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Richard Brenneman Speaks for the Jews and for Becky

Under the rubric of “Reader Commentaries,” paid Daily Planet reporter, Richard Brenneman, announces proudly that as a Jew, he can testify that Becky O’Malley is no anti-Semite:

I converted for my first marriage, and unlike some of my critics, I can remember my bris. I would also add that four of the five great loves of my life have been Jewish by birth.

But one thing I won’t call Becky O’Malley is anti-Semitic. I wouldn’t be working here if she were.

The only problem with speaking for the Jews, is that Brenneman is not one.  His book, “Deadly Blessings,” tells about his life as a Christian Scientist.  Prior to that, he was a Hindu astrologer living in a commune led by a guru:

Nearly two decades ago, before I was a Christian Scientist, I was a member of a communal household under a charismatic leader who dispensed mind-altering drugs to his followers for use in carefully controlled circumstances. I earned my keep as scribe and editor for the leader [the same role Brenneman now effectively plays for his latest guru, Becky O'Malley?], a hindu from India, who also performed the rites for my marriage to the mother of my son. With my blessings as the household astrologer -- an art I learned from the guru -- some of the group members went to India. I stayed behind. Those who went sickened, living in the guru's attic, tended by astrologers and folk healers. 

One woman died: I had specifically and sincerely urged her to go, based on my readings of her horoscope. When they finally took her to the hospital, it was too late. They brought her ashes to her parents; the second of their children they had to bury. 

There was a time in my life when I believed in psychic surgery. Well-known psychologists told me it was real, showed me films [Becky O’Malley assures Brenneman that neither she nor the Berkeley Daily Planet are anti-Semitic?]. I would have tried it -- fortunately, the need never arose. 

Since leaving Christian Science Brenneman has apparently been unaffiliated.  If he ever was a Jew as part of his spiritual meanderings, it could not have been for long.  Moreover, he apparently did not think much of the experience, since he soon left for the greener pastures of Christian Science.

Nevertheless, Brenneman, as a faux “Jew,” vouches that his boss, Becky O’Malley, is no anti-Semite.  Should this mean more to us than when a psychotic Jew vouched for the Daily Planet

In his book, Brenneman tells a tale of how he, as a reporter, hid from the press evidence of a Christian Science connection to criminal wrongdoing, concluding the passage with these chilling words:

I don't like today what I did then. But I was convinced of the rightness of my actions. My intentions were honorable; my motives, the best I could imagine.

Having now left the “Mother Church” of Mary Baker Eddy for his new guru, Becky O’Malley, will this serial sycophant feel guilty later in life for so slavishly carrying her buckets?

As a postscript, we wondered if “serial sycophant” was too harsh a phrase and we almost deleted it, that is, until a reader sent in a passage from another of Brenneman’s books.  Brenneman really does seem to have a permanent fixation on gurus:

I believe Bucky has helped to inspire the children to persist, to test what the world says about each experience against their own intuitions. . . .

It’s my own conviction that the life of each child was deeply and beneficially touched by these unique encounters and that more “education” took place in those few hours than in years of conventional schooling. . . . [like a guru, Bucky can perform miracles]

I was particularly intrigued with Fuller’s insistence on banishing the terms “up” and “down” from everyday language. . . .

Repeatedly, on different occasions, as I gazed heavenward at the celestial orbs, I struggled to perceive myself as looking “out” instead of “up.”

It worked.

Suddenly, on a drive in the Mojave Desert, there came a moment as sun and horizon began to merge, when I really was looking out from the surface of Spaceship Earth. I found myself feeling for the first time a passenger on a great sphere hurtling through the cosmos. Venus was just coming into view, and the nearly full moon was at the eastern horizon. Sun, moon, and planet described the great arc of the ecliptic. At the instant I knew the location of poles and Equator. I felt a sense of place, of proper relation, that I had never known before. [italics are the Brenneman’s]

My awareness of the world, the whole universe, was revolutionized, transfigured, in an instant. [Whoopie, nirvana, all thanks to his blessed guru.]

(pp. 159-60)

Above, we wondered whether Becky O’Malley is a stand in for Mary Baker Eddy.  Maybe, Becky is really a stand in for Bucky.  But what do we know? We are not the man’s psychiatrist.






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