities geographically remote from others) interpersonal problems within the group may lead people away. An abusive spouse, infidelity, disagreements about children can all contribute to wanting to leave a group. Esp. if the group wants to handle the situation as a group (meaning NOT leaving parenting decisions to the parent, not invloving the police, etc.).

Finally, maybe it's being discussed elsewhere in the article series, but the definition of "Minority Religion" is missing. And the title, "Brainwashed" doesn't seem to wholly apply. If you were seeking to discuss the ways in which "cults" brainwash new members, then the article is off topic, I really have no idea though.

Just some preliminary thoughts,


ps. it goes without saying (not anymore though, as I write it here) that the article is artfully written. the style is fun to read and easy to follow.

pps. It's a little hard to judge the work independant from the others in the series, so if I'm way off, please forgive me.

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 3


Hi Z, smiley - smiley

wow! a very impressive piece of writing. hats off! smiley - ok

i can see what Friar is saying about it being narrative, but i think that works very well here. What the EG policy about it may be, i don't know. but it works.

Meanwhile, i too can imagine a very different exposition of facts entry that would cover all this info and more.


I think this is good, thoughtful writing. I don't think it is balanced, because of the narrative aspect. I don't know what the edited guide can do with this, but it's a pleasure to see it in PR. smiley - biggrin

just my thoughts

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 4


oh... ... except of course... that it's in the WW! smiley - blush

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 5


Thanks Spiff and Friar for your kind words.. as this is so dramactically different from my usualy entries to PR I'm a little confused about where to go from here so I think I'll have a think and post when it's done....

The reason I called it "brainwashed" is that I personally get annoyed when people think that everyone who joined a minority religon is "brainwashed" to the fact that once they go they cannot leave..

I do tend to feel that people how are from mainstream society are just as brainwashed by the media, into not accepting alturnatives. and the experience of joining and leaving a religon is a lfie enchancing experience for a person.

They all seem to ignore that for some people there are many advantages to this lifestyle and they feel that they want to stay.

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 6


cheers Z!

I'm glad you knew where you were coming from when you wrote the work, that will allow you to make it more balanced (if that's what you want).

Here's another idea: you thought about AGG? They prefer POINT OF VIEW stuff. That might be a great forum if you want to discuss a particular side of your issue. It would be really valid to send your article to the Post. Moreover, you could expand your point by more actively taking a side. Much like the opinions in an Op/Ed column, the Post let's people speak presonally, instead of hiding behind the veil of fatucal reporting.

If this is for the EG, think about the OTHER SIDE, otherwise the AGG would be great, and you could probably say a lot more. I would love to help you in thw Writing Workshop if you want to send it to the Post, otherwise, some revision and then peer review!
Either way, nice writing.


A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 7


If you are interested in adapting it for the edited guide, may i suggest you do it in a new entry, and keep this one just as it is. There's plenty of space to do so, and it would be a shame to lose this piece.

If on the other hand, you are interested in running it in the AggGagCac column in The Post, i think i could guarantee it a place there some time soon. smiley - smiley

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 8


Well it is at the moment for a university Project.. so I'm not sure where the AGG could come into it.. I would it to be in the edited guide I think.. I'm sure I could adapt it to be balanced really.. maybe keep the narrative but put it in italic's with quotes and then put some more third person in rather than second person.

I'll ask A Girl called Ben what she thinks I could do I only wrote it as a favour to her project,.. which contains a lot of the negative stuff about belief from what I can see so it should be ok in the long run.

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 9


no probs, smiley - smiley

i was just thinking that if you start editting it extensively at this stage, it would be cool to do that as a separate entry and doing a before/after comparison.

This is because i think it works extremely well as it stands, despite being a little unusual in terms of the guidelines for edited entries.

That said, let's see what further comments you get in this forum over the next few weeks. smiley - smiley

This forum works at a different pace to PR, you have to be patient, but there are some good reviewers who *do* (i promise) eventually come by. smiley - smiley


A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 10


Yup thanks for all your help, i'm not going to change it for a while because I need to think what I'm aiming for.. Ben said she was going ot try her best to get it in the EG via a Uni project. so I'll see how things work out. If it needs a rewrite or if the rest of the project fails then I might change my mind on the whole thing..

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 11


I agree with spiffy here Z, I like this piece, I like the layout and the narative.

To alter it for the guide, while appropriate, would alter the nature of the work.

Copying it to save one and rework another would be a great idea!



A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 12


Thanks Fiar, I have to admit I must be souless when I first wrote this all I could think of was the fact that it wasn't edited guide worthy but I wasn't sure how to make it so!

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 13


That's what the WW is for, testing the waters with (relatively) slow moving works. The PR move a lot faster and has one goal in mind, but the WW is anchor for a number of different avenues.

Let me know when you've contributed more to the work and I'll have another look.

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 14

a girl called Ben

OOps - I missed this the first time around. This is just to let y'all know that the Uni Project on Belief, (which hopefully this will be a part of) is intended to be done, dusted and ready for the Editors by the end of January.

I will come back this way in the next couple of days and take a look at the entry myself, and add my two cents.

In the meantime - Happy New Year, everyone.


A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 15


smiley - ta Ben I'll see you around then..

smiley - magic


A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 16

a girl called Ben

Jimster has cast his eye over the project as a whole and made some comments here: F51226?thread=238444&latest=1

It is exciting to see such a postitive response from the Italics to this!

*spamming WW for the sake of speed*

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 17

a girl called Ben

Blimey! This is good. Chillingly good. (Bizzarely, I mistyped the fourth word of this post, leaving out one of the 'o's - chilling indeed smiley - erm).

Firstly my apologies for ignoring it for so long. I missed the thread entirely, and have been working my way through a whole stack of round tuits this month.

So - finally - commentary.

This is - as I said - good. (It is also disturbingly like the history of my relationship with h2g2. 'they may not attend meetings but instead choose to help with the catering'. Now I know what all the smiley - cake smileys are for.)

I like it as it stands, I like the sense of ebb and flow, and the sense of there being a group inside and a group outside and the difficulty of combining them in your life.

I think it stands well within the rest of the project which is a patchwork of different outlooks and voices. I am personally bracketing it with A915293 and A931592, though this may change. I am also hoping for an entry on religion as a means of social control and another one on the difference between religious and political fervour, and it will sit well with these entries too.

You are quite right that you cannot spell. But neither can I, so I am going to leave the typos to GTB to catch. There were a couple of constructions I found odd, and here they are:

Section 1 - Joining

Para 5 - how could you ever could you have changed so much - lose one could you

Para 7 - your relationships with f & f HAVE changed

Para 7 - I found the construction of the last sentance slighly odd

Section 2 - Leaving

Para 7 - People will say that you have been brainswashed tell you etc etc - there is something odd about this sentance too, perhaps it might be better split into a couple of sentances.

Z - thank you very much for this. You have managed to avoid the autobiographical incredibly well. This is really good.

Well done.


A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 18

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

I agree with Ben's commentary on this, so, rather than going on and heaping praise, I'll just say "ditto." After all, praise is worth so much more when it's rationed, don't you think?

As much as I liked the article, though, I found that it was missing a key ingredient: peer pressure. It is quite often peer pressure that makes the religion take over so much of the initiate's time, and it is peer pressure that makes it so difficult to leave.

My wife left one of these just before I met her. She made many friends in the cult who were very dear to her, but none of them are allowed any contact with her now that she's left. Sad, isn't it?

A876594 - Brainwashed

Post 19


making friends in a group activity gives a semse of being together

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