Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Where the Hell is Heaven? Tell me and I’ll give away $1,000.

“Raise your gaze toward heaven, not a heaven of abstract ideas nor an imaginary heaven created in art, but the true reality of heaven which is God himself. God is heaven." [Pope Benedict XVI 15th August 2008]

Many cultures & religions believe in a concept called heaven (or similar post-death paradise)

Billions live their lives, believing when they die they will spend eternity existing in this place, also frequently called Samsara or Jannah.

So where is this abode of the righteous dead?

When asked, theists (including it appears, even The Pope as per the above quote) allude broadly in abstract, to somewhere up in the sky, the space above the earth. Holy books refer to God looking down from heaven upon the Earth, Jesus & Mohammad coming down from the heavens and then ascending.

It was God that apparently created ‘heavens and the earth’– so why did he render a significant part of this process invisible?

These-days mankind has knowledge of what is in the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere and thermosphere. Science has allowed us to investigate, measure, analyse these regions surrounding earth. We are able to cognise in terms of matter & energy, what occupies our immediate surrounds – and there’s no evidence of a ‘mysterious area’ beyond our detection.

“I looked around and I didn't see God or angels or heaven” [Soviet Cosmonaut, Gherman Titov]

‘Believers’ reading this will submit that heaven is in a different, by definition ‘timeless’, dimension. One in which, God magically keeps cloaked from mortals ,especially it seems, scientists/physicists and the like, void even from laws of thermodynamics.

So where there is this dimension, the higher ‘time defying’ realm God and his angels etc call their home?

And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. (Revelation 11:19)” May be it’s me, but it’s puzzling that a man made object like The Arc of The Covenant, can also make ‘the transfer’ up to heaven, in one piece.

If you were to die in the next 60 seconds, and you believe heaven is not on terra firma, or up in the stratosphere etc - where is ‘this place’ in relation to where you are immediately residing? Does this mean, in effect some souls have further to travel than others? If the scriptures are your guide, logic dictates, you must believe that were you to die climbing Mount Everest, the journey for your soul would be some what shorter than if you plunged to your doom at the bottom of the Marianas Trench in a Russian nuclear submarine.

This being the case, surely it’s prudent for those whose soul needs to travel an extra distance, like Russian submariners & South African miners, to undertake extra religious training for the prolonged journey into the 4th dimension?

Bart Simpson: “Well if your souls real where is it?”

Milhouse: “It's kinda in here... and when you sneeze, that's your soul trying to escape. Saying god bless you crams it back in. And when you die, it squirms out and flies away!”

Bart: “What if you die in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean?”.

Milhouse: “Oh, it can swim, it's even got wheels, in case you die in the desert and have to drive to the cemetary”.

Explain how it is this ‘soul dematerialision/rematerialision’ process works between bodily death and eternal life and the small issue of how it is a soul is transported? Do souls have flippers or long appendages like flagella and ‘swim’ through space? Are they like salmon and automatically home-in on heaven? Do we simply all need to yell “beam me up God” or “Taxi” rather loudly?

And do souls sometimes turn-up at the wrong dimension of heaven? Are there times a Christian God has point an errant Muslim soul, around the corner to the red door “knock four times and ask for Allah”? For any ‘believers’ this is scenario can not be written off entirely. There is after-all no homogenized concept of a single God, so parallel heavens must be a distinct possibility, or a lot of believers are going to be very disappointed when they slip off this mortal coil and find “the bloody Jews were right all along”.

Now cutting to the chase here folks - is it possible for anyone reading this, to provide me evidence, substantiating a heaven or heavens?

Here’s the challenge: send me one measly piece of evidence that points to the location of heaven & I will donate NZ$1,000 to Medical Research.

There are literally billions of bipedal chimps that are adamant ‘heaven exists’ so I’m expecting I’ll be writing a cheque out to The Malaghan Institute, with-in minutes of posting this blog.

This is a genuine challenge, open to anyone who is registered on google, and comes with no time restraints (should, I make to the average age here in New Zealand you have a good 30 years to go, but I’m prepared to hedge the amount against inflation, $1,000 in 2050 isn’t going to buy you a round of beer, one suspects)

For the successful party I’ll post a copy of the receipt for this donation online, so you’ll know I’ve been as good as my word. Hey, even the godless can be trusted, now and again. Come-on who’d you rather have baby-sit your kids, me or the local Catholic Priest?

So ‘don’t be shy’, enter ‘The $1,000 Challenge’, tell me where I can locate heaven and do you bit for medical research.

Post your evidence in the comments section and let the world see what you have.

Footnote; You may also like to ponder what happens to a soul in the case of a brain transplant? More Here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Zealand’s Vitamin & Natural Health Products Hustle

"Because soils in New Zealand are low in selenium, the selenium content in our food is low, making New Zealand one of the countries with the lowest selenium status in the world"

A recent statement (6th December) from no lesser person than, Associate Professor Welma Stonehouse, from Massey Universities Institute of Food, Health and Human Nutrition.

And what do there low-levels of Selenium, mean to the public at large?

Here’s what a number of web sites around the country had to say on the subject.

“Therefore, low levels of selenium have been implicated in most chronic disease states, to include cancer, premature aging, cataracts, AMD, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and more” [Southstar Fertilizers]

“Selenium is a natural antioxidant and is one of the essential body substances that can be used in a preventive manner for many diseases including cancer, stroke, arteriosclerosis, cirrhosis, arthritis and emphysema” [www.h

“Considering selenium blood levels alone those persons in the lowest fifth of all blood selenium levels have twice the incidence of cancer as those in the highest fifth” [www.s

“As well as being associated with a reduced risk of cancer, selenium is also believed to reduce the risk of heart disease” (Otago Daily Times 5th December)

“It is possible that many degenerative diseases, including cancer may be related to Selenium deficiency and further protection against such ailments improves by increasing your selenium intake” [Janice

Boy this lack of Selenium must be taking a heavy toll on New Zealanders health?

Well, actually no.

Our rates of the diseases listed above, are virtually identical to similar countries overseas, who as it happens, have higher levels of selenium in their diets. The Government body Medsafe agree.

And what exactly benefits one by taking extra Selenium?

The results of the world’s largest trial just about to be published in The Journal of the American Medical Association – indicates exactly nothing!

The U.S based study of 35,000 men, show no benefits of all for someone taking selenium. Indeed the statistics were so conclusive the 3 year study was ended early, because there was no convincing efficacy.

The goal of this study run by Dr. Scott Lippman, a professor of medicine in the division of cancer medicine at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, was to examine whether selenium, vitamin E, or a combination of both supplements could safely prevent prostate cancer and other diseases in relatively healthy men.

"Selenium or vitamin E, alone or in combination at the doses and formulations used, did not prevent prostate cancer in this population of relatively healthy men," the study authors wrote in their summary

Vitamin E was equally ineffective, a result that mirrors what a similar large-scale (14,641 individuals) Harvard Physicians' Health Study II, encompassing Vitamin C, concluded only last month.

The American Cancer Society provided some objectivity in their summation on the Harvard Medical Schools Study into vitamins:

"Well-conducted clinical trials such as this are rapidly closing the door on the hope that common vitamin supplements may protect against cancer."

"The American Cancer Society recommends getting these and other nutrients by eating a mostly plant-based diet with a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. A bonus is that this type of diet helps to prevent obesity, which increases the risk of several cancers."

Despite the results of these studies, the New Zealand marketers of vitamins tell a different story, one that flies in the face of all the latest evidence.

"As well as this, Vitamin C is essential for stimulating the immune system, enabling the body to resist disease, including cancer" [Healthy.co.nz ]

"Thompsons Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and it has been seen to play a role in the prevention of cancer" [Pharmacy Direct]

But let’s give these marketers a break, call it the benefit of the doubt, may be they didn’t happen upon these studies, being so recent?.

Or are they simply ignoring the mounting adverse studies which indicate the ineffectiveness of vitamins and supplements for all, but those not eating a balanced diet?

Overwhelmingly the later appears to be the case.

You see, the above study from Harvard Medical Schools wasn’t the first they’ve done of late.

