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The March 2015 issue of The Atlantic has an excellent article by Graeme Wood called ‘What ISIS Really Wants’.

Everyone would do well to read it at least once. It is easy to follow, fascinating and detailed. A few people commented that it tells us more than daily reports on television news or in the press.

IS propaganda involves a heady combination of bloody battle, religious purity and apocalyptic prophecy. It is Koranic; it is religious. The way its followers and recruiters present it online proves irresistible for thousands of youths around the world.

Wood’s article also addresses two prominent Christian converts to Islam.

A summary with excerpts follows.

Apocalyptic offshoot of Al-Qaeda

Before getting into the story of IS, here is (repeated) advice to Christians who get excited by prophecy involving the Apocalypse: don’t.

A number of Christians online grew up reading apocalyptic literature and think this is what the Church is about. Were they to read a balanced explanation of Revelation (see my Essential Bible Verses page) based on a Lutheran amillenialist perspective, they would be left wanting. It’s not exciting enough, even if it is the truth.

The same holds true for adolescent or young adult converts to the IS cause. It has all the elements of adventure, bloodshed and fervour.

On this subject, Wood quotes George Orwell on Adolf Hitler:

Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.

Al-Qaeda shied away from Islamic apocalyptic pronouncements about the Mahdi (a saviour figure) and the End of Days. It was not in their framework. Will McCants of the Brookings Institution told Wood that Al-Qaeda leadership considers it unsophisticated:

Bin Laden and Zawahiri are from elite Sunni families who look down on this kind of speculation and think it’s something the masses engage in.

However, that didn’t prevent a group within Al-Qaeda to wax lyrical about it:

McCants says a prominent Islamist in Iraq approached bin Laden in 2008 to warn him that the group was being led by millenarians who were “talking all the time about the Mahdi and making strategic decisions” based on when they thought the Mahdi was going to arrive. “Al-Qaeda had to write to [these leaders] to say ‘Cut it out.’ ”

That group became ISIS — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham:

During the last years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers, by contrast, saw signs of the end times everywhere. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world.

Wood likens IS to an odd sect, not unlike those of Jim Jones or David Koresh. He does not compare it to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Koranic to the letter

IS takes the Koran seriously, to the letter. Its adherents are ever ready to accuse other Muslims of apostasy for not being holy or observant enough.

IS justifies its existence through its self-proclaimed caliphate under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has been in charge since 2010.

Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani is IS’s chief spokesman. He exhorts followers to crush unbelievers, borrowing the phraseology of the 7th century with passages from the Koran. Everything about IS is based on the book, down to coinage and stationery.

Wood tells us that IS believes that many deaths must take place if pure practice of Islam is to predominate. As IS is Sunni, their first targets are Shia Muslims and the Yazidis. Sunnis consider Shia as a departure from true Islam. Therefore, Wood says, it is estimated that 200 million Shias must die. Although we know little about it, those who are studying IS believe that they are murdering individuals nearly every day and staging mass executions every few weeks.

IS also considers Muslim leaders around the world to be apostate, as they favour a manmade political system and voting.

Christians, for now, are left alone as long as they pay IS jizya, a koranic tax imposed on non-Muslims. Jizya not only brings in extra money, it also serves as a constant reminder to those paying it that they have been ‘subdued’.

The Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, originally from the Lebanon, says that it is a mistake for Westerners to consider IS as un-Islamic. He says that this type of outlook emanates from interfaith dialogue and has no basis in reality. Haykel points out that everything IS members are doing conforms to the Koran and is a rerun of the conquests that took place in the early centuries of Islam.

For IS members and supporters, the Syrian city of Dabiq is where the final battle against ‘Rome’ — the Islamic version of corrupt and worldly ‘Babylon’ — will unfold. Dabiq is near the better-known Aleppo and is in a huge expanse of rural flatland. Wood says one can imagine it could be a battleground. The IS publication is named Dabiq, and the city is often referenced in beheading videos.

Two different converts from Christian backgrounds

Many Christians say, ‘Why are we reading about this when it has nothing to do with us?’

However, even certain Christians can ‘revert’ to Islam. Wood gives us their stories and photographs.

Travelling to Australia, Wood met with Musa Cerantonio, the son of Irish and Calabrian parents. He has an online presence as one of IS’s ‘new spiritual authorities’. Cerantonio used to be a televangelist on an Islamic television channel in Egypt until he started making too many appeals for a caliphate. Now in a suburb of Melbourne, the convert takes his message and sermons online via Twitter and Facebook.

The Australian government has confiscated Cerantonio’s passport, and he is well known to the local police. Whilst he is technically unaffiliated with IS, he and his wife attempted to emigrate via the Philippines, where he overstayed his visa. Hence the passport confiscation.

Cerantonio is thrilled with the IS caliphate. In general, he believes pledging allegiance to a caliphate is necessary for salvation. However, he told Wood that he has not personally pledged his to IS, which would be forbidden under Australian law.

Cerantonio told Wood he believes that the aforementioned Rome actually refers to Turkey, which many Islamists think had a false caliphate in that it did not enforce every rule of the Koran, e.g. slavery and stoning. After the fateful battle in Dabiq:

Cerantonio said, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth, but Cerantonio suggested its tide may never reach beyond the Bosporus. An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.

One can see that wrapping the relevant imagery into sermons or messages would have the desired effect on certain minds.

However, a former Catholic who is now a practising imam in Philadelphia, does not hold with IS, although he is an extreme, albeit nonviolent, Muslim. Wood met with Breton — now Abdullah — Pocius. A former Chicagoan, Pocius grew up in a Polish Catholic family. He now sounds as if he were a Muslim his entire life.

Pocius’s Islam could be compared to the legalism of an ultra-Orthodox Jew. Pocius believes that only an internal devotion to obedience of the laws of Islam will bring about a caliphate, and then only through the will of Allah. For him, Islam is all about personal holiness, not war against others.

He agrees with IS on daily observance and practices but says their penchant for violence is not for him. Wood tells us that Pocius is a ‘quietist Salafi’ and eschews anything to do with excommunicating others and a socio-political system. That said, he is not happy with the US government; he told Wood his mosque was under surveillance and that his mother had been harrassed at her place of work.

Conclusion

Wood’s article has much more, including a piece on London’s Anjem Choudhury, a map from January 2015 of IS territory as well as possible solutions as to how Western governments can approach this group. Yes, it is growing. Yes, it must be contained. Yes, it must be seen to be stagnating or receding.

Wood says that one of the best ways this can happen is for opposing Muslims in the area to resist expansion.

Expect a long battle ahead. This could take years.

Friday’s postconfession introduced Pastor Barney, a medically retired Lutheran minister.

His current ministry focus is on rural pastors in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Barney’s posts are not only thought-provoking but witty — recommended reading.

One of his posts deals with pastors new to churches in rural areas. In it, he also addresses the problems they face, particularly if they are fresh out of seminary.

