Another excerpt from Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment. This section is taken from the chapter entitled, “The Cult of World Order,” which examines the historical quest to find a politically administrative messiah. Keep in mind: This is a rough draft. I’m still working through some thoughts and details.
One year after the UN tenth anniversary, the Suez Crisis opened the door for a familiar concept. Sympathetic to world federalism and a NATO-configured Atlantic union, Lester B. Pearson, Canada’s Secretary of State for External Affairs at the time, successfully leveraged the Suez situation to create the United Nations Emergency Force. Retelling its history, Pearson said the following in 1968,
There is a time in an international crisis when all are so frightened of what might happen that they will accept many things that they would not have even contemplated before the crisis; and indeed are unlikely to contemplate a week after it has ended. So at the time it was introduced my resolution for a police force was greeted with almost unanimous acclaim.
The introduction of an Emergency Force helped reinvigorate world-order theories, as did other Cold War complexities. In England, ten Conservative Members of Parliament lobbied for a “world security authority” armed with “the most modern nuclear weapons.” America and the Soviet Union diplomatically toyed with “general and complete disarmament,” a phased reduction of national forces in concert with the strengthening of an international authority. “General and complete disarmament” was maneuvered as a propaganda chess piece. And then the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 brought the two superpowers to the brink of open war.
The Cuban experience energized academia, activists, and policy wonks to pursue an imposing bulwark against the very real threat of nuclear holocaust. Peace must be enforced through an authoritative political agency.
Pope Paul VI was analogous in his 1965 UN address, telling his audience that the UN must never fall but be perfected,
The peoples of the earth turn to the United Nations as the last hope of concord and peace… Is there anyone who does not see the necessity of coming thus progressively to the establishment of a world authority, able to act efficaciously on the juridical and political levels? Once more we reiterate Our good wish: Advance always!… Let unanimous trust in this Institution grow, let its authority increase.
Strategic thinker, Thomas C. Schelling, went so far as to suggest a world force – guided by an international organization – could use nuclear weapons to inflict pain on offending nations; “to inflict civil damage at a rate sufficient to induce the government to change its mind and bend to the will of the international authority.” Or if it wished to use non-nuclear tactics, it might preposition military units in recognizably stronger nations for ease of internal deployment; “the purpose of being within the country, other than ceremonial, would be to minimize the cost and delay of invasion, occupation, or selective destruction.” Another mode of peace-coercion would be pre-placing “critically vulnerable parts of a country’s economy and essential services directly into the hands of an international force.” Schelling likened this to “the landlord who shuts off the utilities when a tenant refuses to move.”
“Rather than bomb electric power installations,” the strategist explained, “the force might press a key that sets off a charge of dynamite already installed.”
Or maybe, for the sake of efficiency – of course! – the world authority could use hostages to force change.
If one really believed in the reliability and permanence of an international arrangement, such schemes for providing the authority with ‘hostages’ might be more efficient, even more humane, than providing it with bombers and shock troops. One could even go further and let the force have a monopoly of critical medicines to use for bacterial warfare on a transgressor country. As soon as it starts an epidemic, it sends its medical units in to make sure that no one suffers who cooperates. Those who oppose it – military forces, government leaders, or anyone else – are without essential vaccines and must decide for themselves whether to stay at large and suffer or to surrender to be cured.
Schelling himself recognized these ideas suffered from “meanness” and “probably go too far.” He understood that the “more omnipotent” the world authority becomes, the more likely it would be viewed as an enemy. Lesser but still powerful national systems, he surmised, will be required to keep the international military from overpowering too quickly.
Knowing that Schelling was primarily theorizing in his advocacy of a world force, I am still left with nagging thoughts: How far is “too far” in the cause of global unity? Can international harmony exist without compulsion from a centralized authority? Should the whole tolerate opposing values and dissenting voices – be it from individual nations, identifiable groups, or single persons – and thus court the risk of separation and fragmentation? Is oneness sacrosanct? Are its expressions sacred?