There was actually an earlier one this year, and the results from this were even more damning. One of the conclusions reached by
Dr. Harvey Simon was that vitamin E may increase respiratory infections, moderate doses of vitamin A may increase fractures, and beta-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer in male smokers.

So where are the health warnings, on the products in question?

Not only did this clinical study prove Vitamins to be ineffective against a whole range of advertised benefits, this study also found other supplements were similarly ineffective included zinc (for colds); Echinacea (for colds); saw palmetto (enlarged prostate); ginseng (fatigue); ginkgo (mental alertness). Yohimbine (erectile dysfunction) and DHEA (anti-aging, memory loss)

“Both Echinacea and Olive have additional benefits for heart health” [some of the portrayed benefits one gets ingesting ‘Olive Leaf with Echinacea and Vitamin C’ Pills manufactured by Natures Way and sold through-out New Zealand]

Other studies into Echinacea [University of Virginia 2005, University of Washington 2003, University of Wisconsin 2002] – all say the herbal supplement made from purple coneflower failed to prevent or treat colds.

‘Flu Biotic’ is an Echinacea based anti bacterial formula that helps reduce the seve
rity and duration of acute cold and flu symptoms according to it’s manufacturers Greenridge, Chemists & online stores selling the liquid form at NZD 40 per bottle. The Australian manufacturer Greenridge also boldly state in their publicity ‘Echinacea has the ability to raise the body's resistance to bacterial and viral infections’. So what study or research do they have to back-up their bold (or should that be cold) claims? Well try as I could, there was not one reference available in the sales pitch of any of the 100’s of outlets in Australasia selling this product, including Greenridge themselves. All of the sales-pitches included the same ‘cut & paste’ efficacy claims and nothing of substance, and most certainly not ‘a dicky-bird’ of any of the major studies I’ve mentioned and readily available to anyone with the internet.

The herbal remedy saw palmetto is no more effective than a placebo at treating symptoms related to enlargement of the prostate gland, according to a 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Strange then we still have web sites like ‘Health Chemist’ (www.healthchemist.co.nz) which give Saw Palmetto three stars out of possible three stars for ‘reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit’ along with a list of numerous studies for it’s benefits - all but one of which, were small scale & published in the 1990’s.

US$36.5 million was spent by disease researchers from the University of Pittsburgh to see if ginkgo biloba could help stave off dementia, the answer they got, published last month, was those using ginkgo tablets actually had an even greater likelihood of developing Alzheimer's!

Is that the impression one would have, when looking at this product, on the Chemist/Supermarket shelf?

Were you oblivious to the ruinous results of the world largest most comprehensive study run by The University of Pittsburg into Ginkgo & Memory, and in the market-place to purchase Ginkgo for say an ailing elderly member of the family here in New Zealand, you would be told by The New Zealand Health Information Network (check-out www.nzealth.net.nz) “While there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, studies have shown ginkgo can slow the onset of the disease and reduce the severity of the symptoms” And that “a dosage of 2 teaspoons of tincture or 2 capsules three times daily will improve the patient’s condition in a matter of weeks”. So what are these studies they allude to in their product brief, there at The New Zealand Health Information Network? Clearly they must supersede & counter the eight year, US$36.5 million, 3,069 person study, researchers undertook at the University of Pittsburg? Well they don’t actually publish them, so we’ll never know.

"For healthy adults I can say with a good deal of confidence that they're not effective,”

Another who has done vitamin research recently had this to say "These things are ineffective, and in high doses they can cause harm,". Dr. Edgar R. Miller, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore followed this up by saying. "People are unhappy with their diets, they're stressed out, and they think it will help. It's just wishful thinking."

In 2004 the results for two studies into Folic Acid & Vitamin B and Heart Attack prevention had this conclusion “The evidence is clear that this type of vitamin therapy is really not effective in reversing or benefiting advanced vascular disease,"

Evidently, Titan ,the New Zealand marketers of a product called ‘Factor 1:Bio-Immunizer’ have a diametrically differing opinion on Folic Acid: “A recent study has found that folic acid and vitamin B6 significantly lowered the risk of coronary heart disease and, in fact, folic acid deficiencies could trigger 30 to 40 percent of the heart attacks and strokes suffered by Americans each year” . The ‘recent’ study they quote was one done in Canada in and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, June 26, 1996. This 12 year old report is available on the internet and is entitled ‘Is Folic Acid the Answer?’ (notice, the rather obvious question mark in the title) In the Canadian report conclusions the authors state “more than ever we need to be patient and wait for the results from ongoing trials” and “the fact is that the evidence is conflicting and, except for neural tube defects, the beneficial effect of improved folate status remains to be established”. Hardly great endorsement,one feels.

In June this year the results were published for the seven year, 36,282 post-menopausal women study into whether vitamin D and calcium could reduce reduced the risk of developing breast cancer – the results for the supplements were the same as the placebo. As best I can tell, no New Zealand media outlet covered this, so both products are still on sale in New Zealand with accompanying claims to be effective -in effect giving suffers false hope.

The popular supplements glucosamine and chondroitin were also no better than a placebo at preventing cartilage loss in knees of people with the form of arthritis caused by wear and tear, a Utah School of Medicine study found in September.

“Glucosamine may help reduce joint inflammation, decreasing swelling and increasing joint
mobility, and provide temporary relief from the pain of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine may also assist through its direct action in repairing damaged cartilage and therefore promoting improved joint function” [ publicity blurb for Blackmore Glucosamine Capsules, at least at this level they hedged their bets, with the open-ended ‘may’]

But one look at their bottle, tells a different story to any prospective consumer:

Nutra-Life market a combined glucosamine/chondrotin formula they’ve dubbed ‘Joint Food’ which comes with a veritable ‘shopping-list’ of attributes, including “helping maintain joint, ligament and cartilage health associated with age and injury deterioration”. This potential benefit flies in the face of what The Utah School of Medicine found in September, and that study concurs with a Dutch study published in February, looking at hips.

To quote the report from The Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam “Given the lack of clinically important effects on pain, function, and stiffness over 24 months, our results suggest that glucosamine sulphate is not an effective therapy for patients with hip osteoarthritis,"

Earlier, as part of a Federal Study, The University of Utah also looked into the effectiveness of Glucosamine & Chondrotin for treating arthritis in 2004 – and produced an identical ‘no better than placebo’ result.

By now you can see a similarity to all these studies, into vitamins & a string of natural health products touted as curing anything from tinnitus to cancer.

Per head New Zealanders are amongst the world’s larger consumers of vitamins and natural health products.

So why is there not more consumer protection in New Zealand, relating to vitamins and natural products?

If her quote in The Sunday Star Times(28/12/08) is any indication, the Commerce Commission chair Paula Rebstock is fully aware of the situation. “Consumers simply have no way of knowing what is in a pill they buy, other than relying on the claims made for it in adevertising and on the packet”.

Talk about running-up the white flag and admitting “this is too big for us to handle”.

Why is it, a humble layman like myself, can find these reports so readily, when Ms Rebestock and her minions at The Commerce Commission, the so-called consumer watch-dogs, are either unable or unwilling to do replicate this process?

It appears millions of dollars is being wasted on products which simply do not do what they purport to do, and more-ever medical studies ignored?

Just try and find any of these studies linked to a New Zealand site – I hope you’ll have more luck than I did.

Natural Products appear exempt the rigours applied to all other consumer products, even claims to be able to cure cancer escape prosecution and media chastisement.

This ability of manufacturers/importers/retailers to make claims without publicising ALL the known studies allows them to sell ‘false hope’ – the cruellest & most exploitive of all marketing ploys.

Looking at 6 popular supplements available at 12 New Zealand online sellers (multivitamin, vitamin c, vitamin b, Echinacea, Glucosamine) references/studies validating the products effectiveness were only provided on four of the twelve sites.

In the minority (1 in 4) of the cases where references were supplied by on-line retailers the average age of those studies was 1997.

Some of the references given were also dubious at best. The sole supporting reference for one was a was a book called ‘Vitamin C - The Future is Now’ and in another virtually identical case, a publication called ‘The Complete Family Guide to Homeopathy’.Both books came out 13 years ago.

And why are these robust adverse studies into these widely touted ‘health’ products simply ignored by New Zealand media and politician’s alike?

Anyone can google these reports with ease.

