Lucifer Trust

Postmodern divines often argue for a new version of spirituality that borrows from all “paths” and makes everyone happy. Since all religions contain portions of the truth, a Frankenstein that uses body parts from every religion will be universally appealing. Arguing that Christ was an avatar of Krishna could be an attempt to prove both religions false, but it can also be an attempt to form a new, hybrid religion.

Hilariously, one of the oldest and most persistent attempts at universal religion faced a major setback last week, when their anointed Messiah/Krishna/Maitreya turned the job down and called the organization “Bonkers”.

Back in the 20s, theosophists Alice Bailey and Benjamin Creme decided that it would be a swell idea to create a new religion that could be used to enforce world peace and world government. They originally called their foundation “Lucifer Trust”, after the Promethean “light bringer”, but later changed the name to “Lucis Trust”, while maintaining their offices at 666 United Nations Plaza.

I remember reading about them when I was a kid and seeking out some of their literature. For at least 30 years, Creme has been prophesying the return of Christ/Krishna/Maitreya in the form of a man from India. The group has had some wealthy and powerful backers and is run through a network of front organizations that would put any L. Ron Hubbard novel to shame. I’ve had a few completely serendipitous encounters with their initiatives in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and even in Remonstrans comments section. If you didn’t know who they were, you probably wouldn’t even notice — I’ve seen their stuff used by government organizations with no indication of it’s cult origin beyond a small “share international” mark at the bottom.

Well, Benjamin Creme is getting old, and it would be a shame if he drops dead before his new Messiah arrives and takes the mantle of Lucifer Trust. So, a couple of months ago, members of Creme’s organization announced that the Messiah had been identified as a Mr. Raj Patel, and author from San Francisco. Apparently, Patel had never heard of Benjamin Creme, and had absolutely no interest in playing Jesus on behalf of world peace. Last week, Creme finally made the trip to San Francisco to meet his new Jesus, and the two broke bread together. The New York Times reports:

They seemed impressed with each other, with Mr. Creme saying he found Mr. Patel quite intelligent and charming.

Mr. Patel had a different impression of Mr. Creme: “Bonkers.”

I literally LOL’d when I read this. “Impressed with each other”, indeed.

The Poetry of King James

I was completely off the grid in the wilderness last week, so I took the opportunity to read through “Figures of Speech: 60 Ways To Turn A Phrase” (as well as halfway through “Perception“). I bought the book based on this review by Dandelionsmith, HT: Unk.

In “Figures of Speech“, Quinn introduces 60 different figures of speech, citing several examples of each. This little book is a virtual bestiary of many of my favorite lines from Yeats, Shakespeare, the Bible, and other sources. Over the years, I’ve read and memorized extensively, and I know what I like, but I’ve never in my life taken a college-level literature course. It was exciting to see that all of these different techniques have names and can be correlated across sources. Since reading this book, my mind has been flooded with examples Quinn didn’t cite, explaining so many lines of poetry I found beautiful but couldn’t say why. For example, the parallels are obvious between Blake and Shakespeare here:

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?


Tell me where is fancy bred?
Or in the heart or in the head

But before reading this book, I never would have thought to articulate the parallel. Of course, poetry is about much more than figures of speech, but this was an enjoyable and illuminating book.

While reading the book, I found myself re-evaluating my attitudes about the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. As a child, most of the verses I memorized were KJV, but I’ve since switched to New International Version (NIV), and memorized several Psalms in NIV. Quinn cites beautiful passages from KJV, many of which I remember from childhood. But when I looked them up in NIV I was surprised to find that many had lost the very figures of speech which made them beautiful. The ugly starts right at the beginning of the Bible. Compare KJV:

the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

with NIV:

the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

How many times have I read my NIV and not noticed this? Many other examples of figures of speech present in KJV are lost in NIV, and upon further reflection, it makes sense. KJV attempts to be more literal, word-for-word, while NIV attempts to express the semantic meaning in natural English. To be sure, the editors of NIV were able to preserve a fraction of the figures of speech present in the Hebrew and Greek, but it appears that many were lost.

C. S. Lewis once speculated that Ecclesiastes might not be inspired, and I’ve always intended to write an essay defending Ecclesiastes. This post from Unk both defends Ecclesiastes and underscores the beauty of the figures of speech in KJV. Unk quotes Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 (KJV, NIV) and says:

It is one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture, in terms of the poetic quality of the language, at least in the King James Version—about that season of life.

Who can disagree? The NIV version is beautiful, but the fidelity of KJV more beautiful still. Yeats’ poem “When You are Old” is one of my favorite depictions of this season, but is a pale shadow of Ecclesiastes 12 in KJV, and apes the same figures of speech. Shall we assume that Yeats was not speaking of Ecclesiastes 12, and the creator who is Love, who moved upon the face of the waters?

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Ben Bulben

Gyres run on;
When that greater dream had gone
Calvert and Wilson, Blake and Claude,
Prepared a rest for the people of God,
Palmer’s phrase, but after that
Confusion fell upon our thought.

Irish poets, learn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made,
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.


These lines from Yeats’ final poem, “Under Ben Bulben“, remind me of the scene in Homer’s “Odyssey” where Odysseus returns to find the young men camped out in his house attempting to woo Penelope. These young men regard themselves as entitled heirs of Odysseus’s estate, strong and fit to take over from the old man. Disguised as a beggar, Odysseus challenges them to draw Odysseus’s bow, with Penelope agreeing to marry the man who can shoot an arrow accurately from Odysseus’s bow.

These young men, full of strength and pride, soon find that they are unfit to even draw the bow. Odysseus finally draws the bow, shoots the arrow accurately, and then the old man proceeds to slaughter all of the prideful young pretenders.

Yeats himself experienced something vaguely reminiscent of this when he was forced to evict a young and proud Aliester Crowley from the Golden Dawn. And in this poem, Yeats’ praise of Blake is right on. Who today is fit to draw the bow of William Blake, or even Yeats? Every generation has plenty of Antinouses and Eurymachuses, but ever fewer true giants.