|From: Peter Dierks||8/3/2010 10:20:34 AM|
|The Truth About Tibetan Buddhism|
There’s more to this ancient religion than Hollywood celebrities would have you believe
Brendan O'Neill | July 28, 2010
Many Westerners before me have visited Tibet, popped into some monastery on a mountainside, and decided to stay there forever, won over by the brutally frugal existence eked out by Tibetan Buddhists.
I have exactly the opposite reaction. I couldn’t wait to leave the temples and monasteries I visited during my recent sojourn to Shangri-La, with their garish statues of dancing demons, fat golden Buddhas surrounded by wads of cash, walls and ceilings painted in super-lavish colours, and such a stench of incense that it’s like being in a hippy student’s dorm room.
I know I’m not supposed to say this, but Tibetan Buddhism really freaked me out.
The most striking thing is how different real Tibetan Buddhism is from the re-branded, part-time version imported over here by the Dalai Lama’s army of celebrities.
Listening to Richard Gere, the first incarnation of the Hollywood Lama, you could be forgiven for thinking that Tibetan Buddhism involves sitting in the lotus position for 20 hours a day and thinking Bambi-style thoughts. Tibetan Buddhism has a “resonance and a sense of mystery,” says Gere, through which you can find “beingness” (whatever that means).
Watching Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel read a collection of the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Central Perk on Friends a few years ago, you might also think that Tibetan Buddhism is something you can ingest while sipping on a skinny-milk, no-cream, hazelnut latte.
Or consider the answer given by one of Frank J. Korom’s students at Boston University when he asked her why she was wearing a Tibetan Buddhist necklace. “It keeps me healthy and happy,” she said, reducing Tibetan Buddhism, as so many Dalai Lama-loving undergrads do, to the religious equivalent of knocking back a vitamin pill.
The reality couldn’t be more different. The first devout Buddhists I encountered looked neither healthy nor happy. They were walking from their villages in southern Tibet to Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest site, and the journey had taken them nearly three months. Which isn’t surprising considering that with every third or fourth step they took, they got down on their knees and then fully prostrated themselves on the ground, lying flat on their bellies and burying their faces in the dirt, before getting back up, taking a few more steps, and doing the painful prostration thing again.
It looked life-zappingly exhausting. They moved at a snail’s pace. Their foreheads were stained grey from such frequent, unforgiving contact with the bruising earth. They wore wooden planks on their hands, which made a deathly clatter every time they hurled themselves downwards. I’d like to see Jennifer Aniston try this. Tibetan Buddhism sans latte.
You soon realize that no Tibetan Buddhist sits cross-legged on cushions all day long while staring into space and thinking about the universe. No, worshipping Buddha is a full-on physical workout. At the Lamaling Temple on a hillside in Nyingchi County in south-east Tibet, I saw women in their 50s doing the prostration thing, like an archaic version of a Jane Fonda workout.
The temple itself is packed with weird statues. Red demons with contorted faces. Smug-looking Buddhas smiling patronizingly at the poor, exhausted worshippers. There’s a statue of the “Living Buddha” (now deceased) who administered this temple in the 1950s and 60s and it is wearing sunglasses. Terrifyingly, it looks like a cross between the Buddha and Bono.
The Lamaling Temple, like others I visited, is painted in the most obscene colors. No inch of wall or centimeter of roof beam has been left untouched by the possibly colorblind decorators of Tibetan Buddhism’s sites of worship. Everywhere you look there’s a lashing of red or green or bright blue paint, a weirdly fitting backdrop to the frequently violent imagery of this religion: the statues of sword-wielding demons, the fiery paintings, the images of androgynous Buddhas, some with breasts, others with balls. “Peace” and “calm” are the last words that come to mind when you’re inside one of these senses-assaulting places.