Give it a try yourself.

Type in your supplement of your choice, then followed by the word ‘ineffective’ and see what you turn-up?

My bet, is your google search will turn-up more UP-TO-DATE FACTS than you can ever hope to get from the retailers, results which are mysteriously cloaked with some sort of ‘invisibility’ when staff at The Commerce Commission, use the same search engine.

Finally, what further indictment do you need to cease wasting money on products – which for those with healthy diets, make little more than coloured urine?

Footnote: I have sent a copy of this article, to Simon Power (Minister of Commerce) Rodney Hide (Associate Minister of Commerce) and Paula Rebstock (Commerce Commission Chair)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Boobs Prove # 1 with Canterbury Men

Take a bow, the blokes of Canterbury.

Forget natural disasters, global financial meltdowns and psychopaths running amok – there’s one subject, and only one, that tops the list of what readers, of the online version of The Christchurch Press Newspaper want to view.

It’s breasts, of the female kind.

The top two viewed articles for 2008 were……..

1.) ALT T.V’s Topless newsreader, celebrity streaker, Lisa Lewis (pictured above)

2.) A topless women’s football team in Austria (below)

Coming in at number 4 was an article on Angela Jolie, again focusing on her chest area, & at 8 a competition to rank the sexiest female Olympian.

This fine indictment provides ample evidence men in Canterbury have what it takes, where it counts, comes the same week as Kiwi Porn King, Steve Crow announced he’s been forced to cancel further Boobs on Bikes & Sexpo’s up in Wellington.

It appears the pussy whipped males in ‘the capital’, can’t go to the fish n’ chip shop without a letter from their wives, let alone perv at siliconly enhanced females.

Crow needed 10,000 to break-even at this years ‘Erotica Lifestyle Expo’ in Wellington, but the grey shoes & brown-suited Wellingtonians, could only muster a paltry 6,000 – the first time a New Zealand show of this kind has lost money.

Rumour also has it, part of the problem is Wellington mums purchase love-toys, first for their educational value.

The pitiful crowd at the Wellington Sexpo was even 2,000 fewer than in Palmerston North – further evidence of the prudish nature of Wellingtonians and one of the many sociological down-sides of having too many public servants in such close proximity (lack of sporting prowess is another)

Wellington councillors suggest the miserable turn-out was because many couples we at a Le Leche Conference, held in the city the same weekend.

So hold you heads up high Canterbury men ( the plural head’s is not a spelling mistake either, you’ll need to be little creative when interpreting it)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Come share The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Delusion

David Berg (aka Moses David),Guru of the Children of God

Pat Robinson, T.V Evangelist

Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism

Elizabeth Clare Prophet, leader of the Church Universal & Triumphant

Jehovah's Witnesses

Lee Jang Rim, leader of the Korean cult Mission for the Coming Days

Maria Devi Khrystos, leader of the Russian cult Great White Brotherhood

David Koresh, Branch Davidian

Heavens Gate Cult

John Wesley, Methodist Church founder

This eclectic bunch, shared one common belief.

So what is it, that links David Koresh to Joseph Smith?

It’s a delusional belief in a cataclysmic ‘end of times’ apocalypse.

And you can now add another name to this illustrious list……

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

For centuries the Catholic Church have been wheeling-out ‘more dead than alive’ dementia ridden, pontiffs - by the pope-mobile load.

It looks as if The Church of England is now challenging this dubious distinction, with it’s current head-honcho showing all the signs of early Alzheimer’s.

Here are some excerpts from yesterday’s rambling Christmas ‘dooms-day’ sermon from Rowan Williams………

“On the other side, after the end of the Cold War, some scholars were writing about the 'end of history', and an American President spoke of a 'new world order'.

“we've seen some of Barack Obama's advisers and colleagues warning about the level of messianic expectation loaded on to the President-elect”

“The gospel tells us something hard to hear - that there is not going to be a single charismatic leader or a dedicated political campaign or a war to end all wars that will bring the golden age; it tells us that history will end when God decides”

“It is not the restoring of a golden age, not even a return to the Garden of Eden; it is more – a new creation, a new horizon for us all”

“He is the indestructible divine life, and the illumination he gives cannot be shrouded or defeated by the darkness of human failure”

“Isaiah looked towards the day when the guards on the deserted city's wall would see the return of the Lord 'face to face”

God will decide History’s End!

A new horizon!

What the f*ck!

I can imagine Jim Jones giving a similar ‘peep-talk’ to the followers, just before he broke-out the kool-aid.

Speciousness of this kind would be hard to beat, even if The Archbishop had replaced God with ‘aliens from the extended spiral arm in the fourth quadrant’.

At least we know there IS an extended arm in the fourth quadrant, and chances are there are aliens.

Why didn’t he simply don a chicken-suit & jump around the stage screaming “the sky is falling” whilst making loud clucking noises?

Then at least we’d all think he was taking the piss.

The sad thing for the 75 million Anglicans was - he was serious, even managing to trump The Pope’s ‘ecology of man’(gay bashing)speech two days ago, a mission in itself.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Pope: Hangs Around in Women’s Clothing

You are wandering around town on a boy’s night out, when you venture in to a seedy bar, not the sort you’d normally frequent were you in a more sober state or on your lonesome. (we’ve all been there, so I know you will be sticking with me on this one)

However by this time, you’ve had a gut full of beer and are at that ‘past caring’ stage.

Despite your less than lucid condition, the first thing that strikes you upon arriving - is that weird old dude with ‘bags under his eyes’, leaning against the bar.

He’s wearing this strange red hat.

Aren’t those 'Wizard of Oz' women’s shoes, as well?

Then there’s the matter of the dress, and the over-sized
jewelry that would be the envy of any rap-music star.

And he’s adorning this ensemble proudly!

Here are the likely heterosexual ‘thought process’s’, in sequence (or should that be sequins given the subject matter in question?)

a.) This is a gay bar
b.) This guy is a raving queen
c.) I’m skulling this beer quickly, then I’m off

Given the same scenario here’s the likely homosexual ‘thought process’s’…..

a.) This classy old ‘big bear’ knows how to dress.
b.) He’s strangely familiar? Wasn’t he the producer of ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’?
c.) Yum, I wonder if he’s alone tonight?

Irrespective of your sexual orientation, no one would pick him as the world’s biggest homophobe, eh?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Scandal of Mother Teresa's Sainthood

In 2003 close to 300,000 people crowded into St. Peter's Square and it’s surrounds, to celebrate Pope John Paul II's beatification of Mother Teresa, known as the ‘Saint of the Gutters’.

Pope John Paul, himself on his last legs told the gathered crowd in a weakened voice “In her, we perceive the urgency to put oneself in a state of service, especially for the poorest and most forgotten,the last of the last”

Some 450 doe-eyed nuns from Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity flew-in from Calcutta to witness the three hour ceremony.

Like everyone there that day, the Nuns witnessed a sham on a grand scale, as did a fellow Indian mother of four, there in Rome as a special attendee.

The fast-tracking of Mother Teresa’s sainthood, is widely known, less so the fact the posthumous miracle she is credited with - simply did not happen and is little more than a crudely constructed fabrication.

Fabrication, that became the last crucial pieces in the Catholic Churches beatification ‘jig-saw’ of the Albanian nun, orchestrated by a frail and dementia ridden pontiff who wept aside the set 17th century red tape, and began making Teresa a saint in record time. Rather than decades, even centuries - the process would take just years.

The final part of the jig-saw was evidence of a miracle following the candidate’s demise.

On Sept. 5, 1998, the first anniversary of the nun's death, Monica Besra (above) left her family to seek help from the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India. Suffering abdominal pain caused, she believed, by a tumor.

But the purported tumor vanished when nuns from the mission placed Teresa’s picture & an accompanying locket, on her abdomen, the site of her pain.

In August 2001, Monica's post-death miracle was supplied to the Vatican as part of the fast-tracking of Mother Teresa's canonisation.

None of this happened the way the Church portrayed it.

Before all of this allegedly happened, Monica Besra was suffering from tubercular meningitis and from an ovarian tumor, which was discovered during an ultra-sound investigation. This came about after was admitted to the government hospital in Balurghat, suffering similar severe pain. She was subsequently treated by Dr.Tarun Kumar Biwas and the gynaecologist Dr. Ranjan Mustafi. After she left the hospital, the treatment was continued in the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital and ended successfully in March 1999. A final ultra-sound investigation showed that the tumor had disappeared.

