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Portable Magic

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

Currently reading

I am No One You Know
Joyce Carol Oates
The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports
Jeff Passan
Progress: 153/368 pages

The Road to Jonestown: 20%

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

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


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