It seems some groups called “cults” may not be so mutually exclusive. And at times their members just might help each other out a little bit, at least at fund-raising events.

Apparently this was the case at a Gucci New York charity dinner hosted by Madonna, which benefited a Kabbalah Centre linked charity called “Raising Malawi.

The controversial charity was founded by Michael Berg, co-director of the Kabblah Centre.

Not only did celebrity supporters of the fringe Kabbalah group show up for the event such as Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and potential new recruit Gwyneth Paltrow, but so did some famous Scientologists.

Scientology’s number one persona Tom Cruise showed up with wife Katie Holmes, as did Scientology friend Jennifer Lopez.

s-gucci-gala-large.jpgHave the two purported “cults” made a pact?

Madonna has gone on the record defending Tom Cruise and his Scientology antics. She once said, “If it makes Tom Cruise happy, I don’t care if he prays to turtles. And I don’t think anybody else should.”

Was this Gucci event payback for the former “Material Girl”?

While it seems that these two “new religions” have little in common doctrinally, one supposedly believes in Jewish mysticism while the other has made intergalactic space travel an article of faith, they do seem to share at least two things in common.

Recruiting celebrities and what appears to be an insatiable desire for cash.

Madonna seems to be trying to “reinvent” herself once again as a globetrotting celebrity humanitarian, supposedly following in the footsteps of Angelina Jolie and Bono, but it appears that she has stumbled badly.

Baby David wearing 'Kabbalah red string'The 1980s diva adopted an African baby only to have that act raise questions about her motives and morality.

Perhaps it wasn’t good press, but generosity that motivated the former “Material Girl.” However, her public statements seem increasingly conflicted and confused.

Discussing her new baby boy David’s religious future she said, “If David decides he wants to be a Christian, then so be it,” and then added, “I believe in Jesus and I study Kabbalah, so I don’t see why he can’t too” reports the BBC.

However, how can the child make up his mind about religion when his mommy apparently can’t?

Madonna, formerly a Roman Catholic, now celebrates Jewish holidays and festivals through the religious organization known as the ”Kabbalah Centre,” founded by Philip Berg, now effectively run by his wife Karen and their two sons Yehuda and Michael.

Madonna crucifiedLittle David has already been spotted wearing the “red string” amulet sold by his mother’s spiritual mentors.

Madonna’s rep, Liz Rosenberg, told Jeannette Walls at MSNBC this was to protect him from “the unfriendly stare and unkind glances,” more commonly called the “evil eye.”

Experts on Jewish mysticism have frequently criticized the Kabbalah Centre, which has been called a “cult,” for its crass commercialism. And the group has no meaningful status within the organized Jewish community.

Madonna likewise hasn’t much standing amongst Christian leaders, other than frequent denouncements, most recently for her concert crucifixions.

So where does that leave little David?

Should he follow mom’s example, a woman that seemingly believes in certain chosen and combined facets of two religions simultaneously?

Has Madonna become something like a so-called “Jew for Jesus“?

Welcome to the confusing world that this celebrity’s kids must inhabit.

Madonna has dismissed critics of her adoption as “racist” claiming, “A lot of people have a problem with the fact that I’ve adopted an African child.”

However, CultNews thinks baby David may “have a problem,” trying to form a consistent identity under Madonna’s influence.

Merrion mocks MadonnaFollow-up: Madonna was ridiculed about her adoption. Dressed in drag as the ”Material Girl” for the MTV Europe Music Awards comic Avid Merrion did a send-up of the diva’s dance number from last year backed up by ”little people” gyrating in baby clothes reports The Independent online.  ”I’m getting too old for this s***.” Merrion mugged. And then the comic told the audience mimicking the star, ”I’ve been getting a lot of hoo-ha from the press recently just because I bought a baby. But I’m Madonna. If I want to buy a baby I buy a flipping baby.” 

Some say Madonna is a “has been.” And that to anyone other than her diehard fans, the 1980s icon is no longer relevant to current pop culture.

'Timeless' Madonna“It happens to every star,” says In the Zone.

Interestingly, the top two reasons cited for the 47-year-old pop queen’s demise is (1) getting “religious” and (2) choosing the so-called “Kabbalah Centre” to get religious about.

