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Bounded ChoiceTrue Believers and Charismatic Cults$
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Janja Lalich

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520231948

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520231948.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

The Beginning

The Beginning

“The Two” Arrive

(p.42) CHAPTER 3 The Beginning
Bounded Choice

Janja A. Lalich

University of California Press

This chapter provides a socio-historical narrative of the life course of the cult group Heaven's Gate, highlighting people and events to underscore the bounded choice perspective. A careful examination of the cult is provided—how and when it was formed, the crucial aspects of the belief system that held it together, and the energies of the charismatic leaders who guided the way. Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Nettles espoused an eclectic philosophy that drew on ideas gleaned from a variety of belief systems, one major feature of which was eco-fatalistic apocalypticism, foreseeing the destruction of planet earth by humans. The dimensions of the bounded choice framework are seen as dualistic, engendering both positive and negative sentiments and consequences. For those who made the commitment and began their selfless devotion, the process that led ultimately to bounded choice had already begun. This approach worked because the members trusted their leaders completely in the belief that they were genuine and sincere in motivation. Even at the initial stage of the group's development, the self-sealing system of the cultic organization was beginning to form. This dualism is central to the binding nature of these powerful structural dimensions of the cultic social system. A look at how the structural and ideological dimensions developed during this stage of the group's formation is provided.

Keywords:   bounded choice, apocalypticism, self-sealing system, dualism, eco-fatalistic apocalypticism

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