Cry, The Beloved Country: Over Man Has Come

Part I:  Seeing the Story

Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears,

That I might weep day and night

For the slain of the daughter of my people!

Oh, that I had in the wilderness

A lodging place for travelers;

That I might leave my people,

And go from them!

For they are all adulterers,

An assembly of treacherous men.

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies.

They are not valiant for the truth on the earth.

For they proceed from evil to evil,

And they do not know Me,” says the Lord.

“Everyone take heed to his neighbor,

And do not trust any brother;

For every brother will utterly supplant,

And every neighbor will walk with slanderers.

Everyone will deceive his neighbor,

And will not speak the truth;

They have taught their tongue to speak lies;

They weary themselves to commit iniquity.

Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit;

Through deceit they refuse to know Me,” says the Lord.

The words of Jeremiah, the prophet.  (Jeremiah 9:1-6, The Old Testament)

In 1948 a novel was published entitled, Cry, the Beloved Country.  Critics considered it one of the top three novels published that year.  I read the book many years ago and have never forgotten it. The author was Alan Paton and the story is about the tragedy of South Africa.  The novel was a call for social justice, but on the deepest level it was a call for compassion, understanding and unity between races.  Shortly after it was published, Apartheid was institutionalized.  Cry, the Beloved Country is a very “Christian” novel by a white man who loved his country and all the people in it.  It is a heartbreaking story about two fathers, white and black, and the tragedy of their sons.  It’s a story about forgiveness and reconciliation. Paton mourned for his country. I have taken his title for this essay because any far-sighted person who loves America will be crying out in mourning for her right now because, as with Jeremiah’s nation of Judah so long ago, she has become a nation of slanderers, adulterers and liars who practice nothing but deceit. Her people have chosen just such a man to be their leader and the father of their country. In such a nation, who is left to mourn?

Certainly, there’s plenty of crying going on.

Many are shedding tears of shrieking fury, calling for retaliation, confrontations, boycotts, even violence.    Putative “defenders of liberty”, they are bent on attacking and destroying anyone or anything that symbolizes their loss and impotence.   If they can’t have the “America” they want, they would just as soon annihilate her.  Many of these hate-filled ranters lust for the brutal martial law of progressive fascism in order to stop the cold, iron fist of conservative fascism, not realizing that they are conjoined to their conservative twin, locked face-to-face with him, even as they try to beat him to death.

Then there are those utterly blind “patriots” who are crying out with joy and hope, believing that their way of life has been saved.  Their political messiah is rising to power.  They gloat over the hand-wringing and enraged wails of those they despise.   After the dark orgasm of their unexpected electoral victory, with beating hearts and glazed eyes they stare eastward toward their Rising Son in Washington, rigorously choosing conscious ignorance of the evil they have unleashed, looking only for evidence that their desperate choice was right. Predictably, at this moment they are finding it. But what is the reality?  Addicted to fantasies about America, they have begged for a wolf to shepherd them. They will get what they have desired.  These are the two Americas that now exist. If you can’t find a home in either one, you are a person without a country.  But it is only those without a country who will understand how to mourn for the one that is lost.

A bloody line has been drawn in the sand.  It is the line of demarcation between the past and future. Our national heritage has been burned to ashes by both the left and the right.  What hulking, twisted monstrosity will rise from those ashes is yet to be seen, but it is forming quickly out of a vicious,  primordial ooze.  I love America, therefore I mourn over her death. And I ask this question:

Who is this man who has been “anointed” to lead us?

Who is President Donald Trump?  Who is he really?  Both his ranting enemies and his gushing sycophants think they know him.  His enemies view him as nothing but an ignorant, dangerous, brutal buffoon. Dangerous and brutal he is, but an ignorant buffoon he is not.  During the campaign, his most successful strategy was to hide his true intelligence behind a screen of aggravating rants, making his enemies believe he is only a tweeting fool.  That strategy will go on through his presidency. While these rants display his dark and dissolute soul, they also serve a powerful strategic purpose. They are a screen of propaganda that turn his opponents into a gaggle of outraged, gibbering halfwits.  While they are focused on the foul odor of ugly trivialities, a river of moral sewage flows past totally unnoticed.  During the campaign, his opponents were guilty of the most dangerous mistake that can be made when confronting an enemy, they minimized him, refusing to take him seriously until it was too late.

At the same time, Trump’s ranting propaganda screen served another vital purpose.  His fearless, thug-like performances gave voice to millions of enraged citizens who had been strangled into silence by Barack Obama and his snide, preening coterie of sophisticated political enforcers in government, media and the academic world.  Trump was entirely successful in making a majority of Americans, lost and living in pain somewhere between New York and California, believe that he understood their frustration and was concerned about their plight.  How wrong they are will be revealed.  So back to our question, who is this man?  Who is he really?

When I wrote back in July of 2016 that Donald Trump’s election was inevitable, most thought I was deluded.  I based that conclusion on his long-established character and the terrible moment in history in which he has appeared.  In other words, his vile story and how it meshed with our sin-reeking national agony. What I am writing here is a continuation of what I wrote then.  But before I begin, let me explain how I have come to my conclusions.

Stories rule

They control everything.  Believing the wrong stories is at the heart of so much individual and collective heartbreak and destruction. Believing the wrong story will lead you to hell, both now and forever.   There are no new stories, only variants of age-old premises and themes.  There is no new sin, no new evil, only variants of age-old temptations that promise pleasure and fulfillment, but lead to destruction. I believe that President Trump and his rise to power is just another iteration of a story that has played out in other countries in other times.  What I see for him is based in part on those previous stories.

Every story flows out of the characters that live within it.   So before you read what I have written here, I suggest that you read two previous essays on this blog.  The first is How to Elect a President from Hell, written in February of 2016 and then, Over Man:  The Temptation of Donald Trump, written in July of 2016.  Think of them as character descriptions.

Nine principles that lead to a story from hell.

There are nine principles that have provided the superstructure for my projections about President Trump and the story that all of us will live out with him.  I’m sure you will recognize most of them.

