The Women of Truth and The Mediation Circle


The small-scale case study of two sectarian / cultic religions in modern society within chapter four of Religion, the Social Context was in my opinion the most interesting segment of the assigned reading. Going into this social anthropology class with a tabooed definition of both the words “cult” and “sect”, it is fascinating to see both me and my peer’s meanings of these words change while learning more about them. McGuire writes in particular of two modern-day sectarian or cultic groups, the Women of Truth and the Meditation Circle. Before getting into the logistics of each of these groups, McGuire gives us some stats to look at. She states that in the Women of Truth group there are solely women practicing, their age ranging from 35 – 55, “most had some college education, but only about a third had graduated and none had advanced education”, all women were either married or widowed, and lastly, “virtually all were homemakers whose husbands earned middle-class incomes in business or lower-professional generally white-collar occupations” (McGuire 188). On the other hand, the Meditation Circle was a mix of both women and men, ages ranging from 30 – 60, “nearly all had or were studying for college degrees, and about half had advanced degrees”, less than half of the members were married, and “all but two members were employed out of the home. The income range was also greater, with three members who worked in the fine and preforming arts earning near-poverty incomes and some in established professionals (architect, lawyer, psychotherapist) earning enough to be in the upper-fifth income bracket in the region” (McGuire 189). What interested me most was seeing how much freedom and diversity there was within the Meditation Circle and comparing it to the rigidness and structure of the Women of Truth. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a direct correlation between diversity of people with diversity of practice and vice versa (one “type” of person and one type of practice).