Q&A with Jürgen (Juergen) Busch
JÜRGEN TO PASTOR DAVE –
Subject: "Germany calling" - for David Parker Wise!
My name is Jürgen Busch. I´m 46 years old, dealer and collector of antique African jewelry. I am a German native and live with my girlfriend in Cologne.
It´s only since some 10 days that I am more deeply interested in the Jonestown incident. I am still in the phase of collecting information. Both the 'People´s Church' [Peoples Temple] and the Jonestown suicide interest me. The Internet is my exclusive source at this point of research though I´m going to order the few books Fielding has recommended in his two emails he sent me over the weekend.
There is not much to explain where my serious interests come from, other than clearly remembering the incident some 27 years ago and my general interest in historical events of that dimension. I am neither religious nor have I ever been a member of a church (other than the "evangelic church" I was born into, and left when18), a commune or a cult. Instead, I was more of the opposite, a strict non-follower of any(body's) doctrine or ideas, possibly due to our family history, with both grandfathers suffering under the Hitler regime. I was told early what it means to follow some mainstream.
After school, in 1978(!), I went to India for the first time. Not to seek spiritual enlightenment - I was sure that was not available and only propaganda - not even to follow the Hippie trail. It was just because I was interested in country, culture and mainly its people. Osho, as India´s "Orange leader" Rajneesh was later called, was not at all of ANY interest to me, though I must admit I had very much wanted to interview some of his followers, mainly in order to find out what made it so attractive to follow this academic loser instead of enjoying all the many other things life and India had in store. To me, even then, it was a CLEAR sign of weakness to seek shelter behind a man I could never take seriously. Knowing how disastrous his "groups" finally ended - in USA, as you surely know - seemed to confirm these early thoughts.
I do not really know why I am writing you tonight. Possibly – no!, surely – because I´ve just read your article on Jim Jones "Sex in Peoples Temple."
I have great respect at this point mostly for Fielding (the only person I have communicated with on this matter) and his intelligent work and writing, possibly also because I feel personally honoured having received two personal responses. But also the surviving "temple-members" make it difficult for me to issue the harsh criticism I feel in the back of my mind for the founder of this "church," Jim Jones himself.
Your article confirmed my personal prejudices and the little information I have collected about him so far. It is not necessarily his hidden homosexuality; nor his drug abuse; nor the combination of both; leave alone his various other shortcomings. It´s the general picture you paint about this man - surely not complete, but complete enough for all my warning-lamps turning red - that makes me feel totally uncomfortable and awkward. I cannot understand how this could be overlooked by 1200 people with good intentions!?! I can only speculate what must have been missing in their lives, in hope for "JJ" to fill these gaps. As long as I have been able to think I have disliked, even hated, manipulators, and this person seems to be the prototype of such a character. Frankly, I do not care (much) for any "good" he might have done too. Do you really think that Hitler was nothing but a "bad man"? I bet you could find more than 1200 people in modern-day Russia to confirm that even Stalin had his good sides. This is not what counts, in my humble opinion. A "good man" can only be a good man when seen as a whole, not through a few isolated actions.
It is very true that it is too early for me to make a final judgment (though I know none of us outsiders will ever be able to do that, if we want to be serious). I should, must and will do more homework. I will read through anything I can get my hands on, but will focus more on the members, the people who formed this "temple." Jim Jones, I am sure, is not the person I should focus on. I doubt he is really worth it. Not because history has already issued its sentence on him (irreversibly, in my opinion).
I will NEVER, NEVER EVER - leave alone the option of my ability to change my mind - be able to excuse "JJ" for the order of the final suicide. I cannot accept one (paranoid) man making decisions for others and forcing them to death. It doesn´t need the heavy argument of 200+ innocent children having no chance to object. Church members living under his doctrine - if I can trust those (limited) voices, I feel I can trust - for so long had possibly only reduced or limited chances to object either.
I have learned in life that people fight for their lives and do not give in so easily and quickly as the "final tape" lets one assume. I am not saying these tapes might be altered or a fake. I am too much of a novice in the subject. But the situation seems to indicate that those voices could be right who say, that "armed guards" were supporting Jones' orders to die. To say it simply: "either drink or be shot" might have been the underlying threat.
This is the second reason I am writing you tonight. Aside from congratulating you for your fine papers (and Fielding for publishing them!) giving me a good idea on "JJ´s" character, I would like to know your position, your idea or knowledge about the armed guards. What is truth and what is fiction? Is it really a myth that these guards existed? Not the guards, as described by some, trying to defend the camp with "forks, bats and some 30+ small-caliber guns" against any real or fictitious jungle beast. Were guards trained to follow merciless Jones´ orders if his own speech was not sufficient?
1) Who were those guards (always assuming here, they really existed). Literature?
2) Is it true that most or all of them were able to escape and survived? Literature?
3) What to believe? Was only one single temple member, aside from Jones himself and the people who were shot on the airstrip, found with a gunshot wound? Or is true, as according to other sources, (mainly official Guyanan), that up to 500 people were found dead with gunshot wounds? It is difficult for me to imagine - especially in regard to this question - that there can be a real controversy. Is the number of people who died from gunshot wounds really controversial or can we rely, at least here, on serious and confirmed information and numbers? Documents?
