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June 24th, 2005

The Mullah and the M-meter

'In my experience, I have never met a patient over thirty-five whose neuroses were not primarily centered in the failure to establish satisfactory relationship to the world of religious values."
Carl Jung


Dear Folks,

I've been reading some Sufi parables this week and they remind me remarkably of the humour of Groucho Marx. Look at this one and the few others scattered throughout the newsletter. (You'll notice instead of the Two Booms Booming, I defer to the more contemplative One Hand Clapping.)


One day a neighbor coming home to his house found the Mullah there down on his hands and knees, looking for something.
"What have you lost, Mullah?" he asked.
"My key."
After a few minutes, "Where did you drop it?"
"At home."
"Then, for goodness sake, why are you looking here?"
"There's more light here." (clap clap!)
--from Persia (Iran), Sufi followers of Mohammed, probably before 1250 CE


G'day Joe,
I guess we can't baulk too much at naming a High School for Henry Lawson ... Somehow evokes a memory of Analy High School in Sebastopol, CA. The district is Analy District - in fact, the town was originally named Analy until someone thought twice. . .
Ramon S.

(Note: Once again demonstrating the value of hindsight. Co-incidentally enough, the Men's Shed, at the Henry Lawson Festival, was offering free prostrate exams on the Saturday arvo. I wanted to go and examine few myself, but due to my tight curriculum, I would have had to bend over backwards to get there. )

Did you know that Henry Lawson once lived at Naremburn and there is still a cave there today to where he used to retire now and then before he ventured home after a night drinking at the Willoughby Hotel. Willoughby Council hold six-monthly poetry readings there. Open fire, damper, billy tea, etc etc  A lot of people come and enjoy this old way of entertainment. Thanks,

(Note: Peter, maybe Analy High might be interested in offering my Henry Lawson writing course: ' Poems from the Cave: Another Perspective on Lawson's Bush?')

Hi Joe,
Re: Red Wine
I just discovered an astonishing stain removal method. Spilt red wine on your white shirt?  Your carpet? Immediately... soak up as much as you can, then immediately pour over (sadly) some white wine.... the stain practically vanishes in front of your eyes.

(Note: Maggie, After I've soaked up as much as I can, the stain has ALREADY vanished in front of my eyes. Both stains.)

I received an email from K.M. wanting me to sign a birthday card for W, wishing him well on his 59th, I believe. My message was "1700 American military aren't going to have another birthday. Enjoy yours!" I think it's time for me to move to another country, away from the fucking fascists who think PBS is subversive. Truly the blind are leading the blind in the US of A!
Bill L.

(Note: Bill, hand me down my walking cane!)

Re: Organized Religion
I totally agree with your position on organized religion. It's like kindergarten for your spirit. It's a good place to start, but you gotta move on or else you become ridiculous...stunted, unable to think on your own. There's nothing more scary to me than religious group-think. I'd no sooner submit to that than a wild bird would willingly fly into a bird cage. But some people like cages. Freedom can be scary. And obedience has a pecking order where, if you wait long enough, you're guaranteed some kind of power over someone. Is religion about control?

(Note: Teresa, organized religion is also about power, security and community.)

Hi Joe,
Re: Scientology Joke Ratio 55:4000
If your Scientologist correspondent (named Russell, coincidentally enough) would like people to read more books about Scientology, I can recommend a beauty - The Bare-Faced Messiah by Russell Miller. Unfortunately I'm not sure if you can get it in the US because of efforts to ban its publication (hello, book-banning...that rings a bell...and here I see the govt of France no less has condemned Scientology as a "dangerous totatalitarian sect" which "violates human dignity". - those darn Fascists again). Shame really, the book is a rollicking read and extremely well researched. I agree Dianetics is based on very sound psychology but since I read the above book, it took all the fun out of engrams . . . Be quick though, I believe they are pretty keen to see the website shut down. I reckon you're doing Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, musicians, vegetarians etc a great disservice by putting them on an equivalent level as suitable targets for taking the piss out of...all of us should get at least four thousand jokes for every 55 Scientology jokes (a ratio roughly equivalent to the length of time we've been established!!) Cheers,
PS - "Ana's Song" written by Daniel Johns from Silverchair about his experiences with anorexia was a hit in Aust a few years ago.

(Note: J.S. The Bare-Faced Messiah is NOT banned and is available freely from amazon.com, abebooks.com, and can also be read online. Scientology has gone through the Trials of Job over the past 50 years. I'm surprised that it still is in existence at all. Have a look at what happened in Melbourne in the 60s:

"There are some features of Scientology which are so ludicrous that there may be a tendency to regard [it] as silly and its practitioners as harmless cranks. To do so would be gravely to misunderstand the tenor of the Board's conclusions. This Report should be read, it is submitted, with these prefatory observations constantly in mind. Scientology is evil; its techniques evil; its practice a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially; and its adherents sadly deluded and often mentally ill.' "
Kevin Anderson QC, the Australian Board of Inquiry into Scientology, 1965 (article)

Whoah, Joe! 
Sorry to be a drag but this Scientology stuff is scary. I decided to do a little investigating on who runs the show now that Lafayette's dead. I know you can't believe everything you read on the 'net but we're talking well-documented cases of criminality here.
(THE LISA McPHERSON CLAUSE.) These guys are worse than conmen, they're dangerous. Please don't put my name to this, and yes, I'm serious, probably paranoid but there you go.  If you have friends in Scientology, you and they should be aware of some of this stuff. Thanks, J.

(Note: Dear J, Fear is an amazing thing. Part real and part illusion. Most people would balk at attempting to cross eight stories up between two buildings on a two foot wide plank. But if your two year old was standing precariously on the other side, you'd swallow your fear in an instant and go right across. Of course, I feel a little apprehensive every time I write about a controversial issue that might get up someone's nose. I think very carefully about how I want to discuss certain explosive topics. You never know what kind of nuts are going to come out of the woodwork and squirt water in your face. But feel the fear and do it anyway, some frightened person once said. One thing I noticed a while back is that within every powerful and super-wealthy organization is what I refer to as 'The Thug Factor.' The Head-breakers, the Muck-stirrers and the Mud-doctors. This is an unfortunate, but realistic, fact about social activism as well. Whether it's the Catholic Church, politics, white supremacists, the KKK, fundamentalist Islam, the Oil companies, Corrupt Unions, Drug Cartels, the Mob, or the US government. You think you're paranoid? Imagine for one minute what Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Romero, or countless others faced daily in order to believe what they believed. There is no SAFE way to insulate oneself against the Thug Factor. So, if one isn't prepared to give one's life, or at least endure some suffering or extensive mudstains, for one's beliefs, then it is better to stay in the shadows. (Sometimes covert is better than overt, anyway.) Do whatever you feel you can do. Everyone has to make these decisions themselves. Personally, I'm not afraid of the threat of having an E-meter attached to my gonads. There are worst things. Try messing with certain Italians, for instance. How about being attached to the M-meter - The meathook? The Catholic Church used to draw and quarter, and burn at the stake. The Thug Factor is everywhere. So what? Activist Daniel Berrigan said: 'Know where you stand - and stand there!' Most things in life worth doing have an element of danger, whether exploring new territories (or religions), not to mention: rock climbing, parachuting, surfing, skateboarding, eating salami, driving your car, flying somewhere or just living in a major city with the knowledge that any second a terrorist organization might denote a nuclear suitcase bomb in your backyard. (Keeps life real, don't it?) I prefer not to spend too much time hiding in the library asking 'What is the meaning of Life?' but rather LIVING my life in a way that gives it meaning. Anyway, like that old blues lyric say, 'Everybody got to die of something, sometime.'

"If we are prepared to risk being scared, we can investigate the origins of our disease and learn what we can do to remove it." John Harrison, Love Your Disease (It's Keeping You Healthy)

'The entire world seems to open up when courage and determination are connected to truly important aims.' Norman Cousins, Headfirst



I mentioned last week that I had recently re-read Dianetics, by Lafayette Ron Hubbard. This time around I noticed that the book was dedicated to someone named Will Durant. So who's he? I got on the ol' trusty internet and voila: discovered a very profound soul - and a beautifully creative couple. (I think Lafayette also could have learned a lot more about the love between a man and a woman from these two.) Among Durant's most impassioned readers (and friends) were Mahatma Gandhi, George Bernard Shaw, Clarence Darrow and Bertrand Russell ­ although it was always for the common folks, rather than the scholastic or academic audience, that he wrote. Will and Ariel were married for 59 years! They authored a book together entitled, Dual Autobiography. His love for his wife only deepened with the passing of time. When he was admitted to hospital with heart problems in 1981 at the age of 96, his wife stopped eating; perhaps fearing that he would not be returning. When Durant learned of the death of his beloved wife, his own heart stopped beating. Here is an example of Will Durant's ideas:

" Religion And Civilization

A certain tension between religion and society marks the highest stages of every civilization. Religion begins by offering magical aid to harassed and bewildered men; it culminates by giving to a people that unity of morals and belief which seems so favorable to statesmanship and art; it ends by fighting suicidally in the lost cause of the past. For as knowledge grows or alters continually, it clashes with mythology and theology, which change with geological leisureliness. Priestly control of arts and letters is then felt as a galling shackle or hateful barrier, and intellectual history takes on the character of a "conflict between science and religion" Institutions which were at first in the hands of the clergy, like law and punishment, education and morals, marriage and divorce, tend to escape from ecclesiastical control and become secular, perhaps profane. The intellectual classes abandon the ancient theology and -- after some hesitation -- the moral code allied with it; literature and philosophy become anticlerical. The movement of liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason, and falls to a paralyzing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea. Conduct, deprived of its religious supports, deteriorates into epicurean chaos; and life itself, shorn of consoling faith, becomes a burden alike, to conscious poverty and to weary wealth. In the end, a society and its religion tend to fall together, like body and soul, in a harmonious death. Meanwhile, among the oppressed, another myth arises, gives new form to human hope, new courage to human effort, and after centuries of chaos builds another civilization. "

More about WILL DURANT . . . . More about ARIEL DURANT

'The most important thing is to pick a therapy you believe in and proceed with a positive attitude. Each person must chart his or her own course . . in a sense, any path can be the right one . . ' Bernie Siegel, Love, Medicine and Miracles


A neighbor went to the Mullah to borrow his donkey.
"It's being loaned to somebody else," said the Mullah.
Just then the donkey was heard braying in the stable.
"But I can hear it bray over there."
"Whom are you going to believe," said the Mullah, "me or the donkey?" (clap clap!)

The Lost Boys of the Mormon Dissidence
By Pascal Riché

A sect banishes adolescent males to promote polygamy.

The press calls them the "lost boys." Between 400 and 800 male adolescents have been torn away from their families and their community, a dissident sect of the Mormon Church based in two twin communities, Colorado City (Arizona) and Hildale (Utah). Some ran away, but most were banished. They were told they were delinquents because they had listened to rock music, watched a forbidden movie, worn short-sleeved shirts, flirted with girls ... In fact, at issue for the sect is the need to deflate the inventory of males to allow for the continuation of polygamy. (article)


A ship at sea was sinking and the frightened people got down on their knees and began to cry and weep and pray, promising to live better lives in the future, to do anything if only they could be saved. Only the Mullah was calm. Suddenly, in the midst of all the noise, the Mullah jumped up and shouted, "Hey, friends, don't overdo it! You don't have to change after all. I see land just ahead." (clap clap!)

The Boat Is Sinking
By Aida Edemariam

"Shell is an energy company, not an oil company, and the fact is that neither Shell nor any other energy company is going to be doing business in the same way in 25 years' time." Lord Ron Oxburgh, Chairman of Shell

As our appetite for oil hastens climate change, who will speak out for the alternatives? One possible champion is Lord Ron Oxburgh, the distinguished geologist who also happens to be chairman of Shell. He tells Aida Edemariam why the time for complacency is over.

When Lord Ron Oxburgh visited the Hay festival a couple of weeks ago he arrived during a spell of weather best described as unsettled. A record-breakingly warm Friday was followed on Saturday by a wild, gusting wind and, in the festival marquees, a great howling and a flapping of canvas. The lighting rigs creaked with the strain, and pictures of Hay, projected on to screens behind the performers, bucked and swayed; it was a glimpse of how it must feel to sail a boat into a storm, and an almost too appropriate backdrop to chief government scientist David King's calm laying out of the basic facts of climate change: that since the industrial period carbon dioxide levels have risen from 270 parts per million (classical for all previous warm periods) to 379ppm today, and are rising at 2ppm per year. In 10 years' time they will be at 400ppm; at 500ppm, Greenland's ice will melt entirely - it's already receding by 10 metres a year - and the sea level will rise, drowning coastal cities and entirely changing the contours of the earth. Most scientists now agree that unless we stabilize the earth's atmosphere by 2050, there will be no way to halt the disaster. Oxburgh, the non-executive chairman of Shell in the UK, on the dias with Greenpeace executive director Stephen Tindale, listened to King with increasing impatience, his abundant black eyebrows knitting restlessly under windblown white hair. As soon as he decently could, he grabbed the microphone, strode to the front of the stage and launched into his speech, contemptuous of the lectern, glancing only occasionally at his notes, leaning in towards the audience as if, like an evangelist, he wanted to pick everyone up and shake sense into them, just as the wind was shaking the tent. "We have roughly 45 years. And if we start NOW, not in 10 or 15 years' time, we have a chance of hitting those targets. But we've got to start now. We have no time to lose." (article)


A neighbor came to borrow the Mullah's clothesline.
"I'm sorry, but I'm drying flour on it," said the Mullah.
"How can you dry flour on a clothesline?"
"It's easier than you think when you have a clothesline you don't want to lend someone." (clap clap!)

Nagasaki Bomb Story Gets Out, 60 Years On
by Kenji Hall


Censored stories written by an American journalist who sneaked into Nagasaki soon after it was razed by a US atomic bomb have surfaced six decades later. They describe a "wasteland of war" and the city's radiation-sickened inhabitants. The national Mainichi newspaper this month began serializing George Weller's stories and photographs for the first time since they were lost 60 years ago. After hiring a rowing boat, catching trains and later posing as a US army colonel, Weller, an award-winning reporter for the now-defunct Chicago Daily News, slipped into the devastated city in early September 1945. It was about a month after the two A-bomb strikes - the first in Hiroshima and the second in Nagasaki - that led to Tokyo's surrender, ending the war. Weller, who died in 2002, was the first foreign journalist to set foot in the bombed city, which General Douglas MacArthur, head of the US occupation in Japan, had designated off-limits to reporters. (article)


The Mullah used to take his donkey across the border of the country every day, the donkey's side baskets loaded with straw.
Since the Mullah admitted he was smuggling, the border guards constantly searched him. They looked carefully at his clothes; and as for the straw, they sifted it, soaked it in water, even burned part of it, but never could find anything. Meanwhile, the Mullah plainly was getting richer and richer.
Years later, after the Mullah had quit and moved away, one of the border guards happened to meet him. The guard asked, "What was it you were smuggling we never could catch you at?"
"Donkeys," said the Mullah. (clap clap!)

Global Warming in Africa: The Hottest Issue of All
by Michael McCarthy and Colin Brown

Bob Geldof, take note. All the rich nations' efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa will fail unless climate change can be checked, a coalition of British aid agencies and environment groups warns today. More favorable arrangements for African debt relief, aid and trade - the point of the rock star's forthcoming Live8 concerts and items on the agenda for the Gleneagles G8 summit - will count for nothing unless the effects of global warming are countered, say the development and green groups in a hard-hitting new report. (article)


Dressed in rags, the Mullah went to a Turkish bath. The bath men treated him poorly, handing him a ragged towel and a worn down piece of soap. But when he left, the Mullah handed the bath men a gold coin.
Next day he was dressed in silk and satin. This time the bath men treated him with great respect and gave him their best. When he left, he gave them a small copper coin. The men looked surprised.
"This," said the Mullah, "is for the way you treated me yesterday. The gold coin I gave you yesterday was for the way you treated me today." (clap clap!)


'Laughter is a form of physical exercise. It causes huffing and puffing, speeds up the heart rate, raises blood pressure, accelerates breathing, increases oxygen consumption, gives the muscles of the face and stomach a workout, and relaxes muscles not involved in laughing. Twenty seconds of laughter can double the heart rate for three to five minutes. That is the equivalent of three minutes of strenuous rowing." Norman Cousins, Headfirst.

A man is at work one day when he notices that his co-worker is wearing an earring. This man knows his co-worker to be a normally conservative fellow, and is curious about his sudden change in "fashion sense." The man walks up to him and says, "I didn't know you were into earrings."
"Don't make such a big deal, it's only an earring," he replies sheepishly.
His friend falls silent for a few minutes, but then his curiosity prods him to say,
"So, how long have you been wearing one?"
"Ever since my wife found it in my truck."
(thanks to Alf in Aberdeenshire via Dai in Worchestire)

Coffee - The Wine of Islam
Most modern coffee-drinkers are probably unaware of coffee's heritage in the Sufi orders of Southern Arabia. Members of the Shadhiliyya order are said to have spread coffee-drinking throughout the Islamic world sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries CE. The beverage became known as qahwa - a term formerly applied to wine - and ultimately, to Europeans, as "The Wine of Islam." It became popular among the Sufis to boil up the grounds and drink the brew to help them stay awake during their night dhikr. (Roasting the beans was a later improvement developed by the Persians.)
Coffee-drinkers even coined their own term for the euphoria it produced - marqaha. The mystic and theologian Shaikh ibn Isma'il Ba Alawi of Al-Shihr stated that the use of coffee, when imbibed with prayerful intent and devotion, could lead to the experience of qahwa ma'nawiyya ("the ideal qahwa") and qahwat al-Sufiyya, interchangeable terms defined as "the enjoyment which the people of God feel in beholding the hidden mysteries and attaining the wonderful disclosures and the great revelations." Over time, coffee even acquired an angelic reputation: according to one Persian legend, it was first served to a sleepy Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel. In another story, King Solomon was said to have entered a town whose inhabitants were suffering a mysterious disease; on Gabriel's command, he prepared a brew of roasted coffee beans, and thereby cured the townspeople. Throughout the first few centuries of its history in the Islamic world, coffee's popularity engendered great controversy. Many were suspicious of the effects of caffeine and the gatherings in which it was consumed - they seemed debauched to some and subversive to others. Coffeehouses competed with mosques for attendance, and as unsupervised gathering places for wits and learned men, provided spawning grounds for sedition. The wags of Istanbul jokingly called the coffeehouses mekteb-i 'irfan, "schools of knowledge." Despite coffee's eventual secularization, the fondness for it in Sufi circles and the motives for its use were not lost. Helveti dervishes were among those who enthusiastically drank coffee to promote the stamina needed for extended dhikr ceremonies and retreats. In Persia, coffeehouses evolved into hotbeds of lasciviousness and political dispute soon after they were introduced. Shah Abbas I responded to this situation by installing a Mullah in the leading Isfahan establishment; he would arrive early in the morning, hold forth on topics of religion, history, law and poetry, then encourage those assembled there to be off to their work. A pious ambience was thereby promoted, an example was set for other coffeehouses, and a potentially volatile social milieu was somewhat controlled. Poets and mystics occasionally took up permanent residence; for example, Mullah Ghorur of Shiraz settled in Isfahan in his old age and established himself at a coffeehouse, which soon became a gathering place for those seeking spiritual guidance. (full article)

Confidentiality and Nondisclosure Agreements

JUNE 17--Now that Tom Cruise has finally popped the question to Katie Holmes, his paramour of six weeks, it can't be long before his lawyers pull out the actor's ironclad confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements and update the amusing documents. The confidentiality agreements, copies of which you'll find below, surfaced in litigation involving a former maid... (8 pages) (article)


In one hand the Mullah was carrying home a piece of liver; in the other, the directions for making Liver Pie. Suddenly a large bird flew down and tore the liver from his hand. As it flew away the Mullah called after it, "Silly bird, you may have the liver, but what will you do without the recipe?" (clap clap!)



