Search This Blog

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Jonestown Memorial: Honoring The Madman And His Assassins Along Side The Men, Women, And Children They Murdered

Take a good long look at their faces.

Today brother and sister Jewel (L) and Frankie Fountain (R) would have been 36 and 37 years old, probably with kids of their own.  But Jim Jones and his hand-picked killers-- Larry Schacht, Annie & Carolyn Moore, Jim McElvane, and the other thugs in the Peoples Temple inner circle--had other plans for them.

On November 18, 1978, four year-old Jewel and five year-old Frankie didn't stand a chance.  No more than the rest of the 900 people in that pavilion ringed by the cult's gunmen.  So, as today's flippant but popular saying goes, Jewel and Frankie "drank the Kool Aid."

Maybe they forced down their throats through a cup or syringe, who knows.  The vast majority of the others, however, had the deadly cyanide injected into their upper backs, as a forensic exam revealed.

Not a mass suicide, as usually reported, but mass murder.  On a scale unspeakable, in a scene simply unbelievable.  The pictures of the massacre still shock the world.  It was perhaps the most overpowering message ever delivered about the lethal danger of cults, which kill a person's spirit, and sometimes the body as well.

Yesterday survivors and relatives met again on the grim anniversary at the cemetery with the mass grave containing the bodies of nearly half the murder victims.  But this time the atmosphere was marred by bitterness and division, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported:

It seems the grief and pain of Jonestown never fades. On Thursday, it erupted anew on a tranquil East Oakland hillside.

At the 32nd annual Jonestown memorial, held at an Evergreen Cemetery mass grave for Peoples Temple victims, a schism among mourners led to competing ceremonies - one led by a woman who lost 27 family members in the mass suicide in Guyana, the other by Jim Jones Jr.

The first ceremony was hosted by Jynona Norwood of San Francisco, who has organized what she calls the "official" Jonestown memorial for more than three decades. Hers is a heartbreaking ceremony focusing on lessons learned, guidance from God, and the dangers of following charismatic leaders like Jim Jones.

 The second ceremony, held four hours later at the same site, was organized by Jones Jr., son of the infamous Peoples Temple leader who ordered the suicides of 909 of his followers, plus the killings of Rep. Leo Ryan of San Mateo and a news crew, in 1978. Jones Jr.'s ceremony was more of a family reunion. People hugged, took snapshots, caught up on each other's lives and reminisced. There were no sermons, no music, no speeches. Jones Sr. was hardly mentioned at all.

Both ceremonies were attended by 30 to 40 family members of Jonestown victims.

Norwood was insulted by the "outrageous" second ceremony.
"It's like spitting on the souls of those who've died," she said. "It's an insult."

Jones, now a medical equipment salesman in San Francisco, didn't see it that way: "After 32 years, do I need any more sermons? Do I need to learn the lesson again? Let's not talk about what happened anymore...."


Allowing two ceremonies was an easy decision for the cemetery's staff. In recent years, tensions have been increasing among mourners, and in some cases people had lost their tempers, cemetery director Ron Haulman said.

"We don't want anyone to come here to mourn and pay their respects and not feel safe," he said. "We want to be courteous to everyone."

In another rift among survivors, Jones Jr.'s group plans to install four granite plaques at the grave next year. The plaques will be engraved with the names of all 918 victims, including Jones Sr.
Norwood's group also undertook a memorial plaque project. But it was engraved with only 917 names - everyone but Jones Sr.
Norwood's plaque project is temporarily stalled because it is so large and heavy that it would have toppled on the cemetery hillside.

So Jones Jr.'s plaque appears headed for the memorial site. The $15,000 project has been financed by an anonymous donor who will be repaid over time with donations, said Fielding McGehee, head of the Jonestown Institute in San Diego, an archive of the church's history.

After 32 years, it's time for the new plaque - that includes Jones - and a new memorial ceremony that omits Jones, McGehee said.
"Pretty much everyone who was in the Peoples Temple is over Jim Jones," he said. "They've forgiven him or gotten past their anger. It's time we recognize that."

Mac McGehee and wife Becky Moore, who runs that colossal cult apologist clearing house, insist on staying unlearned in the lessons of history along with their cronies in the Jim Jones, Jr. camp.  They not only want to put a sheen on the "good works" of the Guyana gulag but also it seems will now be able to officially memorialize psychotic mass killer Jim Jones.