  1. When you are trying to understand a person, the past is predictive of the future. Without radical transformation, usually compelled by deep suffering in one form or another, people continue to be who they’ve always been as they grow older, only more so.  Deep suffering doesn’t necessarily make you a better human being.  It can turn a good person into a demon. But one way or the other, it is an important agent that guarantees change. Barring radical transformation, the longer people live, the more entrenched they are in patterns both of success and failure. Those who continuously fail see no way out.  Even in their agony, they are comfortable in patterns of failure because it’s all they have known. Conversely, if a person construes that his attitudes, values, choices and actions have brought great success, he is not going to change them even if ultimately they lead him to hell.  Saddest and most dangerous of all are people who convince themselves that their greatest failures are their greatest successes.
  1. Lord Acton’s famous rule is true. Here it is in full:  “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Of course, there are different degrees of “badness” and even the most evil have had some good traits.  We don’t like to believe this.  We have been trained to believe that a powerful leader is fully one or the other.  Consequently, when we face reality we are confused.

According to Adolph Hitler’s last personal secretary who spent several years in close contact with him, he was a man who truly cared about his staff and was deeply concerned for their personal welfare.  In her case, he tried in the most fatherly way to help her choose the right husband. He never abused his staff and was always kind.  When she heard about the heinous genocide that he had perpetrated, she had a difficult time accepting that it could be true.  It was so opposite from her knowledge of the man. It is dangerous to stereotype demagogues.  They never reappear in quite the same form.  For instance, calling Donald Trump Hitler is foolish.  When he doesn’t act like Hitler or share all of Hitler’s values, that kind of rigid stereotype, when proven false, hides the real danger of the man.

That old moralist, Lord Acton, understood a great truth.  People are always tempted toward corruption when they are given power, even if it’s only a little power. But this corruption is never a 180 degree redirection.   It’s based on who the person has always been, but did not have the opportunity to fully reveal until power was conferred.

  1. The masses always demand a king and thirst to be ruled. “King” may not be the title given to a national leader, but it comes down to that.  Why do we want a king (or queen)?  Because collectively without such a leader there is chaos.  We are sheep without a shepherd and we want a father(mother)shepherd to take care of us.  Without a king we have no collective identity.  We don’t know who we are.  We worship kings with our passionate allegiance. This has been true throughout history.  For centuries in England, the common people viewed the King as their protector against the great lords who oppressed them. Whether this was true or not, whether he was worthy or not, they clung to their king as their father, during some periods even believing that he could physically heal them with his touch.    When a wise, compassionate and disciplined person is raised to such a position of authority, a country is blessed.  When an evil man or woman is raised up, nations are taken down to the pit.   But one thing is certain, bad or good, once he is established in their minds and hearts, people will follow their king no matter where he leads, even to destruction.  The President of the United States truly is the father of his country and his children bear his resemblance.
  1. What a king or president worships will determine how he uses power. And every king or president worships something or someone.  In fact, this is true for all of us.  Who or what we worship determines everything in our lives. By worship, I mean revering and placing deep faith in something or someone.  It could be a powerful person, religion, philosophy or ideology.  It could be a myth. Adolph Hitler worshipped a fantasy Germany that he constructed in his own mind, an ancient land of power and greatness that was far above all other lands.  He worshipped the German “Volk”, the Aryan people, and viewed them as infinitely superior to all other races, which gave them rights over others.  He viewed himself as ordained to be their father and protector.  His idolatrous worship controlled every decision he made and destroyed the country that he loved.

It is clear from his actions that Barack Obama worships an ideology and considers himself the Chosen One to plant it around the world leading America and other nations out of darkness into his enlightened worldview.  The worship of his ideology made him a teacher constantly lecturing the less sophisticated.  It informed every decision in his use of power. It blinded him from understanding that he was creating the perfect environment for the rise of Donald Trump.

Worship includes accountability.  To what or to whom does a king or president view himself as accountable? In democratic societies, we love to believe that a leader answers to the people. However, until elections occur this is a vacuous generalization.  The truth is that most modern democratic leaders worship the power that keeps them in office.  That power is money and the people who provide it.  In the case of Donald Trump, because he is wealthy, he claims to answer to no one but the voter.  But does he really believe that he is accountable to them?  Of one thing we can be certain, what President Trump really worships will control his every action in office, just as it has done for the 70 years of his previous life.

  1. Cults of personality are essential to spiritual wolves and demagogues. When you see these cults, whether in churches, businesses or governments, it is a prime indicator that you are dealing with a ravenous wolf in leadership. No matter how far back you go in history, or where you go, the most brutal kings have established and maintained their power by the creation and promotion of cults of personality. Modern dictators have done the same. Demagogues want everyone to worship them and they promote their deification through very specific strategies.

In America, we are not used to blatant cults of personality relating to Presidents. Certainly, they have existed, but in more subtle forms.   Blatant forms have been limited to relatively trivial groups such as Hollywood stars, celebrities, sports figures, and musicians. We now have a President who has been committed to the creation of a blatant cult of personality throughout his adult life.  He calls this cult his “brand.” As President that cult will only grow and his followers will be anxious to help it grow.