To those of us sitting in the pews, Barney says that a pastor’s life is far from easy. The graphic comes from his post, ‘A Country Parson’. Excerpts follow.

Barney has a list of rules for those of us who go to church and complain about those who lead our walk in Christ. In addition to praying for them, he suggests ten great ways we can be generous (emphases in the original):

1. They are not the last pastor you had, who may have been a saint or an idiot!

2. Your budget is small, but your hearts are large! – money is not everything, you have beef, pork[,] eggs[,] chicken they too are tax-deductible.

6. Invite them out for coffee, to the farm or ranch!

7. Buy them season’s tickets to all High School sporting Events, give them invitations to all significant events.

9. Relax, teach them; it takes time, but they’ll change with love and care – If not[,] you’ve left them better ready for rural ministry.

And what follows are the first five of Barney’s 11 survival rules for rural clergy. (The post actually starts with this section, but as most of my readers are laypeople, it seemed fitting for me to prioritise generosity towards the pastor.)

1. You know all that wonderful stuff they taught you in seminary? – Forget it!

2. You know all those wonderful liberal  ideals you think are oh so important? – listen first – talk later!

3. That idea you are going to change the way these folk think and live – Toss it out!

4. Don’t charge in gung ho to change long-established traditions no matter how politically and theologically correct you know they are! Most of your seminary professors and Bishops have not done real ministry in real congregations in years – if ever!

5. Do go to all High School sports, Grade School programs, graduations, County fairs, Rodeos, 4H and FFA are big out here!

Any pastors from the rural Pacific Northwest who are interested in a private conversation with Barney can contact him via his blog.

A medically retired Lutheran minister has an excellent site, The Gospel of Barney.

One of his recent posts asks if we are looking for trouble. He replies that he certainly is and that, similarly, trouble has been seeking him for much of his life.

The crux of his discourse revolves around our Lord’s looking for trouble by associating with sinners and making His ministry all about them, not the self-righteous, soi-disant nice people.

Furthermore, Barney says that if we want to imitate Christ in this respect, we need to go — as He did — to the places sinners frequent if we want to share the Good News with them.

Please take a few minutes to read Barney’s advice in full. He is witty and engaging.

For now, here’s a taster (emphases in the original, the one in purple mine):

Notice Jesus never had an attentive or receptive audience in the synagogues. He went out to the highways and byways ate with tax collectors and sinners!

We want them to come to our nice churches, for a put-down? Why don’t we try going where they are? I’ve been in many a bar in many a rural town, even without my clerical collar, it usually slowed conversation or muted it a lot! Just because of what I represented.

Mind you the bars in rural towns are more often than not the restaurant too, so a lot of your members are there. I’ve been known to have a couple beers, and enjoy.
Knew the owners of the bar never worried about it! Save the fact there were a number in there I should have known better!

Folks need a refuge in times of trouble. We need to examine ourselves as to why the folks with the most troubles are not coming! It usually takes 7 invitations or connections from a congregation to get someone in the door.

Churches all say, “We are a welcoming and friendly place!” To each other, yes, the test is do we go looking for trouble to invite it in? …

Barney ministers in and to rural areas in the northwestern part of the United States. He counsels pastors from this region. Those who wish to contact him can do so via his blog.

Becoming a good sommelier is hard work, yet it is a profession attracting many more young adults, particularly men.

It’s no wonder, given the increased availability and affordability of wines from around the world, some of which show up in the most surprising places.

Start at home

An article on the Wine Spectator blog published on January 8, 2015, describes the good deals which can be had at Costco in the US with their Kirkland Signature line (emphases mine):

Costco’s head wine, beer and spirits buyer, Annette Alvarez-Peters, oversees what is almost certainly the biggest alcohol-beverage retail operation in the United States. The store keeps prices low by famously imposing a 15 percent margin cap on all products. Wine gets no special exemption. When the products are name brands, the price tags look enticing. When Costco has a guiding hand in the creation and sourcing of the item, they are often borderline unbelievable. Enter its house brand: Kirkland Signature wines.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, for example, is one of those wines you really can’t find in the U.S. market for $20—unless you shop at Costco. That’s the price at which the Kirkland Signature Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de Nalys hovers. Sourced from the respected Domaine de Nalys, the wine usually scores in the high 80s or, in bingo vintages, even low 90s. Little surprise then that the KS brand for wine and spirits, launched in 2003, has been growing by double digits every year—now up to 4 million cases, Alvarez-Peters told me.

There are some who would turn up their noses at a generic label. Not among them: The many esteemed wineries and winemakers who actually produce the stuff. At first, Costco largely had to settle for bulk wine. “However, we found a lot of inconsistencies in the juice from year to year,” said Alvarez-Peters. “Today, the majority of the wine is sourced from name-brand wineries, and now we have developed long-term relationships.”

Although Kirkland Signature does not seem to have arrived yet at Costco in the UK, the chain has a huge selection of wines at every price level for its British members.

In the UK, the Secret Sommelier site has a blog which reviews reasonably priced wine available at supermarkets.

A good way of supplementing wine knowledge is to attend local tastings. Some British off-licences, such as Wine Rack, hold them regularly, free of charge. Customers are able to taste a variety of wines and pair them with the light bites on offer. The knowledgeable staff are on hand to give helpful advice.

Sommelier courses difficult

Before enrolling on a sommelier course, it is worth asking those you know — e.g. wine merchants — what the curriculum and atmosphere are like.

I have spoken with three over the years, one of whom was an amateur, and all said they were difficult. There is much to remember in the coursework, notes are essential and the exams are exacting. Students are expected to identify wines specifically in a blind tasting and explain why by giving a concise, yet precise, profile of the wine: look, nose and taste. Course costs are roughly several hundred pounds or dollars per certificate.

The 2012 documentary Somm gives the average person a good idea of the pressure students are under. Admittedly, the four men profiled are studying to become Master Sommeliers (MS) — open by invitation only — however, even obtaining a basic certificate requires much of one’s spare time.

Bottlenotes’ blog caught up with the ‘stars’ in May 2014 to find out what they are doing now. It should be noted that all of them had extensive experience in the wine industry before they began studying for their MS. Today, one has started his own online wine business. Another has opened a wine bar and restaurant. A third is the Winemaking Ambassador for Australia’s Penfolds. The fourth is now a Wine Director for a restaurant in New York City and has co-founded a Californian winery. Those who went into business on their own have partnered with other expert sommeliers.

Course details

Wine writer Jordan Mackay, who co-authored with Rajat Parr Secrets of the Sommeliers which I reviewed yesterday, says there is a strong possibility that the reputation of the true sommelier is on the downturn with the increased interest in amateurs taking courses. In September 2014, The Spectrum reported that he said:

“The word ‘sommelier’ is almost becoming meaningless because so many people call themselves sommelier after taking some course,” he said last month at TexSom, an annual sommelier conference in Dallas, while moderating a session on restaurant trends. “We are in danger of losing the code of sommelier as someone who works the floor in a restaurant.”

