Thursday, November 20, 2008
HERESY ON THE RIGHT
When the right goes over the top, things become rather bizarre through the tendency to seek out visionaries. A village in Mexico is no exception. It's considered one of the largest "Catholic" enclaves in the world, but it gets little publicity. New Jerusalem, Mexico is not even on the map.
The town was founded in reaction to Vatican II, according to Chris Hawley, reporter for the Arizona Republic, Mexico City Bureau. The reporter's article on New Jerusalem can be found here. It's quite a story encompassing visionaries, violence, and regimentation, daily Mass attendance, perpetual adoration, and schisms. Hawley writes:
The town was founded in 1973 as a reaction to the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65....
Nabor Cardenas, a parish priest in the town of Puruaran, opposed those changes. He began urging his followers to settle on the site after a local woman, Gabina Sanchez Romero, claimed she saw a vision of Mary, the mother of Jesus, warning that the Catholic Church had gone astray and the world would be destroyed before 2000.
Mass is celebrated in the traditional Latin. Cardenas was stripped of his ordination. But the tourist busses started rolling in, bringing a lively tourist trade. Americans came and some stayed. A traditionalist sect in New York City provided residents as did one in Fort Collins, Colorado. By the 1980's there were 8,000 residents.
Cardenas declared himself archbishop--"Papa Nabor"--and used a papal hat to say Mass. Seminaries and monasteries and convents formed.
Anthropologist Miguel Leatham compares it to the Little Pebble colony in Australia and the Society of St. Pius X in St. Marys, Kansas. He claims the town is the biggest apocalyptic colony in the world.
In 1981 the seer Sanchez died and a new seer took her place, a 16-year-old girl, Maria Parteaga. Many in the town refused to acknowledge her and formed their own chapel; but she had the ear of Papa Nabor, and so the dissident chapel was burned in 1982 and the dissidents chased from their homes, using rocks, machetes and boiling water. 680 people were expelled.
In 1991 a new seer, Agapito Gomez, took town doctrine in a new direction. According to Hawley:
"Don Agapito" would mimic different voices into a tape recorder, and nuns would then transcribe those supposed messages from the afterlife. Gomex claimed to channel Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico's president from 1934 to 1940; Kennedy[JFK]; and other figures.
Hundreds more were expelled in 1997 for not believing in these new revelations.
"The Virgin doesn't want there to be children because the way the world is now, she doesn't want them to suffer,' said Richard Garcia, a priest who goes by the name Bertholo Abad.
When each deadline for the apocalypse passed, church leaders claimed that the world had been spared because the Virgin Mary had taken pity on it.
Then came the orders to build new public works, such as the hilltop-chapel complex and the 11-story cylindrical tower near the main gate. Meanwhile, most of the town's streets are still unpaved.
"The tower took two years to build, and we haven't been able to finish it because there have been so many projects that Papa Nabor wanted done," said Geronimo Diaz, the town's assistant administrator. "We still don't know what it's for."
Whoever questioned such orders was labeled a "turbado," or disturbed person, and expelled from the town.
Beginning in 2004, the purges came faster. The seminary was closed, with students expelled. A group of priests who weighed possible "errors" in Gomez's visions was thrown out.
The state government intervened, sending riot police to keep order. Scuffles continue between the warring parties. The state built an elementary school in which girl students are allowed to expose their hair, a practice forbidden in the town, and students are permitted to play ball games, another forbidden practice. Satellite New Jerusalem churches across Mexico tend to side with the dissidents. Pilgrims have disappeared, and young people are seeking jobs elsewhere. Papa Nabor died on February 19 at the age of 98. The seer, Gomez, died in September, and no new seer has emerged. The population is aging, though they still share a weekly meal at the church on Wednesdays.
New Jerusalem is located outside of Mexico City as a map at the website indicates. There is also a link to further information, which takes you to a series of 24 pictures of the town. One of them is of particular interest. You can view it here. Notice the eye in the triangle?
New World Order eye?
Dissident priest Fr. Richard Rohr founded a New Jerusalem community in Cincinnati before founding the Center for Action and Contemplation that makes use of the Gurdjieffian Enneagram.
While researching the works of P. D. Ouspensky, Gurdjieff's primary apologist, I discovered that he lived in Mexico and founded a community outside of Mexico City. Could this be the same community? So far I can't determine whether it is. There is not a lot of material available about New Jerusalem, Mexico.
In any case, there is another group that is attempting to found the New Jerusalem. The followers of Emmanual Swedenborg name their churches "New Jerusalem." Swedenborgians also seek visionary experiences. Curiously, there seems to be a connection--the book OBSERVING SPIRIT: EVALUATING YOUR DAILY PROGRESS ON THE PATH TO HEAVEN WITH GURDJIEFF AND SWEDENBORG, which is sold on the Swedenborg website.
OK, maybe it means nothing. Maybe it's just a lot of coincidences. But it sure is interesting, don't you think?