Month: November 2007

“Holy Blood, Holy Grail” co-author Richard Leigh passed away

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Richard Leigh, co-author of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, one of the most controversial books of the 1980s has died November 21st, aged 64; in 2006, with Michael Baigent, he lost his plagiarism case against the American Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, the spectacularly successful thriller which they claimed was based on their book.

Written by Leigh, Baigent and Henry Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail claimed to have uncovered a massive conspiracy to conceal a bloodline descended from Jesus of Nazareth that has influenced the course of European history.

The protracted court case boosted sales of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which had stalled at 3,500 copies a year in Britain, to 7,000 copies a week, a 100-fold rise. (Similarly, The Da Vinci Code returned to the bestseller lists with sales of 20,000 copies a week.) But against their royalties windfall, Leigh and Baigent – Lincoln took no part in the case – were left with a legal bill for their failed action of about £2 million.

Originally published in January 1982, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail achieved enormous commercial success; by last year it had reportedly sold two million copies.

Richard Harris Leigh was born on August 16 1943 in New Jersey. His father was British, his mother Austrian. Leigh graduated from Tufts University in Boston and took a Master’s degree at the University of Chicago before studying for a doctorate in Comparative Literature at the State University of New York in Stony Brook. He spent several years working as a university lecturer in the United States, Canada and Britain.

In 1975, at a summer school in England where he was lecturing on aspects of literature, Leigh met the writer Henry Lincoln and discovered that they shared an interest in the order of medieval warrior-monks known as the Knights Templar.

Lincoln had already started researching the strange story of an obscure 19th-century French country priest, Bérenger Saunière, who had apparently been able to spend huge sums of money in the years around 1900, refurbishing his parish church in the remote Languedoc village of Rennes-le-Château in the foothills of the Pyrenees. In Leigh, Lincoln found a sympathetic and knowledgeable fellow-traveller.

When Leigh offered to help Lincoln with studying the Templars he recruited Michael Bagient, a psychology graduate who was researching the shadowy order for a film project.

Between them Leigh, Lincoln and Baigent developed the Saunière story into a full-blown hypothesis: that Saunière had stumbled on a sensational secret. This was that Jesus had not died on the Cross but had married Mary Magdalene and fathered at least one child; his descendants, they suggested, continue to exert an influence on European history through the Prieuré de Sion, a secret society originally founded in Jerusalem during the First Crusade.

In a follow-up book, The Messianic Legacy (1986), Leigh and his co-authors claimed that the then Grand Master of the Prieuré, Pierre Plantard de Saint Clair, was seeking to restore the Merovingian dynasty to rule France while also taking on a monarchic role in the running of the European Union. It was later proved that Plantard had made up the Prieuré as a hoax in 1956.

Further collaborations with Michael Baigent included The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception, alleging a Roman Catholic conspiracy to conceal the scrolls, and The Temple and the Lodge, a history of Freemasonry (both 1991); Secret Germany (1994), the story of a plot to kill Hitler; The Elixir and the Stone (1997); and The Inquisition (1999).

Although best-known for his non-fiction work, Leigh preferred to think of himself as a writer of literary fiction. In Erceldoune & Other Stories (2006) he included an essay on “Ireland, Mythic Logic”, which explored the forces at work where the country’s past, present and future intersect.

His last novel, Grey Magic, published this year, was semi-autobiographical, the narrator and protagonist being born in the United States but moving to Britain in his early thirties.

Richard Leigh, who died on November 21, was unmarried.

in The Telegraph

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Bento XVI abre a ‘casa’ para receber islâmicos

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Venham ao Vaticano dialogar com Bento XVI. Este foi o apelo lançado pelo Papa, por interposta pessoa, o cardeal Tarcisio Bertone, secretário de Estado, a altos dignitários muçulmanos que pugnam pelo entendimento entre islâmicos e cristãos. Um “grupo restrito”, este, composto por 138 sunitas e xiitas.

