Sunday, July 22, 2007

Jonestown: The DVD

Scott Butki has written an excellent review of Stanley Nelson's documentary, Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples Temple. The film also has been nominated for an Academy Award. While there has been fairly consistent interest in the massacre that took place in Jonestown 29 years ago this November, as we approach the 30th anniversary of the horrific event, I think it is safe to say, curiousity in what happened at that jungle enclave before many of the people reading this posting was born, has never been higher.

My book, The Ghosts of November: Memoirs of an Outsider Who Witnessed the Carnage at Jonestown, Guyana, originally published in 1998, is the only account written by a member of the task force sent to Guyana to recover the remains of the 914 Americans who perished there. I have meticulously revised it, included footnotes and an index and more than 20 photographs.

November 18, 2008 marks the 30th anniversary of the massacre, an appropriate time for my revision to be published. As of yet, I have been unable to find an agent or editor interested in doing that. I will self-publish it as I did the first edition, if I must. However, I would prefer the more traditional route to publication this time.

If you know an agent or publisher who may be interested in this project, please have him or her contact me.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Memorial to the Children

November 18, 2008 will be the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre. Dr. Jynona Norwood, lost family members that day and has been working toward the construction of a permanent memorial to the children that were murdered. Here is her story:

My name is Jynona Norwood, CEO of Cherishing the Children/Guyana Tribute Foundation. I am writing you today regarding the 913 American citizens who perished in the Jonestown Massacre. Although, I was never a member of Peoples Temple, we lost 27 family members in the Jonestown Massacre and 17 were youths. Among them were my loving mother, Fairy Norwood and a 3-month-old cousin, Charles Henderson, Jr. I rescued/kidnapped, my son from my family as they were raising him while I traveled and preached as an evangelist. These loving people were the kindest and bravest most selfless people you would have ever wanted to meet. Our loved ones were deceived! They were held in captivity by Jim Jones and we now need your help in remembering them.

We need your support and presence to erect the Cherishing the Children Healing Memorial Wall in memory of the 276 children, their families, Congressman Leo Ryan and the UPI news crew who perished in this incredible act of violence. The survivors and surviving families of Jonestown have resolved, with the public's help, to erect this memorial. The monument will be placed in the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, California where 406 bodies lay in a mass grave who are mostly children. In the spirit of those who honored the tragic passing of their loved ones in events such as the Jewish Holocaust, the Columbine shooting, the Vietnam War and most recently, the tragedy of 9/11, we envision the erection of this wall in memorial to the Jonestown Massacre. The children in the photographs at the top of this letter perished in Jonestown without a fighting chance and we must say "Never again........gone but not forgotten."

Although the donations have come in slowly over the years, the monies, which remain in escrow for the Cherishing the Children Healing Memorial Wall, still continue to gain interest. Senator Dianne Feinstein appointed the late police psychologist, Dr. Chris Hatcher to the surviving families for counseling. Dr. Hatcher became the first signature on the memorial wall bank account, along with former Human Rights Commissioner Rev. Eugene Lumpkin. Rev. Lumpkin was appointed by then Mayor Frank Jordan as our liaison to San Francisco City Hall. Dr. Hatcher and Rev. Lumpkin joined me as we opened the Jonestown Memorial Wall Fund with our own money. We have always had four signatures on our bank account. Also, it is mandatory that two signatures are required in order to remove any funds from the account. The Jonestown Memorial Wall Fund account is always available for public viewing.

We are not a part of any other groups who are collecting monies for any type of memorial in the name of the Jonestown victims. The staff remains vigilant in their efforts to erect the wall, which will have a three-fold purpose: To honor the sanctity of the innocent lives that were lost; to raise public awareness that you never give up your ability to think for yourself; and to question everyone and everything!

I implore you by making two requests:

1) To help us erect this Historical Memorial Wall by making a donation.
2) Contact your friends, business owners, corporations to make a donation of granite, inscribers or a contribution. We are 501(c)3 tax-deductible.

A percentage of the funds will be donated to students in building their future by giving scholarships to college or technical school. Jacque Behar is our scholarship director. You can send all donations to: KAIPERM (FCU) 2101 BROADWAY ST., OAKLAND, CA. 94612 attn: SHARON or you can send all letters with your sentiments about the victims with or without your donation to DR. NORWOOD, PO BOX 3330, HOLLYWOOD, CA. 90078.

Check out Dr. Norwood's website and give a donation
. Let's get this done before the 30th anniversary is history.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Common Properties of Potentially Destructive and Dangerous Cults

The late psychologist, Margaret Singer, was a cult expert. Here are her signs of a potentially destructive and dangerous cult.

The cult is authoritarian in its power structure. The leader is regarded as the supreme authority. He or she may delegate certain power to a few subordinates for the purpose of seeing that members adhere to the leader's wishes and roles. There is no appeal outside of his or her system to greater systems of justice. For example, if a school teacher feels unjustly treated by a principal, appeals can be made. In a cult, the leader claims to have the only and final ruling on all matters.

The cult's leaders tend to be charismatic, determined, and domineering. They persuade followers to drop their families, jobs, careers, and friends to follow them. They (not the individual) then take over control of their followers' possessions, money, lives.

The cult's leaders are self-appointed, messianic persons who claim to have a special mission in life. For example, the flying saucer cult leaders claim that people from outer space have commissioned them to lead people to special places to await a space ship.

The cult's leaders center the veneration of members upon themselves. Priests, rabbis, ministers, democratic leaders, and leaders of genuinely altruistic movements keep the veneration of adherents focused on God, abstract principles, and group purposes. Cult leaders, in contrast, keep the focus of love, devotion, and allegiance on themselves.

The cult tends to be totalitarian in its control of the behavior of its members. Cults are likely to dictate in great detail what members wear, eat, when and where they work, sleep, and bathe-as well as what to believe, think, and say.

The cult tends to have a double set of ethics. Members are urged to be open and honest within the group, and confess all to the leaders. On the other hand, they are encouraged to deceive and manipulate outsiders or nonmembers. Established religions teach members to be honest and truthful to all, and to abide by one set of ethics.

The cult has basically only two purposes, recruiting new members and fund-raising. Established religions and altruistic movements may also recruit and raise funds. However, their sole purpose is not to grow larger; such groups have the goals to better the lives of their members
and mankind in general. The cults may claim to make social contributions, but in actuality these remain mere claims, or gestures. Their focus is always dominated by recruiting new members and fund-raising.

The cult appears to be innovative and exclusive. The leader claims to be breaking with tradition, offering something novel, and instituting the only viable system for change that will solve life's problems or the world's ills. While claiming this, the cult then surreptitiously uses systems of psychological coercion on its members to inhibit their ability to examine the actual validity of the claims of the leader and the cult.