The Lamaling Temple also brings home the fact that Tibetan Buddhism, like every other religion on Earth, is made up of various, sometimes horn-locking sects.??I excitedly lined up an interview with one of the monks and asked if he’s looking forward to the day when the Dalai Lama returns from exile in northern India. He patiently told me—dumb Westerner that I am—that he doesn’t worship the Dalai Lama, because he is a member of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism while the Dalai Lama is head of the Gelug school. Then there’s the Kagyu school and the Sakya school—making four in total—which have hot-headed disagreements and have even come to blows in recent years over which deities should be worshipped and which should not. Religion of peace? Yeah, right.
Tibetan Buddhism has a whole lotta hang-ups about gays and girls, too. It says gay sex is “unnatural.” The Dalai Lama declared in a talk in Seattle in 1993, during one of his whistle stop, U2-style world tours, that “nature arranged male and female organs in such a manner that is very suitable… same-sex organs cannot manage well.” (Someone needs to explain to His Holiness how gay people get it on.)
And as Bernard Faure of Columbia University says: “Like most clerical discourses, Buddhism is… relentlessly misogynist.” So while Tibetan women can become nuns, they can’t advance nearly as far as men. Because according to Buddhist teachings it is impossible for women to become “the perfectly rightfully Enlightened One,” “the Universal Monarch,” “the King of Gods,” “the King of Death,” or “Brahmaa”—the five highest, holiest positions in Buddhism.
Of course, this only means that Tibetan Buddhism is the same as loads of other religions. Yet it is striking how much the backward elements of Tibetan Buddhism are forgiven or glossed over by its hippyish, celebrity, and middle-class followers over here. So if you’re a Catholic in Hollywood it is immediately assumed you’re a grumpy old git with demented views, but if you’re a “Tibetan” Buddhist you are looked upon as a super-cool, enlightened creature of good manners and taste. (Admittedly, Mel Gibson doesn’t help in this regard.)
I am well aware of the fact that I am not the first Westerner to be thrown by Tibet’s religious quirkiness. A snobby British visitor in 1895 denounced Tibetan Buddhism as “deep-rooted devil-worship and sorcery.” It’s no such thing. But what is striking, and what caused me to be so startled by the weirdness, is the way in which this religion has come to be viewed in Western New Age circles as a peaceful, pure, happy-clappy cult of softly-smiling, Buddha-like beings. Again, it’s no such thing. The modern view of Tibetan Buddhism as wondrous is at least as patronizingly reductive as the older view of Tibetan Buddhism as devil-worship.
Frank J. Korom describes it as “New Age orientalism,” where Westerners in search of some cheap and easy purpose in their empty lives “appropriate Tibet and portions of its religious culture for their own purposes.” They treat a very old, complex religion as a kind of buffet of ideas that they can pick morsels from, jettisoning the stranger, more demanding stuff—like the dancing demons and the prostration workout—but picking up the shiny things, like the sacred necklaces and bracelets and the BS about reincarnation.
It is all about them. They have bent and warped a religion to suit their own needs. As the Tibetan lama Dagyab Kyabgon Rinpoche puts it, “The concept of ‘Tibet’ becomes a symbol for all those qualities that Westerners feel lacking: joie de vivre, harmony, warmth and spirituality… Tibet thus becomes a utopia, and Tibetans become noble savages.” Western losers have ransacked Tibetan Buddhism in search of the holy grail of self-meaning.
Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked in London.
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|From: Brumar89||8/7/2010 6:39:03 PM|
|Martin Luther King, Trekkie|
Nichelle Nichols, who famously played Lt. Uhura on the original "Star Trek," credits Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for persuading her to stay on the TV show.
At a television press tour panel for the second season of PBS's "Pioneers of Television" series, which will air in 2011, Nichols shared that she had wanted to leave the show after the first season. Not because she didn't like Gene Roddenberry's visionary show, but because her heart belonged to Broadway: "I took 'Star Trek' because I thought it might be a nice adjunct to my resume and I'd get to Broadway faster. ... I thought it was going nowhere for me."
