New Series, III [September-October 1999]
This new series of Millennium Concentrates attempts to list recent and breaking news stories of millennial, apocalyptic or related interest.
October 10, 1999
Branch Davidians remain in the news as preparations continue for a major Justice Department investigation of the events in Waco, an Aum Shinrikyo member has received the death sentence in Japan, the Falun Gong must have been on the minds of Chinese leaders as China marked the 50th anniversary of Communist Party rule, the new biography of the leader of the most ambitious slave revolt in US history describes his use of apocalyptic rhetoric, and Robert Jay Lifton's new book, Destroying the World to Save It, is now available...
Some timely news stories follow below:
The New York Times Magazine for Sunday, October 3rd 1999 featured a cover story on apocalyptic rivalries in Jerusalem, under the title "Israel's Y2K Problem". The opening reads as follows:
There are Jews who want to seize the Temple Mount by any means necessary. And Christians who want to see the Jewish Temple rebuilt - and destroyed to bring on Armageddon. And Muslims who will never give up the Dome of the Rock. Will the peace process be stalled by the apocalypse?The long and thought-provoking article can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/19991003mag-israel-2000.html
In a related story, Kaye Corbett of WorldNetDaily.com reports that Ernest Frank Mauck, 68, who is mentioned in the New York Times Magazine article as a self-declared Prophet Elijah, was accused of "threatening to blow up the [Al Aqsa] mosque" (a charge he supposedly denied) and was due to be deported from Israel to Athens on an El Al flight... [WorldNetDaily.com, "Expelled from Israel for beliefs? Haredim send the 'Prophet Elijah' packing"].
Suspected Falun Gong members meditating cross-legged in Beijing's Tiananmen Square were dragged away by police in preparation for celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Communist Party rule [AP, Beijing, September 29, 1999, "Beijing Police Drag Away Protesters"]. The Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China had earlier reported that ten people have been indicted for publishing Falun Gong materials. Their trials will begin in October, and are expected to be followed by trials of leading members. [AP, Beijing, September 23, 1999, "Banned Sect Facing Prosecution"].
In response to Chinese attempts to suppress Falun Gong, the CIA -- Cosmic Internet Academy, a breatharian group reachable on the web at www.selfempowermentacademy.com.au --has honored the Chinese Communist Government with a "Cosmic Raspberry" award for which the citation reads in part:
The Cosmic Raspberry Award goes to the Chinese Communist Government for acting so cowardly. To them we say "Let your people enjoy their times of dance and meditation and your world and ours will be better for it". It is time to stop tactics of fear and listen to each other. The Falun Gong demonstration in April was intended to send a gentle message to which the Chinese Government has responded with an unnecessary iron fist. Like the Falun Gong movement, the Light Ambassadry has been considered very controversial, as our research findings to tend to challenge the status quo. No we are not 'associated' with the Falun Gong movement but we do support the practice of peaceful and holistic lifestyles.
A BBC report dated September 22, 1999 drew attention to the 16 September death in a remote location in Scotland of Australian-born Verity Linn, 49. Lynn is believed by police to have been following a breatharian "21-day fast" on the principle that humans do not need food, they can live on light and "the air that we breathe" alone...
BBC report at:
Breatharian Press Release at:
Reports in the Japanese press at the end of September suggested the group might admit that its members were behind the 1995 sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway and change its name, to facilitate the group's continued expansion [AP, September 18 1999, "Japan Doomsday Cult May Change Name"]. In the event, the group failed to offer the expected apology, but did say it would "close its branches, stop recruiting and cease using its current name" [Reuters, "Japan Cult To Freeze Activities, No Apology"].
The Tokyo District Court sentenced Aum member Masato Yokoyama to death for his part in the attack [AP, September 20, 1999, "Ex-doomsday cult leader will hang "].
The late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos is now worshipped by breakaway Catholic groups in Abra province, 200 miles north of Manila-- with a cultus complete with images of the sacred heart in which Christ's head has been replaced by that of the dictator. "The group began as one of several small nationalist cults, collectively called the Rizalian Brotherhood, which have long venerated Philippine national hero Jose Rizal as a reincarnation of Christ." "Marcos also fits the description of the government leader cult founders prophesied would deliver God's promises of love and prosperity to millions of Filipinos." [AP, Abra, Philippines, September 28, "Philippine Cult Worships Marcos"]
This year's Rosh Hashanah ushered in both the Jewish year 5,760 and a Kabbalistic time known as "the End of Days" -- according to a Business Wire story, a time of great spirituality (not an apocalyptic end time), which was celebrated by 2,400 devotees of the Jewish mystical tradition in a gathering at the Anaheim Hilton and Towers in California. [Business Wire, September 10, 1999]. The number 5,760 has complex numerological properties.
Immanuel's Temple Community Church in Lansing, Michigan has come under scrutiny since NFL player and sometime church attendee Dimitrius Underwood two steak knives to slash at his neck while declaring "I am not worthy of God": another member, Neftali Valdez Greene Jr., was found dead recently in a cooler in a dorm basement at Michigan State. Underwood's mother, an ordained minister herself, at first characterized the church as a "cult that's posing as a church," but later withdrew her accusation. [AP, October 1, 1999, Lansing, "Underwood's Church Called a 'Cult'"].
According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, John Craig, co-author of a book about white supremacists entitled Soldiers of God, identified Larry Gene Ashbrook, the assailant in the recent Forth Worth shootings, as having identified himself as a "Phineas Priest" in 1997. The Forth Worth police were commenting on September 20, 1999 that they had no evidence at that time to confirm the identification [Reuters, September 20, 1999, Fort Worth, "Videos Show Methodical Church Gunman"]. The Phineas Priesthood is one conferred on the Old Testament figure Phineas in Numbers 25, after he takes a javelin and kills an Israelite man and the Midianite woman he was consorting with. Richard Kelly Hoskins' book Vigilantes of Christendom extends the concept to include anyone who takes unsupported, violent action to cleanse the world of racially impure.
September saw the publication of David Robertson's biography, Denmark Vesey, recounting the story of the free black by that name who masterminded an abortive slave rebellion in 1822 in Charleston, S.C., using the AME (American Methodist Episcopal) Church as his staging ground. According to the author in an interview on PBS, Vesey -- who may well have been a Muslim himself -- made use of Christian apocalyptic rhetoric in his appeals to the 9,000 slaves who were prepared to join him in the rebellion, which would have encompassed the massacre of all whites, men, women and children, and a subsequent flight to Haiti.
Also now available: Robert Jay Lifton's magisterial study, Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism [ NY: Metropolitan Books, 1999].
The University of Pennsylvania Library is hosting "American Apocalypse: Images of the End from the Millennium Watch Archive" from October 22, 1999 -- January 28, 2000. Materials are drawn from New Age, Christian, Jewish and Islamic sources as well as from UFO cults, hollow earth adherents, various militias, "patriot" groups, radical ecologists, scientific rationalists, and other ideological sects. Congratulations to Ted Daniels, who collected these materials.
An accompanying symposium entitled "Beyond the Fringe and Back to the Center" will be held October 22, 1999 at 3:00 pm, featuring noted millennial scholars Michael Barkun, Richard Landes, Stephen Marini and Lee Quinby.
See Millennium Concentrate NS 01, August 22, 1999.
See Millennium Concentrate NS 02, September 11, 1999.
Copyright [c] Charles Cameron 1999.
Charles Cameron firstname.lastname@example.org is Principal Researcher, Y2K Desk, with the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, and Senior Analyst at The Arlington Institute.