was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the
Greetings. Isn't it amazing to realize that everyone ever born has at some time or other been exposed to the true light, Jesus. “I (Jesus) am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
What is the key to staying in the Light and thus being enlightened, Jesus said it in the preceding verse, you have to follow that Light.
If you stand still and don't follow that light, or don't like where the light is leading you and turn from the light, the consequences are obvious, you end up living in darkness.
A couple of verses that also express this idea can be found in 2 Thessalonians, chapter two:
“With all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”
As the first article below illustrates it would seem that more and more unlikely people are coming to realize that there may be a light out there.
All they have to do is turn towards that light and begin to follow and they will be led out of darkness.
Have an enlightened week ahead.
Why so many people - including scientists - suddenly believe in an afterlife
Heaven is hot again, and hell is colder than ever
by Brian Bethune
May 7, 2013 8:39am -
Death, it seems, is no longer Shakespeare's undiscovered country, the one "from whose bourn no traveller returns." Not according to contemporary bestseller lists. Dreams and visions of the afterlife have been constants across human history, and the near-death experiences (now known as NDEs) of those whose lives were saved by medical advances have established, for millions, a credible means by which someone could peek into the next world. Lately a fair-sized pack of witnesses claim to have actually entered into the afterlife before coming back again to write mega-selling accounts of what they saw and felt there. Afterlife speculation has become a vibrant part of the zeitgeist, the result of trends that include developments in neuroscience that have inspired new ideas about human consciousness, the ongoing evolution of theology, both popular and expert, and the hopes and fears of an aging population. Heaven is hot again. And hell is colder than ever.
Recent polls across the developed world are starting to tell an intriguing tale. In the U.S., religion central for the West, belief in heaven has held steady, even ticking upwards on occasion, over the past two decades. Belief in hell is also high, but even Americans show a gap between the two articles of faith--81 per cent believed in the former in 2011, as opposed to 71 per cent accepting the latter. Elsewhere in the Western world the gap between heaven and hell believers is more of a gulf--a 2010 Canadian poll found more than half of us think there is a heaven, while fewer than a third acknowledge hell. What's more, monotheism's two destinations are no longer all that are on offer. In December a survey of the 1970 British Cohort group--9,000 people, currently 42 years old--found half believed in an afterlife, while only 31 per cent believed in God. No one has yet delved deeply into beliefs about the new afterlife--the cohort surveyors didn't ask for details--but reincarnation, in an newly multicultural West, is one suggested factor. So too is belief in what one academic called "an unreligious afterlife," the natural continuation of human consciousness after physical death.
While most of the current bestselling accounts of afterlife experiences are recognizably Christian--at least in outline--signs of changing beliefs can be found in them too. Nor are the new travellers--who include a four-year-old boy and a middle-aged neurosurgeon--what religious skeptics would think of as the usual suspects. Colton Burpo, now 13, "died" 10 years ago from a ruptured appendix, and spent three minutes of earthly time in heaven--some of it in Jesus's lap, some of it speaking with a miscarried sister whose existence he had never been told about--before being pulled back to Earth by his surgical team. Since 2010, when his father, Todd, a Nebraska minister, published his account of what Colton told him, Heaven is for Real has sold more than 7.5 million copies. If Colton's story sounds like a contemporary take on an ancient Christian motif--"unless you become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3)--the same can't be said about Eben Alexander's post-religious cosmic experience.
It is Alexander's provocatively named Proof of Heaven, released in November, that wrenched afterlife visitation literature out of its below-the-radar religious publishing niche and into the spotlight. Alexander's professional stature--as a Harvard-trained neurosurgeon, a man expected to know what is possible and what is not for human consciousness--ensured him of extensive media coverage, including on Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday, massive sales (it remains No. 1 on the New York Times paperback non-fiction bestseller list), and often venomous responses from fellow scientists.
Alexander woke one day in 2008 with an intense headache. "Within hours, my entire cortex--the part of the brain that controls thought and emotion and that in essence makes us human--had shut down," he writes. Doctors finally determined that "E. coli bacteria had penetrated my cerebrospinal fluid and were eating my brain." For seven days he was in a deep coma, during which time, often guided by a beautiful girl riding a giant butterfly, he flew around the "invisible, spiritual side of existence." And there he encountered God, whom Alexander frequently refers to as Om, the sound he recalls as "being associated with that omniscient, omnipotent and unconditionally loving God."
He eventually recovered, a medical miracle in itself, Alexander writes. But he was an entirely different man, no longer a neuroscientist like other neuroscientists. "I know that many of my peers hold--as I myself did--to the theory that the brain, and in particular the cortex, generates consciousness and that we live in a universe devoid of any kind of emotion, much less the unconditional love that I now know God and the universe have toward us. But that belief, that theory, now lies broken at our feet. What happened to me destroyed it."
Not according to most of his fellow neuroscientists, whose reactions made the predictable Christian wariness--no angels, no Jesus, and a God named Om left Toronto pastor Tim Challies to sum up Proof of Heaven as "more New Age-y than the rest, close to non-Western religion"--seem welcoming. Oliver Sacks called Alexander's claims "not just unscientiï¬c but anti-scientific." Others opposed dogma with dogma: Alexander was correct that by current neurological understanding what happened to him was impossible if his cortex was shut down--therefore, they said, it wasn't shut down, no matter what his medical records say. Many skeptics referenced British psychologist Susan Blackmore's 1993 book, Dying to Live, which dismisses NDEs as a result of chemical changes associated with dying brains, as the last word.
For their part, non-materialist neuroscientists, like University of Montreal professor Mario Beauregard, have long critiqued Blackmore and point out that brain research was in its infancy 20 years ago. Blackmore argued that a lack of oxygen (or anoxia) during the dying process might induce abnormal firing of neurons in the part of the brain that controls vision, leading to the illusion of seeing a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel.
Beauregard cites objections by Dutch cardiologist Pim Van Lommel that if anoxia (lack of oxygen) was central to NDEs, far more cardiac arrest patients would report such an experience. What's more, as pointed out by Dr. Sam Parnia, whose resuscitation techniques have doubled his New York hospital's cardiac-arrest-recovery rate, some NDE patients were not terminal during their experiences, meaning their oxygen levels were normal. In fact, Parnia notes, dropping oxygen levels are associated with "acute confusional state," something at odds with the lucid consciousness reported by NDE people.
Two decades of research and medical advances have moved near-death experiences from rare events to common occurrences. In his book Erasing Death, Parnia cites a 30-year-old Japanese woman as the current record holder (in terms of time) for someone who was found dead and restored to life. She "may have been dead up to 10 hours," Parnia says, but after six hours' work, doctors got her heart started and brought her back to health: "she had a baby in the last year." Now that patients who have been clinically dead for hours can be brought back to life, says Parnia, the question of the continuation of human consciousness is a live scientific issue.
