February 27, 2004
Aftershock? More like "Backfire."

From the Teen Mania message board:

The name of this forum shouldn't be "Aftershock." It should probably instead be "Backfire." Which is what Teen Mania and all of you who've gone foaming at the mouth for the past few months about how wonderful this film was going to be are going to have to face.

What does it mean when Teen Mania has produced materials designed to use what is essentially a pornographic snuff film as a recruitment tool? Yes. A pornographic snuff film. It was clear to me from seeing the 4 minute preview months ago that this is what it would be, and that critics would eventually be saying exactly that; and yesterday that's what they started saying.

Just go and read, for just one example, Andrew Sullivan's review. Or Leon Wieseltier's review in The New Republic, appropriately titled, "The Worship of Blood." Or just the comments of a random blogger.

I've known for a long time that at its core, evangelical Christianity provides a convenient outlet for the deep pathologies of certain people, and Teen Mania has provided obvious clues of this to me in its language and imagery for years. Now, the whole planet gets to understand in a very graphic way that, basically, that there are many Christians who think its just normal and OK to use a pornographic snuff film as a recruitment tool, including for children and teenagers! Far from being an effective tool for recruitment, it's an effective repellant. Isn't that just wonderful?

Posted by Mike Doughney at 03:56 AM
... A sacred snuff film ...

From Leon Wieseltier's review of Gibson's film, titled "The Worship of Blood:"

The only cinematic achievement of The Passion of the Christ is that it breaks new ground in the verisimilitude of filmed violence. The notion that there is something spiritually exalting about the viewing of it is quite horrifying. The viewing of The Passion of the Christ is a profoundly brutalizing experience. Children must be protected from it. (If I were a Christian, I would not raise a Christian child on this.) Torture has been depicted in film many times before, but almost always in a spirit of protest. This film makes no quarrel with the pain that it excitedly inflicts. It is a repulsive masochistic fantasy, a sacred snuff film, and it leaves you with the feeling that the man who made it hates life.

Posted by Mike Doughney at 03:12 AM
February 21, 2004
More than a decade later...

From Usenet newsgroup alt.meditation.transcendental. It's a pretty good summary of my present thinking regarding the Transcendental Meditation program. I've also put up a new gallery of pictures related to my involvement with this stuff.

From: mike@... (Mike Doughney)
Newsgroups: alt.meditation.transcendental
Subject: Re: Thank you for your serious participation!
Date: 19 Feb 2004 05:57:26 GMT
Lines: 142
Message-ID: <c11j8602klm@enews2.newsguy.com>

In article <qhe630htpsb4cnrg4l3a0thp2gusesr19a@4ax.com>,
Oliver Lyons wrote:
>On 17 Feb 2004 23:11:25 GMT, mike@... (Mike Doughney) wrote:

>>that's the kind of "tradition" the TM movement provides, since I
>>really haven't said a whole lot about the "tradition" at all, and
>>you're babbling something about an "attack" and flailing in every
>>direction about something I'm doing. Just a few irreverant comments;
>>what was it they kept insisting, over and over, about TM not being a
>>religion? Sure looks like one when you start babbling like that.
>Babble ? Can you read ?

Yes. You are babbling something about my lack of reverance for aspects
of an alleged "tradition" called "the TM program," which is just
something I don't do, the reverence part that is. And something about
a "childish way to attack" something, when it's far from clear that
I'm attacking much of anything. All of these kinds of objections I am
very used to hearing when dealing with religious persons.

>>>Let other people be without your interfering.
>>(How many times have I heard THIS?) Last I checked, this is a public
>>newsgroup and I'm "interfering" with nothing. As a matter of fact, for
>>a change I'm actually posting messages that are squarely on-topic,
>>unlike most of the traffic here. The only thing I'm interfering with
>>are the assumptions in your head.
>Mike, with the greatest respect, you can't know what's in my head.
>You're assuming things. I'm new here. How can you know ?

Well, what you've been saying - objections you're bringing up to my
presence here, the same kind of objections I've heard over and over
for years - are dependent on a bunch of assumptions on your part. One,
that TM and irreverance are incompatible, and that there is something
inherently wrong with what I'm posting on this newsgroup, or with my
mere presence here as a critic. These are clearly assumptions on your
part; otherwise, why would you be replying to me. I generally
associate assumptions with one part of the body, usually but not
always the head.

>I'll tell you. I'm a meditator for nearly 29 years. I'm a sidha for
>nearly twenty years.

