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An Interview with Graham Powell on Gifted and Talented Life & Publications (Part One)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 19.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fifteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 15, 2019

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,495

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Graham Powell. He discusses: background, pivotal moments, and educational attainments; becoming a member of the high-IQ community; becoming the main editor for World Intelligence Network ONline Editions (WIN ONE), formerly Genius To Genius Manifest (G2G); tasks and responsibilities; developments in his tenure right into the present; and the most read articles.

Keywords: editor, Genius To Genius Manifest, geophysics, Graham Powell, IQ, World Intelligence Network, WIN ONE.

An Interview with Graham Powell on Gifted and Talented Life & Publications (Part One)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: In terms of the background, what is it? What are the pivotal moments and educational attainments forming you?

Graham Powell: What an intriguing question, Scott. My first thought is that the immediate aftermath of my birth was especially significant as my mother suffered from depression and I was looked after by my grandparents while my mother spent months in hospital. This meant that I did not get baptised – though my brother and sister were. I later went to Sunday School with my brother, yet my foremost memory is of coming home to help my father rebuild the garage. We were clearly sent to Sunday School to be out of the way as my father did the vast amount of cement mixing, then the two of us did the more intricate jobs. We worked very much around the house and I learnt carpentry and other building skills from age four. We always worked with the end result in mind and little else, my father also being a perfectionist. I remember him shouting at me to keep things still as he laboured to fit everything together. He shouted at me one time because I was not supposed to move, despite him falling over. I had to keep the post straight! Perhaps it helped induce in me an autotelic personality type, something prevalent to this day as I do my daily duties. I also developed an early life with a more philosophical outlook than a religious one. Life has never involved earning money as a main goal.

My mother volunteered as a Saint John’s Ambulance nurse and I read all the books she had on it, gaining an excellent knowledge of first aid and anatomy. It was about this time that she told me about when the doctor performed the post-natal checks and commented on how well co-ordinated I was. I think this influenced my father giving me football training in the field next to our house, sport featuring heavily in my youth. I learnt to play football equally with either foot and was very good at heading the ball, even though I was only average height when young.

At Primary School I was popular, and meeting various teachers clearly forged my mental and physical development. Mrs. Bert took us for creative writing and I emerged as a poet. I was often asked to write poems because my schoolmates knew Mrs. Bert would like them and give us ‘House Points’. On one occasion, she gave Haxted House four points for a poem about a giant bird landing and befriending a poet, so we won the House Competition for that term. Mr. Apps, the science and PE teacher at Middle School, also liked me, my prowess at football suddenly being eclipsed by my exceptional ability at cross country running. Bernard Apps became my trainer and I ended up representing my county at the sport.

At Senior School I broke the school record for 800 metres and was one of the few victors in my House that day. Indeed, I became something of a ‘hero’ within Grants House, though I was shy and in no way ardent in pursuing such adulation.

By age 15 I had added cycling to my sporting repertoire, my father rekindling his youthful enthusiasm for the sport. It was a significant time, in hindsight, because during those three years I met people who are now well-known in their fields, one person in cycling itself, another in politics. Knowing them during more humble times helps keep me grounded.

I also went into the Sixth Form, but was disillusioned by the experience as we seemed to be persecuted for being the ‘Punk Year’, so different from any previous academic group at the school. Just before the first year exams, I had an accident on my bicycle and ended up in hospital, the week spent there influencing my choice to leave school and emerge into the working world. Overall, I was tired of being with teenagers who just seemed so infantile, though maybe their bravado and confidence in social situations also jarred, my struggle through that period being mainly one involving extreme introversion. Most of the times I just didn’t want to speak.

I left school and immediately got a job in geophysics, my rise in that area being quite phenomenal. I developed as a communicator and within three years became proficient in social situations. My new confidence made me want to self actualize, the way of doing this coming via two means: a journey around Europe and a return to academia. I eagerly arranged both.

My ten-week hitch-hiking tour of Europe made me realise that I was exceptionally bright and able to communicate across the continent, even if many languages were known minimally by me. I also developed amazing endurance and could walk for many kilometres each day, if required. I carried most of the kit which my work colleague and I had, which was also an ego-blow to that colleague, so much so that he became jealous and resentful – even violent. Towards the end of the tenth week away, we separated and I went straight back home to Surrey, England, from northern Luxembourg. It took 27 hours!

Shortly after my return, I decided to go to college and my aim was to attend university. I met Dorothy Humphrey, a 53-year-old English teacher from Glasgow. I owe her an immeasurable debt in life for taking what was, in essence, a kindling love of my language and transforming it into a raging fire of desire for it. This has never left me and I know it never will.

About this time, I also joined a theatrical group and my love of acting supplemented my studies in language and literature. Several in the drama group said how brilliant I was and after a few years of saving, I applied and was accepted onto the Drama and Theatre Studies course at Middlesex University. I learnt many new aspects to drama and theatre and I am happy to say that I am still in contact with many from that course. It was an incredibly stimulating, creative and rewarding time in every respect!

My post-graduate desire to fuse personal development with creativity and innovation made me take an MA in International Human Resource Management. At the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, I won the academic prize for Best Dissertation. Disappointingly, however, I never got a job within that specific area. Instead, after a few years of retail management, I qualified as a teacher and until recently taught English both in England and abroad. The last few years have seen me develop as an English teacher at university, then advise C.E.O.s and civil servants on how to present themselves, plus create and innovate within their respective areas of competence and responsibility. It’s merges many aspects to my career, which I enjoy.

2. Jacobsen: How did the high-IQ community become part of life? How did you find it, in other words?

Powell: At East Surrey College (where I met Dorothy Humphrey) I made friends with a man who had recently finished a relationship with a member of British Mensa. He was convinced that I would be able to join, so he encouraged me to apply. After finishing college (which drained me of all my financial resources) I resumed work for a while and became a paid-up member of Mensa in January 1987. My interest in the high IQ community really expanded, however, when I got the internet connected within my home in Sardinia. That was 20 years after joining Mensa and by 2009 I had joined a few on-line societies. None of them were in the World Intelligence Network, but, in 2010, I saw a message from Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, the founder of the WIN, about translating the WIN site into Italian. I volunteered to do that, and, just as I was about to finish the translation, more societies joined the WIN and I was suddenly a member.

3. Jacobsen: How did you become the main editor for World Intelligence Network ONline Editions (WIN ONE), formerly Genius To Genius Manifest (G2G)?

Powell: Immediately after finishing the voluntary translation work, Evangelos invited me to resurrect the WIN ONE, which had not been published for over three years at that point, and I took up the editorship, advertising for contributions. They came in rapidly, even a paper in Italian, which I translated. My first WIN ONE was as big as all the previous editions put together, so I was obviously pleased about that.

4. Jacobsen: What tasks and responsibilities come with the position?

Powell: The editor not only advertises for contributions; the role also involves checking each contribution for accuracy, decency and appropriateness – though I must admit that these aspects have never been imposed to refuse publishing anything. The editor collates the content and, especially, corrects the texts, many being written by people whose mother tongue is not English. The editor augments the content, introduces each part and improves the readability of each article, putting in subtitles (for example) or dividing the content into sections. This is all done whilst liaising with the original writer. The last few magazines have seen me contribute a major percentage of the content, especially the puzzles. The editor also decides on the style of the magazine and most of the covers have been designed by me during my tenure.

5. Jacobsen: What have been the main developments of WIN ONE in personal tenure?

Powell: The main development from the WIN ONE has been the WIN Books Project, the first “WINtelligence Books” publication coming out earlier this year as a Kindle book. “The Ingenious Time Machine” is an expression of the talents and ideas within the World Intelligence Network and it took four years to develop and publish the volume. The physical copy of this book should be made available later this year, or at least, that is my goal.

I am also about to publish the WIN ONE more often, though discussions with new collaborators are going ahead now, so I can’t give away too many details… Maybe we can talk again in a few months’ time, Scott… I’d certainly like that.

It has been via my WIN ONE activities that I have made friends and a few times this has evolved into inviting contributors to conferences and meetings, mainly in Dubai and London. It is a personal dream to invite to members to Malta at some point in the not too distant future… Promoting this will be a development within the pages of the WIN ONE. I think the WIN ONE will evolve to be a vehicle for getting people together. Face to face meetings seem more popular in the High IQ World these days, not the production of long, written articles.

6. Jacobsen: What have been the most read articles? Why?

Powell: Though specific data is not available to affirm which articles have been the most read, I can give personal feedback on what you ask. Most people seem to like the philosophical articles, especially the ones by Paul Edgeworth, whose brilliant analyses of philosophers and aspects to their work, such as Aristotle’s writing on contemplation, Cartesian Motion and Heidegger’s Dasein, have been appreciated very much. I know this because readers have contacted me about them. I also appreciate Paul’s work and my own writing has sometimes, serendipitously, evolved to be akin to Paul’s explorations. Rich Stocks’ writing about practical philosophy has been praised too, something I am pleased to have contributed to as well, his work being a commentary on current events in America and the dialectical implications of them, to crudely summarise some of the work he has done. The poetry published in the WIN ONE is popular too. Much of it is also an expression of the zeitgeist prevalent today, which is satisfying to experience.

Above all, Scott, I thank you for your questions and hope that you have gained much from our exchange. I certainly have.

7. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Graham.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Editor, WIN ONE.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 15, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/powell-one; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Graham Powell on Gifted and Talented Life & Publications (Part One) [Online].April 2019; 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/powell-one.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, April 15). An Interview with Graham Powell on Gifted and Talented Life & Publications (Part One)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/powell-one.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Graham Powell on Gifted and Talented Life & Publications (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A, April. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/powell-one>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Graham Powell on Gifted and Talented Life & Publications (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/powell-one.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Graham Powell on Gifted and Talented Life & Publications (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A (April 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/powell-one.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Graham Powell on Gifted and Talented Life & Publications (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/powell-one>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Graham Powell on Gifted and Talented Life & Publications (Part One)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/powell-one.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Graham Powell on Gifted and Talented Life & Publications (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 19.A (2019):April. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/powell-one>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Graham Powell on Gifted and Talented Life & Publications (Part One) [Internet]. (2019, April 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/powell-one.

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In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner on Existence, Mathematics, and Philosophy (Part Five)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 8,513

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Rick Rosner and I conduct a conversational series entitled Ask A Genius on a variety of subjects through In-Sight Publishing on the personal and professional website for Rick. Rick exists on the World Genius Directory listing as the world’s second highest IQ at 192 based on several ultra-high IQ tests scores developed by independent psychometricians. Erik Haereid earned a score at 185, on the N-VRA80. Both scores on a standard deviation of 15. A sigma of ~6.13 for Rick – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 2,314,980,850 – and ~5.67 for Erik – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 136,975,305. Of course, if a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population. This amounts to a joint interview or conversation with Erik Haereid, Rick Rosner, and myself.

Keywords: America, Erik Haereid, Norway, Rick Rosner, Scott Douglas Jacobsen.

Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner on Existence, Mathematics, Philosophy (Part Five)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How do philosophy and mathematics mix with one another? How do philosophy and mathematics not mix with one another? What insights into reality emerge from philosophy and not mathematics, or from mathematics and not from philosophy? Or do these seem inextricably linked to one another? 

Traditionally, philosophy breaks into several disciplines: ethics, aesthetics, epistemology, metaphysics, and so on. Do some of these distinct fields seem unnecessary in philosophy? In that, some sub-disciplines in philosophy seem already explained within others.

Also, what seems like the limits of mathematics and philosophy in providing some fundamental explanation about the world? In that, the rules and principles of mathematics remain non-fundamental. 

Same with the purported big questions of philosophy. They remain important. They give insights, even a sense of grandeur about existence. However, they fail, at least at present, for a complete explanation about the world – assuming such a thing exists in principle.

Erik Haereid: Mathematics is an abstract, logical, cognitive tool based on numerical symbols, based on some assumptions, axioms that we agree on. Whether the assumptions are proper or not is a philosophical issue. Mathematics is about structures and exact relations.

Philosophy is some logical investigation into what’s true and false, and what’s right and wrong. It’s a compass in life. We use it trying to finish our mental map. It’s a cognitive tool that helps us directing our lives more proper, as we see it, than lives that are lived in the present and based on pure intuition and urges.

Philosophy and mathematics go hand in hand thus that we begin with some philosophical inquiries, then we put some mathematics to those thoughts, then we make new philosophical inquiries and so on. An example is the Big Bang theory. It’s reasonable that there many years ago were as many ideas of the Universe, what was outside the human perceptions when watching the sky at day and night, as there were humans. That is, basic for philosophizing is our fantasy; thoughts and emotions in a mental soup based on our genes and experiences. The yellow light we saw at day time on the sky, and we thought were god’s candle or whatever, became through philosophy, mathematics, and science to a massive spherical plasma object consisting of such as hydrogen and helium.

Einstein philosophized through his experimental thoughts about how the Universe could function and look like, and he had, for instance, Newton’s work in his mind. He got some ideas, like that space is curved and cause gravity, which were reasonably for him, and he put mathematics to it. He also philosophized over that the three-dimensional space and time were not independent, but one four-dimensional phenomenon (spacetime). That kind of philosophy and related mathematics created new thoughts about how the Universe looked like, and what was beyond our perceptions.

Who could think of the Universe as a 13-14-billion-year-old highly dense little object exploding into a vast mess of matter and energy, impossible to imagine, thousand years ago? It was the philosophy and mathematics that dug the ditch. And still are. Because we don’t know what’s beyond the Big Bang. And probably, if we look to for instance Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, we will never know. At least never get the whole picture.

Let’s say we could explain the Universe; find some formulas that explained everything (determinism). Then we could explain, prove (based on some axiomatic, logical framework), every statement we had. There wouldn’t be any statements that couldn’t be proved. But according to Gödel, within any axiomatic, logical framework there are statements that cannot be proved and therefore human can never prove a deterministic Universe even though the Universe is deterministic.

But since we are curious, and maybe naive, we still dig. And then we make new and more fantasies, restrict it into some logical, philosophical frame of thoughts, put some mathematics, even more strict relations and order, to it, call them theories and try to prove them. The final act is to observe it; experience that the empirical observations are in accordance with the philosophy and mathematics. Then it’s true, in our understanding of truth. When we have revealed the truth, we don’t need to philosophize about it any more. Of course that’s not completely true, because we don’t believe in our perceptions, and/or we don’t know what they are (what is a thought?). So we will continue philosophizing over that, until we get tired and give up, or get mad.

A harmonic alternation between fantasies (chaos), philosophy (order), mathematics (detailed and more order, relations) and empirical experiences (perceptual truth) is the track here.

Humans tend to try to see the surface of the three-/four-dimensional space we are confined in, from the outside. But there is no surface. What is “no surface?” And so on. The only possibility is to make fantasies about it, philosophize about it, create some mathematical formulas to it, but it’s confined within our perceptions and abstract images. Our desire for knowing exceeds our possible limits of knowledge. Maybe this drive is crucial for human’s evolution

AI and technology, build on better abilities, amplifiers, processors and storage possibilities than we have, could be fruitful for human evolution. We have to respect our limitations, like we do when we make cars, planes, telephones and binoculars. And I think we also do.

I also think we should extend our mind and cognitive abilities to its limit. It’s rewarding when mathematicians (and other scientists) find new solutions, invent new concepts or numbers (like when introducing irrational numbers, and later complex numbers).

We need philosophy as long as we don’t know everything we want to know, independent of which philosophical field we talk about. In this context a single philosophical discipline’s existence is a function of if we still see it proper to try to answer more questions about these topics.

When I know how trees grow, through photosynthesis, and am satisfied with that answer, I don’t need philosophizing about trees and growth anymore. It fulfills my needs. But that’s subjective, because the process, any process, has no end in the human mind. There are always questions to ask, even when we know “everything” about that topic.

If you see a tree, you can see it as timber to build houses, as a plant that grow and live through photosynthesis, as an imaginary picture of the phylogenetic development, as a family tree, as a nightmare, as beautiful, as a wish, as an oxygen producer, as a producer of apples and fruits, as x times heavier and higher than a human, etc. To discover all these angles and views is the aim of philosophy, in all areas and with everything we have any real perception or imaginary idea of.

To understand is beauty. We have to respect that we will never understand everything, and at the same time respect that there are always new things to learn. It’s about a balance. It’s like building a monument, like an enormous cathedral or tower; it takes hundreds, thousands, millions of years, but by putting one brick systematically on top of another we know that we each day get closer to the product; by creating time through successive events we experience that we can reach our goal. And until we know how to live forever, we reproduce and let our children continue the job.

What’s the final point? Maybe to reveal a global truth. To reach the very end, where the illuminated revelation is right in front of us. Is this what life is about? Or is it just an uncorrelated mess, with seemingly none or few relations, no goal, a nihilistic travel through emptiness? Shall we reduce life to simple, cynical social maneuvers that suck all the beauty out of it? I choose not to reduce humans to a harsh evolution process, because it’s meaningless, it’s messy and violent, and it’s logical in the simplest way. This makes me religious even though I don’t believe in God. This also elevates my experience of life.

It’s complicated to see the beauty in everything, and on that road we limit us to exclude what we have not understood yet. But still we unconsciously work towards that goal, because we know on an unconscious level that we need to see everything that exists in relation to each other.

In general we philosophize about everything and anything, and related to math about such as black holes and singularity, how to express the primes in a formula, multiple universes, artificial superintelligence, and how to travel and meet the aliens somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy. Dreaming about travelling to the Moon was one thing, philosophizing about it another and the next step, and then calculating how to do it and doing it the final steps.

Obviously, as we can see when we are at AI’s kickoff, the human brain has many limitations concerning perceiving, storing and processing data. The black boxes are mentioned, and our lack of knowledge of what is going on there even though we have created these devices.

One of the blessings by being a child was the large quantity of fantasies. In books, stories told, dreams, what we saw in the nature we yet didn’t restrict to pure science (Some trees grew into heaven, didn’t they?).

Inventions are made by grown up “children”. There is one person now and then through history that revealed something important, that made his/her fantasy becomes real; like that we can talk to each other from one side of the world to the other, or travel in space. The impossible became possible. This is an ongoing process which we all are a part of all the time.

Maybe our search for objectivity and truth, a real Universe, has something to do with us, our mind more than it’s about if the Universe is objective or subjective. Of course, how is it possible to travel in a subjective Universe? Who are you if my mind is the only mind? How can I interact with something else if this is a part of me?

It’s convenient to look at it as me and the surroundings, as different entities, subject and object, because that’s how we experience it naturally. But when we go into it, philosophizing, exploring it with our thoughts and logic, it could be that everything “else” is sort of an unconscious part of ourselves. “We” are not confined in our body.

We just don’t experience it like that, because we are not aware of it. But by putting it into a thought, we can think of it as a possibility, or just a fantasy. When you travel or do things, I do it, but as during surgery and anesthesia. It’s a matter of consciousness and not. Or several levels of consciousness; I am not aware that I think your thoughts.

Don’t misunderstand this; it sounds narcissistic. But it’s not, it’s a philosophical inquiry. If the person thinks he/she is God, then he/she tries to control all other’s cognition, acts, behavior. But we don’t control each other’s thoughts and behavior. It’s in this context the philosophical inquiry is done.

Maybe we are tricked by the fact that we experience that something is outside our own control, and therefore experience it as what we call objectivity. If I can’t remember that I wrote that sentence or did that thing, how can I then claim that it’s my act? How can I be certain of that me is confined within “my” body, “my” senses, “my” emotions and thoughts, “my” free will? It could happen that I am something else than I experience that I am, even everything. This is about how we identify ourselves, and what kind of responsibility we take.

Let’s say that we all are the same. If everyone and everything are a part of you and you are a part of everything and everyone, then all the interactions are a part of us and we are not limited to our bodies. Subject is object. When you speak to me, even though I can’t imagine or sense that this spoken sentence came from myself, I have no control over it, I don’t know where it came from within what I define as “me”, I have to think, from this point of view, that your voice is my voice. It could be a voice from my unconscious part, like my autonomic nervous system.

It’s not the chaos that is beautiful, but our adaptation to it in the sense of understanding and accepting the volatility in the surroundings, the magnitude of the Universe and life. This is what make logical practices like math and philosophy beautiful; they are tools evolving our understanding, abstract and not, and revealing that life is more than we have ever thought of before.

We talk a lot about what technology can do for us in the future, and obviously we need some kind of cognitive and emotional amplifiers to be what we want to be.

Inventions like social media, internet, shows creativity and that we are capable of doing almost what we want to. I am sure that evolution has its right pace, also related to technology.

[Ed. Further commentary]

We humans have the ability to think we are something we are not; we have the ability to believe we are gods and devils, for instance, that we are everything and nothing, abstractions or concrete manifestations different from which we really are, and base our existence on that false identity. The advantage of this feature is that we can create great ideas that can be converted into practical use. The downside is that we kill each other; become more destructive than necessary. Great ideas are also created by people that are self-aware, so let’s stick with this.

I am in favor of self-awareness, to use a word that is not sufficient and do not cover what I mean; but that’s the best word I came up with. It’s about knowing that you are an entity, existence, and who you are, as best you possible can achieve that self-awareness through all your identity-changes through your life. It’s a continuous struggle. And it’s the best way to live your life, if you ask me; for you and the society. It’s a state of contemplation, and maybe the Buddhist monks are the best achievers of that state, I don’t know. We in the western cultures are not very good at it, though.

When we discuss ontological, epistemological, ethical or aesthetical issues, I choose to start with this: We have to know that we are and approximately who we are; for real, not as abstract or false features. If not, we are driven into insanity.

When I discuss whether ideas exist or not, I have to profoundly feel that I am the entity that thinks of and discuss this problem with myself or others. If not, I get lost.

If abstraction exists per se, beyond our abilities to think abstract, is a function of what concepts we so far in evolution have developed and defined, and which logical inference and irrational beliefs we have established (knowledge).  Proofs of for instance abstractions’ existence are based on our, humans, innate abilities and learned knowledge. The core is how we humans define proof. And this is about feelings, experiences, profound feeling of and so on; the core inside us (i.e. self-awareness), which is irrational as such.

It’s possible to disagree about anything and everything, even though one wizard claims his or her right (like it seems I do here; I underline that this is my experience), and even “proves” it. Bottom line is that it ends here; reality, existence, truth cannot be proved as anything else than that we experience it and call it “truth, reality” and so on. Something is difficult to contradict as real, though, like physical events that “everyone” sees and experience. The closest we get to reality is therefore our experience of it. Do you see what I mean?

I think we have to see knowledge as a human phenomenon, a mental ability that helps advanced organisms like us to provide better identities and lives. Humans should focus more on what is real and not, and what is me and what is someone and something else; who are we, and how shall we capture a sense of that?

It’s not about living all life in contemplation, but to evolve the ability to slow down the chaotic lives when needed, and find that inner peace or understanding of whom one is; a meditation skill.

We all change identities every minute, every day, all life, and it’s a struggle knowing who we are on this bumpy travel. And since humans have these complex mental abilities, we also have the ability to dissociate, create several personalities, thinking we are something we are not and make a mess for ourselves and each other. I don’t say that I think we would be angels if we all had this continuously inner contact with who we are, but I guess we certainly would have been nicer and lived better lives and also chose the right path; because we would have the inner knowledge and wisdom of “here I am, and that is who I am just now”. Then the future would be easier regardless obstacles we met on the road. 

So, if there is one certain achievable knowledge, it is the knowledge of who we are. No one can take that inner experience away from anybody (even though we try and succeed…). But we have to believe in it; it’s not proved mathematically or a result from a syllogism. It’s an experience. It’s beyond thoughts and emotions, which are tools to gain that inner knowledge and wisdom.

If you want to be rich or a king, go for it, but the point is to experience and achieve an inner peace about who you are on that road. It’s not about restraining our lives, on the contrary, but about achieving goals through self-awareness. Do you see what I mean? I don’t believe in piety in the strictest meaning of the word, because that’s a wrong approach to inner peace. I am more in favor of hedonism, but with that extra ability to always know who you really are, and not the narcissistic or ascending self.

Maybe I am a bit off-road concerning the topic in this thread, but when we talk about philosophy and what kind of mindful activities humans should strive for in the future, I have to mention this which I strongly believe in. We can ask ontological and epistemological questions about reality, existence and knowledge, and questions about what is beautiful and not, and what is good and not, but anyway we end up with ourselves. That kind of self-awareness is the key to evolve on every other area we deal with. Being human is not only to gain knowledge but also wisdom, and that is to know when enough is enough.

Because we tend to blend our abstractions of who we are with who we really are, also because other people, the culture, plant ideas in our mind about who we are and should be, we build a distance between our perception of who we think we are and who we really are. This creates chaos in our minds and in the culture; socially.

It’s the culture, family, friends, activities and your surroundings that function as mirrors, that make you be self-aware or not. If this culture make you believe that you are something else than you really are, then you go out searching for someone and something that mirrors the real you, that make you find yourself, until you find it; because we all have that inner profound wisdom about whom we are, all the time. We just need help; mirrors that lead us towards it.