And it's not only the remarkable extension of the time patients can now spend suspended between life and death, but the sheer number of individuals involved, that has made NDEs so contentious among researchers. Those whose NDEs also involved an out-of-body experience raise the stakes further.
Materialist skeptics are not troubled by accounts of tunnels of light or angelic beings. Perhaps the dying brain hypothesis doesn't fully explain them, but there are other possibilities. Too much carbon dioxide in the blood perhaps or, as a recent study from the University of Kentucky posits, NDEs are really an instance of a sleep disorder, rapid eye movement (REM) intrusion. In that disorder, a person's mind can wake up before his body, and both hallucinations and the sensation of being physically detached from the body can occur. Cardiac arrest could trigger a REM intrusion in the brain stem--the region that controls the most basic functions of the body and which can operate independently from the (now dead) higher brain. The resulting NDE would actually be a dream.
But that hypothesis still cannot account for people who report seeing, during their out-of-body experiences, what they could not have. Most commonly that's an overhead view of their frantic medical teams. Parnia reports a 2001 case, in which a Dutch patient's dentures were removed during cardiac arrest. When his nurses couldn't find the dentures later, the patient was able to remind them where they were. Perhaps the most famous corroborated case, cited by Beauregard, is that of a migrant worker named Maria, whose story was documented by her critical care social worker, Kimberly Clark. The day after she had been resuscitated after cardiac arrest, Maria told Clark how she had been able to look down from the ceiling and left the OR. She found herself outside the hospital and spotted a tennis shoe on the ledge of the north side of the building's third floor. She described it in detail. Maria, not surprisingly, wanted to know whether she had "really" seen the shoe, and asked Clark to go look.
Quite skeptical, Clark went where Maria sent her, and found the tennis shoe, just as she'd described it. "The only way she could have had such a perspective," said Clark, "was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe." It shouldn't have been possible, as both Beauregard and Parnia point out. "The question becomes," Parnia says, "how can people have conscious awareness when they've gone beyond the threshold of death?"
The answer to that question is not necessarily Christian, or even metaphysical at all, not for Parnia, who describes himself as "not a religious person" and not for many of his fellow NDE researchers. In a similar vein, many traditional Christians are more than a little wary of the reported experiences of the heaven travellers. For them the idea--so intolerable to materialist skeptics--that consciousness, or the soul, can and does exist outside the body is an article of faith. But some of the new afterlife, however seemingly Christian in outline, is often troubling, especially in its utter lack of judgment. All are welcome, all are heaven-bound in those accounts: there is no sign of God's wrath for sinners. The division over the possibility of continuing human consciousness is not entirely between the religious and the secular. And the extraordinary popularity of heaven tourism--books have continued to pour down the publishing pike this year, including I Believe in Heaven by Cecil Murphy, one of the pioneers in the genre--is not entirely driven by evangelical enthusiasm.
In that regard, the storm stirred up by Proof of Heaven only obscures the wider significance of the afterlife books. The controversy over the scientific basis of Alexander's experiences, like the skeptical poking for holes in the Burpo story--can Colton's parents really be sure he never heard a word about his mother's miscarriage?--can miss the cultural forest for the factual trees.
Consider the many other near-death survivors-cum-authors and their places along the continuum, from pastor's son to neurosurgeon. There's Mary Neal, an orthopaedic surgeon whose account of the aftermath of her drowning in Chile in 1999, To Heaven and Back, has spent two years on bestseller lists; teacher Crystal McVea, whose Waking Up in Heaven tells the story of the nine minutes that followed after she stopped breathing in 2009; The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven is about six-year-old Alex Malarkey, who met Jesus after an car accident in 2004; and Texas pastor Don Piper, whose 2004 account (co-written with Cecil Murphy) of his car crash, 90 Minutes in Heaven, is often credited with kick-starting the phenomenon.
There are elements, from key plot points to tiny details, that link their stories, starting with two obvious points. The idea that major scientists no longer dismiss the idea of continuing consciousness colours all accounts, as does the fact that, whether truth or fantasy, the experiences are necessarily culturally specific.
All overwhelming and bewildering mental states have to be sorted, defined and made comprehensible in the light of the familiar--what else do our brains have to work with? One way or another, a pastor's child and a fallen-away Christian like Alexander will filter an NDE through the earliest Sunday school tracks laid down in their memories. Elisabeth KÃ¼bler-Ross, first famous for her five stages of grief, later became a doyenne of NDEs--her lectures on her NDE patients (who turned her into a believer), first published in 1991, were reissued in 2008 to catch the current publishing wave. Even in her rather homogenous western European clientele, KÃ¼bler-Ross could see the effects of early enculturation: "I never encountered a Protestant child who saw the Virgin Mary in his last minutes, yet she was perceived by many Catholic children."
Many of the writers share a common gaping wound, centred on lost children, a wound usually healed by simultaneously finding the child and realizing there is no blame or judgment to suffer, no forgiveness to offer or seek. Most of Colton Burpo's account is a child's-eye account of orthodox teaching, but its most affecting passage is when he lifts years of guilt and anxiety off his mother, Sonja, by telling her that her miscarried child had been a girl, and that she was now flourishing in heaven as God's adopted daughter. One of KÃ¼bler-Ross's patients, a 12-year-old girl, told her father how she was comforted during her NDE by her brother. Except that she didn't have a brother. Her tearful father then told her about the son who had died three months before her birth.
Eben Alexander, who--unlike most NDE cases--lost all sense of personal identity during his experience, was troubled because that loss meant no relative offered him assurances of love and acceptance. Afterwards though, Alexander--an adopted child who had felt abandoned his whole life--saw a picture of his deceased natural sister, whom he had never met in life. She was the girl on the butterfly. (There is more than a trace of KÃ¼bler-Ross's influence in Proof of Heaven. The butterfly girl stands out as one of the more psychedelic elements in an account mostly abstract and metaphysical: KÃ¼bler-Ross, however, constantly describes the human body as a cocoon, from which a metaphorical butterfly of spirit will eventually emerge.)
And the stories offer similar proofs: Colton, like KÃ¼bler-Ross's patient, inexplicably knew of a lost sibling, whose existences their parents believed they had kept hidden, while Eben Alexander could describe precisely what his medical team and his family were doing during his seven-day coma. They are all, even the children, witnesses who experienced what they did--and came back, reluctantly--for a reason. Mary Neal was sent back with what she called "a laundry list of tasks to do," which she still doesn't talk about, at least not until they are accomplished: one was to help the rest of her family cope with the foretold death of her young son, which occurred 10 years later in 2009. Colton and Alex provide truth "out of the mouths of babes." Alexander knows he is uniquely positioned among NDE subjects to challenge the materialist orthodoxies of mainstream neuroscience.
Those similarities in form pale beside the deep thematic link between the new bestsellers: the (previously) undiscovered country is a place of unconditional love. Several of the writers pause, sometimes for pages, to stress the adjective as much as the noun. None express the message more clearly than Alexander, who writes that "the only thing that truly matters" was communicated to him in three parts. He boils those down to one word--love--but the key phrase may be the third sentence of his longer version:
You are loved and cherished.