The Hospitals superintendent supplied Sister Betta from the Missionaries of Charity with Monica's medical records containing sonograms, prescriptions and physicians' notes etc that provided ample evidence it was medical treatment that cured her, and not a magical photo through which a dead nun emanated curative properties from beyond the grave.

But, rather conveniently the ‘good’ nun Sister Betta, lost those official medical records shortly after receiving them.

Despite openly admitting at one stage they had solicited Monica Besra’s hospital records, abruptly The Missionaries for Charity then changed their story, and ignoring a mountain of evidence to the contrary, including statements from their own mission, they now claim they never received the official medical records in the first place.

What they did ‘discover’ in their place amongst the 34,000 pages of meticulously accrued miracle documentation, are claims that several doctors had certified that the healing was ‘scientifically inexplicable’.

One ‘small’ problem with this transcript, is the Balurghat Hospital who treated Monica Besra has no records of these doctors and further, none of these anonymous witnesses could be traced.

Balurghat Hospital Doctors are adamant in the validity and robustness of their diagnosis and statements from officials from the same hospital back this up, with claims the Catholic order has been pressuring them to say Monica's cure was miraculous.

Remarkably, amongst all those 34,000 pages of ‘official evidence’ for Teresa’s miracle cure from beyond the grave, there was not a solitary sentence from anyone who was actually involved with Monica Besra’s medical treatment.

"This miracle is a hoax."

Monica's husband Seiku, has had enough of all the publicity concerning his wife’s so-called miracle and freely speaks out against the hysteria, which still sees devotees flocking to his door-step expecting a similar instant cure.

“My wife did feel less pain one night when she used the locket, but her pain had been coming and going. Then she went to the doctors, and they cured her."

"My wife was cured by the doctors and not by any miracle." he forth-rightly tells anyone who will listen, not that the Catholic Church has to this day ever spoken to crucial witness like him.

Monica Besra is a 38-year-old tribal woman from Dulidnapur village, a mother of four.

She is illiterate and speaks her tribal mother tongue only, a few words of broken Bengali & English.

The official statement she purportedly supplied to the Papal chief investigator Brian Kolodiejchuk (via one of the sisters at the mission) happens to be written in fluent English and shows familiarity with details of Catholic doctrine she was, or never could to this day, be privy to.

Until recently Monica had been cashing-in on her new found fame, but it appears her flame has dimmed, and the devoted & often desperate miracle-seekers beating a track to her house, had reduced to a trickle.

Last year Monica turned her attention to a far richer source than the often poor & now infrequent miracle seekers, when she began making public murmurings that she was not in-fact the benefactor of a miracle cure and that she was used by the Catholic Church for their own selfish purposes, then callously abandoned to a life of penury.

Her threats to ‘spill the beans’ had the required effect.

Fearing her admissions would expose the stage-managed nature of the deceit, The Vatican arranged for ‘hush money’ to be paid to her via, of all entities, the local Mother Teresa Charitable Welfare Society.

When this pay-off was exposed in the Indian media the Society was forced to comment saying simply it was ‘a donation’.

A substantial one, and as 'icing on the cake' , places for the Besra children at a private Catholic School.

Monica Besra, then went back believing in the miracle.

So what does The Vatican & the Indian missionaries behind this scandal , have to say about the controversy still surrounding Monica Besra’s miracle? The missing files? Failure to speak to key witnesses? The role of medical science etc.

Well they no longer comment on the subject, so the final say is fittingly left to Monica herself:

"I took the medicines they gave me, but those who love Mother will believe”

Footnote: For more on Mother Teresa you may be interested in my previous blog entitled ‘The Loathsome Cult of Mother Teresa’

Monday, December 22, 2008

The New Zealand Church of Odin (1980-1983) ‘The White Man's Religion’

For over three decades, the name Kerry Bolton (born 1956) has been synonymous, with far right politics in New Zealand.

Dr Paul Spoonley, author of ‘The Politics of Nostalgia‘, suggests Bolton was involved with the N.Z National Socialist Party at the tender age of 14.

Bolton's political CV is extensive, to say the least: secretary of the New Zealand Democratic Nationalist Party which was formed in 1975, founded New Force along with with Cantabrian David Crawford (1981)which then became Nationalist Workers Party in 1983, secretary for the New Zealand Fascist Union in 1997, 1999 saw him involved with New Zealand Workers Front, and last heard of was the secretary of the New Zealand National Front.

Bolton (who sometimes calls himself Dr K.R Bolton or Wulf Grimwald) is a prolific author - a couple of his more interesting publications being ‘Animal Welfare in The Third Reich’ and ‘Jung and the Volkisch Movement’.

In addition to Bolton’s veritable ‘shopping-list’ of political parties, he also holds another (dubious?) similar distinction – the creator of several ‘do it yourself’ religions.

Recently Bolton was the subject of a Waikato University thesis by Roel van Leeuwen , which looked at one of these creations ‘The Order of the Left Hand Path’, an organisation started by Bolton in Wellington, during the 1990s , which van Lewuwan wrote ‘synthesised Satanism with neo-Nazism’.

Bolton considered the thesis to be a ‘smear’ on his reputation and Waikato University was forced to censor sections. This ‘bun-fight’ is still going-on as at publication of this blog.

Around the time Bolton was formed the New Force Party, he also began his long intrigue with what would popularly be called ‘fringe’ religious beliefs.

The weekend after a New Force Conference in December of 1980, he helped form ‘The Church of Odin’.

A Church dedicated to the Norse God Odin, was not unique to just New Zealand.

The oldest modern church worshipping Odin, was started across the Tasman by lawyer Alexander Rud Mills (1885-1964) Melbournite, Rud Mills, formulated his ideas after travelling to Europe in the early 30’s & at one stage was involved with the British ‘Imperialist Fascist League’ (a right wing version of Sir Oswald Mosleys ‘British union of Fascists) In 1933 he journeyed to Germany where he garnished a personal audience with Adolf Hitler. Upon his return to Australia in 1934 Mills started The First Anglecyn Church of Odin, along with a number of short-lived newspapers, like ‘National Socialist’. During WW2 Mills was interned by The Australian Government as a possible Nazi sympathiser.

Trying to summerise Mills brand of Odinism is an exercise in itself, and worthy of a separate dissertation. Articles on Mills point to his desire to replace Australia's traditional Anglo-Saxon Christian institutions with his own brand of racially based mixture of mysticism & socialism. On one hand he drew up a Decalogue that is a blatant copy of The Anglican Church, the word Anglecynn being the ancient version for Church of England, then in the next breath Mills stated he abhorred Jesus Christ. Add into this ‘Norse melting-pot’ elements from the Masons & Rosicrucian's. His unique brand of worship remarkably still has its followers, even today (minus the now unfashionable bits about Hitler, anti-semitism etc)

"Today, Odinism is thriving as never before, and a new generation of Australians and New Zealanders is discovering that its ancient truths are as relevant today as they were in the springtime of our people. If you dare to "peer into the dark abyss", if your mind is open to future possibilities, if you can seriously consider the idea that were it not for Christianity we would be far more advanced and secure than we are today, then you are already on the path to Odinism[Above modern-day Aussie followers at Mills grave in Melbourne]

Now to the United States. In 1971, shortly after the death of her husband Alex, Else Christensen (1913-2005) formed the Odinist Fellowship from her caravan in Florida. Later Christensen would move her trailer north to Vancouver, her first stop in North America after fleeing post war Europe from Denmark. Amongst the Christensen’s circle of friends was James Warner a leading organisor in The American Nazi Party, who was a follower of the writings of Francis Yockley. Warner, himself an ordained minister and Grand Dragon of The KKK, had the idea of starting a church by the same name, but failed in his attempts, and he passed the baton to his close friends (including a veritable library of material he had gathered). Unquestionably Else Christensens initial interest in racial radicalism via Odinism, came as a result her of interactions with Warner and her & her husbands enamoration with Mills works. Christensen’s (also called ‘Folk Mother’ by her followers) brand of Odinism involved communal, socialist communities all operating independently and a North America minus big-business and heavy-industry. Else saw prisons as a great source of membership, creating her own Odinist prison ‘outreach’ programme, the effectiveness she got to test personally, after she received a 35 month stretch for drug trafficking – at age 79!

