Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Kiwi trying to break the Code


By Jonathan Milne

A black limousine is waved through the gate of London's Royal Courts of Justice and slides up to the door of the back courthouse, the grey concrete Thomas More Building.

A large bodyguard steps out first, and looks around warily. Gail Rebuck, of Random House, the most powerful woman in British publishing, emerges, followed by Steve Rubin, president of the US subsidiary Doubleday.

Finally, a small nervous-looking American with receding blond hair steps out. It's Dan Brown, 40, the unprepossessing Wizard of Oz behind The Da Vinci Code.

His 2003 thriller has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and he reportedly earned US$45 million ($70m) in royalties in the first year alone. And he looks worried.

Then a tall, slim New Zealander crosses the courtyard with his wife. They have just arrived on foot through the main entrance, like most other people. We know he is 58: Michael Baigent celebrated his birthday on the first day of this court case, in which he and Richard Leigh are suing Random House for plagiarism.

In 1982, the two men, with Englishman Henry Lincoln, wrote a piece of historical conjecture called The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, in which they argued Jesus had been a claimant to the throne of Palestine - a mere mortal. After his crucifixion, his wife Mary Magdalene and their child fled to the south of France, where they founded a royal dynasty that survives to this day, to the fury of the Roman Catholic Church.

The book was controversial. They went head-to-head on television with the Bishop of Birmingham. But they never faced media scrums such as those outside court this month.

Random House may not be the Vatican but it is still a formidable opponent, especially two months out from the first screening of the $57m Da Vinci Code movie, starring Tom Hanks. The scheduled release of that movie and the millions Random House is earning every month from Brown's book, are jeopardised by this lawsuit. So when Michael Ferran Meritxell Baigent gave his name in the witness stand on Tuesday, and swore to tell the truth about the origin of Dan Brown's novel, it was with inevitable trepidation.

Through three days, the grey-haired Baigent twirled his glasses between thumb and index-finger and tired under cross-examination. Time and time again he was forced to politely acknowledge that his evidence of similarities between the books did not stack up: "I concede that, my Lord," he said, repeatedly.

Mr Justice Peter Smith toyed reflectively with his moustache. Random House barrister John Baldwin bristled with impatience.

Yet Baigent remained strangely composed. For, it would seem, he was after some far greater truth.

It was hard for those "trained in the Christian tradition" like him to disregard what they had learned in Sunday school, he said, but his research indicated Jesus was a mortal with a claim to the throne of Palestine.

As a child growing up in Wakefield, on the outskirts of Nelson, Baigent attended Catholic Church three times a week. His father was a "fervent Catholic" teacher, who ensured his son was taken out of school from the age of 5 to have private lessons in Catholic theology from either a priest or a monk. But gradually he came to doubt what he was being taught. "After realising I would never have the same beliefs as my father, I attended, in turn, every Christian church in our town, including Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian and Mormon churches," he says.

After watching Baigent's third gruelling day in the witness box, his English wife, Jane, and daughter Tansy, 20, agreed to venture across Fleet St to Daley's Wine Bar, to fill in some of the gaps in the life story of a very private man.

Baigent's father had left the family when his son was 8. His maternal grandfather, Lewis Baigent, became the man he looked up to. He took his grandfather's surname.

Jane says: "His grandfather answered intelligently all Michael's questions about everything he was interested in - his grandfather always rooted out answers."

Baigent went to Canterbury University but quickly gave up on the science courses he had thought would help him in his grandfather's timber mills and instead began a BA in comparative religion and philosophy, studying Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, and discovering Eastern religions and meditation.

He joined "The Builders of Adytum", an occult group following what could be defined as Christian Kabbalah. "He was interested in a history that New Zealand doesn't have, ancient civilisations," says Tansy. "New Zealand is very isolated and he left as soon as he could. He wished to see the world."

Baigent went to Australia and South-East Asia. But, in his determination to experience the world, he didn't take enough money, and, when he arrived in India, he had to survive without accommodation on "a potato and a bowl of soup".

"There was another homeless man lying on the street with his daughter, and he used to share an orange with this man each morning."

He returned to Auckland to complete his degree but continued his fascination with esoteric religious thought and "heretics" like the Knights Templar. In 1976, in London, he met the long-haired Richard Leigh, who shared his interest in the esoteric.

They shared a Camden flat and Leigh introduced him to France's Rennes-le-Chateau mystery - it took over his life. "With hindsight, I became obsessed with it," Baigent says in the court documents.

He sold his expensive cameras to fund their research, worked briefly in the BBC photographic department and worked night shifts at a soft-drinks factory.

Leigh and Lincoln followed the trail from Rennes-le-Chateau, through the Priory of Sion, the Merevingian dynasty, the Grail Romances - all the way back to Jesus and the child they claim he fathered to Mary Magdalene.