O Sumo Pontífice fê-lo depois de receber uma carta, juntamente com os representantes de outras confissões cristãs, a propor o diálogo entre as duas religiões. Uma proposta que teve bom acolhimento da Santa Sé, como se vê. A missiva do poliglota Papa foi redigida por Bertone em inglês, tendo como destinatário o príncipe da Jordânia Ghazi bin Muham- mad bin Talal, presidente do Instituto Real Aal al-Bayt para o Pensamento Islâmico.

O documento tem raízes. Foi escrito a 19 de Novembro (mas só divulgada ontem), um dia depois de o jornal americano New York Times ter publicado, em anúncio de página inteira, um texto de 300 teólogos cristãos e líderes de igrejas intitulado “A Christian Response to A Common Word Between you and me” , que, em Outubro, tinha sido divulgada pelos 138 clérigos muçulmanos.

Nesta “Resposta Cristã”, os signatários fazem uma espécie de catarse: deitam-se no sofá da História e pedem perdão aos muçulmanos. Um me culpa colectivo. Recordam vários episódios concretos, como as Cruzadas e eventuais excessos cometidos na luta contra o terrorismo (“war on terror”). Admitem que muitos cristãos foram culpados de pecados contra os vizinhos muçulmanos e, por isso, escrevem: “Pedimos perdão ao Todo-Poderoso (Alá) e às comunidades muçulmanas em todo o mundo.”

Tanta humildade não é pacífica. Uma das críticas mais bem feitas sobre este assunto foi escrita por Bruce S. Thornton, professor na Universidade Estadual da Califórnia, em artigo publicado na revista City. Chama-se “Epístola aos Muçulmanos”. “Não esqueçamos a longa ocupação islâmica, durante sete séculos, de Espanha, os séculos de raides no sul de Itália e de França, o quase saque de Roma em 846, a ocupação da Sicília e da Grécia, os quatro séculos de ocupação dos Balcãs, a destruição de Constantinopla, os dois cercos a Viena, o rapto de jovens cristãos para servirem como janíçaros dos séculos XIV a XIX, as contínuas incursões no litoral mediterrânico, de 1500 a 1800, à procura de escravos, além dos actuais ataques terroristas dos jihadistas contra o Ocidente.”

in DN.pt

Exonerate the Knights Templar

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The Templar Globe doesn’t usually associate with petitions, but we just received this appeal from our friend Brian Kannard and decided to let him speak to you directly.

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I have posted the following on Grail Seekers. Ever since I returned from Paris, I felt that I had to do something to help right the wrongs of the past. I have no idea if this little petition will do anything in that regard, however I had to do something. I ask that you take the time to read the following position statement and sign the petition that is linked. I really do believe the time is right to do this sort of thing.

Thanks for all your support,

Brian Kannard

There is no doubt that the media spotlight has shown brightly on the Knights Templars over the last couple of months. With the release of the Trail of the Templars by the Vatican press, and the 700th anniversary of the Order’s arrests the plight of the Templars has never been more publicly recognized. The media has even focused on Templar activists, such as the Acheson Twins who have called on the Vatican to officially apologize for their misdeeds.I personally think it is high time that the voice of the people be heard on this matter. Given the position taken by Pope Clement V in the Chinon Parchment, I believe the Knights Templar should be exonerated from any charges that were leveled against them 700 years ago.

There are many of you that feel the same way that I do on this matter. That is why I have set up an online petition for the Exoneration of the Knights Templar on the petition web site. It is my intention to let the Vatican know that there those out there that do believe the actions of the Church were motivated by political and malicious reasons. It is my intention to send the signatories of this petition to the Vatican on 18 March 08, the day that Jacque DeMolay was burned at the stake.

I have no idea if this will sway the opinion of the Holy See in this matter, or if it will even be accepted by the public. However, the time has come and the mistakes of the past should be corrected.

I ask that you take the time to sign the Exonerate the Knights Templar petition and let your voice be heard.

Chad Varah, founder of the Samaritans, died on November 8th, aged 95

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“HE’S not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid.” In 1953, four years after Linda Loman’s famous soliloquy in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”, the Rev Prebendary Chad Varah pioneered a wonderfully simple and effective way of paying attention to people to whom terrible things were happening.