Like it’s Anitipodean and North American name-sakes, the New Zealand Church of Odin adopted this heady combination of National Socialism, and Viking mystique – but little of their substance.

Boltons co-founder in New Zealand, David Crawford, indicated Florida was the world-headquarters in November, 1981 along with accompanying statements that alluded to “tens of thousands of [worldwide] members” and added to his attempts at credibility “the church has been going about 15 years”.

Crawford was seemingly wide of the mark on all fronts here.

The origins of modern Odinism, firmly steamed from Alexander Mills ‘across the ditch’, rather than his devote Else Christensen, and by 1981 her humble caravan, had only acted as the North American ‘head-office’ for a decade.

In the same article Crawford, heckles raised, attempted to further bolster the Church of Odins (NZCO) global stature by claiming “it is strong enough to fund its own research projects into its beginnings in Europe”. I guess what Crawford was alluding to here was the Warners wealth of paperwork, inherited by the Christensens, then edited and mail-ordered in it’s abridged form to New Forces post office box in Paraparaumu.

Evidently New Zealanders were slow to adopt Odin.

Crawford put the number that had attended their last ‘invitee only’ service in Christchurch at “ten or eleven”.

This is probably understandable, when it became clear to prospective members, exactly what this ‘church’ was all about.

For most that process of deduction, happening very shortly after learning the churches catch-cry "Odinism: The White Man's Religion".

This catch-cry not only narrowed its scope of membership & alienated large tracts within the general populous (much like ‘New Force’ I might add).

Interestingly it must have also prevented Bolton’s own son, a part Maori, from its already thin ranks.

“We don’t support anything that undermines the unity of the white race”.

“The Church of Odin is exclusively for whites”

All quotes from Crawford.

The worship of Odin and his fellow Norse Gods within the NZCO, seemed to be very liberally applied & enforced.

The N.Z Church boasted there were no ceremonies, but there were feasts, the major one coinciding with The Northern Hemisphere’s Summer Solstice.

The credibility of NZCO is tested on this issue of a Summer Solstice Feast observance & you would have to question the amount of literature Bolton/Crawford & Co were working-off via the ‘folk mother’ in Florida, using this gross error alone.

Yule is the old name for the pagan festival held at northern Winter Solstice, or December 21, celebrating the sun and the power of the gods, Odin in particular. Yule is actually another name for Odin, and what we know as Santa, is a modern-day creation using legends & customs that owe much of their origins to Nordic traditions.

The Summer Solstice Feast in-fact, celebrated Baldr (Odin’s son)

Still why let the facts get in the way of a good story, and besides, I’d imagine it didn’t take much of an excuse with this lot, for a spit-roast & a piss-up!

The internal liberalism, bordering on anarchism, within NZCO circles extended to the extent members, could opt into believing in the principal Gods, Odin & Thor.

Looking back & trying to nail-down exactly what the NZCO ‘believed in’ as a religious entity is hard to establish.

They had the same name as overseas branches they often referred to, the same racist rhetoric, but little to none of the codes followed by their name-sakes in Australia, U.S.A or Canada,

One of its selling points according to Crawford was actually its lack of mainstream religious restraints & hierarchies.

“We don’t want the control of men’s minds via religion” (Christchurch Star, 7th November 1981)

Over a decade after the N.Z Church ceased to exist, Kerry Bolton mentions Odinsim in an article he wrote on Dualism (full text of which is available here) in which he states;

“Even many (most?) of the harder-line "Odinists", have a cosmology that is essentially Christian. They have dualised the Aesir & the Jotuns into contending moral forces of "good vs. evil" - ODIN (OR BALDER) IS THEIR JESUS. LOKI IS THEIR SATAN. RAGNAROK IS THEIR ARMAGEDDON. The whole significance of Indo-European cyclic cosmology has been rendered null and void”

Try ‘picking the bones’ out of that!

The NZCO also adopted the structure of operating ‘separate cells’ from its parent New Force – so different cities developed different interpretations & practices.

"It became obvious that the Odinists were merely going to be a cult without any relevance to New Zealand politics” (abridged letter to the editor,K.R Bolton, Herald, 26/6/1983)

In this inauspicious letter to the N.Z Hearld Newspaper, Bolton publicly signalled his association with the NZCO was at an end – the equivalent of a death sentence given his heavy involvement.

At this time Boltons/Crawfords political aspirations under the banner New Force were over & the umbilical cord with it’s ‘marketing tool’ NZCO was similarly it appears, cut at the same time.
Bolton immediately branched off to form the more adventurous & mysterious sounding ‘Order of The Left Hand’ and its successor ‘The Black Order’.

The numbers involved with the NZCO (1980-83) is impossible to ascertain with any certainty, but probably best reflected by the number of votes the New Force’s sole candidate, and Party President, Mr B.W Zandbergen, attracted in the Western Hutt Electorate in the 1981 General Election.


Kerry Bolton’s frequent ‘metamorphosis of faith’ still continue, to this day.

Rumour has it, currently he’s now a Christian.

Now that’s scary!

Footnote: Time restraints caused by my involvement in the ‘real world’ and my need to put food on the families table, permitted me to merely scrape the surface on this fascinating subject, and the complexities of Kerry Bolton and the first of many Churches he’s been associated with. I suggest one day a more able journalist with a far broader scope than I have, will do far more justice to his intriguing life. There’s certainly enough material to script and produce a Sundance Movie. ‘The Order of The Left Hand’ seems a fitting title (more of which you can read about in ‘the unedited’ version of Roel van Leeuwen’s thesis) For what ever reason the ‘black & white images’ of Ed Wood, kept reoccurring in my research on this subject & those of you familiar with the movie by the same name, may see the similar parallels in this analogy as well. Perhaps we can line Johnny Depp up to play the star role as Kerry Bolton? If you can add to this article, correct my account, please do so in the comments section. That mean’s you too Kerry! Cheers. Paul.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Random Atheist Motivational Posters.

Jesus: Histories Biggest Cut & Paste.

He was born of a virgin on December 25th.

A birth witnessed by shepherds, and by followed by gift-bearers & a falling star to guide them.

Considered a great teacher, who performed miracles like raising of the dead.

Popularly known as "the good shepherd,” "the way, the truth and the light,” “redeemer,” “saviour,” and even “Messiah."

Celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples.

He was sacrificed at the spring equinox, rose up after three days, and ascended to paradise. His resurrection is celebrated every year as well.

In memory of this, his worshippers 'eat' their god in the form of wafers and bread.

His followers also believe in atonement of sins, a Saviour who is human and yet divine, a Eucharist and a baptism.

You all know who I’m talking about here, right?

It’s MITHRAS of course.

It's his statue in the photo above, looking strangely like kind that of someone else, I've seen.

That’s right not Jesus but Mithras, the Persian/Indian God who shared a great number of similarities to Jesus, and who ‘for the record’ was on to the scene in the 6th Century BC.

So many similarities in fact, it’s obvious the writers of the Bible have been doing an ancient version of what we would now call ‘cut & pasting’.

Of course Christians out there believe Jesus is, unique and the first of his kind.



Load of Cobblers!

What is so different about the story of Jesus and other ancient Gods floating about around that time?

Not much, if anything of his life is that dramatically different than the stories of other Gods – all of who preceded Jesus, in some cases by a thousand years.

For example there can’t have been a lot to do in those long northern winter nights, even for Gods, because being born on the 25th December wasn’t an unusual thing for heavenly off-spring. Attis, Dionysus, Krishna, Horus etc all just happened to share Jesus so-called ‘divine’ birthday.

Their mothers were virgins as well.

Similarly Easter was also a favourite time for Gods to die & resurrect. Dionysus, Attis, Zoroaster etc.

The list of parallels between the stories of Jesus and those of other God-men who pre-dated him is extensive.

Horus walked on water

Attis of Phrygia, was considered the saviour who was slain for the salvation of mankind.

Dionysus turned water into wine.