Is the ideal of community more valuable than individualism?
If so, then we shall ultimately have little problem accepting Schelling’s proposals.
 Pearson originally hoped that Ireland and Sweden would join NATO, forming a strong Atlantic core, instead of the Mediterranean nations of Greece and Turkey. The creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was closely linked to the ideas of Clarence Streit and his Federal Union proposal.
 Lester B. Pearson, Peace in the Family of Man: The Reith Lectures, 1968 (Oxford University Press, 1969), pp.14-15.
 See A World Security Authority? (Conservative Political Centre, 1958).
 On June 6, 1960, the Soviet Union released its three-stage plan for general and complete disarmament. Shortly after, the US State Department established the Disarmament Administration, and in 1961 the two opposing nations co-produced The McLoy/Zorin Agreement on disarmament. That same year the Disarmament Administration released State Publication 7277 – essentially mirroring the Soviet plan – and upped the ante by calling for a global and effective United Nations military force. For more information, see The Soviet Stand on Disarmament (Crosscurrents Press, 1962); Freedom From War: The United States Program fro General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World (US State Department #7277, 1961); Lincoln P. Bloom, The United Nations and U.S. Foreign Policy (Little, Brown and Company, 1960); and Lincoln P. Bloom, A World Effectively Controlled by the United Nations (Institute for Defense Analysis, Special Studies Group, US Department of State contract No. SCC 28270, released March 10, 1962).
 In his book Soviet Foreign Propaganda (Princeton University Press, 1964), Frederick C. Barghoorn, explained that the Soviet’s would “put forward utopian proposals with the obvious objective of eliciting refusals. They have then denounced those refusing to accept their proposals as obstructionists and even as warmongers.” By framing the disarmament debate and appealing to the consciousness of liberal Westerners, often to pacifists and religious organizations – a point made by Barghoorn in his important study – the propaganda of peace became a valuable tool in fermenting animosity against the West. It also elevated the Soviet position within the United Nations, particularly in the eyes of Third World leaders and Western intellectuals aliened with Soviet sentiments. An empowered UN equipped to act as the agent of “word peace” and backed by the power of world socialism, it was believed, could become the mechanism to dislodge “American imperialism.” The United States countered by offering its version of “general and complete disarmament.”
 Some of those voices included Kenneth Boulding, Lincoln L. Bloomfield, Richard Barnet, Arthur I. Waskow, and Lucile W. Green. Hans J. Morgenthau, known for his political realism, also courted world order for world peace. Saul Mendlovitz created the influential World Order Models Project (WOMP) with Richard A. Falk, Carl von Weiszacker, and the input of Georges Abi-Saab. On WOMP and its contributions, see Saul Mendlovitz, “The Emergence of WOMP in the Normative Tradition: Biography and Theory,” Principles World Politics: The Challenge of Normative International Relations (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000, edited by P. Wapner and Lester E.J. Ruiz). Before the Cuban Crisis, Glenville Clark and Louis B. Sohn were riding on their World Peace Through World Law (Harvard University Press, 1958), attempting to codify an international order for world peace.
 Holy Father’s Talk at United Nations, October 4, 1965, speech on file.
 Thomas C. Schelling, “Strategy: A World Force in Operation,” reprinted in The Strategy of World Order: Volume 3 – The United Nations (World Law Fund, 1966), pp, 669,682-684. Schelling’s essay was also published in International Military Force: Peace-Keeping in an Armed and Disarmed World, edited by Lincoln P. Bloomfield (Little, Brown and Company, 1964).
Excerpt from from my upcoming book, Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment. This is taken from a chapter titled “The Cult of World Order,” touching on my time at the UN Millennium Forum.
The most intense gathering of Subgroup Six happened on Thursday afternoon, and with it, an interesting side story.