The article explains that the problem extends to Master Sommelier level:

The critics are making three main points: People who never worked in restaurants (and never intend to) become sommeliers merely by taking a test; some sommeliers working toward master sommelier certification are interested more in proving their wine-snob bona fides than in waiting on customers; and (implied in the latter) once they achieve the title, they are less likely to work as sommeliers.

Shayn Bornholm, a Master Sommelier, is examination director at the Master Court of Sommeliers. He told The Spectrum:

“We are aware of the criticisms and are considering ways to address them,” says Shayn Bjornholm, a master sommelier who is the examination director for the Court of Master Sommeliers. Last year the court saw a 20 percent increase in applications for its four levels of certifications: intro, certified, advanced and master. The first two levels are open to anyone, while the last two are by invitation only, reserved for people with strong restaurant experience.

Bjornholm emphasized that there is no official definition of “sommelier.” In many restaurants, waiters, managers or others serve as wine stewards in addition to their other duties. While the court’s advanced and master levels are for dedicated professionals, the intro and certified programs give restaurant workers and those considering such a career a perspective on the sommelier trade, he said.

The New York Journal of Books explains the specifics:

There are basically three tracks that someone wishing to earn credentials in the world of wine can follow: The wine educator track, culminating in the Certified Wine Educator; the wine business track, culminating in the Master of Wine; and the sommelier track, culminating in the Master Sommelier.

All three tracks involve blind tasting, when glasses of wine are placed in front of the exam taker, who must determine what the wines are without seeing the labels. Of the ways in which blind tasting exams are conducted, the one for the Master Sommelier is probably the toughest. The pass rate for the Master Sommelier exam is quite low, and there are only 103 Master Sommeliers in the United States and 168 worldwide. Those who pass are really good at guessing a wine.

Course fees

The US course fees for 2015 at the Court of Master Sommeliers are as follows:

Introductory Course – $525
Certified Exam – $325
Advanced Course – $795
Advanced Exam – $795
Master’s Exam – $795 per section

The page highlights in bold that applicants for the Introductory Course must already have had a minimum of three — preferably five — years of experience in the wine/service industry.

They also strongly suggest that applicants let time elapse between the Introductory Course (Level I) and the Certified Exam (Level II). No doubt the reason for this is that tasting takes practice. Practice makes perfect.

The Court of Master Sommeliers site in the UK has the same courses and shows the pins related to each level. Applying for the Introductory Sommelier Certificate requires a written explanation of why the prospective student needs the certificate. The Advanced Sommelier Course and Exam costs £685.

The UK Sommelier Association also offers courses. One of them, the Certified Sommelier Course, costs £1400 this year, however, it is five weeks long and is comprised of 18 lessons involving food and wine pairing, culminating in one oral and one tasting exam.

What customers should expect from a sommelier

Sonia Simone wrote an article about sommeliers for Copyblogger. Although she works in marketing and Copyblogger is for marketers, she says that the sommelier must also have an appealing approach to customer service.

Simone’s father is the chairman of the Sommelier Society of America, so it is not surprising that she, too, has an interest in wine.

The Society has one course which is open to all, including the amateur who wishes to expand his knowledge of wine. It is 21 weeks long and costs $1295.

Simone sat in on one of the sessions and, from it, wrote ‘5 Marketing Secrets of the Master Sommeliers’. It’s worth reading in full, because this is what every restaurant customer should expect from a sommelier.

These include —

Shaping the customer experience:

The work of a sommelier starts with building the wine list — sitting down among the universe of wines your restaurant or shop could stock … and figuring out which wines will make the cut and which ones won’t.

It’s not a simple matter of “only stock good wine.” Yes, it has to be good, but there are endless definitions of that.

Just as important as quality, the wine has to be the right fit — for your clientele, your neighborhood, the food you serve, the price point you’re working within …

Being knowledgeable and interesting:

A sommelier whose wine list is at the intersection of her own passions and the desires of her customer is a sommelier who’s going to sell a lot of wine.

And as someone who has thought deeply about (and tasted a lot of) wine, the sommelier should bring her knowledge to the table.

If she can tell a great story — about the wine or the winemaker — so much the better.

Listening to, rather than dictating, what the customer wants:

… You need to shape your offers based on a well-defined picture of who the right customer is.

But never tell people “what they want.”

You can educate, you can build a bridge between what they want and something they might like even better. But leave the condescension at home. It’s bad manners and bad for business.

Understanding your customers’ needs:

Californian and other “New World” wines are often drunk for their own sakes. They tend to be “bigger” wines with lots of flavor (and alcohol) and not much acidity. As our instructor mentioned, connoisseurs of this type of wine may knock back some stellar bottles … then have mineral water with dinner. These big wines are often just too overwhelming to serve with food …

Know how your customer wants to drink the bottle. Quite often, even leaving price aside, the “greater” wine isn’t the right wine for that customer’s needs …

Knowing your terroir (soil and environmental characteristics):

Over time, winemakers learn the intricacies of their own terroir. They learn the characteristics of wine that only they can make …

If you’re wise, this will become the foundation of your winning difference or unique selling proposition — the unmistakable thumbprint that distinguishes your business from everyone else’s.

For the rest of us

We can do this at home, too. Frequent tastings, especially with dinner, increase our knowledge and appreciation of wine.

We’ll be able to better describe wines to family and friends when they come to visit. Just as important is the increased confidence we’ll have when talking to our favourite wine merchant.

Some churchgoers believe alcohol consumption is sinful. However, many of our grand European traditions in this regard were started in monasteries centuries ago.

Where wine is concerned, even St Paul recommended it to St Timothy for the digestion:

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.  (1 Timothy 5:23)

I have a backlog of unused links in a Pending folder.

One of them is a profile of radio host Larry Elder‘s 2012 book Dear Father, Dear Son with the subtitle Two Lives, Eight Hours. The photo is of his father’s snack bar in Los Angeles. More about that in a moment.

Writing for World Daily News in January 2013, during the aftermath of the Sandy Hook killings, Elder says that American society is suffering not from gun culture but from a fatherless culture (emphases mine below):

Rapper/actor Ice T (“Cop Killer”) and I attended the same high school. In the 1991 John Singleton film “Boyz n the Hood,” the teenagers attend that school and car-cruise the South Central Los Angeles boulevard after which the school is named.

Crenshaw High opened in 1968. By the time Ice-T left, less than a decade later, Crenshaw had become, in the rapper’s words, “a Crip school” – meaning one controlled by that street gang. Because of the school’s reputation for violence, Time magazine called it “Fort Crenshaw.” A powerhouse in basketball and football, the school lost its accreditation 2005, before getting it back in 2006 on a short-term basis.

In 1970, I was part of the second graduating class in the new school’s history. Some kids who started with me in the 10th grade did not finish. But it was the exception rather than the rule. By 2012, only 51 percent of Crenshaw’s students graduated.