Horus was baptized in the river Eridanus (a.k.a Jordan) by “Anup the Baptiser” (think John the Baptist)

The 23rd Psalm copied an Egyptian text appealing to Osiris the Good Shepherd to lead the deceased to the “green pastures” and “still waters” of the Nefer-Nefer land, to restore the soul to the body, and to give protection in the valley of the shadow of death (the Tuat).

The Lord’s Prayer was prefigured by an Egyptian hymn to Osiris-Amen beginning, “O Amen, O Amen, who are in heaven.” Amen was also invoked at the end of every prayer.

Zoroaster was tempted in the wilderness by the devil and his followers waited for his second coming.

Dionysus, was a wandering holy man who transfigured in the presence of some of his disciples.

The Indian God Krishna died on a tree & was crucified between two thieves.

Where have I heard that one?

Osiris was also said to have been wrapped in linen and anointed with myrrh, before burial.

Horus delivered a sermon on the mount.

Tammuz was known by his epithet, 'the shepherd'.

All sound familiar?

Nor as it happens, is the name Jesus even original.

The followers of the Indian messiah Krishna gave him the title “Jezeus,” or “Jeseus,” meaning ‘pure essence’.

The list of biblical plagiarisms are extensive & irrefutable.

The evidence simply so compelling, it makes one wonder why Christians nowadays so readily dismiss other God’s like Mithra, when the ‘original’ story bears such a striking resemblances to that of Jesus?

Oh that’s right, Mithra is a pagan God, not a proper one, eh.

It’s only possible to believe Jesus died was resurrected, can atone for sins, be your guide in the after-life etc - no other invisible entity.

Silly old me.

PS: The Vatican was built upon the grounds previously devoted to the worship of Mithra (also known as Mithras) Like all of the other detail, share coincidence, I’m sure.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Fuhrer of the Himalayas - A Cynics Guide to Tibet’s Dalai Lama’s

This article continues my expose on ‘the dark-side’ of pre-invasion Tibet.

My intention is to add some well needed balance, prick the popular consciousness of the masses - who have up to this point - a mental image of a poor, deeply religious, pure, and blissfully happy country high-up in the Himalayas.

A peaceful & harmonious society founded on Buddhism, ruled by the benign, benevolent & loved leader, The Dalai Lama.

A paradise lost, when the Chinese invaded in 1950.

So what do we know about the rule of The Dalai Lama’s before the invasion?

Let’s start from the beginning.

The Dalai Lama is regarded by Tibetans as one of a succession of incarnations of the Buddha of Compassion, Chenrezig ( The Seeing-Eye Lord), the first Dalai Lama Dge-dun-grub-pa (1391-1475) We are up to the 14th incarnation.

When a Dalai Lama dies, a search is conducted to find his reincarnation. This search can take years, as high lamas travel parts of Tibet looking for boys who fit the description of ‘The Living Buddah’.

So now you know a little about what a Dalai Lama ‘is’, let’s talk about their rule, look back on them the same way we would look upon a royal dynasty in say Europe.

Rather ironically as it happens, the first Dalai Lama was installed by Lamist interests who assassinated the last Tibetan King, with the backing of the Kublai Khan (the name ‘Dalai Lama’ actually comes from the Mongolian language)

Between the 17th century and 1959, the Dalai Lama was the head of the Tibetan Government.
As you will see from the biographies below, during the majority of this ‘modern’ period there was no adult Dalai Lam on the throne in Tibet. This power vacuum was filled by powerful abbots who acted as ‘regent advisors’, who trained, educated and on occasion where it was politically expedient, even killed the young Dalai Lama.

Despite their status amongst the people of Tibet as ‘living-Gods’, a total of 6 out of 14 Dalai Lama’s have been assassinated or died under mysterious, unexplained circumstances that were in essence ‘hushed-up’, not to scare the lowly plebeians.

Dalai Lama’s regularly feel victim to powerful clichés within the clerical establishment, external political pressure, and the competing Buddhist sects who were not adverse to engage in armed hostilities to gain power over a rival.

Historical record shows us the 9th,10th, 11th, 12th Dalai Lama’s all died prematurely, before they could assume the authority to govern on their own.

It’s time to learn more about the shadowy sides of the Tibetan monastic state.

9th DALAI LAMA: Was born in around 1805 (no one is sure about this, could be 1806)Infighting within Tibet was rife. Anyway he didn’t make it to his, tenth birthday, but again details on the date of his death are hazy. A teenager he wasn’t. The ‘popular money’ is he was poisoned by a sect of disenchanted Lamists, who wanted a rival to take power.

10TH DALAI LAMA: Located after a ‘lot-drawing ceremony’, in which the candidates names were first whittled-down and then put into a golden urn, spun around until the ‘winning’ name fell-out. He made it to the ripe old age (for a Dalai Lama, that is) 21, and then died under mysterious circumstances in 1837. The 10th had recently increased taxes, so he wasn’t the most popular of rulers, so assassination is the most likely cause of his early demise. There are varying reports he was poisoned, a ceiling of his chamber fell on him, and some who saw his corpse reported a wound to his throat. Put it this way – he didn’t die of old age or what would be called ‘natural causes’.

11th DALAI LAMA: Was ‘found’ at the age of three, like his predecessors his lucky (or should that be unlucky?) ‘ball’ come out in the lot draw. He came from the most humble of backgrounds - his father made a living collecting animal crap. Another who found becoming a Dalai Lama was a life-shortening exercise, and following the family career path may have actually been a preferable choice. Dropped dead suddenly at age 18, of what was framed a ‘mysterious illness’. Given what we know about his two predecessors, odds are he was bumped-off, most likely poisoned.

12th DALAI LAMA: The ecclesiastical ‘Ground-Hog Day’ continues with number twelve. Another who was a winner at the lot(to) draw and found, like his smaller numerated forebears, living in a palace with hundreds of servants came with some a serious downside, and was certainly no precursor to a long-life . Died suddenly at The Potala Palace, of what yet again was termed ‘a mysterious illness’ aged 18. By now you’ll observe a lot of this deadly ‘mysterious illness’ going about in the Lama conclave.

13TH DALAI LAMA: Given the last four Dalai Lama’s were little more than figureheads, and were rubbed-out before ascending to power, Tibet was imploding on itself when the 13th came onboard (1878) The 13th had to flee Tibet twice, first when the British invaded in 1904 and then when the Chinese/Manchu descended on Lhasa five years later. The 13th reincarnate of The Buddha of Compassion, wasn’t adverse himself to employing assassination to rid himself of a rival - the Panchen Lama having to escape Tibet in 1933 because he feared the Dalai Lama was about to have him killed. Although he lived to 57 his life wasn’t any less precarious than those of the 9th, 10th 11th & 12th, Dalai Lama’s. This living-god at least got to justify his mantle, having the good fortune to survive three known attempts on his life, all from Buddhist rivals, including his nephew Norbu Tsering – who was executed along with 20-30 accomplices.

Having read this, and being somewhat more ‘enlightened’ as to the workings of Lamaism, it’s time to ask - what exactly is it - the Free Tibet groups are wanting?

Is there anyone from these pressure groups who can explain what was ‘free’ about the old Tibet?

The undefined term ‘autonomy’ is often bandied around.

Given what history teaches us, ‘autonomy’ in Tibet equates to a country run by dictatorship under a small cliché of Lama’s, and in modern times on the odd occasion where the incarnate got to make it to maturity, by a Dalai Lama.

Wake-up Sharon Stone & Joanna Lumley, the last time Tibet was autonomist women, were never given a say in affairs, rendered poor & powerless.

Serfs, who comprised 80% of the population, were similarly politically impotent, under the brand of autonomy advocated by the actor & activist Richard Gere.

Can we all take a ticket in the lotto draw for the next Dalai Lama, or do we need to be a member of a Free Tibet group and a confirmed Buddhist first?

And let’s all remind ourselves world, who it is that stands to gain the most, by re-establishing an ‘autonomist’ Tibet?

That’s right, the Fuhrer of the Himalayas, who would rather we all conveniently ignored the historical record of Lamist abuse, and simply embrace the myth of a peaceful oasis, with him on the throne.

