Millennium Concentrate:

New Series, II [August-September 1999]

This new series of Millennium Concentrates attempts to list recent and breaking news stories of millennial or apocalyptic interest.

September 11, 1999

There has been less press discussing the Falun Gong movement in China over the last couple of weeks, but two "older" apocalyptic groups have been in the news: the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco, TX is about to be revisited in an independent probe headed by Senator Danforth -- and the Rancho Santa Fe mansion where members of the Heaven's Gate group committed suicide in 1997 was recently sold for under $700,000, though the land value alone is estimated as at least a million dollars..

Some timely news stories follow below:


Militias:

The [London] Sunday Times for August 15 1999 carried a fascinating article by Tom Rhodes under the title "Militia joins up with FBI to fight anarchy" which said in part:

For the leader of the Michigan Militia Corps Wolverines, a 15,000-strong volunteer army, 2000 - and in particular Y2K, the millennium bug that may cripple computers around the globe - is more than just a glitch in the system. He and his militiamen believe it could lead to civil war in America.

Their fears are so great that militia leaders are co-operating with their traditional enemy, the FBI, to try to prevent renegade hate groups from launching a racist war and terrorist attacks during any chaos that the bug may unleash.

The full story is worth reading if still available here.

Compare this with William Claiborne's piece "Waiting for Apocalypse, Militia Falls on Hard Times" in the Washington Post, Thursday, September 9, 1999, Page A03

Winter will be settling in before long, and not far behind it the worldwide chaos and lawlessness that Olson believes will be triggered by the Year 2000 computer bug. The statewide armed force of militant patriots he co-founded five years ago is in disarray, riven by internal squabbling and defections following the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995.

Now Olson, whose gun-toting and camouflaged-bedecked image flashed on network television in the days after the disclosure of tenuous links between one of the Oklahoma City bombers and his movement, finds himself unable to organize an armed standoff between the remnants of his once 12,000-strong militia and law enforcement. He thought he had his flash point on an apocalyptic millennialist family's farm that local zoning officials have ordered dismantled.

and so forth...


Y2K: Bankers write a Sermon

As noted in a Washington Post report by Hanna Rosin under the title "Bankers Preach The Gospel of Y2K, You're OK" (Wednesday, August 25, 1999; Page A15), the American Bankers Association has issued a "generic" sermon for Y2K -- written as a "backgrounder" to help pastors come up with sermons of their own. The title: "Thinking about Y2K: Moses, Orson Welles and Bill Gates".

The message is an anti-panic, anti-apocalyptic message:

You've heard the dire warnings, the off-the-wall forecasts and the downright silly predictions. Life insurance companies, they say, could bill us for coverage for the past 100 years. Airplanes won't get off the ground. And that could be the good news. Our bank accounts will show zero. Our mortgages will require another 100 years of payments. Hospital monitoring equipment will stop monitoring. The lights will go out. The phones will fail. We'll be plunged into a deep, cold winter without heat, electricity, money or - worst of all, pizza delivery. [... ]

Let me be clear: I don't believe any of the truly bad stuff is going to happen. Sure, there will be glitches. A financial record here and there will need to be updated. Some phone calls may not go through. The occasional traffic signal may not work. But will anyone seriously believe that he or she might have another 100 years left to pay on the mortgage? Lights may go out in a few places. I believe most of those problems will be isolated. Food shortages? Perhaps an item here or there will be in short supply temporarily. Especially if we all panic and run out to buy milk the week before. [... ]

I'm not worried about America's ability to solve the technical problems of Y2K. But there is something that does worry me: misinformation. The kind of misinformation that led some people on the night of October 30, 1938 to panic. The kind of panic that comes from not knowing. Not understanding. Not getting it. [... ]

It's especially important that we -- as members of our community, believers in God and members of the family of faith -- set the example. We want to go into the new Millennium with hope, eagerness and faith in this new Century of promise. We don't want to be crouched in our basements with candles, matches and guns.


Branch Davidians:

The admission that pyrotechnic rounds were fired by the FBI during the final hours of the Waco standoff, the presence of three members of the Army's secretive Delta Force at the Davidian compound that day in 1993, US marshalls entering FBI headquarters under Justice Department orders to gather evidence, and possible conflicts between Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh have all been widely covered -- as has the appointment of Senator Danforth to head an independent inquiry into the Waco siege. Since Sen. Danforth is an Episcopal priest as well as an attorney, we may hope his inquiry will take some of the subtler theological issues involved in the affair into consideration.