Mind-blowing.  Put this monster's name in the same space as all his victims?  For that matter, why should Temple assassins like Carolyn Moore, who dragged little six year old John Stoen up to Jones's cabin on the fateful day and murdered him, be memorialized?  Or the gunmen that made the massacre possible?

Not one of them deserves to be honored, least of the Monster Jones.  It's a true disgrace, no less than having SS guards' names placed on a Holocaust memorial, right next to the names of those they savagely murdered.  But McGehee & Co. are getting away with it.

It is the victims that we honor, not the victimizers.  A lesson that was lost on perhaps the saddest Jonestown anniversary to date.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Sounds Of Jim Jones--And That Horrendous Laughter--Back From The Grave

"I think what Peoples Temple offered, and some other movements offer, is a chance to be part of something that you feel is bigger than you.....Peoples Temple delivered on what it promised people. It promised them that they would be part of a big family and live in a new way. And it delivered. That’s why they stayed......They stayed because it gave them what they wanted....."
-- Film maker Stanley Nelson
    Director, "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple"

It was this kind of outrageous drivel, along with his widely circulated 2006 cult apologist film, that motivated me to create this website four years ago.

Sadly, however, enough of the public got exposed to this propaganda and other apologists' revisionism that the reality of one of history's most destructive cults continues to be muddled.  It's been reduced to an overused cliche about the folly of "drinking the Kool Aid." 

The cult "delivered" and "that's why they stayed"?  So the mass murder final act was just something incidental then, Stan??

Meet two of who may have been the final victims of the "big family's" massacre.  This is Jeannie and Al Mills, two cult defectors that miraculously were able to escape the cult in 1974, after they had enough of what Nelson claims was "being a part of something that you feel is bigger than you."

Their luck ran out 15 months after the Jonestown bloodbath, in February of 1980, when some unknown gunman, or perhaps more than one, murdered them execution style.  According to the AP report:  

Mills and his wife joined the Jones flock in 1969 when the church was gathering strength in Redwood Valley, a peaceful spot tucked away 125 miles north of San Francisco..... At that time, the Mills were Elmer and Deanna Mertle, names they shed after fleeing the church. The hard decision to leave came after watching their 16-year-old daughter, Linda, in 1974, writhe under 75 blows of a paddle — punishment ordered by Jones after Linda apparently embraced a friend that Jones deemed a "traitor" to the church.

That cruelty and The Human Freedom Center, a haven the Mills created to give others a shot at life outside the temple, are described in Mrs. Mills' book, "Six Years With God," which was published last year.  Angela Miller, editor of A and W, the New York firm that published the work, said the couple "was positive there was going to be some kind of retaliation" against them, a fear heightened last November as the first anniversary of the Jonestown holocaust approached.

On the last tape recording he made from his "throne" in the steamy agricultural outpost, Jones blamed the visit of Ryan in part on Mrs. Mills. "The people in San Francisco (surviving church members) will not be idle over this. They'll not take our deaths in vain, you know."

Had they lived, Jeannie and Al would surely be stepping up to demolish the grotesque fantasies of Nelson and today's other cult shills.  I'm sure of it because I was able to meet and talk with the Mills when they made an appearance at my college about a year before their brutal murders.

They gave a detailed presentation about the dangers of cults and related their harrowing experience in the toxic confines of the Temple.  Afterwards, I approached them and introduced myself, and they remembered well my father's attempts to expose Jim Jones in 1972.  They were warm, sincere people who now wanted to make a difference in the lives of victims of other cults.

The Mills explained it had indeed been Temple members that burglarized my family home in the fall of that year to search for documents.  Equally chilling was Jeannie's telling me how the cultists had concealed themselves in the bushes across the street from our home, spying on us and reporting everything back to Jones. 

I was grateful to at last have a solid confirmation of something I already knew.  My dad had been in terrible danger.  Then one-time top Jones henchman Tim Stoen--now back in his original job as a Mendocino County Asst. DA--had worked on devising various ways to murder my father.  In all liklihood, our entire family was in peril.  

When the news arrived about the Mills's 1980 execution murders,  my mother, father, and two sisters were terror-stricken that, with my father near the top of Jones's "hit list," we all would be some of the next to go.  But somehow, the ordeal passed.  There were no other reported killings.

Not so fortunate, of course, were the prisoners inside the Temple, who were eventually spirited off and slaughtered in the cult's Guyana death camp.  How could people be so obedient and fall prey to this madman calling himself "God"?