The next time you meet someone who calls for a Free Tibet ask them to define what the ‘free’ means?

If they fail to include a Tibet free of Lamaism in their summation, by default they are admitting they know nothing of the complexities & history of this country.

By seeking a return to power of The Dalai Lama and his cronies, Free-Tibetans are in fact advocating replacing the despotic Chinese with a power-structure that is as undemocratic, oppressive & pitiless.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

10 Facts About Tibet The Dalai Lama Doesn't Want You To Know

Peaceful, colourful, timeless, the preservers of timeless wisdom.

An apt description of this peculiar western phenomena of Tibetan adoration, comes from author Slavoj Zizek.

‘Colonialisation of the imaginary’.

Highly romanticised versions of traditional Tibetan life still hold sway in the minds of westerners, much of which being the products of Hollywood movies, books by the dozen, and the not inconsiderable ‘machinery’ of the Free Tibet movement & it’s legion of high-profile stars.

China on the other hand is reviled as the heartless invaders who systematically destroyed centuries of Tibetan culture.

The portrayal of pre and post invasion Tibet is starkly white then black.

It wasn’t always this way.

At one stage in the early 18th century the British reports of the day painted Tibet & China as both ‘oriental despotisms’ ruled by men who claim to be God. These Asian man-god rulers were similarly despised in Europe based on principals that were at odds with Christian sensibilities.

Emmanuael Kant described Tibet as ‘a dark cruel theocracy’ and Rousseau as ‘oppressive and bizarre’.

During World War Two the Chinese were allies, fighting for the freedom of Asia, five years later it was China rather than Japan that operated a totalitarian regime.

Another popular ideal that needs dispelling is the myth of isolation, that’s to say, Tibet was some-how sealed-off from the hurly-burly and troublesome world around it, it’s mountains acting as a natural barrier to outsiders.

In reality, there was a substantial Muslim population from Asia Minor, Armenians, Afghanis (then called Kashmir’s) and Russians as far afield as Siberia, all living and trading in Tibet.

Religious pilgrims regularly travelled there from Mongolia, Nepal, India, Japan and Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon)

For over 300 years a strange assortment of Europeans made their way to Tibet, staring with the Portuguese in the 17th Century. French, Russians, English, German, Swedish all travelled the country either on formal state or church sponsored missions or independent adventurers.

It’s also worth placing some historic perspective on the Chinese/Tibetan relationship by making mention - strange as it may seem today - Tibet invaded & held large tracts of China at varying stages.

So what do we know about pre-annexation Tibet?

Much of this comes from the reports of the fore-mentioned European explorers and expeditions, which by the 19th century provided the first insights of what life was like for the peasants. Up to this point much of the focus had been on the religious aspects of life in Tibet, fractious pictorial depictions to titillate & create wonderment for insulated readers ‘back home’.

The list I’ve compiled entitled ‘10 Facts about Tibet The Dalai Lama Doesn’t Want You To Know’ largely uses transcripts taken between 1850 and 1950 (covering the period of rule of the 11th – 14th Dalai Lamas)

Even the creation of the Lamist system of government will destroy another sacred cow. The early Lamas, evidently held scant regard for the ethos of peaceful resistance, seizing power by force - namely assassinating the last Tibetan King.

As you work through them, keep in mind the Dalai Lamas were both the secular & ecclesiastical leaders of Tibet.

To use a modern analogy, ‘they were where the buck stopped’.

FACT ONE: Tibetans practiced a spiritual form of medicine. One of the more bizarre beliefs, were the mystical healing powers lamas possessed. Just being able to touch a holy person was enough to cure a raft of diseases. And for those unable to get close to a deity like the Dalai Lam, the god-man came to them, in the form of urine and excrement (the later was dried & made into a pill, for swallowing)Spittle from a lama was similarly treasured for its healing powers.

FACT TWO: Without basic sanitary conditions, hygiene, rubbish-collection, running water, modern medical care like hospitals & preventive medicines, pre-Chinese Tibet was beset with chronic health problems. Small pox was rife enough for the 13th Dalai Lama to suffer its rages. Cataracts, leprosy, tuberculosis were also prevalent. But, the most widespread affliction suffered by the general population was venereal disease.

FACT THREE: Infant mortality was around 1 in 2 (one set of figures put it as high as 3 in 4)The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso (born 1935) tells of his mother giving birth to 14 children, 6 of which died as babies.

FACT FOUR: The old Tibetan word for woman is Kiemen (or kye-mi) The literal translation of this is ‘inferior birth’ of ‘lower birth’. Tibetan Buddhists believed only males could achieve ‘nirvana’. A Buddhist prayer commonly recited went along the lines “may I reject a feminine body and be reborn a male one”.

FACT FIVE: Prior to the Chinese invasion there were only two small schools operating in the whole of Tibet (using the term school in the modern secular interpretation of the word) These schools educated teenage boys starting at age 14. Eligibility was confined to nobility, families of high ranking monks and government officials.

FACT SIX: At any one time 15 to 20 per cent of the male population were monks. Rendering a large percentage of the work-force effectively ‘redundant’ was a large economic burden on an already fragile economy. Feeding and clothing this vast monastic empire fell to the serfs & peasants who were not only subservient & bound to the local monastery, the state, but also the aristocratic lord, whose lands it was, they were tenant-farming.

FACT SEVEN: Serfs, who made-up around 80% of the population (again figures vary) were ‘tied to their master’s’. Under the Tibetan feudal system, peasants were rendered virtually powerless. They couldn’t travel, marry, trade etc, without permission or consent of their masters. About 500 families controlled 80% of the countries wealth.

FACT EIGHT: With so few jails operating, a more summary form of justices was employed, which may have been a blessing considering the Government Jail operating in Lhasa was part cesspit, part prison, from which inmates were released from their squalor for just two days a year. At the disposal of the law administrators (read; rich lords, religious fraternities and government officials) were a whole range of crude medieval type torture devices: manacles, red hot irons, implements to gouge eyes out, hanging by thumbs, crippling, sewing the guilty party into a sack and throwing them into a river, spikes under finger-nails, forcing pepper into the eyes – were all a realities of the pre-invasion justice system for the ‘docile’ Buddhist peoples of Tibet.

FACT NINE: An indication of how backward & uneducated Tibetans were in 1950 – most people thought the world was flat.

FACT TEN: Travellers & adventurers to Lhasa (translated as ‘Place of the Gods) were not only overawed by the sight of the city and the magnificent Potala Palace, they were also overcome by its stench. In his time there, the current Dalai Lama made constant mention to his entourage about the ever-present smell & dirt caused by lack of proper sanitation, rubbish collection & absence of a sewage system. The National Geographic expedition of 1904 described the streets of Lhasa as ‘narrow and filthy’. A year earlier a Swedish explorers said of Lhasa “everything from top to toe is filthy”. Popular British Journalist, Edmond Candler, renowned for his literary depictions of his travels in the region, gave his readers this mental image of Lhasa in 1905 “We found the city squalid and filthy beyond description, undrained and unpaved”. Indeed descriptions of Tibet as a whole also mirrored these views. German traveller Theodore Illion going as far as telling his readers “Tibet ranks amongst the most filthy countries in the world”. We see similar depictions of pre-1950 Tibet amongst virtually all the writers. “On the sides of the roads were heaps of rubbish”. “Revoltingly filthy”. “Dark and Ill-Smelling" etc etc.

Note: All this information was available to me courtesy of one afternoon at my local public library & access to a photocopy-machine. In short, I didn't have to look far. Given all the glossy 'warm fuzzy' stuff which is written about Tibet, one thinks more journalists should perhaps avail themselves of the details of pre-invasion Tibet, sitting on their dusty library shelves. Now you have a better insight in to the 'real Tibet' - don't you agree?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Dalai Lama – Hail the Neo-Medieval Tibetan Dictator

Here in New Zealand we have ‘a thing’ for Tibet, far out-weighing out respective countries historic relations.

This may down to simply one person, Sir Edmond Hillary, more likely though, the affinity small isolated countries have for one another.

There is also a great deal of good will towards Tibet’s spiritual leader, the estranged Dali Lama.

The ‘good press’ he receives amongst the New Zealand public are largely founded on two factors…..

