Who ought to be called in, a psychiatrist or the fraud squad? It was inevitable that sooner or later I would get onto the subject of religion so why not now? Once again there is the beginnings of a cult, not in Guyana this time in which 900 followers of the charismatic if unbalanced Jim Jones, calling himself Christ and claiming to be God, committed collective suicide; or Waco Texas that saw the religious group, The Branch Davidians, besieged for 51 days by FBI and Texas National Guard resulting in the death of their leader David Koresh as well as 82 other Branch Davidian men, women, and children, and four ATF agents. The Branch Davidians originated from a schism in the Davidian Seventh Day Adventists already an offshoot from the Seventh Day Adventist church from which they were disfellowshipped. (Isn’t that the most wonderful word? Disfellowshipped. I love it. I love it! I couldn’t have thought up a word like that in a thousand years.) There are literally hundreds of cults, The Westboro Baptist Church for example must be included fairly near the top of the list, most of which have membership of less than a hundred and many quite honestly that are just so ridiculous you wonder how anyone can be taken in by them. Christianity started off as a cult but I can’t see any of today’s cults taking off in the same fashion, though you never know. How would one describe somebody who is totally taken in by some charismatic personality? Deluded? Brain-washed? Weak? Sad? Stupid? Pathetic? Unhappy? Lost? Are they any worse than the hysterical congregations filling the mega churches of America with their ranting pastors and faith healers? Hallelujah! Jesus saves! When I was teaching in Virginia I spent a whole Sunday morning in front of the telly watching these charlatans at work and I have to hand it to them, snake oil salesman aren’t a patch on these guys. The young actor Angus T. Jones, the half of the television comedy “Two And A half Men” shot himself in the foot by falling under the influence of just such a powerful religious personality and lost out when he stupidly sent shock waves across the ether by saying the show was fifth and he wished as a God fearing Christian he wasn’t in it (after nine series) and please not to watch it. Well it would seem he got his wish and his part for the new series has been severely reduced despite his grovelling apology to his fellow thesps. Obviously when he made that God-fearing statement his brain was out of gear or he would have known what the inevitable result would be. Now that was downright stupid. Still if God is pleased with his confession who am I to argue?
But what has brought this on is now in Australia causing some concern we have a new cult springing up. It is Jesus’ second coming so long anticipated and what a damp squib it’s turning out to be; not that it isn’t attracting followers. A charlatan by the name of Alan John Miller, or AJ as he prefers to be known, from his home near the small town of Kingaroy in the state of Queensland heads a movement known as the “Divine Truth.” There have been, are rather, so many churches that use the words divine and truth on their billboards what’s one more? Miller claims not only is he Jesus, but his partner, Australian Mary Luck, is in fact Mary Magdalene, who according to the Bible was present at the crucifixion. Does she believe she’s Mary Magdalene or is she just going along for the ride? AJ told Sky News: "I have very clear memories of the crucifixion, but it wasn't as harrowing for me as it was for others like Mary who was present. When you are one with God you are not in a state of fear, and you have quite good control over your body's sensations and the level of pain that you absorb from your body." Why then, I ask myself, why did he cry out “My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” Which, as he was God incarnate, was a bit like admonishing himself really.
Anyway, instead of slogging around old Palestine preaching, Mr. Miller aka Jesus Christ, holds seminars near his home and also travels around the world teaching people how to have a personal relationship with God, often by delving deep into their emotions (?) After his crucifixion he claims he entered the spirit world where he met Plato, Socrates, popes and presidents. How come he didn’t meet Mahomet for a quick get together? He also says he remembers performing miracles. He said: "I did resurrect quite a number of people (?) ... including a friend of mine, Lazarus, who most people know is mentioned in the Bible." What a load of tosh. The big question now is what is he doing back on earth and will he be performing more miracles? Will he raise more people from the dead? And shouldn’t he be showing signs of the stigmata?
Whilst critics sensibly dismiss his claims the seminars attract large groups of people, up to 150 a time. Dozens of his followers are understood to have bought properties in the area to be closer to him. (The real estate agents are obviously not complaining.) British woman, Louise Faver, 39, a former neuroscientist who has given up her career to be closer to the couple said, "It's just nice, instead of being surrounded by people who think you are nuts, to be surrounded by people who understand what you are going through and the difficulties of trying to deal with all the emotional stuff." How true, how true, nevertheless a neuroscientist nutty as a fruitcake I would say. Modestly AJ has said donations are not obligatory or required but it would be a nice gesture if you were to put your hand in your pocket. After all, even Jesus needs shekels to survive in this modern world. As Ron.L.Hubbard said, “If you want to get rich start a religion” and it certainly worked for him.
AJ wouldn’t know it of course but I have written a version of his story in “An Alternative Christmas Carol” to be found in “The Museum Mysteries & Other Short Stories.” If there is a bookseller in Kingaroy maybe he can get it or failing that from Amazon.