Self-awareness is also about understanding ones limitations. If you are far away from knowing who you are, you are not capable of capturing your possibilities. It’s like a child’s growth: The child develops best when its parents function as mirrors for that child; sees it as it is. Then the child is open-minded for strangers and differences, curious about it, and is driven towards new phenomenon. It changes identity every second. And because its parents sees it whatever what (not accept everything it does, though), it will continue being self-aware. It’s a process through life. When we get older other people function as mirrors, the culture does, and the same rules exists. When we are not seen as we are, when we cannot see ourselves in a film, a book or in a neighbor, we get lost in our minds and develop other and alternative pictures of who we are than we really are. When the culture contains many such individuals and features, then it gets messy.

One of my points is that we become xenophobic and hateful against each other when we abstract from our true self. And the contrary; friendly and inviting when we know who we are. Then ethics is to build a community and culture which embrace values that enhance each individual’s self-awareness. A culture that motivates everyone to be something one impossibly can be is an unethical culture, and the opposite. It’s not about restriction, but a consciousness about whom we are and who we can be. The sky’s the limit in our mind, but not in real life. And I think that is crucial to understand, and making good citizens; people that know how to treat each other with respect and good. And even though it sounds imprisoning, it works opposite; you will actually achieve more in life when you are aware of this. Self-confidence is å product of being self-aware.

You can create a justice system that controls people’s actions until a degree, but the basic problems are still the same; the system does not prevent violence. That’s because it’s still unfair; no such system embraces everyone. The thing, if you ask me, is not to prevent violence and make good citizens by telling people who they are and should be, but letting them be who they are. Then our natural social collisions will make us adapt properly. I think this is a path to more empathy and understanding, as I said before: Egoism is altruism. This is what I mean by that. I don’t say this will prevent violence completely, not at all. But it is, in my opinion, the best way to achieve cultures where all live their best lives and that is inside the acceptable for almost everyone. Statistically spoken the expected value, the average, of life quality could be the same but the standard deviation much less. There would be shorter distance between the extremities. We (think) we need more rules and limitations and governmental institutions because we are less in contact with whom we really are, and more in contact with an abstract, false identity; that’s my point.

About aesthetics: The idea with art is to elevate us, bring us into the contact I speak about, to our true self. So the idea of aesthetics, say art, is to bring us closer to mutual love and respect, understanding and behavior that we all can accept.

It’s about making the right picture, mirroring ourselves. I think it’s not a question if, let’s say in painting, impressionism is better for us than expressionism, or if that abstract art is better than figurative art, but what that piece of painting and sculpture does with us; like the book we read. I read novels that enhance my feelings of being, existing. It’s like travelling and being aware of that. And as with esthetics, it’s not possible to draw general and absolute rules. It’s individual.

When that is said it’s obvious that some with knowledge about paintings can help people to see things in the painting, and through that new insight evolve and appreciate that piece of art. Like in architecture, where you can look at a building and feel that it’s ugly until the architect wizard tell you about the details, the reasons; why, where, how. Then it becomes beautiful, as the zoologist thinks when he watches tarantulas.

Should we draw a painting and write a novel as beautiful as possible, far from reality, to enhance our good feelings that we get when we watch beautiful things; idealizing? Or should we paint and describe reality, with the chaotic mix of ugliness and beauty, reflecting our real emotions in our real lives?

If everything in a culture is about creating idealistic, always beautiful art and social installations, we get lost in our hopes and wishes, in our abstractions and thoughts about how we want our lives to be. If we don’t create any counterpoise to this, we will probably evolve abstract selves and huge distance to our true selves, and without the opportunity to evolve our true selves as we wish. To gain the optimal evolution we have to create idealistic art and art reflecting reality.

Being a true romantic, as an example, is not about being bohemian or poet, but being bohemian in the weekends, so to speak. Hedonism is a spare time phenomenon. It’s about having this inner switch turning you self on and off. A naturalist, a person that embraces things as they are, has also to turn his and her romantic-switch on now and then. Art is not about destruction, but about making us understand that no one survives if life is pure destructive. We have to see, to internalize, that there are good as well. If we don’t, it’s not because of our existence but because of our culture, art, communications and perceptions of life. It’s an illusion that reality is pure destructive. And it’s an illusion that it’s pure good.

[Ed., further additions]

We can divide reality into a concrete and an abstract world, where the abstractions meet the concretions now and then. It is “impossible” to claim that something created or perceived in the abstract world don’t have the opportunity to appear in the concrete world, such as time travels.  We don’t know the range of the concrete possibilities that lie in our abstractions. We profit from distinguishing between our abstract and concrete identities. The abstractions as phenomenon are far ahead of us, far beyond, but at the same time provide us vast amounts of opportunities in the concrete world.

Example quantum physics: The fact that two particles can function completely synchronized on different physical places, with no concrete relation, is an example of changes in our perception of reality based on evolved abstractions (math). When I say that we must be aware of our limitations, I mean strive for being self-aware, and not that we shall not endeavor and evolve through our abstractions; including convert from abstract concepts to real experiences like time travels. Abstractions are about aspiring, setting goals, and respect that we reach them when and if we do.

The very first grounds for anything is “because it is like that”. Axioms are established because we feel and experience that this is right, and not because it’s a logical context that leads to the axioms. My point is that all explanations, all mathematics and philosophy are based on an irrational, emotionalized elastic floor that we never can get under or beyond.  

Math is about developing numerical logical coherences, formulas, based on some basic rules, axioms that we agree in. When we bump into problems that involve lack of concepts and definitions, we create them. That’s the advantage by abstractions; it’s quite easy to expand and evolve. When mathematicians stop developing concerning formulas containing strange numbers that they until then did not have defined in their number system, they invent new number concepts and symbols (i.e. from natural to rational, rational to irrational and further to complex numbers). They adapt to their abstract needs by expanding their abstract world. Even though complex numbers (square root of negative numbers) seem illogical and incomprehensible by first glimpse, based on traditional mathematical rules, it’s about amplifying the system by thinking beyond what the mind think is possible.   

In logical, abstract activities we have the possibility to achieve new coherences and correlations, after developing new abstract concepts, definitions and symbols and the logical rules we attend to, that we possibly couldn’t within the frame of concepts and symbols we are captured into at that time.

It becomes a kind of abstract nanotechnology; we distort basic structures, and create new concepts, definitions and logical rules that we accept.

An intriguing thought: Maybe the prime numbers are math’s enigma to mankind; we have to reveal the formula explaining the primes to understand what life is about; what is meaningful and not. If I was a zoologist I would probably have found another example, though. But maybe it’s impossible to find that formula concerning the prime numbers without expanding into new mathematical concepts.

Maybe rhythm, logic, coherences actually is about developing concepts and symbols, enlarging our abstract world more than trying to gain control over the already existing abstractions we know of. That is, every lack of rhythm and understanding is a lack of new concepts, lack of abstract expansion. If that’s so, it’s not about what we want and not want, but how we can achieve that expanded wisdom.

Rick Rosner: I agree with Eric that our philosophizing about the nature of the world has been recently constrained in the last hundred years by our finally having a first overall picture of the structure of the universe.

Although, I would say that our first conclusions, including the Big Bang, are likely not going to turn out to be as right as we currently think they are. But until a hundred years ago, we didn’t even know there were other galaxies.

It was less than a hundred years ago that the expansion of the universe was discovered. A hundred years ago, we didn’t know that stars ran on fusion. That’s less than ninety years ago. There was no way we would be even anywhere close to right in philosophizing about the universe because we had a very incomplete picture.

Our picture is still well short of, in our current philosophies and science, the overall structure and behavior of the universe; it is still off in the weeds. But it is closer to correct than ever before because we have more observational evidence than ever before, and it is not even a gradual incremental increase in accuracy.

It is an explosive increase in understanding over the past 100 years. We had Newton’s universal gravitation, which itself was a huge step and then we had the relativities but they were brand new.

So, anyway we’re living in a new era of philosophy and science on the largest scales and philosophy can be considered for science on the largest possible scale with an observational foundation for the first time ever.

Ten thousand years of trying to imagine the universe with some explosive steps towards understanding from time to time going from an earth-centered universe to a sun-centered universe, the discovery of the elements and all that stuff, but we’ve only gotten the tools for any observation and information based global philosophizing in the past few generations.

And this coincides with the idea that what science is supposed to do is boil everything down to a single general set of principles or a single theory; unification in general. Let’s see how many things we can put under a single umbrella.

We wouldn’t get arguments from many scientists if you said that biology and chemistry are at their most fundamental levels just physics. And they need to have some quibble saying there are emergent principles in biology and chemistry that you’d have a hard time predicting from physics. So, you can’t do away with biology and chemistry.

Then if you came back and said, “Yes but all the physical interactions from which these emergent phenomena arise, that’s still all physics.” They might have to grudgingly say, “Yeah.” You could argue that evolution is a unifying principle of life on earth.

Now still, you can take it all back on physics, but evolution is the framework that encompasses all that and gives you a philosophical structure for understanding what’s going on. Evolution is still subject to severe revision.

It wasn’t until the 60’s and 70’s when Stephen Jay Gould came on with punctuated equilibrium. Before that most people and still, most people have the idea that evolution, if they believe in it at all, is this gradual thing that cuts along with occasional mutations being helpful and being integrated into net of life.

Whereas punctuated equilibrium says the species generally go on without changing much for tens and even hundreds of thousands or even millions of years until special circumstances permit for rapid change in evolution on change in a few hundred, a few thousand, or a couple ten thousand years based on either a changing environment or a small segment of a population being isolated.

If you were to graph somehow one finch changing into another finch, it wouldn’t be a gradual transformation of one finch into the other. Instead, it would be finch A going along for fifteen thousand, twenty-five, or fifty-five thousand years and then all of a sudden part of that finch population, something happens to it; it gets isolated or the weather changes or some crap happens and then within fifteen hundred years finch B emerges.

But anyway, that’s a recent addition to evolutionary theory and then epigenetics is probably even more recent, not that I can even talk about that in any decent terms but I think epigenetics is like Lamarckism that isn’t wrong.

Lamarckism is the idea that an organism’s life history is somehow incorporated into what it passes on genetically with the standard example being that if a giraffe has to reach higher and higher to get to stuff on trees that reaching is somehow going to be incorporated, it is going to be passed on to its kids because the giraffe had to be so reachy all its life.

It wants to have longer necks, which survive better and pass on their long neck genes. So, it is not individual experience changing, it is the better-adapted creatures pass on their genes and if this happens in enough increments; if there’s a niche for longer-necked creatures, then longer-necked creatures are going to have more life success.

That is, they’ll get more food. They’ll be able to get laid better because they are healthier than the short-necked giraffes. So, the long-necked giraffes will have more descendants than the short-necked giraffes.

What I think epigenetics says, I should probably read the Wikipedia article so I’m not wrong, is that our genome; it has a bunch of junk genes. The genes that are expressed to make us and operate us are like in a teamwork with all the genes we have.

Most of the genes are right along those that have just been passed along because there’s no reason for them to be knocked out across several billion years of evolution. But some of these genes can be turned on based on life experience, so you do have an options package based on your life experience because you have all these templates to express other stuff if you run into the right circumstances.

I’m not sure that this means that these will be passed on based on your life experience, except that there will be bias if you survive better because your genes have been turned on. But anyway, that’s a whole new area of genetics that would’ve surprised the shit out of Darwin; he didn’t even know we had genes.

We have the bias towards unification looking for overall principles in philosophy, in math, in science and this unifying philosophy is generally successful. You’ve got the deductive principle and the inductive principle.

I don’t know which is which, but like one is looking to generalize and the other is you’re looking to specialize; take general principles and make new inventions from what you know. And science has had huge amounts of success going in both directions.

You’re going to make a bunch of money going from the general to the specific and they are making these stuff, but you’re going to get tenure and by going from this specific to the general.

I agree with most of what he says. It reminds me of three possible future paths for science which we talked about, which is:

1)      We complete science and know everything.

2)      We complete science without knowing everything because there are things beyond what we can know.

3)      Science proceeds to acquire a more and more complete picture of the universe but never reaching 100% completeness. There’s always more to know.

That seems the most reasonable path that we’ll render with AI, big data. So, our descendants and the things and people that will come after us will find all sorts of relationships in the world that we had no idea existed, probably don’t even have the mental capacity to process.

But it is still part of the ongoing but never complete process of understanding the world. Eric also talks about the importance of beauty and emotion and it used to be a stereotype when presenting robots in science fiction that they would be emotionless.

They would make dispassionate judgments just based on algorithms. Some of these judgments would be horrifying. The Terminator series with this cold logic tells the robots to eradicate the humans.

I think you can’t operate in the world effectively without assigning values to events and things and ideas and link to those values or emotions feeling good when positive things happen and bad when negative things happen and feeling good when you see something that appeals to your sense of aesthetics.

I think that the beings that come after us with much larger information processing capacity will continue to have emotions but emotions that will probably be even deeper than our own. If you can say something like our emotions are deeper than a dog’s emotions because our emotions are informed from more angles and based on more information, very few dogs write poetry and I think it makes sense to extrapolate from that that the beings who come after us with their bigger brains will have emotional structures that are bigger and deeper still.

The half robots of the year 2115 will feel deeply and have relationships among themselves and other beings that are as intricate and feeling and reflecting of values as our own and more so. Emotions and values are part of the toolkit that let you operate in the world. They are not for fun.

We as evolved beings; our emotions and values are largely evolved. Love is a cultural overlay; the feelings of love and the idea of love is a cultural overlay on our evolved drives to reproduce and to care for our offspring.

Future emotions and future values will have some of those same structures. People in the future may feel things strongly and the more stoic people of the future may feel emotions as being frippery but, in general, emotions help you navigate the world and help order emerge into the world.

They are a necessary part of conscious life and consciousness itself is probably a near necessary part of increasing order in the world. The point of view now is that everything boils down to physics. If you take biology apart everything happens because of physics, chemistry; because of physics.

So, all the more complicated sciences boil down to complicated instances of the simplest most basic science. I would say that similarly some of the complicated ideas of philosophy may be seen as boiling down to the more basic principles that might be found in math and in physics or even more basic than that in the principles of existence.

The consequence of this scientific program for the past few centuries has been to search for and boil everything down to essential principles and when you can’t do that you look for more macro explanations and overarching systems of values and beliefs.

But those overarching systems are subject to being boiled down to more essential principles as those principles are discovered and expanded upon. The current dominant belief of our time is scientism. The belief in science is the dominant and most dynamic belief system of our time.

Humans and human society and the universe itself has been increasingly subject to scientific analysis and most scientifically educated people believe that we are the entirely biological products of billions of years of evolution rather than being imbued with certain magical properties by God.

Now, that doesn’t mean that values have to be discarded, instead, we have to discover values within the more scientific framework and there is a lazy default form of science that says everything is random and nothing means anything but that is a misunderstanding of what goes on in an information-based universe.

It is hard to pull a bunch of values from a purely scientific point of view but you can pull some values and then you can build upon those like one value you can pull is that increasing order seems to be good, given how we fit into the world and the desires we’ve evolved to have.

If you can pull out that you want the preservation of order unless it is corrosive dictatorial preservation of order that’s at the expense of other values. You can pull out the golden rule because we know from personal experience that we want certain things and we can assume that other beings share many of the same things, the same desires we have.

And from the preference for order and from the golden rule you can build more complicated philosophies.

Even though we’re building not from benevolent God, His goodness, the magic property of consciousness and souls and all, you can still build from basic principles out to an entire philosophy, which will be helpful and necessary when we start to have to deal with the ethics of the new existences; new beings that we will bring into existence via AI and also the future humans and their future multiplicious forms and their augmentation and the new relationships among augmented humans and AI and the whole mess that’s going to coming in the next century. 

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Erik Haereid: “About my writing: Most of my journalistic work I did in the pre-Internet-period (80s, 90s), and the articles I have saved are, at best, aged in a box somewhere in the cellar. Maybe I can find some of it, but I don’t think that’s that interesting.

Most of my written work, including crime short stories in A-Magasinet (Aftenposten (one of the main newspapers in Norway, as Nettavisen is)), a second place (runner up) in a nationwide writing contest in 1985 arranged by Aftenposten, and several articles in different newspapers, magazines and so on in the 1980s and early 1990s, is not published online, as far as I can see. This was a decade and less before the Internet, so a lot of this is only on paper.

From the last decade, where I used more time doing other stuff than writing, for instance work, to mention is my book from 2011, the IQ-blog and some other stuff I don’t think is interesting here.

I keep my personal interests quite private. To you, I can mention that I play golf, read a lot, like debating, and 30-40 years and even more kilos ago I was quite sporty, and competed in cross country skiing among other things (I did my military duty in His Majesty The King’s Guard (Drilltroppen)). I have been asked from a couple in the high IQ societies, if I know Magnus Carlsen. The answer is no, I don’t :)”

Haereid has interviewed In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal Advisory Board Member Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, some select articles include topics on AI in What will happen when the ASI (Artificial superintelligence) evolves; Utopia or Dystopia? (Norwegian), on IQ-measures in 180 i IQ kan være det samme som 150, and on the Norwegian pension system (Norwegian). His book on the winner/loser-society model based on social psychology published in 2011 (Nasjonalbiblioteket), which does have a summary review here.

Erik lives in Larkollen, Norway. He was born in Oslo, Norway, in 1963. He speaks Danish, English, and Norwegian. He is Actuary, Author, Consultant, Entrepreneur, and Statistician. He is the owner of, chairman of, and consultant at Nordic Insurance Administration.

He was the Academic Director (1998-2000) of insurance at the BI Norwegian Business School (1998-2000) in Sandvika, Baerum, Manager (1997-1998) of business insurance, life insurance, and pensions and formerly Actuary (1996-1997) at Nordea in Oslo Area, Norway, a self-employed Actuary Consultant (1996-1997), an Insurance Broker (1995-1996) at Assurance Centeret, Actuary (1991-1995) at Alfa Livsforsikring, novice Actuary (1987-1990) at UNI Forsikring, and a Journalist at Norsk Pressedivisjon.

He earned an M.Sc. in Statistics and Actuarial Sciences from 1990-1991 and a Bachelor’s degree from 1984 to 1986/87 from the University of Oslo. He did some environmental volunteerism with Norges Naturvernforbund (Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature), where he was an activist, freelance journalist and arranged ‘Sykkeldagen i Oslo’ twice (1989 and 1990) as well as environmental issues lectures.

He has industry experience in accounting, insurance, and insurance as a broker. He writes in his IQ-blog the online newspaper Nettavisen. He has personal interests in history, philosophy, reading, social psychology, and writing.

He is a member of many high-IQ societies including 4G, Catholiq, Civiq, ELITE, GenerIQ, Glia, Grand, HELLIQ, HRIQ, Intruellect, ISI-S, ISPE, KSTHIQ, MENSA, MilenijaNOUS, OLYMPIQ, Real, sPIqr, STHIQ, Tetra, This, Ultima, VeNuS, and WGD.

Rick G. Rosner: “According to semi-reputable sources, Rick Rosner has the world’s second-highest IQ. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writers Guild Award and Emmy nominations, and was named 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Registry.

He has written for Remote ControlCrank YankersThe Man ShowThe EmmysThe Grammys, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He worked as a bouncer, a nude art model, a roller-skating waiter, and a stripper. In a television commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the “World’s Smartest Man.” The commercial was taken off the air after Subway sandwiches issued a cease-and-desist. He was named “Best Bouncer” in the Denver Area, Colorado, by Westwood Magazine.

Rosner spent much of the late Disco Era as an undercover high school student. In addition, he spent 25 years as a bar bouncer and American fake ID-catcher, and 25+ years as a stripper, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television. He came in second or lost on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over a flawed question and lost the lawsuit. He won one game and lost one game on Are You Smarter Than a Drunk Person? (He was drunk). Finally, he spent 37+ years working on a time invariant variation of the Big Bang Theory.

Currently, Rosner sits tweeting in a bathrobe (winter) or a towel (summer). He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, dog, and goldfish. He and his wife have a daughter. You can send him money or questions at LanceversusRick@Gmail.Com, or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 8, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-five; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner on Existence, Mathematics, Philosophy (Part Five) [Online].April 2019; 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-five.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, April 8). Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner on Existence, Mathematics, Philosophy (Part Five). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-five.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner on Existence, Mathematics, Philosophy (Part Five). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A, April. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-five>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner on Existence, Mathematics, Philosophy (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-five.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner on Existence, Mathematics, Philosophy (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A (April 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-five.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner on Existence, Mathematics, Philosophy (Part Five)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-five>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner on Existence, Mathematics, Philosophy (Part Five)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-five.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner on Existence, Mathematics, Philosophy (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 19.A (2019):April. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-five>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner on Existence, Mathematics, Philosophy (Part Five) [Internet]. (2019, April; 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/haereid-rosner-five.

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An Interview with Takudzwa Mazwienduna from the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance

Author: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 1, 2019

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,503

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Takudzwa Mazwienduna is the informal leader of the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance. He discusses: early life; formal education; role in the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance; social and communal activities of the secular alliance; important activist efforts; views of the secular by the general public; important activists, writers, speakers, and thinkers in the secular movement and community in Zimbabwean history; hopes and fears; becoming involved; and final thoughts or feelings.

Keywords: Canadian Atheist, Catholic, Mutare, Takudzwa Mazwienduna, Zimbabwe, Zimbabwean Secular Alliance.

An Interview with Takudzwa Mazwienduna from the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

*Original Publication in Canadian Atheist.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was early life like for you, e.g., geography, culture, language, religion or lack thereof, education, and family structure and dynamics?

Takudzwa Mazwienduna: I was born in Mutare; the Zimbabwean city that borders Mozambique, to a Catholic family. I grew up as the only child to David Mazwienduna and Abigail Kamundimu Mazwienduna, thanks to Catholic school, I was just as devout as my mother.

I did my primary education in Mutare and Kwekwe respectively before going to Catholic boarding school at Marist Brothers Nyanga Boys High School. I fell in love with the school library during this period and I developed an appetite for knowledge.

There were pressures from my family to take up a scientific career like my father who was a Chemist, but I loved writing and dreamt of being a journalist. I went on to study Literature, Divinity, and History at Advanced level in High School and this was the first time I read the Bible as a practical book to study leading to my doubts about my faith.

Journalism is not a rewarding profession in Zimbabwe, so my parents persuaded me to do something else other than that after high school. I went on to study Development Studies at Midlands State University and worked for the International Institute for Development Facilitation as an intern.

I got to meet chiefs and rural communities in Zimbabwe during Work Related Learning in the course of this degree and was horrified by the religious witch hunting practices that were common. This lack of morality evident in most religious doctrines led me to question and eventually lose my religion.

2. Jacobsen: What levels of formal education have been part of life for you? How have you informally self-educated?

Mazwienduna: I graduated with an honours degree in Development Studies from Midlands State University in 2016. I love reading and learning new ideas and skills however. I have learnt more on my own than I did in my 17 years of formal education.

3. Jacobsen: What have been the tasks and responsibilities as an executive of the Zimbabwe Secular Alliance?

Mazwienduna: The Zimbabwean Secular Alliance hasn’t been formal as yet but we have done a lot as a community.

We never appointed tasks to each other but we took turns to represent the secular community on radio, in religious discussions and in decision making bodies taking advantage of the various connections and opportunities our members have.

4. Jacobsen: What are the important social and communal activities of the Zimbabwe Secular Alliance?

Mazwienduna: Some of our members donate blood every year to help reduce the child birth related deaths in rural Zimbabwe. We have also started community libraries and created platforms on social media to raise civic awareness; something that is not very common in Zimbabwe

5. Jacobsen: What have been important activist efforts in its history? What have been the successes and failures of these efforts?

Mazwienduna: Zimbabwe doesn’t have a long history of secular activism. We are the first to emerge. This might be because our constitution is secular, the government and society however are not and this gave us the need to.

We have managed to increase awareness about Secularism on national radio and we have managed to get one of our own included on the National Censorship Board. Due to our lack of funding however, we got kicked off national radio on the command of the Christians who sponsored the shows.

Secularism is still a far fetched dream in Zimbabwe and no one cares that the constitution protects it, that kind of shows how low civic awareness is and also explains why the Zimbabwean government gets away with so many atrocities.

6. Jacobsen: In terms of the ways in which the general public views those working for more secularism in Zimbabwe, how are they viewed? How are the secular and the non-religious as a community treated in Zimbabwe?

Mazwienduna: Secularists are automatically viewed as Satanists or Anti Christs. Most Zimbabwean Atheists are still in the closet because they know for a fact that they will be harassed, humiliated or even disowned by their families.

I, for instance, have grown distant from my own family because of my outspoken secularism. I haven’t seen them for 2 years since I’ve been living in South Africa; a more secular community.

Zimbabwean society also doesn’t tolerate LGBTQ rights (gay people are still sent to jail if discovered) and angry mobs will harass any woman they see wearing a short skirt (a very common occurrence). Zimbabwe is exactly like the 21st century version of 17th century Salem.