The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail was published on January 18, 1982, the day after the authors' television clash with the Bishop of Birmingham. It shot up the bestseller lists, and Paramount bought the film rights. It has reportedly sold about two million copies since - not a patch on The Da Vinci Code, but still healthy. Indeed, sales of the former jumped 745 per cent in the first week of the court hearing - around 30,000 extra sales. If that continues through to the judgment, it will help offset the authors' legal costs a little - and also those of defendant Random House which, ironically, is also Dan Brown's publisher.

But the authors will need to win the case to make it worthwhile: experts estimate their legal costs at more than $1.3 million. Unconfirmed newspaper reports say they are seeking more than $25 million in damages.

"Brother Michael" Baigent's job as editor of the quarterly Freemasonry Today can hardly pay much, though that and his books force him to keep the family address in Somerset secret. Being a prominent Freemason and critic of the Catholic Church seems to attract strange and not necessarily friendly types, the family feels. Tansy says she once suggested her father use a nom de plume: "At the time he wrote Holy Blood Holy Grail, he got quite a lot of stigma. I think he had to face quite a few hostile people but he didn't want to hide away."

Jane adds: "Obviously the Pope and the Catholic Church got upset about him because he criticised the Catholic Church in his book The Inquisition. But if he thinks something needs to be exposed or brought into the public domain, he will say it."

And perhaps that is why Baigent seems so composed in the witness box. For him, it is not just a legal battle but also a philosophical one. He is playing for higher stakes.

Maybe that's why Dan Brown, a devout Christian, looks concerned.

Outside the court, the usually reclusive Brown insisted that he would never deny the crucifixion: "I am well aware of Christ's crucifixion and ultimate resurrection as the very core of the Christian faith," he said.

But Baigent believes his arguments about Jesus's mortality, if accepted, have the potential to mend fences between religions.

Islam already recognises Jesus as a prophet, Judaism is happy with Messianic contenders, and some strands of Christianity already accept Jesus's mortality - he argues it is just the Catholic Church that feels threatened.

His ordeal in the witness box is now over - but Brown's turn begins tomorrow. Baigent respects Brown, but he wants his work to be recognised, says wife Jane.

"He's not angry. It just seems unfair And this hasn't been an easy thing to do."


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Fraternal Greetings From Robert Lomas

Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006
From: "Dr Robert Lomas"
Subject: Copyright Theft

*It has been drawn to my attention that you are using copyright
images stolen from the plates section of The Hiram Key without

*Please remove these images at once

Failure to comply WILL result in a complaint to your Internet
Service Provider, which has 'Terms of Service' which copyright
theft violates. Don't risk losing your internet connection and your
reputation by being downright stupid!

You are quite free to critize Freemasonry and I defend your right
to do so. I do not defend your right to steal my images and use
them in a cause I do not support.

In case you have stolen so many images that you have trouble finding
these particular ones, they are at

I look forward to the swift removal of the stolen images, as even on
the net few people will take the word of someone who can be shown
to be prepared to steal and misrepresent.

Robert Lomas


Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2006
From: "FW"
Subject: Re: Copyright Theft
To: "Dr Robert Lomas"

Dear Dr. Lomas,

Thank-you for bringing to my attention this matter, I
have added the attribution, authorship, and
availablity to each of the images.

Your research and these images in particular as you
noted in your book revealed for the first time actual
photographs of a Masonic Ritual inside a Masonic
Temple, never before seen.

We feel here at the leading Masonic Research Facility
in the World - Freemasonry Watch, that we simply must
include this discovery as part of our educational and
academics efforts towards the general public on the
importance of Freemasonry, under the accepted 'Fair
Use' provisions.

We in no way intended or intend to breach your
copyright, in fact we have long promoted 'Hiram Key'
on this website via book reviews and prominent direct links to it and other of your works.

We appreciate your affirmation of the right and
necessity of Freemasonry Watch to continue it's
'work', and wish you the very best of success with
your new book 'Turning the Hiram Key'.

S & F

Freemasonry Watch


The Official Website of Robert Lomas


Copyright and Fair Use in the Classroom, on the Internet, and the World Wide Web

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

E-M@sonry 'Stuff'

Just a short blurb on a few bits and pieces I thought I could post before I forgot them.

First a couple of new Pro-Masonic blogs and one Masonic-Critical one. 'Free-Mason-Alert - Is there no Help for the Widows sons in Alabama?' A Mason in Alabama documents Klan activity in his Grand Lodge and his attempt, unsuccessfuly, to fight it. Reminds me of the series of alt.freemasonry post by a 'Brother' in the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma way back in 1999. In that case the Mason went so far as to get into letter flame war with the Supreme Council 33 in Washington DC. He got nowhere of course and ended up publically resigning. (Hope that's the right page I filed it on, think you have to scroll down a bit.)