  1. America has become a “B” level Hollywood movie. Hollywood has swallowed the nation. The irony is that the masters of Hollywood hate what they have created in Donald Trump.  And to a massive degree, Donald Trump is their creation.  Without his Hollywood stardom he would be nothing.  But, if possible, the influence of Hollywood on the politics of America is far more subtle and devastating than even the Trump election.  On both the left and the right, a simplistic Black Hat/White Hat definition of reality now controls all political/governmental thinking and actions.  Like the protagonists of cliché Hollywood films and television, the politicians we choose to follow can do no evil, while those on the other side, the antagonists, can do no good. (Actually, the concept of “evil” no longer exists in America.  We consider use of the term to be “judgmental” and “narrow-minded.”  The only acceptable time it can be used is applying it to politicians and political parties that we hate, the Black Hats.)   There can be no compromise with our opponents because heroes don’t compromise.  Hollywood has taught us that our protagonist in the white hat must destroy his adversaries in order for the story to have a satisfactory ending.  This spells the ultimate doom of a government built on the need for compromise.  Barack Obama had little interest in compromise, neither has Donald Trump.  The pendulum swings toward destruction.
  1. In 21st century America, pure emotion trumps wisdom every time. (Pun intended.) This goes hand-in-hand with point six.  How we feel controls all our choices. Like Pavlov’s dogs we have been conditioned to have specific desires, lusts, hungers, hatreds and fears. This conditioning has come through the storytelling of popular culture and carefully executed strategies designed to market products, people and ideas.  While we are certain that it’s otherwise, logic and rationality play little significant part in our conditioned decisions.  We follow blindly and believe the lies of leaders who promise to give us what we have been indoctrinated to “need”.  We hate truth if it does not agree with our emotions.  At the most destructive spiritual level, we have been programmed to call truth falsehood and falsehood truth.  We are no longer able to discern between good and evil.  In fact, on any objective level, such concepts do not exist in 21st century America.  Good and evil are only what we want them to be.  Emotion is all that matters.  Social media collectivizes and inflames our emotional responses.  Like cattle going to slaughter, through Social Media we obediently group ourselves into separate pens and think that we are free.
  1. Democracy doesn’t work. The United States government cannot function as originally intended.  The miracle is that it has staggered along as far as it has.  How was it intended to function?  People of goodwill and strong opinions, representing constituencies of goodwill and strong opinions, would come together, discuss, negotiate and find compromise in order to govern.  This assumed that no issue would be absolutely intractable.   That was proven false with slavery, which developed into issues of racism and discrimination. These remain intractable today.  Adding to this is the intractable issue of abortion on demand and a range of other moral issues over which there will be no compromise.

What national unity existed in our distant past was based on the shared morality of Judeo/Christianity.  Such shared morality is long gone, leaving us with the chaos of a moral and political paganism, the worship of many ideological gods who war against each other.  As the influence of Judeo/Christianity waned through the decades, only two potentially unifying factors remained, war and prosperity.  After the Civil War until Vietnam, a common danger and a common enemy could unify the nation.  It no longer does so.  Which leaves only one potentially unifying factor, prosperity.

Though various groups had specific agendas in their support for Donald Trump, there was one desire that unified them all.  He was elected based on the promise of renewed prosperity, which he termed, “Making America Great Again.”  What will happen when this project fails?

  1. Though the mills of God grind slowly; yet they grind exceeding small; though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) This is the Ultimate Principle that will determine the national story of President  Donald Trump.  You may not believe what I’m going to say because you are not a “religious” person.  But your belief or lack thereof doesn’t mean a damnable thing as far as whether it’s true or not. Time will tell.  So here it is:  God has established a moral order, a set of equations if you will, that govern human life.  I’m going to present one of them here that governs all our choices including our choice of leaders.  We disregard it to our everlasting peril.  With the election of Donald Trump it was utterly disregarded, most of all and worst of all, by so many in the Christian church, people who claim to believe the Bible, but clearly do not.

Let’s call this the Reciprocal Law of Greed and Ruin.

When you disobey this law you will get the exact opposite of what you had desired.  What is the first element of this moral equation?  1 Timothy 6:9-10 states: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

When you love and worship money, you may experience great success for a while, but ultimately what you will get is ruin.  America worships money.  With every lottery ticket sold, every visit to a casino, every family carrying massive credit card debt, every Black Friday mall mob shrieking and tearing at each other, every “prosperity” preacher flying in a private jet, every usurious, multi-national bank and ravenous corporation, every intimidating panhandler, every mega-church with a Starbucks in the lobby, every burglar who steals and sells, every Congressperson who enters office with little and leaves a millionaire,  with every lust for things we cannot afford and do not need, we prove that money is the god of America and of our lives.  Let’s be honest, the word “prosperity” as it is used in America today, is nothing more than a sophisticated term for the love of money and all that we think money will provide.

How does ruin come to money worshipers?  Our Bible passage warns that such love of money will blind people, causing them to fall into deadly snares and traps.  Not “may” fall into them, will fall into them. Foolish and harmful lusts will drown the worshipers of money in destruction and perdition.  If this is true for individuals, certainly it is true for a nation entirely populated with such individuals.   We are warned that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  That means evil choices of every sort, including what leaders we follow.

So the first element in the equation is spiritual and moral blindness caused by the love of money that leads to hellish decisions, and, ultimately, to destruction and perdition. But for a moment, let’s think about that word “root.” We are warned that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Plants grow from roots.  This leads to the second element in the equation.

Jesus said that people are like plants and every one of us bears a particular kind of fruit.  In Matthew 7:15-20 He warned, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

But wait!  This assumes one important fact, that we are able to distinguish good fruit from bad.  But if we are under the control of the first element of our equation, blinded by the love of money, worshiping the god of prosperity, all such ability to discern is lost.  Very easily we could think that bad fruit is good and good fruit is bad.  We may look at a false prophet who presents himself to lead us and think the evil fruit of his life is wonderful, even proof of God’s blessing.    False prophets come in many forms, but one trait is found in them all.  They lie to blind people, telling them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.  This describes the blind American electorate on both the left and the right.  It describes much of the Christian church in America.

Blinded as we are, we cannot stop hearing and believing pretty lies.  We do not have the ability to see the real fruit growing from the life of a false leader.  We don’t want answers to the most important questions.  Has our chosen leader lived to fulfill his own lusts?  Has he destroyed and damaged people around them?  Has he set traps to snare the foolish and advance himself?  Has he worshiped money?  Jesus warns not to follow such a person because he will be cut off and thrown into the fire and will take many with him.

The second element in our equation that leads to ruin logically follows the first.  To morally and spiritually blind people add an attractive false leader who tells them lies that they believe.

When these two elements are in place, what is the guaranteed sum and product of the equation? What will be the end result for those who disbelieve and disobey God’s warnings?   It’s found in Galatians 6:7-8:  “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption…”

The mill of God grinds slowly, but it grinds exceedingly fine.  This is true for both individuals and nations.  America is entering that crushing mill.