7. Jacobsen: Who have been the important activists, writers, speakers, and thinkers in the secular movement and community in Zimbabwean history right into the present?

Mazwienduna: There hasn’t been anyone advocating for secularism in Zimbabwe before our community was formed. While there might be Atheists and Agnostics in Zimbabwe, most of them are still in the closet and awareness is very low when it comes to secular issues.

8. Jacobsen: As we move further into 2019, what are your hopes and fears for secularism in Zimbabwe?

Mazwienduna: We want to have more media presence and we hope a culture of tolerance will build up and that Zimbabweans respect human diversity.

We remain uncertain of the political climate however, the current government doesn’t respect the rule of law and they have committed gross human rights violations in the past 2 years.

The authoritarian government is least likely to support secular concerns; the only language they understand is war and terror.

9. Jacobsen: How can people become involved through the donation of time, the addition of membership, links to professional and personal networks, giving monetarily, exposure in interviews or writing articles, and so on?

Mazwienduna: We are registering the Humanist Society of Zimbabwe as an organisation for the first time. Any contribution of any form will be welcome. You can contact us on the Zimbabwean Atheist Facebook page.

10. Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts based on the conversation today?

Mazwienduna: For secularism to be attainable in most African societies, there is a need for civic awareness to be raised in communities so that the rule of law gets backing from the people and become established.

11. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Takudzwa.

Mazwienduna: It is my pleasure, Scott. Thank you.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Informal Leader, Zimbabwean Secular Alliance.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 1, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mazwienduna.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Takudzwa Mazwienduna from the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance [Online].April 2019; 1(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mazwienduna.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, April 1). An Interview with Takudzwa Mazwienduna from the Zimbabwean Secular AllianceRetrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mazwienduna.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S., An Interview with Takudzwa Mazwienduna from the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance African Freethinker. 1.A, April. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mazwienduna>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Takudzwa Mazwienduna from the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance.African Freethinker. 1.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mazwienduna.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Takudzwa Mazwienduna from the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance.African Freethinker. 1.A (April 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mazwienduna.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Takudzwa Mazwienduna from the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance, African Freethinker, vol. 1.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mazwienduna>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Takudzwa Mazwienduna from the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance, African Freethinker, vol. 1.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mazwienduna.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Takudzwa Mazwienduna from the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance.” African Freethinker 1.A (2019):April. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mazwienduna>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Takudzwa Mazwienduna from the Zimbabwean Secular Alliance [Internet]. (2019, April; 1(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mazwienduna.

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Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with John Collins on the Theology of “The Message” and William Marrion Branham (Part Three)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 19.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fifteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 1, 2019

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 7,897

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

John Collins is an Author, and the Webmaster of Seek The Truth. He discusses: false claims and lies of William Marrion Branham; central false claims by Branham about Christianity; the central false claims by Branham about the role of men and women within the church; the central false claims about the nature of the world and the nature of Christ by Branham (compared to mainstream interpretations of the Bible and the narrative of the life of Christ); the main lies by Branham to the followers of The Message; the peripheral but noteworthy false claims by Branham made about the Bible; the peripheral but noteworthy false claims by Branham made about Christianity; the peripheral but noteworthy false claims by Branham made about the nature of the world and the nature of Christ by Branham (compared to mainstream interpretations of the Bible and the narrative of the life of Christ); the peripheral but noteworthy lies by Branham to the followers of The Message; and the single false claim or lie that tends to be the most powerful in deconverting members from the cult or cult-like community.

Keywords: Christianity, faith healing, John Collins, Seek The Truth, The Message, webmaster, William Marrion Branham.

An Interview with John Collins on the Theology of “The Message” and William Marrion Branham (Part Three)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let’s talk about specific instances of false claims and lies by the late William Marrion Branham. What have been the central false claims by Branham about the Bible?

John Collins: For any who have never spent any significant time learning or indoctrinated in the theology of William Branham’s “Message” cult theology, it would sound very strange to review Branham’s false claims about the Bible. To the casual listeners of his sermons, those who are familiar with the Bible and its teachings, William Branham’s theology is only slightly off in many cases. The casual listener might recognize erroneous statements but would be unfamiliar with the doctrinal positions built upon those same errors.

I differ with some of my colleagues in their opinion of the nature of these errors. Some who are both familiar with Christian theology and Branham’s errors are of the opinion that Branham was simply an uneducated man who did not understand the Biblical text and made some false claims that are in three categories: trivial mistakes, unorthodox doctrine based solely upon his religious affiliation, and in later years, destructive doctrine. My research has painted a much different picture. His early communication skills, as both a speaker and a writer, suggest that he was educated much more than his latest iteration of stage persona described. His religious doctrine and affiliation are far more fluid than most are aware, as are his doctrinal positions. And the errors that some might consider trivial are the building blocks that were used to eventually lift himself into position as the central figure of a destructive cult that has been the tree from which several other destructive cult branches were created. There definitely appears to have been strategy and purpose behind even these false claims.

For example, William Branham falsely claimed that the Biblical stories of Enoch and Noah intersected[i], and that Enoch lived five hundred years until the days of Noah[ii]. To the casual listener, this is a simple mistake. The Bible states that Enoch was taken by God after 365 years and is very clear on the timeline from Enoch to Noah. According to Genesis chapter 5, Enoch fathered Methuselah at age 252, Methuselah fathered Lamech at age 187, and Lamech fathered Noah at age 182 – placing Noah’s birth approximately seventy years after Enoch left the earth.

Those who are familiar with Branham’s indoctrination strategy, however, recognize this “simple mistake” as one of the primary building blocks for a destructive cult. Branham used this “mistake” to claim that Noah symbolically represented mainstream Christianity, while Enoch symbolically represented the “Bride”, which he considered to be his “Message” cult.[iii] This parallel was used by Branham to later claim that mainstream Christianity must suffer while his cult would escape unharmed before the End of Days.

2. Jacobsen: What have been the central false claims by Branham about Christianity?

Collins: During the formation of the “Message” cult, as William Branham was establishing a group of followers from which to recruit, most of Branham’s claims about Christianity were general observations that could seemingly be verified by a large population of the Christian community. His claims against mainstream Christianity were mostly limited to statements against cold, formal religion[iv], hypocrisy[v], and complacency[vi]; claims that many of his listeners could easily recognize. He rarely spoke against the Christian denominations of faith, as many attendees to his highly advertised revival meetings were from mainstream Christianity. Instead, he promoted his campaigns as “inter-evangelical”[vii] and “inter-denominational”[viii], showing support for the overall non-Catholic Christian community. His sermons contained an inviting, all-are-welcome theme of unity.[ix]

During this time, Branham tailored the theology in his sermons to match the beliefs of the majority of people in his revivals and appeared to have understood what he preached. In a prayer while standing before a Trinitarian crowd in Erie, PA, Branham asked the “Third Person of the Trinity”, the “Holy Spirit” to come.[x] In New York, NY, he announced that he had accepted the Trinity.[xi] In Saskatoon, SK, he attempted to unite Oneness Pentecostalism with Trinitarianism, explaining that Trinitarians believed in One God, and that Oneness theology was mistakenly missing the distinction between the Father and the Son.[xii] Yet Branham is mistakenly remembered by most religious historians as a Oneness Pentecostal.[xiii]

When speaking before non-Trinitarian crowds, however, Branham would reject Trinitarianism, claiming that he believed in three “dispensations” of God instead of three “Persons”.[xiv] While doing so, he often implied that Trinitarian Christians believed in “three gods”.[xv] Over the years, Branham’s doctrine continued to display signs of destructive theology, causing even his closest affiliations to sever ties.[xvi] Invitations to speak before Trinitarian churches would decrease, leaving his anti-Trinitarian statements the more popular doctrine among his diminishing population of listeners. As a result, his false claims comparing Trinitarianism to polytheism would eventually become a fundamental part of “Message” theology.

Branham’s false claim that denominational Trinitarians believe in “three gods” is the central core to several trails of very destructive theology, each trail another false claim that is built upon that false idea. From this claim, he linked mainstream Christianity to the Serpent in the Garden of Eden[xvii]. He claimed that the Bible prohibited baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which was common among his Oneness Pentecostal peers, but took it a step further by claiming Protestantism would eventually merge with the Catholic Church[xviii] to begin the battle of Armageddon[xix].

3. Jacobsen: What have been the central false claims by Branham about the role of men and women within the church?

Collins: William Branham’s church organization theology, commonly referred to as “Church Order Doctrine”, was the basis for the organization, structure, and governance of his religious cult. Within this theology Branham established the hierarchy and rank of his cult pyramid, placing himself as the central figure while positioning key individuals as watchers over the ranks as is commonly done among many destructive cults. This hierarchy had no position for women, which was common among Christian Fundamentalism at the time. Branham’s Creation theology was uncommon, however, as he claimed that women were designed by Satan to deceive men.[xx] Therefore, instead of placing women at the bottom of the pyramid in the cult structure, he appears to have demoted women to a lesser position than even the rank-and-file cult member.

The Bible describes multiple women in leadership positions. Deborah, a female prophetess, was the fourth judge and leader of Israel.[xxi] Junia was an apostle, praised by the Apostle Paul.[xxii] Paul describes Phoebe’s role as a deacon[xxiii], and evidence suggests that Pheobe may have also done the work of an evangelist.[xxiv] [xxv] Priscilla[xxvi] [xxvii], Mary,[xxviii] Chloe[xxix], and others[xxx] ministered or served from their homes. William Branham falsely claimed that the Bible forbade women from participating in these roles, carefully avoiding these particular passages when describing his church organization.[xxxi]

Branham claimed governance of the church body was authoritative rather than servant leadership. According to Branham, even the deacons of the cult churches had roles of authority, and he described their role as that of “police officers”.[xxxii] This is vastly different from the role of the deacon in mainstream Christianity. The word “deacon” is derived from the Greek word diákonos (διάκονος)[xxxiii], which meant “servant”.

4. Jacobsen: What have been the central false claims about the nature of the world and the nature of Christ by Branham (compared to mainstream interpretations of the Bible and the narrative of the life of Christ)?

Collins: William Branham made several extra-biblical claims about Jesus Christ as he compared Christ’s days on earth to his own. According to Branham, eighty-six percent of Christ’s ministry was focused upon “divine healing”.[xxxiv] Rather than an eternally-existing Person of the Godhead, Branham taught that Christ was the archangel Michael from Jude 1:9 in the Bible.[xxxv] Similar to many ancient mythologies, Branham taught a version of Christianity wherein both the good deity and evil deity were equal. According to Branham, Satan was once equal in power to God.[xxxvi]

As a result, Branham’s doctrine over-emphasized the forces of evil, under-emphasized the forces of good, and drew attention to himself as the rising “spiritual” champion. The worldview his extra-biblical claims created was very disturbing, one he considered to be “Satan’s Eden”.[xxxvii] As the cult’s destructive nature began to progress towards doomsday predictions,[xxxviii] Branham’s opinion of the world further declined while his claims about himself grew more egotistical. After convincing his followers that he was the return of “Elijah the prophet”, Branham began to claim that the “Elijah” of today was “Jesus Christ” in the form of a prophet.[xxxix] Branham’s central false claim about the nature of Christ was that he, himself, was the Christ. He was very strategic in how these claims were made; building blocks of doctrine were spread across several sermons, and one must be fully indoctrinated to understand or believe all of his claims about himself.

Mainstream interpretations of the world and nature of Christ are literally reversed. Most people in mainstream Christianity believe Jesus to be eternally God,[xl] and believe any person claiming to be Jesus Christ to be an inspired voice of Satan.[xli] If you examine the core, fundamental elements of mainstream Christianity and Branham’s “Message” cult doctrine, the two appear to be direct opposites.

5. Jacobsen: What have been the main lies by Branham to the followers of The Message?

Collins: Similar to the strategy of introducing a biblical error into the doctrine, growing acceptance, and building tiers of other doctrinal errors upon it, Branham’s stage persona was created by introducing a series of factual errors. Each error appears to be minor when examined alone, but when examined as a collection, one factual error is fully dependent upon another. Yet they are equally as important. All factual errors appear to serve the purpose of giving his stage persona “supernatural” and authoritative characteristics.

At its core, the “Message” belief system has been based upon the idea that William Branham was the reincarnation of the “spirit” of the prophet Elijah from the Old Testament[xlii], and that a series of life-changing “supernatural” events were all part of “God’s plan” to lift William Branham into power as the “prophet messenger” sent to condemn the world and announce the return of Jesus Christ. The factual errors surrounding these events, however, are significant when considering their importance to the “Message”. If these elements of Branham’s stage persona are not true, then Branham’s importance in Church history is diminished to nothing more than a religious grifter.

Branham claimed to have been a Baptist minister[xliii] who ignored the “Pentecostal calling”[xliv], and claimed that as a result, God killed his father, brother, first wife, and daughter during the time of the 1937 flood of the Ohio River.[xlv] He also claimed that as a result of these two events, several “supernatural” events took place redirecting him back into “God’s plan”, which his cult believes (based upon his doctrine) was to become the final “messenger” before the destruction of the world.

Many people influenced by Branham’s “Message” cult theology are surprised to learn that many of the details in these claims are either inaccurate or fabricated for the sake of molding his stage persona. When Branham first started his church in Jeffersonville, Indiana, he inherited a Pentecostal congregation from his mentor: Pentecostal minister and Ku Klux Klan leader Rev. Roy E. Davis.[xlvi] [xlvii] [xlviii] The 1936 deed, plat map, and newspaper advertisements were for the “Billie Branham Pentecostal Tabernacle”[xlix] instead of “Baptist Church”, and he had been affiliated with the Pentecostal faith as early as 1928.[l] [li] His wife was diagnosed with the disease that led to her death in January 1936[lii], and she died long after the 1937 flood subsided. When one takes the time to examine the historical data concerning each claim, it is evident a majority of claims regarding himself and the events surrounding his ministry were both creations of his own imagination and accounts containing many incorrect details.

6. Jacobsen: What have been the peripheral but noteworthy false claims by Branham made about the Bible?

Collins: There are too many peripheral claims to examine in one conversation, however there is one peripheral claim that is significant when considering the creation of the cult structure. William Branham claimed that the Bible text describes a timeline of succession of prophets, one “major prophet” per “age”[liii], each described as the human through which came salvation, and without which came destruction.[liv] He often used symbology to compare this scenario to present times, suggesting that he was the “prophet” for this “age” while other evangelists of the era who were claiming prophecy would lead “their people” to destruction.[lv] In doing so, Branham changes the Biblical narrative such that it makes the role of Biblical prophets authoritative rather than supportive and creates dependencies on human leadership rather than divine. Branham’s theology concerning Biblical prophets described that of the central figure of a cult, and once indoctrinated with these false claims, his followers use these them to defend Branham’s authoritative leadership.

If one simply searches for ‘Cyrus’ and ‘Darius’ in the Old Testament, it is evident that the Biblical narrative describes multiple major and minor prophets that were alive and active at the same time. Major prophets Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel were prophesying at the same time minor prophets Obediah, Habbakuk were prophesying, and the only theological distinction between a “major” and a “minor” prophet is the number of pages available to us in the Bible canon.[lvi]

So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian

Daniel 6:28

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

2 Chronicles 36:22

Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you?

Ezekiel 28:3

7. Jacobsen: What have been the peripheral but noteworthy false claims by Branham made about Christianity?

Collins: Branham’s peripheral claims about Christianity were typically statements that appear to have been made in an attempt to create a distaste in mainstream Christianity. Inaccurate statements can be found through Branham’s recorded sermons ranging from modern theology to ancient Church history. When examined as a whole, the combination of false claims promotes his notion that Protestantism would eventually merge into Catholicism leaving only his “Message” cult as the single body of “Christians” that will stand against the Roman Catholic Church – which he claimed to be inspired by Satan.[lvii] Chronologically speaking, this trail of reasoning begins with his inaccurate description of the First Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.)

In Branham’s version of history, the Council gathered to force Trinitarianism upon the body of Christians, introducing the notion of Pagan polytheism into Church doctrine.[lviii] This, he claimed, was Satan’s disguising himself in the form of Christian religion to later deceive those who did not accept “their prophet for the age” (himself). Many people influenced with Branham’s theology are surprised to learn that the intentions of the Nicene Council were almost the exact opposite; they organized to prevent the influence of Arianism, which many claimed to be the influence of Greek mythology (polytheism) into Christianity.[lix]

Arius, from which the Arianism doctrine originated, believed Jesus Christ to be a creature distinct from God the Father, and therefore subordinate to Him. He believed that God the Father existed eternally, but that the Son did not. According to Arius, John 3:16’s description of “God’s only begotten Son” was to be interpreted literally; that God literally fathered a subordinate Son. He believed that the Holy Spirit was not part of the Godhead, rejecting the Trinitarian views for a form of Dualism, or two gods. According to Christian historians, Arius’ theology was quite popular. So much so that the notion of a “God of our God”[lx] was seen as a threat to the existence of Christianity. A council of Christian bishops met in the Bithynian city of Nicaea to squash the quickly growing sect. After much debate, they declared that there was only One God, and that Arius’ notion of two Gods was heretical. This resulted in the Niceno-Constinopolitan Creed, and ultimately the preservation of Christian monotheism in the form of Trinitarianism.[lxi]

It is interesting that William Branham used false claims about the Nicene Council and Nicene Creed to support the Oneness Pentecostalism theology he is remembered for preaching, because Branham himself was not beholden to any specific belief concerning the Christian Godhead. Depending upon his audience, Branham preached Modalism[lxii], Arianism[lxiii], and Trinitarianism.[lxiv]

8. Jacobsen: What have been the peripheral but noteworthy false claims by Branham made about the nature of the world and the nature of Christ by Branham (compared to mainstream interpretations of the Bible and the narrative of the life of Christ)?

Collins: The “Gospel”, in its simplest form, is the idea that God walked among man, in human flesh, to offer Himself as a sacrifice to take the place of the sins of the world.[lxv] In Oneness Pentecostalism William Branham is almost universally remembered as preaching, there is no distinction between God the Father or God the Son; Oneness theology believes simply that “God” died on the cross for the transgression.[lxvi] Trinitarian theologians also believe that “God” died on the cross for the transgression, but that Jesus Christ is one third, or one Person, in a triune Godhead.[lxvii]

In most cases, William Branham agreed with either the Oneness[lxviii] or the Trinitarian[lxix] theological view. To specific crowds however, Branham deviated from both of these theological views to claim that God left Jesus shortly before the crucifixion, and that Jesus was a mortal human at the time of his death.[lxx] Most ministers in mainstream Christianity would argue that the death of a mortal on a cross would be simply that: the death of a mortal on a cross. God offering Himself as a sacrifice in human flesh has significant meaning to most Christians.[lxxi]

9. Jacobsen: What have been the peripheral but noteworthy lies by Branham to the followers of The Message?

Collins: When I first started my research, a minister who had recently left the “Message” presented me with a list of questions that he had accumulated during his years promoting William Branham and his ministry. The list was several pages long. When I first examined the list, I discounted a majority of the issues raised because they seemed insignificant. “Is it true that John the Baptist only had – six converts?” “Are UFO’s really investigating angels of judgment?” “Is Capernaum, today at the bottom of the sea?” The full list, including many of William Branham’s quotes raising the questions, can be viewed on my website at seekyethetruth.com/Branham/resources-deep-questions.aspx.

Over time, and as my understanding of the research material increased, I realized that these were not insignificant questions. Yes, they were peripheral to Branham’s fundamental doctrine, but each question about each false statement made by William Branham was detrimental to the structural integrity of the cult’s theology. Some of the points listed were not even specifically questioning William Branham; they were questioning statements made by William Branham during times Branham claimed that God was speaking through him – they were allegedly statements made by God Himself!

Branham’s claim that the city of Capernaum lies beneath the sea, for instance, seems to be a simple error in geographical and historical knowledge when taken at face value. This statement was made, however, as Branham claimed to be “prophesying” condemnation for the city of Los Angeles.[lxxii] [lxxiii] The “Voice” claimed that the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Capernaum lie at the bottom of the sea, and that Los Angeles would suffer the same fate unless the people of the city repented.

This is significant, because the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have yet to be discovered. Only a divine voice could know that the cities were in the depths of the sea, if this is actually the case. Capernaum, on the other hand, has never been submerged, and is a famous site for tourists to visit locations where the Apostles held meetings. The city lay in ruins from about the third century to 1839 when it was discovered by a visiting scholar. Recent excavations have identified St. Peter’s home, where Jesus would have visited.[lxxiv]

10. Jacobsen: Of all the false claims and lies by Branham, what single false claim or lie tends to be the most powerful in deconverting members from the cult or cult-like community?

Collins: I wish that I could say that one single area of research could lead to the awakening of those under the undue influence of this or any destructive cult. I wish that I could create one single document or brochure describing the issue and why it is false, providing all of the many resources available to allow members to examine the false claim for themselves. The sad truth is that this is not how it works. There is a reason why the term “brainwashing” is used by some people to describe this process; those subjected to this type of manipulation over long periods of time are unable to follow logic or reason concerning the cult, its leader, or its history.

Of the hundreds of issues identified with William Branham’s claims, there are several undeniable, critical flaws. Each false claim is either related to, supported by, or supporting another false claim, opening the door to circular reasoning. Members cannot reject one claim while supporting another, because each claim has been inter-connected in their mind. Should any single issue be identified to the programmed mind, it is quickly absorbed, devalued, and forgotten through cognitive dissonance.

A member who has fully immersed themselves into a cult has formed a new identity, and that identity is constructed from a blend of both cult doctrine and personal experience. The de-conversion of any victim of this type of mind control requires great effort and much patience. The cult identity that has formed must be separated from the true, authentic self, and this process is an appeal to the human buried deep inside the identity – not a debate with the outer shell of the cult identity over false claims. Sure, the claims must be examined, but it is unlikely that a single claim will unravel the cocoon spun by cult indoctrination. The authentic self must first be seeking for answers, and that authentic self must still retain enough sanity to comprehend the questions.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Author; Webmaster, Seek The Truth.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 1, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-three; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[i] Branham, William. 1956, Jan 15. The Junction of Time. “There was Noah and Enoch, preaching, at the same time.”

[ii] Branham, William. 1963, March 18. The First Seal. “Enoch typed the Bride. Enoch! Noah went over, through the Bride…went over, through the tribulation period, and suffered, and become a drunk, and died. But Enoch walked before God, for five hundred years, and had a testimony, “he pleased God,” with rapturing faith; and just started walking right out, and went up through the skies, and went Home without even tasting death; never died, at all.”

[iii] Branham, William. 1964, Aug 2. The Future Home of the Heavenly Bridegroom and the Earthly Bride. “Yet, Noah was a type of the remnant that’s carried over, not the translated bunch. Enoch, one man, went in the Rapture before the flood came, showing that the Church does not go into the tribulation or anything around it. Enoch was translated, one man. Oh, the church may be a number; but the Bride is going to be a very small group that’ll make up the Bride. Now, the church may be a great number; but, the Bride, you see, compare eight with one. Eight times less, will be the Bride, than the church.”

[iv] Branham, William. 1950, Jan 15. Believest Thou This? “That’s what’s the matter with down in these countries now, and all around over the world. We got too many old cold formal churches, having a form of godliness and denying the power thereof.”

[v] Branham, William. 1954, Oct 3. The Word Became Flesh. “And I said, “That’s not true representation of Christianity.” I said, “That’s a form of hypocrisy.”

[vi] Branham, William. An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages. Ch9. “You can express this any way you want, and it all adds up to the fact that the church is complacent.”

[vii] Branham, William. 1948, Apr. The Voice of Healing: An Inter-Evangelical Publication of the Branham Healing Campaigns.

[viii] Branham, William. 1951, May 5. My Commission. “But coming into Divine healing services, I make it a inter-evangelical, just a interdenominational for everybody.”

[ix] Example: Branham, William. 1961, Apr 25. The Godhead Explained. “He said, ‘You know what we’re going to do?’ Said, “We’re drawing a little ring, and drawing you right out of our circle.’ ‘Then,’ I said, ‘I’m going to draw another one, and draw you right back in again.’ I said, “You can’t draw me out, ’cause I love you. See, you just can’t do it.’

[x] Branham, William. 1951, July 29. The Resurrection of Lazarus. “And may the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, come in now, the Promise, the Comforter, that You said You would send. “

[xi] Branham, William. 1951, Sept 29. Our Hope is in God. “Then suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified, died, buried, rose the third day, setting at the right hand of God the Father, making intercessions now for we who’ve accepted the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity”

[xii] Branham, William. 1957, May 19. Hear Ye Him. “Trinity, they don’t believe there’s three Gods. That is heathenism. And the Oneness don’t believe that Christ was His Own daddy. So, what would that be? See? But you both believe the same thing.”