These are the real questions to address.  This cheap business of simply labeling all these Americans as "extreme crazies that drank the Kool Aid" is as bogus as the fantasy that, hey, the cult really was a modern day Shangri-La, both in California and Guyana.  And that, hey, only at the very end did their paradise go up in smoke?

This is unmitigated bunk.  Worse, it defiles the memory of those 900 plus murder victims. 

As much as the revisionists and apologists want to paint a new portrait, the real picture cannot be changed nor will the reality of how it was engineered ever be ignored.  It wasn't due to idiotic excuses about it "giving them what they wanted"--simple fact was they were brainwashed and terrorized into submission.

Renowned Harvard researcher and psychiatrist Robert Lifton (who  Nelson, for some odd reason, avoided contacting for his puff piece) is an expert on mind control, what he terms as "thought reform."  It was the process practiced by the Chinese communists on American POW's during the Korean War, which Lifton broke down into eight components:

  • Milieu Control – The control of information and communication.
  • Mystical Manipulation – The manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated.
  • Demand for Purity – The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection.
  • Confession – Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group.
  • Sacred Science – The group's doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute.
  • Loading the Language – The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand.
  • Doctrine over person – The member's personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.
  • Dispensing of existence – The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not.
All of this, and more, Jim Jones and his white oligarchy of assassins and torturers unleashed with a vengeance on the predominantly black church.  Psychologist Neal Osherow elaborates:

"Conditions in the Peoples Temple became so oppressive, the discrepancy between Jim Jones's stated aims and his practices so pronounced, that it is almost inconceivable that members failed to entertain questions about the church. But these doubts were unreinforced. There were no allies to support ones disobedience of the leaders commands and no fellow dissenters to encourage the expression of disagreement with the majority. Public disobedience or dissent was quickly punished. Questioning Jones's word, even in the company of family or friends, was dangerous informers and "counselors" were quick to report indiscretions, even by relatives.

The use of informers went further than to stifle dissent; it also diminished the solidarity and loyalty that individuals felt toward their families and friends. While Jones preached that a spirit of brotherhood should pervade his church, he made it clear that each members personal dedication should be directed to "Father." Families were split: First, children were seated away from parents during services; then, many were assigned to another member's care as they grew up; and ultimately, parents were forced to sign documents surrendering custody rights. "Families are part of the enemy system," Jones stated, because they hurt ones total dedication to the "Cause" .  Thus, a person called before the membership to be punished could expect his or her family to be among the first and most forceful critics.

 Why didn't more people leave? Once inside the Peoples Temple, getting out was discouraged; defectors were hated. Nothing upset Jim Jones so much; people who left became the targets of his most vitriolic attacks and were blamed for any problems that occurred. One member recalled that after several teen-age members left the Temple, "We hated those eight with such a passion because we knew any day they were going to try bombing us. I mean Jim Jones had us totally convinced of this."

Defecting became quite a risky enterprise, and, for most members, the potential benefits were very uncertain. They had little to hope for outside of the Peoples Temple; what they had, they had committed to the church. Jim Jones had vilified previous defectors as "the enemy" and had instilled the fear that, once outside of the Peoples Temple, members stories would not be believed by the "racist, fascist" society, and they would be subjected to torture, concentration camps, and execution. Finally, in Guyana, Jonestown was surrounded by dense jungle, the few trails patrolled by armed security guards. Escape was not a viable option. Resistance was too costly. With no other alternatives apparent, compliance became the most reasonable course of action." 

Jones, as Dr. Zimbardo suggested, did a masterful job of bringing Orwell's nightmare to life and then exterminating the prisoners when time ran out.  But during the time they were his cast of hand puppets, the cult master had an apparently hell of a fun time.

And quite the sense of humor, albeit perverse and extremely sadistic, as is usually the case with sociopaths.  The following is an actual audio recording from one of "Father Jones's" evening conditioning sessions in Jonestown, about seven months before the apocalypse.

Listening to the assorted cult members coming forward to announce in graphic detail their desires to torture and murder their family members is beyond shocking.  Please don't listen unless you have a strong stomach.  Even more chilling--horrifying, really--is Jones's ghastly laughter, high pitched like a hyena on helium.

Ask yourself as you hear the evidence:  Is this the kind of ambiance found in that former cult member's claim of a "Heaven on Earth"??

The lesson is clear:  We either will or will not allow these shameless cult apologists to grind the real truth into oblivion.  Hopefully enough will choose the latter as we prepare to remember the dead on tomorrow's anniversary.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cult Expert On Jonestown: "A Mass Mentality 'Manchurian Candidate' That Killed The Enemy On Demand"

Something very ironic about all this.

