I was with great sadness that I read the article about Dottie Haugh, "Mother defends new path son has taken" (July 14).
When Mrs. Haugh described her son's pre-cult personality she mentioned that he drank and was not interested in school. Now she says he has direction, which implies that he was without direction before.
The way that he was acting before gives me some clues that he was in emotional pain. He may be anesthetized now, but not healed. He may have switched dependencies and maybe he's using the MasterPath in a vain attempt to fill up an empty space in his life.
Rather than enable her son to continue on this self-destructive path, it may be wise of Mrs. Haugh and any other parents in the same situation to seek help. Exit counseling (commonly known as deprogramming) works in a similar way as alcohol and drug intervention and treatment. It serves to help bring back the person that God created - the one in whose image all our children are made.
The MasterPath, like all other cults, is destructive of personality and self-identity. Gary Olsen, the MasterPath leader, states in his writing "Truth and the Seeker #6": "The chela (student) must realize that the Master is taking care of him. He must surrender himself again and again "
In my study of the MasterPath's material I find again and again that Olsen doesn't want children to be who they are. He wants to remake them in his image, since he is "The Master." They are not encouraged to question "The Master" for his judgments are far beyond "human standards."
Under the guise of "spiritual exercises," the MasterPath uses classic hypnotic induction techniques. The people on "the Path" find themselves believing Olsen without realizing what has happened to them. And in the process of creating these new personalities, phobias are implanted.
Again Olsen states: "Leaving the MasterPathis the worst thing any chela could do without the Master's protection, he runs into all sorts of troubles which would not have happened had he remained with the MasterPath." Critical thinking is suspended and the chela is left with pure subjectivity.
Mrs. Haugh need not worry that her son is "weird." He is not. However, he has been taken advantage of, something that happens to most of us along the way.
If, like Mrs. Haugh, we truly want children "to love God and to spread their wings and fly," then we must give them roots both spiritually and emotionally so that they can truly grow in faith, so that they can ask questions and seek the truth without having their minds raped along the way.
I hope parents and family members with persons in any controversial group will gather as much information as possible about these groups, so that they can make informed decisions concerning the welfare of their loved ones.
(Tolpingrud is a minister at the University Lutheran Center, Fargo.)