From various (and different) own experiences I KNOW (!!!!!!!) how much, how badly, how intense people will fight, if their life is in danger. I have a hard time believing that Jones´ orders to die could have been accepted without these supporting guards ready to fire on anybody refusing to drink this poison.
It is difficult for me to understand, believe and accept, that a polygamous, drug-taking, paranoid individual, a homosexual man stalking other men with erected penis in cheap "blue movie cinema" was able to force 900+ good and often educated people into a senseless death. That it was senseless indeed should not be allowed to be entered into this debate, especially not for a Christian believer. By the way: when I, at a very early stage of reading, learned about "church" on one hand and then "communism" on the other hand, I knew that something could not be right here.
I wish English were my native tongue, it would be much easier to let you understand what I really mean to say and ask. I am sorry not to be able to talk on another level.
Again, dear David, let me thank you again for your paper(s), I read with greatest interest and an open heart and mind! I really welcome all this fine work you, Fielding, Deborah and all the many, many others are doing in favour of the surviving members and those who (had to?) gave their lives away for a man I have not the tiniest bit of respect for.
All this should be, and I think really is, for these people, and not this man I even feel awkward when having to mention his name. Even in death this subject wanted to be superior, or was it just cowardly, that he ordered(!) to be shot. Why didn´t he drink his own poison I wonder? He was mainly an infamous coward, leave alone a manipulator, cheater and killer.
It´s not easy for me to say this, knowing that my knowledge is yet so limited. Last night I read a report from an elder, female black-American member of the temple (sorry, I do not have the title at hand now) who wasn´t in the camp the day of the ordered suicide. I had to hold back tears while reading, to be frank. Her remaining devotion to "JJ" was very touching to read, leave alone it saddened me to read how uncritically certain people can follow others. I am anything but judging this wonderful old lady for her beliefs. It just – yes, I must repeat – makes me very, very sad how some lives or otherwise extraordinary people and souls can be so misled!
Or is it me being misled?
About anything – maybe. Not about "JJ"....!
With GREATEST respect,
from Cologne in Germany,
THE VERY BEST to you all,
Please excuse possible mistakes. Due to late time (ca. 2:30 AM) it´s not proofread!
PASTOR DAVE TO JÜRGEN –
Subject: Re: "Germany calling" - for David Parker!
I think that it will enrich your understanding of humanity and of yourself to study the Jonestown phenomena. We are both very blessed to be acquainted with Fielding McGehee, who is a great stickler for the truth. In a subject environment of cheap catcalls and handy demonization Fielding has done much to open these deep subjects up to be understood and discussed by all.
Allow me to answer your question about the weapons first of all. When my wife Juanell Smart went to Jonestown to visit the kids she said that she never felt like the guards who had guns were doing anything but protecting the community from the jungle. These guards were people we all knew and ate and slept with; people that we loved. There were no automatic weapons.
Although I left the church because I believed Jim Jones had lost his mind, it should still be credited to him that he was creating his own society. Without the megalomania he may have done well. We hear no one in this argument acknowledging that your own society requires your own security. In light of his aberrations, which were abundant, he is to be credited for trying to avoid having jails and trying to avoid having police in what amounts to an alternative society.
Regarding your gut feeling that Jim Jones was evil, allow me to say that when I left Peoples Temple in 1976 that I truly felt that he had turned into some kind of dark spirit and that I was a spirit of light. Not to use overly simple or mystical terms.
Over the years I continued to grapple with his unique mixture of good and evil. The Peoples Temple experience was like a lens in the rear of my brain through which I could look at the goings-on in the world more critically. Of any Peoples Temple survivor you may query, I can tell you that I never participated in any wrongdoing, whether public humiliations or whatever. I believe, thus, that I have a very clear conscience and that there is no vested interest when I say that I am not a People's Temple Apologist. I will tell you how it is, because in fact that is how it is.
From a young age Jim Jones was a keen copyist of the world around him. He was not especially creative, but he was a keen copycat. His life is actually a historical warning of the possible fate of our other world organizations and institutions that he mirrored even down to their self-contradictions. Most all of these organizations and institutions believe the ends justify the means. However, the wrong means is destined to destroy right ends.
Until the day he died Jim Jones was trying to sort out what he really believed amongst the things he copied. He was like a little boy with great skills in oratory and persuasion. Drugs and alcohol twisted him past the point of reason. He led the group with him down a path of conflicting views: one of peace, love, and understanding, and another of intolerance, judgmentalism, end justifying the means and us-them thinking.
From a young age Jones had read the Apostle Paul advocating that we become "all things to all people" to accomplish the Christian Mission. His original definition of this mission, "apostolic socialism," was right out of the Acts of the Apostles. The notion of "from each according to their ability to each according to their need" is the same and word-for-word, whether spoken by Marx or read from the Bible regarding the day of Pentecost. This is not addressed by the larger church body, yet it is there.