With the impending anniversary of that unspeakable tragedy over 30 years ago, I'm thinking about that infamous sign.  

You know the one.

We've all seen the assorted photos of the gruesome aftermath of the Temple Planning Commission executioners' handiwork.  This one, however, is particularly chilling.

It's right there hanging over "Father's"  throne, empty cause the occupant was sprawled nearby on the pavilion floor.  He was too much the coward to have that hideously painful cyanide forcibly injected into him, as more than 80 percent of the people had.  No, Jones took the easy exit with a bullet through the head.

He looked so pathetic in his death portrait.  Eyes wide open, no longer concealed by those menacing sunglasses.  Silenced at long last.  Tragically, however, not in time to stop him and his gang of mass murderers from carrying out their own Final Solution.

Jim Jones, despite all his perversions and sick Stalinist mania, still had it right with philosopher George Santayana's creed that "those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  It's something that spans across all realms.  

That's the irony:  Too many have still not learned the lessons of the past.  The madness of crazies like this, running cults from the smallest to the largest, religious, secular, commercial, political, even one-on-one, continues unabated to this day.  As do the cult apologists that keep on trying to somehow rehabilitate the Peoples Temple.  Santayana's prophecy lives on.  

  Ex-Temple member Laura Kohl is just one of the many desperately wanting to put a fresh, glowing face on this, one of the most destructive cults in history.  Maybe like the others, she's doing it in a sad quest for atonement.

"What happened then," claims Kohl, "was the fusion of all of our spirits, our hopes and our hard work--into a New World--a Heaven on Earth. We didn't know it was possible, and it seeped into our souls and hearts. What we created was more than we could have dreamed about. We grew into a greatness well beyond what we could have done individually."

How does someone descend to this level of denial over something that was a perfect Hell on Earth?  The answer probably rests in the syndrome of well-meaning people falling prey to brain washing that sometimes remains long after they've departed the cult.

Renowned expert Dr. Phillip Zimbardo conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment that presented vivid proof of the power that a super-charged controlled environment has on behavior.  In 2005, he authored a paper entitled "Mind control in Orwell’s 1984: Fictional concepts become operational realities in Jim Jones’ jungle experiment.”

In his findings, Zimbardo drew from many sources corroborating how this was accomplished, along with exposing the shocking dichotomy between the Hellish reality of Jonestown and the "Heavenly" fantasies still entertained by the survivors of the death camp.

One of the most ghastly testimonies came from former member Debbie Layton, as described in a book by another member, Jeanne Mills:

"Mills describes other torture chambers in PT.  'Debbie (Layton) told us about Bigfoot, a punishment that had replaced the Blue-Eyed Monster.  It’s a deep well about forty-five minutes’ walk away from the camp,’ she said sadly. ‘Counselors have to sit in there, and when the child is disciplined they throw the child down the well.

The kids would cry hysterically as soon as Jim would tell them they’d have to go visit Bigfoot. We’d hear them scream all the way there, and all the time they had to be down in the well, and by the time they got back they were begging for mercy. It was really awful. Some young people were forced to eat hot peppers or even have hot peppers put up their rectums as disciplines.”

So much for Kohl's notion about "growing into greatness."

Dr. Zimbardo's research blew apart such delusions.  His analysis was thorough and devastating, revealing how much the spirit of Big Brother suffocated anyone unfortunate enough to be trapped in the Jonestown Gulag.

"Obedience training, Newspeak, Crimestop, Doublethink, Reality Control, Emotional Control, sexual control, surveillance, hard work on starvation diets – the staples of the Orwellian Mind Controller’s repertoire – were adapted and put into effective operation by Jim Jones in his attempt to demonstrate total behavior modification beyond anything that MK-ULTRA had ever achieved. Jones succeeded in his perverted mind control 'experiment' by creating a mass mentality 'Manchurian Candidate' that killed the Enemy on demand, only the Enemy was one’s children, one’s parents, one’s mate, one’s friends, one’s self.

  I believe that Orwell would not have been pleased to see his warning about the dangers of a totalitarian state acted out by a latter-day disciple in the jungles of Guyana, and then recently reenacted by destructive cult leaders in many other countries, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, the United States, and Uganda, all extracting the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of domination of free will, of individuality, of critical thought, and of the spirit of independence." 