You have nothing to fear.
There is nothing you can do wrong.
That's fodder for cynics and skeptics, of course. That an individual like any of the authors, someone of broadly Christian background coping with emotional pain, should undergo such a heaven-centred experience when in the throes of physical trauma, is broadly predictable and easy to dismiss as wish-fulfillment. The fact it has happened to a group of such similar individuals does not in itself prove the truth (or the falsity) of the experiences; what that does, though, is illuminate a culture that increasingly rejects the very notion of judgment while equating salvation with personal healing.
Most observers trace the current upsurge to Don Piper's 90 Minutes in Heaven. Largely ignored by the non-religious world and looked at askance by many Christian commentators, 90 Minutes sold like hotcakes. And while it set the template for what was to come, what stands out about it today is its modesty. Piper was declared dead at the scene of an auto crash on Jan. 18, 1989. His body was left in place while the authorities waited for the tools needed to extract him from the wreckage. An hour and a half later, though, Piper stirred back to life, albeit to a long and excruciating recovery, involving 34 painful surgeries.
And to bear witness to where he had been in that 90 minutes. In the transcendent light, actually, just outside the "pearlescent" gates of heaven, surrounded by "perfect love" and the gathering presence--simultaneously physical and spiritual--of loved ones who had died during Piper's lifetime. There were friends who had passed away young and were thus still youthful looking; his grandfather, instantly recognizable by his shock of white hair; and his great-grandmother, still aged but now no longer with false teeth, but her own restored, no longer stooped and no longer wrinkled. Signs of age, in other words, and of the gravitas they confer, but no traces of the "ravages of living."
All this--the approach to the pearly gates, the welcome from loved ones, the presence of unconditional love and the absence of judgment--was pregnant with accounts to come. But, as it turned out, 90 Minutes' first-born--the genetic relationship obvious in their titles, not to mention the way Amazon bundled them together for a special low price--was the most striking outlier in recent afterlife literature, Bill Wiese's 23 Minutes in Hell. A California realtor, Wiese was sleeping peacefully on the night of Nov. 22, 1998, when God pitched him into hell at 3 a.m., so that--Wiese later decided--he could warn others of their peril. He landed abruptly in a five-by-three-metre cell, shared with two gigantic, evil, reptilian beasts who proceeded to smash him against the walls before shredding his flesh.
Yet Wiese did not die, could not die, as much as he wanted to. He continued in seemingly endless pain, tormented too by "the terrible, foul stench." (Smell--the most evocative of senses, the one most closely tied to deep memory--is prominent in accounts of heaven as well, where it brings visitors the most comforting reminders of childhood and, when the odours arise from food, assurances of plenty.) At precisely 3:23 a.m., Jesus rescued Wiese and returned him home, where he landed, terrified, on his living room floor.
The book, published in 2006, spawned no serious imitators. In part that was due to its lack of the scientific gloss the heaven narratives bear (and the times demand)--one Christian nurse, posting on Amazon, rejected 23 Minutes because of her familiarity with NDEs. There is no explanatory traffic accident, cardiac arrest or brain-eating bacteria, nothing to indicate a hovering between life and death when the sufferer could peek through the curtain, nothing that didn't point to a (very) bad dream.
But Wiese's book also went nowhere because hell no longer possesses the power it once held in Christianity. That's particularly remarkable within an American religious milieu that was always attentive to warnings of hellfire. In 1741 Jonathan Edwards delivered what is often called the most famous sermon in American history, "Sinners in the hands of an angry God." It is beautifully composed, rigorously logical (in terms of Calvinist theology) and frankly terrifying: "Men are held in the hand of God over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked." Edwards was interrupted often during the sermon by congregants moaning and crying out, "What shall I do to be saved?" It's doubtful he'd receive the same reaction today. Many modern Christians struggle to reconcile a loving God with one who would condemn the majority of humankind to eternal torment.
Within Roman Catholicism, notes Smith College world religion professor Carol Zaleski, the last three pontiffs, including Pope Francis, have all been supportive of the late Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, who taught that Catholics have a duty to hope and pray for an empty hell, for the salvation of all. Even those Protestant traditions that have historically been more attuned to the gulf between the elect and the damned have seen vigorous theological debate about the afterlife, and the defence of ideas that effectively weaken the severity of divine wrath. Conditional immortality, for one, says true eternal life is reserved for the saved; souls in hell will eventually--and, in this context, mercifully--be annihilated.
"Most people are no longer afraid of being seized at an unguarded moment," judged wanting and ï¬‚ung into the ï¬ery pit like Edwards's congregants were, says Zaleski. "We are now more creatures of anxiety than of guilt." The anxiety, as well as the interest, is surely tied to the greying of the Western world too, as our thoughts, conscious or not, increasingly turn to what's next, whether we think that's oblivion or some kind of afterlife. Baby boomers, by sheer force of numbers, have always driven cultural trends, from the lowering of voting and drinking ages in their youth to the politically untouchable status of retirement benefits today. It's hardly surprising to see them favour not just the existence but the congenial nature of an afterlife.
And that is where the heaven tourists finally mesh, not just with each other, but with the larger culture. We seem to be moving inexorably from a society where organized religion dominates issues of morality--and mortality--but not to the secular promised land of reason. Rather, we are orienting ourselves to a more personal spirituality, at once vague and autonomous. Ordinary sinners increasingly don't believe that they deserve judgment, let alone hell. Theists and atheists alike dispute any earthly authority's right to judge, and both feel NDEs give them reason to hope for something beyond the grave. And many believers confidently expect that God isn't judgmental either.
God of Wrath, God of Mercy
from the May 14, 2013 eNews issue
"Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:"
-- Lev 18:24
People often say that the God of the New Testament is a God of mercy and love, but the God of the Old Testament is vengeful and angry. Consider the fate of the Canaanites. The LORD didn't just tell the Israelites to take over the Promised Land. He had them destroy all the people, young and old, male and female. He even had them kill off all the animals (Deut 20:16 - 17; Josh 6:21 - 23). Later in 1 Samuel, the LORD tells Saul to absolutely destroy the Amalekites and all they had:
"Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."
-- 1 Samuel 15:3
Who is this God who would order such a thing?
There are a number of explanations, the first of which are included in the text:
"That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God. "
-- Deut 20:18
There is also the Nephilim issue. Genesis 6:4 includes the haunting phrase, "...and also after that...." Apparently these strange events were not confined just to the period before the Flood. We find that there seems to be some recurrence of those things which resulted in unusual "giants" appearing in subsequent periods later in the Old Testament narrative, specifically the giant-races of Canaan. There were a number of tribes such as the Rephaim, the Emim, the Horim, and Zamsummim, that were giants (Gen 14:5; Deut 2:10 - 12, 22).
Additional explanations are available. However, even if we do not know them all, can we trust that God who gave His Son to die for us, the God of mercy and grace, did know what He was doing, even when He ordered the destruction of entire groups of people?