However, Jim's understanding of socialism was that of a copyist. The examples offered by Cuba, China and Russia in the '70s incorporated totalitarianism. Just as "a rose by any other name smells just as sweet," unfortunate as it is, dictatorship in the name of freedom is still dictatorship. For the American Left to have ever taken up the notion that a "dictatorship of the proletariat" is necessary in a socialist revolution, or that the elitists might need to be lined up and shot is a very sad perversion away from love and life more abundant. It is a perversion wherein the Left becomes the Right.
Jim Jones did start his own society. He did not get very far because he copied wrong tactics from the larger society. You and many other sincere and searching souls wonder how people could cooperate with a suicide plan. When we puzzle out these great questions in life such as, "Would a thousand people voluntarily kill themselves?" allow me to bring up some historical mass suicides. A thousand Japanese killed themselves rather than be captured (though they were all soldiers ready to die). In addition, a thousand men, women and children killed themselves and each other at Masada rather than be captured by their enemy the Romans. In all of these cases a "state of siege" mentality was obviously required. An us-them mentality was obviously necessary. To believe that people will not do it is naive. They have done it.
Allow us to look at the larger culture – or shall we say the larger Cult. George Bush is no doubt just a front man for the multinational corporations. The Stanley Milgram experiments showed that the authority figures were all that was required to get average citizens to administer electrical shocks to hapless victims.
If we add a little nationalist pride and "Us" versus "Them" peer pressure, it becomes possible for young Americans to go kill innocent civilians in other countries. Add to this that such young Americans may have heard of many alternative energy answers to oil and that these same young American have an abundance of evidence that the occupation is largely over Middle Eastern oil. Albeit unthinkable, evil is pridefully carried out in the face of the facts.
For the sake of mental exercise let us look at our larger cult through this lens using an even more difficult-to-see example. Let us say that natural cures for diseases are suppressed by the drug companies who have a "patent it or kill it" philosophy (as natural plants cannot be patented as medicines), and that this might result in the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents. Is this morally criminal? Yes. Is it murder? The Life Extension Foundation in Hollywood Florida has a museum called the FDA Holocaust Museum where they document the deaths of these hundreds of thousands. If it becomes public knowledge that the biggest moneymaker on Wall Street is the drug companies followed by the oil companies then we learn that the synthetic drugs are made from the chemicals supplied by the oil companies it comes to appear more and more like a systematic, orchestrated and purposeful evil. We see proofs of high-mileage carburetors and motors that do not even need regular fuel. We see that cures for disease and energy answers and other Godly things are being suppressed by a megalomaniac and un-Godly cult. Following this avenue of thought in the broader study of cults we might say the FDA and the AMA and the EPA and the DOE think they are G-O-D but they are N-O-T.
I hope you appreciate my humor, and God bless you in your search for truth.
JÜRGEN TO PASTOR DAVE –
Subject: Germany again.... - for David Parker!
"women and children killed themselves and each other at Masada rather than be captured by their enemy the Romans."
Unproven, dear David! Hello to you again! Recent archaeology comes to a different conclusion. The "Josephus" report, like all narratives from antiquity, were altered according to the winner's choice.
The situation was totally different anyway. Where was the life threat if people had refused this suicide?
I believe it makes no sense to "excuse" the dead. Not only does it not serve the truth, we do not do them a favour I think. I do not see it as a character flaw to be weak, to be easily to be manipulated or to give in to social group pressure (lacking all the right English words and always in hope you understand anyway, dear David!).
I read your mail 3 times and am now into the middle of the 4th and last time. I also try to "read between the lines" (so to speak!) in order for a full understanding. What always shines through, or seems to shine through, is that you (as most others), despite your also being a serious critic, still have some beliefs in the words of Jones. It is as if you were saying, "Yes, he was bad, but not only bad. He also had his good sides!" I totally refuse this thinking. Any person being only 90% good (I am sure that Jones was less than 5% "good" to remain in my own hypothesis) is not good, in my opinion. And if I were totally wrong and this Jim Jones (how much I am meanwhile even disgusted by his name) were not at all as bad as I feel he is, his final action alone, the way he made an ultimate suicide decision for others even though some were trying to object (for example with the "Russian option") shows so clearly his true nature that anything else in no longer relevant! I am no Christian, nor a believer in any other common belief (like Buddhism, for example), but if I were, I would wish to see him BURN IN HELL for 100 trillion years, with every second being a lifetime! He is one of the WORST individuals I have ever come across.
This may sound odd, and to some degree I might undermine my own integrity (in your eyes) and objectivity to investigate and research this case thoroughly and free of any such – what is the English word for vorurteil(e)? – prejudice, of course (online-translator helped me), but in this specific case I can´t help it, to let myself go.
God that my idea to study law was changed (I did it for one semester, though). Otherwise I had the possibility of being put in a situation to defend an individual like him. I´d have not been able to do that.
By the way, it´s time for you (and Fielding) to know this. Excuse me that I waited some time telling you, because it has nothing AT ALL to do with my research. I am a journalist by profession, but do nothing but proofreading (at home) these days, while I make my main income as a dealer of antique African jewelry and beads. My formal journalistic training may have caused my general interest in events of that dimension, but that is the only connection. Just for the record, I wanted you to know that!