Her diva version of religiosity was recently derided as a “Christmas-cracker philosophy” and written off some time ago as “McWisdom” by its critics. But the star insists its her ”secret” in the documentary DVD “I’m Going to Tell You a Secret,” which was panned by British reviewer Mark Beech at Bloomberg News.  

Forbes Magazine has even dropped Madonna from its “Top 100 Stars” list and critics say that the former “Material Girl” is “too old” to be used in marketing to teens.

Advertising guru Della Femina summed it up succinctly, “These kids trade in stars every two or three years and many don’t know Madonna” reported CCN from Ireland.

'hands of time'Ironically though, as CultNews previously reported, despite her fading star status Madonna sees herself as some sort of career counselor to younger stars. And her latest acolyte is 20-year-old Lindsay Lohan.

Isn’t this something like the “blinded leading the blind”?

After all, it’s been almost half a century since this diva was born and despite her apparent desperation to slow the aging process, nothing is working.

Madonna has a grueling exercise regimen, an extreme diet and gulps down an endless supply of supposedly special energized “Kabbalah Water.”

However, all this, along with rumored Botox injections to paralyze her face, have not stopped the singer from arguably looking older than her years, as recent candid photos demonstrate.

London’s Daily Mail pointed out that Madonna “can’t beat the hands of time.” A shot of her hand clutching what looks like a bottle of “Kabbalah Water” was revealing and displayed ”a virtual roadmap of veins.”

It’s been 15 years since the star’s popular documentary “Truth or Dare.” 

But will Madonna dare to face the truth about growing old?

Every indication is that the former queen of pop has no intention of aging gracefully like Tina Turner, nor does she offer self-deprecating humor about getting older, like Cher did on her “farewell tour.”

Instead, this aging diva seems to fighting the inevitable.

No resurrectonHer publicist has told the press “I defy any 18-year-old to do a quarter of what Madonna does on stage…”

But can anyone defy time?

Why can’t Madonna accept that the spotlight moves on, and that every star eventually arrives at a day of reckoning and maturity?

Madonna can’t hang on to her glittering disco ball forever, nor expect to resurrect the past through one of her staged concert crucifixions.

Will the former pop queen’s career end pathetically as a parody of her former self, lip syncing oldies in various costumes and preaching “McWisdom” to those diehard fans left willing to pay for pricey seats and sit through another sermon?

Madonna was once so fond of Britney Spears she literally staged a kiss with her, but it seems that the young pop star’s middle aged mentor has now decided to give her the ”kiss off.”

Britney gets 'kiss off'A source told Hot Stars magazine, “Madonna spent months teaching Britney the Kabbalah system, and splashed out thousands on the ancient scripture for her. She feels she has wasted time, money and precious gifts on Brit” reports Virgin.net. 

Sounds like the 48-year-old diva has a “one track mind” when it comes to mentoring and it’s not about music.

Much like Tom Cruise dividing his time between movies and missionary work, Madonna has become a surrogate preacher for her teachers at the “Kabbalah Centre.”

The 1980s pop queen seems to have an unquenchable thirst to be the center of attention and object of adoration, whether it’s surrounded by paparazzi, on a concert tour or as the high priestess of a purported “cult.”

But Spears has spurned Madonna’s preaching.

“I no longer study Kabbalah, my baby is my religion,” she said. And the singer is now consulting a “Christian Life Coach” to help her, and ditched the former “Material Girl’s” spiritual advisors reports The National Ledger.

Given the repeated rumors that Madonna’s own marriage is on the rocks, it looks like Ms. Spears made the right move by returning to more traditional values.

Last week a Jewish anti-missionary organization in Los Angeles blasted Madonna’s mystical mentors reported The Jewish Journal.

Quipped Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, “If Madonna can wear a T-shirt saying she’s a cult member, who am I to argue with her”?

“To me, they’re no different than…Jews for Jesus or Scientology. They’re using the terminology to make themselves look Jewish, but they’re not…” Kravitz said. 

Should Madonna stop preaching and look for a more credible coach like Spears?

She might try someone like Rachel Elior, a professor of Jewish philosophy and mystical thought, and chair of Hebrew University’s department of Jewish studies.

At a recent lecture in LA Elior said, “The Kabbalah Centres today have nothing to do with the Divine Plan for hidden meaning of the text or with any of that. They are basically about selling books for people who don’t read them…or for people who believe that by having a red string or drinking holy water they are connecting to the mysteries of the world.”

