Pardon a shameless bit of capitalistic promotion, but it's one that ultimately helps you. March is officially "Dummies Month," and the good folks at Wiley Publishing have a regular program every year at this time. Buy a Dummies book or audio set and get a $5 rebate (up to two per family).
That means you can buy one or two Dummies books on any subject (not just ours) between March 1st - 31st, 2009, and get $5 smackers each delivered to your majestic manse's mailbox direct from the publisher. In addition, the Wiley folks will also send along another $5 mail-in rebate form for any Dummies book purchased in June, July or August 2009.
Angels, Demons, the Illuminati, and Why You Shouldn't Get Your History From Movies
Blurring reality and fantasy helps to sell books and movies, but the art of modern movie pimping takes it to a new level. And the real trouble is when the public gets its history from movies. Thanks to Oliver Stone's excremental movie JFK, the belief that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy is today considered to be the whacked out, drunken crazy talk instead of the other way around. Millions think the deadly bullet had to be a magic one, or that the grassy knoll had teams of sharpshooters all over it. And Clay Shaw is still attempting to figure out how to file a lawsuit from his coffin.
So now comes another new movie attempting to rewrite history. In a way not as egregious as a piece of Stone's dreck, but in other ways, more so. The film based on Dan Brown's novel "Angels & Demons" is threatening to be in theaters this May. Sony pictures has released what is masquerading as a pseudo-docu-featurette about the Illuminati, as a lead up to the release of the picture, and so far, it looks to be another Catholic bashing exercise, like its source material was.
Now, I was in the film business long enough to know that shameless whoredom is a Hollywood way of life, and pumping your pimp hand for your picture to ensure a socko opening weekend is what it's all about. And yes, I know, the only thing worse than standing on a chair and shrieking "Eeek!" over a fictional movie is shrieking "Eeek!" over the fictional novel it's based upon. Nevertheless, in this particular case I have to shout "Tripe!" when tripe is served. And this one dishes up a whole platter of it.
Dan Brown is fond of alleging that the organizations mentioned in his books are real, and then he goes on to not bother with telling a single truthful thing about them. Over the years, it's become patently obvious that Dan Brown was whacked across the hands with a ruler by some stern nun during his formative years, and the real hoary, multi-headed Jabberwocky that terrifies him out of his sound sleep in a soggy sweat every night is the Catholic Church. That's okay. Writing can be therapeutic, but I would think he could take some of his new-found millions and just hire a good Freudian. Or Jungian. Whichever works.
The point is, Dan Brown's vision of the Illuminati has precisely zero to do with the real Bavarian Illuminati. If his book had just been spine out and lobbed into the cut-out bin after three months of lackluster sales, nobody would care. But that's not what happened. Angels & Demons eventually sold by the boatload, and the result is that literally millions of people think this is what the Illuminati were.
The official Angels & Demons website has a scene from the movie of Langdon explaining who and what the Illuminati supposedly were, followed by this text:
"Shrouded in mystery for nearly 500 years, The Illuminati began in the 1600's as a secret society of scientists, artists, architects and doctors whose theories and discoveries put them at odds with the dominant Catholic Church. For fear of persecution, members of the Illuminati, which means "enlightened ones," meet in secret while publicly growing in influence and stature by quietly infiltrating governments and major institutions... As a warning to others, the Church apprehended four scientists and branded them on the chest with the symbol of the cross to "purge them of their sins" [an event Brown calls "La Purga"] before publicly executing them..."
Ron Howard and Tom Hanks appear in the very brief "Illuminati Featurette", and here's what they go on to claim:
Ron Howard: "The Illuminati was formed in the 1600s. They were artists and scientists like Galileo and Bernini, whose progressive ideas threatened the Vatican."
Tom Hanks: "The Illuminati, they were pushing knowledge, um, and they had a pretty, pretty august group of people.
Ron Howard: "The early Illuminati were persecuted by the Church. They were hunted down, even executed, and driven underground."
Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon: "There wasn't a powerful organization on Earth they didn't penetrate, including the Vatican, by hiding in plain sight."
It seems that no one who writes about the Illuminati—from Brown, to David Icke's alien reptilian lizards, to Texe Marrs' unintentionally hilarious Codex Magica, to the peddlers of the "Five Illuminati Jew Bankers" myths and the ZOG believers—has the slightest interest in the true organization that did exist, and then really was disbanded.
The real, live, authentic Illuminati was a blip, a literal footnote in history, and I'll be posting about them later this week. But no, Dan Brown's Illuminati has nothing to do with real life.
Williamson had been excommunicated for 20 years, along with three other members of the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X who had been consecrated without Vatican approval. But German-born Pope Benedict XVI didn't know what a firestorm he'd created by lifting Williams' excommunication in early February. Because the British bishop was a longtime Holocaust denier. In January, a Swedish television station aired a November interview in which Williams claimed that no Jews were gassed during the Holocaust and only 200,000 to 300,000 were killed, not 6 million. "There were no gas chambers."