Of course, a horde of "New Religious Movements" (NRM) academics infesting universities across the land are hell-bent on not yielding even one inch to Zimbardo or any other expert that exposes cult dynamics and their horrifying consequences.  They never fail to rush to defend cults as fast as five year olds running to the sound of an ice cream truck.  

We'll give them their due before Thursday.  Until then, there's nothing quite like the illuminating power of a dramatization.  Sometimes they're way off target.  Film maker Stanley Nelson's purported documentary "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple" was about as twisted a piece of cult apologist propaganda as they come.

On the other hand, straight fictional works can sometimes undo the damage by NRM puff pieces.  "When you blindly give up your free will to a higher authority," warns the narrator in this 2001 Outer Limits episode, "be sure you are not also giving up control of your ultimate destiny."

Entitled "A New Life," this 45 minute eye-opener is well worth the time and attention (forgive the occasional commercial interruptions.)   The alien theme provides the perfect metaphor.  Please pay close attention to the dialogue.  And should you just happen to wonder if there's any striking similarities with the Peoples Temple, you're right on target.  

Afterward, you'll likely be wary of any and all cult apologists--who knows, they could very well be on a mission from another planet.....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jonestown Massacre: Mourning Loss, Battling Denial

The anniversary of the nightmare is right around the corner, everyone.

This coming Thursday, November 18 is the day 32 years ago when an utterly preventable massacre took place in what history records as the largest single loss of American life in a non-natural disaster.  That is, of course, until it was surpassed by the horror of 9/11.

Too many of the culprits that helped pave the way for the Jonestown Massacre are still too gutless and dishonest  to make amends, to apologize, or accept any accountability whatsoever.  These shameless wonders, the politicians, the journalists, the clergy--and the especially appalling cult apologists--continue  hopelessly stuck in a mind-boggling collective state of denial.

It's that sad spectacle of what people are reduced to when they have blood on their hands.  Then there's the case of some of the surviving members and relatives of the victims of the People's Temple cult, who swim in their own especially deep pool of denial.

Five days from now the anniversary memorial service will be held at the same location as all the others:  Oakland, California's Evergreen Cemetery, home of the mass grave of 409 murdered men, women, children, and babies.  But this year.....something's changed.

The survivors and relatives, now bitterly divided into two different factions, can't seem to stand even being at the same service any longer.  The first is lead by the Rev. Jynona Norwood, a Los Angeles pastor who lost 27 relatives in the massacre.  She's overseen the construction of a Memorial Wall, part of which was unveiled at the cemetery during the service's 30th Anniversary two years ago.
But Norwood was emphatic about one thing:  When this wall is finally completed, the mass murderer that put her family to death will NEVER be memorialized.  "To put Jim Jones's name on that wall is an all the dead," declared Norwood at the 2008 service.

This is not a feeling shared by Lela Howard, who lost an aunt at Jonestown.  She and her faction of survivors/relatives (which includes Jim Jones, Jr.) have railed against Norwood, demanding that Jones be memorialized.  There's been accusations of financial improprieties in the $100,000 wall project which has left Norwood outraged.

The animosity is now so bad that the two rival camps have arranged for separate services, with Norwood's faction going at 11 a.m. and Howard's at 3 p.m.  All of this, not surprisingly, has been ignored by the same local and national media that deliberately covered up the crimes of Jim Jones, empowering him to lay the groundwork for Jonestown.

History and its fateful repeat cycle.  Something like that.  Wasn't it written on a sign once in an extinct pavilion that got swallowed up by jungle?

Cult Survivor Laura Johnston Kohl is siding with the Howard faction.