What else now. 'Masonic Traveler' is a Masonic Blogger that seems to be attempting to document the Masonic 'Blogosphere'. Not too many of the Geezers have bothered to pick up the Blog banner. Of course many of the Grand Lodges have recently called on the carpet their members for freelancing on the internet and have succeeded in shutting down a number of Masonic discussion boards. Not too surprised about that given the number of 'attacks' FW has been on the receiving end of over the years. Not too many in the last year though, maybe the 'Lightbringers' are finally getting used to the FW 'luminosity'. Let it all hang out Bro's...

Say if anyone is interested there is a link I posted yesterday on the 'FW Middle Chamber' to a new film about Freemasonry I found trolling around the net - 'The Lightbringers: The Emisarries of Jahbulon'. Lots of footage of inside some well known Masonic Temples including Great Queen Street in London and the Royal Arch Monstrosity in the 'City of Brotherlove' in Philly. Dug the three headed spider representation of 'that non-word' as one masonic net type phrased the infamous Royal Arch secret word for 'deity'.

Freemasonry in Christianity --- Is there room on the pew? is a blog post by a Christian Teacher who says he is teaching a course on cults and did a lecture or two on 'The Craft'. Could be an up and comer...

What else. Ah yes Wikipedia." 'Freemasonry' and 'Anti-Freemasonry' are the two main pages but there are probably a dozen or more side pages. The site is kinda a cross between the old alt.freemasonry and the bad old un-GL cabletowed M.A.S.O.N.. Need to be one part lawyer and one part software programmer to survive there. There are a group of dozen or more Masons who may or may not have succeeded in turning the site into another GL boiler room 'Difficult Questions about Freemasonry' site. Maybe someone will straighten it out, but it is purely a numbers game on whose version stays up and whose gets deleted. Calling all "Anti's"...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Blair Coven 'Channels' Luciferian Defeat...

Code: ZE06020406

Date: 2006-02-04

Religious-Hate Legislation Gets Toned Down

British Government Is Handed an Unusual Defeat

LONDON, FEB. 4, 2006 ( A proposed hate law affecting religion was substantially watered down in a rare parliamentary defeat for Britain's Labor government on Tuesday. In two votes in the Commons the government lost; the first time by 10 votes, the second time by just one vote, reported the Independent newspaper the following day.

The Commons voted to accept some significant amendments along the lines of changes asked for when the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill was debated last October in the House of Lords. On that occasion the government's proposal was amended by an overwhelming majority of 149 votes.

The bill had proposed to make it an offense to stir up hatred against people on religious grounds; either spoken or written, in public or in private. Originally the law proposed by the government contemplated making insults and abuse an offense, as well as threatening words and behavior. The original proposal also made it an offense even if the person involved had not intended to stir up hatred.

The law as finally passed by Parliament stipulates that for a person to be charged it will have to be shown that "threatening" language or behavior was used, instead of the "threatening, insulting and abusive." It will also be necessary to prove that there was an intention to commit the offenses. The day Parliament voted on the law several hundred demonstrators gathered outside in protest against what they saw as an unjustified restriction on free speech.

The government had attempted to overcome opposition by accepting last-minute changes to the proposed law, the BBC reported Jan. 26. They accepted demands that incitement to religious hatred be covered by separate legislation rather than be joined to race-hate laws. And somebody could only be convicted if they intended or were reckless about inciting hatred. But the changes were not sufficient to placate critics.

Opposition to the law came from a wide variety of persons and groups. Comedians feared that it would no longer be possible for them to tell religious jokes. Civil rights activists were worried about restrictions on free speech. And a number of religious groups considered the law overly restrictive.

An editorial Tuesday in the Guardian newspaper noted this was the third attempt by the government since 2001 to pass a law on this subject. Its previous attempts had failed due to opposition in the House of Lords.

According to the editorial, the government's proposal "conflated threatening behavior and material, from which religious people deserve protection, with insult and abuse of religious belief, which is a necessary part of an open society."

Another problem was that it failed to "distinguish properly between the believer, who should not suffer for what he or she is, and the belief, which others must be entitled to attack, question and ridicule, even to the extent of causing offense to believers."

Defending free speech

The Christian Institute, an evangelical group, welcomed the changes made to the law. In a briefing last August it explained its opposition to the proposed law. The institute said the legislation would harm free speech and place governmental and judicial authorities in the position of judging people's religious beliefs.

As well, the institute noted that protection already exists for all people regardless of religion. Under British law it is already a criminal offense to incite a crime against another person, whether or not religion is the cause. And in 2001 Parliament passed laws establishing religiously-aggravated offenses. Another problem is that some religious groups are litigious, and they could hold the threat of prosecution over the heads of their detractors, the institute warned.

On Tuesday a group of humanists, secularists, Muslims and evangelical Christians wrote a letter published in the Telegraph newspaper, asking parliamentarians to vote against the law.