Each morning and afternoon started with plenary assemblies to help set the tone for our working committees. Early in the week I found myself sitting a few chairs away from a cheerful, young lady who was representing a youth-based organization. Thereafter, we sat in proximity during most of the plenaries, and frequently engaged in a few minutes of conversation before going our separate ways. Following the afternoon plenary on Thursday, she asked which subgroup I was with, as her committee had bogged down in trivial matters. I invited her to our next working session – “Citizenship and Governance: From Local to Global Democracy.”
On the surface the title sounded dull. “Citizenship and Governance” has all the panache of a high-school class you wished you had skipped. But there was nothing boring about it.
Our job for the afternoon was to flesh out tangible plans for a permanent World Assembly. The UN Millennium Forum was, after all, an experiment along those lines. The room filled quickly; a lot was riding on this meeting. The two moderators, each representing a world order NGO, started the afternoon by placing their organization’s action plans on the table. The rest of the session was a whirlwind of debate and contention as differing groups, all wanting similar ends, clashed with the moderators and each other over how to “collectively invent a new type of democracy, a world democracy.” It was a heated meeting.
Two main avenues were explored: the creation of a Global Peoples Assembly, and the establishment of a World Parliament. One body would be built around NGO delegates and the election of “world citizens,” and the other would be a scaled-up version of the European Parliament at the UN level. Variations of these two models were considered and contrasted. Questions arose from the floor: What would these bodies’ relationship be to the United Nations? Would they pass enforceable world laws or just make suggestions? How much political power would be entrusted to them? Should another Assembly be attached to the International Monetary Fund? Could regional Assemblies and Parliaments be established on each continent? What mechanisms would ensure national compliance?
As our meeting progressed it became evident my visitor was growing uneasy; the topic and its implications were obviously distressing, and it showed. Seeing her agitation, one of the moderators stopped the discussion and pointedly asked if there was a problem. Catching the seriousness of the moment she immediately composed herself and the session resumed. We stayed until the closing gavel dropped.
“This is the beast,” she muttered as we exited the building. “This is the beast…”
Quietly I asked, “Are you a Christian?”
I explained that I too was a believer and briefly told her my purpose in attending.
She asked what else my group had been planning and I gave her a quick review. For someone unfamiliar with the scope and tactics of world order pressure groups, Subgroup Six was a staggering experience. She had witnessed the attempted construction of a political Frankenstein dressed up as a global savior.
The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment. It is taken from a section exploring Post-modernity.
Fundamentally, Postmodernism was and is a reaction to and rejection of foundational truth claims and the narratives supporting them – first in terms of Modernity, but also the assertions of Christian revelation. Biblical doctrine had been overshadowed by materialist dogma, but now both were being pushed aside. How truth was measured and considered by other generations no longer applied. Past approaches were and are viewed as too narrow and associated with oppression, linking knowledge with power and the placing of gatekeepers to bar the way for others. Therefore, historical truth claims remain as claim only and are treated with suspicion. Grand narratives and their related worldviews are no longer relevant to the post-modern mind.
We are left with questions but no defining answers, and no tangible framework to develop a coherent worldview. The slope immediately becomes slippery. Judgments resting on previously held truth claims melt away. History fades into oblivion. The meaning of language bends. Tolerance without definition becomes the new norm. Inclusion and broad interpretations represent the progressive path, and personal transformation means conforming to ever changing cultural cues. Traditional standards are diluted as society attempts to scrub out reminders of “privileged” exclusivity. What was once virtuous is vilified, and what was morally shameful is celebrated. Truth and falsehood are no longer discernible, and what is known to be factual becomes blurred and distorted – including biology, identity, and sexuality. Higher values are lost in the fuzzy daze of a wandering culture.
Does this sound like today?
In such a milieu there is an almost irresistible pull to elevate self. Certainly, self-actualization and experiments in self-identity are lauded within the post-modern context. Our “personal reality” is fashioned in the image of our “felt needs.” The psychological cult of Selfism, a “form of secular humanism based on worship of the self,” attempts to fill the vacuum of lost value. Yes, mankind has always struggled with pride and hubris, but Selfism elevates vice to virtue and packages it as illumined personal discovery. Selfism, a product of the human potential movement, feeds our desire for meaning while stroking our ego. The Self rises as a divine spark. We are each divine selves.
