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  1. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    How show the creation of a cult

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Accelerator231, Sep 12, 2019.

    So here's the thing. Faith Healers. Crazed cultists. Fucks who go around and say that they're the reincarnation of buddha/ Jesus. Falun Gong. Those who say that they're a messenger from Jesus. Those who say that giving them money would make you even richer. Those who say that they can heal your cancer or otherwise.

    So here's the thing.

    I have a character. She's white, pretty, and grew up in poverty. She has magical healing powers, which let her draw back anyone from the verge of death. She can heal HIV, muscular dystrophy, asthma, lost limbs, MRSA, cancer, you name it. She can make the blind see, the crippled walk, and the deaf hear. She can reverse the ravages of ages, making a 60 year old appear, and act, like one that is 25. She can carry out treatments in seconds, that would take normal surgeons days. She can heal an entire city.

    She's good at making and crafting things (this ranges from programming, blacksmithing, embroidery, to drawing) and is up there with the best of the best in terms of skill.

    She can also conjure food from nothing.

    She also has what can only be described as a shonen battle aura, which basically lights up the more power she pushes out, with a simple glow at the lower levels, and at the highest level its a sun, an immense mandala showing symbols of healing and the shape of various medicinal herbs that can be seen from miles around.

    Of course, her power is not infinite. At the base level, doing things like healing an entire city or restoring cripples from being paraplegic husks is something that she can only do once a day or so.

    But here's the thing. We already have entire cults who worship people with no superpowers, and say things like 'they're the reincarnation of Jesus!' or 'They're god's messenger!'. We have people going to crooks and conmen, who say that they're capable of healing you from arthritis or cancer, and give them money despite them showing no true supernatural powers. We have people giving their life saving to pastors as 'seed money', despite their efforts never quite paying off.

    How about someone who can do a hell of a lot more than any of these pastors, who has giant glowy powers, who can heal people. Whose debut involved her healing over two dozen people in a gigantic pileup and then making sure none of them died. Who is followed, literally, by the media, as they watch the lame walk and the blind see.

    And not just this. There's also, well, I don't wish to be racist but in Africa, they sell albino body parts. To witch doctors. And there is the usage of virgins for the ostensible curing of AIDs (at least, strong reports). So let's say that they believe their traditional healers. What's stopping them from believing in and praying to this girl?

    That is to say, how do I write this cult thing starting up, and how to make it, well, tactful and people not being stupid or superstitious?
     
  2. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    The Bible is probably your best resource for this story. If you take it as fact, it's fairly similar to what you're describing. Jesus did a pretty good job flaunting his abilities and building a cult around him and honestly the narrative arc is pretty good too. He raised the dead, healed the blind, produced fish from thin air, turned water into wine, walked on water...

    You may well have studied the bible at school but I seriously recommend going through one of the gospels and reading it as a (not particularly amazingly written) novel.

    Also I'm not sure there's any room to judge people in this story for being superstitious when the main character has literal supernatural powers.
     
  3. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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  4. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    Terminated in 2015, dude.
     
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  5. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    You didn't want it to be grounded in superstition, so that would be
    the way to make it less so in your fictional universe. Facts like
    that are not just accepted on the bases of claims that are unverifiable.

    So...
     
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  6. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    How about public healings. Really public ones.
     
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  7. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    draft gift

    'Hey Magic-Girl!' said the hobos, the homeless army of men employed as the sales team for the Magic embroidery range, 'Hey Giiirl, how come this food, this magic food is always fast food? I hate nuggets. I am sick of your whoppers. We want organic food, real potatoes, spinach, and a proper cow to slaughter. How about that for a challenge, Magic-Girl?'

    Magic-Girl pressed her wand against the nearest hobo's head. At once he began to moo.

    'Moo, moo,' he said.

    The hobos descended like savages, tearing his T-bone, and the rib-eyes spouting blood...
     
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  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    That could work if you had some kind of personnel that can confirm
    both that the person is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and then
    can test after the healing to prove that it has been cured.

    Televangelists do mass public healing all the time, but they don't
    have anyone to verify that they actually did anything at all.
     
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  9. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    That would be fine.

    *thinks*

    That is not... impossible...
     