What happened?

Dads disappeared. Or, more precisely, to use Bill Cosby’s term, the number of “unwed fathers” exploded.

He goes on to say:

In 1979 the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth found that fatherless kids were twice as likely to drop out of school and that girls who grew up without dads were 2.5 times more likely to become pregnant teenagers.

Rutgers University sociology professor David Popenoe published “Life Without Father” in 1996, where he describes the “massive erosion” of fathers in America. Popenoe concluded that boys raised without fathers were more likely to have problems with drugs, alcohol, behavior and social interactions. Several studies during the ’90s found that disruption in family structures was a predictor of children’s gang involvement.

Many on the left dismiss the importance of fathers as “right-wing,” blame-the-victim propaganda. Well, the late rapper Tupac Shakur, in the posthumously released documentary “Resurrection,” said: “I know for a fact that had I had a father, I’d have some discipline. I’d have more confidence.” He admits that he starting hanging out with gangs because he wanted to belong to a family structure, and it offered structure, support and protection – the kind of thing we once expected home and family to provide.

Anyone who knows a bit about gang culture will know that the gang leader acts as a surrogate father and that his top assistants as big brothers, meting out brutal punishments to members violating house rules.

Larry Elder’s upbringing in an unsavoury part of Los Angeles was quite different.

In this YouTube clip, Elder — a graduate of Brown University and University of Michigan Law School — tells the interviewer about his troubled relationship with his dad:

Elder explains that he and his father — married, working and living at home — got into an argument when Elder was 15. They did not speak to each other for ten years.

When they did start talking again, they had an eight-hour long conversation.

Until that point Elder did not understand what his father had been through from childhood in the South through to the time he was raising a family.

Elder Sr took his surname from his mother’s long-term boyfriend. In a parallel with Elder Jr, Elder Sr did not get on with the man of the house and was thrown out at age 13. He went on to serve his country during the Second World War. Upon returning to the South, he could not get a job. Frustrated but determined, he moved to California. He had problems finding employment as a short order cook because he had no references. Eventually, he ended up working two jobs whilst his wife raised the children. Larry Elder said that his parents believed it was important for his mother to stay at home.

Elder Sr, he tells us, only got four-and-a-half hours of sleep for decades. Even when he had saved up enough money to open the snack bar, Larry says his dad was always on edge. Home life proved difficult, especially once the children began working there:

… what I knew I hated — really, really hated. Cold, ill-tempered, thin-skinned, my father always seemed on the brink of erupting.

But Larry never knew about his father’s trials until the eight-hour conversation many years later. That is the reason for the book.

Larry Elder wants to reconcile children with their fathers, those fortunate enough to know them. In the Fox News interview, he says he has heard from men and women around the country who have mended fences with their dads and have come to understand them and love them in an entirely different light.

Elder believes that fathers are essential and that couples should marry before having children:

The formula for achieving middle-class success is simple: Finish high school; don’t have a child before the age of 20; and get married before having the child. Preparing for the future requires dedication. It requires deferring gratification, precisely the kind of “discipline” Tupac admitted he lacked because he grew up without a father.

Doing what you want to do is easy. Doing what you have to do is hard. Dads, by getting up and going to work each day, send a powerful message every day to their children: Hard work wins. There are no short cuts. The outcome is unknowable. But the effort is entirely within your control.

His own success is a testament to the upbringing he had, flawed and harsh as it was.

Elder says that whatever we perceive to be the problems in the black community are not the crucial issue. As he tells Tavis Smiley (at 5:06 and near the end of the interview) the crux of the matter is ‘children having children':

He wants people to take responsibility for their own lives and rely less on the welfare state.

Incidentally, this is not just a black problem: Britain has many whites who have adopted the same multi-generational lifestyle.

In December 2014, Los Angeles radio station KABC dropped its hometown host’s show from its schedule. However, Elder’s show is syndicated and can be heard via other American radio stations and online.

Elder’s politics are small-state libertarian. Some would call him conservative, particularly in his probing and fascinating interview of Bill Ayers, who — amazingly — progressed from antiwar terrorist to teacher to Obama’s mentor:

Several of Elder’s fans would prefer that he be President of the United States rather than a talk show host. I can see their point.

Episcopal Church welcome 0A7AB222-279F-4A6F-8122C192BD2E1165The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States continues its inexorable decline.

In October 2014, Philip Jenkins discussed the latest TEC statistics for Patheos (H/T Not Another Episcopal Church Blog and Midwest Conservative Journal):

Between 2012 and 2013, the denomination’s membership fell by 1.4 percent, to 1.87 million, while Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) fell by 2.6 percent. Those percentages may not sound like much, until you realize that these are figures for a single year, and they closely echo the percentage drops for several preceding years …  

If we extrapolate that rate into the not-too-distant future, then the number of people attending Episcopal churches on a typical Sunday will be negligible by mid-century, typical of a tiny sect rather than a great church or denomination. It won’t reach zero for a while, but in effect, the church will cease to exist.

That mid-century date is really not far off. In fact, the baby baptized at my church last Sunday will by that point only be a young adult in her 30s. 

Churches — and seminaries — are merging or closing. One recent church sale took place in Avon, Connecticut. This is how the Diocese of Connecticut explained the sale of Christ Episcopal Church to the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center:

The building was vacated after the congregation voted in 2012 to dissolve as a parish and close by the end of that year.

The following spring, Bishop Ian T. Douglas and other ECCT staff hosted a meeting of community leaders and interested residents to discern how the property could best be used “as an asset to God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation” in greater Avon and beyond.

At the meeting they learned that the local Muslim community needed a place to gather for prayers, teaching, youth programs and interfaith work. In September 2013 the ECCT entered into an interfaith partnership with FVAMC that included leasing the Avon building.

Since then the FVAMC has reached out to its neighbors with open houses and other interfaith efforts, expanded its worship and service work, and grown its programs, particularly for youth.

The several committees of the ECCT needed to approve the sale gave it their solid endorsement and support.

Hmm.

Christopher Johnson of Midwest Conservative Journal rightly finds it odd that a denomination which has lost its way theologically in appealing to the world is in decline:

For the last several years, studies similar to this one have assured us again and again that the reason why the Young PeopleTM no longer identify as Christians to the extent that they once did is that they don’t share the outmoded, retrograde attitudes of their parents or their churches on social issues such as abortion, women in leadership roles, duh gaze, etc.

Frankly, I’m starting to doubt the validity of those studies.  Because if they were true, would it not follow that the Episcopalians would be cleaning up?  That you’d have to make a reservation weeks in advance just to be allowed inside an Episcopal church?

Undergroundpewster of Not Another Episcopal Church Blog says (emphasis in the original):

Is there a way to reverse the trajectory? Of course there is, but nobody on board the starship Episcoprize seems willing to toss the captain and crew out into the vacuum of space and make the passengers study the owner’s manual in order to find out how we should have been flying this thing in the first place.