This is manifestly different than the Christian approach to the individual. Stanly Grenz, author of A Primer on Postmodernism, reminds us that the Biblical position recognizes “God’s concern for each person, the responsibility of every human before God, and the individual orientation that lies within the salvation message.” It was also different than Modernity and its tendency to integrate the person into humanist systems, or assign you a number. The cult of Selfism, rather, was a “horizontal heresy, with its emphasis only on the present, and on self-centered ethics.”
And how could this not be? For decades, public education and mental health services washed our brains in the “holy waters” of the human potential movement: the theories of Erich Fromm, Carl Rogers, and Abraham Maslow. Following Sigmund Freud’s guilt-based theory of human development and B.F. Skinner’s behavioral models, Maslow’s teachings on self-actualization – the “third force” in psychology – saturated Western thinking. From the experiential encounters at the Esalen Institute to your neighborhood clinic, from daytime television to church pulpits, the feel-good mantra of Selfism rang across the land: “Express thyself, Accept thyself, and Esteem thyself.”
In an eerie symbiosis, the celebrated Self and materialistic consumerism walk hand-in-hand. We line up for the hottest deals on Black Friday and then, armed with our wireless devices, proclaim moral indignation and denounce the “evils of corporations.” A universe of selfies are snapped with our smartphones and pasted to social media. Seated in the third row of the concert hall we watch the live-performance through a three-inch wide screen, digitally capturing the experience of “being there” while living through our technology. We are consumed with the image itself. We are the symbol of our things.
A fitting analysis was given over two decades before Web 2.0 existed.
“Selfist psychology emphasizes the human capacity for change to the point of almost totally ignoring the idea that life has limits and that knowledge of them is the basis of wisdom. For selfists there seem to be no acceptable duties, denials, inhibitions, or restraints. Instead, there are only rights and opportunities for change. An overwhelming number of the selfists assume that there are no unvarying moral or interpersonal relationships, no permanent aspects to individuals. All is written in sand by a self in flux.”
But the need for some kind of larger acceptance, connected to a foundation of truth, tugs at the human heart. Where do we turn now that we have rejected the relationship with the transcendent Creator? And in rightly criticizing the application of naturalism to society, we distanced ourselves from the suffocating structures of Modernity. What now will we clothe ourselves with?
We stand naked, and we know it.
 Paul C. Vitz, Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), p.9.
 Stanley J. Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), pp.167-168.
 Vitz, Psychology as Religion, pp.95-96.
 Erich Fromm, who was attached to the Institute for Social Research – better known as the Frankfurt School – celebrated humanity’s independence from God and described Man as intrinsically good. Carl Rogers focused on the experiencing of oneself and encouraged therapists to sense what client’s feel in the quest for self-realization; The highest ideal of the self is for the person to become unified as an experiential flow or movement. Maslow introduced a hierarchy of felt human needs and believed that the highest achievement was an enlightened self-actualization.
 The Esalen environment was a primary vehicle for Gestalt techniques in whole-person self awareness, and was an important point of contact for Maslow’s human potential movement. Educators, psychologists, cultural leaders, and clergy form liberal churches would gather at Esalen in the 1960s and 1970s, looking to experientially raise personal consciousness, advance self-awareness, explore alternative religious practices, and engage in sexual discovery. See Marion Goldman’s book, The American Soul Rush: Esalen and the Rise of Spiritual Privilege (New York University Press, 2012).
 Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel, One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance (St. Martin’s Press, 2005), p.56.
 Vitz, Psychology as Religion, p.38.
Excerpt from chapter six of my forthcoming book, Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment. This chapter documents my time at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Thousands of exuberant voices filled the cavernous space of the main plenary hall. It was a time of worship, a place for introspection, a space for emotional release. Multitudes lifted their voices in melodic affirmation and the assembly room, with its 30-foot high ceiling and massive cement walls, pulsed with female energy.