So back to our question, who is Donald Trump and where is his story headed?

Of all the men who have ever been president, Mr. Trump has worshiped money and the power it brings more than any other.  His life is one of overweening arrogance, lavish opulence, stunning greed and gross excess.  He has been proud of his lusts and moral failures. He has grown fat and wealthy in large part by ensnaring foolish, greedy and addicted people into believing his lies.  What man who has ever entered the presidency who so fits the pattern that guarantees God’s promised destruction as Donald Trump?  Foolish people think that because it has not come yet it never will.  Because of our national choice, when the poison cup arrives, we will drink it with him to the dregs.

So who is President Trump really?  He is the perfect leader to bring America to destruction.  Look in his face, listen to his words, examine his life. Not only is he Nietzsche’s Over Man, he is the human personification of the false pagan god, Mammon.

And what madness is this?

Untold millions of American Christians have placed their faith in such a man to save their country. Clearly, for them, God can be mocked with impunity.   In placing their faith in President Mammon to bring prosperity, they have directly disobeyed the commandment found in Psalms 146:3-4: “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish.”

If ever a United States President has sown to the flesh over the course of his entire life it is Donald Trump.  By our choosing him to save us and “make America great again” we have totally disregarded the guaranteed outcome of an eternal equation.  Since we have chosen him to be our national father, his ultimate corruption will be ours.

In Part Two the analysis will continue followed by the projected story.

Mourn for the beloved country.  Over Man is here.

donald-trump-newport-ri

One of Donald Trump’s mansions

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How Do I Tell a Story?

Stories rule the world. Which stories we believe and which ones we refuse to believe control everything we do. They control all relationships, either building or destroying them. Obviously, some stories are true and others are not. Choosing to believe the true ones and rejecting those that lie should be the core of human existence. And each one of us is living out a very personal story. For too many, those personal stories are so filled with pain that the man or woman in the middle of them can barely stand to live. They do whatever they can to escape. The entertainment industry of Hollywood is built entirely on stories and not just the ones that make it to the screen. It’s built on the personal stories of the creators. Out of those flow scripts. And out of scripts flows a view of life.

I’m a professional storyteller. Right now the focus for that is The Burning Zone podcast. I named it after a short-lived series I created that appeared on UPN back in the mid-90’s. What happened writing and producing that series is a little story about hell for me. I won’t tell it right now. Several of my Facebook friends were involved in that series. They know.

Comments are coming in from people who are listening to the podcast. I appreciate all of them. I talk about a lot of things on it that sane humans are afraid to touch. For instance, I get into near death experiences, night terrors, UFO’s and abduction and dark spirit healing. And that’s only the start.

One of the craziest TV series I worked on was called M.A.N.T.I.S. Running the show was my old friend, Bryce Zabel. He’s a past president of the Television Academy and creator of the Dark Skies TV series. A couple of years ago he co-authored the book A.D. After Disclosure that deals with the potential impact of UFO disclosure on the world. He was kind enough to ask me to write a couple of paragraphs for his book about the Christian perspective toward the UFO phenomenon. He’s one of the most knowledgeable people around on the subject and we spent many hours in deep conversation. Those were great talks. That’s one of the things I love about Hollywood people. We don’t care if anyone thinks we’re crazy.

Also on this podcast I talk about the Bible, the strangest and most wonderful book in the world. But you should know that I don’t do it from the perspective of being a theologian or professional Bible scholar. I’ve never been a pastor. Churches should be thankful for that. I could never put up with all the crap that pastors, priests and rabbis have to deal with. I’d just kill people and let God deal with them. Hang a few idiots from the choir loft and the whole congregation would settle down. It’s so much easier to be patient and understanding of dead people. So here’s what I do on the podcast. I approach all the subjects, including the Bible, from three sets of experiences:

First, as an old soldier. All soldiers, especially old combat soldiers, are endless storytellers. Get a group of old soldiers together and it doesn’t take a couple of beers before for the stories start flowing. Several years ago, we were visiting the Washington, D.C. area. Carel got a chance to meet a group of her cousins that she’d never met before. They invited us to their home for a barbecue. Several of her cousins were vets from my war era. One of them had been a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Needless to say, the old vet crap started flowing. “Got yourself shot up, huh? Couldn’t keep your ass down. Yeah, you took a couple of bullets, but you got to sleep in a nice, dry bed every night. I slept in the mud.” There’s an old adage, women compliment each other and don’t mean it. Men insult each other and don’t mean it.

At the barbecue, all of us old vets were given a simple assignment. Go outside and cook the meat on the grill while the women prepared the rest of the meal. After an hour or so, the women came out wondering what in the world was taking so long. We hadn’t even started cooking. We were telling one dark, awful story after another and screaming with laughter. These were guys that I had just met, but we were instant old friends. Every vet will understand exactly what I’m saying. So I approach all the subjects on the podcast including the Bible as an old soldier. How do you stay alive and sane in a world that’s growing darker and more dangerous by the day? Why am I a Christian? In the face of life and death, I consider it the only rational alternative. But the stories of old soldiers can be very dark.

Second, I approach subjects on the podcast as a mentalist. As you may know, I am a member of the Academy of Magical Arts at the world-famous Magic Castle of Hollywood. What is a mentalist? A mentalist is a specialist in illusion and delusion. It has been said that a mentalist uses the five senses to create the illusion of a sixth. As a mentalist I can appear to read minds, control free choices, predict the future, and even make inanimate objects obey my mental commands. These are demonstrations of strange power. Some of my Facebook friends have experienced one of my programs.

As a mentalist you realize how easy it is to utterly fool people. Even the most intelligent people are like sheep. For me this is a problem. As a mentalist, in doing a program I can never allow people to go away believing I have psychic power. While never telling anyone exactly how I perform strange demonstrations, at a certain point I stop and as clearly as possible inform my audiences that everything they have seen is an illusion, a trick of the mind, and that I have no more psychic power than a wooden chair. I just know simple and subtle secrets about how to create illusion and delusion.

