Frequently asked questions about becoming a charismatic cult leader:

What exactly is a cult leader? What is a cult?
Good question. A cult is defined as a small, radical sect of people devoted to a single person or principle. At least, that's how the powers that be would define it. Note that terms such as "small" and "radical" are thrown in to make the definition vague enough to cover everything from Trekkies to Oprah's Book Club subscribers to Branch Davidians. In most cases, a cult leader is the person upon whom the devotion and worship of the cult is heaped. This person may be considered the avatar, or incarnation, of a specific principle or even god-form.

What characteristics do most cult leaders share?
Another good question. You're pretty bright, you know? I deal with a lot of people, day in and day out, who don't have half the intelligence that you do. It's like they're sleeping, you know? But some people-- people like you and me-- we're awake. We're awake and aware, and we see things that they don't even dream of. Am I right? I can see it in your eyes. You know what I'm talking about. I have someone I'd like you to meet. A friend of mine. He's really cool, and he knows what's going on. This is so cool. We're going to be great friends.

What is a messiah complex, and where can I get one?
When you've got a messiah complex, you KNOW that you're the last hope for the human race, or at least your favorite chunk of the human race. You're painfully aware that you are set apart, and that you must endure more than the average man or woman, as part of the price of your divine right to battle the forces that are dragging humanity ever downward. It's a thankless job, you know, but one that the Ones Beyond have chosen you for. When it comes to your messiah complex, you've either got it or you don't.

What's dangerous about having a messiah complex?
Well, although a messiah complex is a great way to form your doctrine and to build the ego and aura of cosmic attitude and platitude necessary to build a devoted following, things get tricky when you, yourself, become increasingly convinced that all the holy books you've written about yourself are true. When it gets that bad, you'll find yourself getting sloppy-- convincing yourself that the Space Brothers of Sirius B, who of course have chosen you as the Outer Head of the Empire of the Whole Earth Alliance of Divine Light, will protect you and yours from those ATF guys at the gate by using their Divine Powers over Time and Space.

Are self-proclaimed messiahs free to do what they wilt?
This one's a definite judgment call. You really have to balance the insanity of what you want to do against the power of your charisma over other people's senses of morality. If you're trying to pass yourself off as the avatar of some god or another, think about things first. Ask yourself, "Would the incarnation of Osiris, living in the body of a retired fishmonger in Newport News, Virginia, really be interested in a game of strip Uno with half a dozen 14 year old girls on cocaine?"

Predictably, I get questions like this all the time.

After I slap them until they change the word "Cult" to "Religious", I offer them the following advice:

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