Well, Britney Spears isn’t buying it any more. And maybe her old mentor Madonna should consider dumping the “cult” too.

What does an aging pop star do, when she’s almost 50 and her halcyon days are long gone? Well, first try some retro-disco and then grab some free press through an outrageous act.

Madonna on her crossWell, at least that’s been Madonna’s “tried and true” formula that worked before. And now it’s being stirred and poured out again for her new concert tour “Confessions on a Dance Floor.”

Of course there is the usual S&M styled accessories with a riding crop, but added to the mix this time is a giant cross to hang on. Madonna crucified with a crown of thorns on a glittering disco cross.

This is the diva version of “Shock and Awe.”

And as no doubt carefully calculated “religious groups have reacted furiously” reports London’s Daily Mail.

A Church of England spokesman responded, “Is Madonna prepared to take on everything else that goes with wearing a crown of thorns?”

No.

Madonna isn’t thinking of any religious commitment somehow connected to this symbol of Christianity. After all she rejected Catholicism long ago to eventually become the apparent celebrity high priestess of the “Kabbalah Centre.”

The symbol this “Material Girl” is most concerned with is the dollar sign through ticket sales, CD purchases and whatever paraphernalia is laid out for tour ticket holders to snap up.

The 47-year-old singer’s fans are not so thirsty for the so-called “Kabbalah Water” hawked by her spiritual mentors, nor do they swarming to buy the “red string” amulet the Kabbalah Centre sells. So the diva/businesswoman has decided to cash in on what she sees as a more marketable focus of religious devotion.

CultNews reported last month about how Madonna planned to be crucified, on what variously was rumored to be a “disco ball,” or “cross-like disco ball” or ”disco-fied crucifix” used for some sort of dramatic effect.

It seems that the star decided to use both a disco ball for her entrance and disco cross for some added drama.

But no matter how many times Madonna hangs on her cross, there won’t be any resurrection.

Gone are the Eighties icon’s glory days. And as she has moved on through her brand of spirituality and the supposed lifestyle of English gentry, so have many of her fans.

And there just isn’t any miracle that’s going to change that, though promoters still hope to grab $200 million through this Madonna tour, accomplished by charging as much as $380 for a seat including Ticketmaster fees. 

Pop goes Kabbalah, and the bubble of Madonna’s second marriage appears ready to burst. The 1980s disco diva is about to launch another tour and was photographed without her wedding ring reports Jeanette Walls for MSNBC.

Madonna with 'red string,' but no wedding ringAs pictured the star has the traditional amulet known as the “Kabbalah red string” on her wrist, but no wedding ring.

So it seems that the controversial religious group called the “Kabbalah Centre,” adopted by Madonna a decade ago may have taken its toll and on her marriage. And that object of devotion is apparently more important to the “Material Girl” than her marriage to British film director Guy Ritchie.

Lately Madonna has been living in LA where she is within driving distance to her mystical mentor Philip Berg and his family. The Bergs inhabit three mini-mansions located in Beverly Hills. Many of the rich and faithful Kabbalah Centre flock live around or near this seemingly sacred family.

However, it has been rumored for some time that the 47-year-old icon’s hubby has grown increasingly weary of his wife’s religious devotion to the group she appears to rely upon.

Ritchie and Madonna now seem to barely inhabit the same space, either figuratively or literally.

Madonna’s brother Christopher Ciccone, who the star has failed to convert to her faith, told the press, “It’s the children that will keep them together. The children are everything to them.”

Guy Ritchie with RoccoBut will the kids really be enough?

It looks like husband number two will eventually join that exclusive club chartered by Sean Penn, as the second ex “Mr. Madonna.”

It took Penn time to recover, but he ultimately remarried, started a family and picked up an Oscar.

Though unlike the actor, Ritchie will be tied to Madonna through their son Rocco, which could potentially become a contentious situation if the aging diva wants to drown her child, so to speak, in “Kabbalah water.” 

Madonna can’t seem to convert her brother from Catholicism to the Kabbalah Centre, despite all her money and potential for future gift giving reports Jeanette Walls at MSNBC.

Madonna couldn't recruit her brotherIt seems that the star set her own brother up to be ambushed by her Kabbalah cronies.