And finally something else I didn´t make clear so far. In the 70´s and 80´s I was sometimes thinking, or wondering, how life in a commune might be. To be together with friends of the same or similar understanding of life, being close to "nice girls" and possibly mainly "never being alone" was something that interested me too. As experience! No, I´ve never tried it. Not because I have been afraid to leave society and not because of lack of opportunity! I just knew it wouldn´t work. I knew (even in a group of ca. 10, something I was thinking about in the back of my mind) from VERY EARLY on - before being 18 even - that people are individuals and should not live together in bigger groups or "communes" (how it was called here) with one guy to give directions. I just knew, to use more profane language, this would lead nowhere. Nowhere for the whole group and especially my personal development as person. Though you may think now it had just needed the right "trigger," the right person in the right moment, and I had tried it myself, I insist to say "NEVER - NOT EVEN CLOSE!"
It´s like it is with communism: the idea sounds not so bad - reality is way-way different. "Theory and practice" - yes! So I wonder why I was so "ripe", so "knowledgeable," when not even 18, while 1000 others (and 100-thousands others on this globe) were so naive at the same time? What is the difference between me and them? Had I more insight? Was more skeptical? More distrusting? Not that naive? More (or less) educated?
This is what interests me most. Not Jones! The 900-1200 people of the "temple" are of my personal interest and one day, maybe one soon day (surely "one fine day"), I will have the pleasure to meet one of them and have the chance of a personal talk. Not during any official meeting in suit and tie. Just as a friend. Just like from "friend-to-friend" on a relaxed evening in a frank and open mood. Do you think this could ever be possible?
Later, always friendly
(Wishes to your wife and friends, please)
P.S. In case we won´t talk again before, I would like to wish you MERRY CHRISTMAS and all-all-all the VERY BEST for 2006. For you, your wife, your family and all your friends. So-so much I wish peace and a satisfying life for all of you. You can count on me!
PASTOR DAVE TO JÜRGEN –
Subject: Re: Germany again.... - for David Parker!
Before I write in a point-counterpoint manner allow me to say that you have great empathy. I find your writing provocative but truly sincere and compelling. I must say that I like you. I believe that Jim Jones became a monster and harmed countless lives. I like it that you are incorporating in a body count the many lives of those still suffering from his harm. After Jim lost his mind he became like Pol Pot rather than Gandhi. I find many “survivors” who did not oppose him and get away from him to be incredibly traumatized and virtually incapable of normal relations.
Allow me to talk about the idea of being all good or all bad. It seems clear that you believe in an outright all-or-nothing view and that you have a “total demonization” prerequisite. All-or-nothing absolutism is addictive thinking according to the twelve-step program. It is also “Cult” thinking. The notion that Jim Jones never was good is too much absolutism. In my article “25 years after Jonestown” I discuss Jim’s amphetamine addiction. It is a scientific fact that the regular use of amphetamines causes mental ward-like schizophrenia. The very scientific definition of it states that a good person can become bad.
I believe that the seeds of sociopathy may have been there in a young Jim Jones from early on. However, I believe that he held these things in check until he began to become schizophrenic from amphetamine abuse. All of this is to say that no one is all good and no one is all bad, yet we find unrealistic absolutism and scapegoating are common in the cult-like thinking of the larger society.
The Apostle Paul was a murderer who is supposed to have been transformed into good. Is it not also possible that a good person could be transformed into bad? We see drinkers, both alcoholics and first-timers alike, behave and do things in ways that are opposite from their normal character. Even good people can be assholes when drunk. A good person and innocent person can become changed by drugs or alcohol and by experiences as well. Little innocent, smiling children can become bitter with time. Since Christian principles hold that bad people can become good, why do we find it so hard to conceive that good people can become bad?
I was there. I watched Jim literally losing his mind. I am not a Peoples Temple apologist, as I said before. If multiple of survivors allege that he was both good and bad, maybe it is because it is so. Please realize that this sick bastard caused me the loss of all my youthful years as I hid from sight for so very long. He put false charges on me when he could not find me – hunting me down, doing everything he could to ruin me. If I were an easy pushover I would say that he ruined my life because I went up against him and tried to expose his power trips and humiliation tactics. However, I am no victim. I learned many great things from my life encounter with Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple.
Jim Jones may or may not have been behind certain mysterious deaths well before Jonestown. Jim may or may not have been fully convinced that the encampment was going to be invaded. He used the emotional blackmail that the children and seniors would be the equivalent of “tortured by the enemy” and he orchestrated a mass suicide. I do not defend him. However, I do inform you that I watched him change and left because he was changing. Although I should hate him for his injustices to me I also love the truth and must tell the truth. Is it possible that Hitler had a good side? Are many people a combination of good and evil? The answer is yes to both. In reference to your question "Does great evil undo any good?" If we are measuring by weight and effect then the answer is yes. There is no question that a prevailing legacy of Jim Jones’ abuses has undone most all good in his connection, and again this is proof that the wrong means leads to the wrong ends.