All Their Abominations
First, we often hear the complaint that if God were good, He would not allow evil. We find that the groups of people God wiped out were engaged unrepentantly in a variety of horrific practices--to the point of being completely out of control.
When God brought the Flood, the earth was filled with violence, and the wickedness of humanity was so great that "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually," (Gen 6:5).
Sodom was so bad before God destroyed it, the men of Sodom (young and old) surrounded Lot's house and insisted he send out his guests so that they could rape them. When Lot made an attempt to appease his neighbors, they tried to break down the door (Gen 19:4 - 5,9).
The nations whom the LORD ordered the Israelites to destroy in the Promised Land engaged in a variety of abominable practices. They practiced child sacrifice, burning their children in the fire to false gods (Lev 18:21; 2Kings 17:31; 2Chron 28:3; 2Chron 33:6 ). They engaged in bestiality (perhaps explaining why the animals could not be spared) (Lev 18:23 - 25), as well as adultery and homosexuality and incest (Lev 18:6 - 20; 24).) They invited demonic activity by practicing sorcery and witchcraft and consulting with evil spirits (Deu 18:9 - 12).
Yes, God had the Israelites destroy these people, but Gen 15:16 implies that He waited until their wickedness was "full"--until there was no alternative.
Sparing The Righteous
It is important to note that in every instance in which God destroys a people, He consistently rescues the few upright people in the midst of them. As Abraham noted in Genesis 18:25, God does not destroy the righteous with the wicked.
In Genesis 18:17 - 33, Abraham pleaded with God for Sodom, and God agreed that if there were 10 righteous people in Sodom, He would spare the city. Apparently, there weren't even 10. Rather than destroy the one righteous man with the rest, however, God sent angels to get Lot and his family out before the brimstone fell. In fact, the angel says he cannot do anything else until Lot has escaped (Gen 19:22).
In Josh 6:22 - 25, Joshua's men made sure to go in and rescue Rahab and her entire family because she had been willing to help the Israelites. In fact, Rahab--once a harlot--becomes the mother of Boaz, ancestor of King David and, ultimately, of Jesus.
In 1 Kings 14, the prophet of God told Jeroboam that he would be replaced as king of Israel because of his great wickedness in leading Israel to worship false gods and molten images. The next king would wipe out all of Jeroboam's offspring. However, there is one son of Jeroboam who had a good heart toward the LORD. This child would not be slaughtered like the others. He would mercifully die of an illness and be buried and mourned (1Ki 14:12 - 13).
Then, there is Ninevah. Jonah wanted God to destroy this city, but God gladly had mercy on them because they repented. In Jonah 4:10 - 11, we find God reasoning with Jonah about his hard heart, saying:
"Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?"
The God of the Old Testament is a God of great patience and longsuffering. He does not enjoy having to deal harshly with wicked humanity, and in Ezekiel we find His true position on the issue:
"Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?"
-- Ezekiel 18:23
As we read the Old Testament, we need to be careful. The heart of God in the Old Testament is the same heart of mercy and goodness as the God in the New Testament. But because He is good, He does not allow evil to continue unchecked forever.
Congressman: IRS asked pro-life group about 'the content of their prayers'
May 17, 2013
During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing today, Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., grilled outgoing IRS commissioner Steven Miller about the IRS targeting a pro-life group in Iowa. - - "Their question, specifically asked from the IRS to the Coalition for Life of Iowa: 'Please detail the content of the members of your organization's prayers,'" Schock declared. - - "Would that be an inappropriate question to a 501 c3 applicant?" asked Schock. "The content of one's prayers?" - - "It pains me to say I can't speak to that one either," Miller replied.
After Schock pressed him further, Miller explained that although he couldn't comment on the specific case, it would "surprise him" if that question was asked.
The report comes from the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm for religious liberty.
From their report:
Coalition for Life of Iowa found itself in the IRS's crosshairs when the group applied for tax exempt status in October 2008. Nearly ten months of interrogation about the group's opposition to Planned Parenthood included a demand by a Ms. Richards from the IRS' Cincinnati office unlawfully insisted that all board members sign a sworn declaration promising not to picket/protest Planned Parenthood. Further questioning by the IRS requested detailed information about the content of the group's prayer meetings, educational seminars, and signs their members hold outside Planned Parenthood.
DOJ ON 'GAYS': 'SILENCE WILL BE INTERPRETED AS DISAPPROVAL'
Exclusive: Matt Barber reveals government brochure on how to treat LGBT employees
Published: May 20, 2013
MATT BARBER About
Matt Barber is an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. He serves as vice president of Liberty Counsel Action. (This information is provided for identification purposes only.)
Under President Obama, "justice" is anything but blind. Neither is it deaf. In fact, based on recent revelations, it appears to be watching your every move and listening to your every word. Still, if you happen to be a federal employee, now it's even listening for your silence.
The only thing this Obama White House seems to generate is scandal. Well, here's yet another to add to the growing list. In addition to the Benghazi cover-up, IRS targeting of political dissenters and the illegal seizure of media phone records, whistleblowers within DOJ have contacted Liberty Counsel to express grave concerns over this administration's latest attack on freedom.
Our sources have provided Liberty Counsel an internal DOJ document titled: "LGBT Inclusion at Work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers." It was emailed to DOJ managers in advance of the left's so-called "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month."
The document is chilling. It's riddled with directives that grossly violate - prima facie - employees' First Amendment liberties.
Following are excerpts from the "DOJ Pride" decree. When it comes to "LGBT pride," employees are ordered:
"DON'T judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval." (Italics mine)
That's a threat.
And not even a subtle one.
Got it? For Christians and other morals-minded federal employees, it's no longer enough to just shut up and "stay in the closet" - to live your life in silent recognition of biblical principles (which, by itself, is unlawful constraint). When it comes to mandatory celebration of homosexual and cross-dressing behaviors, "silence will be interpreted as disapproval."
This lawless administration is now ordering federal employees - against their will - to affirm sexual behaviors that every major world religion, thousands of years of history and uncompromising human biology reject.
Somewhere, right now, George Orwell is smiling.
The directive includes a quote from a "gay" federal employee to rationalize justification: "Ideally, I'd love to hear and see support from supervisors, so it's clear that there aren't just policies on paper. Silence seems like disapproval. There's still an atmosphere of LGBT issues not being appropriate for the workplace (particularly for transgender people), or that people who bring it up are trying to rock the boat."
Of course there's "still an atmosphere of LGBT issues not being appropriate for the workplace." When well over half of federal employees, half the country and most of the world still believe in objective sexual morality (and immorality), "the workplace," especially the federal workplace, should, at the very least, remain neutral on these highly controversial and behavior-centric issues.
Still, to borrow from self-styled "queer activist," anti-Christian bigot and Obama buddy Dan Savage, "it gets better":
"DO assume that LGBT employees and their allies are listening to what you're saying (whether in a meeting or around the proverbial water cooler) and will read what you're writing (whether in a casual email or in a formal document), and make sure the language you use is inclusive and respectful."
