Feb 052024

It’s hard to believe that I would be the one joining a cult.

It was the subtlety of it all that was surprising. So subtle that it took me fifteen years to see it. A lot had gone wrong by then.

I was twenty-two years old and living in sort of communal situation, not uncommon in 1972 New York. Housemates changed somewhat but there were a core of four guys, three girls. There was only one ‘couple.’ I was sleeping with one of the guys when I moved in but that quickly changed. I discovered there was usually a line at his door, and I probably cramped that style. That was okay. I just lined up at another door. There was the constant stream of cocaine and marijuana to keep us all nourished, with the right amount of rock ‘n roll and long-haired musicians stirred in to create the perfect gumbo. Those were the days.

Those were also the days of taking a long, hard look at what the future would hold. I was heading quickly toward adulthood and didn’t have a working compass. Though a college dropout, I was smart enough to realize that this lifestyle had a rather short shelf life. In hindsight, I can see that my promiscuity came from a need to be wanted, combined with a fear of emotional involvement. I guess I was born at exactly the right time. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll!

It was at about this time that I ran into an old friend. He and I grew up in the same Bronx apartment building; our mothers were best friends. He was the kid that the nuns at school would tell us to stay away from. He was the kid who was constantly involved in whatever fight was happening on the corner. The corner where all the tough, older guys hung out. Now, in his mid-twenties, he was the guy who was always drunk at the bar or passed out in the back of someone’s car. I found myself across the table from him one day, listening to the most amazing story. The details escape me but the message was that my friend had found the Lord! He talked to me about ‘speaking in tongues’ and miracles (he might as well have been speaking of ‘cabbages and kings’); as I understood none of it. But, I also didn’t forget. He left me with a book to read, The Jesus People and Their Leaders.

Reference Material: Dr. Steven Hassan, Combating Cult Mind Control

Lured is an excerpt from Marlene Dunham’s upcoming book.