Most interesting sidelight:

Timothy McVeigh's attorney Stephen Jones is reported (Associated Press, Tulsa, OK, September 10, 1999) to have said the Oklahoma City bombing would not have taken place had the facts now emerging about Waco been made public at the time:

"Oklahoma City was a retaliation for what happened at Waco and the cover-up. ... Had the wheels of justice worked and there been an independent investigation and the responsibility assessed, there would have been no reason for an attack on the federal government in Oklahoma City."


Falun Gong update:

An article entitled "Falun Gong; the reasons behind the decision to ban the sect" by Zong Wen in China 2000 claims that the DSM-IV, the standard US psychiatric diagnostic manual, now contains a diagnostic category called "Qigong-Induced Psychosis". This seemed to be a claim that should be checked out, and indeed the "glossary of culture-bound syndromes" in "General Information: Appendix I, Outline for Cultural Formulation and Glossary of Culture-Bound Syndromes" of DSM-IV includes the following entry:

qi-gong psychotic reaction A term describing an acute, time-limited episode characterized by dissociative, paranoid, or other psychotic or nonpsychotic symptoms that may occur after participation in the Chinese folk health-enhancing practice of qi-gong ("exercise of vital energy"). Especially vulnerable are individuals who become overly involved in the practice. This diagnosis is included in the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders, Second Edition (CCMD-2).
Other mentions of "Qigong-Induced Psychosis" are not so easily found: see the comments at http://weber.ucsd.edu/~thall/cbs_qigong.html including:
I was able to find one case report of qi-gong reactive psychosis. Lim & Lin (1996:369ff) describe a 57-year-old Chinese-American man who presented with a three-week history of auditory and visual hallucinations. The patient had begun qi-gong practices as therapy for chronic problems with kidney stones. After several days of intensive qi-gong, he began hearing voices telling him how to practice qi-gong, and to believe that he had contacted beings from another dimension. He sought help from the qi-gong masters, but to no avail. His wife brought him to see a psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with schizophreniform disorder and treated him with anti-psychotic medications. Additional information on qi-gong psychotic reaction has not been readily available. The majority of information on qi-gong itself is to be found in journals of acupuncture and homeopathic medicine. The single case report I could find is:

Lim, Russell F., and Lin Keh-Ming. (1996) "Cultural formulation of psychiatric diagnosis: Case No. 03: Psychosis following qi-gong in a Chinese immigrant." Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 20:369-378.

It is probably worth noting that authoritative texts on intensive spiritual practices such as kundalini yoga not infrequently warn practitioners of the dire psychological impact that may accompany unsupervised practice or practice by mentally unstable practitioners.


Other News

IsraelWire carried a report titled "Jehovah Witnesses blames Hareidim for attack on their home" on September 9th 1999 -- recounting the spray painting of swastikas on the walls of a Jehovah's Witness home in Rehovot.

As reported in Time magazine, September 13th 1999, page 30, police recently shot one Gidone Busch to death in a largely Hasidic section of Brooklyn. Busch was an "emotionally disturbed person" or EDP who believed he was the messiah and had a mission to save "drug addicts and exotic dancers".

According to Hanna Rosin writing in the Washington Post, Thursday, September 9, 1999; Page A02, the Southern Baptist International Mission Board recently issued a "Conversion Guide" aimed at the conversion of the Jews, timed for use over the Jewish Holidays. This is sure to rekindle the controversy opened when the Southern Baptist Convention passed a 1996 resolution in inviting its members to "direct our energies and resources toward the proclamation of the Gospel to the Jews" in accordance with the idea that the Jews must be given a final chance to convert before the battle of Armageddon. Similar guides for the conversion of Muslims, Hindhus and Buddhists already exist or are in the works.

In what may turn out to be a relevant story... Kate Winslet's latest movie, Holy Smoke by Australian director Jane Campion, was shown at the Venice Movie Festival to critical acclaim. The story concerns a "guru devotee" and a deprogrammer. CESNUR recently posted that they would be interested to receive reviews of the movie "by scholars familiar with the deprogramming controversy".

The Russians have again agreed to consider sending observers to the proposed joint US-Russian "Center for Y2K Strategic Stability" in Colorado Springs, to monitor missile launches in the event of "early warning" system failures during the Y2K rollover. Defense Secretary William Cohen is expected to firm up the details with his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeyev during his visit to Moscow on September 13th.

And MSNBC has a (relatively new?) section called "The New Armageddon" -- see their striking graphic -- for news of such topics as the market for nuclear weapons, cyberwar, terrorists, and the collapse of authority...


See Millennium Concentrate NS 01, August 22, 1999.

Copyright [c] Charles Cameron 1999.

Charles Cameron hipbone@earthlink.net is Principal Researcher, Y2K Desk, with the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, and Senior Analyst at The Arlington Institute.