On the Midwest Conservative Journal‘s entry, he commented (emphases mine):

The shift is nearly complete from being called the Republican party at prayer to being the Democrat party without a prayer. Playing dress up on Sunday with phony clerics who don’t really believe the source documents of Christianity just won’t bring people to Christ.

In response to the Patheos article, he wrote:

The numbers don’t include the loss of the Diocese of South Carolina. The math is problematic in some other respects. The data on ASA and membership is not precise. Our parish ASA is routinely overstated by 20% or so by my estimate. Predicting the future is always difficult. It is hard to know if there will ever be a plateau or not at some point in the future. I suspect there will be a small remnant as Sarah suggests in her comment. The causes of the decline are legion, and I agree with others that the Church has departed from orthodox Christianity in many, many respects, and it is not likely to return to the fold of the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church that we say we believe in without giving up many, many of its new beliefs.

I thoroughly agree with undergroundpewster and Christopher Johnson.

Furthermore, a number of clergy from parish level to national level are guilty of the 15 ailments of which Pope Francis accuses the Curia. TEC has ongoing, vicious property disputes. Over the past two decades, it has splintered over theological and socio-political divisions (e.g. gay bishop Gene Robinson).

As for the faithful members, people either die or leave for a denomination which teaches the Gospel in all its fullness.

Churchgoers of faith know the difference between the Shepherd’s voice via His clergy and that of thieves and robbers of souls.

This is St John’s account of the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18). Would that Episcopalian clergy were mindful of it:

1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

The comments on the three entries I have linked to are well worth reading. Faithful Episcopalians describe their displeasure with a ‘Unitarian’ atmosphere, syncretic liturgies, ambivalent morality and apostate clergy.

Each time the Episcopal Church has embraced the world, it has lost more members.

There is no solution other than a return to the foundations of faith and the Bible.

As with the Catholic Church it is hard to know whether this should start with the Presiding Bishop or the seminaries.

Thanksgiving brantfowlercomThursday, November 27, 2014, is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

I hope that my American readers, wherever they are in the world, have a very happy Thanksgiving with friends and/or family.

My 2013 Thanksgiving post looked at the development of this tradition, which explains the absence of this holiday between the 17th century and the mid-19th century. It all came down to a letter from 1621 about the first Thanksgiving which surfaced in 1841. The post describes what happened at that initial celebration, including what was eaten and the sporting competition which followed.

Other posts for this day have explored the historical significance as many Americans know it: British Calvinists and American Indians together, George Washington’s First Thanksgiving Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving, a biblical perspective with a call for personal priorities and, lest we forget, a USMC chaplain’s poem remembering the troops who are serving the United States at this time. May we remember them in our prayers.

Besides the iconic feast at Plymouth, other American regions (e.g. Virginia and Florida) also had feasts of Thanksgiving which took place. That said, none have captured the imagination or spirit of the holiday as vividly as that in Massachusetts in 1621.

Have a wonderful day and may you be blessed with lots of leftovers!

The English journalist Piers Morgan — much vilified on both sides of the Atlantic — voiced his disillusionment with Barack Obama.

On November 3, 2014, Morgan gave ten reasons why he changed his mind about the American President, whose party could face a drubbing in today’s midterm Senate elections.

Many ordinary people could have told Morgan six years ago why they disagreed with the Democratic Party’s choice of Obama as presidential candidate. But few, including Morgan, would have listened. Obama was presented as — and believed to be by media types — a political messiah, a deliverer.

One and a half terms later, Morgan tells us he is disillusioned. Three of his ten reasons follow:

6. HE’S BORING. What happened to the charismatic, courageous, quick-fire political firebrand who charged to victory in 2008? Obama’s speeches have become repetitive and turgid, his pressers a monument to mind-numbing, professorial tedium, and his endless heavily-controlled media interviews a sycophantic, pointless embarrassment to him and the carefully selected journalists who conduct them. No wonder audiences have started running for the exit when he turns up on the stump.

9. HE’S DONE NOTHING TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF MINORITIES. Virtually every leading black American I interviewed on my old CNN show believed that the basic living standards of their fellow African-Americans were poorer now than before Obama came to power. Further, they believed that racism is now worse than it was six years ago. Two breath-taking failures on behalf of the very section of population that most helped get him elected.

10. HE PERSISTS IN CALLING US ALL ‘FOLKS’. I don’t why he does this, but I find it incredibly patronising and irritating. I can’t be the only one.

Obama has problems speaking extemporaneously. He needed his teleprompter at all times, including during his campaign. A natural orator he is not. I never could listen to more than to two sentences from him. It is difficult to fathom how and why countless millions around the world found him mesmerising.

I can believe he’s done nothing to improve the lives of minorities. Racism, on all sides, does seem worse than before. Obama is an elitist and always has been, even from his childhood.

As for an elitist calling the lower orders — a term he would no doubt use if he could get away with it — ‘folks’, it seems entirely characteristic of a person who mixes in a very limited and lofty circle.

My objections to his presidency are two: Obamacare and Benghazi. Morgan mentions the first but leaves out the latter — a glaring omission because so many questions remain. It is unlikely that we will ever know quite why that fateful night unfolded the way it did. Why wasn’t it as huge as Watergate? Why was no real pressure brought by those in power, including the media, to thoroughly investigate the deaths?

I don’t expect to write about American politics much after this post. I certainly do not expect to follow the 2016 election as closely as I have previous ones.

The dominance of the Democratic Party in the United States tells me that the majority of Americans have the government they deserve.

My commiserations to American voters who are struggling against the tide.

Did you know that most smokers will never contract lung cancer?

Experts and media economical with the truth

Studies on the subject are, not surprisingly, hard to find, but every now and then, a small item appears in a news article, such as this one in Time magazine, dated April 2, 2008 (emphases mine):

… what about the 80% of smokers who don’t develop lung cancer? Are they just the lucky ones?

The article goes on to say that lung cancer and smoking depends on a genetic variant which researchers in Europe and the United States studied:

While the variants were associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers, that genetic predisposition is not destiny.

However, this is not new. A 1985 article from the Los Angeles Times, ‘Researcher Admits that 80% of Smokers Don’t Get Cancer’ begins as follows:

A researcher who testified in a $1-million wrongful death suit that smoking causes lung cancer later admitted “perhaps 80%” of smokers do not contract the disease.

Dr. Michael B. Shimkin acknowledged under cross-examination Wednesday that “most people who do smoke–even heavy smokers–do not get lung cancer.”

Shimkin refused when pressed by R. J. Reynolds Co. attorneys to set the number at 90%, but said it is “a heavy number, perhaps 80%. . . . This is one of the many questions in medicine, why some of us have resistance to this and others do not.”

Another doctor, James P Shiepman, MD, did his own private research on many of the anti-tobacco studies available on the Internet. His short but informative essay, based on 50 hours of research, is entitled ‘Smoking Does Not Cause Lung Cancer’. I recommend it to everyone.