It was going to be an interesting morning.
Speaker after speaker impressed upon us our sacred duty, swelling our sense of unity and shared spiritual purpose.
“What if the world were a place where it was effortless to recognize our common humanity, our shared virtues and concerns, and our collective devotion to the Earth?” asked Rabbi Amy Eilberg. “What if the whole world, all seven billion of us, were like this?”
Heads nodded in affirmation and voices shouted in solidarity.
Ojibwe “Grandmother” Mary Lyons told the multitude: “When you breath in, you breath in a breath of Mother Earth. And when you exhale, those are your ancestors.”
More heads nodded.
New York Times best-selling author and New Thought personality, Marianne Williamson, wowed the audience with her charisma: “Every woman here who is a healer is a priestess. Every woman here who is a teacher or an educator is a priestess.” Her call to sacred femininity energized the great crowd, bringing attendees to their feet again and again during her eight-minute speech.
“A Divine Goddess is not just beautiful, she’s fierce,” Marianne exhorted with a growl of intensity, leading to an emotionally charged call-to-action. “And when you mess with her babies… and you mess with her earth, she’s had enough of that sh*t. And we’re here on her behalf… you know what to do, go do it!”
The response to Marianne was more than a standing ovation. Women sobbed, danced, raised their hands, shouted and whistled and clapped. Someone yelled, “Marianne for President!” Drums around the room pounded in support. To my immediate left a woman was bowed low, weeping profusely, the wellspring of her soul cascading down her face. On my left a plain-looking, middle-aged lady was fist-pumping the air with grave intensity, lips pursed, face set like stone – a “Divine Goddess” ready to burst forth, fierce, and eager to battle for the sake of Mother Earth.
Following Marianne, Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary, invited us to be “political actors” and reshape the world. More cheers rose in solidarity, the great crowd empowered to march as social justice warriors.
“We are strong,” bridged the moderator, building on the passion of the morning. “We are woman. Make no mistake of it – we are strong.”
The Women’s Plenary, titled Faith in Women was a rousing invocation to goddess empowerment. But it was not a stand-alone event. The day before was the Inaugural Woman’s Assembly, and I had attended this too.
“We are one with all life,” explained an Assembly speaker. “We are one with all people. We are one with the one.”
The masses responded back: “We are one with all life… We are one with the one.”
The following is an extended excerpt from my forthcoming book, Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-enchantment, chapter 6 – titled “Enchanting Ourselves.”
Kirtan music floated in the background. Colorful silk saris and white arched windows and exotic pictures of an ancient culture greeted my eyes. Miniature deity statues stared amidst the peacock feathers and souvenir trinkets. A small but tempting buffet beckoned, filling the air with the rich aroma of curry and cloves, and the subtle notes of cardamom. I made a beeline for the food.
After my second helping of palak paneer – a savory dish of spinach and paneer cheese – and too much mango lassi, the guru beckoned to join him in a cozy sitting area tucked under a white staircase. A painting hung over his bench; adoring women and cows were watching Krishna playing a flute. The staircase ascending above our heads, I assumed, was the inside access to the temple space.
“When you came in,” my host gestured with an exaggerated sweep of an arm, “the smells and sights caught your attention, yes?”
“Yes,” I answered, “and the food was very tasty.”
His wife and assistant quietly joined us in what became a mostly one-sided conversation. English was not my host’s native tongue, and he had much to say.
“Why here?” I interjected. “Why Utah?”
“Krishna directed us to this place.”
Since 1998, the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple – also known as the Lotus Temple – has been a landmark in the predominantly Mormon community of Spanish Fork. Located approximately 50 miles south of Salt Lake City, the Temple is comprised of gleaming white domes, over 100 arches and columns, a grand outdoor staircase guarded by two bronze elephants, and a spacious upper level walk-around patio. This edifice, set against a mountain backdrop, is visible from Interstate 15.