By the way, the archeological arguments about Masada are primarily about 25 people whose bodies were found in a slightly separate location implying that they may have been hiding. Exactly what is your point?
Many Jews committed suicide during the crucial moments of the war of 66-70, and many non-Jews also committed suicide rather than face their enemies. People killing themselves in the face of your enemy has occurred throughout history. Had the Romans massacred the Sicarii at Masada, Josephus would have had no reason to disguise this fact. From the Roman point of view, the Sicarii deserved death since they had participated in the siege of the royal palace in Jerusalem in 66 CE, killing some Roman soldiers. And if Silva refused to take any prisoners, no one could have argued with his wisdom, for who would want a slave who could not be trusted with the kitchen cutlery?
From the Jewish point of view, the Sicarii deserved death since they had raided the towns near Masada and had killed 700 women and children in the Jewish town of En Geddi. From Josephus' point of view, the Sicarii were guilty of all sorts of nefarious crimes, not the least of which was the launching of the war against Rome. If the Romans had massacred the Sicarii, Josephus would have been pleased. Whether these Jews were massacred or committed suicide does not matter in answering the question of whether there is historical precedence of mass suicide. There are many, many others.
I hope that you understand that bold debate does not mean that I do not like you. I find you very sincere and good.
JÜRGEN TO PASTOR DAVE –
Subject: quick response (jungle-questions)
Thank you very much for your response, Dave!
I feel (truly) honoured – not just a saying!! – that you went through so much effort. Americans usually tend to write short, if not shortest mails, something I know from own experience - to respond in order to "enlighten" me. Thank you VERY MUCH!
So far I just read your very first paragraph, the one where you describe your wife visiting Jonestown, not feeling any threat from the "gunmen." OK, surely you know much, much better! And I am NOT preparing my following argumentation, when telling you – surprise, surprise - I have been to – no, not Jonestown! – but to Guyana! And French-Guyana too! All of South America actually. I am not just reliving history on the PC in the warmth. I was out in the world - partly even "walking on its wild side" too (to borrow some words from Lou Reed) - more than most.
I spent three weeks in the Guyanian jungle. Right in the middle of it (in "French Guyana" too). Why? Actually not much of a logical reason, just for the "heck of it." Just to see the "jungle" I´ve just read about. In total I've spent three months in various jungles (also Brazil, to which French Guyana has a border), totally on my own (except when meeting "Indios") mostly and....WITHOUT A GUN!
I found the concept, the idea (or perception) of jungle most people have, me included, is pretty much wrong and exaggerated. Where were the Mambas, the black panthers or what animals or threats you talk about when saying these gunmen protected the people in Jonestown from harm? NO. I doubt the Green Berets (or any other trained force) could have been meant. What to do with these few "toy guns" reported over and over? Nobody can fight a highly trained force.
What might be logical or convincing to most Americans (pretty much aware of their general naiveté, especially when it comes to dangers – I lived 2 years in Asheville, North Carolina in the USA – is not convincing to me. Please note, Dave, I am ONLY, truly ONLY talking about the "jungle threats." I am not fully aware where Jonestown really was, but it has been too far from the coastline capital. Or am I mistaken? There is no jungle and surely none by definition
In 1987 I hitchhiked heading towards Cayenne, the capital of French Guyana. A French truck driver (huge trunks of trees) took me. From him I learned that there is no real jungle around Cayenne, to quote him "since ages." That was what I had learned myself anyway since I was on my way back home from Cayenne via Paris to Cologne.
OK, to make a long story short (especially since I can´t wait to continue reading the rest you post):
* What jungle are you (and all others) talking about?
* What dangerous "jungle beast" could have been meant - assuming a situation where such "beasts" exist * Given that any such creature runs away from noise and people, what could they expect in a settlement?
Sorry, that I had to start out "negative," Dave. Please see it as nothing but a need for clarification on my part. I just want to know first, then understand!
Last: if I were NOW, this VERY second, where Jonestown once was, what could be found? Do you know? I might go there one of these days just to take a look and get a feeling of the whole area. You see, I travel a lot, though India is on my schedule next (no no no, not even a tiny little bit of a spiritual reason, whatever you may think! I am immune against all doctrines and beliefs. I have enough to do to continue to believe in myself!)
P.S. Sorry, Dave, I just cannot let this pass, without immediate response again (though my last short one, promise):
Why do you think it should be credited if someone was planning to create HIS (!!!!) own society? All the world is talking about "integration" and you (too?) call for the opposite? We do not make life better when isolating us in order to find and create a better world. The world, any society, in order to exist, needs rules. Rulemaking is a democratic process and nothing, nothing-nothing-nothing at all for one CRAZY individual to make.
For better understanding: If you think in me is another right-winger sleeping and showing his really critical face piece by piece, you are wrong. Yes, true, I dislike and even HATE Jim Jones. (I cannot even look at this terribly hollow-rotten face. In my opinion it is a nightmare-face, and, I know there is no chance you will believe, I would have said the same even if I hadn´t known this "man." It sounds "off," I admit, but I believe I know or can see, or distinguish, between a good and bad face. Jones' face promises nothing good, that´s for sure!!!) and if it were for nothing but him ALONE being responsible for 900+ deaths and another two to three thousand who will never see the light of day because of him.