Those seeking actual tables from the WHO and Center for Disease Control can examine his table of risks per demographic at the bottom of the page.

Excerpts from his essay follow (emphasis his in the third paragraph):

… the risk of a smoker getting lung cancer is much less than anyone would suspect.  Based upon what the media and anti-tobacco organizations say, one would think that if you smoke, you get lung cancer (a 100% correlation) or at least expect a 50+% occurrence before someone uses the word “cause.” 

Would you believe that the real number is < 10% (see Appendix A)? Yes, a US white male (USWM) cigarette smoker has an 8% lifetime chance of dying from lung cancer but the USWM nonsmoker also has a 1% chance of dying from lung cancer (see Appendix A).  In fact, the data used is biased in the way that it was collected and the actual risk for a smoker is probably less.  I personally would not smoke cigarettes and take that risk, nor recommend cigarette smoking to others, but the numbers were less than I had been led to believe.  I only did the data on white males because they account for the largest number of lung cancers in the US, but a similar analysis can be done for other groups using the CDC data.

You don’t see this type of information being reported, and we hear things like, “if you smoke you will die”, but when we actually look at the data, lung cancer accounts for only 2% of the annual deaths worldwide and only 3% in the US.**

He takes the media to task for misusing words, particularly ’cause’ (emphases his in the second paragraph):

Look in any dictionary and you will find something like, “anything producing an effect or result.”18 At what level of occurrence would you feel comfortable saying that X “causes” Y?  For myself and most scientists, we would require Y to occur at least 50% of the time. Yet the media would have you believe that X causes Y when it actually occurs less than 10% of the time ...

If they would say that smoking increases the incidence of lung cancer or that smoking is a risk factor in the development of lung cancer, then I would agree. The purpose of this article is to emphasize the need to use language appropriately in both the medical and scientific literature (the media, as a whole, may be a lost cause).

Yet, his own scientific world does not dispute the media’s message; they say the same thing. The aforementioned articles from Time and the Los Angeles Times focus more on the anti-smoking aspect than the fact that only a small percentage of smokers will ever get lung cancer.

Shiepman follows his essay with a section called ‘The Untold Facts of Smoking (Yes, there is bias in science’. Among the facts are these:

4. All cancers combined account for only 13% of all annual deaths and lung cancer only 2%.**

7. Second hand smoke has never been shown to be a causative factor in lung cancer.

9. No study has shown that second hand smoke exposure during childhood increases their risk of getting lung cancer.

11. If everyone in the world stopped smoking 50 years ago, the premature death rate would still be well over 80% of what it is today.1 (But I thought that smoking was the major cause of preventable death…hmmm.)

He concludes:

Yes, smoking is bad for you, but so is fast-food hamburgers, driving, and so on. We must weigh the risk and benefits of the behavior both as a society and as an individual based on unbiased information. Be warned though, that a society that attempts to remove all risk terminates individual liberty and will ultimately perish. Let us be logical in our endeavors and true in our pursuit of knowledge. Instead of fearful waiting for lung cancer to get me (because the media and much of the medical literature has falsely told me that smoking causes lung cancer), I can enjoy my occasional cigar even more now…now that I know the whole story.

At the bottom of the page is this (italics his):

For those of you who actually read the whole article…

As long as I’m being controversial by presenting both sides of the story, do I dare tell you that a woman is three times more likely to die from an abortion than from delivering a baby (WHO data).

Why lung cancer rates are increasing — despite smoking bans

A British health site, Second Opinions, has an in-depth article on the puzzling rates of lung cancer from the 20th century to the present. Many people wonder about the strange rise of the disease among non- and never-smokers in an era where smoking is banned nearly everywhere in the West.  ‘Does Smoking Really Cause Lung Cancer?’ which appeared at the Millennium is required reading.

The article looks at the research done by the late Dr Kitty Little who worked for 50 years as a research scientist both in Oxford and in Washington, DC. She spent the first decade of her career studying the effects of radiation on the body for the Atomic Energy Research Establishment. She went on to Oxford Medical School practising orthopaedics. She then spent time in the United States working with their armed forces as a pathologist. When she returned to England, she worked at the MRC (Medical Research Council) on DNA and the causes of dental caries. She also wrote a textbook at Oxford about bone pathology and bone cancer. Dr Little died in 1999.

In 1998, Little wrote an article called ‘Diesel Smoke and Lung Cancer’ (see aforementioned Second Opinions link). In short, she concluded (emphases mine, unless otherwise indicated):

  • tobacco smoke contains no carcinogens, while diesel fumes contain four known carcinogens;
  • that lung cancer is rare in rural areas, but common in towns;
  • that cancers are more prevalent along the routes of motorways;
  • that the incidence of lung cancer has doubled in non-smokers over past decades;
  • and that there was less lung cancer when we, as a nation, smoked more.

A summary, accompanied by excerpts, of her research into the 20th century history of lung cancer follows.

It should be noted that the effect of smoke in the lungs was first debated in 1306 by the English Parliament when coal began to be used as fuel. Tobacco had not yet reached Europe.

Lung cancer rates started to rise in the 1930s, inexplicably eclipsing the incidence of other cancers. The pattern of lung cancer cases was equally unusual. In South Africa, cities with frequent breezes (e.g. Port Elizabeth, Cape Town) had lower rates than urban areas with little to no wind (e.g. Durban, Johannesburg).

Another factor was that most cities had already experienced decades of urban smoke. Why the sudden explosion of lung cancer in the 1930s?

In rural South Africa, lung cancer rates were lower, even where much of the population — both men and women — smoked. Rhodesia, which had a high percentage of smokers, had very little lung cancer.

The culprit appears to have been the introduction of diesel-fuelled vehicles which appeared at the beginning of the 1930s, first in the UK, then South Africa and New Zealand a few years later. British immigrants to other parts of the Commonwealth began contracting lung cancer before the populations of their host countries did. This included non- or never-smokers.

Little concluded:

Statistics such as these that have been quoted provide almost complete proof that diesel smoke has been the cause of the rise in incidence of lung cancer, but statistics on their own can never provide complete proof. One also needs confirmation from an investigation into the biological mechanisms involved. This includes seeking to identify the carcinogenic agent or agents responsible.

Urban smoke and cigarette and tobacco smoke contain a chemical, 3:4 benzpyrine, that is weakly carcinogenic. However, it oxidises very easily, and has never been shown to cause lung cancer – conditions in the lungs would favour rapid oxidation to harmless compounds. There is, however, evidence that diesel smoke contains at least four strongly carcinogenic compounds. (4) It has also been shown, from field observations, that local concentrations in some traffic conditions can be very high. (5)

In 1950s Britain:

it was quite clear that the increase in lung cancer had been due to diesel smoke, and that cigarette and tobacco smoke had nothing to do with it. Yet on 27th June 1957 the anti-smoking campaign was launched, (6) with the Health Education Council being formed to help push its propaganda. (The Health Education Council, and its successor the Health Education Authority, have been primarily concerned with promoting bogus medical propaganda).

