Wednesday, February 26, 2003

You can't always believe everything you read. The New Republic once fired an associate editor when they figured out that his stories, including one featuring "the church of George Herbert Walker Christ", and another featuring Wall Street nabobs worshipping at Hindu-style shrines to Alan Greenspan, were made up.

So, there's an article in the current Harper's (not on line), thin on attribution, which describes an undercover investigation into Ivanwald, a training center for a secret cult of sorts which calls itself "the Family", though it has operated several public fronts with different names over the years, and which includes, among others, seven Senators (six of them Republican); it has also maintained ties to foreign leaders, including among others Indonesian strongman Suharto (who came to power in a CIA-sponsored coup) and the Brazilian dictator General Costa e Silva.

These folks don't necessarily call themselves Christians --- it's "a term they deride as too narrow for the world they are building in Christ's honor". The leaders are...

concerned that the focus on labels like 'Christian' might get in the way of [a] Congressman's prayers. Religion distracts people from Jesus, [leader] Doug [Coe] said, and allows them to isolate Christ's will from their work in the world.

People separate it out" he warned .... "'Oh, okay, I got religion, that's private.' As if Jesus doesn't know anything about building highways, ro Social Security. We gotta take Jesus out of the religious wrapping."

But the Family still does worship Jesus, in their fashion --- the sportsman Jesus, evidently; "He excelled in every activity. he was a great teacher, sure, but he was also a real guy's guy. He would have made an excellent athlete." Their fashion of worship demands humility and complete submission --- "Pray to be broken". But it's also a fashion which derides democracy ("a manifestation of ungodly pride" --- sound familiar?), and nominates the Family itself as the new chosen people, the covenant with the Jews having apparently lapsed.

And membership in the new chosen people has its privileges. As heir apparent to the leadership David Coe explains:

"King David", David Coe went on, "liked to do really, really bad things." He chuckled. "Here's this guy who slept with another man's wife --- Bathsheba, right? --- and then basically murders her husband. And this guy is one of our heroes." David shook his head. "I mean, Jiminy Christmas, God likes this guy! What," he said, "is that all about?"

The answer, we discovered, was that King David had been "chosen." To illustrate this point, David Coe turned to Beau. "Beau, let's say I hear you raped three little girls. And now here you are at Ivanwald. What would I think of you, Beau?

Beau shrank into the cusions. "Probably that I'm pretty bad?"

"No, Beau. I wouldn't. Because I'm not here to judge you. That's not my job. I'm here for only one thing."

"Jesus?" Beau said. David smiled and winked.

He walked to the National Geographic map of the world mounted on the wall. "You guys know about Genghis Khan?" he asked. ...

David explained that when Genghis entered a defeated city he would call in the local headman and have him stuffed into a crate. Over the crate would be spread a tablecloth, and on the tablecloth would be spread a wonderful meal. "And then, while the man suffocated, Genghis ate, and he didn't even hear the man's screams." David still stood on the couch, a finger in the air. "Do you know what that means?" He was thinking of Christ's parable of the wineskins. "You can't pour new into old," David said, returning to his chair. "We elect our leaders. Jesus elects his."

He reached over and squeezed the arm of a brother. "Isn't that great?" David said. "That's the way everything in life happens. If you're a person known to be around Jesus, you can go and do anything."

In addition to Genghis Khan, role models include the Mafia, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, and a contemporary figure, Osama bin Laden.

In short, we have a group which worships a divinity which demands total submission, promises power and domination over others in return, and will permit its followers to do anything to gain them. And they call it Jesus.

I'm not completely sure I believe the story --- for a conspiracy-minded left-winger, it's slightly too good to be true. But if it's not, there are seven named United States Senators who have reason to be really ticked off.


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