[xiii] What Is Branhamism. Accessed 2019, Mar 1 from https://www.gotquestions.org/Branhamism.html

[xiv] Branham, William. 1959, Aug 23. Palmerworm, Locust, Cankerworm, Caterpillar. “You say, ‘The blessed holy trinity.’ Find me the word ‘trinity’ anywhere in the pages of God’s Bible. It’s a man-made scheme, an old dirty church rag wrapped around, to take the place of the sap Line of God’s Holy Spirit. No such a thing. There’s no such a thing. You find it and come to me. You’re duty bound to do it, as a Christian, if you find it. It’s not in God’s Holy Writings. And the “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” is hatched out of hell, there’s no such a thing as three Gods. Now, I believe in the Fatherhood of God. I believe in the Sonship of God. I believe in the Holy Ghost dispensation of God. But It’s the same God in every dispensation, not three Gods.”

[xv] Branham, William. 1958, May 8. The Expectations. “There’s no three Gods. There’s only one God, three offices of the same God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit don’t mean three Gods. If we’ve got three Gods, we’re heathens. See? Like the Jew says, “Which one of them is your God?” There’s no three Gods. There’s one God in three offices of the same God: the Fatherhood, and the Sonship. This is the Holy Spirit dispensation.”

[xvi] Example: Barnes III, Roscoe. Why Ern Baxter Left the Ministry of William Branham. Accessed from http://ffbosworth.strikingly.com/blog/why-ern-baxter-left-the-ministry-of-william-branham. “Baxter said that in Branham’s case, faith was “becoming a metaphysical thing – it was becoming a form of Couism.” In other words, he seemed to teach, “If I keep repeating day by day that I’m getting better and better” – it was a kind of metaphysical positivism,” Baxter explained. He noted: “This bothered me and I saw it was an ‘out’ to accommodate people who weren’t getting healed. ‘There must have been something wrong with their faith.’ And so that disturbed me.”

[xvii] Branham, William. 1958, Sept 28. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit. “Then, then, in here they lost it, went into a Catholic denomination; come out in a Lutheran denomination, come out in a Wesley denomination, then they’re going right into the Pentecostal then. But, just before the end time, the Seed is almost gone from the earth. It’s waded out, the Seed of the righteous. The seed of the serpent is just accumulating faster and faster and faster, getting ready for this atomic age, to be destroyed.”

[xviii] Branham, William. 1962, Dec 16. The Falling Apart of the World. “It’s another Babylon that must fall. Peace on earth? A false messiah! An anti-christ in its teaching. How you going to throw these denominations together when they won’t even…They can’t even agree with one another now when they broke up in little systems like that, how about all joining together and getting over there? Yes. See, it’s a false setup. It’s all done to throw Protestantism into Romanism. A false, anti-christ teaching.”

[xix] Branham, William. 1961, Aug 8. Thy House. “Now, the Bible predicts that in the last days that He will trap Catholicism, Romanism, and all those things, and them—communism, and all of them together in the valleys of Megiddo there, until there will be such a slaughter amongst them, until the blood will flow to a horse’s bit”

[xx] Branham, William. 1965, Feb 21. Marriage and Divorce. “But in the human race, it’s the woman that’s pretty, not the man; if he is, there is something wrong, there is crossed-up seed somewhere. Originally it’s that way. Why, why was it done? To deceive by. Her designer, Satan, is still working on her, too, in these last days.”

[xxi] Judges 4:4. “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.”

[xxii] Romans 16:7. “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”

[xxiii] Romans 16:1-2. “commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;

that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.”

[xxiv] Phoebe: Deacon of the Church in Cenchrea. Accessed 2019, Mar 10 from https://margmowczko.com/was-phoebe-a-deacon-of-the-church-in-cenchrea-part-1/

[xxv] Women Church Leaders in the New Testament. Accessed 2019, Mar 10 from https://margmowczko.com/new-testament-women-church-leaders/

[xxvi] 1 Corinthians 16:19. “The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.”

[xxvii] Romans 16:3-5. “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house.”

[xxviii] Acts 12:12. “And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.”

[xxix] 1 Corinthians 1:1. “For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.”

[xxx] Women Church Leaders in the New Testament. Accessed 2019, Mar 10 from https://margmowczko.com/new-testament-women-church-leaders/

[xxxi] Example: Branham, 1965. Feb 21. “Marriage and Divorce”. “They make her pastors, evangelists, when the Bible completely forbids it. And the Bible said, “as also saith the Law,” making it run in continuity, the whole thing.”

[xxxii] Branham, William. 1963, Dec 26. Church Order. “A policeman (or the deacon) is a military police to the army, courtesy, but yet with authority. See? You know what a military police is, is actually, if he carries out his rights, I think he’s just like a chaplain. You see? It’s courtesy and everything, but yet he has an authority. See, you must mind him. See, he puts…These rookies get out there and get drunk, why, he puts them in their place. And so is the deacon to put them in their place. 133 Now, remember, the deacon is a policeman, and a deacon’s office is actually more strict than most any office in the church.”

[xxxiii] “deacon”. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). Bartleby. 2000.

[xxxiv] Branham, William. 1964, March 18. “Jesus used about eighty-six percent of His ministry was upon Divine healing, that He might attract the attention of the people, then explain what His purpose was there. And, that’s the same thing, we’re trying to continue His ministry in the best way that we know how, believing that He still remains the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

[xxxv] Branham, William. 1955, July 9. Beginning And Ending Of The Gentile Dispensation. ““And at that time, Michael shall stand, the great prince.” Michael was Christ, of course, Who fought the Angelic wars in Heaven, with the devil. Satan and Michael fought together, or fought against each other, rather.”

[xxxvi] Branham, William. 1965, Feb 21. Marriage and Divorce. “Did you know Satan was co-equal with God one day? Sure was, all but a creator; he was everything, stood at the right hand of God, in the Heavens, the great leading Cherubim.”

[xxxvii] Branham, William. 1965, August 29. “Satan’s Eden”.

[xxxviii] The Basics: William Branham’s Doomsday Predictions. Accessed Mar 10 from http://seekyethetruth.com/Branham/resources-basics-doomsday.aspx

[xxxix] Branham, William. 1965, Nov 27. Trying to Do God A Service Without it Being God’s Will. “But the Elijah of this day is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is to come according to Matthew the seventeen-…Luke 17:30, is, the Son of man is to reveal Himself among His people. Not a man, God! But it’ll come through a prophet.”

[xl] Ham, Jeremy. Is Jesus All-Powerful and Eternal. Accessed 2019, Mar 10 from https://answersingenesis.org/answers/biblical-authority-devotional/is-jesus-all-powerful-and-eternal/

[xli] How can one recognize a false Christ?. Accessed 2019, Mar 10 from https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/how-can-one-recognize-false-christ

[xlii] Elijah Has Already Come. Accessed 2019, Mar 14 from https://branham.org/articles/20130520_ElijahHasAlreadyCome. “God does not play with words, as we are rightly taught by the Prophet Elijah for our day, Brother William Marrion Branham.”

[xliii] Branham, William. 1949, July 18. I Was Not Disobedient to the Heavenly Vision. “When I was a minister, a Baptist preacher in my church for twelve years, I never even received one red penny of salary.”

[xliv] Branham, William. 1951, April 15. Life Story. “She said, “Today she might have something to eat, and tomorrow she might not have nothing to eat.” But brother, I come to find out what she called “trash” was “the cream of the crop.” And bless my heart…?… And said, “You mean to tell me that you’d take…” Said… And Hope started crying. And she said, “Mother…” She said, “I—I—I want to go with him.” And she said, “Very well, Hope. If you go, your mother will go in a grave heartbroken. That’s all.” And then Hope started crying. 80 And—and there, friends, is where my sorrows started. I listened to my mother-in-law in the stead of God. He was giving me the opportunity. And there this gift would’ve been manifested long time ago, if I’d just went ahead and done what God told me to do.”

[xlv] Branham, William. 1955, June 26. My Life Story. “Now, from here, listen. I listened to my mother-in-law instead of God, and forsaken the church, and went on back with the Baptist people. Right away, plagues hit my home. My wife took sick; my father died on my arm; my brother was killed. And everything happened just in a few days. A great flood hit the country and washed away the homes. My wife was in the hospital. And I was out on a rescue with my boat.”

[xlvi] Davis, Roy. 1950, Oct. Wm. Branham’s First Pastor. Voice of Healing. “”I am the minister who received Brother Branham into the first Pentecostal assembly he ever frequented. I baptized him, and was his pastor for some two years. I also preached his ordination sermon, and signed his ordination certificate, and heard him preach his first sermon.”

[xlvii] Being Fingerprinted. 1961, Apr 7. Shreveport Times. “Being fingerprinted at the city police station is R. E. Davis (center), self-described leader of the Ku Klux Klan who was arrested by city police and questioned here today.

[xlviii] Deep Study: Roy E. Davis, Imperial Wizard of the Original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Accessed 2019, Mar 14 from http://seekyethetruth.com/branham/resources-deep-davis.aspx

[xlix] 1936, Nov 9. Warranty Deed, Lot 16, Block 4, Ingram & Reads Subdivision to E.A. Seward, George DeArk, Frank Weber, Trustees of the Billie Branham Pentecostal Tabernacle Church

[l] Davis Revival in North Nashville Not Union Affair. 1928, Sept 9. The Tennessean.

[li] Branham describes Nashville Parthenon where Davis’ Revival was held: Branham, William. 1962, Sept 9. In His Presence. “One day down in Memphis, Tennessee, or one…I don’t think it was in Memphis. It was one of the places there. I was with Brother Davis and was having a—a revival. It might have been Memphis. And we was, went to a coliseum, and they had in there, not a coliseum, it was kind of an art gallery, and they had the—the great statues that they had got from different parts of the earth, of different, Hercules and so forth, and great artists had painted.”

[lii] Certificate of Death: Hope Branham. 1937, July 21. “Date of onset: 1-1936”

[liii] Example: Branham, William. 1951, Sept 29. Our Hope is in God. “There never was in the age, any two major prophets on the earth at one time. There were many minor prophets, but there were one major prophet.”

[liv] Branham, William. 1963, Jun 28. A Greater Than Solomon Is Here. “God always in every age dealt with man through signs, because He is supernatural. And where supernatural God is, there is bound to be supernatural things going on. Then we find, in the days of Noah, those who believed his message and come in, was saved, and those that rejected his message perished. He give them a sign of building an ark. In the days of Moses, God’s speaking through human lips could call flies, fleas, frogs, close the heavens, make it dark, by a prophet that was thoroughly a vindicated. Those who believed and come out of Egypt, across the dividing line of the Red Sea, was saved. Those who was on the other side, perished.”

[lv] Example: Branham, William. An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages. “And people will go to them, and bear with them, and support them, and believe them, not knowing it is the way of death. Yes, the land is full of carnal impersonators. In that last day they will try to imitate that prophet-messenger.”

[lvi] Austin-Lett. Major and Minor Prophets. Accessed 2019, Mar 14 from https://www.biblewise.com/bible_study/questions/major-minor-prophets.php

[lvii] Branham, William. An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages. Ch 6. “This chapter shows the power of the Roman Catholic Church and what she will do through organization. Remember this is the false vine. Let it name the Name of the Lord, it does so only in a lie. Its headship is not of the Lord but of Satan.”

[lviii] Branham, William. 1961, Jan 8. Revelation, Chapter Four #3. ““Trinitarianism is of the devil!” I say that THUS SAITH THE LORD! Look where it come from. It come from the Nicene Council when the Catholic church become in rulership. The word “trinity” is not even mentioned in the entire Book of the Bible. And as far as three Gods, that’s from hell.”

[lix] Nelson, Ryan. 2018, Sept 14. What Was the Council of Nicaea?. Accessed 2019, Mar 14 from https://overviewbible.com/council-of-nicaea/

[lx] Heather and Matthews. Goths in the Fourth Century. p. 143.

[lxi] Arius. New World Encyclopedia. Accessed 2019, Mar 14 from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Arius

[lxii] Branham, William. 1956, April 20. When Their Eyes Were Opened. “The same was God the Father, leading Moses, called God the Father, the three dispensations, Fatherhood, Sonship, and Holy Ghost. See? It’s just three offices of the same self God.”

[lxiii] Branham, William. 1957, June 30. Thirsting For Life. “And they use the word of eternal sonship of God. The word don’t even make sense to me. The word “eternal” means “eternity, which had no begin or has no end.” And “son” means “had a beginning.” So how could it… It could be a eternal Godship, but never an eternal sonship. A son is one that’s begotten of. So it had a beginning.”

[lxiv] Branham, William. 1952, July 13. God Testifying of His Gifts. “Then Jesus Christ comes into His Church, to His people, to manifest Himself out through the people, while He, Himself, is setting at the right hand of the Father, sending back the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the trinity, to live in human beings, to work through them, to show the same works that He did in the beginning, making Him, “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

[lxv] What is the Gospel. Accessed from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/what-is-the-gospel/

[lxvi] Slick, Matt. What is Oneness Pentecostal Theology. Accessed 2019, Mar 14 from https://carm.org/oneness-pentecostal-theology

[lxvii] Our Triune God. Accessed 2019, Mar 14 from https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A215/our-triune-god

[lxviii] Example: Branham, William. 1965, August 1. God of This Evil Age. “And then, if that be so, the whole Godhead bodily shaped up in the Person of Jesus Christ. And then when Jesus died at the cross, I died with Him, for I was in Him then; for He was the fullness of the Word, manifested, knowing that we would be manifested later.”

[lxix] Example: Branham, William. 1950, July 16. Believest Thou This. “I believe He was a God-man. He was more than a man. He was the Divine One that God sent from out of heaven. Yes, sir. I know He cried like a man when He was dying at the cross, mid rendering rocks and darkening skies, my Saviour bowed His head and died. That’s right. He was a man when He was dying. But when He rose on the third day, He proved He was God. That’s right. God was in His Son. He raised Him up. He was Divine.”

[lxx] Branham, William. 1965, April 18. It Is the Rising of the Sun. “The Spirit left Him, in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had to die, a man.”

[lxxi] Example: Graham, Billy. 2016, March 24. Did God Abandon Jesus on the Cross? Billy Graham Answers. Accessed 2019, Feb 13 from https://billygraham.org/story/did-god-abandon-jesus-on-the-cross-billy-graham-answers

[lxxii] Branham, William. 1965, April 29. The Choosing of a Bride. “Oh, Capernaum,” said Jesus, “thou who exalted into heaven, will be brought down into hell. For, if the mighty works had been done in Sodom and Gomorrah, it’d have been standing to this day.” And Sodom, Gomorrah lays in the bottom of the Dead Sea. And Capernaum is in the bottom of the sea. 231 Thou city, who claims to be the city of the Angels, who has exalted yourself into heaven, and sent all the dirty, filthy things of fashions and things, till even the foreign countries come here to pick up our filth and send it away, to your fine churches and steeples, and so forth, the way you do. Remember, one day you’ll be laying in the bottom of the sea, your great honeycomb under you right now. The wrath of God is belching right beneath you. How much longer He will hold this sandbar hanging out over that? When, that ocean out yonder, a mile deep, will slide in there, plumb back to the Salton Sea. It’ll be worse than the last day of Pompeii. Repent, Los Angeles.”

[lxxiii] Branham, William. 1965, July 11. Ashamed. “And while in there, Something struck me, and I didn’t know nothing for about thirty minutes. There was a prophecy went out. First thing I remember, Brother Mosley and Billy, I was out on the street, walking. And It said, “Thou Capernaum, which calls yourself by the name of the Angels,” that’s Los Angeles, city of angels, see, the angels, “which are exalted into heaven, will be brought down into hell. For, if the mighty works had been done in Sodom, that’s been done in you, it would have been standing till this day.” And that was all unconsciously, to me. See?”

[lxxiv] Capernaum. Accessed 2019, March 13 from https://www.seetheholyland.net/capernaum

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with John Collins on the Theology of “The Message” and William Marrion Branham (Part Three) [Online].April 2019; 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, April 1). An Interview with John Collins on the Theology of “The Message” and William Marrion Branham (Part Three)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with John Collins on the Theology of “The Message” and William Marrion Branham (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A, April. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with John Collins on the Theology of “The Message” and William Marrion Branham (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with John Collins on the Theology of “The Message” and William Marrion Branham (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A (April 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with John Collins on the Theology of “The Message” and William Marrion Branham (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with John Collins on the Theology of “The Message” and William Marrion Branham (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with John Collins on the Theology of “The Message” and William Marrion Branham (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 19.A (2019):April. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with John Collins on the Theology of “The Message” and William Marrion Branham (Part Three) [Internet]. (2019, April 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-three.

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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Ruth Henrich on Individualism, Women’s Rights, and Morgentaler

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 19.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fifteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: March 22, 2019

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 4,010

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Ruth Henrich is the Treasurer of Humanist Canada and a Humanist Officiant. She discusses: personal origins; North American culture and the individualism emphasis; early life choices and trajectory; reasoning and intuitiveness and influence on postsecondary education; significant secular advancement in Canada over time; the rhetoric coming through the media, the dog whistling, the religious fundamentalist, the anti-science movements often grounded in fundamentalist faiths; hopes and fears; concision in the mainstream media; finding Humanist Canada; tasks and responsibilities as the Treasurer for Humanist Canada; input into policy; concerns about reactionary forces; anti-science and anti-human rights sources in Canada; its legal context; evidence-based sexual education curricula; the Morgentaler Scholarship; concerns of women and girls; medical ethics and”do no harm”; concluding thoughts; and shout outs to other organizations.

Keywords: Canada, Humanism, Humanist Canada, Media, Morgentaler, Ruth Henrich, Science.

An Interview with Ruth Henrich on Individualism, Women’s Rights, and Morgentaler[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is your origin story?

Ruth Henrich: [Laughing] it starts with, I am a twin.

Jacobsen: Really?

Henrich: Yes, who would have thought it? We are not identical in personality. She is more right brain. I am more left brain. We were classified earlier in a study as mirror image twins.

Jacobsen: What does that mean?

Henrich: It means that when we were in the womb one side was stronger than the other. In that, it means that we are identical. If I look in the mirror, I see my sister.

Jacobsen: Does this impact neurological development as well?

Henrich: Yes.

Jacobsen: Does this impact the different trajectories of interests?

Henrich: Yes, very much so, she is very artistic. We call her the “oblivious one” [Laughing]. I am the more logical and intuitive one. So yes, it did have a bearing on how we developed as people. But it is also another thing trying to an individual when you are a twin.

It can be very difficult to find yourself as an individual instead of always being a twin.

2. Jacobsen: Is it difficult in North American culture where we emphasize the individual?

Henrich: I would think so. I would think this has a bearing on things. You dab. You learn. I learned that moving out of the same city did a great deal for my development and interests. It did not feel like I was held back in any way, in terms of what the expectations were – because everyone knew who we were.

3. Jacobsen: At that time in Canadian history, women were limited consciously via culture. How did this impact early life and trajectories of where you could go, could not go, could do, could not do?

Henrich: I think it was more about freedom of choice growing up in the 60s and then teen years being in the 70s, where you are very cognizant of what is going on around you. There is sexual freedom. That had more to do with informing me about what possibilities there were as opposed to anything within the family structure.

As kids, we were never told that we could do anything that we wanted. I was a wife very early. I was a mother very early. It was to get out of that situation, which was very stupid. When you are a teenager, you do not think about it.

When I got into my 20s, it meant a lot to me to be able to make choices and what choices I was making, even just choices as to how many children was I going to have. A choice to go into the workforce. It did make a difference, culturally, as opposed to the family thing.

4. Jacobsen: In terms of being on someone high in reasoning and intuitive traits, how did this impact efforts at postsecondary education?

Henrich: It took me quite a while. I had attempted postsecondary education on 2 or 3 various times. I found that I had too many different family pressures, where I could not give school the time that it needed the first time.

The second time, I was probably in my late 20s or early 30s. I went to York University for a while. I found that my interest level was not what I thought was going to take my career further, in terms of interest level in English Literature.

At that time, I found money to be an issue. I did stick with it the third time. I completed my culinary arts certification art George Brown. I finished in 2004. It was later in my life that I completed the certification.

5. Jacobsen: As you have seen more of Canadian culture develop and adapt over time, we still have developments, even recently, into 2018 with the repeal of the Blasphemy Law. It leads to some obvious questions. With some time to reflect, what do you notice as some of the more significant secular advancement of the country over time?

Henrich: There are times when I think secular advancement has taken a backseat to special interest religious groups. I have seen things go backward instead of going forward when it comes to our governance.

I would say in the 80s or 90s when there seemed to be more perceived freedoms as an individual. There was a lot of things happening with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There was a lot happening in terms of the Canadian government. There was more happening in terms of separation of Church and State.

It is interesting because, at that point in time, I was in my 30s and 40s. As an individual, you realize that things are bigger than what is going on in your own life. You begin to pay attention. We saw a lot of advancement. A lot of it had to do with technology. Technology has taken us into a secular world, as it is bigger than any of us. I think this has been the impetus to allow us to think and be for ourselves; whereas, before, it is do as I say and not as I do.

We are going to bring all of these advancements forward. But there will be so many things to hold people back. I think that technology has opened people up to degrees of freedom that they didn’t think were possible.

6. Jacobsen: With some of the rhetoric coming through the media, the dog whistling, the religious fundamentalist, the anti-science movements often grounded in fundamentalist faiths, was the language, the rhetoric, and the tricks used by people in the media coming from that angle less obvious back in the day or, maybe, more taken for granted as the water of the culture?

Henrich: Yes, I think things were taken as part of the culture. This is just the way it is, unless, you’re going to start protesting over each and every little thing.  The fundamentalist rhetoric wasn’t something that became part of the lexicon. I am finding now, with the social media, the cultural influence through media is different, more immediate.

Those things didn’t seem that important before has definitely changed. I anticipate what it will be in the future. How are those changes from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, and into the second decade of the 2000s going to come about now? What will they be in 2030?

My grandchildren will be coming of age when this stuff is going to be prevalent. There will be a point in time when they are in charge. That is really where I think we are going to see leaps and bounds. There is going to be so much change.

7. Jacobsen: What about the mirror of that, to reflect this to the earlier part of the conversation? The positive, from our perspective, is the next generation with humanistic values as explicit values rather than something that bubbles around. But the inverse of the image of that is reactionary forces not liking it.

We have seen some of this in this country. We have seen this below the border. We have also seen this in characters like Bolsonaro. What do you feel less hope for and more fear for, on that angle?

Henrich: My biggest fear in all of that is that the rhetoric and attitudes are going to become more prevalent. That “consciousness” – that’s the wrong word – or that rhetoric, the hate stuff, and the racism; we have to get so far past that.

I don’t know how we can do that if we cannot bring people into thinking that we are all in this together as opposed to people thinking that we are all so very different that we can’t get along. I am fearful of what is happening in our world and North America – to bring it closer to home.

Where is the Reason? Where are the logical minds? Will we have enough academics and freethinkers to change minds? Or are they going to be drowned out? My fear is that we are going to be drowned out. I think that we have to be thinking together about what our purposes are.

Instead of having fractured groups within the secular and humanist organizations, that is where we really need to come together; our talking points have to be more succinct. They need to be more prevalent. They need to be more forceful.

8. Jacobsen: Noam Chomsky notes in the media. That “concision” is the term within the mainstream media system. We make people say things in only a couple of sentences. Then you can keep them within the beltway. Anything outside of it; it requires further justification, because it goes outside of the beltway. We’re swimming upstream in a sense.

Henrich: Yes.

Jacobsen: It makes the job much harder. But if you look at the progressive change in the country, they have often been humanists, along the lines of human rights and women’s rights.

Henrich: Yes.

9. Jacobsen: So, how did you find Humanist Canada?

Henrich: It was a circuitous route. Here in Grey and Bruce Counties, it is a fairly conservative – if this gets out publicly – backwards area.

Jacobsen: Backwards in what way?

Henrich: People thump their Bibles without knowing what is in them. It is repeating what everyone else has heard without thinking of the ramifications. It is always the “us against them” and a lot of uneducated or undereducated people.

Jacobsen: These are the people getting mad about virtue signalling while themselves using the oldest forms of Western virtue signalling.

Henrich: [Laughing] exactly, I found this disconnect. If you are in this area, if you are not being married by a religious official, then you cannot get married here. I thought that I would do something about it. I looked into becoming a marriage commissioner, which is a whole other story.

When the thing came around, they said, “This is a good idea,” but they did not have a vetting process for who would conduct these marriages. It was at that point that I began to seek out if there was something else out there.

That is when I reached out to Humanist Canada. I like what I heard. It synced with my values and what I was thinking and how I lived my life. Then I found they had an officiant program. I became licensed throughout the Ontario Humanist Society prior to coming over to Humanist Canada.

The reason I did that was that I could get there faster. It didn’t end up that way. I found with Ontario Humanist Society and Humanist Canada that there were some philosophical differences between the two organizations; only later finding out about the fracturing of Ontario Humanist Society doing their own thing from Humanist Canada.