But then Nichols met King at a NAACP dinner, where he was introduced as her "biggest fan." King urged her to continue her role. "He said what Gene Roddenberry had done was to establish who we were in the 23rd century," she said. Nichols' role as Uhura, first a bridge officer and later promoted to lieutenant, was one of the first non-servant roles played by an African-American woman on TV.
King told Nichols that not only was he an admirer of Roddenberry's groundbreaking show, but it was the only show he and his wife would allow their three young children to watch. And more important, it was helping to change the world. Nichols says he told her: "You are part of history, and it's your responsibility, even though it wasn't your career choice."
That old show seems really hokey now. Though as a high school kid, I liked it at the time.
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|From: TimF||8/8/2010 12:03:59 AM|
|Affirmative action only hurts racial harmony|
By: Linda Chavez
August 8, 2010
Calls to end affirmative action gained a new proponent this week - and from an unlikely candidate. Gregory Rodriguez, a Los Angeles Times columnist and fellow at the progressive-leaning New America Foundation, wrote this week, "We need to find new, less divisive ways to fight inequality."
I couldn't agree more with Rodriguez's conclusion but not entirely with the analysis that leads him there. Rodriguez's opposition stems from his fear that white racial anxiety is rising and that affirmative action could lead to a destructive white backlash.
"The combination of changing demographics and symbolic political victories on the part of nonwhites will inspire in whites a greater racial consciousness, a growing sense of beleagurement and louder calls to end affirmative or to be included in it," he writes.
Rodriguez's fears about white racial anxiety seem a bit overblown. Americans have shown themselves increasingly oblivious to racial considerations.
Not only did Americans elect the first black president just two years ago, but this year, the GOP has nominated Hispanics for two U.S. Senate seats and two gubernatorial races. In addition, the Republican nominee for governor of South Carolina is an Indian-American female, who, if elected, would join Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal as the party's second major elected official of Indian ancestry.
Nonetheless, Rodriguez's point about changing demographics is an important one. As he correctly notes, affirmative action was initially intended to benefit a small minority, mainly African-Americans who had suffered more than a century of state-sponsored racial discrimination.
But the program expanded in rationale - from making up for past discrimination to promoting diversity - and in scope, to include Hispanic and Asian immigrants as well as blacks. It's hard to argue that newcomers should be entitled to affirmative action benefits, especially when they have no historical claim to have suffered past discrimination in this society.
Since white women also benefit from many affirmative action programs, these preferences now apply to a majority of the population. Clearly, set-asides that apply to that many people, many of whom are not economically or educationally disadvantaged, are a mockery of the original intent of affirmative action.
Ironically, Rodriguez barely addresses what I've always believed is one of the strongest arguments against affirmative action: its detrimental effects on the very people it's meant to help by turning them into perpetual victims.
In passing, Rodriguez warns that whites, too, might fall prey to "the siren song of victimology that has captivated other groups." Victimology and affirmative action go hand in hand. Without claiming to be a victim, you can't make a case that you're entitled to special treatment.
But thinking you're a victim is a lousy way to get ahead in a society as competitive as this one, no matter what your skin color. It's a defeatist attitude that encourages failure, not success.
And even when adopting victim status ensures preferential treatment, it leads to resentment and anger in the beneficiary and a sense of patronizing superiority in the benefactor. Such attitudes are hardly a recipe for greater racial harmony, much less success.
In the end, however, the best argument against affirmative action is a moral one. Making choices based on race or ethnicity is simply wrong.
You know almost nothing about a person solely because of his or her skin color. It doesn't tell you whether the person is competent, reliable, or trustworthy. It doesn't give you useful information about the person's past performance or potential, any more than knowing the person's shoe size does.
When you're making a decision about hiring someone or admitting a person to school, what's relevant is the individual's performance, not his group identity.
It's time to end affirmative action not because it makes whites anxious but because it perpetuates race obsession that harms all Americans, regardless of color. We've got to get beyond thinking of ourselves in terms of racial or ethnic origins if we are ever to live up to our ideals as Americans.
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|From: Brumar89||8/10/2010 11:27:19 AM|
|Are Evangelicals the New Mainline?|
Monday, August 9, 2010, 9:00 AM
Patheos has an excellent interview with sociologist and historian of religion Rodney Stark. As with anything from Stark, it’s difficult to choose just one section to quote. But here’s the core of his claim:
When I was very young, there was a Protestant mainline and they were the Congregationalists, the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, American Baptists, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and more recently the media would include the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Once in a while they would even stretch things far enough to include the Unitarians and Quakers. These were the high prestige denominations, and when people became prominent and successful they would shed their old denomination and join one of these.
Now, the belief that these are the mainline denominations simply won’t go away. Everyone keeps pretending that these are the folks that count. But the fact is: that’s ancient history.
. . . Yet one keeps hearing about the “mainline” denominations and this “periphery” called evangelicalism. Well, the periphery is now the mainline, and the mainline is the sideline.
I also decided to write [How Denominations Die: The Continuing Self-Destruction of the Protestant "Mainline] partly because of the misperception that this transformation began in the 1960s. The 1760s may be more accurate, and certainly the 1860s, but it didn’t start in the 1960s. The 1960s is just when it began to be noticed.
Exactly. No offense to my mainline friends, but I’ve never understood why they continue to be considered mainstream by the the mainstream media. The Southern Baptist Convention has as many members as all mainline denominations combined.
[ And they seem to have stalled. Though that may be due to over-counting in the past. ]
Yet the dying denominations get all the attention.
I suspect that within my lifetime the only mainline denominations that will continue to exist will be those that, as Stark notes, are led by clergy who are “generally evangelical in their convictions.”
Anyway, back to the interview. With Stark, I can’t ever stick to just one excerpt so here are a few more quotable passages:
I’ve had people tell me: “I quit that mainline church because, in the whole year, the minister didn’t say the words Jesus Christ.”
[. . .]
What if you went to a baseball game, and nobody brought a ball? The players just stir around for two hours. I don’t think you’d go back, would you? Likewise, when you go to church, but the minister doesn’t bother to hold church because he wants to talk about Medicare or something, why go back? Well, people don’t.
[. . .]
The denominational leaders would pass resolutions that “everybody in prison is a political prisoner,” for example, or that “everybody commits crimes but only the poor are sent to prison for it.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have many friends who engage in drive-by shootings and stick up liquor stores. I just don’t. (Granted, they’re a bunch of cowardly professors, but still.)
Read more . . .
August 9th, 2010 | 10:02 am The Assemblies of God has 2,899,702 members, while the Episcopal Church has 2,057,292, according to the NCC. Given our British heritage and the influence of the Episcopal Church, I find this fascinating.
[ The AoG number is probably understated. I went from Southern Baptist to nothing to Methodist to nothing to General Baptist and unaffiliated to defacto AoG (recently). And the AoG church I go to hardly ever mentions AoG or even keeps a church roll. The only people they keep track of are the little kids - they print out a little sticker and you need it to pick them up. ]
Your post deals largely with numbers, with quantity. Working as I do at an evangelical institution, I see another, qualitative, indication that evangelicals are becoming the mainline: We’re often given over to a more experiential pietism than an intellectual, cognitive-propositional orthodoxy. (This shift happened, I think, in the 70s and 80s.) And, as pietism is wont to do, evangelicalism is devolving into a sort of theological liberalism. I see my students regularly embracing ideas that are essentially classical liberal Protestant ideas. This qualitative shift should be something sociologists pay attention to…
August 9th, 2010 | 10:21 am I am Catholic but have had significant interaction with mainline Protestant institutions (mainly schools). The Episcopal church I know is barely a church anymore – it is a social institution and performance space that caters to the rich while it works very hard to become diverse, mostly by reaching out to the very poor. The school attached to it will do anything to boost its diversity numbers – as long as it keeps test scores up and donor funding flowing. The one subject everyone can discuss amicably is sports – a “safe space” where discussions of character are attached to achievement by people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.
August 9th, 2010 | 11:50 am I wonder if “mainline” applies to any church anymore. The old mainline used to be source of the powerful in the U.S. The evangelicals are not in that position. I suggest that it is good for a religion not to be in that position. Power seems to corrupt religion disproportionately. Much better to be influential with the ideas and beliefs that form the faith.
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|To: Brumar89 who wrote (3786)||8/10/2010 1:00:58 PM|
|Is Islam Really the Second-Fastest Growing Religion?|
The religious makeup of the world is changing, but the media’s focus on the West is causing many to be blind to Islam’s losing of ground in the third world.
August 10, 2010 - by Ryan Mauro Share |
It’s a stated fact everywhere from the media to academia to churches: Islam is the second-fastest growing religion. It will become the biggest religion during this century. Christianity is going out of style and Islam is the new kid on the block. We hear it from those wanting to give the Muslim community a bigger voice; from those complaining about Western ignorance; from those trying to put Islam on the same plane as Christianity and Judaism; and even in churches decrying the lack of evangelical fervor among the congregation.
But is it really true?
It’s true that Islam (as well as atheism and universalism) is growing in the West, mostly because of high birth rates among Muslims and immigration, but the exploding growth of evangelical Christianity around the world through conversion is unreported. The analysis is distorted because of the lack of reporting from places like Africa, where nearly half of the population is estimated to be Christian. In other places like China, news of such trends is suppressed, leaving few to know that some estimates put the Christian population there at up to 111 million. There may be more members in the underground evangelical movement there than in the 75-million strong Chinese Communist Party. It’s been reported that 10,000 Chinese convert to Christianity per day. That number may be a stretch, but if current trends hold, predictions that China will become the country with the largest number of Christians by the middle of the century could come true.
The image in one’s mind of a Christian is usually of an American or European. The decline of Christianity in the West gives the impression that the religion is collapsing when it is really transforming. In Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity, he writes that in 1900, over 80 percent of Christians lived in Europe and the U.S. Now, two out of three evangelicals live in Asia, Africa, and South America. South Korea now holds the title as the second-place country in sending out missionaries, despite the fact that the number one country, the U.S., has over six times as many people.
Another fact to consider is that while the number of Christians overall is declining in the West, the number of evangelicals is rising. There are less of those “Sunday Christians” who do the church routine and don’t make having a relationship with God part of their very being. They are falling away from church as it becomes more socially acceptable to do so and are turning to agnosticism, atheism, and a universalism that believes all religions are one and the same. Christianity is changing into a smaller but more devout and active force.
It is much harder to detect “Friday Muslims” in the Islamic world than it is “Sunday Christians” in the West because of the societal repercussions and the suppression of other religions. Those questioning their faith are likely to keep it private and still go to mosque even if they party on the weekends. The dismal state of the Islamic world economically and politically and the savagery of extremism is turning many Muslims away. For example, I’ve been surprised at how many Iranians I’ve communicated with are atheists or aren’t devout Muslims. There is a clandestine movement to acquire Bibles and practice Christianity in private homes, as up to 1 million are said to have turned to Christianity in the past five years.
This is a problem that raises significant concern in the Muslim world, but the West misses it. In April 2008, Andrew Walden wrote a top-notch piece here at Pajamas Media about this phenomenon. One top Islamic scholar in Libya says that 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity every day and Walden writes that evangelist Wolfgang Simpson says that “more Muslims have come to Christ in the last two decades than in all of history.” He writes that the mufti of the Malaysian state of Perak says that about 250,000 Muslims in his country have filed to officially leave Islam, including 100,000 that have converted to Christianity. The mufti warned that this number doesn’t include those who are non-practicing Muslims.
It is undeniable that Islam is growing in the West, but there are signs that the number of Muslims that don’t diligently practice the faith is increasing just as is the case with Christianity. In February 2005, the Sunday Times wrote that “one estimate suggests that as many as 15 per cent of Muslims in Western societies have lost their faith.” A Pew poll in July 2007 found that Muslim-Americans are in third place in how many describe religion as playing a “very important” role in their lives, with 72 percent affirming the statement as compared to 79 percent of white evangelicals and 85 percent of black Protestants. Most interestingly, only 50 percent of Muslim-Americans take their holy book, the Koran, literally, whereas 66 percent of white evangelicals and 68 percent of black Protestants take the Bible literally.
The religious makeup of the world is changing, but the media’s focus on the West is causing many to be blind to Islam’s losing of ground in the third world. Adam Housley reported for FoxNews.com in January 2003 that “most experts agree Christianity does have the most believers. And recent reports estimate that by 2025, that gap will widen even further, making Christianity by far the world’s largest religion.”
The geographic distribution of Christianity, specifically of the evangelicals, is changing as it spreads more evenly throughout the world. At more evangelical-oriented churches today, funds are raised to send missionaries to places like Africa, India, and South Korea. The day may soon come when it is these places that are reaching out to the U.S. and Europe.
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|To: Brumar89 who wrote (3786)||8/10/2010 5:52:38 PM|
|"The Southern Baptist Convention has as many members as all mainline denominations combined."|
Well ... according to the National Council of Churches USA, while the "mainline" churches are losing members (as did the So Baptists in 2010), United Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran, United Church of Christ, AME, AMEZion, American Baptist, and Christian Churches/Churches of Christ churches total over 26 million members. Baptists count 16.3 million members as of this year.
I'm not clear, though, on what denominations count as "evangelicals". There are five other flavors of Baptist among the top 25 denominations in addition to the two above. Where do they fall? And where do you put Jehovah’s Witnesses? They're growing faster than anyone lately (though still only 23rd).
BTW, for those like Mr. Carter who are keeping score, the fastest growing churches (among the top 25 Christian denominations, besides Jehovah’s Witnesses) are currently the Catholics (who massively outnumber So. Baptists 68 to 16) and the Mormons (who rank 4th at 6 mil).
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|To: Oeconomicus who wrote (3788)||8/10/2010 7:30:44 PM|
|I haven't looked at the numbers on any of these denominations.|
The Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian type denominations have been going downhill for decades. The So Baptists have been having churches drop out so am not surprised if they've slipped.
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|To: Brumar89 who wrote (3786)||8/11/2010 10:25:05 AM|
|From: Peter Dierks|
|I was a member of one of the oldest mainline churches. They tried to shed their traditions in some ways but kept them in others. In whole it is just a an empty shell of a Christian religion.|
I joined a very contemporary church in the ELCA. It is vibrant and there are things going on all over.Most of them have to do with Christian education and outreach. What an alive church.
What a contrast from a dead church.
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|From: Brumar89||8/13/2010 9:10:46 PM|
|"I swear, but since I am the owner of this company that is my privilege, and this privilege is not to be interpreted as the same for any employee. That differentiates me from you, and I want to keep it that way. There will be absolutely no swearing, by any employee, male or female, in this office, ever."|
"Do not speak to me when you see me. If I want to speak to you, I will do so. I want to save my throat. I don't want to ruin it by saying hello to all of you sons-of-bitches."
Those memos of Edward Mike Davis of Tiger Oil and Tiger Drilling from the late '70's make for some funny reading. In one he tells his staff, 'what differentiates you from me is I am a known son of a bitch.' Looking up the guy "Tiger" Mike Davis, one finds a weird and amazing story.
He went bankrupt in 1980 but that wasn't the end, he's a rich old man in Vegas now.
Backstory on Tiger Mike Davis:
Grifters, Oil Men, Tabloids, The Scrappy Ingenue, The Titans and the Hardass: An American Story
August 13, 2008 9:09 AM Subscribe
Corrupt U.S. Government officials leased the Teapot Dome oil field to one Harry F. Sinclair in 1922 in a sleazy no-bid contract.
Turn back the clock. 27 years earlier, suspected grifter Gilmer Bonfils had seized control of the Denver Post; he and his family turned it from a sleepy, staid paper into a wild, brazen broadsheet. So brazen they were shot by a furious lawyer. For an editorial page, Tammen and Bonfils substituted invective, raked up so much scandal—a good deal of it true — that they kept a loaded shotgun in their office to discourage reader complaints. As the Post grew in power and prosperity, its proprietors branched into other fields; the Post became the first and last U.S. daily ever to own a circus (Sells-Floto), run a burlesque house and sell coal."
It was this paper that, through the machinations of Sinclair's enemies, began excoriating the Teapot Dome deal under the editorial byline "So That The People May Know". Eventually, Frederick G. Bonfils rumoredly took a million dollar payoff from Sinclair as hush money.
Fast forward. The Post hired professionals and lost its edge. But then, in 1960, into Denver's mile-high sunshine stepped the fastest-growing newspaper publisher in the U.S. In one hand he carried a battered 13-year-old briefcase bulging with the blueprints of a big deal.
But Si Newhouse Sr., who was rich enough to buy Conde Nast as a surprise anniversary present for his wife the year previously, for all his business acumen and deal-making wiles, didn't expect to run into Helen Bonfils...
Helen, one of the daughters entrusted with the Post, reacted to Newhouse's hostile purchases by declaring "No further sales are contemplated. Not under any circumstances." And for many rollicking years, the fight continued. Eventually, outmaneuvered legally, Newhouse gave up. But the story doesn't end there.
A tall, slender, blonde with bright blue eyes and a husky voice, Helen was theatrical, energetic and a millionaire. Bejeweled and befurred, she toured the town in her Pierce Arrow with Colorado license plate No. 1. She would be accompanied by her chauffeur (more on this in a moment...), favorite poodle, and spiritual adviser, the Rev. John Anderson, who shared her interest in philanthropy. And when the Rocky Mountain News says 'theatrical', they mean it; she in her youth starred in extravagant musicals with casts of hundreds, always as the principal angel. Her hunger for the spotlight grew over the years as she acted in and produced a score of productions, and created the Helen Bonfils Theater Complex at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She also found the time to create the Belle Bonfils Memorial Blood Bank, named after her mother -- now a fixture of the Denver healthcare system; and, having seen people faint in its stuffy basement for lack of air conditioning, to fund the completion of the Holy Ghost church -- as well as 'innumerable' other charities, including the Dumb Friends League and the Denver Zoo.
But does the story end there? No it does not. Helen, at age 69, fell in love with her chauffeur -- "Tiger" Mike Davis, a strapping young college dropout of 28. Their romance died, and a nasty divorce ensued, in which he received a large settlement. Rolling that money into oil field investments, "Tiger" Davis got rich.
In May 2008, none other than the Denver Post reported that he had gotten paid off for helping to move control of oil interests -- unlike Teapot Dome, this time legally -- by introducing an old friend, an ex-amateur boxer named "Rifle Right" Kirk Kerkorian to Delta Petroleum. Turns out having friends earned him a cool 263,158 shares, which if he still holds it is as of this writing.
But that's not the story either, dear reader -- the story is that "Tiger" Mike Davis, in between marrying the scrappiest, most extravagant and most powerful women in Denver and helping to broker a gigantic oil investment deal for one of the titans of industry, ran his own business. And he ran it real tight. And the memos of that business -- which spawned this post -- are some of the funniest interoffice memos on the planet.
