Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dealing with A Saint that ain't


My dear friend, Liz Collins, left this world in late Spring, 2005. While she was living, she was one of my strongest supporters on New Age Movement issues. Liz and Bob Collins were devout Catholics and Liz was deeply concerned about New Age infiltration of the Roman Catholic Church. I probably could have written several more books in the time that Liz took me places to put out individual fires at local Catholic institutions. I was always afraid that I would end up being arrested as I accompanied Liz who would ask a seemingly na├»ve question of the New Age presenter and be put down as unschooled in theology. Of course, I would always get up thereafter and give them a sophisticated piece of my mind before we both left. I would feel bad about the approach, had not so many approached me in later years and thanked me for being there and saying what I did. "You said exactly what I needed to hear," said one woman who had been an enthusiastic devotee of the Matthew Fox/Thomas Stanks line before coming to see it for what it was -- a soul trap. Liz was a former Pan American Airlines hostess, was fluent in both English and German, and had a degree in home economics. She flew Pan American’s international skies in the 50’s before she and Bob married and raised their six beautiful children.

Liz expressed frequent concerns to me about an alleged new “saint,” an alleged Greek Orthodox, Vassula Ryden, a "former Sheraton Hotel model, former tennis champion of Bangladesh and fluent in four languages, one of which was Arabic. She claimed Jesus was frequently giving her direct messages.

Now I have to tell you that practicing law in the metropolitan Detroit area, there is no second language more useful than Arabic. The little I know, I speak VERY WELL and I can read and write a smattering of it. If I were to have a full-immersion experience, I’m sure I could be fully functional in it in very little time. It was a Jewish attorney who gave me the key to unlocking it. Elliot Perlman said to me, “the key to learning Arabic is its alphabet. Unlike English, it is pronounced exactly as written. There are only 28 letters in that alphabet and it is strictly phonetic.” I had a client, from Egypt, who knew no English. At that time (1990), I knew no Arabic. We both knew one extremely helpful French phrase, “qu’est-ce que c'est?” (What is that”.) Through that he introduced me to Arabic and I introduced him to English equivalents. The handy-dandy language tapes helped with a good share of the rest, as well as my various Arabic clients who were thrilled to help me discover their language which to my delight was arranged in logical clusters. I practiced it every chance I got, which was often given Detroit’s large Arabic population.

Now, about the time that I was practicing this and trying it out on my English speaking friends, including Liz and Bob Collins, Liz approached me with news that Orchard Lake Seminary was bringing Vassula Ryden to town. Liz and friend Tom McGlynn were concerned that there might be New Age aspects to her work. I was busy practicing law and didn’t want to take the time to look. Liz and Tom prepared a flyer based on their own studies and placed flyers on cars at Orchard Lake Seminary the night Vassula was speaking, also, as I recall sometime in the earlier 1990’s. Liz called me with the disturbing news that she had almost been arrested, but the organizers of Vassula’s talk had invited Liz to their Lathrup Village home to personally meet Vassula.

Liz Collins and Tom McGlynn naturally wanted me to be part of that expedition. I wasn’t so sure. For one thing, it was to happen on a Saturday – my day off – the day I tried to forget I had ever been an attorney and just take care of things at home – the day that has saved my sanity for the past 17 years. I finally, however, reluctantly agreed to go.

The day was a very cold and wet rainy April one. I met Liz and Tom at a now closed restaurant called Vassili’s. We had pre-meeting talks and took one car from there to the Vassula Ryden gathering. I was not happy about my day off being disturbed for anything short of the Second Coming itself. I griped openly, “Vassula Ryden says she can speak Arabic. I’ve got a good notion to speak to her in Arabic. If she doesn’t understand me, you don’t have to worry about the authenticity of her spirituality – she’s a garden variety fraud!”

We walked into the lovely and spacious Lathrup Village home. The “Saint” was wearing slacks and had straight long light brown hair. She professionally shook hands with all who entered in a reception line type setting. Liz shook her hand and waited for me. Tom McGlynn then shook her hand and waited for me. It was my turn. I used the Arabic phrase for “I’m very pleased to meet you.” Immediately, Vassula Ryden said, “what language is that?” I did an aside to Tom and Liz and said, “she doesn’t know what language I’m speaking.” I used increasingly common phrases in any Arabic dialect (trust me, we have them all in this metropolitan Detroit region). Finally, I said one of the most common of all which transliterates something like “Sabbah al’hier” (good morning). Vassula said to me, “you’re driving me crazy – what language is that?”