Is this the DOJ or the KGB? "[A]ssume that LGBT employees are listening ..."? And what are "LGBT allies"? If you disagree with the homosexual activist political agenda, does that make you the enemy?
Yes, in any workplace, language should remain professional, but who defines what's "inclusive"? Who decides what's "respectful"? If asked about "LGBT issues," for instance, can a Christian employee answer honestly: "I believe the Bible. I believe God designed sex to be shared between husband and wife within the bonds of marriage"? Or is that grounds for termination?
Here are some more DOs:
DO "Attend LGBT events sponsored by DOJ Pride and/or the Department, and invite (but don't require) others to join you."
DO "Display a symbol in your office (DOJ Pride sticker, copy of this brochure, etc.) indicating that it is a 'safe space.'"
Are you kidding? Does this administration really think it's legal to compel managers to "attend LGBT events," or to "display pride stickers" against their will? That's compulsory expression. That's viewpoint discrimination.
But there's more:
"DO use inclusive words like 'partner,' 'significant other' or 'spouse' rather than gender-specific terms like 'husband' and 'wife' (for example, in invitations to office parties or when asking a new employee about his/her home life)."
Sorry. Oh, gender-neutral sibling.
"DO use a transgender person's chosen name and the pronoun that is consistent with the person's self-identified gender."
In other words, lie. Engage in corporate delusion.
"DO deal with offensive jokes and comments forcefully and swiftly when presented with evidence that they have occurred in the workplace."
"DO communicate a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate jokes and comments, including those pertaining to a person's sexual orientation and gender identity or expression."
Who gets to decide what's an "inappropriate joke [or] comment"? I thought we had a Constitution for that. It sure ain't Big Brother Barack. Sure, I get it, it's probably better not to start your work day with: "A lesbian, a tranny and two gays walk into a bath house ..." but still, "no law ... abridging the freedom of speech," means no law. No matter how much Obama wishes it so, we don't leave our constitutional rights at the federal workplace door.
The DOJ edict even addresses cross-dressing man woes:
"As a transgender woman [that's a man in a skirt], I want people to understand that I'm real. I want to be recognized as the gender I really am [again, you're a man in a skirt]. Yes, there was awkwardness with pronouns at first for folks who knew me before the transition. But it hurts when several years later people still use the wrong pronouns. And just imagine if people were constantly debating YOUR bathroom privileges. Imagine how humiliating that would be."
Tell you what, buddy: I won't "debate YOUR bathroom privileges" if you return to this planet. You'd better stay the heck out of the ladies room while my wife or two daughters are in there; otherwise, we have a problem. Women have an absolute right not be sexually harassed in the workplace - a right to privacy when using the facilities. To constantly worry whether a gender-confused, cross-dressing man is going to invade her privacy creates a hostile work environment.
This "DOJ Pride" directive is but the latest example of the "progressive" climate of fear and intimidation this radical Obama regime has created for Christians, conservatives and other values-oriented folks, both within and without the workplace.
I'm just glad the wheels are finally coming off.
(Chuck Missler is a well known Bible prophecy teacher.)
Russian Pacific Fleet Warships Enter The Mediterranean For First Time Since The Cold War
May 16, 2013
A group of warships from Russia's Pacific Fleet has entered the Mediterranean waters for the first time since the Cold War, RIA Novosti reports.
"The task force has successfully passed through the Suez Channel and entered the Mediterranean," Capt. First Rank Roman Martov said. "It is the first time in decades that Pacific Fleet warships enter this region."
The vessels are scheduled to make a port call in Limassol, Cyprus.
In November Russia sent six warships from its Black Sea Fleet to the Mediterranean in response to the Israel-Gaza conflict.
Also in November two warships from the Black Sea Fleet made a rare visit to Syria's port of Tartus, a signal of its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"The Russian Defense Ministry started setting up a special force of warships in the Mediterranean in order to protect Russia's interests in the region," The Russian defense minister said according to Syria's state-run news agency.
The destroyer Admiral Panteleyev, the amphibious warfare ships Peresvet and Admiral Nevelskoi, the tanker Pechenga and the salvage/rescue tug Fotiy Krylov left the port of Vladivostok on March 19 to join the task force.
RIA Novosti notes that from 1967 to 1992 the Soviet Union maintained 30-50 warships and auxiliary vessels in its 5th Mediterranean Squadron, formed to counter the U.S. Navy's 6th Fleet during the Cold War.
In November the U.S. began making moves to increase the American military presence in the east Mediterranean.
Are you ready for a govt. chip implant?
Letter to the Editor
As a donor to the Ron Paul presidential primary campaign, I received a pre-recorded message from Ron Paul the other week. The message was a warning about a little-known provision of the immigration reform bill: a national ID card requirement.
According to Ron Paul, the national ID card will contain a biometric signature, sensitive personal information, and an RFID chip (radio frequency identification device) that will allow the government to track your whereabouts. You will be required to carry this card to enter a public building, board public transportation, get a job, receive Medicare and SS benefits, etc.
The hassle of losing this card (or worse, having it stolen), when its smart chip contains sensitive personal information, will undoubtedly shift the paradigm to many people desiring an implantable chip. In fact, the government already has an FDA approved-for-human-implantation chip available: VeriChip was approved by the FDA in 2004 (see Time Magazine Oct. 25 , 2004 issue). And, once popular sentiment begins to view the implantable chip as benign and necessary, it probably won't be long before your government will feel emboldened to require that all Americans be implanted with VeriChip (or its equivalent) in order to conduct the affairs of daily life -- including accessing medical care and, eventually, even buying groceries.
George Orwell's "Big Brother is watching you" is not some futuristic fantasy any more -- the future is now. Unless you're happy with the idea of winding up as a micro-chipped slave of governmental masters (or else persona non grata) write to your respective U.S. senators and representatives and oppose this measure, before it's too late. - GERALDINE M. TRUST - MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP
Inventor of ADHD: "ADHD is a fictitious disease"
by Moritz Nestor
1 March 2012
Fortunately, the Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics (NEK, President: Otfried HÃ¶ffe) critically commented on the use of the ADHD drug Ritalin in its opinion of 22 November 2011 titled Human enhancement by means of pharmacological agents1: The consumption of pharmacological agents altered the child's behavior without any contribution on his or her part.
That amounted to interference in the child's freedom and personal rights, because pharmacological agents induced behavioral changes but failed to educate the child on how to achieve these behavioral changes independently. The child was thus deprived of an essential learning experience to act autonomously and emphatically which "considerably curtails children's freedom and impairs their personality development", the NEK criticized.
