Sawyer’s Critique of Ben Zeller’s article entitled: What the Heaven’s Gate suicides say about American culture

Below is Sawyer’s critique of another article about Heaven’s Gate. The article link is at the end but here is the text with my comments embedded:

What the Heaven’s Gate suicides say about American culture

Ben Zeller, Lake Forest College Published 4:53 am, Friday, March 24, 2017

Ben Zeller, Lake Forest College

(THE CONVERSATION) Heaven’s Gate – also known as the “UFO cult” – burst into American consciousness 20 years ago this month, when, on March 26, 1997, law enforcement discovered 39 decomposing bodies in a San Diego, California mansion.

Each detail that emerged from the scene stunned a rapt public: Adherents had committed suicide in waves on March 22 and 23, ingesting a lethal mix of barbiturates and alcohol; they lay under purple shrouds, with five-dollar bills and rolls of quarters in their pockets; all wore simple dark uniforms and Nike tennis shoes.

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sawyer’s comment:

“rolls of quarters” – that’s the first time I ever heard that. It was generally $5 and quarters that was first reported though I don’t know if every member had that combo. I reported to media in 1997 that I thought it had to do with our routine to sign out $5 whenever we went out of craft (house) on a task and then signed it in when we got back. It was for minor emergencies or if we were doing an “out of craft task” (job in human world) that extended past our 3rd Experiment (dinner time) as some were computer technicians that had varied hours at times so they’d have a little something to get a sandwich or something to tide them over. Before it was $5 in the 1990’s it was quarters for use in a pay phone in the 1980’s. I am sure it wasn’t more than 4 quarters or less than 2. Then some years after 1997 I heard a report that said it was $5.75 and I related it to Mark Twain’s fare for boarding the tail of a comet to go to heaven – like a dual service joke and practicality of having a tiny amount of money in case Ti decided to take their vehicles with them, heal them of their drug induced vehicular death and use them for some task someplace else. I believed this was also the reason for each to have a travel bag packed with a change of clothes as they left no stone un-turned. Could some have had rolls of quarters? Of course. But I wonder what was in the final report. It’s not important anymore but it just adds to the confusion of the facts to see it constantly reported differently.
*****

Bizarre as these details may seem, if you actually look at the group’s beliefs and history, Heaven’s Gate has far more in common with American culture than you might expect.

In my book on Heaven’s Gate, I argue that the group drew from broad trends in American culture – religiosity, apocalyptic thinking and an interest in fusing science and religion.

But one theme has become even more evident since I wrote the book. The group’s embrace of conspiratorial thinking reflects a culture of conspiracy that has long existed in the margins of society – and has re-emerged at the center of American life.

At the time of the suicides, Heaven’s Gate had been in existence for over two decades.

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Sawyers comment:

The Name Heaven’s Gate wasn’t used until 1996. We used  many other names before that.

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It was founded in 1972 when two Texans, Bonnie Lu Nettles and Marshall Herff Applewhite, bonded over shared interests in alternative spiritual exploration, astrology and biblical prophecy. They came to believe that the Bible foretold an extraterrestrial rapture wherein some individuals would be saved from life on this planet and journey to what they called the “Next Level,” a physical realm in outer space where they would live as an immortal, perfected species of space aliens. They gained their first significant attention and converts in 1975 among alternative spiritual seekers in California and Oregon.

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sawyers comment:

In 88update Do says that when He and Ti met they had nothing in common but a strong love for their Heavenly Father and a sense of having something to do together so they didn’t bond over shared interests.

They never spoke in terms of a “rapture” until the 1990’s that I recall as we had no bible kinds of study before then and with TI. Then Rapture meant – leaving all behind to follow eith the Older members literally as Jesus disciples did.

“saved from life on this planet” is to me a skewed way of saying what was more the case of “graduated from the Human kingdom” – and “evolutionary step” that amounted to being saved from “death on the planet” the fate of all life forms on earth, which is also aligned with what Jesus taught.