This isn't a new development with Williams. As far back as 1989 when he was at a seminary in Winona, Minnesota, he was quoted as saying that "Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism." He made the claim that "the Jews created the Holocaust so we would prostrate ourselves on our knees before them and approve of their new state of Israel."
In January, Williamson sent a letter to the Vatican, saying, “Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems." Note the lack of actually recanting his views. Many of his tamer views can be read on Dinoscopus, his personal blogsite.
The pope has now demanded that Williamson recant his views before he can be recognized as a Roman Catholic bishop, but after spending 20 years under excommunication before this, it's hard to see this as much of a threat to his vocation. Meanwhile, the Society of St. Pius X, which has long argued forcefully against the reforms adopted by the Second Vatican Council in 1965, is attempting to keep Williamson away from them—they've had enough trouble over the years without salting a Holocaust-denying bishop into the pot. On February 9th, they sacked him as head of their Argentina seminary in Buenos Aires. That in turn set off Argentina's Interior Ministry's mechanisms for showing Williamson the door and bestowing upon him the Order of the Boot.
"Skull and Bones" Society Sued By Geronimo's Family
Descendants of the Apache chief Geronimo are suing Yale University's Skull and Bones Society for the return of the warrior's skull. According to the Yale Daily News, twenty members of Geronimo's family are suing federal government officials, Yale, and Skull and Bones.
The story goes that back in May of 1918, a group of Bonesmen were all serving in the Army together at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, site of the mouldering remains of the Apache chief who had died in 1909 from pneumonia. It's no secret that S&B prides itself on its creepy collection of frat house decor, and the skull of an Indian chief whose name is synonymous with intoxicated white people jumping off cliffs would make a dandy addition to their "tomb." So (allegedly), Prescott Bush (father of George H.W., and grandfather of George W.), Henry Mallon, Ellery James and Charles C. Haffner, dug up the grave and stole the skull, a few bones, and a horse bit, and spirited them off to the Skull & Bones Tomb at Yale. Over the years, they have (allegedly) been in a glass display case.
The Skull and Bones "Tomb" on the Yale campus.
Because Geronimo’s grave was on a U.S. military base, the plaintiffs have also named President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of the Army Pete Geren as defendants in the suit. Under the theory of never sue anyone poor or not famous.
The Geronimo skull is a longstanding piece of Skull & Bones folklore, but several members of the (alleged) grave robbing team gave conflicting accounts of the raid. Towana Spivey, director of the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum, is quoted as saying he has never believed the story. Still, there is a skull in the S&B Tomb in New Haven known commonly as Geronimo.
This public imbroglio started back in 2007 when Harlyn Geronimo of Mescalero, New Mexico, wrote to President George W. Bush for help in returning the skull of his great-grandfather. Bush didn't bother with a response, hence the lawsuit (I will avoid any use of the term "warpath"). During the 2004 presidential race, Bonesmen Bush and Deomocratic nominee John Kerry both reacted to questions about the secretive society (one of about a dozen on the Yale campus) by saying that it was so secret they couldn't talk about it. Obviously, Bush admitting the chief's skull was in the Tomb would be in violation of the Society's obligation. Now, the courts will attempt to find out.
English Translation of Illuminati Weishaupt's "Diogenes Lamp"
Speaking of the Bavarian Illuminati, Diogenes Lamp ("Die Leuchte Des Diogenes") by Bavarian Illuminati founder Adam Weishaupt has just been published by the Masonic Book Club.
I am not really about trashing the work of others, and if someone has done good solid work and been a little sloppy in its presentation, I'm not such a tweedy, patches-on-the-elbows sort of critic who snorts insults through my tendrils of pipe smoke. But the truth is that this volume is a disgrace.
The two introductory sections are written by "Sir knight Mark Bruback." (See photo) Just from a purely technical standpoint, the text is loaded with spelling and formatting errors (and the most irritating elementary school convention of using "&" instead of "and"). While he would have done service to readers by discussing in a rational manner the modern day Illuminati accusations of alarmists like Lyndon LaRouche and David Icke, referring to them only as Mr. LaDouche and Mr. Icky is appallingly juvenile.
There is no explanation about "Sir knight Mark's" role in bringing this text to light, other than a brief allusion to his procuring the German translation services of Amelia Gill, or why he was chosen to write this appalling introduction. Indeed, it would have been nice to know Ms. Gill's background and translating experience, because Bruback's errors and inappropriate goofiness call into question the accuracy of the Weishaupt text itself. And Bruback's inclusion of lines from Aleister Crowley's Thelema writings for no apparent reason adds an OTO element to the book that comes totally out of left field.
One of the biggest benefits of the previous editions from the MBC was the production of hard-to-find older works, enlightened by a modern, well-written preface. By publishing this volume under the imprint of the Masonic Book Club, it calls into question their editorial judgement and expertise in a very big way. (And could they have picked a more unreadable typeface to print this in?)