Do you know that even after being as clear as possible about all of that, after a program there have been people who have come up and said, “I know you told us it was a trick, but when you looked at me I could feel you entering my mind.” I would argue with them. THAT is the illusion. Whatever you felt it was completely inside your own skull and I was never there. If I really had such power, why would I say it was all a fake? And on and on.

Mentalism is built on weaving stories that take control of your mind. Why is it so powerful? Because people don’t want to know the truth. They want to believe lies. I can’t live with that which definitely limits opportunities to perform. I insist on telling the truth. Ultimately, that means in a presentation that I talk about Jesus Christ, who said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” There’s going to come a day, and it isn’t far off, when I will have to answer to the Greatest King of the universe for everything I’ve ever said and done. I’ve got quite enough to answer for without consciously lying to people about my “psychic” power.

Many years ago, Carel and I did a series of mentalism programs in northern Minnesota. They were sponsored by Youth for Christ and had been advertised in the local newspaper. I made a sealed prediction weeks in advance about headlines, with the newspaper keeping my prediction until the night of the show when it was opened by a committee. (My mentalist friends will know exactly how all of this is done.)

The first show was in a theater and it was one of the strangest performing experiences of my life. I didn’t realize it, but half the audience was made up of New Age occultists who hated me because they thought I was a debunker (partly true) and the other half was made up of Christians who hated me because they thought I was a psychic out to corrupt their faith. The first person I called to come up from the audience to help with a demonstration glared at me and said, “I’m not helping you.” That was a fun night.

Carel and I performed Beyond Reality, for churches and other groups across the mid-west. Then we moved to California and it ended. Partly that was because my career got very busy and I didn’t have the time to maintain the craft. But there was another reason as well. Churches were afraid to invite us in. I discovered that California evangelical/charismatic/Pentecostal Christians were some of the most frightened, superstitious people I had ever met. In one of the few programs we did in recent years, I had people get up and leave in fear before I could get to the point in the program where I told them what was going on.

So I approach the podcast with a mentalist’s understanding of how powerful stories can be, especially lying stories. But I am not a materialist or rationalist. I know from my own deep study how Dark Powers of evil really work and what they can do. And that is very frightening indeed.

Third I approach the podcast as a Hollywood storyteller, a former writer, executive producer/showrunner and television series creator. During my career over the span of just a few years, I sold three dramatic series to various networks. Each of those series was the only new dramatic series that network picked up for the fall season.

My friends in the industry know how impossible that is. It borders on the miraculous. Many excellent television writers go through their entire careers and never see a single series that they have created appear on the screen. What it meant for me was brutal conflict. I’ve been shot so many times I think my body is mostly air. Why was it so? Because the great battle of the world is between opposing stories and storytellers. If you care more about telling the truth than you do about success, well…get ready for war.

So the things I talk about on the podcast that deal with the Bible are things I have learned on the battlefields of life and story. As you listen, you will learn what I believe and some of what I have experienced. That may be disturbing to you. All I can promise is that it’s honest. In a month, I turn 71. In The Burning Zone (the fiery zone of my life and career) I tell you what I have learned and what I know to be true.

Thanks for listening.

Three New Episodes on The Burning Zone podcast

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/burning-zone-coleman-luck/id1159463610

They cover strange subjects such as what I have called, The Cult of Spirit Healing, terror that comes in the night and near-death experiences.  I wrote a scene on The Equalizer television series that was based on a true near-death experience. I talk about the basis for that scene in one of these episodes.  If you would like to see that Equalizer scene, here it is.

The Burning Zone podcast is now up and running

shutterstock_96489191-podcast

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/burning-zone-coleman-luck/id1159463610

Several years ago I began giving monthly talks to a group of Hollywood professionals.  They covered a wide range of subjects, everything from strange events and manifestations in the distant past, to disturbing things  that are happening now. We talked about culture. We talked about the Christian faith and how to live it in a difficult environment.  Of course, I included many Hollywood stories from my career.

While the talks were geared toward people in the entertainment industry, much that was said applies to everyone. I thought that you might find them interesting, so I’m kicking off The Burning Zone podcast by  posting them.  The series was entitled The Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of Hollywood.  The first four are up and I will be posting about one a week.  I hope you enjoy them.

About War, Hell and American Policing

Gate Way to Hell.jpgI have never been a law enforcement officer, but I have had some experiences that allow me to relate to what they face.  Let me tell you about one of them.

It was a hot August morning in 1968.  August in Vietnam is the monsoon season.  So even if it wasn’t raining in the morning, you knew torrential rain would come about three or four in the afternoon and keep on pouring through much of the night.  Slogging through the rice paddies and swamps of the delta, the bottom half of you was always soaked and filthy, but you tried to keep the top part dry.  Sleeping wet covered by a rubber poncho was truly miserable.  During monsoon, most of the time we slept wet, balancing on rice paddy dikes.  That isn’t conducive to getting a good night’s rest.  You start the day very early and in a bad mood, made quite a bit worse because on any particular day you might die.

That hot August morning my infantry battalion was on a search and destroy mission.  Basically, this meant that you swept through an area, presenting yourselves as targets.  When you were attacked you focused your resources and destroyed the enemy.  In the process hopefully you might find caches of weapons or whatever.  As we entered a village, my platoon was in the lead for the battalion.  I was a 22-year-old First Lieutenant. My radio call sign was Bravo One Six – Bravo company, first platoon, and six was designation for the leader.

Operating in an area where there are many buildings is very difficult and dangerous.  It is almost impossible to maintain constant visual contact with all of your men. This particular village was deserted.  Not a good sign.  We had just entered and were among the first buildings when there was a burst of automatic weapons fire.  I can tell you this, when those first shots are heard, I don’t care how much training you have, for a moment your mind freezes.  After that, everything depends on how quickly you recover and do what you have been trained to do.   Following those shots, there was controlled chaos and a lot of yelling.  “Who fired that? Account for your men.” Etc.  The weapon hadn’t been an M-16.  It had been a machinegun.  But every infantry platoon carried M-60 machineguns.  Was it one of mine?  No answer.  And no more shooting.  But we couldn’t account for everybody.  All of this took seconds that seemed like hours. Very quickly, the rest of the battalion moved in from other directions.