The latest trend in these articles and book authors is to classify them as “space aliens” which is part of the Luciferian Space Alien fallen Angel misinformation, rather than distinguish them as Above Space Aliens, Beyond Human and space Aliens, Evolutionarily more advanced than space aliens as “human equivalents” and DO said that the space aliens were SOULS who propagated hybrid physical bodies and were no longer allowed to circulate very far into space now and that there were no good and bad space aliens. They were all enemies of the Next Level though some had more consciousness of the Next Level Above Human than others and were also in competition with one another over the “spoils of the planet”. See USA Today Info Ad published on May 27th 1993.
*****

Nettles and Applewhite drew from Christian sources, particularly prophetic and apocalyptic material. They were also inspired by the New Age movement, which emphasized meditation, diet and the channeling of spiritual beings. Like many religious people, members of Heaven’s Gate sought salvation from what they considered a corrupt world.

***** sawyers comment:
To say they were inspired by the New Age movement is misleading. The author should just read 88update for Do’s words on the subject if accuracy is most important anymore.
***********

After Nettles died of cancer in 1985, the group’s adherents increasingly rejected their earlier belief in what they called biological metamorphosis, wherein their human bodies would chemically transform into extraterrestrial forms. Instead, they now envisioned abandoning their human bodies on Earth and transferring their consciousnesses – through (unspecified) technological-spiritual means – into new extraterrestrial “Next Level bodies.” (This is roughly analogous to reincarnation.)

**** sawyers comment:

“group’s adherents” who left, did so for any number of reasons and I learned what their reasons were because some of them sought to return and explained why. For example Dymody, Wndody, Rkkody, Trsody, Flxody and some never returned who gave interviews – Shldody, Jssody – who I believe left because the pickup didn’t transpire when Ti and Do first indicated it would (after 5 years they regretted saying as they never knew but kept getting pressed for the answer, though that didn’t phase their core believers like myself who never cared about being picked up by a UFO to begin with.

But to say they rejected “biological metamorphosis” I doubt was on anyone’s mind as we hardly understood what that entailed anyway until the mid 1990’s and even then it wasn’t until years later after I left them that I realized what they were referring to. The Soul was a “seed” and was physical and had a biological interface inside the human container where it could grow. Upon completion it would be equivalent to when Jesus was transformed on the Transfiguration mount, when Do felt he was ready to lay that body down to heal it in 3 1/2 days as Ti agreed was a time frame for such healing to occur.
******

Eventually, some members came to believe that they actually were space aliens – that they’d taken on human forms to learn about life on our planet – though this belief appears to have not been universally shared.

**** Sawyers comment:
Who said this? It wasn’t members who stayed in the classroom to their departure I can assure you but the idea probably did come from space aliens into some minds.
******

It may come as a surprise that, until the suicides, Heaven’s Gate attracted little outside attention.

******
Sawyers comment:

Nor did they want outside attention which is why when Ti stopped the harvest (first wave) in 1976 they went into seclusion for about 17 years as they didn’t want any further attention. When they wanted attention they got it big time – still talking about it 20 years later with new believers to degrees all the time.
******

They didn’t face government persecution, angry ex-members or professional anti-cultists eager to destroy them – all of which dogged other new and alternative religions like the Peoples Temple (the group behind the Jonestown massacre) and the Branch Davidians (the targets of the Waco siege).

So what drove Heaven’s Gate to consider collective suicide?

In the final years of the group’s existence, members came to believe in an elaborate conspiracy that leading governmental, religious and economic figures had colluded with a group of demonic extraterrestrials called “the Luciferians.” According to Heaven’s Gate members, these evil forces were all working in concert to cover up the existence of UFOs, and specifically a UFO “companion” that trailed the Hale-Bopp comet, which came closest to Earth on March 22, the day the suicides began.

*** Sawyer’s comment:

We began our study of the UFO phenomena in earnest in 1987 while living on Lost Angel road up Boulder Canyon in Colorado when Do brought in copies of “UFO Crash at Aztec” and in particular made parts of the appendix and the autopsy reports required reading and the rest optional. Before then we had a few books about Roswell and Admiral Byrd’s hollow earth, if I recall correctly, but never had them as required reading and never had a discussions about them which can be seen in the audio tape records.

ALL space aliens were “demonic” – not the way they want to be labeled for public consumption of their agenda of being human saviors.
******

The sort of conspiratorial thinking that Heaven’s Gate adopted was nothing new. Their belief in government conspiracies and UFOs could be traced back to popular responses to the first “flying saucer” sightings and the crash of an unknown object in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.