The early years of the Samaritan movement he founded were centred on the dank, gloomy crypt of a beautiful Christopher Wren church, St Stephen Walbrook, a stone’s-throw from the Bank of England in the City of London. Volunteers would take phone calls and receive visits from the lonely, the desperate and the suicidal. As a young curate nearly 20 years earlier, Mr Varah had conducted his first funeral—a 13-year-old girl, who had started menstruating and thought she had some dreadful venereal disease. Confronting suicidal thoughts and sexual ignorance became the theme of his life.

In the 1950s, it was said that in the London area three people killed themselves every day. His simple insight was that many suicides could be averted if the despairing had emotional support in their darkest hour. This the Samaritans offered. He called it “active listening”, or “ befriending”. It was secular and non-judgmental: a kind of aural hug, perhaps all the more consolatory for coming from a stranger.

As Mr Varah himself put it: “There are in this world, in every country, people who seem to be ‘ordinary’, but who, when meeting a suicidal person, turn out to be extraordinary. They can usually save lives. How? They give the sad person their total attention. They completely forget themselves. They listen and listen and listen, without interrupting. They have no message. They do not preach. They have nothing to sell. We call them ‘Samaritans’.”

It caught on. Partly because Mr Varah had a flair for publicity; more importantly because they were soon seen to fill a need, the Samaritans spread rapidly in Britain, helped by a change of the law in 1961, before when attempted suicide was a crime in England and Wales. There are now 202 branches in Britain and Ireland with more than 17,000 trained volunteers. Through “Befrienders Worldwide”, founded by Mr Varah in 1974, there are now Samaritan operations in almost 40 countries across the world. He loved to travel, and visited many of them.

Many Samaritans who met him on his travels, as well as journalists and others, were rather taken aback by Mr Varah in person. They expected a saint-like figure of all-encompassing compassion. They found a charismatic, clever, argumentative, puckish and emotional man, who seemed obsessed with sex. Unshockable himself, he apparently enjoyed shocking others. He liked to tell young Samaritan recruits how he had dealt with a manipulative regular caller who had telephoned him at home and threatened to kill herself if he did not reschedule an appointment: “You do that, sweetie, and I’ll piss on your grave.”

Besides the Samaritans and his clerical work at St Stephen, Mr Varah had in the 1950s supplemented his income by writing comic strips, such as “Dan Dare” in the Eagle. He also had a lifelong career as a self-styled sex therapist. In Lincoln, in eastern England, where, after studying at Oxford, he went to theological college and had his first curacy, he made a name for himself with “marriage-preparation classes” including detailed sex education.

He counted himself an expert, he later explained, having enjoyed “amorous dalliances with most of the girls in my age group within cycling distance”. In 1940, though, he settled down in marriage and had five children. He would tell his marriage-preparation students that fidelity was a “privilege” not a problem. He later wrote a column for Forum, a sex magazine. Having said that he did not mind being considered a “dirty old man” at the age of 25, he liked to think of himself, when a nonagenarian, as the world’s oldest sex therapist, and claimed to have invented the permissive society.

Samaritan, heal thyself
As the Samaritans grew, he lost control and often found himself at odds with those leading the movement he had launched. Sex, typically, was one battleground. As might be expected of a number offering boundless sympathy and plenty of female voices, the Samaritans often attract telephone masturbators, a topic to which Mr Varah devoted one of his many books. Unlike some colleagues, he saw these callers as an opportunity rather than problem—if only they could get beyond their “presenting problem” and talk of their real troubles.

Mr Varah was an unconventional Christian. The title of his autobiography, “Before I Die Again”, which appeared in 1992, refers to his belief in reincarnation. He was also an unconventional Samaritan. Disenchanted with the movement he founded, he marked its 50th anniversary with a call for an end to its charitable status. He also had to be reminded that “founder” was not a post from which you can resign. Before his death, however, he was reconciled with those tending his legacy. They understood that he too was a human being, and that he thought terrible things were happening to his creation. Attention was paid. Millions are in his debt.

in The Economist

Ark Of The Covenant – Kenyans Now Claim Custody Of The Ark Of The Covenant

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The original chest of the Ark of the Covenant is in Kenya, we can now authoritatively confirm. The chest said to contain the ten commandments that God handed over to Moses as stipulated in the book of Exodus 25; 6 – 10 has been in Kenya since the year 1210 AD.