I said, “You don’t know.” “No,” she replied. “Arabic,” I said.

A clearly taken by surprise Vassula Ryden said, “my friend over there speaks Arabic. She can tell me if you’re speaking Arabic or not.” I said to her, "well, I thought from all your advance publicity that you'd be able to tell me that for yourself." She repeated, "my friend speaks Arabic, she can tell me if you're speaking Arabic or not. I dutifully went to her friend who was standing very near by and undoubtedly heard our conversation. As I recall her name may have been called “Mrs. Mansour.” I greeted her and then introduced myself in Arabic, told her where I was from, what my occupation was and where I was currently living.” She turned to Vassula and said, “yes, she is speaking Arabic.”

I went into the living room where her faithful were gathered along with us three skeptics. A sweet old priest who was familiar with my work against the New Age Movement greeted me and said he had gotten his sister out of the New Age Movement, thanks in part to my books and thanks in part to the writings of Vassula Ryden.” I said to him in the least abruptful way I could, “the New Age Movement can take many forms.” I then asked Vassula Ryden, “what United Nations agency employs your husband?” She said, “Are you interrogating me?” I said, “I guess you could say that.” She said, “Well, I’m not going to tell you.” I said, “yes, and you speak fluent Arabic too.” She said, “I couldn’t understand your dialect.” I told her I was speaking the dialect she claimed to know, pure Egyptian Arabic.

I denounced her as a fraud and left. The story of the confrontation quickly made the local circuits. My friends claim I was mumbling as I left (not sure I remember), “I wonder why God let me learn Arabic so easily – I had so much trouble with college French.”

A few years later I had the privilege (1994) of meeting author E. Michael Jones. He had interestingly noted the problems with Vassula Ryden in his book on Medjujorge claimed apparitions. He noted the obvious theological errors and said that Mrs. Mansour, who may well have been the same lady I earlier met in Lathrup Village, said that the errors may have existed because Arabic was Vassula Ryden’s primary language and “that perhaps in the transliteration . . .” I told E. Michael Jones what I had learned – from my observation, Vassula Ryden did not know as much as a word of Arabic.

Liz’ husband, Bob Collins, said, “you should have challenged her to a game of tennis, too” (Referring to her claims that she was a former tennis champion for the Nation of Bangladesh.)

I guess being a saint and selling lots of books to the faithful is good retirement work for aging Sheraton Hotel models. Frankly, I would invest my heavenly aspiration resources elsewhere than in Vassula Ryden books. I looked at her website this morning and saw that she claims the present pope is rethinking the position he took on her when he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was right the first time and I hope he stands firm! Oh, and if you are curious about this lady, be sure to google her and her website can be located by pressing on the headline above.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Newt Gingrich Instant Replay

I published this in early January of this year. Inexplicably, I learned that this article was no longer appearing on Google searches, even though the other content of my blogs was appearing on them. Since Gingrich is aggressively running, and large numbers of Christians seem to blindly accept that he is a “Christian conservative,”I thought an instant replay of sorts was in order!


Researching the hidden dangers of the New Age Movement as I have for the past 25 years, I have seen in “true New Age fashion” plenty of recycling. Few are stranger than the former Congressman from Georgia, Newt Gingrich, who I first discovered as the stalwart New Age Movement insider that he was. He went on to become the House majority leader and an alleged spokesperson for the Conservative movement. A few alarms were sounded, but his “conservative image” prevailed in public and media consciousness. He is now attempting a re-emergence, perhaps even a run for President. God help us! Marilyn Ferguson wrote the landmark manifesto book for the New Age Movement, THE AQUARIAN CONSPIRACY. She described her “conspiracy” as a benign one, with people “seeking power only to disperse it to others.” She also edited two profitable insider newsletters for her “co-conspirators”. One was called LEADING EDGE BULLETIN. The other was called BRAIN-MIND BULLETIN. It was the former where I first learned of Newt Gingrich.