Religious studies scholar Joseph Laycock has written about how some aspects of the emerging UFO subculture blended scientific and supernaturalist theories, bringing together religion and conspiratorial thinking. Likewise, historian David G. Robertson has documented how UFO conspiracy theories eventually merged with New Age religious thinking to create what he calls “UFO millennial conspiracism.” Heaven’s Gate was part of those trends.

While Heaven’s Gate emerged from ufological culture, they also engaged in a long and storied pattern of conspiratorial thinking by American religious and political movements, a relationship historian Richard J. Hofstadter explored in his famous 1964 essay on the “paranoid style of American politics.”

In the 19th century, this relationship was especially pronounced in a strand of American Protestantism that envisioned an array of nefarious agents attempting to wrest American culture from the values – and control – of white, English Protestants. They initially targeted (sometimes violently) Catholic immigrants – who were neither Protestant nor English – and justified their actions with a blend of nativism and conspiratorial thinking.

And it was this sort of conspiratorial thinking that suffused American political movements, whether it was McCarthyism or the anti-Masonic movement. Hofstadter wrote that proponents of such ideas often felt “dispossessed,” that the country had been “taken away from their kind.”

Today, many fear that external agents, from Muslims to illegal immigrants, have eroded core American “Judeo-Christian” values. Perhaps as a result, we’re now witnessing rising nativism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Heaven’s Gate also embraced what historian Michael Barkun calls a “culture of conspiracy,” which divides the world between evil forces secretly conspiring among one another, true believers aware of the conspiracies and the mindless masses who operate without awareness of the truth.

**** Sawyer’s comment:

Ti and Do said the Next Level had a “conspiracy” – a “need to know” policy and one of maintaining “secrecy”. This can be seen in the way the Prophet Daniel was told to “shut up the meaning of the vision” and to how John the Revelation writer was told the same thing in chapter 10, UNTIL the time of the end in Daniel’s case and in John’s until the 7th Trumpet soundings. That seventh trumpet sounding as been in progress since at least 2008 when National Geographic Magazine’s “Final Report: Heaven’s Gate” aired a documentary that posed the question in the byline and in the body of the document, via the words of Sawyer (as I had asked them to do, a miracle to have happen (because I think the Next Level wanted it to occur), “Could Heaven’s Gate have been the Second Coming?” (paraphrased) that millions would have heard – the function of a trumpet sounding of information that was to occur after the TWO and Crew had exited their incarnations.
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While Barkun focuses on the religious and cultural margins, today the same elements are arguably at work in American political discourse, whether it’s talk of secret government wiretaps, a deep state, or cover-ups within the scientific community on topics ranging from vaccines to climate change.

The adherents of Heaven’s Gate wouldn’t probably be drawn to these various political conspiracies, though they shared the belief that powerful forces colluded behind the scenes to hide the truth. In order to support their claims of the existence of extraterrestrials and UFO visitations, they embraced this conspiratorial logic.

Twenty years ago, people laughed off the conspiracy theories that consumed the group and eventual led them to “opt out” of the planet and commit suicide.

**** Sawyers comment

The conspiracies theories that abounded in the 1990’s stemming from the previous decades amounted to maybe 1% of content of the groups consideration so hardly could be said to have “consumed the group” and certainly had nothing to do with their “opt out” “suicides”. Watch the students exit videos to see what over 30 students said about their exit. Why isn’t that proof of their mindset. They were leaving because they had bonded with their Older Member, and had grown to know they were not those bodies and because most of all they loved Do wanted to follow him, be with him after their exit to take up their next tasks to have graduated their human lesson plan. Yes they saw the world as the hideous place it really is, where even most Christians are, know it or not, anti-Jesus teachings while in condemnation of what they don’t want to understand as misinformation is the rule rather than the exception.
******

But what happens when political leaders embrace a similar logic?

Link to this article: http://www.lmtonline.com/news/article/What-the-Heaven-s-Gate-suicides-say-about-11024924.php

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/what-the-heavens-gate-suicides-say-about-american-culture-74343.

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