Scientology lessons haven't just helped TOM CRUISE overcome dyslexia and learn how to fly a plane, they have also turned him into a master cook, according to movie mogul SYDNEY POLLACK. The actor/director, who starred alongside Cruise in 1999's EYES WIDE SHUT and directed him in THE FIRM, was amazed how quickly the movie hunk picked up his own culinary skills by using Scientology's educational doctrines. Cruise has often credited the church's learning tools with helping him overcome dyslexia and giving him the confidence to become a pilot, but it's a little known fact he has also become an expert in the kitchen thanks to Scientology. Pollack explains, "During Eyes Wide Shut, he didn't know how to cook anything, so he would sit there and videotape everything I did and write it all down and practice them (dishes). "Now he can cook every single one of those dishes. I'm quite sure there's something in Scientology that works in a positive way for him - that he finds a sense of validity or encouragement or motivation." (article)
(Note: Here are a couple of recipes, from the Aleut People, for Chef Tom, guaranteed to offer validity and encouragement:)

The Aleut People on St. Paul Island were brought to the Island from the Aleutians by the early Russian fur seekers. Since the fur seal is the most common animal many ways have been developed for preparing its meat.The meat is used for roasts, soups, stews, ground for hamburger, meatballs, meatloaf. The liver and heart are also utilized. The liver is especially good and tastes better than the finest calves liver. The flippers are salted in barrels and stored for several months. They are also made into 'studen' (headcheese). The oil is relished by most of the adult population. The meat is also pickled, similar to pig's feet. The Aleuts as with other native peoples, are great meat eaters. They have devised all sorts of stews and chowder making use of any type of meat, or vegetables they have on hand.

LUSTA (Salted or Fermented Fur Seal Flipper)

The lusta is usually prepared in the summertime when the fur seals are killed. It is prepared washing seal flippers in plain water and placing them in a barrel or container with salt between layers and then storaged for about three months.

It is commonly served with boiled potatoes and bread or boiled seal meat. Some of the younger generation do not like this dish, older Aleuts relish it. (Note: This sounds suspiciously like Aleut baccala to me!)


Dredge pieces of liver and heart in flour. Fry lightly in hot fat. Onions may be fried with it if desired.
(Note: Can be served with a side of Polar Bear Arse Chutney.)

The Black Walnut Tree

My mother and I debate:
we could sell
the black walnut tree
to the lumberman,
and pay off the mortgage.
Likely some storm anyway
will churn down its dark boughs,
smashing the house. We Talk
slowly, two women trying
in a difficult time to be wise.
Roots in the cellar drains,
I say, and she replies
that the leaves are getting heavier
every year, and the fruit
harder to gather away.
But something brighter than money
moves in our blood-an edge
sharp and quick as a trowel
that wants us to dig and sow.
SO we talk, but we don't do
anything. That night I dream
of my fathers out of Bohemia
filling the blue fields
of fresh and generous Ohio
with leaves and vines and orchards.
What my mother and I both know
is that we'd crawl with shame
in the emptiness we'd made
in our own and our father's backyard.
So the black walnut tree
swings through another year
of sun and leaping winds,
of leaves and bounding fruit,
and, month after month, the whip-
crack of the mortgage.

~ Mary Oliver ~

THE MULLAH AND THE DUCK SOUP (also known as 'The Groucho and The Duck Soup')

A country cousin came to see the Mullah bringing a duck as a present. The Mullah was very pleased, and had the bird cooked and ate it with his guest. A couple days later, another country person came calling at mealtime, saying, "I am a friend of the cousin who brought the duck." The Mullah welcomed the man in and served him some duck soup. A day later, another country person came calling at mealtime, saying,"I am a friend of a friend of the cousin who brought the duck." The Mullah grimaced but again welcomed the man in and served him the last of the soup. Two months later still another stranger showed up hungry, saying, "I am a friend of a friend of a friend of the cousin who brought the duck." He sat down at the table. The Mullah stared at him for five minutes - then handed him a bowl of hot water. "What's this?" "That is the soup of the soup of the soup of the duck my cousin brought." (clap clap!)