Among the signatories to the letter were two Muslims, Ghyasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament, and Manzoor Moghal, of the Muslim Forum. Their views contrasted with the stance of the Muslim Council of Britain. That council, generally seen as the country's most representative Islamic body, supported the legislation, according to the Telegraph.

Other signatories to the letter included Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, and representatives of the British Humanist Association, the Christian Institute and the Evangelical Alliance.

"As people with strong views on religion, we know how easy it is to offend those with whom you disagree and how easy it is to resent what others say, and see insult in it," the letter stated. "But we also recognize that a free society must have the scope to debate, criticize, proselytize, insult and even to ridicule belief and religious practices in order to ensure that there is full scope -- short of violence or inciting violence or other criminal offenses -- to tackle these issues."

When the bill was debated last October in the House of Lords, numerous press articles pointed out problems with the legislation. On Oct. 12 the Guardian reported that one Protestant evangelical group, Christian Voice, warned that it would consider using the new law to prosecute bookshops selling the Koran for inciting religious hatred.

Australia's experience

On Oct. 23 the Sunday Times reported that witches and Satanists could use it to trigger police investigations of their critics. This was no empty warning, the article reported, citing a case in Australia.

In fact, the Australian experiment with religious hate laws has been widely cited by opponents. In December 2003 the first case was heard in the state of Victoria under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.

The Islamic Council of Victoria filed a complaint about statements made by evangelical pastors Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot during a March 2002 seminar. In December 2003, Judge Michael Higgins found the two had made fun of Muslim beliefs.

Last June 22, the judge ordered the pastors to print public apologies in newspapers and on their Web site, the Herald-Sun reported the next day. The judge observed that the two pastors had passionate religious beliefs which he thought caused them to break the law. "That does not excuse their conduct," he said, "but does go some way to explain why they acted as they did."

In a commentary published July 4 in the Sydney Morning Herald, Emily Maguire noted that the group the pastors belong to, Catch the Fire, is undeniably hostile to Islam, and that the declarations made by them were deeply offensive to many Muslims.

Nevertheless, she argued that the freedom to criticize religion is important. Moreover, "silencing such speech creates martyrs, while giving the views a thorough airing allows response," Maguire wrote. The pastors later appealed the decision.

Following the judge's decision, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney also came out against the idea of religious-hate laws, in an article published July 3 in the Sunday Telegraph.

The archbishop welcomed the decision of the New South Wales state government not to support a proposal to introduce a law against religious vilification. "Such a law would undermine the freedom it seeks to protect, would be counterproductive and end up curtailing free speech as well as deepening the rifts between different religious groups," wrote Cardinal Pell.

The following month a senior Victorian judge called for changes to the state's law on religious vilification, the Herald-Sun reported Aug. 2. Judge Stuart Morris' comments came as he dismissed a lawsuit launched by a convicted sex offender and self-proclaimed witch. Robin Fletcher had claimed the Salvation Army's Alpha Christianity course, offered in jails, discriminated against him on the ground of his Wiccan religion. The volatile mix of free speech and religion might be bubbling for quite some time.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pope: Church must influence political leaders

Chicago Sun-Times

January 26, 2006


VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI said in his first encyclical Wednesday that the Roman Catholic Church has a duty through its charitable work to influence political leaders to ease suffering and promote justice.

The document, ''God is Love,'' also warns against sex without unconditional love, which he said risked turning men and women into merchandise.

It had been eagerly anticipated because inaugural encyclicals offer clues about a pontiff's concerns.

The 71-page document can be seen as an effort by Benedict to stress the fundamental tenet of the Christian faith -- love -- and assert the church's duty to exercise love through its works of charity in an unjust world.

In the encyclical, Benedict rejected the criticism of charity found in Marxist thought, which holds that charity is merely an excuse by the rich to keep the poor in their place when the rich should be working for a more just society.

Opposes Marxist theology

That appeared to be an extension of the pope's firm rejection of the Marxist-inspired liberation theology, which he firmly denounced in his early years as the Vatican's chief doctrinal watchdog.

Liberation theology, which originated in Latin America, holds that criticizing the oppression of the poor and marginalized should be central to Christian theology, and that the Christian faith should be reinterpreted specifically to deliver oppressed people from injustice.

Benedict conceded that Marxist models of dealing with injustice by trying to provide for social needs did help the poor. But he said Marxism was a failed experiment because it could not respond to every human need.

''There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbor is indispensable,'' he said.

Cardinal George comments

Vatican and other church officials said earlier this week that Benedict's theme of ''God is Love'' is very much in line with his thinking, teaching and his pledge from the start of his papacy to be a peacemaker.

''This is the pope as theologian and now as universal pastor,'' Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, said. ''So it's a very pastoral theme -- it shows that side of him which was always there but perhaps not able to be expressed as easily in his former work.''