“She took me to her house and all of the teachers were there and I just listened,” says Christopher Ciccone.

But the “Material Girl’s” sibling rejected the proselytizing effort and warned ”anything that’s organized can become very cultish.”

Ciccone has apparently decided to stick it out with his family’s traditional Catholicism rather than sign on with the Kabblah Centre, which has gained ”cult status” in Hollywood.

Could it be that even Madonna’s brother realizes that his sister’s religion is a fizzled pop fad?

Lately with all the media attention focused on Scientology, Hollywood’s older more established “cult,” Madonna and the Kabbalah Centre seem to have been virtually forgotten.

Perhaps the singer’s new tour will garner attention for the religion that she has tirelessly promoted, much like Scientology’s “Top Gun” Tom Cruise.

Madonna’s Confessions Tour begins in Los Angeles later this month. The 47-year-old diva will be promoting her 2005 album, which did better in Europe than the United States.

So-called “celebrity cults” such as Scientology and the Kabbalah Centre seem to depend greatly upon stars, but as the public’s interest in these celebrities wanes, so may fascination with their respective sects.

Tom Cruise and Madonna have served as leading lights preaching about their religious groups, but both these stars burned far more brightly during the 1980s. Now the two middle-aged icons are dimming and the “new religious movements” they hawk may need to find some fresh superstars or learn to depend upon such status less.

Cruise’s star status wasn’t compelling for his MI-3 director J.J. Abrams.

“I was aware that Tom was such a huge part of that (Scientology) thing, so very early on, when we started hanging out together, I was very clear with him that (Scientology) was not going to be my path,” Abrams says. “I’m Jewish, my wife is Catholic, and we’ve got our own system” reported the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Could it be that Christopher Ciccone and J.J. Abrams are onto something?

Why bother with some new Hollywood religion when you already have a more established faith that has withstood the test of time?

The Kabbalah Centre, most readily recognized as Madonna’s spiritual hangout, may have recruited 19-year-old Lindsay Lohan.

Lindsay Lohan becomes Kabbalah girl?The star of Herbie: Fully Loaded that grossed $144 million for Disney worldwide explained, “Yes, I am looking into Kabbalah. All of us need something. You just have to grab on to whatever can get you through. Maybe it’s this business, but it seems everything can be so tough, so hard” reports Entertainmentwise.com.

Lohan who is notorious for her partying, binge and purge lifestyle and living in the fast lane may think this is one way to slow down, but maybe her management should do some research about what the teenager is grabbing.

She could be jumping out of the proverbial “frying pan into the fire.”

The Kabbalah Centre has been derided in the press as a “Hollywood cult,” “craze,” “fad” and mocked for its pop version of Jewish mysticism as “McWisdom.”

The religious organization run by Philip Berg his wife Karen has its own special menu, which features “Kabbalah Water,” “Kabbalah Energy Drink” and an assortment of books and amulets, most notably the ever popular “red string” now available embedded in an assortment of resin colors.

In a critique about such teachings published by Zeek Jewish scholar Jonathan Garb observed, “Emphasis on ‘personal power’ is a part of the fusion of these schools of contemporary Kabbalah with the New Age, a blurring of the core Jewish elements of Kabbalah.”

In other words historic Kabbalah isn’t a commercialized grab bag of what you get from God, but rather an often arduous and prolonged path of revelation. 

But Lohan apparently like other Hollywood stars finds drive-thru religion more appealing and hopes to make a quick stop to pick up her order at the supposed window of enlightenment.

Way cool right?

Warning, you might get fried with this “McWisdom.”

The head of the Kabbalah Centre in Israel was busted for fraud. A former member who filed a complaint with authorities said that he and his wife were “exploited.”

Others have accused the Bergs of “brainwashing.”

Lindsay Lohan has reportedly had personal problems to contend with, including a difficult dad.

But she may find that what the Kabbalah Centre has cooked up can be tough to swallow and even worse to purge or escape from than “the parent trap.”

Bangle for sixty bucksThe Kabbalah Center (KC), which includes Madonna, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Roseanne and other celebrity members, has marketed another product that may soon catch on as a practical replacement for its often touted “Red String.”

The “authentic Red String from Jerusalem” is now embedded in a resin bracelet.

