July 25 is an easy day for me to remember, for several reasons. Some of these are happy reasons: It's my sister's birthday (Happy Birthday, Barb!), and it's the wedding anniversary of my friend Marie, a Colorado attorney and writer, whom I hope someday to meet in person.
But it's also a memorable day for unhappy reasons. For one, the summer meeting of the Scamworld cartel, the Transformational Leadership Council (aka the Transformational Leadership Council...of Death), always occurs around July 25. This year's summer meeting begins today and goes through the 29th. At the moment I can't tell you where it's taking place; on their public web site the TLC is always very cagey about the location until after the fact. But in the past they've held their seekrit klub meetings in places as diverse as Hawaii, Costa Rica, St. Martin, and Croatia.
Though no longer listed as a member, or even mentioned, on their web site, convicted killer James Arthur "Death" Ray was a founding member of the TLC. And this brings us to the second and most unhappy reason I remember July 25: it was on this day in 2009 that one of Ray's most faithful followers, Colleen Conaway, jumped to her death from the third-floor balcony of a San Diego shopping mall during one of Ray's "wealth creation" manipulation weekends. If you follow the link in the previous sentence, you'll find some posts I've written on past anniversaries. And in fact the graphic on today's post is just a repeat of the one I created for last year's anniversary post.
But I've only covered the matter superficially; as I've noted in previous posts, some of my fellow bloggers have written in much more depth about the tragic story of Colleen, who had no known history of depression or suicidal tendencies. For instance, here's my pal Yakaru, writing on the third anniversary of Colleen's death.
Also cited in Yak's blog post is another excellent post by Salty Droid, written in 2009.Not every “self help” teacher shares Ray’s dangerous combination of stupidity and sadism, but it’s a slick and ruthless system that has been constructed and refined over decades. Every possible devious sales technique has been worked into these routines.
Colleen walked into this trap, hoping to learn how to fulfill her dreams and get the best out of herself. Once she had committed herself to Ray’s program and handed over her money to him, he had immense power over her: she would have felt he held the key to her dreams and hopes.
In essence, James Ray stole her dreams and then set about selling them back to her at the highest possible price.
After Colleen’s death Lynn [Colleen's sister] found that she had been filling out 3x5 cards with what looked like James Ray’s sayings or directives. They were all over Colleen’s house :: Hundreds of them :: Along with spiral notebooks full of similar gibberish. Colleen had been directed to keep a list of her ‘old limiting views’ and her new ‘harmonic views.’ Lynn sounded anguished recalling her feelings at seeing that Colleen had lined though many of the values that 2008 Colleen would have treasured. Scratching off pieces of herself :: one at time :: replaced with empty lies.Nine years later, Death Ray is still struggling to make a Scamworld comeback (as recently mentioned again on this Whirled), years after being released from his far-too-brief prison sentence for the deaths of three of his other followers, James Shore, Kirby Brown, and Liz Neuman, in Sedona, Arizona a few months after Colleen's death.
Given what we've learned about Death Ray in the years since the 2009 atrocities, it isn't an exaggeration to call him a cult leader. And cults, as we know, can be very dangerous, causing irreparable emotional harm, injury, or even death to their followers.
Unfortunately, cults are not limited to the selfish-help/McSpirituality/New-Wage industry -- a fact that is becoming ever more apparent as America morphs into Trumpistan.
About a month ago, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) complained that too much of today’s Republican Party has found itself in “a cult-like situation as it relates to a president.” Soon after, Donald Trump Jr. appeared on Fox News and was surprisingly reluctant to reject the criticism.As it is in Scamworld, so it is in politix, and the line between the two is becoming ever more blurred.
“You know what,” the president’s adult son said, “if it’s a cult, it’s because they like what my father is doing.”
One of the problems with cults, however, is that its leaders tell its followers to ignore external sources of information – because in order for the scheme to work, the leaders must be seen as the sole authority for truth.
My heart goes out to the family and friends who loved Colleen Conaway. Never forget.
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