"As the years have gone on," she explained recently," I found the peace at Evergreen more and more disturbed by the tone of the 11 a.m. religious service.  Its many expressions of anger towards Jim Jones – at the expense of honoring those under our feet – don’t speak to me, just as I believe the traditional Christian service doesn’t speak to my friends who are buried there.  After all, while they put the Christian ethic to work – they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, helped care for those afflicted, and tried to rid the world of hate – they had left traditional churches to become activists. In fact, they were 'practicing' Christians, and they practiced that religion day and night.
Last year, a fellow survivor set up her own memorial on the site. She put the name of each person who died on a small name tag, and wrapped the flowing sash around several trees. It was a wonderful tribute to them, and its silence provided a welcome counterbalance. We don’t want to forget them. We cannot afford to forget them.  [Editor's note:  It was stated in the earlier post that that fellow survivor was "presumably Howard."  Scratch that, please.  Have been informed it was in fact Kathy Barbour Tropp.  Thank you, friendly informant.  Apologies extended to Ms. Howard.] 
On that day, I determined what I needed for future anniversaries. After many conversations with other survivors and family members, we have come to a consensus about our day. We will begin holding a private, nondenominational gathering at 3 p.m. that same day. It will be the same time each year, on that rolling hillside. In that setting, we can gather and sit quietly or speak – whatever we are moved to do. It probably won’t be a place to lay blame or express hateful diatribes. It will be our time to reconnect and give thought". 
The Peoples Temple consisted of "practicing Christians"??
When you've finished gasping, try to remember this comes from someone  floundering at the very bottom of that special pool of denial where every cult apologist lives.  And this place is crowded with swimmers, rest assured.
The actual record shows there was just a bit more going on than "feeding, clothing, and caring for the afflicted by these so-called "practicing Christians."  Oh, quite a bit more activities, such as  fraud, extortion, slave labor, torture, death threats, sexual abuse and, yep, a whole lot of brain washing. 

When it came to torture, Temple Cult members had a real flair for it with children.  One of the young victims, a five year-old girl, remembered the horror: 

"I got in trouble in the church because I lied, and Father (Jones) said I'd have to go to the Blue-Eyed Monster. Then they took me in this dark room, and the monsters were all over the room. They said, " I am the Blue-Eyed Monster and I'm going to get you"....Then a monster grabbed my shirt and tore it open.  Then all of a sudden the monsters started to say, "I'm going to get you again‚ and then one hit me right here, she said, pointing to her chest.  Then it felt like a knife was going right down to my back, and my body started to shake back and forth like this....Then my teeth were tied together so I couldn't open them....I couldn't believe it--it hurted so bad."

What the little girl had been describing was a darkened room filled with adults armed with cattle prods (which explained the blue electric light).  They zapped the child with the cattle prods, then the impact of the electric current would lock the child's teeth together as they were propelled across the room to be hit yet again.

This, of course, all took place in California, years before Jonestown, where it evolved into a new torture: "Big Foot," a horrendous series of well-dunkings for the children.

Those "practicing Christians."  It's just hard to believe how Temple apologists like Kohl can perpetuate this charade.  But she and her ilk do.  And people are beginning to be taken in by this twisted revisionism.

A few years ago, I made a visit to the Redwood Valley church where the crime spree really took off, a place where Rev. Jim Jones first planted his "flock" in California in 1965.  I had been brought there by one of the original members of Ukiah's Concerned Citizens group, which had tried so desperately to get help in stopping this growing, menacing cult.

No one listened to them, as we now know.  And according to our forthright mainstream media, all was well right up to 1977.  

Today it's the home of an Assembly of God congregation.  I didn't get a chance to talk with its pastor.  I would have asked him how he felt about preaching in a building that once contained a demon.  I looked over the place, the front and back, for a long, long time, trying to imagine the place when my father first went there to interview Jim Jones in 1972 and discover his gun-toting enforcers.

Off to the left side of the church today stands a cross and statues of a smiling Jesus holding a lamb, reaching out to child.  I thought of all the children abused and tortured so savagely by Temple members here once.  Perhaps this monument was a good way to cleanse that awful karma. 

It's a poignant sight.  The tragedy is how often, still today, religious charlatans are able to put on that smile and deceive a willing public as Jones did.  Cults like Scientology thrive because they, like the Peoples Temple, can produce a good enough performance to trap a person in a web, as the spider does a fly.

Across from the church building stood a single modest house.  Yes, that was where the monster once lived and drew up his plans for destruction.  Someone else lives there now but something caught my eye in the flower garden in the front of that house.

It was one of the roses.  Still with green leaves, it had wilted.  The more I looked at it, the more I saw what looked like, well, something grotesque.  With horns.  I had to photograph it because it gave me an eerie feeling.  Made me wonder even futher about karma, maybe a type that remains, manifesting in all manner of  shapes and matter.

Then again, it was probably just a simple wilted blossom, viewed by someone in a melodramatic funk.  Still, that thing in front of Jim Jones's house gave me an uneasy sensation I won't forget.

The sensation, however, which I get each and every time November is one of sadness.  Frustration.  A longing for what could have been, if just only enough people in those high places--a clergyman who suddenly found his conscience or an editor his courage or a politician his morality--acted to stop Jim Jones from his hellish mission.

If just only.