WHITEBRIDGE, NE—Admitting that he has become “more of a casual follower” in recent years, local Infinite Light cult member Stephen Walsh, 31, told reporters Friday that he now only attends sanctum on the faith’s major bloodletting holidays.
“To be honest, I’ve only been to sanctum maybe three or four times in the last couple years, and only on the most important Self-Energy Offering days,” said Walsh, acknowledging that over the past 12 months his only visits to the master compound have come on the Celestial Beckoning and the trillion-year anniversary of the Trans-Galactic Plague. “I really haven’t consistently gone to the weekly Thought Purges since I was a teenager. And I can’t even remember the last time I sat down with a Purity Guide and had my life-elementals processed.”
“Of course I still have faith in Terry—I still believe he was sent by the galactic Overseers to give us the Teachings,” he continued, noting that while he has an old Existence Manual “lying around somewhere,” he hasn’t picked it up in years. “You know, you just get older, you become busy with school or a job, and the thought of progressing up the Ladder to Time-Body Liberation is not your top priority any longer.”
Raised in a family of devout Infinite Light adherents, Walsh reportedly carried out the cult’s self-reprimanding rites each night and took the Astral Submission Oath at age 14 alongside his peers. However, beginning in his early 20s, Walsh said he began to “drift away” from the cult that he had grown up in and to which he pledged his undying fealty for the next 199 lifetimes.
According to Walsh, as soon as he entered college, he discontinued attending sanctum altogether, acknowledging that without his parents to coax him to put on his mylar-lined bodysuit and visit the compound every Thursday at sundown, he simply lost the motivation to recite the Decoding and communally apply the serum every week.
“Back when I was growing up, we’d always get to sanctum early, sit on the floor circles closest to the great aluminum rod, then stay perfectly still for four hours before washing ourselves in the fluids,” said Walsh, recalling that he used to be “very active” in the cult’s outreach missions to find outsiders, place them in the Holding Room, and mentally project the Teaching toward them for hours on end. “Back then I knew the Existence Manual back to front. But now I’m lucky if I can name even half of Terry’s 31 proclamations on male hygiene.”
“You grow up carving the secret names of the Overseers into living animals hundreds of times, and you just get a little sick of it,” he added. “Honestly, it’s pretty boring to sit in sanctum week after week and hear some old Existence Guide rehash the same tired stories about Terry transforming himself into radio waves and visiting the destination galaxy. It gets a little old, you know?”
Though Walsh confirmed he still observes cultural traditions of The Purpose—such as hanging a picture of Terry in his home, burying guns in his yard, and humming to align his life-elementals in preparation for the day Terry leads his followers from Earth—he admitted that it has been “ages” since he last went to the bunker in Fort Davis to add his seed to the communal Mingling Vessel to help the cult’s Head-Mother bear a child.
“I can’t say I miss the electroconvulsive purges every week—and at this point, I no longer agree with the Overseers’ outdated views that women shouldn’t be allowed to eat meat—but what I do miss is the sense of connection with other followers,” Walsh said. “The togetherness I felt when the entire Collective met in the compound basement, rubbed the serum over each other’s naked bodies, and engaged in the ritual nightlong mass copulation ceremony—it was really nice having that sense of community as part of my life.”
“Maybe when I have kids I’ll get back into the whole thing,” he continued, admitting that he enjoyed the thought of attending sanctum as a family and even one day visiting the settlement in Nicaragua where they could all learn to communicate with the Overseers via the electrostatic signals on analog televisions and radios. “But for now, I don’t know. Incanting Terry’s name in all 200 galactic languages just isn’t how I want to spend my Thursdays.”
In spite of Walsh’s current distance from the cult, his mother Susan Walsh expressed confidence that he would eventually return to the Collective, recalling a similar phase in her youth when she stopped attending sanctum and allowed The Purpose to become a secondary part of her life.
“We all go through times when we lose sight of the Final Way—periods when we stray from Terry,” the 64-year-old cult member said after painting a triangle of her own blood on her forehead. “But it is then that the Overseers seek us out, bring us back to them, and remind us of the Fundamental Truth: We are all electromagnetic particles and Terry will guide us to the pole star.”
“We are all electromagnetic particles and Terry will guide us to the pole star,” she then began to mutter repeatedly. “We are all electromagnetic particles and Terry will guide us to the pole star.”