I find religions fascinating.
I love the stories and myths behind them, I love finding out the levels of belief that other people have, and most of my favorite people are ones that have strong and knowledgable ties to their religion.
And, despite my fondness for those types of people and the fact that, as a child, I loved reading children's versions of Old Testament tales- religion never really "took" with me nor did it ever feel comfortable or safe. My parents are Catholic and I was off-and-on in religious education classes growing up. But, if we're being honest, I often feel that I wasn't so much raised in the Roman Catholic Church as much as the U.S.F.S.A.- The United States Figure Skating Association. I spent more weekends in skating rinks than I ever spent in churches.
My mother often refers to me, with a wary tone, as being a cynical child from an early age. Which isn't quite fair, as I was also a very pleasant child... I just couldn't grasp certain concepts. Why was Jesus real when Narnia wasn't? Why did a man have all his strength in his hair when Popeye's spinach strength was fantasy? Why were aliens a silly idea but a talking burning bush was sacred?
To put it simply: I was the five-year-old that had to be sat down and told that it was okay that I didn't think Santa was real (due to a combination of not understanding 1- why he would skip certain people that seemed nice enough and 2- how he got into my fireplace-less home) but that I should keep my mouth closed about it and just let all the other kids enjoy their Santa-believing lifestyle. And I stuck to that. Even after the year where my mother hung my chocolate-filled stocking over a heating vent and ruined both the stocking and everything in it, I kept my trap shut when around other kids. Same goes for all my weird religion-related questions.
But, at the same time, I could totally see myself being easily sucked into a cult if caught at a vulnerable moment. I've done more than one nonsense "alternative" health treatment in hopes of just getting a good placebo effect- it's only a matter of time before someone sucks me into some weird belief system (I'm guessing when I'm in my late 30s/ early 40s and having that new age crisis that seems to happen then). Anyway, that's why I find stories about religions that fall into the "cult" definition (or just get referred to as a cult without actually being one) fascinating to learn about. Especially when from the point of view of someone that lived it and can see the ups and downs involved.
This is all one long way to say: Have you been reading the "Scientology & Me" series being posted over at TheHairpin.com? Go read the four parts to it! Now!