Joining a Cult

Posted by on April 2, 2010 in life in klaskyville, uncategorized | 7 comments

When I was in high school, I participated in confirmation classes at my synagogue.  Each month, we went out to a camp that was on Lake Minnetonka, and we spent a weekend learning about a specific topic related to religion.  We also ate (a lot), sang (even more), and generally hung out with friends.  Those of us who enjoyed the process became junior staff our junior and senior years, helping stage the various programs and doing more dishes in a clunky industrial dishwasher than any of us had ever thought possible.

One of the retreat topics each year was on cults.  The goal was to teach us how to recognize cults, so that when we all went away to college, we wouldn’t be turned into Moonies or Scientologists over night.  Each year, a man came to speak to us, telling us his story about how he went away to college, felt lost and abandoned, was invited to a meeting of the Moonies (or maybe it was CoS, I don’t remember at this point), and felt like he’d discovered his first friends, ever, away from home.  When the group leader of his meeting offered to walk across the room and get him a cookie, he was totally taken in, hook, line, and sinker — that simple gesture of friendship was enough to convert him, given how stressed and alone he felt.

We all understood the real message behind the guy’s story, but we also spent a *lot* of time joking about the specifics.  "Hey, Mark!  I’ll get you a cookie, if you sign over your entire bank account to me!"

Well, last week, someone offered me a cookie, and I jumped for it, hook, line, and sinker.

As I mentioned a while back, I started taking Pilates through the county’s fitness program.  Classes were very difficult for me – I have ignored my physical health for a very long time, and I don’t have a lot of strength.  Nevertheless, I persevered, despite muscles aches that lasted for two to three days.  My participation was derailed for a couple of weeks because of some minor surgery, but I was intent on finishing the class.

When I came back from surgery, the instructor offered to let me make up my missed sessions through another class she teaches — body sculpting.  She explained that the class met twice a week, instead of once, and that it was basically a weight-lifting program with emphasis on gaining strength in all muscle groups, including the Pilates-essential core.  She also said that the class members were wonderful; she thought I’d really like them.

So, I went to Body Sculpting.

And I loved it.

The movement felt natural to me.  The exercises were hard, but I could do them.  I could complete more exercises without resorting to adaptations.  People in the class were very friendly, introducing themselves, offering tips, sharing stories.

And then the instructor offered me a cookie:  She distributes T-shirts to her class participants each Christmas, and she had extras in the trunk of her car.  She gave me a T-shirt, even though I hadn’t been in the class in December.  And she invited me to come to all of the make-up sessions that she’s hosting, courtesies of our ridiculous February snowstorms.  A free T-shirt, and up to ten free classes.

I’ve signed up for the next session (two days a week – I want to do cardio the other days.)  And I’m already eager for it to start!

Mindy, catching up on blogging before finishing edits on TO WISH OR NOT TO WISH!


  1. That’s a *much better* sort of cookie than the Scientology ones!

    • …because L. Ron Hubbard never wrote any scripture about cookies and therefore one can’t have any as cookies are off-Source.

      (Yes, I’m a former CofSer)

      BTW, for those who are watching the Anderson Cooper coverage of CofS this week, I’d love your feedback:

      I’m a little close to the subject….

  2. That sounds like an awesome class!

  3. That’s my kind of cult! Nice cookies, too.

  4. Hey–if you keep doing the classes, you can actually get away with *eating* the cookie!

  5. That would make the instructor then the Cookie Monster?

  6. LOL At least it’s a healthy cult.