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  10. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    Yes it is. Get to work. You have to write something. :)
     
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  11. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The usual limitation for this kind of character is that the energy she uses to heal someone is drawn directly from her life force. The closer to death the person is that she heals, the closer to death she gets, until she can restore her energy. HIV would probably require very little energy to eradicate, but someone with a brain infection and brain swelling would drain her considerably, and something like a stage IV metstatized cance (multiple organ failures imminent) would probably briong her to the brink of death herself.

    As a consequence, she would have to be very selcive about who she helps, and there would be some very desperate and ruthless people who would want to force her to help them.

    She would not want it widely known that she had an actual healing ability, but there would probabbly be a cult of believers who would form around her, irrespective of her wishes. And they would not understand that her ability costs her what it does. They would probably believe she could discern who was worthy of a cure.
     
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  12. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    Sorry bud. Exams are close. Short forum posts are all I can do.
     
  13. aModernHeathen

    aModernHeathen Banned

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    One thing to highlight would be the charisma and manipulation that cult leaders use to draw in and control their victims; the tactics they employ, the language they use and the types of people they surround themselves with. A great person to study on this subject would be Charles Manson. I really recommend the books Charismatic Cult Leaders by Thomas Streissguth and Member of the Family by Dianne Lake and Deborah Herman, for a book about Manson specifically.

    Also, familiarize yourself with Manson by watching some of his interviews. I really think he's the best example of a charismatic manipulator. There are cults that had bigger compounds or more members... But Manson's "Family" was by far the most loyal, in my opinion. After all, he convinced these people to brutally murder multiple people in their own homes. That takes some serious dedication to your leader.

    By watching his interviews, you'll see what kind of guy he was. He was a fast talker; he used misdirection, wordplay and other forms of manipulation to get your attention where he wanted it and direct the flow of the conversation. He utilized these tactics to convince vulnerable, lost young guys and girls to follow him and obey his every command. He also made use of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD to keep these people in a vulnerable, suggestible state.

    Manson is a very interesting person to study. But, to be honest, studying any cult leader can give you an idea how these movements get started. How people get sucked in by their charisma and their persuasion skills. Maybe it starts with a group of "friends" and grows from there. Maybe you can have your character sort of holding court among a group of friends, and as they spread the word of her intellect and speaking power, more people start coming around.

    Keep in mind, too, the type of people that join cults. It is usually vulnerable individuals who are sort of lost in life, searching for something "more." These people tend to want to find someone who "has the answers," so to speak. So make your character that person in their lives.

    As a side note, check out How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Both of these books can give you useful insights in how people employ subtle manipulations to get people to do what they want.

    Good luck!
     
  14. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    You continue, matwoolf, to make me wonder why I bother at all.

    "I hate nuggets. I am sick of your whoppers. "
    Deserves to be someone's epitaph
     
  15. Katibel

    Katibel Member

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    Nothing would stop anyone from believing in something they can physically see with their eyes, even if they already belong to a group. A person like you're describing would probably become the reincarnated form of whatever similar god from whatever religion in the eyes of those who witness their abilities. I don't believe a single person wouldn't believe in her power, especially if the majority of the world was acknowledging it--except maybe by word alone when some grow jealous or indignant.

    Because of this, I'm not sure what you mean by "cult." A cult is essentially a group of people who share an ideology. Not all ideologies are religious, either; that is, involving gods. An ideology is simply a body of beliefs about life / the world, and a cult takes theirs like a hammer to slam over the heads of their members or others. You can't have a cult without some form of ideology mixed tyrannical force.

    But, in the case of the girl you're describing, who would need to be forced to believe in her? I suppose some people might want to force others into viewing her a certain way. For instance, maybe some believe she's the reincarnated version of a god that needs to be sacrificed? But a cult surrounding the belief in her ability, when it's so apparent, would be strange.

    As well, there would probably be a lot of pre-existing cults, including many religions, who would fight over who or what she is (She's Jesus! She's Buddha! She's Ameterasu! She's the Devil! She's a liar! etc.), and people who twist her into their private ideologies and treat her like a god. So many cults, beliefs, and religions would be simultaneously changing / starting that all you have to do is pick one--it could be a single person's concept of her and where they take that (her #1 fan, for instance).

    There are so many ways for information to spread; so many concepts a person can fixate on that how a cult starts is up to you. However it starts, though, it is inherently going to have a degree of ignorance and superstition involved. That's simply the nature of the thing. Every person has their own ideology and all ideologies are flawed since they can only arise out of our finite senses, and cults exist to enforce ideologies built out of obsessive fixations.
     
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  16. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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