1.) The sympathy vote. Tibet was a utopia in the mountains until the evil-doing Chinese Red-Army arrived, bent on some ethic cleansing Asia style.
2. ) Asian religions are docile, less dogmatic than those we have here. Religion ‘Tibetan Style’ is some-what the equivalent of a cuddly serene ‘house-hold cat’.

Sorry to spoil the party here fellas, these widely-held views are a misinformed load of crap.

Forget what you have seen in Hollywood movies, read in books by ex SS officers, take-off those rose-tinted glasses one second.

Here’s the reality check.

Until the Chinese invaded Tibet 90% of the population lived-lives the equivalent of medieval serfs (called tralpa) who lived at the mercy of the ruling classes, and the aristocratic Dali Lama sat pretty, high-up in his 1,000 room palace.

Here’s how the arable land in Tibet was distributed, last time The Dalai Lama was in power: 30.9 percent was owned by government officials, 29.6 percent by nobles, and 39.5 percent by monasteries and upper-ranking lamas. Zip for the plebs, who mostly worked without pay.

Let’s make no mistake about this – the conditions in 1950’s Tibet were nothing but dire.

No sanitation, no public education (95% illiteracy), no infra-structure, no health system (average life span of 35), no public electricity.

A squalid, cruel, dysfunctional, feudal, theocracy.

In this imaginary Shangri-La, slavery was still being practiced in 1950, so if you were short of a dozen workers for your next harvest, you simply purchased them from the neighbour. In fact it wasn’t unusual for a Tibetan landlord to have a few thousand slaves.

Human beings were given away as presents.

To the majority of these subsistence-living serfs, the Chinese were looked upon as liberators not invaders & not surprisingly angry crowds soon turned the tables on the deposed aristocrats & monks the moment they got a chance.

But in an amazing re-write of history, the oppressors who had to flee Tibet, sometimes chased by angry crowds, now have the audacity to paint themselves as the oppressed!

Strangely, I haven’t seen any ‘Free Tibet’ propaganda, or any of the raft of Hollywood stars, mention a return to the Tibetan tradition of slavery, or any seeing any references in their propaganda about Tibetan plebeians actually welcoming the Chinese?

Key to this mythical utopia at the top of the world, was the brand of Buddhism lead by the Dali Lama that perpetuated this set twisted social system. The poor at the bottom were taught that they had brought their troubles upon themselves because of their wicked ways in previous lives. Hence they had to accept the misery of their present existence as a karmic atonement and in anticipation that their lot would improve in their next lifetime. The rich and powerful treated their good fortune as a reward for, and tangible evidence of, virtue in past and present lives.

For those not familiar with Buddhism in Tibet the following photo may come as a shock and wake-up call. What you see are the skins of humans. This macabre religious practice involved the landowners ‘sacrificing’ a slave or two as a ‘gift’ to the Dalai Lama in return for his blessing. The smaller skins are those of children - peeled alive.

So, utopia existed only for the ruling elite, with a little assistance of their private police-force, the ruling class & church, acting as the sole arbiters of justice in pre-Chinese Tibet.

In one case a staving villager had both eyes gouged-out for stealing two sheep from a local monastery. Amputation was the standard punishment, for a whole range of innocuous crimes. Judicial mutilation, whippings etc were formalized under the 13th century Tibetan legal code & still administered in 1950.

The statutory code of old Tibet that divided the population was divinely inspired, dividing people-up into three classes and nine ranks. Those belonging to the highest rank, like the rich or royalty were worth more than say a farm worker. The equation to ‘value’ a human was based on the weight of a dead-body – the highest ranks being calculated in the corpses weight in gold, and the lower classes in straw. So the rich could literally get away with murder and rape & a poor servant lose an arm for stealing a chicken.

I wonder again if the New Zealand public and those in the west would be keen to see a return to the good old days in Tibet where the rich lamas & land-owners used their ‘death squads’ to quell any dissent to their nepotistic rule?

And who was the biggest despot in this tyranny?

Yep you guessed it, that all round good guy, Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dali Lama.

It was him that had the most to lose when The Chinese arrived, and the corrupt social-order he lauded over began eroding.

For starters the Chinese began distributing the land by need, and organising egalitarian communes, where everyone benefited, villages not longer starved whilst the rich & religious hierarchy grew fat on their toil. For the first time, the land they had worked-on for centuries as virtual slaves, was theirs to reap the benefits. Herds that were once the provision of nobility and ‘the church’ , were turned over to the collectives of poor shepherds.

Over time there was schooling for everyone, not just the elite and the lamas.

There was health-care for the entire population, and as a result Tibetans now live to an average age of sixty - some 25 years longer than under the rule of the neo-medieval religious dictator.

Sanitation, electricity, running water all the things we take for granted, and were all but non-existent before China’s annexation, appeared for the first time.

The so called oppressors, started educating everyone, putting roads in, building hospitals etc – again, all the things missing from the magical days high-up in the Himalayas so cherished by liberals.

Ironically the Chinese also improved human-rights. Tibetans now have equal rights in politics, the economy, education, military etc.

It’s fair to indicate the Chinese regime did some terrible things in Tibet, the fifties & sixties being a torrid age of failed reforms in China, but this is not excuse to romanticise the pre-invasion feudal mountain regime as being some ideal existence, now lost to its people.

As hard as it is to swallow & however much as we hate the Chinese regime here in ‘the west’, their illegitimate invasion etc - the truth is for the majority of Tibetans - life is actually better & fairer under their rule.

And let’s not forget the issue of religious freedoms in Tibet, monks being tossed-out of monasteries etc. The sort of thing, we hear all the time from the media and vested interest groups, all of it rabidly anti-Chinese.

Specifically lets highlight the oppression undertaken by the Dalai Lama against fellow Buddhists.

For hundreds of years a section of Buddhists have been worshipping a deity called ‘Dorje Shugden’. The ‘all round nice guy’ 14th Dalai Lama viewed worship of Dorje Shugden to be in conflict to his supreme rule. It wasn’t right for Tibetans to be worshipping anyone but him. So in 1996 he outlawed the centuries old worship of Dorje Shugden and declared its followers as heretics and reaffirming himself as a reincarnated living God. The Tibetan Government in exile, puppets of The Dalai Lama, passed laws banning the worship of Shugden and uttering it’s widely practiced prayer became illegal. Buddhist monks who still maintained a belief in Shugden were tossed out of monasteries and on to the streets.

The Dalai Lama talks about freedom for his people in Tibet - at least autonomy within the Peoples Republic of China - but is perfectly happy employing the same draconian injustices, denying basic human rights to Dorje Shugden practitioners.

Never let it stray from your mind, The Dalai Lama’s cause for a ‘free’ Tibet is a definition of freedom we in New Zealand would see as dictatorial, privative and discriminatory.

The ordinary Tibetans who still view him as a living-God and call for his return, only do so, in terms of spiritual leadership. Few if any Tibetans want a return to the social order he represented and abused, like men forced to live in manacles.

Given what you now know about the real history of Tibet, do we really want to support a cause which would see the return to powers of a religious neo-medieval dictator and his rich cronies?

I say, no.
Footnote: My research on this article came about by accident. For the record, I am a member (should that now be was?)of a Free Tibet group – yes, I too believed what I was feed. So I’m far from being an apologist for the Chinese Government, I decry their brand of politics. I first came across an article about pre-annexation Tibet on the internet and was shocked at what I read. Surely this could not be right? Slavery? Barbarism? These things were not what happened? But the more I dug, the more it became reality. One thing was for sure, the mysticism of the Dalai Lama fascinated early explorers as well. Eighty per cent of these early accounts, photos etc focused on either the religious aspects of Tibet, or the stark landscape. Very little was said about the day to day life of the peasants. But, from what was written – it was not a great existence for ‘joe-bloggs’ in the fields. What I have presented here, is the most dramatic excess’s of their lives. It was done deliberately in a provocative way so you too will do your own research into this subject and not just believe what you are told is gospel. In other-words don’t make the mistake I did. And remember the current Dalai Lama, had his chance to introduce reforms like a fair penal-code, when he was in power – and didn’t. The current Dalai Lama was a slave-owner. Democracy was never a part of historic Tibet. Footnote: I am going to do a part two on this.