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Heaven's Gate (Part 12)

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 Things to beware of in 1997:
 Cars.  They're made increasingly from fiberglass and aluminum y'know.
 (Think about fiberglass and aluminum, and what YOU'd want twixt you
 and that oncoming semi.  Tain't a pretty thought, eh?)
 March 28, 1997
 They Wanted To Be 'Above Human'
 Associated Press Writer
 SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Instead of scrawling suicide notes, members of an astral
 cult spent hours at their computers cataloging their beliefs for the world
 and perhaps explaining their final act.
 A 4-inch-thick tome, downloaded from the group's Internet site the day
 after 39 members were found dead in a mansion, is simply titled, "How and
 When 'Heaven's Gate' May be Entered."
 The cult members believed that their deaths would lead to a rendezvous with
 a UFO trailing the Hale-Bopp comet.
 In a preface, a student identified only as Jwnody describes the group's
 history in the vernacular of "Star Trek." The cult's leader, named Do,
 outlines the cult's beliefs in a short article.
 "I am in the same position to today's society as the One that was in Jesus
 then," wrote Do, known as "The Present Representative."
 "My being here now is actually a continuation of that last task as was
 promised, to those who were students 2000 years ago," he wrote.
 An unnamed author explains that members chose to place their final thoughts
 at the beginning of the anthology, in a section titled "Exit Statements."
 One excerpt, from January, 1997: "A member of the Kingdom of God -- the
 Evolutionary Level Above Human -- I, who am called Do, acknowledge that: 1.
 I am about to return to my father's kingdom."
 The tome also included transcripts from a series of 12 videotaped lessons
 of cult classes.
 "We've acknowledged that if there ever was a cult or culture that was
 different, and unique, and unlike the world, and doesn't have a place in
 the world, then we take the prize, I guess, of being the cult of cults.
 And, I'm afraid, so did Jesus and his disciples. There's no denying that,"
 Do says.
 He equated the "Kingdom of Heaven" with the "Next Level," and in the final
 videotaped lessons, he talked of reaching it.
 "Adopting the behavior, the habits, the ways of the Next Level. We wish you
 could see it as we see it. We wouldn't trade it for anything. But we're not
 trying to sell it. I guess we are, because it means so much to us."
 An appendix included statements by students written about a year before
 this week's suicide. A student identified as Anlody wrote:
 "Our message is not now, nor has it ever been, religious or spiritual.
 Hale-Bopp is not a phantom. No matter what it is, it will affect this
 planet. ... We've been saying that the planet was due to be recycled at the
 end of this age. That is not religious beliefs. It is the planet's slate
 being wiped clean. It is also our offering exit to those who wake up enough
 to see that they need to exit in order to survive."

Next: Heaven's Gate (Part 13)