Monday, March 20, 2006

Turkmen president offers a place in heaven to his readers

Turkmenistan's president-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov announced on state television that anyone reading his philosophical work three times would be assured a place in heaven.

"Anyone who reads the Rukhnama three times will find spiritual wealth, will become more intelligent, will recognise the divine being and will go straight to heaven," Niyazov said Monday.

The Turkmen leader said he had "called on Allah" while working on the two-volume book to ensure that enthusiastic readers would be given quicker access to heaven.

Niyazov, known as Turkmenbashi (Leader of the Turkmen Peoples), has set up a bizarre personality cult, including erecting gold statues of himself and his deceased parents in strategic spots across his largely-desert country.

The Rukhnama, a collection of philosophical and religious writings, is compulsory reading for schoolchildren and government officials across the former Soviet republic in Central Asia.
(Original article here.)

And here I thought I had an ego problem…

I suspect that “reading his philosophical work three times” is probably such a massive act of penance and self-denial as to be, if done with a penitent heart, a truly meritorious act. In that respect, maybe it could help ease the passage from earth to heaven.

False messiahs = gold statues; real messiah = wooden cross. The more things change, the more they never really change at all.