By the early 1960s, this anti-tobacco campaign resulted in fewer Britons smoking. Nonetheless, lung cancer rates continued to rise, particularly among men who worked amidst diesel emissions — notably garage attendants and lorry drivers. The solution for the former was to introduce self-service filling stations.

By 1970, lung cancer rates continued to rise as road traffic increased along with the amount of diesel emissions. Towns near motorways and cities with heavy traffic had a higher incidence than those communities in a cleaner environment:

Thus, in the Abingdon and Faringdon district lung cancer deaths rose by 65% in 1970 as compared with previous years. (7)

Regardless, the British medical establishment continued to press on with the message that smoking tobacco was deadly:

There was no attempt made to check if any doctor with an early lung cancer had some other condition recorded as a cause of death. One such case would have been sufficient to invalidate the conclusion.

Little’s research points out that researchers and physicians have completely ignored the effect of diesel smoke — now increased over the past 15 years with family vehicles running on the fuel:

This invalidates all their results, since statistics always seem to give an answer, but it is only the correct answer when all the relevant variables are taken into account – and the effect of diesel smoke is undoubtedly relevant. It is interesting that lawyers issued instruction on how to confuse a court should an action for damages resulting from diesel smoke be initiated. (9)

The fact that many of the cases of lung cancer involve non-smokers became something that could no longer be ignored. Therefore, as diesel family cars came onto the roads, an attempt has been made to implicate “passive smoking”. Evidence already quoted shows that this suggestion must be false. Not only does tobacco smoke not contain a carcinogenic agent that could cause lung cancer, but the high levels of smoking, in this country before diesel was introduced, and in South Africa and elsewhere in places where diesel had not been introduced, never resulted in lung cancer from “passive smoking”. If the suggestion was valid they would have done.

Little concluded her article by condemning the Tobacco Control industry:

Since the effect of the anti-smoking campaign has been to prevent the genuine cause from being publicly acknowledged, there is a very real sense in which we could say that the main reason for those 30,000 deaths a year from lung cancer is the anti-smoking campaign itself.

Second Opinions also examined American research on the rise of lung cancer. Dr David Abbey studied 6338 non-smoking men, aged 27-95, who lived in California between 1967 and 1992. In 1999, he published his results which centred on vehicle emissions and lung cancer in non- and never-smokers (emphasis in the original):

PM10 exposure was strongly associated with lung cancer, raising the risk by 2.38 times. PM10 exposure was also associated with all natural causes of death in men and with an increased mortality from non-malignant respiratory disease in men and women. PM10s are particles of less than 10 µm in diameter exhausted from Diesel engines. David Abbey, leading author of the study noted that men who spent longer outside were at greater risk than men who spent most of their time indoors.

In addition, ozone exposure was implicated in increased risk of lung-cancer mortality in men, and sulphur dioxide (SO 2 ) exposure was independently associated with increased risk of lung-cancer mortality in both men and women. These too are found in vehicle exhaust emissions.

Today’s ‘cleaner’ diesel is still problematic with regard to lung cancer. Abbey discovered:

these may be even more harmful … “recent studies on the short-term effects of atmospheric particles on respiratory and cardiovascular diseases have shown that PM2.5s and even smaller particles are more important than PM10s.”

It is to be hoped that the lies about tobacco which have been foisted on the world over the past 60 years — from Sir Richard Doll’s 1954 study onward — will soon be exposed.

The real cause of our lung cancer rates is likely to be vehicle emissions. More experts need the bottle to break out of the conventional mould and research this, particularly with the continuous decrease in the number of smokers and venues where smoking is allowed.

My past two posts — here and here — have centred on LSD and its use by the CIA in rendering a bright, innovative society drugged and compliant.

Today’s post concludes the story, which includes British intelligence dating from the Great War — World War I.

Aldous Huxley

When Aldous and Julian Huxley (first director of UNESCO) were studying at Oxford, their tutor was a fellow Fabian, H G Wells. Wells had also introduced Aldous to Aleister Crowley.

Wells headed British foreign intelligence during the First World War. He devised what he called

The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution”a “one-world brain” which would function as “a police of the mind.”

In her 1980 book The Aquarian Conspiracy author Marilyn Ferguson says that, in the 1930s, the British government sent Aldous Huxley to the United States

as the case officer for an operation to prepare the United States for the mass dissemination of  drugs.

Huxley went to California in 1937 and spent the whole of the Second World War there. When he wasn’t working as a screenwriter, he was establishing Isis cults:

In effect, Huxley and [Christopher] Isherwood (joined  soon afterwards by Thomas Mann and his  daughter Elisabeth Mann Borghese) laid  the foundations during the late 1930s  and the 1940s for the later LSD culture,  by recruiting a core of “initiates” into the Isis cults that Huxley’s mentors,  Bulwer-Lytton, Blavatsky, and Crowley, had constituted while stationed in India.

Huxley did not return to the UK until 1952. That same year, the CIA initiated MK-Ultra. It is possible that both British intelligence and OSS (Office of Strategic Services) were also involved. Allen Dulles was CIA director at the time MK-Ultra started. He had also been in the OSS when Albert Hofmann was conducting his early research on LSD.

Incidentally, James Warburg, whose banking family had an interest in Sandoz, had worked with Huxley. He founded the Institute for Policy Studies in 1963.

Huxley returned to the United States in 1952 accompanied by his family doctor, Humphry Osmond. Osmond had previously attended a seminar Huxley had organised in London. Osmond and another seminar participant J R Smythies wrote a paper called ‘Schizophrenia: A New Approach':

he asserted that mescaline — a  derivative of the mescal cactus used in  ancient Egyptian and Indian pagan rites  — produced a psychotic state identical in  all clinical respects to schizophrenia.

On  this basis, Osmond and Smythies  advocated experimentation with  hallucinogenic drugs as a means of  developing a “cure” for mental disorders.

Dulles invited Osmond to play a prominent role in MK-Ultra.

Osmond, Huxley and Robert Hutchins — from the University of Chicago, also Ford Foundation programme director — planned a series of meetings through to 1953 regarding a second, but private, initiative concerning LSD and mescaline.  When Henry Ford II got wind of it, he sacked Hutchins. That said, the proposal was not dropped.

In 1953, Osmond began supplying Huxley with mescaline. In 1954, Huxley wrote The Doors of Perception, considered to be the first manifesto of the cult around hallucinogenic drugs.

Later that decade, he worked privately on LSD and mescaline research, recruiting candidates from his Isis cult centres from around California. Among them were luminaries such as Margaret Mead’s ex-husband Dr Gregory Bateson — also in the OSS working as an anthropologist — and the defrocked Anglican priest Alan Watts who went on to embrace Buddhism.