Davis was born in Lebanon, had no education, emigrated to the US, and drove taxis in Denver. He was originally hired by Helen Bonfils’ husband and remained her chauffeur after his death. Once he inherited part of her fortune, he invested in several drilling rigs. Later this business, known as Tiger Drilling Co., was bought out by Cleveland Cliffs, lining Davis’ pockets even further. As a newly minted “oil baron,” he proceeded to drill 49 dry holes and went broke.
Tiger Drilling Company is still in business, presumably after reorganization:
Also in business is Tiger Mike himself:
Edward Mike Davis LLC
730 17th Street # 450
Denver, CO 80202-3554 map
Denver, CO Metro Area
Information not found
Edward Mike Davis LLC is a private company categorized under Oil and Gas Exploration and Development and located in Denver, CO. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $500,000 to $1 million and employs a staff of approximately 5 to 9.
Now here he is selling oil properties in 2003 to Delta Petroleum of Denver and gettng $2M in cash, a $6M note and a million shares of Delta Petroleum.
DELTA PETROLEUM CORPORATION ACQUIRES PRODUCTION AND DRILLING PROSPECTS IN COLORADO AND WYOMING
DENVER, Colorado (September 24, 2003) -- Delta Petroleum Corporation (NASDAQ: DPTR); (FRANKFURT STOCK EXCHANGE: DPE), an independent energy exploration and development company, today announced that it has acquired production and drilling prospects in Colorado and Wyoming.
The Company has acquired, from Edward Mike Davis LLC and Edward Mike Davis (“Davis”), operations and a 90% working interest in the producing Christianson Field and two other fields. The acquisition includes approximately 100,000 acres of prospect leases in Washington County, Colorado, and approximately 20,000 acres of prospect leases in Laramie County, Wyoming. The fields are currently producing approximately 500 barrels of oil per day net to Delta.
The consideration paid by Delta totaled $8 million and 1,000,000 shares of the Company’s common stock. Closing occurred on September 19, 2003, at which time Delta paid $2 million in cash and executed a short-term promissory note for $6 million that is due and payable on October 3, 2003. ........
Late on he sold a drilling company to Delta Petroleum too:
Delta recently purchased all of Edward Mike Davis' ("Davis") ownership in Big Dog Drilling Co., LLC's Rig #2 and Rig #3 in exchange for 100,000 shares of Delta's common stock and Delta's interest in Shark Trucking Co., LLC. Delta has agreed to contribute both of these rigs to DHS in exchange for its 90% ownership interest.
In addition, DHS has agreed to acquire Big Dog Drilling Co., LLC's Rig #1 from Davis and three other rigs with depth ratings of 12,500 feet to 18,000 feet. These acquisitions are anticipated to expand DHS' fleet to six working rigs by approximately June 15, 2005.
Then 2 years ago, Tiger Mike arranges for his buddy from 60 years back when neither man was rich, Kirk Kerkorian, to buy into Delta Petroleum:
DELTA PETROLEUM CORPORATION ANNOUNCES CLOSE OF
STRATEGIC INVESTMENT BY TRACINDA
DENVER, Colorado (February 20, 2008) — Delta Petroleum Corporation (NASDAQ Global Market: DPTR), an independent oil and gas company (“Delta” or the “Company”), today announced the close of the previously approved strategic investment by the Tracinda Corporation (“Tracinda”). As agreed, Tracinda invested $684 million to acquire 36 million shares of Delta’s common stock from the company, or the equivalent of $19 per share.
Delta would like to further express its appreciation to Edward “Tiger” Mike Davis for his participation and introduction between the Company and Mr. Kerkorian.
Edward "Tiger" Mike Davis, who has been friends with Kerkorian for the past 60 years, introduced the two businessmen and suggested that Tracinda take a look at the energy company. Davis was familiar with Delta's assets and strategy because about five years ago. Delta acquired some property from Davis.
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