The Juliette Stevenson Interview:
A new cult is infesting our streets… but could it possibly be a “nice” cult?
What are cults and why are they bad? This summer a new cult came into existence: Maxus Irie, the “captivating cult of happiness and joy”. The brainchild of author and poet Luke Andreski, Maxus Irie celebrates and promotes happiness, love and joy while at the same time challenging the very notion of what a cult is.
I doorstep Luke Andreski during a conference in his local city, Bristol UK, and ask him some challenging questions about his new project. I begin by asking him, Aren’t cults fundamentally wrong-headed?
“Generally that’s the case,” Luke says as he ushers me into his quiet and studious household, “but my cult is different. Firstly, it is a fun cult, a cult which is meant to make you smile, a cult which is about nothing other than happiness: increasing our own personal happiness and the happiness of everyone around us.”
I suggest that many cults claim exactly the same thing. “But there’s one crucial difference,” Luke says, serving me herb tea in a bone china cup, “and that is that they take themselves all too seriously. They indulge in the cult of the personality, with some ‘holy’ personage at the centre of the whole thing; they claim connection with some higher power; and there are all sorts of hoops you have to jump through to become a member. None of that applies to Maxus Irie.”
In that case, I ask, how in fact do you become a member of Maxus Irie?
“It’s very easy and very transparent,” Luke states, sipping at his aromatic brew. “You simply smile. You simply laugh. And you set yourself the target of making the world a happier place.” He looks at me. “You’d like to hear now how this whole thing came about?” When I nod, he continues, “Well, it is all very simple. I launched Maxus Irie for two reasons. Firstly, out of a sense of love. I love life, I love the world, and I love the human race. I love these things devoutly and I believe that they are all greatly deserving of love. From this love the core principles and beliefs of Maxus Irie arise. Why not have a new belief system, or a ‘cult’, that works purely on the basis of making people happier, and of increasing the amount of happiness in the world? In other words, why not isolate the core beliefs surrounding happiness about which every type of person, no matter what religion they belong to or which nation they inhabit, would be able to say, ‘Yes – I believe in that too!’
“Secondly, I asked myself the question, ‘Why should the orthodox religions or the traditionally religious have all the fun? Why shouldn’t those who are less involved with specific religions or creeds enjoy the pleasures and benefits of prayers, hymns and rituals?’ And my answer was, ‘Let’s create some prayers and rituals and hymns that anyone, anywhere, of any persuasion or religious belief (or of no belief at all) can participate in and enjoy. Hymns and prayers and rituals whose sole aim is to make you feel happier, and to help you share that happiness with those around you…
“So I wrote the book How To Be Happy, The Maxus Irie Book Of Happiness, set up the website www.captivatingcult.com, designed the t-shirts… and launched the cult!”
So are you saying that Maxus Irie, your ‘captivating cult’, is not in fact a cult?
Luke bounces that back at me with a question of his own: “How many cults do you know which call themselves cults? How many cults say, ‘Hey, don’t call us a religion – we’re a cult!’ Or ‘Don’t bother joining us – just smile!’”
Not many, I admit, as I finish my herbal concoction… And then it’s clear that our time is up and Luke needs to get back online to converse with his disciples via the Maxus Irie Facebook page and Twitter.
Once again on the doorstep I ask, Do you have a last message you would like to share with my readers?
“Yes,” Luke replies with a smile. “In fact I do. Tell your readers that life can be painful, so change that. Tell your readers to do something wild today. Tell them to do something good, something lasting, something based solely on happiness. Tell them to annoy their friends and family – and join my cult!”
Luke Andreski’s ebook, philosophy, blog and t-shirts can all be accessed via his website, www.captivatingcult.com. And studiously and happily in his calm and quiet home he continues his work on Being Content: The Maxus Irie Book Of Contentment and his two novels-in-progress Green Messiah and Elven Dogs.
This interview was first published on Jacksonville.com on September 18