Thursday, November 13, 2008

escape from jonestown


this may seem somewhat macabre to some of you, but i have an absolute fascination with stories about religious cults, particularly the 'peoples temple' founded by jim jones, which eventually ended with the almost unbelievable tragedy of jonestown. i don't know exactly what it is, but something in me is inexplicably drawn to this story time and time again. i have watched films on it, read books about it, looked up the deceased online and anything else i can do. tonight cnn is showing a special by soledad o'brien featuring some of the stories of the few survivors of jonestown. i'm wondering, first of all, if anyone else shares my curiosity/interest in jim jones and the people's temple. is it just me? or does this story have something in it that draws us in? i'm curious to find out if any of my readers are interested...
i think part of my interest lies in the fact that jim jones started off as a bible-pounding evangelical preacher. he was a bible-belt boy, with some ideas about communism and a heart for african americans. he seemed, in general, like a decent Christian, the kind of sweaty-browed preacher you might expect in some mid-western protestant church. but somehow it all ended in cyanide suicide, leaving a terrible wake of violence, drugs, abuse, deception, sex and lies. in truth, the story is stranger than fiction (i mean the man sold monkeys door to door to finance his ministry at one point. MONKEYS! {now haven't you always wanted a monkey?}). and yet, it certainly is real and it really happened. the borders between truth and fiction, real and unreal, right and very very wrong are often not as impassible as we think.

7 comments:

Glenn said...

I used to have some interest in it and other so-called "movements" of these types. I was in 7th grade (or thereabouts) when the Jonestown event occurred. It was BIG and very shocking to see the bodies over and over again on the news reports. I guess stunned would be a better word.

Rebecca said...

This is the first I've heard of The Jonestown event.

It sounds very interesting.

But I wanted to tell you that I had a thought about you yesterday...

Steelers.com has a blog writing contest for bloggers who write a post about each game. I'm not sure if its too late to enter, but it might be worth checking out. People can go on and vote for you (I'm sure your faithful readers certainly would) and the blogger with the most votes at the end of the season gets a monetary prize.

When I saw it I thought you would be a shoe in.

If it is too late for this season, perhaps you can keep it in mind for next year.

You would certainly be good at it.

greg. said...

rebecca,

i can't find anything about that over at steelers.com. if you know how to find out info about that, let me know. i'll be happy to sign up!

as for jonestown, ignorance may be bliss. it was/is a terrible scar on humanity, and the more you find out the more your heart breaks.

Pastor Blue Jeans said...

I am interested in these events because I am interested in how people respond to these types of leaders. What is it about them? What draws people to simply abandon all sense of right and wrong or at least right and wrong like they knew them before. What brings people to put their total trust and life in the hands of someone who seems to us now as simply delusional

Anonymous said...

it certainly changed my relationship to grape koolaid. julid

greg. said...

pastor blue jeans:

absolutely! that is a huge part of it. for example, in the show last night, they talked about how jim jones' teachings had become quite strange even before he ever convinced so many of his followers to move to guyana. apparently he would discuss, from the pulpit, his sexual exploits with both men and women. he would also equate himself with God. now, that sounds like a crazy man. so what is it about him; what charisma does one individual have that so many would overlook the obvious? or were they afraid? these are exactly the things that interest me.

greg. said...

juli: lol. there was a creepy scene in the show where jones had made a video of life in guyana to show the folks back in california to try and convince them to make the move down to jonestown. in this video he is showing them the ample supplies of food, and, at one point, he opens what looks like a giant cooler and it has boxes of kool-aid mix. creepy.