BELOVED SON: A Story of the Jesus Cults by Steve Allen

BELOVED SON: A Story of the Jesus Cults

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A modest view of cult life, thoughtful enough but much too long. Alien was jolted ten years ago when he got a letter from his son Brian, 24, announcing his admission into the Church of Armageddon (or Love Family), a commune in Seattle. Along with his new faith, Brian had also acquired a new name (""Logic Israel""). He was now blindly devoted to the group's charismatic leader, ""Love Israel"" (all 300 members of the Church had the surname Israel), would not be returning to LA., and would write no more. Allen didn't panic. He sent a measured reply, kept in touch with his son, visited, and eventually reached an amicable understanding with him. Allen's tolerance was strained, but not excessively: the commune proved to be reasonably wholesome, and Logic Israel, full beard, flowing robes, and all, had found peace of mind. Later he was matched up, though not legally married, with a young devotee named Simplicity who bore him two daughters, Liberty and Purity (Allen tells us all this without the trace of a smile). So while Allen balked at the Church of Armageddon's simplistic theology, authoritarianism, and oppression of women members, he could accept the whole thing as a sort of hippie-Amish experiment. So far, so good. Unfortunately, Allen throws in piles of vaguely related material that clutters up the story: chapters on the Children of God, the Moonies, Synanon (), etc.; letters from parents of other Armageddonites; tales of deprogramming; and sundry philosophical observations. Allen also talks a good deal about his own life, especially his painful divorce. This is, in fact, the best part of the book, but it tells us very little about Logic Israel (who seems a dullish lad in any case). The author's name apart, a forgettable entry in the already swollen bibliography on cults.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1982
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill