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Waiting for John Frum
October 17, 2010 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Two examinations of the Tanna island prophet known as John Frum. Both with very unusual points of view. God is American parts 1, 2, 3, & 4, and Nate DiMeo's Memory Palace podcast.

The cargo cults and their practices have been used as propaganda by both missionaries and atheists.

And have served to inspire some interesting art, including this animated version of John's return by Christian Schlaeffer.

Previously. (that post links to the cranky old guy encyclopedic site)

Scientific American’s 1959 article on cargo cults.

The Smithsonian’s 2006 piece.

Richard Feynman's Cargo Cult Science.

Damn Interesting.

Traveling to Tanna.
posted by Toekneesan (14 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh lordy, I'm definately going to have to line up some time to watch these - this subject has always fascinated me.
posted by Artw at 8:03 AM on October 17, 2010


Is it bad of me that, instead of leading me to ponder the meaning of religion and cultural imperialism, this kind of thing just leads to me fantasizing about encountering an undiscovered people and being worshipped as a God. It's still really effing interesting though.
posted by LiteOpera at 8:28 AM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, for what it's worth it lead me into writing dodgy vaguely Avatar-esque science fiction.
posted by Artw at 8:30 AM on October 17, 2010


The travel channel did a series on Tanna called "Meet the Natives"; you can find it on YouTube at Vanuatu Veritas. The twist is that the Tannans are meeting the natives of other countries and documenting THEM (while the Travel Channel documents the documentation). It may be a slightly different group; they believe Prince Phillip is the son of God. In the first series they go to the UK to learn about the natives of the UK and try to meet Prince Phillip; in the second series they go the US to look for Tom Navy and discover the truth of the rumors they have heard, even in remote Tanna, about 9/11. They are not sure a building so tall could exist and, if it did exist, if it could be destroyed.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:35 AM on October 17, 2010


This is just amazing. On the same island, people worship John Frum, Tom Navy, and Prince Phillip.
posted by Ahab at 8:36 AM on October 17, 2010


Doh. Preview.
posted by Ahab at 8:36 AM on October 17, 2010


If ever you have the chance, go see Mike Daisy's The Last Cargo Cult, it's a superb account of the followers of John Frum and the politics of the island.
posted by furtive at 8:42 AM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


this is one of those things that is a good thing.
posted by The Whelk at 8:54 AM on October 17, 2010


So are Isaac's followers for or against the United States. They say that the US will bring them cargo and help them fight the white colonists, and they march around in blue jeans with 'USA' painted on their chests, but then Isaac talks about how Bin Laden has attacked the New York as a warning to the United States, and that he is fighting for the rights of blacks worldwide. I don't understand, are they pro-US or anti-US?

Also, the bit where he explains that John Frum went to the moon in 1939(!) is just the most completely awesome story I've ever heard. Imagine it, the son of god can still only beat the Americans to the moon by thirty years. That's like the Romans sending an expedition to heaven in 60 C.E.
posted by LiteOpera at 9:12 AM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have a strong impulse to send these people a few XO's and buy them a little internet access. The only thing stopping me is that I'm guessing that's one of those things that would be heinous and morally reprehensible in some way I don't fully grok.
posted by Xezlec at 9:20 AM on October 17, 2010


I have this feeling this is how history textbooks will cover the 20th Century in 2 thousand years.
posted by The Whelk at 9:21 AM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe just put TV Tropes on a CD ROM and drop it on them?
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on October 17, 2010


Wait, Dr. Manhattan is real?
posted by Scoo at 4:31 AM on October 18, 2010


They do have the most useful pants of any cult.
posted by ericbop at 9:40 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


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