Moses, Summum, Free Speech

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“The US Supreme Court Wednesday took up the issue of freedom of speech and religion in a case in which a small sect wants to place its own monument alongside one of the Ten Commandments in a public park in Utah,” reads the news headline that caught my attention.

Summum is a cult/organization, from Utah, that ‘reintroduced the public to mummification in 1975.’ Fascinatingly, the practice of its mummification rituals is acknowledged by the IRS and exempt from federal taxation. Besides mixing a bunch of Egyptian, Gnostic, Freemason ideologies, it doesn’t seem to offer much except an anecdotal footnote in the history of cultism. Its founder, Claude “Corky” Rex Nowell, claimed to have a series of encounters with highly intelligent beings referred to as the Summa Individuals. Like most cults, it has a fascination with sex and death, however it is also refreshingly scientific. To quote from their website:

We stress the application of the Systematic Law of Learning to all the principles in order for you to assess real understanding as opposed to mere faith or belief. Belief in anything is a state of ignorance about reality, and the principles must be experienced to be understood.

That’s something I can agree with. I also enjoy the romance in the idea that Moses’ first set of tablets, the ones given to him by God, were broken when he got all upset about the golden calf – a biblical fact – and that the new ones, the famous 10 commandments, are a watered down version of rules meant for the spiritually inept Israelites. Summum claims that the following ‘7 aphorisms’ are what were on the first tablet.

1. SUMMUM is MIND, thought; the universe is a mental creation

2. As above, so below; as below, so above.

3. Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates.

4. Everything is dual; everything has an opposing point; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes bond; all truths are but partial truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.

5. Everything flows out and in; everything has its season; all things rise and fall; the pendulum swing expresses itself in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates.

6. Every cause has its effect; every effect has its cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is just a name for Law not recognized; there are many fields of causation, but nothing escapes the Law of Destiny.

7. Gender is in everything; everything has its masculine and feminine principles; Gender manifests on all levels.

Most of these 7, however, mean the same thing. They are, therefore, redundant and not wise enough for me to believe the claim of divine inspiration. That doesn’t make them untrue; but they mention nothing that is not more poetically demonstrated in the book of Tao or the fragments of Heraclitus. Smartly, they admit that the Summum philosophy is nothing new, but still worth getting to know.

At any rate – the Summums are apparently suing for the right to put up their own monument, a monument of the 7 aphorisms, next to an older city statue of the 10 commandments. It’s made it to the Supreme Court. I don’t pretend to understand free-speech politics well enough to have an opinion, but another blog does a decent job of presenting the case here.

Free speech aside – why the heck is this news at all? National news, before the Supreme Justice of the United States, about putting up a rock in a little city park for some fringe religious sect? Aren’t there bigger problems to be concerned with? Incidentally I watched “Recount” last night and learned that the Supreme Court refused to allow all the votes in the 2000 election be counted, under bizarrely one-sided circumstances, demonstrating that “Justice” in America is as elusive and prone to human error, prejudice and pride as it has ever been. Carve the damn stone, or don’t. How can it be a matter of any importance, regardless of your beliefs?