The alarmed critics of the Ritalin disaster are now getting support from an entirely different side. The German weekly Der Spiegel quoted in its cover story on 2 February 2012 the US American psychiatrist Leon Eisenberg, born in 1922 as the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, who was the "scientific father of ADHD" and who said at the age of 87, seven months before his death in his last interview:
"ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease"2
Since 1968, however, some 40 years, Leon Eisenberg's "disease" haunted the diagnostic and statistical manuals, first as "hyperkinetic reaction of childhood", now called "ADHD". The use of ADHD medications in Germany rose in only eighteen years from 34 kg (in 1993) to a record of no less than 1760 kg (in 2011) - which is a 51-fold increase in sales! In the United States every tenth boy among ten year-olds already swallows an ADHD medication on a daily basis. With an increasing tendency.3
When it comes to the proven repertoire of Edward Bernays, the father of propaganda, to sell the First World War to his people with the help of his uncle's psychoanalysis and to distort science and the faith in science to increase profits of the industry - what about investigating on whose behalf the "scientific father of ADHD" conducted science? His career was remarkably steep, and his "fictitious disease" led to the best sales increases. And after all, he served in the "Committee for DSM V and ICD XII, American Psychiatric Association"4 from 2006 to 2009. After all, Leon Eisenberg received "the Ruane Prize for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Research. He has been a leader in child psychiatry for more than 40 years through his work in pharmacological trials, research, teaching, and social policy and for his theories of autism and social medicine".5
And after all, Eisenberg was a member of the "Organizing Committee for Women and Medicine Conference, Bahamas, November 29 - December 3, 2006, Josiah Macy Foundation (2006)".6 The Josiah Macy Foundation organized conferences with intelligence agents of the OSS, later CIA, such as Gregory Bateson and Heinz von Foerster during and long after World War II. - Have such groups marketed the diagnosis of ADHD in the service of the pharmaceutical market and tailor-made for him with a lot of propaganda and public relations? It is this issue that the American psychologist Lisa Cosgrove and others investigated in their study Financial Ties between DSM-IV Panel Members and the Pharmaceutical Industry7. They found that "Of the 170 DSM panel members 95 (56%) had one or more financial associations with companies in the pharmaceutical industry. One hundred percent of the members of the panels on 'Mood Disorders' and 'Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders' had financial ties to drug companies. [...] The connections are especially strong in those diagnostic areas where drugs are the first line of treatment for mental disorders."8 In the next edition of the manual, the situation is unchanged. "Of the 137 DSM-V panel members who have posted disclosure statements, 56% have reported industry ties - no improvement over the percent of DSM-IV members."9 "The very vocabulary of psychiatry is now defined at all levels by the pharmaceutical industry," said Dr Irwin Savodnik, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles.10
This is well paid. Just one example: The Assistant Director of the Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School received "$1 million in earnings from drug companies between 2000 and 2007".11
In any case, no one can easily get around the testimony of the father of ADHD: "ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease."
The task of psychologists, educators and doctors is not to put children on the "chemical lead" because the entire society cannot handle the products of its misguided theories of man and raising children, and instead hands over our children to the free pharmaceutical market. Let us return to the basic matter of personal psychology and education: The child is to acquire personal responsibility and emphatic behavior under expert guidance - and that takes the family and the school: In these fields, the child should be able to lead off mentally. This constitutes the core of the human person.
1 Human enhancement by means of pharmacological agents, Opinion No 18/2011, Bern October 2011. http://www.bag.admin.ch/nek-cne/04229/04232/index.html?lang=en -
2 Blech, JÃ¶rg: Schwermut ohne Scham. In: Der Spiegel, Nr. 6/6.2.12, p. 122 - 131, p. 128. -
3 Blech, p. 127 -
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Eisenberg (6.2.2012) - 5 http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsarticle.aspx?articleid=107051 - 6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Eisenberg (6.2.2012 17:59:25) -
7 Cosgrove, Lisa et al. Financial Ties between DSM-IV Panel Members and the Pharmaceutical Industry. In: Psychother Psychosom 2006; 75:154-160 (DOI: 10.1159/000091772) -
8 Cosgrove, Lisa et al. Pp. 154 -
9 DSM Panel Members Still Getting pharma funds. URL: http://www.cchrint.org/tag/lisa-cosgrove/ (8.2.2012 23:21:29) -
10 http://www.emaxhealth.com/1357/7/35563/experts-who-write-dsm-have-financial-ties-pharmaceutical-companies.html -
11 Cf. http://www.cchrint.org/tag/lisa-cosgrove/
HOW A SUICIDE IN MIAMI GAVE BIRTH TO "HEARTBREAK HOTEL" AND THE RISE OF ROCK N' ROLL
Miami is a world famous Mecca of sun, sand, sex and fun outlandish decadence. It's also a very dark town, haunted by real life zombies, third world-esque poverty and a long history of racial segregation and violence. Because of this entropic mix Miami boasts an impressive musical resume, birthing a mix of pirates, tropical wanderers and wayward sons that over the decades have created some of the most groundbreaking, influential and varying musical styles. With a long history of music innovation and violence, it's no wonder that Miami shows up as the spark that helped create Rock n' Roll - in the form of a Suicide note.
Late one night in some neon faded Art Deco beach hotel, an anonymous man killed himself leaving behind only a crumbled note in one of his jean pockets. On the note where the words "I walk a lonely street" his last ode to a cruel world. Little did he know his sacrificial death would soon give birth to a whole new generation of music lovers. His unidentified corpse was shown on the cover of the Miami Herald with the headline asking, "Do You Know This Man?"
When exactly this suicide happened can't be confirmed and a search of the Miami Herald Digital Archives hasn't provided any help. We know that it was sometime in 1955 when Steel-guitar player, singer-songwriter and failed dishwasher repairman Tommy Durden read the Herald suicide article while working a gig in Jacksonville, Florida. Durden believed the suicide note's line had a dark blues quality and scribbled it down as a future song lyric. He showed the article and the lyric to his friend Mae Boren Axton, herself a songwriter, TV personality, radio host and publicist. Mae immediately was drawn to the lyric, deciding that naturally at the end of a lonely street one would find a "Heartbreak Hotel" and with that verse, a light bulb of creativity exploded in the warm Florida air.
Mae wrote the rest of the lyrics while Durden worked out the melodies on his guitar. Within an hour the duo had composed one of the most important songs in the history of music. But Mae was more than just a schoolteacher and part-time songwriter; she was a visionary who saw the 'big picture' before anybody else. That 'big picture' was Elvis Presley and way before the Colonel turned him into a money making machine, Mae Axton was convinced that Elvis was going to be the biggest thing to hit America since the Model-T Ford.
Mae first encountered Elvis during a tour she helped set up in Jacksonville, Florida when the relatively unknown Memphis singer was a last minute replacement booked to open for country recording star Hank Snow. As Elvis began his set, Mae Quietly blended in with the crowd at the Gator Bowl, and watched in awe as twenty-year old Elvis completely blew the audience away with his mix of hillbilly swag, bluesy crooning and pelvic shaking lunacy. After his performance, teenage girls chased Elvis back to the dressing room while managing to completely tear off the young stud's shirt. The forty-year old Mae had never seen anything like that in her entire life. Nobody had. She quickly helped get Elvis booked for a return show on July 28, 1955, which caused excessive lines of teenage girls waiting to get inside and irate local preachers screaming about the dangers of Elvis's shaking hips.