Established as part of the ISKCON network – the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, also known as the Hare Krishna Movement – the Lotus Temple’s spiritual heritage is built on the teachings of the late A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Thirty-nine other ISKCON temples and Vedic centers currently dot the United States, each one advancing the mission of Prabhupada.
Noted for his influence upon Western culture and his voluminous writings, Swami Prabhupada’s message was one of religious universalism and conscious transformation.
“Actually, it doesn’t matter,” Prabhupada famously explained in 1974. “Krishna or Christ – the name is the same. The main point is to follow the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures that recommend chanting the name of God in this age.”
The name chanted is Krishna, the avatar of the Hindu god, Vishnu. In repeating the Hare Krishna mantra and through the practice of bhakti yoga – devotion through yoga – the follower embraces the unity of religions. Prabhupada said it this way,
“To practice bhakti-yoga means to become free from designations like Hindu, Muslim, Christian, this or that, and simply to serve God. We have created Christian, Hindu, and Mohammedan religions, but when we come to a religion without designations, in which we don’t think we are Hindus or Christians or Mohammedans, then we can speak of pure religion, or bhakti.”
While I was at the Lotus Temple, the resident teacher told me that Hinduism has been evangelizing the West through yoga, and to a lesser but growing extent, the Holi Festival of Colors. The thought struck me: The West is being Hinduized in-fact but not in-name. We are not converting to an organized form of the Eastern religion; rather, we are embracing its thinking and spirit as we mimic its religious practices.
Pointing to his own community of Spanish Fork, the guru boasted: “Every Sunday, 100 to 150 Mormons come to the temple for yoga and the Maha Mantra.”
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna…
NOTE: Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment, is slated to be released later this year. Watch for it!
 Later I discovered the buffet is blessed twice a day by the Hindu deity, Lord Krishna. The situation reminded me of 1 Corinthians 8 with its discussion of food offered to idols.
 The full conversation between Father Emmanuel Jungclaussen and Swami Prabhupada can be found here: http://www.krishna.com/krishna-or-christ-name-same.
 Its more consumer-oriented expressions are the popular 5k color runs and associated color festivals.
 Each Sunday the temple puts on a Hara Krishna Love Feast, a time for lectures, worship and yoga, and a fellowship meal.
I haven’t posted for a while, simply because my time has been and continues to be consumed by one of the most difficult yet rewarding projects I’ve undertaken – the writing and developing of a book.
Although the book is still months away from being released, here’s the cover and title!
Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book. Enjoy!
It was my fourth drive around the poorly lit neighborhood, and I was baffled. This was where elite world thinkers were meeting, in an old residential section on the north side of Chicago? All I could see were aged homes, brick-clad apartments, and townhouses. Address numbers were practically invisible in the autumn darkness, and I was coming up – once again – to what was supposed to be the location for a “Global Peoples Assembly.”
I had to be lost.
The date was November 7, 1997, and when it came to big cities I possessed a country-boy naivety. To someone who had grown up on a grain farm in the Canadian prairies, Chicago felt like another planet, and earlier that evening my inexperience shone through.
Needing to book a room for the night, I found, a dozen or so blocks from my meeting destination, a 1950ish looking motel. A bed is a bed, right?
“How many hours do you want?” asked the elderly female receptionist, barely looking up from the boredom of her newspaper. This should have been my first clue.
“All night,” I answered, passing the money for the posted rate of a single-bed. Scowling at the cash in her hands, the lady piped-up: “Well, how many are going to be using the room?”
Dumbstruck, I stumbled out an apologetic, “Just me.”
“Oh…” with a little smile, her eyes came up to meet mine. “You want it for sleeping!” Later, I discovered that “sleeping” was not a priority in my chosen establishment.
Dropping off my luggage in a small, grimy room, I left to find the Global Assembly. After driving in circles for twenty minutes, I parked my car and nervously walked up the steps of an empty looking brick building – the only one that seemed plausible in relationship to the directions on my map – and there, in the shadows of the door awning, I found the address number and a taped-up piece of paper with simple type.
Walking in, I was welcomed to “DreamHouse.”