In a paid up advertisement appearing in THE PEOPLE DAILY, dated 9th Nov 2007, the Chief Seer’s messenger has explained in detail how the Ark Of The Covenant was transported from its original location of king Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. Solomon had a son with a foreign wife, Prince Menelik 1. At 19 years of age, he went to Sheba(Ethiopia) to attend his coronation and with consent of Levites carried with him the Chest. After years of temporary location in Ethiopia, the ark was put to rest in Axum.

In Axum, tunyaga (the people of the cross) or Nguo Ndune (the red costume) had conspired to steal Managi and Ikunjo (The Ark of the Covenant and Scrolls).This prompted the Kabiru (Hebrew) or the present day Gikuyu community to act. In the escape to hide the treasure, war erupted and had to be fought through to Thagana (Tana Island). From Tana Island the war entered the Somalia coast, Kaya forests in Kwale along the Kenyan coast. To divert attention, a replica of the Ark was made and broken into pieces in Digo, still on the Kenyan coast.

But that did not help as the war intensified pushing the Kabiru towards the mainland. They hurriedly burried the Managi and scrolls in secret locations in Mt Kenya. The writer continues to say that the location where the Ark Of The Covenant is, renamed by scholars as Tripple S, TSC shrine will never be subject to research. However, the scrolls which are of equal importance and which are concealed in sites renamed IKB and IKC, could be excavated and sited responsibly.

This revelation is likely to spark off renewed interest in the great search of the Ark Of The Covenant. In the article, the writer reveals that the Mt Kenya is regarded as a God’s Mountain. The shrines therein are held in trust by a college of 12 seers who operate in secrecy to guard their wisdom. People who pray with their hands raised and facing the mountain will always have their prayers answered by God. That mode of prayer was prophesied by David when he said “the Ethiopians will raise their hands in prayer to God”.

It was adopted as the Gikuyu mode of prayer when the Ark was put in their custody.

The revelation, and the events in the coming week, when the Gikuyu communities have been called upon to pray in unison to God, should be of great interest to religious scholars and historians.

By James Kamweru
From the Renessence News Feed – Radio Renessence

Umberto Eco: God isn’t big enough for some people

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We are now approaching the critical time of the year for shops and supermarkets: the month before Christmas is the four weeks when stores of all kinds sell their products fastest. Father Christmas means one thing to children: presents. He has no connection with the original St Nicholas, who performed a miracle in providing dowries for three poor sisters, thereby enabling them to marry and escape a life of prostitution.

Human beings are religious animals. It is psychologically very hard to go through life without the justification, and the hope, provided by religion. You can see this in the positivist scientists of the 19th century.

They insisted that they were describing the universe in rigorously materialistic terms – yet at night they attended seances and tried to summon up the spirits of the dead. Even today, I frequently meet scientists who, outside their own narrow discipline, are superstitious – to such an extent that it sometimes seems to me that to be a rigorous unbeliever today, you have to be a philosopher. Or perhaps a priest.

And we need to justify our lives to ourselves and to other people. Money is an instrument. It is not a value – but we need values as well as instruments, ends as well as means. The great problem faced by human beings is finding a way to accept the fact that each of us will die.

Money can do a lot of things – but it cannot help reconcile you to your own death. It can sometimes help you postpone your own death: a man who can spend a million pounds on personal physicians will usually live longer than someone who cannot. But he can’t make himself live much longer than the average life-span of affluent people in the developed world.

And if you believe in money alone, then sooner or later, you discover money’s great limitation: it is unable to justify the fact that you are a mortal animal. Indeed, the more you try escape that fact, the more you are forced to realise that your possessions can’t make sense of your death.

It is the role of religion to provide that justification. Religions are systems of belief that enable human beings to justify their existence and which reconcile us to death. We in Europe have faced a fading of organised religion in recent years. Faith in the Christian churches has been declining.

The ideologies such as communism that promised to supplant religion have failed in spectacular and very public fashion. So we’re all still looking for something that will reconcile each of us to the inevitability of our own death.