Suddenly, a lot more firing.

I didn’t know it yet, but in that initial burst of gunfire I had lost two men.  They had been only about 35 meters from me.  They had passed momentarily to the other side of a building.  In the next round of firing four more American soldiers from other platoons died.  By then we knew the source of the attack.  When it was all over, we discovered that the enemy had built a bunker inside a village home.  None of these buildings were much more than huts.   But with the gun emplaced inside a bunker inside a house, and the way sound travels among buildings, it took awful minutes to discover the source.

We surrounded them and brought in a Cobra helicopter gunship.  Then we pounded the living hell out of them.  The gunship was firing rockets and bursts from its mini-gun, 5000 rounds a minute of 7.62.  You don’t hear individual shots.  All you hear from a mini-gun is a hellish blur. On the ground we were firing Light Anti-tank Weapons.   With my platoon, I was hunkered down in the water at the edge of a filthy pond.  We were lying in the community latrine, about 20 meters from the enemy.  The gunship was hovering back and forth about ten meters above our heads.  It’s interesting being that close to an attack helicopter with everything blazing. (I’ve been having more and more trouble hearing for a long time and it isn’t just old age.)   The bunker was large and well-defended.  It took hours, but, of course, we destroyed them.

So what do you feel when it’s all over, when you are zipping up your men in body bags to send them home and helicopters are landing to pick them up?  What do you feel?  It’s been 48 years, but some memories do not fade.     The first thing you feel is absolute exhaustion.  And it isn’t just physical.  It’s in your soul, your spirit. You are tired enough to die.  And emptiness, you feel so empty. You are in shock (such a trivializing word), but you don’t wander around.  There is work to be done and you do it.  One more thing you feel, relief, you feel a terrible relief.  It’s over and you are still alive.

As a leader, I thought about the young men I had just lost.  Both were 18 years old and both were married.  I thought about their families.  At this moment, they were going about their lives, worry for their husbands, sons, brothers never leaving their minds, not even in sleep.  They didn’t know that those young men were no longer in this world.   But soon they would know.  In a day or so, green cars would pull up in front of their homes, men in uniform would get out and walk to their doors.  Then would begin the crying time.  You think about your family.  Today, the bullet didn’t have your name on it, but was a green car in their future?

As a soldier, all of that goes through your mind.  That’s how you feel, but what do you want to do?  I’ll tell you what you want to do.  In those moments of emptiness, you want to kill people.  You want to kill anyone and everyone remotely responsible for the hell you have experienced.  You want to kill them slowly with maximum agony.  That is the thirst that comes from ice-cold rage and hate and it doesn’t go away easily. It can generalize outward to encompass a nationality, an entire race of people.  And it will eat you alive if you let it remain.  I’m afraid a lot of veterans have allowed it to remain. I’m afraid the same is true for many police officers.

From the standpoint of a combat unit, these feelings and desires become a leadership problem.  As a leader, you are feeling what your men feel.  You have the same thirst for retribution.  So what will you choose to do?  Will you let the rage grow hotter? Will you allow indiscriminate destruction? Raging murder will be satisfying for a moment, but what about in the years to come?   How much do you understand about the years to come when you are an exhausted 22-year-old?  As a Christian, I understood enough.   I understood that morality does not end on the battlefield.  Your conscience does not get a pass when you are a soldier.

Choosing to do right, no matter the cost or your desires, is the responsibility of a moral leader.  In restraining vengeance, you are saving your men.  In quieter moments, you can remind them of the compassion and mercy that has been at the heart of American soldiers since our country was founded.  So in the aftermath, in the hours, days and weeks, you just slog along and lead.  Part of leading is maintaining control of yourself and everyone under your command. But as a leader, questions will echo throughout your life.  Could I have done something different that August morning that might have saved the men I lost?  Was there a flaw in my leadership that day?  Even if the answer is always no, not to the best of my knowledge, in quiet moments, perhaps with years in between, the questions return.  And you wonder what happened to their families after the green car arrived.

What does all of this have to do with policing in America? For me, several things. First, there are very few police departments that have experienced what I and my men experienced on that August morning.  Second, very few police units are made up of men and women who are 22 years old and younger.  Third, no police officer can tell me anything about fear, about danger, or about the awful emotions of loss. I have known all of that for a very long time.  Fourth, I understand what leadership means both during and after a mortal crisis.  I understand the awful temptation to look at everyone who is not on “your team” as the hated enemy.  I understand how easy it is to generalize your anger to an entire race.  I understand that retaining those views means destruction.

Based upon what I have known, I’ve come to this conclusion:  There is no such thing as a “policing problem” in America.   What we have is a leadership problem in law enforcement all the way up to the President of the United States.  What is happening across this country is a crisis of leadership that extends up the entire chain of command.  I don’t care whether it is a military unit or a police unit, the people involved will mirror the attitudes and values of their leaders.  Leaders choose and train people who mirror their attitudes and values.  It is the task of a leader to establish and maintain not only esprit de corps, but the moral standards of his or her unit.  If the leader is immoral, the people beneath him or her will be immoral. That is true from the President all the way down.

But our leaders are born from us.  They rise out of the birth canal that is America.  At this moment, that birth canal is a moral sewer.  There is no longer any shared definition about what is right and wrong.  As a nation, all concept of morality is gone, that’s why so many cling to tattered ideologies of the left and right.  Shriveled ideologies have taken the place of both personal and collective morality.  Patriotism is not morality. When it defines our morality, hell is in control.  With slithering relativism, under the guise of being “patriotic,” however we define that word, we can overlook and defend outright evil in the leaders we choose and follow.

