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text 2017-05-22 15:21
The Road to Jonestown: 34%
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

Jones still believed in the virtues of Socialism and was dedicated to lifting up the oppressed, but he would no longer have the capacity to learn from mistakes, because he didn't believe that, as a superior incarnation, he could make any. In the future, anything that didn't work exactly according to Jones' desires would be the fault of flawed followers or implacable enemies, and with each passing day, Jones became more convinced that he had enemies everywhere.

 

And here's where he tips over the edge, from simply building an empire in service of his ideological goals, to becoming God himself. And while many of his closest followers don't believe in his divinity, they are still willing to look the other way, because they have completely bought into situational ethics, where the ends justify the means. Who cares if their leader is an amoral lunatic who is presenting himself as infallible God and sees enemies everywhere, if he can help achieve your ideological goals? 

 

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text 2017-05-21 21:46
The Road to Jonestown 21%
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

At this point, Jones couldn't name specific opponents, because as yet, he had none besides America's capitalist economy and general social system. No organizations in Indianapolis, or anywhere else, had attacked Jones and People's Temple. They weren't yet prominent enough. But, while he waited for Father Divine to die, Jim Jones changed that, taking steps to raise his public profile in ways that were bound to attract strenuous opposition. He'd learned well from Father Divine that having enemies, real or imagined, was invaluable in recruiting and retaining followers. 

 

Just imagine what Jim Jones could have become in the era of Twitter and other social media platforms. 

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review 2017-05-21 15:06
The Dead Zone ★★★★☆
The Dead Zone - Stephen King

Random thoughts about this book:

  • It’s very dated, but in a way that’s amusing and a little thought-provoking. The inner thoughts of a man on hold, at a time when the telephone “hold” function was new and before the now-ubiquitous hold music or recorded messages, when being put on hold was like a little death: “The line was darkly, smoothly, blank. You were nowhere. Why didn’t they just say, ‘Will you hold on while I bury you alive for a little while?’”
  • As per King’s usual, the romantic relationship with the main character is awkward and unconvincing, as was their weird little sexual interlude.
  • But his portrayal of religious fanaticism *is* convincing, especially in this book, where he treats it with some sympathy rather than just as a motivation for evil deeds and rude behavior. He is savage with those who exploit the believers’ needs for relief of pain and grief, all for a price, of course.
  • Oh, and Greg Stillson. Chilling description of a power-hungry sociopath who wears the mask of respectability and presents himself as a hard-hatted, patriotically flag-draped champion of the working class, promising jobs and security, while employing thugs as “security” and “campaign managers” to pave the way forward through nefarious means. King seems to have been prescient. For who would have seriously thought that a populist buffoon like that could actually rise to national power in a democratic America?

 

Overall, it’s not the great book that I remember reading as a young teen, but it’s entertaining and it still has some very relevant things to say about the danger of allowing our pain and fear and need cloud our judgement so much that we make ourselves vulnerable to those who would use us to enrich or empower themselves.

 

Audiobook, via Audible. James Franco’s performance grew on me a little, but not all talented actors make great audiobook narrators. Few characters had a distinct voice, and his New England Yankee characters had oddly Southern accents.  

 

Previous Updates:

5/7/17 5%  http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1560788/the-dead-zone-progress-5

 

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text 2017-05-21 14:26
The Road to Jonestown: 20%
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

But now there were occasional healings during community services. These were less flamboyant than those that Jones performed at revivals. No one lame was commanded to walk, but there was a new type of drama. Jones began miraculously removing cancers. A strict protocol was observed. Jones would name the afflicted person, then designate someone else to escort him or her to the bathroom. Both were in on the act. When they were in the restroom, Jones promised, he'd invoke his power from the pulpit. The afflicted one would "pass" the cancerous mass, which was retrieved by the other person. After a few minutes, they would return to the main room, with the assistant Jones had designated brandishing a bloody, foul smelling lump clutched in a white cloth or napkin. Jones would declare that here was the cancer, look at it, but not too closely, because it was terribly infectious.

 

I just cannot conceive how any adult could be so gullible as to fall for this. Guinn explicitly states that a number of Jones' followers were perfectly aware that these were faked, but were willing to look the other way, because they felt their ideologies of racial equality or socialism could be realized with Jones as leader, so a little scamming and lying were acceptable in the service of the end goal. Obviously, he had to have followers who were complicit, as they assisted in the show. But many others actually believed that Jones was actually using the power of God to heal the sick. 

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text 2017-05-20 23:36
The Road to Jonestown: 16%.
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

Marceline Jones was the first, but far from the last, person to decide that Jim Jones' programs and goals more than compensated for his personal flaws. 

 

It's a dangerous road to compromise your ethics when you decide that the ends will justify the means. It starts with looking the other way on shady behavior, but it may end with literally drinking the Kool Aid. 

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