But it is not true - and will never be - that I will judge those several hundred poor souls who fell for him, those being helpless, uneducated, naive, weak or just trusting the wrong person. It is in them only, that I am interested in. Their lives, their motives, their reasoning and thinking. What might have they gone through when willingly following a mad-"man."
Last night I read an article (on Fielding's site) by Don Beck. He described Jones´ supposed healings, knowing (and saying) he was a known liar and cheater, especially with his faked healings! What is left to say after reading that? I feel nothing but sadness and pity, that life has the power to draw some people that far from reality. And yes, I told Don about it.
P.S. What is your personal opinion about the John Judge website....
PASTOR DAVE TO JÜRGEN –
Subject: re quick response (jungle-questions)
I will honor your comments to the best of my ability. You asked what I think of the John Judge-influenced website. Allow me to say that John Judge and Bo Gritz (the man officially in charge of the Green Berets in all of South America at the time of the Guyana suicide-murders) both sell their audiotapes through the same outlets. These are outlets where Right Wing ideology is integrated with conspiracy theory. I dare say that these folk are trying to rewrite history. I will detail the inaccuracies and disinformation on their website to which you referred me if you will allow me to post our honest and open emails on my young website www.JonestownLegacy.com. I believe many people can learn from some of the real and compelling questions you ask. If you read the last article I wrote entitled "Jonestown, the CIA and the Mystery Tape" you will gain a more correct understanding of actual facts.
Your next point regarding the "non-jungle" is well taken. I am sure that the Guyana jungle is not run over by "Lions and Tigers and Bears (Oh My!)" but just as sure that the people that moved from cities in the United States were afraid of the Guyanian jungle. In the movie The Mosquito Coast a scenario is presented where criminals that "are better armed" come into the camp and take it over. People felt safer with some security.
As far as Jim's culpability, I have more factual smut and incriminating information on him than anyone could make up in the first place. Anything people can make up is not as bad as what the truth really is – in certain ways. For instance, Jim Jones went from Ukiah to San Francisco to Los Angeles preaching about Guyana as if it were Heaven, the "Promised Land." People saw it as the "Land of Milk and Honey." He made Guyana out to be an unreal paradise. Then after the people got there he began to tell them that there were the equivalent of monsters in the jungle. This was an ultimate "bait and switch." However, it was not a CIA plan. It was Jim Jones' way. He changed things around to facilitate his current program, pure and simple.
I think I forgot to respond regarding a separate society. John Lennon's song "Imagine" was listened to a lot in Peoples Temple. His song is against borders and countries. By "separate society" I do not mean segregation or isolation. I mean that anyone, whether sane or madman, should be appreciated for trying to improve things for their people. There are different laws in different countries. Guyana was selected for several reasons. One was that it was a socialist country; another is that it is very thoroughly integrated racially – black, white, Indian, Hispanic, all kinds.
The pews in most American churches are a very comfortable, non-controversial place to be. It was only in the 1960s that black folk even got the right to ride in the front side of buses and share public eating places and water fountains. It took a long time for black Americans to even get the right to vote. Jim Jones worked to end segregation most of his life. I post that there were two Jim Joneses: the one that I met in the beginning and the one that I got away from in the end. One was a commissioner of human rights; the other later offended human rights. Still, aside from his story of personal decay and his failure at making a successful contribution, I must salute any pastor, no matter who it is, who simply tries to improve society.
JÜRGEN TO PASTOR DAVE –
Subject: last 4 2-nite
I felt sad - and was wondering - when reading that you signed your latest mail "Regards, Dave," while you signed the one before with an "Your friend, Dave." That´s usually what I look at first, since I learned that the (different) ways people say goodbye can indicate how they´ve felt during writing.
Yes, of course you are allowed to print my emails on your website, if you do not change or alter my text or quote me out of context. This is just said for the record. I DO NOT think you ever intended to do so.
Right-wing site? Yes, that was my first feeling too, though I didn´t read much from that site so far. I might have devoted two hours to it so far (while reading ANYTHING from Fielding´s and your site). But I will continue to read their site. You´ll agree that it´s always important to know what the enemy thinks. Don´t you?
I forgot his name, though the name of his daughter is surely VERY WELL-KNOWN among surviving "Temple people" and all those being interested in the case. She was the younger "mistress" of Jones, ca. 25 years of age at that time. It was the description of her worrying and scared father telling the reader how things developed and unfolded right under his eyes, up to the point of him visiting Guyana to (finally) see his daughter.
His essay was actually among the first I ever read (about 10 days ago, meanwhile) on "Jonestown" since I got interested in the incident(s) again. I must say, I found his descriptions very well written, very logical, very sincere and VERY convincing. I just felt I could believe this man. He was obviously an educated person and concerned father. All he reported made sense, all was logical, all was basically the way I would have approached "this/his problem" if this woman had been my daughter. This said, a good description of Jonestown of the general procedures, paranoia and fear(s) was already given to me.