In this reeking environment, pulling moral leaders out of the American sewer is almost impossible. The best example of our sewage is the two people running for president right now.  The fact that so many support them makes clear the foul mess that we have made of our national heritage. Both of these people are a product of what we are and a prophecy about what is to come.

As far as policing is concerned, we don’t seem to understand that our police departments and their leaders grow out of and reflect the communities in which they operate.  So the war between the police and the people is like a war between conjoined twins, stoked constantly on both sides by more hate, more fear, more weapons, and more technology.  While there is always enough hate and fear, there are never enough weapons or technology.  So both personal  and police arsenals must always have more.  Either we stop this insanity and look at each other in a totally different way…or we will die. What we need is national repentance based on a clear view of ourselves, not the lying mirage presented by our current political candidates.  What we need is a president who will tell us the truth about ourselves on both the left and the right.  Certainly, that is not the man in the Oval Office right now.  And no one with that kind of moral vision and courage is on the horizon.  In our hate, rage and desire for vengeance, we won’t allow such a person to appear.

So what is the only message for police leaders in America?  Expect no moral leadership to come from above you in the chain of command or from below you within the community. Let those leaders who are truly moral people look to God and their own consciences in establishing morality and compassion within their departments, recognizing that they will answer to God someday for the choices they make and their stewardship of the offices that have been entrusted to them.  And if any leader, from the President on down, thinks that answering to God means nothing, I would say this:  In your rancid selfishness and stupidity you may bring down hell on all of us, but be assured that a very personal hell is awaiting you.  Now most Americans will jeer at such an idea, but truly moral leaders will hear and understand.  God help them as they work in this growing darkness.

American Psalm

CartoonChoirB2
Let’s all mock God together,

As a pastime, it’s delightful,

And there’s nothing more insightful

Than sleek souls that are self-satisfied.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

Some are sure He’s non-existent,

So they disregard that strange, but very persistent,

Tiny gnawing fear.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

Let’s trust in pseudo-science,

To excuse our cold defiance,

As we prepare for the living darkness that lies beyond

 

Let’s all mock God together,

Obsessed with a thousand distractions,

To make us forget our evil actions,

For certainly we answer to no one but ourselves.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

In a culture dithering with senility,

We glorify scurrility,

And call every wretched sin a human right.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

As we worship the celebrity bareback riders,

Those preening talk show insiders,

Our high priests of gossipy lore.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

While we praise the skilled aborters,

The dead baby sorters,

Who carve, shrink-wrap and sell.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

While we bloat like good consumers,

Pushing shopping carts of tumors,

Blind to the cancer that is in our souls.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

While we protect our glutted banksters,

Those capitalistic pranksters,

Who suck our blood and loan it out like gold.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

As we export our perverted violence,

Then grin in smirking silence,

Happy to profit from tits and ass and gore.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

Our cathedral is a casino,

Our sacraments are performed in Reno,

And marriage means no more than a roll of the dice.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

As we search for flickering guidance,

Our minds sinking in mental subsidence,

Endlessly staring at little screens.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

While we sing in our Sunday emporia,

Worshipping with drummer’s euphoria,

Then go out and rage and hate and lie.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

Choosing the evil that is best,

Praying desperately to be blessed,

While the gift of freedom passes like a fading dream.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

In our riches we are forsaken,

What we had has been forever taken,

And not all the rants and prayers will change the writing on the wall.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

As we follow  the one we claim is anointed,

Forgetting that it is appointed,

To reap what we have sown.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

I’m sure He doesn’t mind it,

In fact, I’m certain that He finds it,

A source of celestial mirth.

 

Let’s all mock God together,

With every breath that He has given,

A nation that dies unshriven,

Mocked by our motto “In God We Trust.”

 

Yes, while there is time, let’s all mock God together.

 

By Coleman Luck

 

Freaks Rule

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In the late 90’s my old friend, Stuart Goldman, was writing a regular column for World Net Daily. He was kind enough to ask me to write a guest column under his banner. What follows was created for that purpose. You will recognize the historical period.
 
It seems to me now that a great Darkness came upon us all those years ago. Many people justified evil in the highest places and they are justifying it still. On every side, the moral deformities grow more hellish and twisted. Ancient vileness is sold as great advances in societal evolution. And the best of us, with  sophisticated palates, suck down filth that would have gagged us only a few years ago.
 
The Foundation is gone never to return, but we pretend it isn’t, patching together teetering platforms built from nothing but putrefied faith and rancid imagination. Little did we know that the truly Blessed Ones were all the millions of aborted children who were not forced to stagger through the world their parents were creating.
 
And through it all, the worst of the Freaks continue to Rule.
———

Let me take you back to my childhood.

I grew up in the Chicago area.

In the mid-fifties I was in the sixth grade. During those years I had a paper route. Talk about anachronisms, the only guys who have paper routes these days are middle-aged immigrants from Cambodia who drive around in mini-trucks plastering two thousand driveways a morning. Anyway I had this paper route and it was a miserable job – dogs in the summer, freezing your tail off all winter long, and once a month I had to collect. That meant wandering up and down the streets on a Saturday trying to get jerks to cough up a couple of bucks to keep me in business. But I was good at it. In sixth grade I won an award. I’ve forgotten what it was for but the prize I will never forget. It was an evening at Riverview.

Now anybody who grew up in Chicago during that period remembers Riverview. It was one of those great old sleazy amusement parks, a bloated carnival on a permanent location with a wooden roller coaster and a pot load of other dangerous rides that looked like they’d disintegrate the moment you sat down on them.  All summer long Riverview advertised on the Chicago TV stations. Their main pitchman was a local personality named “Two-Ton” Baker, a really fat guy who did noonday programs for kids. (Another anachronism: kids coming home from school for lunch.)  So all summer there’d be these commercials showing old “Two-Ton” taking up two seats on a roller coaster yelling to display his sheer joy and probably to prove that if the thing held him it’d hold anybody. Anyway, you get the picture.

