The Beginning

Janja A. Lalich

in Bounded Choice

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780520231948
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937512 | DOI:
The Beginning

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Religious Studies


Show Summary Details


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

Chapter.  8614 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.