Marilyn Ferguson wrote glowingly in the early 1980s of the brave Georgia congressman who was doing so very much to advance the agenda of the Movement. Naturally, I immediately opened a file on him and followed his career with fascination since. He drew since forgotten notoriety in conservative and even feminist circles by serving his first wife with divorce papers as she lie recovering from surgery in the cancer ward. He then married his Congressional aide, a wife who has also been discarded for another younger still model. His New Age proclivities were not hidden. He publicly proclaimed his close affinities for his mentor, Alvin Toffler. He also was obviously close to John Naisbitt, the author of MEGATRENDS and MEGATRENDS 2000. Naisbitt also wrote the foreword to a later edition of Ferguson’s THE AQUARIAN CONSPIRACY.

In the early 1990s, an Atlanta magazine got wind of my concerns. A reporter contacted me and went through details on the New Age Movement and my concerns about Gingrich’s open and obvious links. I was dismayed to receive a faxed copy of the obviously scoffing news clip called “The Devil and Newt Gingrich.” That was the bad news. The good news was that somebody who had once relatively close insider ties to Newt Gingrich, a man calling himself to me only “Chip,” faxed me many pages of handwritten letters Gingrich had sent him. The letters talked proudly of how Newt’s daily practice of Taoism helped him make his daily decisions in Congress.

Gingrich resigned in disgrace from Congress over an illegal book deal. He is now reinventing himself as a spokesperson for morality. People are speaking admiringly of his recent public affiliations with liberal Democrats such as Hillary Clinton on national health issues. It all seems incongruous unless one understands the dynamics of the New Age Movement which itself has of late reinvented itself as “the Radical Middle.” Among Gingrich’s incongruities, he is a self-described “internationalist,” consistent with his New Age values. He has been involved on an international “networking society” level with another name to which I have given much ink, “Javier Solana.” [1] When there were Republican moves to halt United States involvement with Solana’s Bosnian invasion adventures, Newt Gingrich’s name was reportedly conspicuously missing from Congressional petitions to withhold funding. Gingrich's name has also been associated with the supposedly evangelical Council for National Policy (CNP). Never known for the utmost in discernment, CNP has included in their exclusive sets well known Unification Church Reverend Moon operatives as well. For the record, Rev. Moon is best known for his claims to be the "Lord of the Second Advent."

Don’t expect me to be campaigning this or any other year for Newt Gingrich for President or any other office, except perhaps dog catcher (and I’m not sure I would want to do that to even a dog!). And you be careful too! At best he is a New Ager. At worst he is a shameless opportunist -- neither are viable options as far as Yours Truly is concerned. [1]

Wednesday, May 10, 2006



I’ve had a few busy weeks keeping up with my law practice. I took a peek on line tonight. I was starting to think maybe things were quieting down with “our very good friend, Javier Solana.” After all, the two ladies running Austria, Ursula Plassnik and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, its foreign minister who also serves as interim External Affairs Commissioner for the European Union put a damper of sorts on Dr. Solana in April. Austria announced it was putting plans for the EU Constitution on hold until 2007. It said it wanted to see Dr. Solana and Benita Ferrero-Waldner start getting along better before pushing increased powers for the EU and thereby Dr. Solana who stands to gain the most when and if the EU constitution with its Foreign Minister on Steroids adopted. Under the new regime, the EU presidency would be a weakened one, unable to succeed itself. The “Foreign Minister” by contrast could. He would have a super-sized budget, a right of “initiative,” and powers that Charlemagne, Napoleon, and Hitler could only have only realized in their dreams.

In the meantime, Javier Solana has his “odd-jobs” WEU and its every growing military machine to content himself with. And tonight, it looks like he got another boost – this time from Washington. Logging on to check my sadly behind Yahoo! Email, I was greeted with news that he spent time in New York and Washington today with Condoleeza Rice, who has announced that she is “backing European diplomacy” to solve the Iranian crisis. He was here primarily to meet with "The Quartet for Peace in the Middle East" of which he and Kofi Annan are the two constants since its formation.

I am starting to believe that Solana’s deliberately low kept American profile is about to come to a close. I suspect that from now on, we will be hearing much more about him. Googling him yielded 4,700,000 plus hits today. Clearly, he’s not going away.

But then again, maybe this was merely a ploy to advance his real job aspiration – Mayor of Madrid. As Herb Peters routinely advises, I’m staying tuned!