This man - unless you have information to the contrary, those I cannot have access to, Dave, made a REAL impression on me. I did not find any right-winger writing, not a liar or exaggerator. Just an educated American father, being very concerned for the well being of his daughter. Who on this globe could not have understood what he was trying to tell us?! Who, Dave?
How devastating for him, when he finally learned that his daughter was among the victims. That his previous nightmares had been justified, that they were no exaggeration of an over-concerned father. I felt and still feel sooo sorry for him (too). Sure, 25 years have passed since, and though I was always the last who wanted to believe it turned out to be really true that time heals all, surely the most severe wounds. I hope this will be true for this man too. Imagine all this misery Jim Jones brought to the world. We usually talk about 900+ victims. Even 9000 were possibly not enough! Jones is Guyana's Pol Pot, though I should possibly be more careful with such comparisons.
Can you maybe tell me anything else or more about his description of the situation and how it was unfolding right under his eyes? Frankly - you won´t possibly like that I admit this - this man had lots of credibility for me. I could follow ANY of his words, believed all of his observations and can only congratulate him, since he had approached this issue very moderately while at the same time without getting his aim out of focus. He acted in a professional manner. Most of all, this father had guts (avoiding to say balls). He is a man I can identify with, though this identification is based on nothing but his essay (on what else? I neither know this person, nor do I have any other information on him).
Do you maybe know him? In person? I tried to find him (under the address of this "Trinity School" I think he mentioned), but failed.
Sorry, that I get so "invading," dear Dave,
Keeping in touch,
Friendly from Cologne,
JÜRGEN TO PASTOR DAVE (again) – (Note: several emails in a row before a response from Pastor Dave)
It was only in the 1960's that black folk even got the right to ride on
Thanx to ROSA*!!! Right, Dave...?
"....no, not no more!"
* Rosa Parks aka "Sister Rose"!
John Lennon's song "Imagine" was listened to a lot in Peoples Temple. His song is against borders and countries.
Sorry I couldn´t keep my promise (about "last letter for tonight), but Lennon? "Imagine"? Sung in the Temple? Under the ears and eyes of an individual like Jones?
This is nearly disgusting:
Read - and do more please - try to understand,.....DAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
Lennon had anything, aaaaanything in only his little finger, what this Jones individual never had and will never get (and if one million more websites are set up to praise him).
Devastating that one of the FINEST songs of Rock history was sung to the ears of this gruesome killer. Devastating and shameful!!!!
Since you know that Jones subject so well, Dave, tell me why he was such an EXTREME coward that he was not even able to die the way he sent others to death? Superior even at the last breath? Or a bad stomach? Pity the shot did fail and leave him alive. How can you be sure whether or not he really shot himself or was shot by this first wife (as reported)?
At last, Dave, surely do you maybe know anything about the Rick A. Ross Institute
This boring German again. He even gets rude now...!
With the growing feeling we might eventually like each other (when meeting in person, what might very well happen) I feel comfortable to speak my mind and like this "friend" you called me in one of your previous mails (I am able to put this in the right, the "friendly American" context).
Here´s my "offend" of the day, Dave!
Still aside from his story of personal decay and his failure at making a successful contribution I must salute any pastor, no matter who it is who simply "tries" to improve society. END QUOTE
No Dave, sorry, no!!! The only contribution Jones ever made was bringing death and devastation over some thousand innocent people. All the rest, if there ever was one, is forgotten and will be forgotten forever by history, no matter how many websites try FALSELY for the contrary.
I am disappointed that you finished your mail like this, with a positive, at least extremely ambivalent, statement, as I said earlier. Something like yes, yes, the world is right. Our Jim made a mistake, but there is more to a person, so there´s more to our Jim. As if you had learned nothing, as if this dramatic event had taught you nothing!
Yes, I might lose your "friendship" now - I hope not - and am very aware how sensitive Americans react to critics, possibly especially from Germans (and French). But it´s not about you and me, Dave, and you know that. You are THE FIRST TO KNOW IT ALL! Think about the message you are spreading. Be aware that there might be more "(positively) naive, sensitive, trusting, believing and weak" people out there. There is always a percentage of the public who are waiting for somebody (like you) to "tell."
When thinking back - talking about this special kind of believer I just superficially described above - to my first visit in America (1994), surfing through the many different TV channels the area around Phoenix, Arizona offered, I was suddenly struck by a TV pastor doing "healings" in a huge stadium-sized arena. Though it was late night, I could not stop watching. Over and over! Possibly an impulse similar to the one which makes one watch horror movies or, worse, really terrible crime scene photos or the like.
With open mouth I sat there, ignoring any call to bed, though I had an important date only very few hours later. I wanted to see, to understand. I couldn´t! This lady in costly white robe; this well-spoken, perfectly dressed and combed man in suit and tie; thousands in the audience! Was that real? Was it a soap opera? It took me only seconds to realize all was fake – the lies, the total absence of any morality or dignity, all disguised as "holy truth." That was criminal, bad, pure evil and anybody could watch. Where were the cops? Where was the law to stop this? The audience got into some mass psychosis while the woman in the white dress was permanently asking for money (they were already at ca. $300,000 at this point, as I remember).