Bateson directed hallucinogenic experiments at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital. He was able to lure some of his subjects into Huxley’s Isis cult groups. Bateson was also the first to give LSD to Ken Kesey.

Watts launched the Pacifica Foundation which had two radio stations, one in San Francisco and another in New York City.

Late in 1960, Huxley was appointed visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. This enabled him to form a core group of insiders, among them Osmond, Watts, Leary and Alpert.

Whilst at MIT, Huxley wanted Leary to form a group of LSD users among the elite:

and lead a psychedelic conspiracy to brainwash influential people for the purposes of human betterment. “That’s how everything of culture and beauty and philosophic freedom has been passed on,” Huxley tells him. “Initiate artists, writers, poets, jazz musicians, elegant courtesans. And they’ll educate the intelligent rich.”

Nevertheless, only a few years later on the other side of the country in 1964, ‘Baby’ Jane Holzer — a young, beautiful New York socialite who spent much of her time at Andy Warhol’s drug-ridden Factory in Manhattan — said:

It was getting very scary at the Factory. There were too many crazy people around who were stoned and using too many drugs. They had some laughing gas that everybody was sniffing. The whole thing freaked me out, and I figured it was becoming too faggy and sick and druggy. I couldn’t take it.

Whilst at MIT, Huxley contacted the president of Sandoz. Sandoz was fulfilling a CIA contract for MK-Ultra, consisting of large quantities of LSD — 100 million doses — and psilocybin. By the late 1960s, these had flooded the streets. By the way, Leary was purchasing his LSD in large quantities from the pharmaceutical manufacturer as well, albeit privately.

In 1962, Huxley strongly influenced the founding of the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, where he was one of the lecturers. Their purpose was to promote

behavior group therapy, for Zen,  Hindu, and Buddhist transcendental  meditation, and “out of body”  experiences through simulated and actual hallucinogenic drugs.23

As described in the Esalen Institute  Newsletter: “Esalen started in the fall of  1962 as a forum to bring together a wide variety of approaches to enhancement of  the human potential . . . including  experiential sessions involving encounter groups, sensory awakening, gestalt awareness training, related disciplines.  Our latest step is to fan out into the community at large, running programs in  cooperation with many different institutions, churches, schools, hospitals, and government.”24

My comments: First, I have not met any Briton yet who has a good thing to say about Aldous Huxley. Secondly, there are many American WASPs who also discount his opinions and lifestyle. Thirdly, it is quite possible that the UK government wanted to put the Huxleys in other roles — and keep the H G Wells people quiet — by transferring them to the US. That way, the UK would never have to hear from them again. It seems to have worked!

I do not think there was a conspiracy of the UK gaining supremacy over the US because, in order for the US to achieve smooth passage of the Nazi doctors and their families across the pond, diplomatic intervention would have been required. The British were in the best position to achieve this — in negotiations with the Germans and the French (who would also have had a say). Therefore, the British did what the Americans asked and … in return, the Americans got their Nazi doctors — and Aldous Huxley.

Later developments

Also in 1962, the Rand Corporation of Santa Monica, California, began a four-year experiment of marijuana, peyote and LSD. (During the Second World War, Rand had a pivotal role in determining the psychological effects bombing had on the population of German cities.) Rand researchers studied 30 humans in 1963 and concluded in their report, ‘Short-Term Effects of LSD on  Anxiety, Attitudes and Performance’ that

LSD improved  emotional attitudes and resolved anxiety problems.

It is of note that James Warburg’s Institute for Policy Studies became the US branch of the British Russell Peace Institute. Not surprisingly it drew its operatives from British-dominated institutions, including the US branch of the Tavistock Institute, National Training Labs.

Oddly, the SDS — Students for a Democratic Society — received financing from the IPS. The general idea for this unusual financing was to promote love — hedonistic pleasure — instead of war. It didn’t work in the IPS’s favour all the time, considering the violent student protests on university campuses and the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968.

According to Ferguson, all this would eventually progress to an American programme developed in May 1974

on how to transform the United  States into Aldous Huxley’s Brave New  World. The counterculture is a  conspiracy at the top, created as a  method of social control, used to drain  the United States of its commitment to  scientific and technological progress.

She refers to:

“Changing Images of Man,”  Contract Number URH (489~215O, Policy  Research Report No. 414.74, prepared by  the Stanford Research Institute Center  for the Study of Social Policy, Willis  Harman, director.

The 319-page  mimeographed report was prepared by a  team of fourteen researchers and  supervised by a panel of twenty-three  controllers, including anthropologist  Margaret Mead, psychologist B.F.  Skinner, Ervin Laszlo of the United  Nations, Sir Geoffrey Vickers of British  intelligence.

The aim of the study, the authors state,  is to change the image of mankind from  that of industrial progress to one of  “spiritualism.” The study asserts that in  our present society, the “image of  industrial and technological man” is  obsolete and must be “discarded”:

“Many  of our present images appear to have  become dangerously obsolete, however .  . .

Science, technology, and economics  have made possible really significant  strides toward achieving such basic  human goals as physical safety and  security, material comfort and better  health. But many of these successes  have brought with them problems of  being too successful — problems that  themselves seem insoluble within the set  of societal value-premises that led to  their emergence . . .

Our highly developed system of technology leads to higher vulnerability and breakdowns.  Indeed the range and interconnected  impact of societal problems that are  now emerging pose a serious threat to  our civilization . . . If our predictions of  the future prove correct, we can expect  the association problems of the trend to  become more serious, more universal  and to occur more rapidly.”

The report advised that change should come about quickly. Indeed, that is how it feels to many today: that we are too successful and have to lose our freedom of choice, action and thought.

Conclusion

It seems to me — whether good or bad drugs, CIA involvement, British activity and what not — that drugs can never succeed. They are simply a dangerous idea.

And, if Ferguson’s book is correct, we are well on the road to social control and technological mediocrity.

No wonder there is a drive to get us off alcohol and tobacco.

Drugs — stay away from them or risk your God-given personal identity, intelligence and integrity.

And for those who suspect a British conspiracy here, let me assure you the same thing is going on here: UK Decay (first coined by the now-defunct Spy magazine as ‘UK DK’ in the 1990s; I did not wish to copy their intellectual property directly). We have much unemployment among second-generation Britons, not to mention increased drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, ‘mum’s boyfriend’ syndrome and all the rest.

The same is going on in France, where Marseille is undoubtedly going to be renamed Detroit. Yes, it’s that bad.

So, this is not a conspiracy against America, but rather against the Western world. That said, I am sorry that so many Americans, particularly honest servicemen, were prey to government or intelligence programmes which ruined their minds and left them less than able to love their wives and children, head a household and hold down a job. May God help them and their families.

All this makes remembering our war dead next month sad and poignant. I’m sure they did not give their lives so that we could be drugged up to the eyeballs and live according to the dictates of the government. Surely that is what they least wanted for themselves and for future generations.

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