G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it – he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

The “death of God”, or at least the dying of the Christian God, has been accompanied by the birth of a plethora of new idols. They have multiplied like bacteria on the corpse of the Christian Church — from strange pagan cults and sects to the silly, sub-Christian superstitions of The Da Vinci Code.

It is amazing how many people take that book literally, and think it is true. Admittedly, Dan Brown, its author, has created a legion of zealous followers who believe that Jesus wasn’t crucified: he married Mary Magdalene, became the King of France, and started his own version of the order of Freemasons. Many of the people who now go to the Louvre are there only to look at the Mona Lisa, solely and simply because it is at the centre of Dan Brown’s book.

The pianist Arthur Rubinstein was once asked if he believed in God. He said: “No. I don’t believe in God. I believe in something greater.” Our culture suffers from the same inflationary tendency. The existing religions just aren’t big enough: we demand something more from God than the existing depictions in the Christian faith can provide. So we revert to the occult. The so-called occult sciences do not ever reveal any genuine secret: they only promise that there is something secret that explains and justifies everything. The great advantage of this is that it allows each person to fill up the empty secret “container” with his or her own fears and hopes.

As a child of the Enlightenment, and a believer in the Enlightenment values of truth, open inquiry, and freedom, I am depressed by that tendency. This is not just because of the association between the occult and fascism and Nazism – although that association was very strong. Himmler and many of Hitler’s henchmen were devotees of the most infantile occult fantasies.

The same was true of some of the fascist gurus in Italy – Julius Evola is one example – who continue to fascinate the neo-fascists in my country. And today, if you browse the shelves of any bookshop specialising in the occult, you will find not only the usual tomes on the Templars, Rosicrucians, pseudo-Kabbalists, and of course The Da Vinci Code, but also anti-semitic tracts such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

I was raised as a Catholic, and although I have abandoned the Church, this December, as usual, I will be putting together a Christmas crib for my grandson. We’ll construct it together – as my father did with me when I was a boy. I have profound respect for the Christian traditions – which, as rituals for coping with death, still make more sense than their purely commercial alternatives.

I think I agree with Joyce’s lapsed Catholic hero in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: “What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?” The religious celebration of Christmas is at least a clear and coherent absurdity. The commercial celebration is not even that.

by Umberto Eco

100,000 Visitors!

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Dear friends, it seems that it was just yesterday that we crossed over the 50,000 viewers target. Well, today we have proudly crossed the 100,000 mark with almost half of them in the last two months alone. As you can see from the statistics graphic above, the Templar Globe has been growing steadily since it’s first issue, but after June 2007 the monthly increase of readers has been overwhelming!

This month alone, almost 1 week to the end of the month, we already have almost as many visitors as we had in October. If we keep the present rate we will have over 4,000 more vistors this month, breaking our 24,000 readers / month record again.

 We want to thank you all for your interest and kindness. The hundreds of comments and emails are a true testimony that our work has been appreciated by Templars worldwide and other readers. We hope to keep the quality of information up to standard in the future.

The Templar Globe is the official bulletin of the Chancellery of the OSMTHU and it must be the most successful of all on-line publications by Templar groups. We believe our success has to do with the fact that we prefer to use these pages not as mean of self-promotion and advertising of our branch of the Order, but rather as a vehicle for the discussion of themes and news that are of interest to Templars worldwide. We seldom publish photos of our ceremonies and do not flood the site with photos of our leaders in messianic pose. We rather do our quiet work far from the limelight. We don’t, however, shy away from the issues that every Templar today should be informed about and actively bring you news about religion, other cultures and spiritual paths, current news and issues about Jerusalem and the Middle East, opinions from all sources about the role of Chivalry in our world today, inspirational stories and characters are brought to our attention and short articles and studies about places and events of the rich Templar history we share as a legacy are published.

 We want to be better in the future. We want to publish more. So, if you have written a short (or long) piece about the Order or if you have come across an interesting resource you think other readers might benefit from or even if there are issues you would like to see addressed in the Templar Globe, please feel free to let us know.

Non Nobis Domine Non Nobis Sed Nomine Tuo Da Gloriam