<predictable personal testimony omitted, having heard it all before in
numerous contexts>

>There's nothing wrong with what I do, and I'm not stupid.

Never said there was, or that you were. You get to figure that out for

>Maybe you
>think I'm under the spell of some religion, fine, you can think that.

The argument that "TM is a religion," often brought forward by other
religions that see TM as competition or fertile ground for recruits,
is not one that I participate in. What I do see, over and over again,
is that many long-term participants in the TM program adopt the same
bad habits that religious people often have when dealing with
skeptics, apostates, critics, and generally, people like me. Namely,
insisting upon secrecy and an unhealthy degree of information control
over aspects of the program, *and* applying that insistence to those
of us who aren't, or ever were, "on the program." Your complaints
about my "irreverance toward [the] tradition" I interpret as attempts
to shame others into complying with that underlying insistence on
information control. Whether you see them as such or not doesn't
matter to me,since that is the function that they serve in practice,
and some people quite naturally often aren't all that aware of the bad
habits they might have picked up from hanging around such
movements. I've seen this dozens of times by now, and perhaps I have
little patience left for it.

>But I'm not. Maybe you think it's all a kind of self hypnosis. Again,
>you can think that if you want. But it's nonsense.

I wouldn't necessarily call it self hypnosis. It is more likely
different things for different people, and different depending on how
long they've been doing it. For a lot of people - and from my own
experience - it eventually becomes an excuse for taking a nap and
thinking you're actually doing something important, for yourself
and/or as a badge of being involved in some world-changing global
movement. Woo-hoo. My guess (this is a GUESS, people) is that MMY
himself and his immediate circle haven't done any part of the program
in years; they don't need to, since they're not the people they're
selling the program to.

>I do what I do and
>it's most decidedly not what you assume it to be. The reason you have
>those assumptions is because you don't experience the world like I do.

Yup, that's definately the case, though I would not say my position is
based only on assumptions. I've had considerable direct personal
experience with the TM movement and others who were more involved than
I, along with exposure to a lot of inconvenient facts that many in the
TM community tend to explain away or avoid. A walk across the MUM
campus and an afternoon in Fairfield also help.

>And maybe you don't want to -- that's fine by me. What I don't
>understand is your negative attachment to TM. What I don't understand
>is your motivation. Do you want to stop people being fooled ?? Do you
>want to show how smart you are ? What ? I don't understand. If you
>don't want to say, OK -- but think about it.

Oooh, there's another one of those bad religious habits -- "but think
about it." As if I haven't spent more than a decade considering the
subject, and lately having spent some time away from it.

In past years I would have been quick to say that it would be
important to me that the general public be informed about TM in a way
which I wasn't and couldn't have been at the time I took up the
program. Having spent some time as a volunteer at the local level, and
with two Maharishi Awards in my collection, I've worked to introduce
people to the program. Having come to a somewhat different
understanding of the TMO, as it's since been called here, I've felt
somewhat of a need to demystify the movement's products to prospective
meditators who I've assumed have always lurked on this newsgroup, and
some concern that under certain circumstances the movement might gain
some kind of a resurgence.

Today, I would assess my interest quite a bit differently. The TM
movement is effectively dead, and it's not coming back. While in
recent years a few new meditators or prospective meditators have
passed through this newsgroup, as far as I can tell there are no more
than a handful of new people entering the movement in the Western
world every year. The only real threats that could be posed by the
movement, if they can even be called threats, were the ongoing efforts
to mix politics, government and the TM program, which are also pretty
much dead. We live in a more cynical time, where the kind of claims
that were historically made by the TM movement for its products are
not taken all that seriously, or are made by thousands of cheaper,
accessible, easier to deal with competitors - and I don't think that's
going to change much in my lifetime. Future developments in India
might be interesting though as the movement attempts to gain status
and legitimacy there in a modernizing culture.

So why am I here? Probably not for reasons much different than anyone
else's here. To get a sense of where things movement wise are going
(slowly downhill.) To see if anything changes. To see if my point of
view is even explainable to other people. To give some people who
might be looking for it a sense of history. No big reason, just a
bunch of little reasons, and to satisfy my own curiosity.

Posted by Mike Doughney at 04:33 AM
"Passion" Review - The Short Form

Good to know I'm not the only person who connects the words "snuff film" to Gibson's opus:

"One might wonder why a director would choose to make a film about Someone whose life has provided inspiration to millions in a manner that borrows less from Jesus' words than it does from a bootleg copy of an Argentinean snuff film." - "Betty Bowers" reviews Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ

Posted by Mike Doughney at 04:19 AM