The Bavarian Illuminati writings have never been available in English, as incredible as that may seem. With all of the Illuminati hysteria that has occurred all the way from the Illuminism scares in the 1790s, through Robert Anton Wilson's reintroduction of the Illuminati in his peculiar and satyrical trilogy, along with Icke's own "reptilian" brand and LaRouche's anti-semitic version, it has taken the threat of a movie based on Dan Brown's Illuminati story Angels & Demons to at last bring forth this one small volume of authentic Illuminati philosophy.
Bear in mind that "Die Leuchte Des Diogenes" was originally published in 1804 in Regensburg, long after Weishaupt was chased out of Bavaria and the Illuminati was exposed as a group of anti-clerical and anti-monarchial revolutionaries who were infiltrating Masonic lodges. Their organizational documents were well publicized by the Bavarian government (again, we have no English translations of these, even though they exist). So Diogenes Lamp may simply be Weishaupt's weepings on what might have been, and why the Illuminati was really just a lovable bunch of harmless fuzzballs.
The text of the work itself turns out to be—nothing special. It is a distillation of Enlightenment philosophy, relying on quotations from other writers and philosophers and darlings of the period. No irony that Weishaupt would have more than a few quotes from Shakespeare's "misunderstood" characters of King Richard II and Brutus, given his recent troubles in his home country. But again with a problem of this edition: why translate the Weishaupt German text, but leave as untranslated long quotes from French and Latin sources?
I know there are texts that actually lay out the Illuminati's rituals and organizational structure that researchers would love to have available in English (and not just John Robison's descriptions of them, or Albert Mackey's and Abbe Barruel's descriptions of Robison's descriptions...) The Illuminati has been erroneously tied to the Freemasons by anti-Masonic critics for 200 years, and I was applauding the publication of this book before I saw it. The good news is that we at last have the first book of authentic Illuminati writings translated into English. The bad news is it's this one.
Robin Carr retired last year from the Masonic Book Club, and I realize there's a steep learning curve for any new management team. And the publishing business has its own special hurdles to overcome. One of the biggest raps against the club over the years was the total lack of communication to members. You simply sent in your money, and eventually a book would come. Hopefully, this will be addressed, and I hope next year's selection is an improvement over this one. The Masonic Book Club has a good reputation from the past, but this volume is a step backwards.
Sony has released a new, longer trailer for the upcoming "Angels & Demons" movie, based on the Dan Brown book. A&D flips the order of the stories, making it a sequel rather than a prequel.
The film is due in theaters May 15th, 2009, and will help to make the Illuminati a household word. If it follows the book, too bad the very fictional Illuminati of Dan Brown's imaginings has nothing to do with the very real, original Bavarian version created by Adam Weishaupt in the 1700s.
BTW, Sony is threatening an even longer "extended cut" of the Da Vinci Code movie for Blue Ray on April 28th.
Police have said Cynthia Lynch, 43, of Tulsa (photo above), was recruited to join a Louisiana-based KKK group over the Internet and was shot to death in November when she tried to leave an initiation. Police have said the group's leader, Raymond Foster, 44, killed Lynch.
He has been booked on a second-degree murder charge. Seven others, including Foster's 20-year-old son Shane, were booked on obstruction of justice charges.
The grand jury will begin hearing the case Wednesday, said Rick Wood, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office in St. Tammany Parish, north of New Orleans. He would not give any details on what evidence may be presented.
Authorities said at the time of Lynch's killing they believed she had a falling out with head of the group, referred to alternately as the Sons of Dixie or the Dixie Brotherhood. She is believed to have been shot to death on or about Nov. 9.
Investigators said they found weapons, Confederate flags and six Klan robes at the campsite where Lynch was killed.
Earlier stories quoted St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain saying Lynch was supposed to be initiated and then return to Oklahoma to find other members for the white supremacist group. According to a Times Picayune article from last November, the group is considered to be a small, wannabe Klan organization, and it's unclear if there are any other members beyond the eight arrested. But as Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center said, "It's easy to dismiss these people as lunatics, the fringe of the fringe of the fringe, and while that's often true, that doesn't mean they're not capable of killing someone or in some cases a great many people."
Christopher L. Hodapp is the editor of the "Journal of The Masonic Society." He is the author of the best-selling "Freemasons For Dummies," and "Solomon's Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington D.C." He is the co-author with Alice Von Kannon of "The Templar Code For Dummies" and "Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies For Dummies." He has appeared on the History and Discovery channels on the subject of Freemasonry, its role in the founding of the United States and the building of Washington D.C. Hodapp has spent more than twenty years editing, writing and directing as a commercial filmmaker. He has written for corporate and non-profit programs, and his voice has appeared in many television and radio commercials. His newest book, "Deciphering the Lost Symbol," was published in 2010. Chris lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.