Potential buyers are being told the bracelet “is meant to show devotion to the mystical practice and to offer protection from negative energy” says Deidre Woollard at Luxist.

However, the new wrist wear/ware will be sold for twice the price of the old model. The regular “Red String” is $26.00, but those that want the new “bangle” will need to cough up sixty bucks.

This is yet one more product to add to the ever-growing list of retail merchandise marketed by the KC that includes candles, incense, soap, bath oil, an energy drink and of course that very special “Kabbalah Water.”

Mr. and Mrs. Philip Berg and their two sons Yehuda and Michael run the KC and it seems like they never stop coming up with new things for the faithful to buy.

Get ready to see the Hollywood celebs flashing their nifty new Berg bracelets soon. The bangles come in an assortment of resin colors, making them potentially a “mystical” match like other accessories such as shoes or a purse. Think of it, color coordinated celebrity outfits that can purportedly “repel negative energy.”47-year-old MadonnaMeanwhile Madonna has unwittingly helped to promote someone else’s products. A woman that owns a house in Israel, reportedly sought by the former “Material Girl,” has managed to milk that story to help the US launch of her line of skin care products reports Israel 21 c.org.

Shiri Havkin, owner of “Havkin Herbal Cosmetics,” previously “grabbed international headlines” over a phone call from Madonna’s representative hoping to buy her house for a KC project. Now the savvy entrepreneur wants everyone to know that like the KC she has something to sell too. “The dry, clean, crisp mountain air and pure water of the region are ‘special ingredients’ in the Havkin line of 100% natural skin care products” the businesswoman claims.

Well, Shiri may be shilling, but at least she’s not trying to tell the public there’s something “mystical” or supernatural about her water.

Maybe Madonna should go for Havkin’s line?

Shiri says that her “skin care products…enrich as well as heal” and includes a “moisturizing facial oil, a natural serum, for tired, worn out skin.” The 47-year-old diva might do better buying what Havkin has to sell rather than the KC. And maybe the Israeli will throw in her house? That is, if the star is willing to pay twice the market price as Havkin has told the press.

Perhaps that wouldn’t bother Madonna given what she has already bought from the Bergs.

Former teen idol now mother Britney Spears has called Madonna for advice and the one-time “Material Girl” supposedly is ready to help her when she returns to California reports the Ottawa Sun.

Is Madonna a good role model?So far Madonna has told the young singing star ”to get a first-rate trainer and dietician.”

The 47-year-old diva reportedly ”thinks Britney needs major fashion advice and a completely new singing and dancing image — possibly with them performing together,” but she “stopped short” of telling Spears to dump her husband.

However, isn’t all this just a bit presumptious? Should Madonna to be dispensing advice to anyone given her own current problems?

After all she is reportedly coming to California largely because her own five-year marriage is in meltdown. And many have observed that the aging icon has become a bit too obsessed with both exercise and diet.

Rather than face the fact that no one can stop the clock Madonna who is pushing 50 exericises three hours daily and observes a diet that has left here looking more like a victim of malnutrition than an example for Britney to follow.

As for career advice Britney might be better off calling comeback queen Mariah Carey. The curvacious singer hasn’t suffered from her healthy intake of food, as the three Grammy awards she took home recently demonstrate.

Mariah looking goodMeanwhile all Madonna got out of the Grammys was a hernia. And her husband film director Guy Ritchie, formerly the boy wonder of British cinema, has been in a career slump ever since he teamed up with his wife for film flop Swept Away.  

“Last but not least, [Madonna's] telling Britney to get back to the teachings of Kabbalah” reported the Ottawa Sun

Those “teachings” don’t seem to have done Madonna much good.

Britney drops in on HindusAfter almost a decade following the dictates of the controversial “Kabbalah Centre” its regimen apparently has failed Madonna. The star once known for reinventing herself, settled for a retro dance albumn with a generous gift from Abba for a hook. And the star’s personal life seems to be increasingly unraveling.

Ms. Spears may be in a bit of slump, but she is still after all on the sunny side of 30. And though Britney may like to hop from one religious group or trend to another she arguably hasn’t gotten stuck yet.

Maybe Britney Spears has something to teach Madonna, which is that there is a time to move on.

Note: Madonna fans have observed that the star could not have won a Grammy for 2005 because her latest disco disk was not elgible. It will be elgible for 2006.