Thursday, April 12, 2012

Curious Case VI


And wouldn’t the insistent Summum Individuals have ridden their man in Utah to write his own book?

There’s more. Besides Corky’s requests for a suspension of disbelief regarding his story, there are the crimes against history.

The major crime concerns the love affair Corky and his disciples seem to have with Jesus in his Gnostic iteration. Example one. The web page “Summum and Freemasonry” contains this statement by an anonymous author: “The Seven Aphorisms . . . were also taught by Jesus . . . The aphorisms were the basis of Gnostic Christianity, and the teachings of Summum are the same as those of Gnostic Christianity.” Example two. On the page “Sexual Ecstasy from Ancient Wisdom,” we learn that Jesus Christ, in The Gospel of Thomas, said, “Anointed in the sacred wetness with the magical spell of Merh [a liquid used in massage], drinking the Nectars of Gods and giving your soul to my womb, all your fears vanish.”

The problems with the first example are that our knowledge of the historical Jesus—what he taught, who he thought he was—has been the subject of scholarly debate for centuries, even millennia, and that recent scholars can’t agree on what “Gnosticism” is. Not to speak of the fact that neither Corky nor his successors give evidence for their bold assertions.

The problem with the second example is that The Gospel of Thomas, a non-canonical compendium of the purported sayings of Jesus of uncertain date and origin, has exactly nothing to say about either Merh or the Nectars of the Gods.

There is another gaffe. Corky himself is reported to have said before his death: “All religions have founders who had revelations.”

Well, no. Many did. Some didn’t. Hinduism and Daoism come to mind.

Finally, there’s the creative mathematics. According to Blackley, Corky claimed that during the two years of his night classes at the University of Utah, almost 20,000 people became members. Assuming, generously, that this period lasted 104 weeks, counting the summers, and that the room held 240 people, this would have amounted to a conversion rate of 80 percent per session. Corky must have been a charismatic speaker indeed.

In 2002, Corky was interviewed by Patty Henetz for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. She reported that he claimed that since 1975, 250,000 people had “received” the Summum teachings, though Summum didn’t keep membership rolls. Let’s see. In 27 years, that would be 9,260 per annum, or about 25 per diem. Of course, much depends on the meaning of the word “received.” The more important point: If there were no membership rolls, how could Corky have known the extent of his power of persuasion?

In that same interview, Corky also estimated that more than 250,000 bottles of his nectar had been given away to those who had “undergone a screening process that involves reading about Summum and learning how to meditate.” So for 23 years—from 1979, when the temple was finished, to 2002—10,870 bottles per annum, or about 30 per day, were given to those who had been screened. Giving this gift involved not only the cost and time of brewing the liquor; it required time to screen the applicants for their knowledge of Summum and their ability to meditate in the Corky way. Generosity, thy name must be Summum.

CNN, in 2009, interviewed Ron Temu, “a licensed funeral director and longtime Summum practitioner,” who reported that approximately 1,500 people had requested mummification. Yet only one, Corky himself, had been mummified. One can only wonder about the chances of this happening: out of a population of approximately 1,501, just one, and the founder at that, had become a mummy awaiting transference. Amazing.

Just like his miracles.

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