Riverview was the last gasp of an era. It died with the coming of the giant Nazi-World theme parks that we have today where everything is perfect all the time even the plants which they change constantly to make sure everything is always blooming. Riverview was an honest straightforward temptation. It whispered to kids, “Come walk in my shadows. Come listen to my rats crawling around behind the boards. Come debauch.” We loved it.

Anyway I won this trip to Riverview and the greatest part of it was that my parents wouldn’t be going along. I’d be with a group of paperboy “winners” just like me, young delinquents in training. (This was long before girls would stoop to do such nasty jobs as paper routes.) And, the peak of ecstasy? Our “chaperones” would be the paperboy “supervisors” from The Daily Journal. Now my parents didn’t know it but these guys were absolute losers, basically lazy drunks who had been promoted far beyond their level of competence.  Going with them was like going alone.  They gave us cash and went off to a bar. Oh joy from heaven. Sixth grade. Money. And Riverview without adults.

Now when I say this was an old style amusement park I’m not joking. On the boardwalk it had a freak show. Can you imagine such a thing today?  Try to picture a freak show at Disney World. Aren’t we glad that we’ve matured as a culture to the place where such things would never be allowed? Of course one could argue that Riverview simply had an appreciation for diversity but we won’t go there.  So after you’ve gorged yourself on delicious little bags of dead meat euphemistically called “hot dogs” and braved all the dangerous rides at least six times, where’s an eleven-year-old boy who appreciates diversity gonna be found?  THE FREAK SHOW.

So, I bought my ticket and walked in.

I found myself in a stark, ugly little room standing with a small crowd in a roped-off area. There was nothing fancy about this. It was as down and dirty as you can get. Three feet beyond the rope sitting on wood pedestals and little chairs were seven or eight freaks. And they were the full Monty. Nothing fake here. It was a collection of poor sad human beings with bodies that looked like they’d been created in a Hollywood visual effects house. The instant you walked in there was a seriousness about the place. Nobody laughed. Nobody talked. The freaks looked at you and you looked at them and then you left. But while I was there, something happened in that room that I will remember as long as I live.

One of the freaks was a little old woman, probably in her sixties. No more than three feet tall, her face was deformed beyond ugliness and all of her limbs bent in the wrong direction. She was just sitting there and you could imagine that she’d done this all her life.

Suddenly into the room walked a man carrying a little girl about three years old.  Why this idiot had brought her there no one could imagine. I was eleven and I was appalled. Of course at the time there was no rating system on freak shows so how could you blame him? Anyway, the man with the little girl stopped in front of the little old woman. The instant the child saw this frightening creature she became terrified and started to sob. It was a horrible moment.  Then as I watched, that little deformed grandmotherly lady started to cry too. Quietly without a sound the tears ran down her face. After all the years of being stared at, all the years of loneliness and pain, the humanity in her eyes was overwhelming. Then, that little woman began to talk to the little girl. Softly, with a voice like your grandmother and mine she tried to comfort her, to take away her fear, to reach out with words because her arms weren’t long enough and they bent in the wrong direction. It was one gentle heart whispering to another. Now eleven-year-old boys are not known for their deep sensitivity, but if I live to be a thousand I will never forget that scene.

Over forty years have passed since that night. Riverview is long gone and I was thinking about freaks the other day. We’ve heard a great deal over the past months about the idea that we are a nation ruled by law. Untrue. We are a nation ruled by stories. The stories we love reveal who we are and what we are becoming. Based on that fact William Jefferson Clinton belongs in the White House. He has the moral right to remain there for the rest of his life. Why? Because he is the living expression of our collective story.  And, if we were going to make that story into a film, it would be titled, “Freaks Rule.” Not the good honest freaks of Riverview, the true freaks. Us. We are the freaks who stand inside the rope watching others wallow in degradation and pain and enjoying the view. We are the fathers who sit up late at night after our wives and children are in bed sucking cyberporn off the Internet. We are the mothers titillated by the human fecal matter that we chew and swallow dished up on so-called “reality shows.” We are the hip and cool young executives screwing each other’s brains out after hours on the conference table and then popping pills to stave off the effects of sexually transmitted disease. We are the teenagers the generation of nightmares swimming in fake blood and gore loving vicarious mayhem and terror. Freaks all. Freaks who have managed to be born with the ability to hide our true ugliness.

What is the breadth and depth of our freakhood? Nothing less than this: As a nation, we are Monica Lewinsky. That poor young woman is simply our surrogate freak our national daughter sent to spend her holy year of shrine prostitution in the temples of power. Monica knew the proper position of a worshiper. On her knees. And we worship with her falling down before the starry host of freaks that we have created in sports and politics and Hollywood desperate for our own fifteen minutes of glory.  We need a new Statue of Liberty and Monica could be the model. Coiffured and bereted, twenty stories tall, staring out at the world from New York Harbor, she could proclaim, “Give me your proud, your arrogant and your vain so that I can show them the pleasures of liberty.”

As much as you hate to hear it, friends, that is our national story. And stories rule.

But in my heart I wish I could change our story and tell a new one so radical that everyone would freeze in shock. Maybe I could make it into a film. Here’s the basic outline: Let’s imagine that someone new was placed in the Oval Office. Maybe for just a month. Of course, the President’s chair would be too big for her. She’d need several phone books just to be seen. She wouldn’t be able to write very well. No rose-garden bill-signing parties jammed with the fatuous elite. After all her arms would be short and they’d bend in the wrong directions. When the TV cameras focused on her many of us would be filled with anger and revulsion. We’d demand to know why such an aberration had been allowed to live, why her mother hadn’t ended her life in a merciful abortion. But she wouldn’t listen to our raging. There’s nothing we could say that she hadn’t heard a thousand times before. In fact, she probably wouldn’t talk to us at all. Instead she’d talk to our terrified children. And with her soft words and tears maybe they’d be able to see beyond her ugliness into eyes filled with love beautiful beyond comprehension because in her suffering she had seen the Face of God.

If only we had a true, honest freak in the White House to begin a new, national story. And, I think thirty days would be long enough. At that freak show in Riverview, it took only five minutes for an eleven-year-old boy.

© Copyright Coleman Luck 1998