Unofficial religious appearances

A fine week of fringe religious activity it has been, what with guest appearances of the Virgin Mary in Georgia, crying statues of that same hallowed lady in Spain and a couple of hundred people becoming gods, down in Garland, Texas.
According to the BBC on April 2nd, people in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, people have been reporting close facial encounters of the Virginal kind since Christmas, attracting thousands to Tbilisi’s blue cathedral. The BBC’s rather disjointed report proceeds to tell of Tatia, a local faith healer who has ‘squiggly’ lines appearing about her navel, sometimes in the shape of a cross. I felt so much wiser after reading about Tbilisi and Tatia, thanks to the BBC – why did they bother?

Meanwhile, the Associated Press on March 30th told of how the Roman Catholic church in Spain had ‘impounded’ (can they do that?) a statue of the Virgin Mary, after it had allegedly cried blood 10 days previous. Sceptics in the down of Mura, near Vic in northern Spain have been quick to point out a possible link to the unwillingness of the local priest to reassignment after 20 years there. (See follow-up)
In last week’s issue, Blather 1.46, we told of how God’s Salvation Church/Chen Tao/True Way, in Garland Texas, had got it wrong – God hadn’t bothered appearing on Channel 18 last Wednesday. Things didn’t get any better on Tuesday, when the big fella was due to show up at 10am CST. According to the Watchman Fellowship, when the the clock struck 10am, the cult’s leader, Hon-Ming Chen, announced to about 100 media types, rakes of police, and fifty or so followers that God *had* in fact arrived, and was now present within all of those in attendance.
The Watchman press release goes on to tell how Chen then stared into the sun for a short period, to prove his own level of deification, arguing that a ‘mere mortal’ would have been blinded. It was pointed out that he was ‘blinking profusely after the divine demonstration’. The cult are moving to the Great Lakes now, to prepare for the ‘coming tribulation in 1999’.
From Blather’s perspective, God’s Salvation Church seem like just another cult obsessed with their own version of the Rapture. The media police presence on Tuesday was apparently due to fears of a mass suicide. Blather would like to suggest that many of the media representatives covering the story were *hoping* for a mass suicide, to achieve a major *scoop*, therefore blackmailing the police force and emergency services into tagging along. It would have been a major embarrassment for the local authorities had something deathly *actually* happened, given the clouds of media scavengers collecting in the area.
Cults such as God’s Salvation Church are *always* interesting from a fortean perspective, illustrating as they do a diverse (if sometimes predictable) range of human beliefs, hopes and dreams – or, if one prefers, human delusion. However, I’m inclined to wonder who really is suffering from pre-millenium hysteria – the many harmless and really quite daft cults scattered about the globe, or the mainstream media. Who’s doing more damage?
An addendum arrived in the shap of a short article on (link failing) from the China Post of March 27th regarding the death of a 43 year man in Keelung, China on March 25th. He jumped into the ocean and drowned, after telling his folks that wanted to see God arrive in a flying saucer. I wonder had he seen James Cameron’s ‘The Abyss‘?

Feedback, in New Scientist’s April 4th edition tells of some sinister accusations leaking from Alaska. Joseph Kan, a plasma physicist was in Gakona, a small town 300km northeast of Anchorage, where the latest US Department of Defense High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program installation is currently under construction.
HAARP, as it’s known, is a program aimed at the study of ionised gases of Earth’s upper atmosphere. Kan’s job was to gauge public reaction to the local installation, and he got some typically weird comments, one person claimed to have witnessed a “green glow” above the HAARP site, and another made the infinitely damning claim that the HAARP project was causing caribou to walk backwards…
The HAARP project has spawned a considerable amount of conspiracy theories, such as weather modification, ground based ‘star wars’ tech and mind control, with sites all over the net, such as, (links removed cos they were broken). See Wikipedia HAARP page »
The *official* site (link broken), however, is much less sinister than I one would expect after delving through the conspiracy theories…

In a follow-up to recent Blatherings about concerted animal hostilities, The Electronic Telegraph of March 25th 1998 told of ‘Stone-throwing magpies’, amusing themselves by pegging pebbles at cars, in The Hague (Netherlands). The Telegraph seems to be moving towards a media monopoly on animal craziness, as four days earlier they had reported on a capuchin monkey which had gone ape-, eh, nuts in a teashop in Broadway, Worcestershire. Some sixty customers are said to have done a runner in fear of the tiny savage beast who allegedly threw jam pots and took random bites from cakes…
(Sources: Email to Blather from Dan Bloom and Terry Walker, and posts to the forteana list by Brian Chapman, Mark Pilkington and Martin Adamson.)
Dave (daev) Walsh

3rd April 1998

Chief Bottle Washer at Blather
Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and "known troublemaker" Dave Walsh is the founder of, described both as "possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River", and "the nicest website circulating in Ireland". Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.