Where’s ‘My’ Beamer?
By Jack Kinsella
Who in the world is Michael Travesser? Oh, he’s the Messiah. No, no. He’s not the Messiah, Jim Jones was the Messiah. No, not Jim Jones, it was David Koresh that was the Messiah.
No, wait, not David Koresh, it was Marshall Applewhite. No, it’s Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda.
(Who? We’ll get to him in a minute — right now, we’re focusing on American messiahs.)
Michael Travesser is the latest claimant to the Throne at the Right Hand of God, as he explained in a National Geographic documentary on cults:
“One day I was in my trailer just relaxing and there was nothing on my mind in particular and then God said to me you are the Messiah.”
Like all good messiahs, all Travesser wants from his followers is unrestricted sex, total worship and devotion — and 90% of his follower’s financial assets and income.
In exchange, his followers are allowed to bask in the glow of his messianic warmth on his religious compound (paid for by his followers).
Michael Travessor is really Wayne Bent, but evidently, ‘Wayne’ isn’t that messianic a name — ‘Michael’ is more Biblical.
Vernon Wayne Howell had the same problem — ‘Wayne’ just isn’t messianic — so Vernon Wayne adopted the moniker, David Koresh. (What could be more Biblical than “David?” Aside from Jesus, that is.)
Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda has had ‘666’ tattooed on his arm and encourages his followers to do the same. Miranda isn’t claming generic messiahship, however. No, Miranda says, “The spirit that is in me is the same spirit that was in Jesus of Nazareth.”
So it was really handy that Miranda’s name already included ‘de Jesus’ or he would have had to do what the two Waynes did and change his name to something more Biblical. Instead, he just goes by ‘de Jesus’ or, to his followers, “Daddy.”
Miranda heads a cult that claims membership in more than thirty countries. “The prophets, they spoke about me. It took me time to learn that, but I am what they were expecting, what they have been expecting for 2,000 years,” he tells his followers.
He says he has a church-paid salary of $136,000 but lives more lavishly than that. During an interview, he showed off a diamond-encrusted Rolex to a CNN crew and said he has three just like them.
He travels in armored Lexuses and BMWs, he says, for his safety. All are gifts from his devoted followers. All this leaves me with just one question:
What’s wrong with you guys?
Where’s my Lexus? (Ok, I’ll settle for the Beamer.) I not only DON’T have a Rolex, but my Timex is broken! Not only am I not pulling down $136,000 in salary from the Omega Letter, none of you have offered me your women-folk.
Oh, I’m not the Messiah — but I DO know Him. Shouldn’t that count?
There is no doubt that you are members of a cult — Janet Reno defined a cult on a “60 Minutes” broadcast on June 26, 1994:
“A cultist is one who has a strong belief in the Bible and the Second Coming of Christ; who frequently attends Bible studies; who has a high level of financial giving to a Christian cause; who home schools for their children; who has accumulated survival foods and has a strong belief in the Second Amendment; and who distrusts big government…”
The Omega Letter has a strong belief in the Bible. We anticipate the Second Coming of Christ. We have a forum dedicated to Bible study. Many of us give generously to Christian causes.
Some of us have emergency survival kits tucked away and few of us trust the government. So, according to the former US Attorney General:
“Any of these may qualify a person as a cultist but certainly more than one of these would cause us to look at this person as a threat, and his family as being in a risk situation that qualified for government interference.”
So, if we’re a cult, how come we don’t have a big compound? Bodyguards? Three diamond encrusted Rolexes? How come I drive myself in a Smart Car instead of a chauffer-driven Beamer? WHERE’S MY LEXUS????
We don’t have any of those things because we’re not really a cult — I was just pulling your leg. If the OL has a ‘leader’ so to speak, I suppose I would be it, but cults venerate their leaders. (If I catch any of you ‘venerating’ me, you’ll find your login information doesn’t work anymore).
Our ‘leader’ is Jesus Christ. Our doctrine is ‘sola Scriptura’ – if it isn’t Biblical, it isn’t doctrinal. Salvation isn’t dependent on OL membership, salvation is a gift of grace through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, lest any man should boast.
We await the Second Coming of Christ, (but so did the Apostles, so if we’re nuts, so were they.)
But as we approach the end of the age, there are enough Christs around to have a convention. And enough people willing to buy tickets to fill the convention hall.
In 1978, more than nine hundred members of the People’s Temple committed suicide in Guyana.
In 1993, eighty-one of David Koresh’s followers were immolated in a mass suicide on their compound outside of Waco, Texas.
In 1974, Marshall Applewhite met Bonnie Nettles, declared himself the messiah and the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and formed a cult called “Heaven’s Gate.”
In 1997, thirty-eight members of Marshall Applewhite’s ‘Heaven’s Gate’ cult committed mass suicide in San Diego, believing they were shedding their mortal bodies so they could join the aliens riding aboard the Hale-Bopp Comet.
They were found all dressed in black, wearing arm bands saying “Heaven’s Gate Away Team” and in a final bizarre twist, each was found with five dollars in quarters in their pockets (presumably for the alien vending machines aboard the Good Ship Hale-Bopp.)
When Jesus was asked by His disciples; “What will be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the age?” the first thing He spoke of was a rise in messianic cult activity.
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many…And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many…For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:3-4, 11, 24)
It would be fair to say that there have been ‘Christian cults’ for as long as there has been a Christianity, but up until the past century, they were few and far between – and far less grandiose than those of recent years.
The Millerites of the 1840’s were a cult, but Reverend William Miller didn’t believe he was Christ — he and his followers were waiting FOR Christ. Charles Taze Russell had some pretty whacked-out doctrinal views, but the Jehovah’s Witnesses never thought Russell was Christ.
Joseph Smith and Brigham Young fathered the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints, but the Mormons never thought either Smith nor Young was Christ. Neither did Miller, Russell, Smith or Young believe that they were Christ.
Until the 20th century, thinking you were Jesus Christ was a one way ticket to a nice, safe place where people wearing white coats would bring you your food on paper plates with plastic utensils.
Over the past couple of decades, any cult worth its salt HAD to find its own messiah first. If they didn’t have their own Jesus, they made one up.
On the other side of the world, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believes that the Islamic messiah is about to climb out of his well, start a world war, and eventually lead the Islamic world into a triumphant victory against the West.In Israel, there are signs everywhere heralding the coming of the Jewish messiah.
There are messianic cults springing up all over the world; in China, Russia, South Korea, Japan, Europe, the United States, Australia — if the country has a name, it probably has a messianic cult.
“So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. (Matthew 24:33-34)
The net result of all this is that, to the rest of the world (and many Christian denominations) pretty much anybody who believes that we are in the last days as foretold by Scripture is automatically a member of a ‘doomsday cult.’
But I have to dispute that characterization being applied to your Omega Letter. No Rolex, no Beamer, no harem — heck, I don’t even have a cool messianic title…what’s wrong with you guys, anyway?