After another smashing performance Mae interviewed Elvis for a local radio station. She was influential in helping get Elvis's first record "That's alright Mamma" radio airplay in Florida and during the interview the 'King' gratefully acknowledges this fact...
"Well, thank you very much, Mae, and I'd like to personally thank you for really promoting my record, because you really have done a wonderful job, and I really do appreciate it because if you don't have people backing you, people pushing you, well you might as well quit."
After the interview Mae boldly declared to Elvis that she would write his first number one hit. After concluding the "Heartbreak" writing session with Durden, a local Country singer named Glenn Reeves stopped by for a visit and was immediately put to work by Mae. She asked Reeves to record a demo of the song with her tape recorder in the style of Elvis Presley, Reeves wasn't a fan but being a good friend did the song anyways. The fact that Reeves even knew who Elvis was, is a testament to how much buzz the 'King' had created for himself in the South. After finishing the song, Reeves thought "Heartbreak Hotel" was weird and that Elvis "wouldn't go far" and declined any credit or association with the song. Mae had no intention of ever using Reeves anyways; she just wanted something to show Elvis in the hopes that he would record the song. She approached the popular country duo The Wilburn Brothers and offered them a chance to record a better quality version of "Heartbreak Hotel" but the duo declined, calling the song "Strange and almost Morbid". With no choice but to hunt down the kid on her own, she headed to Nashville where Elvis was being honored as the most promising male country star of 1955 at the annual Country Music Disc Jockey Convention.
By this time the Colonel Tom Parker had weaseled his way to becoming Elvis's manager, and shortly after Thanksgiving of 1955 secured for Elvis a record deal at RCA.
Since Mae had worked with Tom before as a publicist in the early 50's she was on familiar terms with the Memphis slickster. It's even rumored that Mae is the only person in the world that the notorious Colonel Tom Parker has ever apologized to. After talking with Tom about a song she wanted Elvis to record she was told where to find the kid, and headed out in the rain towards the Andrew Jackson Hotel.
Elvis was relaxing in his room and in a jovial mood when Mae showed up with her tape-recorded demo. Upon hearing the rough sounding tape Elvis shouted, "Hot dog, Mae! Play it again!" mesmerized as he played the track about ten times in a row. Elvis said the song reminded him of Roy Brown's "Hard Luck Blues" and agreed to record a version. Mae was delighted and the next day they sat down with the Colonel to hammer out a deal. Though the team of Mae and Durden are responsible for penning the song, Elvis's name appears on the finished record as a third writer. It's common knowledge that the Colonel often insisted his boy get co-writing credits in exchange for cutting a song. Always securing a steady stream of publishing checks for the two of them. However this wasn't the case, Mae was so confident that "Heartbreak" would help establish Elvis as a star she insisted on a shared credit in order to help Elvis buy a house for his mother in Florida. With formalities out of the way Elvis began to rehearse the song and added it his live repertoire, changing one line of the lyric, from "they pray to die" to "they could die" while performing the song for the first time in Swifton, Arkansas on December 9.
The small club was packed with over 200 people and Elvis oozing with confidence after singing with RCA rocked the club to the floor. The club's owner and everyone there could sense that something fresh was happening. The 20-year-old Elvis was already a regional star but he had yet to appear on national television. That night in the Arkansas club, Elvis burned through some tracks he'd recorded for Sun, a few covers, and then introduced his new song in that familiar Southern drawl, "I"ve got this brand new song and it's gonna be my first hit." His words were prophetic.
A month later Elvis entered the recording studios at RCA, where he was scheduled to record five songs in two days. The studio at 1525 McGavock Street was RCA's first permanent recording facility in Nashville, a town still years away from becoming the recording center of the musical universe. Surprisingly, up to then there were only a handful of studios in town. It was January 10th, 1956 and Elvis Presley who two days prior just turned 21 was ready to begin recording his debut single for RCA.
Mae was also present during the session; interested in watching Elvis record live and curious to how her song would end up sounding. At Sun Records, Elvis had been backed by Sentry Moore on guitar and Bill Black on bass. Later a drummer was added -- a position eventually filled by D.J. Fontana on a permanent basis. At RCA, the Elvis combo was joined by legendary Nashville guitarist Chet Atkins on rhythm guitar and future Grammy winner Floyd Cramer on piano, along with a gospel trio consisting of Ben and Brock Speer of the Speer Family and Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires.
They recorded on monaural equipment (single track) and the studio was somewhat of a live room with a curved ceiling that created low frequency problems causing bass notes to be boomy and roll around for a long time. They were always in search of a dead spot for the bass. They also had several large curtains hanging on the walls to help "deaden" the room. They employed the use of movable "wall-like" baffles to isolate instruments to minimize sound bleeding into other mics. During that first session RCA was anxious to recreate the "slapback" echo effect that Sam Phillips had created at Sun. To add them to Elvis's vocals Chet and engineer Bob Farris created a psuedo "echo chamber" by setting up a speaker at one end of a long hallway and a microphone at the other end and recording the echo live. It sounded strange to hear it as they were recording live because at Sun studios Sam used to add the effect afterwards.
This technique failed to add anything special to the first two songs they recorded "I got a Woman" and "Money Honey" but as soon as they tried it out on "Heartbreak Hotel" goose pimples suddenly appeared on everybody's skin. The heavy overdubbing of echo and the drummer's rim shots created a powerful atmosphere of upbeat despair that effortlessly matched Elvis's heart-rending vocal. It was a perfect blend of haunting lyrics and ghostly music set to the penetrating crooning of a man destined for greatness.
During the opening lines to each verse when Elvis sings acapella, his voice is penetrating, dejected, and completely captures the alienation of disaffected youth. The dark track sounded like it belonged more on a Doors album than a lead single for RCA in 1956. The gloomy song was markedly different from anything Elvis had done previously at Sun Records and when his former label boss Sam Phillips heard an acetate from the Nashville session, he pronounced "Heartbreak Hotel" a "morbid mess." Biographer Donald Clarke writes:
The sound quality of that first session was not good, and 'Heartbreak Hotel' is the worst of them all. Chet Atkins played rhythm guitar and Floyd Cramer was added on piano, together with an entirely unnecessary vocal trio led by Gordon Stoker, lead singer of the Jordanaires. Scotty Moore's guitar sounds exceptionally, irritatingly tinny, Cramer is too prominent and the whole track sounds like it was made underwater in a breadbox. It was a disgraceful recording for 1956 but a good song for Presley.
