Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Sounds of American Doomsday Cults

The Sounds of American Doomsday Cults Volume 14

Faithways International CD.

The thing that amazes me about religion is that if there isn’t one suited to your specific needs you can always start your own. Like Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Days Saints who one day went for a walk in the woods and came across an angel who showed him some golden tablets with funny words and pictures written on them. He took these tablets home and used them as source material to write the book of Mormon. This he did by putting a stone in the bottom of his hat, and dictating what he saw in it to a third party. Then he upset some people and was put in prison where he died of gunshot wounds. And then theres Scientology; a money making machine founded by a humdrum Sci-fi writer, the Unification Church; Christianity and Korean folklore cobbled together  and lets not forget the Hare Krishna’s or as I like to call them ‘The Hinduism For Westerners Movement’. The list goes on. And, inevitably, on.

But its those far out fruitcakes that amuse and shock the most. Reverend Jim Jones and David Koresh [such a big fan of Onanism that he was dubbed by one critic as the ‘masturbating messiah’] should need no introduction at all but what about The Family [sex mad], The Solar Temple [baby killers awaiting alien abduction] and Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church who encourages his congregation to picket the funerals of American soldiers and whose hellfire preaching and strict interpretation of the Bible [that cobbled together, rewritten multi-translated tome of mass murder and begatting] has left most of America bemused and disgusted. And lets not forget sarin sprinkler Soko Ashara and his Supreme Truth religion, an outfit that managed to mix together Yoga, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and the writings of Nostradamus, Charles Bukowksi and Jilly Cooper [OK, I made the last two up].

The reason I’m reviewing this is because Seymour Glass sent it to me as part of a larger package containing the work of the Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble and the Glands of External Secretion. Whilst I cogitate on these I feel compelled to write about The Church Universal and Triumphant whose bizarre services are featured here. Firstly because I find religion fascinating and secondly because this is one of the most unbelievably weird recordings it has ever been my pleasure to sit and listen to. Its no surprise that their services circulated on bootleg tapes long before they became more easily available via Faithways.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet founded The Church Universal and Triumphant in 1975 as an outgrowth of a religion founded by her husband 17 years earlier. Wiki gives this description of the church’s beliefs; ‘The church's theology is a syncretic belief system, including elements of Buddhism, Christianity, esoteric mysticism, the paranormal and alchemy, with a belief in angels, elves, fairies, and other beings it calls elementals (or spirits of nature)’. Prophet predicted the outbreak of a nuclear war in the early 1990’s and encouraged her followers to build bomb shelters to survive the blast in their Montana settlement. When the big one failed to materialise she claimed that it was their prayers that had prevented it. There's lots of other shit too but of more interest to me [and I’m assuming Faithways International] is the way Prophet delivers her sermons and for the fact that they hated Rock Music. Really, really hated Rock Music. They blamed Rock Music for all life’s modern ills and went out of their way to rail against it at every given opportunity.

Prophet delivers her sermons in a speaking in tongues style that comes across more like a livestock auctioneer with a high nasal twang than preacher trying to get a message across. Its impressive, especially when the congregation joins in. On ‘Invocation For Judgement Against The Destruction of Rock Music’ her pastor reads out a list of rock bands, movies and TV channels all of which get the blame for getting the world in such a mess. Those named as being in league with Lucifer include Bananarama, Fleetwood Mac, The Thompson Twins, Band Aid [!?], Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Dean Martin, Olivia Newton John and the film Ghostbusters. The list isn’t exhaustive [obviously - wot no Black Sabbath, they’ll be sooooo upset] which is why we get the rejoinder ‘ and all individual groups or individual artist who vibrate in consonance with them’. There then follows a 27 minute decree that's one of the biggest mindfucks you’re ever likely to hear. Intense polyphonic speaking in tongues with Prophet and her pastor dropping out on occasion leaving the eerie sound of the congregation going for it on their own. Certainly one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever heard and all the more reason to get interested in religion … so long as you don’t go so far as believing any of it that is.

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