That is how I found Humanist Canada. I found something that actually worked for me. In the process, I found the Grey Bruce Humanists. We do social things together. We have really dynamic meetings once per month.

They now have a discussion group going on. I am finding that I wasn’t alone in what I was searching for; that there are other people in my area who are now starting to advocate more for what we think is possible.

10. Jacobsen: Now, in your role as treasurer in Humanist Canada, what are the tasks and responsibilities coming along with it?

Henrich: [Laughing] I make sure the bills get paid. I look after all the bookkeeping. I also do contract management and financial management. I am an active member of the board. I also have input into policy.

11. Jacobsen: If you’re looking at policy, how does your input play out?

Henrich: In terms of making policy, it comes down to what is our strategic plan and is this within the strategic plan. It is about developing a plan, as we’re developing the new strategic plan.

I also make sure the money is being spent properly. So, we have the money to undertake those projects. My goal as treasurer is making sure any fundraising that we’re doing does not go against any CRA regulations or that it does not impede our charitable status.

Jacobsen: How important is the charitable status to the general operation, functioning, scope, and outreach of Humanist Canada?

Henrich: I think it is incredibly important that we have a charitable status. It gives credibility to our aims and the public give more when they get something in return for their giving.  It is being able to substantiate what people spend their money on. That is important to people.

12. Jacobsen: Moving into 2019, what are the concerns with – let’s call them – reactionary forces, typically, standing against things humanists, traditionally, stand for, including human rights, science, reproductive health rights for women, and concerns of the more marginalized within society?

Henrich: One of our concerns is going to be: are we attracting members? It is the members that finance all of the things that we are trying to do. It is trying to get our message out. That we do look at things from a human rights perspective and are all about choice, personal choice.

Our main concern as an organization is reaching out to the general public. When I was looking for an organization it was difficult to find. As an organization, we need to ramp this up. We need to let people know what we are doing and why we are doing it.

It is about getting the message out.

13. Jacobsen: Within the history of this country right into the present, what tend to be the main sources of anti-science and anti-human rights?

Henrich: Religion, and the evangelicals, those are one of the biggest sources standing in the way. They can’t do anything that flies in the face of religious virtue or however they are going to term it. Those are our big obstacles.

14. Jacobsen: How is this played out in a legal context?

Henrich: Let’s take an example, the BC Humanists have tried twice to become an organization to license officiants. It is being able to marry people because that is a legal state. They have been denied twice because they are not a religious body.

It is that religious body in the context of the law that is the problem, which is what we need to overcome. When it comes to that sort of thing, there are so many instances of religiosity being part of the law and having protections; those are the things that we need to go after, to get them repealed.

Because humanists, agnostics, secularists, and atheists are now being discriminated against; it comes down to discrimination under the law.

15. Jacobsen: For the younger generations, not only the non-religious and the religious, in general for their health and wellness, what are your concerns with regards to updates and refinements based on evidence of sexual education curricula throughout the country?

Henrich: Oh wow, we had this conversation with family over the dinner table when celebrating together. It is paramount that we have a curriculum that teaches our children. It is not just about sex. It is not just about gender.

It is so much bigger than that. It is what becomes the norm in society. It is how do people face those types of things. It is taking into account that there are so many groups that have a special interest in this; it is being able to be informed and having our children informed.

We can’t leave that kind of thing up to parents, because parents will provide what they think is appropriate. But there is so much, again coming back to the technology and what is available information to our children.

That they need to get the right information and need to make decisions for themselves, which means providing information. That means parents must stand behind the information. I think that is paramount. If we do not do something that is logical in the teaching, we will be in a for a lot of social problems, because we will be going back to the substandard social norms of before.

That is a real problem.

Jacobsen: Those prior norms mean higher teen pregnancy rates and higher STI/STD rates based on simply not being given proper, updated, modernized, evidence-based information from adults.

Henrich: Absolutely, you can anticipate higher levels of sexual predatorships. It is probably the wrong word for it. But there will be more of it. You are going to be seeing more prostitution and more forced prostitution. It will keep happening at a younger and younger age.

We need to equip the children; we, as parents, need to back up the information. As the parents, we are the ones who are teaching how to advance in our world, and what is accepted and what is not accepted. It is taking that stuff out in Ontario that is scary.

It is very scary.

Jacobsen: Given the down the road potential damage to the lives of some non-trivial amount of youth who do not get this information in high school, could this amount to a certain form of criminal negligence.

Henrich: Wow! You know what…

Jacobsen: Sorry to interrupt. But if you look at the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it speaks to the best interests of the child. This could, in a way, be looked at as a regression against the best interests of the child.

Henrich: Yes! Yes, absolutely, would it be criminal? Could it be criminal? Wow, what a question, when you consider the laws, and such, that have been undertaken because they are not in the best interests of the child, it will not be in the best interests of our children to not provide them with information, in my estimation.

Whether or not it will be, that will be up to our legislators, but as Humanist Canada, should we be taking that on as something that we can something about? Perhaps, that needs to be a broader discussion.

16. Jacobsen: What is the Morgentaler Scholarship?

Henrich: It is a partnership with Ontario Coalition of Abortion Clinics. Henry Morgentaler was our first president and was a driving force and women’s reproductive rights advocate. This scholarship will enable medical students to further their advancement in the study of women’s reproductive health and choice.

It can be anything from obstetrics to gynecology, but it goes beyond that. It has to do with infant mortality. It has to do with women-to-women relations, puberty, adulthood, menopause. It is something that needs to be more prevalent and thought about; women are not a general collective.

There are so many things that have to do with how women are viewed within the medical community. I think this scholarship can help with this. We must change our perspective. We must change how women are perceived in the medical profession.

17. Jacobsen: In your opinion, in a qualitative, reflective, retrospective opinion based on the conversations you have had with women in your life, what are some of the nuanced concerns that women and girls have about the treatment in the medical community? That simply are talked about in the community.

Not necessarily out of conscious negligence but simply missing it.

Henrich: It is access. It is someone who knows what you are asking and know what you are experiencing. It is access without being demeaned. Access without judgment.

18. Jacobsen: What would be an alteration of that within medical ethics of “do no harm” in the Hippocratic Oath with further emphasis on access and on non-demeaning treatment?

Henrich: There must be more training within the medical community itself, at the university level. It has to do with removing your own bias. If you are going to be a medical professional and are going to be taking that oath, then you can identify your bias as yours.

That is becoming a huge problem, not just in women’s health. Not only, how do we live? But also, how do we die? It must permeate down to the university level and in what they are being trained in. it is more than just ethics.

19. Jacobsen: Any concluding thoughts?

Henrich: I am looking forward to what we will accomplish in the next decade. We have dynamic people. And I want to be a part of that! [Laughing]

20. Jacobsen: Any shout outs to affiliates or other organizations?

Henrich: There is the Edmonton Humanists. There is the BC Humanists. There is the Winnipeg Humanists. There is a number in Ontario. SOFREE out of Kitchener, Waterloo, and Guelph. There is the Grey Bruce Humanists. We need more local groups, more groups in the Maritimes, in Nunavut, in the Northwest Territories, and so on. We need it coast-to-coast-to-coast.

If we can get local people doing humanistic things in local ways, then we are here to help.

21. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Ruth.

Henrich: You’re welcome. My pleasure, Scott.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Treasurer, Humanist Canada.

[2] Individual Publication Date: March 22, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/henrich; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Ruth Henrich on Individualism, Women’s Rights, and Morgentaler [Online].March 2019; 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/henrich.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, March 22). An Interview with Ruth Henrich on Individualism, Women’s Rights, and MorgentalerRetrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/henrich.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Ruth Henrich on Individualism, Women’s Rights, and Morgentaler. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A, March. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/henrich>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Ruth Henrich on Individualism, Women’s Rights, and Morgentaler.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/henrich.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Ruth Henrich on Individualism, Women’s Rights, and Morgentaler.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A (March 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/henrich.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Ruth Henrich on Individualism, Women’s Rights, and MorgentalerIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/henrich>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Ruth Henrich on Individualism, Women’s Rights, and MorgentalerIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/henrich.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Ruth Henrich on Individualism, Women’s Rights, and Morgentaler.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 19.A (2018):March. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/henrich>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Ruth Henrich on Individualism, Women’s Rights, and Morgentaler [Internet]. (2019, March 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/henrich.

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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Mahojiano Na Profesa Alex L Mwakikoti Juu Ya Maisha Ya “Maadili Bila Dini” Anayoishi, Na Mengineyo – Jee Inawezekana Kwa Wengine Pia?

Author: By Nsajigwa I.Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) with Lucas A. Isakwisa

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: March 22, 2019

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 7,636

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Karibuni tena Wandugu. Sisi ni Jamaa Watafiti wa Jichojipya-Think Anew, Taasisi iliyosajiriwa rasmi yenye malengo ya Kielimu ya kueneza elimu ya falsafa kwa ujumla, kuondoa hofu ya kufikiri na kuchochea FikraHuru kwenye jamii kwa lengo la kuwa na mabadiliko chanya ya enzi za Mwangaza (enlightenment) katika jamii, kwa kutumia njia ya urasini – mantiki na ushaidi (rationalistic, logic, empirically-based secular values)…

Kazi yetu ya kujitolea tunayoifanya;- Kuwatambua, Kuwaibua na Kuwaunganisha Watanzania ambao ni Wanafikra huru – freethinkers…hawa ni wale wasio-ogopa kujiuliza maswali mwanzo mwisho, wanaofikiri nje ya box la mazoea ya utamaduni mila na desturi zake, ikiwa ni pamoja na utamaduni wa dini. Kwa kimombo hawa ni Freethinkers, Rationalists, Sceptics, Secular Humanists, Agnostics and Atheists, wanaoishi kwa “Maadili bila dini”. Jichojipya ndio tuliofanya mahojiano ya kifalsafa na Mzee Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru wakati wa uhai wake (tafuta kwa google makala hii – Mahojiano yaliyogeuka kuwa majadiliano na Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru Mkongwe Mwanafikrahuru wa Tanzania) na alitueleza kuwa yeye alikuwa ni Mwanafikra huru (independent thinker and a freethinker) ikiwa ni kinyume na watu walivyomkisia. Ilikuwa siku ya nadra mahojiano yale, na inakuwa nadra tena ambapo tumepata wasaa mwingine kufanya mahojiano na Mtanzania mwingine kwa jina, Profesa Alex L Mwakikoti, ambaye anayaishi maisha yake kama ya falsafa ya Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru, yakiwa ni sawa pia na yule Profesa na Mwandishi maarufu wa vitabu, Okot p’Bitek, aliyeandika kitabu cha “Song of Lawino and Okol”, pia utafiiti wake katika kitabu “African religions in western scholarship” na pia “Towards Africa’s cultural revolution”. Okot p’Bitek kutoka kanda yetu ya Africa Mashariki (alikuwa Mganda) alifunguka waziwazi kuwa yeye ni Mwanafikra huru aliyeishi bila dini…vile vile Profesa na mwandishi wa vitabu wa Nigeria Afrika magharibi Wole Soyinka, mshindi wa kwanza toka Afrika kwa tuzo ya Nobeli (1986) kwa upande wa uandishi/lugha, aliyeandika kitabu “The Trial of brother Jero” na vinginevyo.

Jee inawezekana kuishi kwa Maadili bila dini..? Tusome mahojiano haya kujua hilo,

Mwalimu Prof Alex Mwakikoti, sisi ni Jichojipya-Think Anew, tuna furaha sana kuwa na wewe, karibu sana…

                                                              MASWALI NA MAJIBU

An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing


1) ( a) Mwalimu Profesa, wewe ni MwanafikraHuru (an independent thinker and a Freethinker), kwani ni nini, yamaanisha nini kuwa hivyo..?
(b) Ilikuwaje mpaka ukafikia hatua hiyo ya kuwa MwanafikraHuru? ni nini kinachosababisha mtu kama wewe kuwa MwanafikraHuru? Ulikuwa hivyo katika umri gani? Tunaomba tujue maisha yako kwa upande huo Mwalimu.

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Asante sana kunikaribisha.  Ninachoweza kusema ni kuwa, MwanafikraHuru ni yule ambaye hawi na uegemezi, hakwazwi katika kufikiri kuhusu suala lolote; akitumia njia ya urasini – mantiki (Rationalism). Ni tabia ya toka utoto ya kujiuliza maswali kwa udadisi wa kutaka kujua tu. Bahati mbaya sana tabia hiyo ya utotoni, taratibu inafutika jinsi wengi wetu tunavyokua wakubwa kwa kuwa, njia zetu za kufikiri (mental capacity) zinakuwa zimejengeka kutokana na tamaduni na desturi za jamii zetu ambazo tunajikuta tumekulia.  MwanafikraHuru kwa uelewa wangu, ni yule mtu ambaye, baada ya kujengwa na malezi ya jinsi ya kufikiri juu ya  tamaduni na desturi ya makuzi ya mahali alipokulia, anarudia tabia ya udadisi ya utotoni na kujiuliza maswali, lakini sasa akiwa na uhuru wa kuuliza juu ya chochote hata yale ambayo jamii imefundisha kuwa ni “hatari” kujiuliza (yasiulizwe). Na kwa kuwa sasa yeye ni mtu mzima, hakuna tena mipaka ya kumzuia asiulize na kutafuta majibu kwa maswali hayo (yasiyoulizika) katika jamii. Hakuna tena cha kumzuia kujiuliza. Kwa dunia ya leo, MwanfikraHuru kama huyu anatambulika kuwa Atheist, Agnostic (asiye na dini, asiye na Mungu) au Humanist M-binadamu nk.

Safari yangu mpaka kuja kuwa MwanafikraHuru ilikuwa ni hatua (process). Haikuwa kitu kilichotokea sehemu moja au mara moja ghafla. Ebu niwaelezeni kidogo maisha yangu kwa ufupi.  Mimi nilizaliwa na Muinjilisti / mhubiri mahili wa kanisa la Kilutheri, Yehoswa Mwakikoti – ndiye aliyekuwa baba yangu.  Alikuwa ni mtu aliyejitolea sana kueneza injili eneo kubwa kule Udzungwa mkoani Iringa, Tanzania.  Nikiwa nakua, nilifuata hatua za baba yangu kwa mambo mengi kama alivyoyafanya yeye. Wapo waliotabiri kuwa nitajakuwa Mhubiri kama baba yangu. Nilibatizwa nikiwa mdogo, na baada ya kupata kipaimara (hatua ya kuwa mkristo kamili) nikiwa na umri wa miaka 13 nilianza kujiuliza maswali kuhusu baadhi ya hadithi za kwenye biblia.  Nilizifurahia hadithi hizo, lakini pia niliona zingine zilikuwa ni za matisho sana, na kwa kweli zikaishia kunifanya niwe muoga – mwenye hofu ya adhabu za Mungu kwa wale ambao hawamtii. Nilipomaliza shule ya msingi, nilihisi kanisa la Kilutheri halikufundisha biblia kiusahihi, hivyo mwaka 1967 niliamua kuliacha kanisa hilo lakini sikujua niende kanisa gani. Baada ya kujisomea mwenyewe biblia, niliamua, badala ya kupumzika siku ya Jumapili, nipumzike siku ya Jumamosi ikiwa ndiyo siku ya sabato, kama vile biblia inavyofundisha.  Baadae nilikuja kutambua kuwa kumbe kuna watu wanaitwa Wasabato (Seventh-day Adventists) ambao walikuwa wanafuata mafundisho hayo ya kupumzika Jumamosi. Baadae nilijiunga na kanisa hilo. Nilipomaliza elimu yangu ya sekondari, Mmissionari mmoja toka Marekani aliniuliza kama ningekuwa tayari kujitolea kuanzisha na kueneza kanisa la Wasabato huko Mufindi, Iringa, na kuniahidi angenitafutia/angenipeleka chuoni baada ya hapo.  Nilikubali hilo na kweli Mmissionari naye alitimiza ahadi yake. Nilikwenda kusoma mafunzo ya cheti cha Diploma miaka miwili huko Uganda, nikarudi Tanzania na kufanya kazi kama Pastor huko Lindi and Temeke, Dar es Salaam.  Baada ya hapo nilikwenda kumaliza degree ya kwanza katika somo la Thiolojia katika chuo cha Newbold College Uingereza. Sikutaka kuachia masomo yangu kwa shahada ya kwanza, niliamua sasa kutafuta njia yeyote kujisomesha mwenyewe kwa masomo ya juu.  Ilikuwa nilipokuwa nasoma degree ya pili (Masters) ya somo la Thiolojia ndipo tena hulka ya udadisi ikaibuka tena na kwa nguvu mpya, na nikawa na maswali mengi juu ya biblia na wahusika wake.  Kama nilivyokwisha sema, siwezi nikaisema siku moja hasa ya kubadilika kwangu na kuwa MwanafikraHuru, ila ninachoweza kusema ni kuwa baada ya kumaliza shahada ya juu – PhD kwenye somo la Sociology – ustawi wa jamii, maswali zaidi yakazidi kuibuka, hasa pale nilipojifunza kuwa kumbe ni jamii yenyewe ndiyo inayounda dini, na sio dini inayounda jamii. Hatimaye mwaka 2007, niliachana na dini zote, nikajiita Humanist, M-binadamu.  Waweza kusema nilikuwa MwanafikraHuru na M-binadamu (Humanist) nilipokuwa katika kilele cha kazi yangu profesheni kama Mwalimu, Profesa wa somo la ustawi wa jamii (sociology) na mawasiliano (communication).

Jichojipya – Think Anew: Ahaa, Mwl Profesa, umekumbusha kabisa mahojiano yetu na Mzee Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru (Tafuta kwenye google“Mahojiano yaliyogeuka majadiliano na  Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru Mkongwe Mwana fikra huru wa Tanzania ”). Naye alisema safari yake kama vile yako wewe, kwamba alikuwa anajiuliza maswali juu ya imani yake tokea anakua ngazi zote shuleni, na ni pale aliposoma vitabu vya falsafa, cha Thomas Paine na hasa kile cha Ludwig Feuerbach (tafsiri yake kwa kiingereza “The “Essence of  Christianity”) ndipo alipong’amua alaa, hivi kumbe siyo kuwa Mungu kamu-umba binadamu kwa mfano wake ila ni kuwa binadamu ndiye kamu-unda Mungu kwa fikra zake mwenyewe…kwamba kumbe ni jamii ndiyo inayounda Miungu yake…kuanzia pale naye akawa MwanafikraHuru..!

2) Mwl Profesa, nini uzoefu wako wa kuwa MwanafikraHuru? Utakuwa umeishi maisha ya upweke sana sivyo..?  una akili sawasawa..?

Prof A Mwakikoti:  Mimi kama MwanafikraHuru (independent thinker and a freethinker), niliona / nilijihisi jinsi nilivyokuwa mpweke.  Marafiki zangu wengi walikuwa ni watu walio kwenye dini, wengine waliozama ndani ya dini sana, wakiwemo wana familia yangu, hasa mke wangu. Nakumbuka sana maongezi ya uzuni kati yetu, nilipoamua kuwa MwanafikraHuru wa wazi hadharani- public, bila kificho (an open freethinker).  Biblia yafundisha kuwa watu wenye imani tofauti wasioane, tutaishije maisha yetu baada ya ukweli huu kuwa mmoja wetu sasa haamini tena mambo ya dini – ni MwanafikraHuru?  Tulifikia muafaka ya kuwa, kila mmoja wetu ataenda njia ya imani yake lakini tutabaki kwenye ndoa yetu. Hii ina changamoto yake.  Kwa sasa sijioni mpweke kuwa MwanafikraHuru.  Kutokana na tekinolojia ya mawasiliano ya sasa, Intaneti inaleta taarifa mbalimbali na links – makutano kwenye mtandao kwa makundi ya aina mbalimbali. Ilikuwa ni kwa njia hiyo ya mtandao nilipokuja kujua kuwepo makundi mengine ya WanafikraHuru – Freethinkers – Atheists -Humanists. Nilifurahi sana nilipokutana kwenye mtandao na Nsajigwa Nsa’Sam Mwasokwa, na kuelewa kuwa, kumbe yawezekana kuanzisha rasmi taasisi ya WanafikraHuru – freethinkers Tanzania, ambayo ninajivunia kuwa mmojawapo katika kuwezesha kuwepo kwake rasmi toka hatua za mwanzo.  Kwa sasa “sipo tena peke yangu”,  Na kiakili, kimawazo na kihisia, na uhusiano wangu na WanafikraHuru wengine wenzangu ni nzuri kuliko nilivyoanza safari yangu. Nipo vizuri.

Jichojipya-Think Anew: Profesa, Ni Nsajigwa huyu huyu au kuna mwingine..?
Prof A Mwakikoti…Ni huyu huyu Nsajigwa wetu…yeye kwa kweli ndiye Pioneer kwa wakati wa kizazi chake na cha chini ya hapo, ukienda kwenye mtandao kutafuta habari za FikraHuru Tanzania, Nsajigwa Nsa’Sam Mwasokwa atakuwa ndio wa kwanza kutokea…WanafikraHuru Tanzania tunajivunia Nsajigwa mmoja wetu.

3) Jee wasomi wenzio (Academicians) walikuchukuliaje (kisomi, kijamii, kidini) kwa wewe sasa kuwa MwanaFikraHuru? Hakukuwa na unyanyapaa kwa aina yoyote..?
Na umesema umeshiriki uanzilishi wa Jichojipya -Think Anew, tueleze ulikuwaje Mwanajichojipya  – Think Anew, na uzoefu wako ndani ya Jichojipya ni upi? Unaonaje kazi ya Jichojipya mpaka sasa, na matarajio yake baadae..?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Kwanza nilikuja kujua kuwa kumbe katika chuo – University of Texas kilichopo Arlington, ambapo nilifundisha kabla, kulikuwa na tawi la Wanafikrahuru – Atheists; laiti ningelijua wakati nipo pale, ningekuwa nimekwisha jiunga nao kuwa mwanachama mara moja.  Waalimu wasomi ngazi ya juu Marekani (Academicians), wanamkubali mtu bila kujali dini au kutokuwa na dini.  Ni muendelezo wa katiba ya nchi ya Marekani kwamba, shirika lolote pamoja na vyuo, haviwezi kubagua mtu yeyote kwa sababu ya imani yake au kutokuwa na imani yoyote ya dini. Lakini ni kweli pia kuwa unaweza kujihisi kutengwa kunapokuwa na matukio/sherehe za kidini, ila sasa pia vyuo vikuu vingi vinatofautisha matukio hayo ya kidini nje ya utendaji wa kila siku wa vyuo, kama vile ambavyo kuna kutofautisha mambo ya kanisa (dini) na yale ya dola/serikali. Ingawa pia nilipofundisha chuo kilicho chini ya taasisi ya kidini – a religious affiliated institution (Wiley College), kulikuwa na hali ya mvuto kumfanya mtu yeyote pale awe mmoja wao, achanganyike katika desturi hiyo (ingawa pia hawakumlazimisha/hawakumshurutisha mtu) kwani wangekwenda kinyume na serikali.  Ninakumbuka tukio ambapo Chaplain wa chuo aliniomba nishiriki mada na zungumzo kwenye assembly ya chuo.  Nilipomueleza mimi sifungamani na dini yoyoye, aliniomba niseme tu kitu chochote, sababu alisema, “wanafunzi wengi wa faculties – vitengo mbalimbali hapa chuoni wanakuheshimu sana”. Niliamua kukubali ombi lake, na kwa uzoefu wangu wa elimu yangu ya Thiolojia nikazungumzia somo toka kwenye biblia, “ukweli utakuweka huru.” Alifurahi kuona nimeleta mtazamo ambao wengi kwenye dini hawafikirii sana juu yake, akili ya utoto ya kujiuliza maswali kuufikia ukweli.  Ukiwa kwenye Taasisi yenye muegemeo wa kidini, MwanafikraHuru unatafuta njia kwa fursa inapopatikana kama ile, kuelezea tunautafutaje na kuufikiaje ukweli.  Nakumbuka baada ya maongezi yale, wanafunzi wawili walinijia na kuniambia nao pia ni wasioamini dini (freethinkers nonbelievers) na walishangaa sana kujua mimi ni mmoja kama wao!