I spoke a few times - in context to Jim Jones - about disgust to the point that I felt like vomiting. I didn´t exaggerate. That night I vomited onto the carpet of Motel 8 and it was not America´s great food that made me do it as some of you might assume! Not often had I been exposed to such a graceless, moral-less and dignity-less - to say it in German-English - cheap theatre before. Was that America? How many people felt they were being represented here? Many, I was sure, when this huge arena was already filled up to the last seat. With all the other cities being mentioned, where this "holy couple" was planning to continue their crusade and tell their distorted, shameful "holy truth." It has been an experience I can never forget and a story I´ve already told a thousand times, with finding not many who could really believe.
The question: Were this people potential Peoples Temple" candidates? Were people in this arena the soil where Jones´ seeds and Jones-like seeds could sprout?
That night - a lovely summer-night in August of 1994 - we had an 7-year-old American boy with us in our motel room. Too late I realized that he was secretly watching behind my back. (I sat on the floor, leaning against the end of the bed, right before the TV, to be as close as possible.) When I realized it, he had just spoken the one sentence I had in my mind too, though he culminated all he had seen in one single word: LIARS. The boy - with me and my girlfriend, but not his parents that night - was from New York (where, as I learned the next day, this program was unavailable) and not influence by anyway, by any other than the program he had just watched with me.
When a 7-year-old boy was able to see through these shameful-shameful-shameful lies, "healings" and all the disgusting talk of these two hosts, why – why, I want to know – an adult audience of nearly 10,000 people had not been able (as the whole context of public´s general agreement, applause and attending in mass healings on stage made VERY clear) to realize the same thing? That all had been fake. And it was obvious. A criminal, disgusting, shameful fake and all of this with "kind words and smiling face." NEVER before in my life had I experienced such a hollow, easy-to-look-through theatre-of-shame!
Was it the same sickness "Jones people" suffered too?
No Dave! 1001 times NO. NO-NO-NO!!!! You can´t belittle Jones' crimes by calling them contributions to society. "SUCCESSFUL contribution" you even call it. And you finished your email with it. That was a statement, Dave! A statement nobody should be allowed to make. If you feel anything for the survivors, you will think this over and possibly take it back, if you are strong enough!
I do not remember anything from the Bible since I never read it, not even partly. In school, the only possible place where I could have access to some reading I decided to "select if off," which was how it was called. It was no duty to take the one single "religion class" per week. Even that was too much for me, knowing of all the crimes committed in the name of religion. Nothing so bloody. Nothing so corrupt. Nothing worse (in my eyes then. Now I am more relaxed about it, though my own "beliefs" have not changed and never will).
I have a series (or how is it called?) of twelve academic books - smallest letters and each 800 pages long titled "The Crimes of the Holy Church." It tells the unbelievably bloody story of Christian Church from the beginning to present day. About 10,000 pages. Realize. Ten thousand pages filled with crimes in the name of "Christ."
Though this is only one aspect, it is enough reason to change the side of the street when seeing any church, leave alone the well-known social control and hollow talks before and after service in any given countryside church (and others too, of course).
Yes, I am getting more and more mad. Mad and sad! Realizing that those, like you Dave - though I am still on your side (I said it earlier, as the friend you called me, I have the right to be critical. You have to stay by your word and respond as a friend and not an enemy. An enemy I am not!!!) - who should, who must know better, do not hesitate to praise "Lord Jones." Still. Still after all these years with enough chances to know, think and understand! It is not enough - in my opinion - to part from him halfway. There has to be a clean cut. You have to confess and admit that all this man did was wrong. It is the outcome that counts in life, Dave, not a "good idea" – which idea I cannot see AT ALL. I just see immature, foolish-silly dreams or a loser and naive followers.
PASTOR DAVE TO JÜRGEN –
A great volume of words is only saying less.
I contend that Jim Jones went insane. I opposed him and left when others stayed. I am sickened by Jim's fraud and his crimes. However, I reiterate from the standpoint of pure principle while speaking in generality that anyone who at least tries to make a difference in a world needing so much change is better than someone who never tries. This is an old concept. We are guilty by Omission as well as by Commission. I am not saying that Jim is forgiven for anything he ever did. I am saying that for all people in general it is better to try and fail than never to try at all. I truly believe that initially Jones had set out on a path toward nonviolence and peace. Unfortunately, he became a madman and lost his way.
Many churches are used expressly to prop up the establishment. The Peoples Temple is the only church I have ever seen which aggressively criticized the established system. Still Jim Jones killed off the members and wrecked the brains of the survivors. Jim Jones turned into a Hitler or a Pol Pot. I have been easing this understanding into the minds of many recalcitrant survivors a little at a time. However, I am not going to start making things up like most everyone around me does. I am sticking to history as I am a witness to it.
Thanks for chatting with me today. I like your passion. Good night.