On hearing the new songs, the RCA executives in New York freaked out and wanted to scrap the sessions. They told producer Steve Sholes to turn around and head straight back to Nashville to re-record the tracks. Sholes later stated, "They all told me it didn't sound like anything, it didn't sound like his other records and I'd better not release it, better go back and record it again" But Elvis was unfazed and begged the grey-haired executives to trust his instincts and release "Heartbreak Hotel" as a single. Promising that if it sank he would be at their mercy for any song they wanted out of him. Elvis had that Southern charm, and he had it in spades. The RCA 'brass' relented and pressed ahead with the release, albeit with sizeable suspicions. Elvis clearly believed in it, certain that the song was the right one to catapult him into the big time.
It was properly mastered and released as a 45 single with the B-side "I was the One" on January 27, 1956 and went nowhere despite Elvis making his network television debut on the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show.
For the first month of its release "Heartbreak Hotel" barely registered on the pop charts and seemed to prove that the RCA executives were right. But that all changed when Elvis finally had the chance to perform the song on the popular Milton Berle Show. This performance from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hancock in San Diego California, rocketed Elvis to superstardom. His good looks, unique voice and swiveling hips sent the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Californian girls into a frenzy of screams, faints and tears. The men had never seen anything like it and the San Diego Police Chief announced that if Elvis ever returned to his city and performed in the way that he did he would be jailed for disorderly conduct.
Like a meteor blast Elvis had hit the mainstream. The fateful string of television exposure (a new medium) undoubtedly helped propel "Heartbreak Hotel" to the number-one spot on Billboard's best-seller list 45 days after its release, where it stayed #1 for eight weeks. The song also reached number one on the country chart and number three on the R&B chart. It became Elvis Presley's first Gold record selling more than a million copies just as Mae Axton had predicted. Considering this is the song that really introduced rock to the mainstream (white public) it's amazing how dark the lyrics really are...
Well, since my baby left me,
I found a new place to dwell
It's down at the end of lonely street
at Heartbreak Hotel
You make me so lonely baby,
I get so lonely,
I get so lonely I could die
And although it's always crowded,
you still can find some room
Where broken hearted lovers
do cry away their gloom
You make me so lonely baby,
I get so lonely,
I get so lonely I could die
Well, the Bell hop's tears keep flowin',
and the desk clerk's dressed in black
Well they been so long on lonely street
They ain't ever gonna look back
You make me so lonely baby,
I get so lonely,
I get so lonely I could die
Hey now, if your baby leaves you,
and you got a tale to tell
Just take a walk down lonely street
to Heartbreak Hotel
"Heartbreak Hotel" put Elvis on the map, and helped forever alter the landscape of Popular Culture. He would perform the song during most of his live shows between 1956 and 1977, including a blistering rendition on his 1968 comeback special.
Elvis performed it for the last time on May 29, 1977 at the Civic Center in Baltimore, Maryland. The song and alternative takes have been released on almost every Presley compilation album since the 60's. In 1979, following Presley's death, author Robert Matthew-Walker wrote, "Heartbreak Hotel became one of the legendary rock performances. For many people it is Elvis Presley, and it continues to excite and fascinate listeners. Heartbreak Hotel is a classic performance, yet when it is analyzed it appears so simple that one cannot recall a time when one did not know it."
"Heartbreak Hotel" is one of the most influential songs of all time. It single handedly ushered in the era of Rock n' Roll and influenced every key rock artist in its wake. In a 1975 interview, John Lennon recalled his friend Don Beatty introducing him to Presley's music. Lennon said that his family rarely had the radio on, unlike other members of The Beatles who grew up under its influence. Beatty showed Lennon a picture of Presley that appeared along with the charts on the New Musical Express magazine, and Lennon later heard "Heartbreak Hotel" on Radio Luxembourg. Lennon said:
When I first heard "Heartbreak Hotel", I could hardly make out what was being said. It was just the experience of hearing it and having my hair stand on end. We'd never heard American voices singing like that. They always sung like Sinatra or enunciate very well. Suddenly, there's this hillbilly hiccuping on tape echo and all this bluesy stuff going on. And we didn't know what Elvis was singing about... It took us a long time to work what was going on. To us, it just sounded as a noise that was great.
George Harrison credits "Heartbreak Hotel" with handing him a "rock n roll epiphany" when in 1956, at age 13, he overheard it being played at a neighbor's house while riding his bike. Thus, it was "Heartbreak Hotel" that turned Harrison from a relatively well-mannered schoolboy into a guitar-crazed truant who would audition for John Lennon's Quarrymen the following year.
The Rolling Stones' guitarist Keith Richards stated in his 2010 autobiography, Life, that "Heartbreak Hotel" was one of the first rock and roll influences he had. Apart from Presley's impact on him, Richards was even more impressed by Scotty Moore's guitar playing, as well as the rest of the band. Richards says:
Good records just get better with age. But the one that really turned me on, like an explosion one night, listening to Radio Luxembourg on my little radio when I was supposed to be in bed and asleep, was "Heartbreak Hotel." That was the stunner. I'd never heard it before, or anything like it. I'd never heard of Elvis before. It was almost as if I'd been waiting for it to happen. When I woke up the next day I was a different guy.
Led Zeppelin's lead singer Robert Plant stated that the song "changed his life". He recalled hearing it for the first time when he was eight years old:
It was so animal, so sexual, the first musical arousal I ever had. You could see a twitch in everybody my age. All we knew about the guy was that he was cool, handsome and looked wild.
Critic Robert Cantwell wrote in his unpublished memoir Twigs of Folly:
The opening strains of "Heartbreak Hotel", which catapulted Presley's regional popularity into national hysteria, opened a fissure in the massive mile-thick wall of post-war regimentation, standardization, bureaucratization, and commercialization in American society and let come rushing through the rift a cataract from the immense waters of sheer, human pain and frustration that have been building up for ten decades behind it.
Paul McCartney says, "It's the way Elvis sings it as if he is singing from the depths of hell. His phrasing, use of echo, it's all so beautiful. Musically, it's perfect."
With "Heartbreak Hotel" a certifiable smash Elvis Presley was on his way to superstardom. Over the years he begged Mae to write another song for him, but feeling she could never top "Heartbreak" Mae declined, content that her initial hunch about Elvis was right.
Mae continued to write other minor hits through the 60s and 70s while maintaining a career as a schoolteacher and community activist. Proud to have set Elvis on his way but completely nonchalant about writing one of the most groundbreaking songs ever. In a 1982 interview, the song's co-writer Tommy Durden said the song, "has paid the rent for more than 20 years." Citing its cultural significance the Grammy's inducted the song into their Hall of Fame and when then presidential candidate Bill Clinton (the first black president) made his famous appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1992, he chose "Heartbreak Hotel" to play on his sax. He killed it, got the crowd hyped and secured the gig for the presidency...
And to the deserted soul who took his own life in Miami, never knowing that his suicide note "I walk a lonely street" would forever change the world by helping to shape & create the phenomena of Rock n' Roll - Thank You. Sadly, your loss was our gain. C'est la vie...
next week...keep on believing.
how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”