Na pia kama nilivyokwisha sema, ilikuwa wakati najiuliza na kutafuta kwenye mtandao kama kuna Wanafikrahuru – freethinkers wowote Tanzania ndipo nikakutana na jina Nsajigwa Nsa’Sam Mwasokwa. Baada ya mawasiliano ya muda mfupi, niliamua nitamtafuta tukutane ana kwa ana nitakapokwenda Tanzania . . . mengineyo ni historia.  Unaweza fikiria, nilivyokuwa “motomoto” nikitaka tuwe na Taasisi itakayokwenda “mwendokasi”, lakini uhalisia haukuwa hivyo.  Uzoefu wangu kama MwanafikraHuru ndani ya Jichojipya – Think Anew ni kuwa, imekuwa kitu kizuri sana.  Hakika, hamna Taasisi isiyo na changamoto zake; lakini kuwepo kwa changamoto ndio kunawafanya watu wafikiri.  Nikipima shughuli ambazo Taasisi Jichojipya imefanya mpaka sasa, naona ni hatua kubwa, lakini zaidi pia, ninaangalia mbele nikiamini kwa pamoja nini zaidi tunaweza tukafanikisha kama Taasisi. Unaona, mimi kama M-binadamu (Humanist) naona kwamba, kama Taasisi, tunaweza kuleta kile kinachokosekana sasa ktk jamii yetu.  FikraHuru…Elimu, Elimu – Vitendo inayowapa uwezo watu hasa vijana, waweze kuwa wazalishaji kwenye jamii yetu —hasa wawe wajasiliamali katika nyanja mbalimbali.  Ndiyo maana nadhani wakati tunaanza na hatua ndogo ndogo, matarajio na maono lazima yawe kufanya makubwa bila mpaka.  Ninafikra kuwa tunaweza kuunda jamii ambazo zinajitegemea, kuanzia Taasisi yetu wenyewe (Jichojipya) inayoweza kuzalisha mali na kusaidia jamii kwa wahitaji kwa njia tofauti mbalimbali, kama vile elimu, afya, kipato na mengineyo.  Hivyo ni lazima, ni budi kwetu kupanga ramani ya wapi tunataka kwenda na kufika katika miaka mitano, kumi, ishirini na hamsini kuanzia sasa.

4) (a) Mwl Profesa, Wewe ni MTanzania msomi uliyebobea wa elimu jamii – sociology…jee uliwahi kukutana na pengine kujadiliana na Baba wa Taifa Mwalimu J.K Nyerere? (b)Vipi kuhusu hili ambapo Baba wa Taifa Mwalimu Nyerere aliposema (katika mojawapo ya hotuba zake) kwamba ikitokea tutamchagua Mtanzania asiye na dini – ambaye si muumini wa ukristo au uislamu kuwa Rais wa Nchi, tutatafuta utaratibu mwingine wa kumuapisha, bila ya biblia au Koran…jee unasemaje kwa hili la Mwalimu..?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Kwa bahati mbaya sikuwahi kukutana na Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere ana kwa ana, ila nimesoma maandishi yake na kusikiliza hotuba zake.  Muda wote nashangazwa kwa kweli kwani yeye alikuwa mjumuishi – inclusive bila ubaguzi, kwenye fikrahuru na maono yake kwa nchi ya Tanzania na kwa Watanzania.  Kwa mfano wake wa kauli hiyo ya kuangalia mbele, kwamba ije siku ambayo kumchagua mwongozi wa nchi ambaye hata kuwa na dini.  Hii inaonyesha jinsi alivyokuwa na upeo mkubwa wa kuona mbele kwa uwezekano huo wa wapi Tanzania itaweza kujikuta imefika siku moja, mbeleni. Kwa kauli hiyo yaonyesha wazi alivyo Kiongozi mwenye maono na busara.

Jichojipya – Think Anew: Ila lakini pamoja na wewe kuto-kukutana naye ana kwa ana, jee unadhani mafundisho/falsafa yake imekushawishi – influence wewe kwa namna yoyote ile..?

Profesa A Mwakikoti…Ndiyo…hasa mawazo yake kuhusu Elimu ambayo ni kama yale ya Paulo Freire wa Amerika ya Kusini – kwenye kitabu Pedagogy of the oppressed. Elimu isiwe nadharia tu, bali iende na vitendo, isiwe “elimu kwa minajiri ya elimu tu”.

(c) Profesa,  Kwingine wapi, ikiwa nje ya hivyo vitabu (vya dini), mtu ambaye ni MwanafikraHuru asiye muumini wa hivyo, atapata maadili..?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Nikiwa ni mmoja wapo niliyekuwa ndani sana kwenye dini, naweza kusema kwa ushuhuda kuwa, hivyo vitabu vinavyoitwa vya dini, mfano biblia, havina ulazima wa maadili ambayo mtu atayategemea kumuongoza.  Hivi unaelezaje kwa mfano, maadili ya kulazimisha mtu akuabudu na asipofanya hivyo unamuadhibu?  Vipi unawezaje kulazimisha upendo kwa mtu? Jee hayo ni maadili..?  Ni vipi unamuadhibu au kumuua mtu ambaye hajafanya kosa lolote, ila kwa niaba ya mwingine aliyefanya kosa..?  Achilia mbali hadithi za mauaji mengi kama yalivyo kwenye vitabu hivyo “vitakatifu”, yaliyohalalishwa (ruksiwa) na mungu..? – Hayo kweli ni maadili..?  au la vinginevyo, hivi tunapo-maanisha “maadili” tunazungumzia nini hasa? Kutokana na uzoefu wangu, ninaweza kuwa shuhuda kwamba, ni baada ya kuachana na dini ndipo nilipoona inawezekana na ni asilia kabisa kuwa na maadili bila dini – ‘good’ without a god.  Kufanya mema kwa uhuru bila tazamio la zawadi au woga wa adhabu. Upendo wa kweli unapatikana pale ambapo unafanyika kwa uhuru bila masharti.

(d) Ingawa Watanzania kama Waafrika wengi wapo kwenye dini sana “notoriously religious”, (kwa maneno ya  Profesa John Mbiti) lakini Tanzania ni nchi isiyo na dini (yaani ni “secular state”) kwa katiba yake na pengine kwa uenendaji (practice) wa katiba hiyo. Wewe kama MwanafikraHuru, una maoni – uchambuzi gani kuhusu hili…ni kwa kiasi gani ni kweli kikatiba na kivitendo?
Jee hudhani kwa namna moja au nyingine, kuna mgongano ambapo wakati mwingine dini inajipenyeza kwenye mambo ya dola/serikali Tanzania?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Ingawa nadhani Profesa John Mbiti ali rahisisha – simplify sana uhalisia wa Waaafrika kwa kufikiri kwamba kwa kuwa Waafrika walikuwa na imani za kiasili – faith traditions, basi walikuwa wenye imani sana ‘notoriously religious’.  Anaweza kuwa sawa kwa maana ya kuwa, Kanuni fulani (principles) zinarithishwa kutoka kizazi kimoja kwenda kingine –  iwe ni desturi za kidini au zinginevyo. Hiyo ni asili tu kwenye jamii (natural societal dynamics).  Lakini pia huwezi kuyaweka yote hayo kwenye kapu moja na kusema ni dini. Jamii yenyewe kwa makusudi / kusudio – consciously ndiyo inatengeneza  dini kupitia kwa kiongozi mwenye mvuto – notorious charismatic leader kueneza na kuendeleza ujumbe (kama wao binafsi, au la wakisema/wakifikiriwa / ikiaminishwa kuwa wametumwa na Mungu.  Lakini pia Mbiti kwa kauli yake hiyo (kuwa Waafrika ni “notoriously religious”) yaweza kuwa ilikuwa ni njia yake ya ku challenge – kukinza dhumuni la watu toka magharibi wakija Afrika na picha ya “kuleta dini kwa wasio na dini – wapagani”.  Pale desturi au dini inapotengenezwa na jamii, inarithishwa kutoka kizazi kimoja kwenda kingine, na ni wazi inaweza kuathiri Taasisi zingine katika jamii ikiwemo dola na serikali yake. Kumbuka kuwa serikali zote zinatokana na (ni matokeo ya / zinatengenezwa na) jamii.

(e) Mawazo yako Profesa kwa  “Dua la kuliombea Bunge”, na pia wimbo wa Taifa ambapo kwa yote hayo Mungu anatajwa wakati Taifa/dola ni secular – halina dini, siyo theocracy…vipi hii Profesa, siyo utata, kujichanganya..?)

Profesa A Mwakikoti: Jamii nyingi, ikiwemo ile inayosemekana ni huru sana (Nchi ya Marekani) bado zina struggle – hangaika inapokuja hilo la desturi ya dua, au kuwepo neno Mungu kwenye nyimbo zao za Taifa na kwenye kula kiapo cha ofisi.  Binafsi nina amini ni kutokana na nguvu (dynamics) za jamii. Watu wengi katika jamii si Wakushuku, Wadadisi (not critical thinkers)—Yahitaji nguvu ya ziada kuwa MwanafikraHuru.  Kwa wengi, tunachukulia vitu kama vilivyo bila kujiuliza maswali juu ya huo utamaduni mila na desturi tunazofuata, kwa kurithishwa.  Hapo ndipo penye utata —sisi kweli ni secular? – bila dini au ni theocracy – ndani ya dini?  Ikiwa ni Tanzania au Marekani, kwangu mimi huu ni utata.

Jichojipya – Think Anew: Kwa hili hata Mwalimu Nyerere aliwahi kulizungumzia kwenye moja ya hotuba zake. Naye aliona ni “utata” tunaposema nchi haina dini wakati huohuo wimbo tunasema “Mungu ibariki”..!

5) Profesa, Wewe kama MwanafikraHuru (a freethinker) wa muda mrefu, tunaomba utueleze uzoefu wako;- nini uzuri wa kuwa MwanafikraHuru? Na pia nini changamoto zake..?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Mimi kama MwanafikraHuru, ninapenda kuangalia vitu kwa hulka ya usawa / hakisawa na uhuru (fairness and freedom).  Pamoja ya kuwa si muda mrefu sana, nimependa ile hali ya kuwa Mhusika – responsible wa maamuzi yangu ninayoyachukua, bila ya kumuogopa kiumbe aliye mahali (sijui wapi) ambaye atanipa zawadi au adhabu kwa fikra na matendo yangu. Ninajitegemea!  Hali hii ya fikra imeniweka huru kweli.  Huu ndio uzuri wa kuwa MwanafikraHuru. Siogopi vitisho vya moto wa milele huko kuzimu.  Changamoto kwangu ni kuwa mwenzangu mke wangu ambaye yeye ni muumini wa dini.  Inanibidi nifikirie sana kabla ya kufanya vitu fulani ili nisim-kere. Lakini sasa pia, mimi kama MwanafikraHuru ambaye ninaishi kwa Ubinadamu – natanguliza Ubinadamu kwanza. Ninafikiria na wengine pia kwa athari za maamuzi yangu ninayoyafanya. Wakati mwingine hii inapelekea nikubali kufanya muafaka.  Mfano  tunapokuwa na wageni na mke wangu anatutaka tusimame, tufumbe macho na tukiombee chakula; hata kama sifumbi macho, lakini kwa Heshima nitasimama.  Na huo ndio umekuwa utaratibu wangu kwa Taasisi ambazo zinaanza kikao kwa sala.

6) Profesa, Kwa mtazano wako wa  FikraHuru, miaka 50 na ushee ya Uhuru sasa, unaionaje baadae (picha yake) ya Tanzania na Afrika katika suala la Uhuru wa mtu (binafsi) – Liberty na suala la maisha bora?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Uhuru na maisha bora ni watu wanaotengeneza hali hiyo.  Miaka 50 ya Uhuru wa Tanzania na nchi zinginezo za KiAfrika iwe ni mwanzo wa tafakari na mipango kwa miaka mingine 50 ijayo..ni vipi Afrika na Tanzania ya kesho ije kuwa.  Mwalimu J K Nyerere alifungua njia kwa namna mbalimbali, Wakuu wengine baada yake wamefanya yaliyowezekana kwa wakati wao.
Ni muda muafaka sasa kwa Tanzania na nchi nyinginezo za Kiafrika, kufikiri zaidi nini nchi zao zataka viongozi wake wafikiri ziwe miaka 50 ijayo, na si tu kila mmoja kwa wakati wa kipindi cha miaka yake ya uongozi. Fikra hizo lazima ziangalie uchumi, elimu, kupunguza umasikini, ustawi wa jamii na mengineyo.  Tanzania na nchi nyingi za Afrika ni tajiri sana kwa rasilimali, ujuzi na nguvukazi za kutosha kutengeneza vitu vyetu wenyewe kwa hitaji lolote na hata kuuza nje vingine vingi. Hakuna sababu kwa kweli kwa nchi zetu kuendelea kutafuta / kuomba misaada kutoka nchi nyingine—ilitakiwa nchi zetu ndiyo zingekuwa zinatoa misaada kwingineko.  Na kukiwa na utoshelevu kwenye uchumi na kwingineko, uhuru na maisha bora vitafikiwa.

An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More 2 Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing

7) Profesa, nini maoni yako kama MwanafikraHuru kuhusu (a) kushindwa kwa Tanzania na nchi zingine za Afrika kupata maendeleo ya viwanda, pamoja na juhudi zote za huko nyuma? Na vipi maoni yako juu ya falsafa ya Mwl Nyerere, ya kujitegemea?

Profesa A Mwakikoti: Ninadhani Tanzania na nchi zingine za Afrika zipo kwenye safari ya kujenga uchumi wa viwanda. Ni muhimu hapa kuangalia nyuma na kujifunza kwanini imeshindikana kuwa na viwanda ndani ya miaka 50 ya Uhuru?  Wapo wanaosema ni muda mfupi unapolinganisha, kwa mfano, na Marekani kwa miaka yao zaidi ya 250 ya Uhuru.  Lakini mtu anaweza kujiuliza hili; Ni muda gani ilichukua kwa tekinolojia ya mawasiliano ya simu za mkononi kuenea? Mbona hatukusema tufuate mwendo wa kinyonga (pole pole) kwa hilo, kama ambavyo Marekani ilichukua muda mpaka kuwa na mawasiliano hayo? Mbona kwa hilo tulikwenda mwendo-kasi tukarukia treni mara moja? Nakumbuka nilipokuja Tanzania nikakuta tayari kuna watu hapa walikuwa na simu za mkononi kabla hata ya wengi wetu sisi huko Marekani!). Vitu vinakwenda kasi leo hii, nasi lazima twende (tubadilike) hivyo.  Tuna wajuzi, tuna rasilimali, tuna vifaa vya kuzibadili malighafi kutoka kwenye utajiri wetu asilia, kwanini ichukue miaka mingi mingine?   Mimi nina-amini ni suala la kubadili jinsi tunavyofiikiri, tufikiri upya. Hilo likifanyika, ujenzi wa viwanda na uendelevu wake utakuja kwa haraka zaidi.  Ninaona ya kuwa, msisitizo wa falsafa ya kujitegemea wa JICHO JIPYA kama Taasisi iwe ni kielelezo cha kuchochea kuleta mabadiliko katika jamii yetu ambapo, itaonyesha “forward thinking”  – kuona mbali kwa Mwalimu Nyerere na viongozi wengineo wa serikali kwa sasa.

(b) Kuongezeka kwa  fikra za imani za wakati wa giza – “Dark age attitude” – kuamini katika ushirikina, miujiza, uchawi, msukule, ndondocha, kumchukia bundi, kuwa na “kamati ya ufundi-uganga na ramli” ili kushinda mechi za mpira wa miguu, “ufreemasoni” – kama unavyoelezwa hapa kwetu, mpaka hata mauaji ya watu (hata watoto, na wenye ulemavu wa ngozi) kutokana na imani hizo… Jee, hii ni kiashiria kwamba zile juhudi za Elimu bure ikiwemo ile ya “Ngumbaru” ya watu wazima kupigana dhidi ya “adui ujinga” zilipotea patupu..? Au la, Ni wapi tulikosea?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Hizi imani zote za hulka ya “enzi za giza” orotheshwa hapo ninaziona ni kutokana na elimu – ukosekanaji wake.  Kwa Tanzania, nafikiri, vita dhidi ya ujinga haiwezi semwa ilikuwa ni “patupu”, ila tuseme haikuwa yenye uwiano. Swali ni kuwa, elimu izungumzie nini? Elimu ili iweje? elimu ifanye nini? lengo lake liwe nini? Matokeo yake? Kwa kimombo ‘what should education address?’ hili ndio la kuangaliwa sana, kinaga-ubaga, kiutafiti, na Taasisi zote husika (za elimu).
Kwa muda mrefu sana na mpaka hivi karibuni, elimu imefuata utaratibu wa / desturi ya mkondo wa enzi za ukoloni ambao haujatoa masuluhisho ya kutosheleza kwa jamii yetu na wanafunzi wetu.  Mfano, kuna tija gani, faida gani kuwa na vyuo vingi – vya kati na vyuo vikuu Tanzania, vyote vikitoa aina ile ile ya elimu – silabasi ya kikoloni, inayopelekea kuwepo na wanafunzi wengi kuliko, wahitimu wa vitu hivyo hivyo, na hawapati kazi..?  yabidi sasa tufikiri upya – critically rethink mahitaji ya Tanzania ya miaka mitano, kumi na hata ishirini au zaidi toka sasa wakati tuna amua silabasi – curriculum  ya shule zetu.  Vijana wetu wapohitimu shahada zao, wasianze mahangaiko ya kusaka ajira zisizojulikana, za mashaka na hata ambazo ni za uvunjaji wa sheria.  Ni lazima kuweka mazingira ambapo kuna aina nyingi na tofauti za ajira ambazo zimechunguzwa mbeleni (have been carefully forecast) miaka mingi kabla wahitimu hawajamaliza elimu/mafunzo yao.  Hii yahitaji fikra mpya fikra pevu (critical thinking) toka kwa Taasisi zote husika Tanzania, na JICHO JIPYA nayo hakika ni mdau katika hili.  Tukirudi nyuma kidogo, kisomo cha Ngumbaru kilitakiwa, na kinatakiwa kuwa endelevu; si tu kujua kusoma na kuandika, bali na kuambatana na matumizi ya elimu hiyo katika maisha ya kawaida.  Na hili pia linahitaji majibu ya swali la ‘elimu ya ngumbaru kwa lengo gani’.  Tukijua jibu lake, elimu hiyo pia itakuwa ina umuhimu na endelevu.

8) Mwalimu Profesa, Wewe kama MwanafikraHuru, nini ushauri wako kwa  vijana ambao ni WanaFikra Huru Chipukizi? (Wapo hata kama ni wachache, hamna jamii isiyo na watu wanaofikiri nje ya box la mazoea na desturi ya jamii hiyo, hivyo hata hapa Tanzania lazima wapo!) Jee WanaFikra Huru wa Tanzania wanaweza kuwa na mchango chanya wowote katika jamii..? kwa vipi? Jee wanaweza kuwa ni “galimoto” la kuelimisha dhidi ya imani za “enzi za giza” – uchawi, kwa jamii yetu ambayo yaelekea kwa kiasi kikubwa haitumii njia ya fikra ya urasini-mantiki (rationalism)..?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Kwa ujumla wake, Vijana ndio waleta mabadiliko katika jamii. Ushauri wangu kwa vijana ambao ni WanafikraHuru ni kuwa, wawe pragmatist – waishi kimatendo kuendana na uhalisia katika maisha yao ya kila siku.  Na wawe mifano kwa wao kuendelea kujifunza wenyewe bila kuchoka kuhusu kila kitu, na kutafuta maelezo na majibu ya urasini mantiki (rationalism) katika hali zote zozote wanazokutana nazo.  Nina imani hii itapelekea galimoto la fikra kuielimisha jamii dhidi ya fikra za imani potofu katika matukio ya kimaisha.  Kwa upande mwingine, tuna bahati Tanzania na nchi nyingine kwingineko kuwa, tayari tuna vijana wenye nguvu na hari, ambao wapo katika nyanja mbalimbali katika jamii, mstari wa mbele wa nyanza hizo.  Tutumie nafasi hii, si kuhubiri ili kubadili watu wafuate njia yako ya kufikiri, la, ila ishi maisha yako, na wengine watataka kujua na kujifunza falsafa gani inaongoza maisha yako na mafaniko yake.

9) Kwa maoni yako Profesa Mwalimu, kama MwanafikraHuru, jee hili la “hulka ya lawama” kwa magharibi,  kwa sasa kete hii bado ina mantiki? – “blame game’ to the west still relevant? Jee ni sawa kuendelea kuwalaumu wakoloni (kama ambavyo Pan Africanists imekuwa tabia yao mara zote) kwa kutoendelea kwa Afrika kwa sasa, miaka 50+ baada ya UHURU? Jee ni vipi njia hii ina tija? Upande wa pili Mwalimu Nyerere alipendekeza falsafa ya kujitegemea…kwanini hata sasa bado Afrika yaonekana ni ngumu kujitegemea (hata basi kwa baadhi ya vitu tu)? kifanyike nini..? tunasongaje mbele toka hapa kati ya njia hizi mbili;- aidha kuendeleza lawama kwa mkoloni (Pan Africanism) au ya Mwalimu Nyerere kujitegemea kwa upande mwingine?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Karata ya lawama (‘blame game’ or rather, an excuse for development and growth that is cast toward the west) kwa makisio yangu si urasini-mantiki, ni irrational.  Tuna miaka 50 na zaidi ya Uhuru Tanzania na nchi nyingi za Kiafrika.  Pan Africanist yoyote asiendelee kujificha kwa kivuli cha karata ya lawama kwa sasa..imetosha! Kabla ya uhuru na baada kwa miaka kadhaa sawa, ilionekana ina maana, mashiko, kuwalaumu magharibi.  Kwa sasa tujilaumu wenyewe kwa kutokuwa na mikakati kuchambua nini tunataka kufanikisha kama WaAfrika kwenye nchi zetu.  Mwalimu Nyerere aliona sawa kwamba, tuelekee kwenye wakati wa kujitegemea ambapo, kesho yetu haitaamuliwa tena na magharibi, kwa sisi kuzalisha wenyewe na kugawana kutokana na mipango yetu ya maendeleo ya Nchi.  Inanishangaza kwamba leo hii (mwaka 2019), bado sehemu kubwa ya bajeti yetu inategemea kupata michango (donations), mikopo na zaidi kutoka magharibi.
Wapi duniani ambapo mtu mzima wa fikra za urasini – mantiki (rational minded person) anapanga bajeti yake, akijumlishia kiasi anachotegemea kupata kama mchango toka kwa mjomba, jamaa na wapita njia watakaomsaidia kuzibia  pengo – balance ya bajeti yake..? hamna kitu kama hicho!
  Taasisi na hasa JICHO JIPYA lazima iweke kiwango – set standards, kuonyesha njia, kuishi kama watu wazima kwa kujitahidi kuwa na uhuru wa kiuchumi na kuiacha tabia hii ya karata ya lawama kwa magharibi.

10) Je, nini maoni yako juu ya Utamaduni – cultural revival? Unadhani kwa sasa lugha za kiasili (mfano Kihehe) zinaweza kuruhusiwa kama njia ya mawasilino pamoja na kiswahili na kiingereza hata kwenye matangazo ya Radio na TV, bila “woga” kuwa hiyo italeta / itachochea “ukabila”..?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Mimi ni mpenzi wa (proponent of) utalii wa kiutamaduni – local cultural tourism, na hivyo nafikiri lugha za kiasili nazo ziishi, ziendelee kuwepo ili kudumisha utamaduni asilia wa sehemu zetu.  Sio kitu cha ajabu kwamba katika kila lugha kuna maneno ambayo hayawezi kutafsirika kiufasaha kwa Kiswahili au Kiingereza (au kwa lugha nyingine yoyote) bila ya kupoteza maana yake asilia kwa sababu ya unadra wa utamaduni (culturally specific).  Kwa hiyo lugha asilia ziwe na nafasi katika mawasiliano kwa namna mbalimbali ikiwemo matangazo ili zidumishe utamaduni.  Ikiwa tunaweza kuwaheshimu watu waliohamasisha “utaifa” lakini wakati huo huo kuwa wazi (open) kwa mataifa mengine, kwanini isiwe hivyo kwa makabila pia, wakati huo huo ikiruhusu mahusiano chanya na makabila mengine?  Kwa kipimo changu, ukabila ni mbaya pale tu unapopelekea hali ya kabila kujiona lenyewe ni bora kuliko lingine/mengine, kwa kutumia vipimo vya kabila hilo kupima mambo yote ya makabila mengine.  Hii ni mfano mmoja wa fikra ambazo zinarithishwa kutoka kizazi kimoja kwenda kingine, na kuchukuliwa kama ndiyo “kawaida”, sheria, bila ya kujiuliza maswali magumu kuhusu uhalali, ukweli, urasini – mantiki wake.

Jichojipya Think Anew: Na vipi hili linalosemekana kuwa kwa kufundisha kwa lugha ya Kiingereza, kumesababisha wanafunzi wengi katika ngazi ya sekondari, chuoni mpaka vyuo vikuu Tanzania kuwa na wakati mgumu kuelewa kiufasaha kinachofundishwa, ikisemekana kuwa ingekuwa ni kwa Kiswahili pengine mambo yangekuwa bora..?

Profesa  A Mwakikoti: Tatizo la lugha lipo. Kuna wanafunzi wa Tanzania wanao hangaika kujieleza kwa lugha ya Kiingereza. Ukweli ni kuwa, nchi nyingine mfano Mexico, Nchi za Waarabu na Asia, zinajifunza na kutumia lugha zao pamoja na Kiingereza wakati huo huo. Yahitajika balance, uwiano kwa lugha zote mbili. Hatuwezi tukatumia Kiswahili tu na kujitenga kwa mawasiliano ya kimataifa.
Wataalamu wanasema kwamba watoto wana uwezo wa kujifunza vizuri lugha mpaka 10 kwa wakati mmoja. Hivyo yaonyesha ni suala la msisitizo wetu sisi watu wazima, kupelekea lugha gani watoto wanajifunza. Ni suala la lugha tunazifundishaje.

