Today, we have two cases of mystics pointing fingers at other mystics for being mystics.
From the Balkans, we have a story of an Orthodox monk, known only as Brother Visarion. Visarion lives in the Greek community of Mount Athos, but was born and raised in Bulgaria; and it is in his homeland that he has raised a storm of controversy in his new book, Peter Danov and Vanga: Prophets and Precursors of the Antichrist.
Peter Danov was the founder of the White Brotherhood, which preached the unity of man and nature, and was revered by such luminaries as Albert Einstein and Jiddu Krishnamurti. Vanga, on the other hand, was a blind psychic whose healing powers were apparently legendary across Bulgaria. Both, Visarion claims, are occult figures, "tortured by dark forces," and are to be reviled, not revered.
A priest from Vanga's home town of Petrich, whose name was not mentioned in my source, has responded to Visarion's statement with outrage. "Vanga was a holy woman," he said. "Her gift was from God. She should be canonized."
Undaunted, Visarion shot back, "Instead of explaining to people what fortune-tellers, magicians and psychics are and that these incidents are renounced by God, he (the priest) is trying to set evil as an example."
Then we have the story of the current campaign by the Raelians to undermine Christianity.
The International Raelian Movement has apparently purchased a huge billboard near a freeway in Las Vegas, and put up the words, "GOD IS A MYTH," to the general outrage of the Las Vegas Christian community.
Some of you may be questioning why I'm commenting upon this in a post on mysticism, and wondering why, in fact, I'm not cheering them on. If so, you must not know who the Raelians are.
The Raelians, it turns out, are themselves a church, although some more orthodox believers would probably object to my using that word to describe them. The whole things was dreamed up in 1973 by an auto-racing journalist named Claude Vorilhon. The basic tenet of the Raelians is that life on earth was created by an advanced race of extraterrestrials called "The Elohim" (you might recognize that word as one of the Hebrew words for god; that, say the Raelians, is no coincidence). From this, they deduce that (1) there are other universes inside atoms, (2) world governments should be handed over to people with genius-level IQs, (3) the resurrection of Jesus will be accomplished by cloning, (4) you should have sex as often as possible and with as many people as possible, and (5) both men and women should go shirtless whenever the weather is warm.
Notwithstanding that most guys would be supportive of (5), I think the majority of people would read this list, and say, "These people are a bunch of wingnuts." Me, I'm thinking, "they criticize the Christians for having wacky beliefs? Seriously?"
So basically, what we have here is two cases of people who, with no apparent sense of irony, are objecting to the mystical beliefs of others, not because mysticism itself is (by definition) a bunch of claims for which no evidence exists, but because they think the others' weird mystical beliefs aren't as good as their own weird mystical beliefs.
*ring ring * "Hello, pot? This is the kettle. You're black." *click*
In my shoes, of course, the whole thing seems crazy. After reading these stories, I chuckled a little about how bizarre some folks' thought processes can be. Then I thought about the whole concept of "crusade" and "religious war," and my smile faded a little. I thought, "it's a good thing that people like this aren't in power." But then I remembered the fanatics who are heads of state in some countries in the Middle East, and some of the legislators here in the United States who want to use the bible to direct national policy, and I thought, "Maybe some of them already are." And then I really didn't feel like laughing any more.