Sunday, May 28, 2017


More than twenty years after they occurred (in March of 1997) I have been thinking about Heaven's Gate, the San Diego based religious cult whose strange beliefs were the stuff of science fiction pulp and as much inspired by television shows like STAR TREK, TWIN PEAKS and THE X-FILES than anything found in the Bible. It was also the first time a cult became intrinsically linked to the internet (the cult had their own website - which still ...exists - and made their money by designing websites for other companies).

Terrifying to think that 39 people (leader Marshall Applewhite and 38 of his followers) could be convinced - or programmed to believe - that if they committed suicide at the precise moment, they would be welcomes as passengers aboard a spacecraft which they believed was flying undetected in the fiery tale of the Hale-Bopp comet, which had been discovered in 1995 and in March of 1997 was passing closely above the Earth, convincing Applewhite (who had founded the cult with his wife in 1974) that it was the right time for him and his followers to "shed their containers" in order to hitch a ride on the spaceship before the Earth was "recycled" by aliens.

Amazed there wasn't a TV movie made about this. I have a bootleg VHS of Marshall Applewhite's "initiation lecture", which I obtained from Polyester Video years ago, and a cheap mass-market paperback rushed out by THE NEW YORK POST, but I am sure there is a much more in-depth book out there.