Jichojipya -Think Anew: Ndiyo…katika moja ya hotuba zake ya miaka ya 1990, Baba wa Taifa Mwl Nyerere  akizungumzia suala hilo alisema, sisi Tanzania tumebarikiwa kuwa na “Viswahili” vyote viwili, cha kwetu na cha dunia – akimaanisha Kiingereza, akaongeza kuwa tujifunze vyote na tutumie vyote. Kwamba juhudi za kuendeleza Kiswahili chetu, sisimaanishe kudhoofisha Kiingereza, la hasha.
Hivyo ni kweli, ni suala zaidi la njia, jinsi ya ufundishaji.

11) Hapa Tanzania, kuna watu wachache sana ambao wanajulikana wazi katika jamii kuwa ni WanafikraHuru – wanaoishi bila dini (na ndiyo sababu ya kuwatafuta hao na kuweka kumbukumbu za maisha yao – kama alivyofanya Mwana falsafa Henry Odera Oruka miaka ya zamani ya 70)…
Jee kuna WanafikraHuru wengine kama wewe ambao unawajua? (Hata mzee Kingunge tulimuuliza swahi hili) na jee una mawasiliano, link na WanafikraHuru wengine wowote duniani? (Mzee Kingunge alituambia yeye alikuwa peke yake hata katikati ya Ma “comrade” wenzake – yeye akiwa Marxian anayekubaliana tu na dhana ya nguvu za ukinzani  – “dialectic approach” katika kuichambua jamii, lakini kamwe hakuwa Mmarxist kama ambavyo makomredi wenziwe walivyomdhania kuwa..!)

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Ninawafahamu wachache WanafikraHuru, hasa wa Marekani ambao nina link na kukutana nao mara chache kadhaa.  Wachache hao ni wanachama wa “Freedom From Religion Foundation” (FFrF), na “American Humanist Association” ambapo nami ni mwanachama.  Ninatumiwa matoleo/maandishi ya Taasisi hizo, na nimewahi kuudhuria mikutano waliyoiandaa.  Ninafikiri ni muhimu sana kufanya utafiti mfano kwa hapa Tanzania, kujua idadi ya WanafikraHuru hapa, ingawa katika sensa, Mwalimu Nyerere alisema hakukuwa na haja ya kuwauliza watu imani/dini zao, akisema hiyo ni kazi ya viongozi wa dini kujua waumini wao.  Lakini, hili ni jibu sahihi?  Kutakuwa na madhala gani kuwa na taarifa hizo kwa Taifa kama swali hilo lingeulizwa? Hata hivyo kwa sasa, JICHO JIPYA yaweza kutafuta njia ya kiutafiti kukusanya taarifa muhimu ambazo zitatumika kwa malengo yenye tija kwa jamii.

12 ) Kama MwanafikraHuru, unatoa ushauri gani katika kukuza Sayansi na Tekinolojia, kutoka ngazi ya chini na sekta isiyo rasmi?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Sayansi na Tekinolojia na mambo mengineyo ya kielimu yenye tija kwa jamii, lazima yaangaliwe kwa ufasaha. Utafiti ufanyike, halafu mkakati na kupima wapi itapofaa ktk mpango wa muda mrefu.  Elimu iwe ni kwa faida ya jamii, isiwe elimu kwa maana ya elimu tu basi.  Nina maanisha elimu yoyote ya maana lazima iwe na mpango wa vipi itainufaisha jamii – Mwanafunzi na jamii kwa ujumla.  Bila ya utafiti wa kiufasaha na mipango, jamii yaweza kuishia kuzalisha wahitimu wa mashahada katika nyanza zilezile, huku ikishindwa kuwaajiri au kuwawezesha (empower) wajiajiri wenyewe (kama wajasiliamali).  Elimu ya aina yoyote lazima iwe inakwenda na uhalisia / hali halisi – pragmatic, na wanafunzi wajue mwanzo kabisa kabla wataitumia vipi elimu hiyo kivitendo, mapema wanapoanza safari ya kusoma hicho wanachosomea.  Zaidi ni kuwa, elimu isiyotumika baada ya kuhitimu ni upotevu wa rasilimali, mbaya zaidi kuliko hata ya kutoipata.   Elimu ya Sayansi na Tekinologia ndio mchezo wa sasa, hatuwezi kuishi bila, na ni lazima ikuzwe.  Na uko sawa kabisa, ukuzaji huo lazima uwe kwa ngazi zote; kwa sekta rasmi na ile isiyo rasmi.  Sekta rasmi ishughulikie zaidi utafiti ulio kiuhalisia, pragmatic, kwa lengo la kufikia kwa uvumbuzi utokanao na utafiti.  Lakini pia ni muhimu kusema kwamba tuna Watanzania vijana walio na vipaji vya kuzaliwa hata kama wana elimu ya chini, au hawakwenda shule kabisa.  Cha ajabu ni kwamba vijana hawa wamevumbua na kutengenea kila aina ya vitu ambavyo wengi wetu hatuna habari.  Mfano mzuri ni mmojawapo wa JICHO JIPYA, Bwana Ntubanga Beleng’anyi –ambaye ametengeneza kutoka mwanzo garimoto linalofanya kazi.  Watu kama hawa, yafaa wawezeshwe – wapewe incentive and encouragement it waendelee na uvumbuzi wao.

13) Kwa maoni yako kama MwanafikraHuru, unadhani kuna haja ya kuwa na vijiji vinavyo lea na kukuza sayansi na tekinolojia, kama ilivyokuwa kwa kijiji cha Isansa kule mbozi kwa suala la kilimo na ufugaji wa kiushirika? Jee kuwe na “Silicon-valley ya Tanzania? Kama Ilivyowahi kufikiriwa siku za nyuma na Prof Shayo..?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Binafsi sielewi sana kuhusu Isansa – Mbozi ulivyokuwa, ila kwa wazo la kulea na kukuza sayansi na tekinolojia hili ni muhimu.  Lakini kabla ya hapo, mtu lazima ajiulize kwanza kwanini tunahitaji sayansi na tekinolojia—ili iweje – kwa kutaka matokeo gani – for what end results? Jee tumefanya tafiti zozote kwa hilo kwamba, ikiwa tutawaelimisha / kuwapa mafunzo vijana  elfu moja, asilimia fulani itakwenda kuajiriwa kwenye viwanda fulani kadhaa ambavyo tuna uhakika huo, na asilimia nyingine itaanzisha shughuli zao wenyewe katika maeneo ya sayansi na tekinolojia? Kama hatujafanya hivyo, hatujakusanya taarifa hizo, kwanini basi twende kichwa – kichwa kwenye elimu hiyo/mafunzo hayo?  Kwa sasa tunaishi katika zana za ulimwengu wa tekinolojia ambapo, inawezekana kabisa kutafuta majibu, matokeo kwa kitu chochote kabla ya kupeleka nguvu na pesa zetu kwenye kitu hicho.

Jichojipya Think Anew: Isansa ilikuwa ni kijiji ambacho Mwl Nyerere alikiona ni mfano wa alichotaka kiwe kwa siasa ya ujamaa, ushirika na kujitegemea. Kilikuwa huko Mbozi mkoani Mbeya.

14) Mwl, Profesa, vitabu vyasemekana kuwa ni virutubisho vya ubongo. Wewe kama Mwana fikraHuru, una mapendekezo gani kuhusu nini kifanyike kuchochea na kuendeleza tabia ya kujisomea vitabu ili iwe “utamaduni” hapa Tanzania, nje ya kusoma ili tu kufaulu mitihani shuleni?
Na kwako binafsi, ni kitabu gani ambacho unadhani baada ya kukisoma kilichochea wewe kuwa Mwana fikraHuru kama ulivyo sasa?

Profesa A Mwakikoti: Kwa kweli tabia ya kupenda kujisomea vitabu inajengeka kwa mafunzo ya malezi, haiji tu yenyewe.  Kwa dunia ya leo kuna namna mbalimbali ambazo mtu anaweza kusoma vitabu, vingi, na kwa urahisi.  Tabia ya kujisomea vitabu kwa vijana katika jamii nyingi inaonekana kupotea. Lakini ni kwa kusoma vitabu ndio tunapata kujua mambo mengi zaidi na zaidi yaliyo katika jamii.  Ikiwa kusoma kitabu yaonekana inachosha – boredom, mtu anaweza badala yake kusikiliza vitabu kwa njia ya sauti – kama audio books – wakati huohuo akifanya mengineyo mfano kutembea au kuendesha gali.  Kwangu binafsi, Biblia ni kitabu kimojawapo kilichonitoa / fukuza nje ya Ukristo, Kiukweli kabisa.  Makinzano – contradictions zilizomo mule zatosha kabisa kumsukuma mtu nje ya imani.  Halafu vitabu kama The God Delusion cha Richard Dawkins, God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything cha Christopher Hitchens, na Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why cha Bart D. Ehrman, vilikuwa vitabu vyangu vya kwanza kuvisoma na kupata ahueni kutoka miaka yangu ya mahangaiko katika ukristo.  Baada ya hapo zaidi, nimesoma vitabu kadhaa kutoka kwa waandishi mahili. Kusoma vitabu yaleta haueni / afueni – comforting –  inajenga na kusaidia kuweka sawa uelewa, kwa maswali ambayo Mwana fikraHuru daima anajiuliza na kuwa na kiu isiyokatika ya kutaka majibu.

Jichojipya – Think Anew: Mwl, kitabu hiki ambacho Mzee Kingunge alitueleza tulipomhoji kuwa alipokisoma ndipo akang’amua kuwa alaa, kumbe ni binadamu ndiyo wametengeneza miungu kwa mawazo yao..! ni kitabu cha Ludwig Feuerbach “Essence of Christianity”, nyuma kinasoma hivi: “did god create man? Or did man create god”? – nani alimuumba nani? Mungu kaumba binadamu, au binadamu kamuumba mungu?

15) Profesa, Nini maoni yako juu ya nadharia ya Mtafiti charles Darwin, ya zamadamu…kama ilivyo kwenye kitabu chake “origin of species”?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:
Binafsi ninafikiri nadharia ya zamadamu – evolution and the origin of species ya Charles Darwin ina mashiko kwa maelezo ya kifikra – urasini mantiki kuliko imani za kufikirika bila sayansi, mfano imani ya kuwepo kwa Mungu. Ijulikane kuwa, mimi kama mwana sociolojia na mwanafikra huru, nina amini uwepo kwa miungu iliyotengenezwa na binadamu katika jamii nyingi, kwa taswira (image) ya jamii yenyewe.

16)  Profesa, Wewe kama MwanafikraHuru, unafikiri ni muhimu kuzisoma dini mbalimbali kwa ulinganisho (comparative religion study) pamoja ya kuwa wewe si muumini wa mojawapo yoyote?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Kuzisoma dini mbalimbali, kwangu mimi naona inafaa kama wewe ni mchambuzi au mtu wa midahalo kwa mada hizo.  Elimu hiyo inasaidia kuwaelewa watu na imani zao vizuri zaidi, na hii inapelekea kujua mitazamo yao. Nilipokuwa Pastor, niliwahamasisha waumini kusoma na kuzijua dini zingine—ila kusudio langu lilikuwa kujua jinsi ya kubishana na kushinda midahalo ninapofanya hivyo, na wazungumzaji wa dini au mahehebu mengine. Sijutii safari yangu iliyonipeleka kusomea elimu ya dini – Thiolojia. Leo nikiangalia nyuma, ninajua ilichangia kunisaidia niweze kuidadisi imani ya ukristo kwa undani zaidi.  Pia, kusoma dini mbalimbali kunamfanya mtu awajue vizuri wafuasi wa dini hizo, na hiyo inasaidia katika kuwasiliana nao.

17) Mwl Profesa, kama MwanafikraHuru, una maoni gani kuhusu “Hero – worship”? Kumuona shujaa hana kosa…Yupo sawa kwa kila kitu…lini tutaanza kuwa “Wanafunzi” wa Mwalimu (na wazuri kwa hilo!) badala ya kuendelea kuwa “Wafuasi” ritual disciples – Kwa maana ya kuwa ni vipi tunaweza kumuangalia Mwalimu kifalsafa zaidi, critically, badala ya sasa ambavyo anaonekana ni political saint,“Mtawa”?

Prof A Mwakikoti:  WanafikraHuru mara zote lazima waangalie kitu chochote kwa jicho la kinyonga (la kuzunguka pande zote) – critical mind.  Tunapomuheshimu mtu mpaka hali ya kumuabudu – worship tunakuwa hatuna tofauti na wale waliotengeneza miungu katika jamii zao.  Viongozi wakubwa – Great leaders wapewe heshima zao na wawe kioo / kiwango / kipimo wakati tuna chambua na kuona ni nini wametusaidia kujifunza, na vivohivyo iwe kwa Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere.  Pamoja na heshima kubwa niliyonayo kwa Mwalimu Nyerere, lakini alifanya makosa pia na yeye mwenyewe alikubali hilo.  Wakati anastahili sifa kwa mchango wake mkubwa kwa Taifa Tanzania, ni budi tujifunze na kuchambua vitu vile ambavyo tunaweza kumuiga, na kuachana na vile ambavyo tunajua haviwezi tena kuwa applicable -kufanyika kwa jamii yetu ya leo, au tuseme vibaki tu kwenye maktaba za kumbukumbu – Museums.

Jichojipya – Think Anew: Ndio, Mwalimu Nyerere mwenyewe kwa mafundisho yake mbalimbali kupitia hotuba na maandishi alionyesha kuwa  jamii ni dynamic..lazima ibadilike kuendana na changamoto mpya. Alilishauri hata kanisa katoliki kuwa tayari kwa mabadiliko kwa sababu kwa maneno yake mwenyewe, “dunia inahitaji mawazo mapya”, na “maendeleo ni uasi”! – Hotuba yake mwaka 1970 katika mkutano wa masista wa kanisa, Maryknoll  New York Marekani). Yeye mwenyewe alianzisha mabadiliko kadhaa makubwa ya kijamii wakati wake, hakuna haja ya kumfanya“dogma.” alikwenda (na alitaka) mabadiliko ya wakati.

18) (a) Profesa, Kutokana na maisha yako kama Mwana fikraHuru, unapopata matatizo kimaisha, watu wenye dini uenda kupata faraja – consolation aidha kanisani, msikitini au kwa waganga wa kienyeji au hata wapiga ramli, sasa kwako wewe MwanafikraHuru unakwenda wapi kwa hilo? Jee si ni mzigo mzito sana kwako? Umewezaje kuendana (to cope) na hali hiyo ya kuwa peke yako muda wote na bado umebaki na akili timamu?
(b) Na kama MwanafikraHuru, unadhani ni wazo zuri kwa MwanafikraHuru kuacha maandishi – Will ili kwamba azikwe nje ya utaratibu wa dini kama vilevile alivyoishi maisha yake nje ya mila / desturi hizo?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Bahati nzuri hata nilipokuwa kwenye dini – ya Ukristo, sikuwa nakwenda kwa mtu au taasisi kupata faraja, ingawa niliuliza wengine kama wangehitaji msaada wangu katika kukabiliana na hali kama hizo. Yangu nilibaki nayo mwenyewe na kuwaeleza marafiki wachache ilipotokea hivyo – wengi wa hao hao marafiki wachache walinigeuka wakaniacha pale nilipoachana na dini na kuwa mwanafikra huru. Nimewahi kuulizwa swali hili linalokwendana na hilo, kwamba ninafanya maandalizi gani kabla sijakutana na kifo, hasa sasa ambapo mimi si muumini – I am an unbeliever? Jibu langu ni kuwa, wala hili halinihangaishi akili, kwa kuwa nina amini maisha ni haya haya, ndiyo pekee tuliyonayo, hamna mengine baada ya haya.

Na ninafikiri MwanfikraHuru ni budi aandike andiko la Will  ili kupunguza utata wa kifamilia, kujua watafanyaje na wewe, mwili wako, pale utakapokufa.  Ni vizuri kuandika, hata kama maandishi yako hayatapewa uzito – kutochukuliwa serious, na wale watakaobaki, hasa pale inapokuwa wao ni waumini wa dini.  Ikitokea hawatataka kufuata mapendekezo ya will yangu, basi, wacha wafanye inavyowapendeza wao, haitabadili mimi ni nani, yote kwa yote nitakuwa tayari mfu, haitabadili kitu.

An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More 3 Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing

Jichojipya-Think Anew: Kuna haja kwa WanafikraHuku kuanza kukutana mara kwa mara, kufahamiana. Hii itaondoa “upweke” ambao kila mmoja kati yetu anaupata, akiwa peke yake, kivyake. Tupo wachache lakini ndo tupo. Mzee Kingunge alishauri hivyo. Tutumaini kujenga jamii ya WanafikraHuru tukisaidiana kama ambavyo ni Ubinadamu ambao ni wanyama wanaohitaji kuishi pamoja – human animal social being. Zaidi ya hilo kuna wazo la kuanzisha Humanist Celebrants, itakuwa ni mbadala kwa WanafikraHuru na wengine pia, ambao wangetaka kufanya ndoa za Bomani zikienda na sherehe/kumbukumbu zisizo za kidini. Vilevile kwa coming out celebration (mbadala wa ubatizo) kwa watoto. Na pia ikiwa mtu ameacha Will kwa maandishi kwa maziko yake bila kuwepo na mila/desturi za kidini. Inawezekana kabisa kuzaliwa, kukua, kuishi, kuingia kwenye ndoa, kuwa Mzee, kufa na hata kuzikwa bila ya mila na desturi za kidini kukushurutisha. WanafikraHuru yabidi kuya-anzisha haya kati yetu katika jamii hii. Wakati ni huu. Tusaidiane kuweka msingi kwa freethinkers wa vizazi vijavyo, miaka 50 mpaka 100 baada yetu. Mzee Kingunge kwenye mahojiano yake nasi, alitushauri tuwe tunakutana mara kwa mara. Huo ndio “wosia” wake kwetu.

19) Mwisho kwa leo, umeishi maisha marefu kama MwanaFikraHuru, kuna siri gani juu ya kuishi vizuri, muda mrefu, maisha yenye mchango mzuri kwako binafsi na kwa  jamii – productive and useful life?
(b) Neno lolote la mwisho la kuwahamasisha chipukizi, “Young Africans” ambao ni Freethinkers kujifunza toka kwako wewe “Simba – Lion” shujaa wa maisha haya ya kuishi vizuri kwa maadili bila dini…“Living without religion”..?

Profesa A Mwakikoti:  Kwanza, kwa miaka takriban 10 tu ya kuwa MwanafikraHuru si muda mrefu. Lakini kwa kipindi hicho cha kuwa MwanafikraHuru, Ninashukuru kwa kweli kuwa hivyo. Nimepata Uhuru kwa kuwa MwanafikraHuru, Uhuru kutoka kutawaliwa kama “mtumwa” wa dini kwa miaka karibu 50. Siri? Sidhani kama kuna siri yoyote, ila najua kuwa kuishi maisha yako bila woga wowote ni mojawapo ya fanikio la kuwa MwanafikraHuru.  Kwepa hisia ya kutaka kuwabadili wengine wawe kama wewe, badala yake ishi tu maisha yako bila imani ya dini yoyote, na wengine watakutafuta na kutaka kujua zaidi, nini una amini.  Na kama nilivyokwisha sema, vijana ndio chachu – champion wa mabadiliko kwenye jamii, watafute njia zao wenyewe kuongoza fikra za urasini-mantiki critical & rational thinking ambayo ndiyo njia MwanafikraHuru uitumia katika kuyakabili matukio ya maisha.

                                 Shukrani sana Mwl Profesa A Mwakikoti

An Interview to a Tanzanian Emeritus Professor Alex L. Mwakikoti on Living Without a Religion and More 4 Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing


Jichojipya-Think Anew:
Tunajiona wenye bahati tena, kwa kuweza kuwa na haya mahojiano nadra sana ya kifalsafa na Mwl Profesa, mahojiano ya kiwango  kile-kile, upeo ule-ule tuliofanya na Mzee Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru. Shukrani sana Mwalimu.

Wapendwa, tunawashukuru wote kwa interest na attention yenu. Tafadhalini, fuatilieni Jichojipya katika social media sites, tukiendelea kuwatambua, kuwaibua na kuwaunganisha WanafikraHuru wa Kitanzania – “identify, unearth and connect Tanzanian freethinkers”. Hawa ni watu nadra wadadisi wasiochoka kujiuliza maswali, ambao kwa kutumia njia ya kusoma na kujisomea vitabu, wakang’amua kuwa kumbe inawezekana kabisa kuishi maisha ya Maadili bila dini, ukiongozwa na urasini -mantiki usio na woga wa kuhoji chochote na usioamini imani za kusadikika, “supernatural” hata zile ambazo ni za kidini. Asanteni tutakutana kwenye mahojiano mengine..! Wanafikra huru wapo, hata hapa Tanzania, ni haki yako kujiuliza maswali bila kuchoka, haupo peke yako, na wengine kama wewe wapo, kujiuliza maswali siyo “kuchanganyikiwa”, ni kielelezo cha juu kabisa – fullest expression cha Ubinadamu wako..!
Ni Nsajigwa I (Nsa’Sam) Mwasokwa and Isakwisa A Lucas, jichojipya-Think Anew..!
+255767437643    +255714437643   + 255742674383 +255754326296 jichojipya@gmail.com

Vitabu vilivyoambatana na mahojiano haya: –
1) Eupraxsophy – Living without religion – Mwandishi Profesa Paul Kurtz,
2) The Tanzania (1977) constitution, toleo la 2005
3) Essence of Christianity – Mwandishi Ludwig Feuerbach.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Individual Publication Date: March 22, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Mwakikoti-kiswahili.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Mwasokwa I, Isakwisa A Mahojiano Na Profesa Alex L Mwakikoti Juu Ya Maisha Ya “Maadili Bila Dini” Anayoishi, Na Mengineyo – Jee Inawezekana Kwa Wengine Pia? [Online].March 2019; 1(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Mwakikoti-kiswahili.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Mwasokwa, N. I., Isakwisa, L. A. (2019, March 22). Mahojiano Na Profesa Alex L Mwakikoti Juu Ya Maisha Ya “Maadili Bila Dini” Anayoishi, Na Mengineyo – Jee Inawezekana Kwa Wengine Pia?Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Mwakikoti-kiswahili.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): MWASOKWA, N.I.; ISAKWISA, L.A., Mahojiano Na Profesa Alex L Mwakikoti Juu Ya Maisha Ya “Maadili Bila Dini” Anayoishi, Na Mengineyo – Jee Inawezekana Kwa Wengine Pia? African Freethinker. 1.A, March. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Mwakikoti-kiswahili>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Mwasokwa, N.I., Lucas A. Isakwisa, Isakwisa. 2019. “Mahojiano Na Profesa Alex L Mwakikoti Juu Ya Maisha Ya “Maadili Bila Dini” Anayoishi, Na Mengineyo – Jee Inawezekana Kwa Wengine Pia?.African Freethinker. 1.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Mwakikoti-kiswahili.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Mwasokwa, N.I., Lucas A. Isakwisa “Mahojiano Na Profesa Alex L Mwakikoti Juu Ya Maisha Ya “Maadili Bila Dini” Anayoishi, Na Mengineyo – Jee Inawezekana Kwa Wengine Pia?.African Freethinker. 1.A (March 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Mwakikoti-kiswahili.

Harvard: Mwasokwa, N. I. and Isakwisa, L. A. 2019, ‘Mahojiano Na Profesa Alex L Mwakikoti Juu Ya Maisha Ya “Maadili Bila Dini” Anayoishi, Na Mengineyo – Jee Inawezekana Kwa Wengine Pia?, African Freethinker, vol. 1.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Mwakikoti-kiswahili>.

Harvard, Australian: Mwasokwa, NI & Isakwisa, LA 2019, ‘Mahojiano Na Profesa Alex L Mwakikoti Juu Ya Maisha Ya “Maadili Bila Dini” Anayoishi, Na Mengineyo – Jee Inawezekana Kwa Wengine Pia?, African Freethinker, vol. 1.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Mwakikoti-kiswahili.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Mwasokwa, N. I. and Isakwisa, L. A. “Mahojiano Na Profesa Alex L Mwakikoti Juu Ya Maisha Ya “Maadili Bila Dini” Anayoishi, Na Mengineyo – Jee Inawezekana Kwa Wengine Pia?.” African Freethinker 1.A (2019):March. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Mwakikoti-kiswahili>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Mwasokwa NI and Isakwisa LA Mahojiano Na Profesa Alex L Mwakikoti Juu Ya Maisha Ya “Maadili Bila Dini” Anayoishi, Na Mengineyo – Jee Inawezekana Kwa Wengine Pia? [Internet]. (2019, March; 1(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/Mwakikoti-kiswahili.

