Tuesday, November 18, 2008

14. Ed Sanders and "The Family"

Around the same time that I received Marjorie Moody's book, although I can't remember precisely what led me to it, I purchased yet another copy of the first edition of the book "The Family" by Ed Sanders. (I think that in my lifetime I have purchased at least two first editions of this book and have subsequently given away both.)

Referring to the 1989 paperback version of the book, which I have handy, Sanders refers to Krishna Venta on pages 85-86 and 316.

Among the problems I've encountered with Sanders' "facts" are listed below. Sanders states:

1. "The religious retreat occupied subterranean chambers and caves wherein they did their thing." If "their thing" here refers to sex, every member of the Fountain is quick to shoot down this myth. My book contains a section wherein I address the myths and legends that have grown up around Krishna Venta and the Fountain of the World in this regard.

2. "...parties unknown blew up the founder, Krishna Venta...with forty pieces of dynamite placed in the catacombs." Where to begin here? First of all, "parties unknown" must have meant that Ed Sanders didn't know who they were; everyone else knew them as Ralph Muller and Peter Kamenoff. Forty pieces of dynamite? Try about half of that! And the dynamite wasn't placed in the catacombs; it was, instead, strapped to Muller and/or Kamenoff.

3. "There was a large rock at the Fountain of the World that looked remarkably like a huge skull. At the top of the 'skull' was a wooden upright cross. Fountain members, so one is told, were wont to strap themselves up on the cross for penitential mediation sessions." Not a single Fountain member whom I've interviewed can place any cross matching this description. The Fountain did construct a cross in the 1950s to be used in Passion Plays at Easter in order to generate publicity. However, no one who lived at the Fountain in the latter 1960s can account for its whereabouts during that period. As well, the bit about Fountain members strapping "themselves up on the cross for penitential mediation sessions" has been slammed by all Fountain members. The terminology used to describe it is better left unpublished.

Sanders' admission of "so one is told" says much about the research he conducted in generating this portion of "The Family," i.e., another example of a writer incorporating gossip into his text and presenting it as fact.
The ultimate problem with Sanders' "facts" is that many subsequent authors, e.g., Adam Gorightly, Nikolas Schreck, R. C Zaehner, and apparently even Paul Watkins' co-author Guillermo Soledad, have relied upon them as though they're gospel.

By the way, let me go on record here and say that I am neither a defender of nor an apologist for the Fountain of the World, but I do detest sloppy and irresponsible history!

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