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In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with John Collins on Branhamism and Abuse (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 19.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fifteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: March 15, 2019

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 5,120

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

John Collins is an Author, and the Webmaster of Seek The Truth. He discusses: severe forms of abuse in the William Marrion Branham “The Message” community; the different abuse tactics used on men and women to keep them in line; the social control tactics; the lack of critical thinking and critical theology in the “The Message” church of the late William Marrion Branham; and the tragic cases of abuse, and heartwarming ones of those who got out.

Keywords: author, Christianity, faith healing, John Collins, Seek The Truth, The Message, webmaster, William Marrion Branham.

An Interview with John Collins on Branhamism and Abuse (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If we are looking at the severe forms of abuse, what are the main ones within community to keep members in line?

John Collins: This is a difficult question to adequately summarize in one single conversation. The “Message” cult following of William Branham has repeatedly evolved and branched after multiple iterations of core doctrine, creating very different sects in multiple regions of multiple countries around the world, and each sect created from each branch in each region of each country has varying levels of abuse. It would be like asking which forms of abuse have been used in the Catholic Church in the past seventy-five years; even with the recent allegations and convictions of abuse in the Catholic Church, each instance of abuse cannot represent the Catholic community as a whole and the sum of all abuse cannot represent the views of the religion. Yet the abuse exists, and in many cases, the predators are protected and will abuse again.

In the United States, the most extreme example of abuse in the “Message” that has been documented happened at a cult commune in Prescott, Arizona, that William Branham called “Goshen” (Referring to the land given to the Hebrews by the Biblical pharaoh of Joseph).[i] Members of the commune ranging in ages from children to adult were emotionally, physically, and sexually abused as a means to control the group.[ii] Leaders of the commune would ostracize people from the community and separate families. Children were forced to march around the compound military-style and were physically beaten if they fell out of line. Some children were sexually abused by Branham’s close associate Leo Mercer, others burned with fire so they would “know what hell felt like”. Parents were instructed to perform acts of abuse upon children or each other, while leaders of the commune acted as a “witness” to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. The problem was so widespread that the courts were forced to delicately question cult members in areas of sexual and physical abuse, incest, and homosexuality.

Undeniably, the worst documented cases of abuse happened at Colonia Dignidad in the Maule Region of Chile under the leadership of “Message” pastor Paul Shaefer.[iii] Shaefer preached against “sins of the flesh”, often segregated men and women, and practiced enforced celibacy as religious atonement. Those who did not comply were brutally beaten.[iv] Members of the commune were monitored by armed guard in a military-style compound. After a child escaped and alerted authorities, an investigation led government officials to secret underground chambers where cult members were tortured by electric shock.[v]

When asked about abuse as a means to control, former members of the “Message” have different opinions. Many who experienced abuse have the opinion that their abusers were not aligned with the views of other members of the “Message”, and though abusive to enforce cult doctrine, should be excluded. Others argue that in many cases, leaders of the cult protected and enabled their abusers. Since William Branham himself praised physical abuse[vi], members of the cult often turn a blind eye to predators in positions ranging from leaders[vii] to lay members. Only in the cases where a “Message” cult pastor is exposed after having brainwashed and raped women of the church[viii] under the guise of “spiritual husbandry”[ix] is the abuse as a means to control beyond question.

At the same time, many former members overlook the more obvious forms of abuse. Having spent years and sometimes decades suffering through emotional abuse from figures in authority, they become so familiar with its effects that patterns of abuse turn into a normal part of life. It is not uncommon for members to be persuaded to ostracize friends or family members who question cult doctrine, or to be emasculated from the pulpit for not adhering to cult rules. Often, this persuasion is reinforced using Branham’s praise of corporal punishment for women and children. When it is put into action in the homes of parishioners, emotional abuse is followed by physical and even sexual. Branham praised those who brutally beat unclothed victims to the point of swelling and mutilation of skin[x], and the worst cases of abuse involve stripping females and both shaming and severely beating them.[xi] [xii]

Though the nature and severity of the abuse widely differs between cult churches, there appears to be a common theme. Former members who attended churches led by elders who used Branham’s statements to support emotional and physical abuse seem to have noticed more victims than those who attended churches that avoided those statements. Said one former “Message” member: “Most kids I know including myself were physically abused, all in the name of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ (A statement Branham frequently made in his sermons to support corporal punishment). Interestingly, similar patters appear in testimony from former members who attended “home church” – gathering in homes to listen to Branham’s recorded sermons from 1947-1965 – or who frequently listened to those recordings during the week between services. In a majority of cases described by former members, the abuse was designed to enforce cult rules and doctrine.

2. Jacobsen: How do these tactics differ for men and women? 

Collins: Any strategy used to manipulate or control members of a cult that differ between genders is directly related to the way in which gender roles are defined. This is true whether we are discussing William Branham’s “Message” cult based on Pentecostalism, Warren Jeff’s FLDS cult based on Mormonism, or any other religious cult displaying obvious differences in gender roles. The difference in tactics becomes more noticeable in religious groups whose definition of gender roles differs from society, especially when the cult’s definition of gender roles is based upon cult doctrine.

Gender roles in the “Message” have been defined very similarly to that of Christian Fundamentalism during the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s. William Branham encouraged the men to be the sole provider for the family unit, the women to be the family cook[xiii], and preached heavily against women who had any ambitions of a career.[xiv] Men are permitted to vote on political decisions, while women are strictly forbidden.[xv] Men keep up with current fashions, for the most part, while women are not allowed.[xvi]

Men are publicly shamed from the pulpit to enforce the control of their spouse,[xvii] inciting men to punish wives who do not adhere to the rules while denigrating women by insinuating they are property to be controlled. If wives disobey cult rules, Branham instructed men to beat them with boards.[xviii] Those who follow Branham’s advice begin a pattern of emotional and physical abuse that in many cases becomes more brutal over time.” [xix]

Many doctrinal teachings in the “Message are specifically designed to manipulate women through emotional abuse. Branham taught his followers to believe that the female part of the human race was designed by Satan, and that Satan was still making adjustments to the design.[xx] He taught that women were designed specifically to deceive, by her beauty, and that the female human was designed to have less morals than females of all other animals.[xxi] According to Branham, women would eventually be the cause of the destruction of the United States.[xxii] Women are emotionally manipulated to suppress their natural desire to be beautiful, to learn, to achieve, and to succeed. This suppression of thoughts, feelings, emotions, and ambition is so painful that it pushes some women into depression and suicidal thoughts.[xxiii]

3. Jacobsen: Why do these social control tactics differ in these ways?

Collins: The methods used to manipulate, influence, and control members of any religious cult differs between gender roles, especially within cults that originated before the Women’s Rights movement of the 1960’s having doctrine opposed to change. Outside a destructive cult, the lines separating gender roles have shifted significantly over the past fifty years. In cults based on Christian Fundamentalism of the United States, these lines do not move at the same pace, and sometimes not at all.

In the “Message” cult following of William Branham, the core teaching has been preserved through time by audio sermons recorded prior to Branham’s death in 1965. Though some sects of the cult have deviated from the core doctrine, a majority continue to preach and practice the views and opinions of a Christian Fundamentalist preacher fighting against the rapid pace of change in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s. These recordings, without the central figure, have immortalized the cult leader, and the recordings themselves have become the central figure of the cult. As a result, the fight against change continues – even though the “change” has already taken place – and far more difficult to enforce or even fully understand in modern culture.

Many churches that follow Branham’s teachings consider William Branham to be their “pastor”…

…listen to the recordings, and replay Branham’s fight against cultural change every Wednesday and twice on Sunday. Those who do not play the tapes structure their sermons to match Branham’s agenda from the recordings, continuing the battle against gender equality[xxiv] and Civil Rights.[xxv] The typical sermon in a “Message” cult church will contain many references to the recordings, using direct quotes from William Branham to express Branham’s misogynistic views, and use similar patterns of emotional abuse to further enforce the cult’s views.

According to Branham, women were specifically designed by Satan for sex:

“But she is designed to be a sex act, and no other animal is designed like that. No other creature on the earth is designed like that.”

– Branham, 1965, Feb 21. “Marriage and Divorce”

Under Branham’s doctrinal teaching, men are trained to believe that women were a “only a scrap”, made to deceive the men:

“Only a piece, scrap, made of a man, to deceive him by; God made it, right here has proved it. That’s what she was made for.”

– Branham, 1965, Feb 21. “Marriage and Divorce”

Some cult pastors claim that these doctrines only apply to women who do not adhere to the cult’s female dress code, carefully avoiding some of Branham’s statements about the Creation Story. But when combined with Branham’s statements supporting or promoting the physical abuse of women and children, it is a recipe for disaster.

4. Jacobsen: How does the lack of internal support for critical thinking and, in fact, critical theology provide a ripe basis for the members of the community to be taken advantage of, throughout life?

Collins: The most unusual conversation I’ve had with a “Message” believer was when I began identifying several newspaper articles confirming William Branham’s 1907 birth year. One of the core beliefs in the “Message” was that the year 1909 was “spiritually significant”, and that the stars and planets aligned to announce William Branham’s birth. William Branham often described how the year 1909 was spiritually significant, and the majority of cult followers celebrate his birthdate as April 6, 1909.[xxvi] This was the date Branham used on the marriage license to his second wife, Meda.[xxvii]

Yet according to the 1920 Census[xxviii], William Branham’s parents listed his age as 12, placing his birth year in 1907, and newspaper articles I found confirmed the dates listed in the 1920 Census.[xxix] As it turned out, William Branham also used the year 1907 as a “supernatural sign” while speaking to the followers of deceased cult leader John Alexander Dowie in Zion City, IL.[xxx] Making matters even more confusing, William Branham listed his birth year as 1908 on his marriage license to his first wife, Hope.[xxxi]

To the follower of William Branham, I said, “William Branham could not have been born in all three years, 1907, 1908, and 1909. And if 1907 was ‘supernaturally’ significant because of his birth, then 1909 could not be ‘supernaturally’ significant because of his birth.”

His response surprised me: “I don’t understand it, brother, but I believe every word the ‘prophet’ spoke”.

When followers are manipulated into disabling critical thought, they open the door to critical problems. Not only are they allowing themselves to be influenced into believing things they would not ordinarily believe, they are allowing themselves to be persuaded into doing things they would not ordinarily do. While some might argue that abusive personalities would have abused other members of the cult without the emotional abuse Branham used in his sermons or the statements that he made promoting emotional and physical abuse, disabling critical examination of the sermons while giving ultimate authority to Branham’s words turns every statement into an order or action that must be carried out. It is how those orders are carried out that can be debated by members, and unfortunately, the abusive personalities carry them out in literal form. In the extreme cases, they have been combined with Branham’s misogynistic statements and have resulted in sexual abuse.

The problem, of course, is that this danger does not end after escaping the cult. Many escape Branham’s “leadership”, seeking to replace him with another “leader”, and find themselves trading one cult for another. Others, unaware that manipulative personalities exist in all walks of life, find themselves taken advantage of at home, in the workplace, on the streets, or even in new churches by other members. Though the non-cult situations are far less extreme, they could have been prevented simply by applying critical thought.

5. Jacobsen: What have been some – without names – more tragic cases of those who were hurt within community? What are some more heartening ones where people got out and started healthy lives outside of the myopic worldview of the purported “Message”?

Collins: For many years, current and former members of the “Message” were largely unaware of the abuse that existed in the cult. There were rumors, obviously, that spread whenever an elder or leader of a cult church stepped down due to sexual misconduct, but for the most part, leaders of the “Message” have been largely successful in suppressing information regarding abuse.

Beyond the horrific cases I’ve already mentioned, the abuse is seldom talked about even by former members. Victims who speak out are often further victimized, and some of them have reconciled with their predators or abusers. To speak out would be to re-open wounds that are in the process of healing and expose others whose victims believe the abuse has ended. The predators and abusers were also victims of the cult, manipulated in ways that are difficult for anyone to understand, and some former members have sympathy for both the abuser and the abused.

It wasn’t until recently that former members began speaking publicly about their abuse in the “Message” cult. A former member with a passion to help the victims setup a website, Casting Pearls Project (http://castingpearlsproject.com), and began publishing testimonies by former members who had escaped the abuse and reclaimed their lives. This led to several others stepping forward, both publicly and in private, allowing those outside the cult to catch a personal glimpse into what it was like to be an abused female in the “Message”.

On the website, there are stories describing nine-year-old girls that were psychologically, physically, and sexually abused for years.[xxxii] Multiple women were often forced to strip their clothes off to be shamed or molested while fully nude.[xxxiii] Some were brutalized while nude, one of which was beaten with a Louisville Slugger baseball bat.[xxxiv] In one case, a child was murdered by a sexual predator whose crimes had been covered up.[xxxv] The testimonies given by former members are horrific. It would be impossible to rate them as to which are less tragic, and which are more. Each victim, each form of abuse, carries just as much weight when one former member reaches out to help another. For them, their pain was the worst.

The beauty of the Casting Pearls Project is that there are happy new beginnings. Each person will carry a burden for a lifetime but have been able to start healthy lives. One is an author who is actively helping other victims as a volunteer speaker in the Arizona Department of Corrections for the Impact of Crime on its Victims Classes (ICVC), discussing the murder of children, the impact of child abuse on children, and the impact of domestic violence on women.[xxxvi] Women, who were trained from birth to believe that women should not enter the workforce, have started successful careers.[xxxvii] Some have found new and healthy churches to attend,[xxxviii] while others will never trust religion again.[xxxix]

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Author; Webmaster, Seek The Truth.

[2] Individual Publication Date: March 15, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-two; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[i] Branham, William. 1964, May 31. The Oddball. “And to come here this morning and look, this fine little Jerusalem setting out here, little, what I called, it Goshen, I believe, when we come over this morning. Remember, Goshen was one of the places that they worshipped, one of the first places the tent was pitched.”

[ii] People vs Keith Thomas Loker. 44 CAL. 4TH 691, 188 P.3D 580, 80 CAL. RPTR. 3D 630. Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://scocal.stanford.edu/opinion/people-v-loker-33137#opinion

[iii] Ellrodt, Oliver. Brown, Stephen. Insight: German sect victims seek escape from Chilean nightmare past. “Schaefer followed the teachings of American preacher William M. Branham, one of the founders of the “faith healing” movement in the 1940s and ‘50s. Born in a log cabin in Kentucky, Branham said he had been visited by angels and attracted tens of thousands of followers with sermons that advocated a strict adherence to the Bible, a woman’s duty to obey her husband and apocalyptic visions, such as Los Angeles sinking beneath the ocean.” Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-chile-sect-idUSBRE8480MN20120509

[iv] Ellrodt, Brown. “Former members of the sect say that Schaefer preached against “sins of the flesh.” He also segregated men and women, they say, subjecting all but a few to enforced celibacy. Anyone who disobeyed was brutally punished, often by Schaefer personally.”

[v] Collns, John. Colonia Dignidad and Jonestown. Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=67352

[vi] Example: Branham, William. 1958, Mar 24. Hear Ye Him. “Now, you can take some of these little two-by-fours if you want to, but that’s what God said. That’s what Christ said. Now, that’s the truth. Oh, God be merciful. What must the great Holy Spirit think when He comes before the Father? You say, “Why you picking on us women?” All right, men, here you are. Any man that’ll let his wife smoke cigarettes and wear them kind of clothes, shows what he’s made out of. He’s not very much of a man. That’s exactly right. True. He don’t love her or he’d take a board and blister her with it.” Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from http://seekyethetruth.com/Branham/resources-deep-abuse.aspx

[vii] G. Sarah. Brain Hurt. “It was very difficult as well to attend a church when you knew the pastor had been convicted of sexually molesting a young girl. He went to prison, yet, when he was released he didn’t want to give up his church. If that wasn’t bad enough, just a few years later, this same man was caught in another country with a prostitute in his hotel room shower. Still to this day he has a church following.” Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://castingpearlsproject.com/brain-hurt

[viii] Example: Chikafa-Chipiro, Rosemary. Discoursing women, Christianity and security: The framing of women in the Gumbura case in Zimbabwean media. Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/kMIYBeS8G7jwRU5CEbdz/full

[ix] William Branham Pastor Convicted of Rape and Pornography. Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eq0NYcrl94o

[x] Branham, William. 1956, July 28. Making the Valley Full of Ditches. “She’d beat her till she’d be so full of welts, you couldn’t get the clothes over the top of them. That’s what needs to be done tonight.”

[xi] Example: A. Anna-Lisa. Turning Pain Into Power. “The abuse included the most degrading forms of humiliation. I was locked in a basement cellar for hours or even days, naked, with no food. I was forced to walk around my home completing chores, not a stitch of clothing on my body. I was coerced into performing various exercise routines, naked, my parents laughing while they picked apart and ridiculed my body. My legs were scarred from where my mother grabbed me and dug her nails into me. Handprints and nail marks were left on my face after being slapped or pinched on the nose and drug wherever I was wanted. Punishments also included beatings with a belt and a Louisville Slugger, the resulting welts impossible to describe.” Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://castingpearlsproject.com/turning-pain-into-power.

[xii] Example: Layton, Martha. Psalm 147:3. “We started listening to Message tapes. I believe the Message pushed him over the edge. I was beaten, thrown out naked into the streets, choked, and almost killed.” Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://castingpearlsproject.com/psalm-147%3A3

[xiii] Branham, William. 1956, Oct 3. Painted-Face Jezebel. “listen, sister dear, God made you for one place, the kitchen. When you get out of there, you’re out of His will. Remember that. Women was made to be a helpmate at the house. She never was made for office work. And it’s caused more disgrace and divorces and things.”

[xiv] Branham, William. 1957, Oct 6. Questions and Answers on Hebrews #3. “Our nation has come so little until they’ve even taken the jobs away from the man, and put women out here in these places, till ninety percent of them, nearly, are prostitutes. And talk about men being gone, sure, it’s because they got women out there in their jobs. And they got so low-down till they put women as peace officers on the street. That’s a disgrace to any nation!”

[xv] Branham, William. 1960, Nov 13. Condemnation by Representation. “It shall also…has been an evil thing done in this country, they have permitted women to vote. This is a woman’s nation, and she will pollute this nation as Eve did Eden.”

[xvi] Branham, William. 1960, Feb 21. Hearing, Recognizing, Acting on the Word of God. “Morals, there’s no moral to it no more. Women, dressing evil; come through television, all kinds of impersonations of evil people of Hollywood, all kinds of stuff, fashions.”

[xvii] Example: Branham, William. 1954, May 9. The Invasion of the United States. “You say, “Well, the women.” Yes, and you men that’ll permit your wives to do that, that shows what you’re made out of.”

[xviii] Branham, William. 1958, Mar 24. Hear Ye Him. “All right, men, here you are. Any man that’ll let his wife smoke cigarettes and wear them kind of clothes, shows what he’s made out of. He’s not very much of a man. That’s exactly right. True. He don’t love her or he’d take a board and blister her with it.”

[xix] Example: Lefler, Joyce A. From Miracle to Murder. Accessed 2019, Feb 27 from https://castingpearlsproject.com/from-miracle-to-murder

[xx] Branham, William. 1965, Feb 21. Marriage and Divorce. “But in the human race, it’s the woman that’s pretty, not the man; if he is, there is something wrong, there is crossed-up seed somewhere. Originally it’s that way. Why, why was it done? To deceive by. Her designer, Satan, is still working on her, too, in these last days.”

[xxi] Branham, William. 1965, Feb 21. Marriage and Divorce. “Notice, there is nothing designed to stoop so low, or be filthy, but a woman. A dog can’t do it, a hog can’t do it, a bird can’t do it. No animal is immoral, nor it can be, for it is not designed so it can be. A female hog can’t be immoral, a female dog can’t be immoral, a female bird can’t be immoral. A woman is the only thing can do it. 116 Now you see where Satan went?”

[xxii] Branham, William. 1960, Nov 13. Condemnation by Representation. “Women, given the right to vote, elected President-elect Kennedy, was the woman’s vote, the wrong man; which will finally lead to full control, of the Catholic church, in United States. Then the bomb comes that explodes her.”

[xxiii] Example: H, Jennifer. Unwanted. Accessed 2019, Feb 27 from https://castingpearlsproject.com/unwanted

[xxiv] Branham, William. 1965, Feb 21. Marriage and Divorce. “Only a piece, scrap, made of a man, to deceive him by; God made it, right here has proved it. That’s what she was made for.”

[xxv] Example discussing Integration: Branham, William. 1963, Jun 28. O Lord, Just Once More. “He makes white man, black man, red man. We should never cross that up. It becomes a hybrid. And anything hybrid cannot re-breed itself. You are ruining the race of people. There is some things about a colored man that a white man don’t even possess them traits. A white man is always stewing and worrying; a colored man is satisfied in the state he is in, so they don’t need those things.”

[xxvi] A Special Day. Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://branham.org/en/articles/442017_ASpecialDay

[xxvii] 1941, Oct 23. Marriage License: William Branham and Meda Broy

[xxviii] 1920, Jan 20. Fourteenth Census of the United States.

[xxix] Example confirming William Branham’s age on the 1920 Census: 1924, Jun Mar 21. Hospital Bill Rendered. Courier Journal. “William Branham, 16 years old”

[xxx] Branham, William. 1951, Sept 29. Our Hope is in God. “How Doctor Dowie, in his death, prophesied that I would come to that city forty years from the time that he died. Not knowing nothing about it, he died on one day, and I was borned on the next. And forty years to the day I entered the city, not knowing nothing about it.”

[xxxi] 1934, June 22. Marriage License: William Branham and Hope Brumbach

[xxxii] Lefler, Joyce A. From Miracle to Murder. “No one listened to me while my ex-husband psychologically, physically, and sexually abused her over the years that followed.” Accessed 2019, Feb 27 from https://castingpearlsproject.com/from-miracle-to-murder

[xxxiii] Example: Layton, Martha. Psalm 147:3. “He told us that God had a special message for us. He told us that God wanted us to get naked and pray in a circle together. We proceeded to strip off our clothes and then the lights were turned out. I know I was only four, but I felt a sense of embarrassment having to strip off in front of my dad and brother. As we begin to pray my brother decided to touch me sexually for the very first time.”

[xxxiv] Example: A. Anna-Lisa. Turning Pain into Power. “I was coerced into performing various exercise routines, naked, my parents laughing while they picked apart and ridiculed my body. My legs were scarred from where my mother grabbed me and dug her nails into me. Handprints and nail marks were left on my face after being slapped or pinched on the nose and drug wherever I was wanted. Punishments also included beatings with a belt and a Louisville Slugger, the resulting welts impossible to describe.” Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://castingpearlsproject.com/turning-pain-into-power.

[xxxv] Lefler, Joyce A. From Miracle to Murder. “Thanks to two police detectives and a state prosecutor, Adam’s case was finally solved. It was discovered that the coroner had been wrong in the timing and cause of Adam’s death. If there had been a thorough investigation in 1983, the year Adam died, it would have been discovered that Eugene, the babysitter, had a history of domestic violence and vile behavior towards children. He abused his first wife and tried to strangle and sexually molest their son. Eugene sexually molested his second wife’s daughter from her first marriage and then sexually molested the two daughters they had together. Maybe Eugene’s family was aware of his history but didn’t inform me. I was an easy target. The “Message” hadn’t prepared me to think or speak for myself or to question authority.” Accessed 2019, Feb 27 from https://castingpearlsproject.com/from-miracle-to-murder

[xxxvi] Lefler, Joyce A

[xxxvii] Example: A. Anna-Lisa. Turning Pain Into Power. “Fast forward 8 years later: I am 29 and absolutely the most confident I have ever been. I am a single mother with a career that is taking off and will take me places I NEVER imagined I deserved.” Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://castingpearlsproject.com/turning-pain-into-power.

[xxxviii] Example: Jennifer H. Unwaned. “After leaving the Message, my husband and I joined a church that was the opposite of the Message. Here we found sound Biblical doctrine, love, and the Celebrate Recovery program.” Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://castingpearlsproject.com/unwanted

[xxxix] Example: Christine H. Breaking the Chains. “I will NEVER trust a religion again. I now rely only on a true God that loves me unconditionally. Broken and scarred, I am still worthy!” Accessed 2019, Feb 26 from https://castingpearlsproject.com/breaking-the-chains

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with John Collins on Branhamism and Abuse (Part Two) [Online].March 2019; 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, March 15). An Interview with John Collins on Branhamism and Abuse (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with John Collins on Branhamism and Abuse (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A, March. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with John Collins on Branhamism and Abuse (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with John Collins on Branhamism and Abuse (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A (March 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with John Collins on Branhamism and Abuse (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with John Collins on Branhamism and Abuse (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with John Collins on Branhamism and Abuse (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 19.A (2018):March. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with John Collins on Branhamism and Abuse (Part Two) [Internet]. (2019, March 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/collins-two.

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Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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