The “peace troubadour”: a follow-up

James Twyman, the “peace troubadour”

Back in January, we reported on a self-styled “peace troubadour” named James Twyman. We’d never heard of him before, but according to his website he’s quite the accomplished chap, having made a bunch of movies, written a bunch of books, issued a bunch of music CDs, and founded something called “The Beloved Community,” a supposed worldwide “network of spiritual peace ministers” whose website reads like a parody of New Age twaddle. (“The Beloved Community has no rivals, because it is non-competitive….The Beloved Community knows no boundaries, for nationalisms are unloving.”)

As noted, we’d never heard of this guitar-toting Oregonian hippie  – not until he announced his plans to bring his “message of peace” to ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. He would fly to Europe on January 20, then make his way to Tel Aviv, and from there head for the Syrian border. In Syria, he would share his message and his music in person with the members of ISIS who are busy causing mayhem in parts of that country.

Twyman’s announcement was a stroke of PR genius: he made headlines around the world. We promised at the time that we’d stay tuned and find out what, if anything, happened as a result of his big plans.

The picture accompanying Twyman’s February 1 tweet

Well, we looked into it. Here’s what we’ve been able to find. On February 1, Twyman tweeted as follows: “World Synchronized Meditation on Syrian border HUGE success. Fighting stopped right in front of us. MIRACLE.”

The tweet was accompanied by a picture. Here it is. Make of it what you will. Curiously, this was the only tweet Twyman sent out about this “HUGE success” and “MIRACLE.”

The next day, an item bearing the byline of Eileen Fleming was posted at the website of something calling itself the Arab Daily News. It stated (all caps in the original) that on the previous day “JAMES TWYMAN AND THE ABRAHAMIC REUNION UNITED MILLIONS OF ‘INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE’ WHO MEDITATED WORLD-WIDE WHILE OVER 100 HAD ‘BOOTS ON THE GROUND’ METERS AWAY FROM ISIS, NUSRA FRONT AND HIZBALLAH CONTROLLED TERRITORY ON THE GOLAN HEIGHTS BORDER OF SOUTHERN SYRIA AS THE VISIBLE WITNESS OF THE LARGEST SYNCHRONIZED PEACE VIGIL IN HISTORY.” Enthused though she obviously was about the event, Fleming didn’t mention the “MIRACLE” Twyman referred to, namely the claim that “Fighting stopped right in front  of us.”

Eileen Fleming

What’s the Arab Daily News? As the website itself explains, it’s a site that runs items sent in by “freelance writers,” with each item being “the responsibility of the writer.” And who’s Eileen Fleming? Identified elsewhere as the site’s “Senior Non-Arab Correspondent,” she’s an American who, she says, was transformed by 9/11 into “a spiritually driven political peace activist.” A quick look through her archive at the Arab Daily News website suggests that, like Twyman himself, she’s a New Age nutbag and Useful Stooge of the first water. (We’ll get around to her another day.) 

Fleming’s was the only online report about Twyman’s big day until February 24, when the website of something called the United Religions Initiative (URI) ran an article headlined “Abrahamic Pulse Global Prayer for Syria.” It stated that on February 1,

the Abrahamic Reunion C[ooperation] C[ircle] joined by peace musician James Twyman, hosted the ‘Great Abrahamic Pulse’, a global prayer for the peace of Syria. 80 people made a multi-faith journey to the Golan Heights, gathering on the Syria border: Israelis from Jerusalem, the Galilee, and the Golan; Palestinians from Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, East Jerusalem and Jericho, joined by an international group of spiritual peace seekers.

Another photo of the event, this one from the URI website

The article proceed to recount a group lunch at a restaurant “in the Druze village of Mas’adeh,”

followed by a trek southward “to the view point overlooking Quneitra, an abandoned town on the Israel-Syria border” that “is held by the Syrian army,” while “nearby villages are held by rebel groups, including ISIS.” From there, Twyman & co. “drove up to Mount Bental, to hold the Abrahamic Pulse global synchronized meditation event.” There they reportedly saw “a full rainbow around the sun.” Then Twyman and someone named Eliyahu McLean “gathered the diverse crowd into a circle,” and several leaders from various religious backgrounds led prayers.

The cover of one of Twyman’s books

Like Fleming’s report, the URI piece said nothing in support of Twyman’s assertion that “Fighting stopped right in front  of us.”

It’s fair to say, then, that there’s a lot of hype going on here. First of all, Twyman, in his initial sales pitch, strongly implied that he’d be front and center at this event, with everyone else playing supporting roles; in the end, he seems to have been one of several idiots who played equally important roles in this idiocy.

But never mind that. The main thing is that he didn’t hook up with members of ISIS. He doesn’t even appear to have sought to hook up with members of ISIS. He went to the northeastern part of the Golan Heights, which is occupied by Israel. No, of course it isn’t the safest place in the world, but it’s not an active war zone, either. To be sure, it’s not far from a war zone: just over the Syrian border, a civil war is raging, with government troops fighting rebel forces just miles from the spot where Twyman and his buddies held their event. But between them and Twyman was the mighty IDF and the entire Israeli defense cordon.

In any event, ISIS isn’t operating anywhere near this area. Yes, in recent weeks some ISIS-linked groups have been identified as being active on Syrian territory just across the border from the southern Golan Heights. But that’s several dozen kilometers from where Twyman and his friends held their prayer circle. If there was, indeed, fighting underway near Twyman’s event, and he somehow made it stop, we’d be delighted to see the details. His failure to provide any seems, shall we say, conclusive. 

The “Peace Troubadour” meets…ISIS?

They call him the “Peace Troubadour.” Or at least that’s what he calls himself. 

James Twyman

His name: James Twyman. His website says he’s written 15 books, produced seven music CDs, and made five movies. He’s credited as the writer of Indigo, a 2003 film that, according to its Wikipedia page, “deals with the supposed phenomenon of ‘indigo children’ – a set of children alleged to have certain ‘special psychological and spiritual attributes’.” Indigo “was distributed primarily to New Thought churches,” which teach that all illness is psychological in origin and that the right kind of thinking can heal sickness. The film was released through “the Spiritual Cinema Circle, a DVD club that mails spiritually themed films to subscribers each month.” The film’s Wikipedia page cites precisely one review, which called it “crass and alienated beyond belief.”

The cover of one of Twyman’s books

In 1994, according to Twyman’s site, he “put the peace prayers from the 12 major religions to music and began traveling the world as ‘The Peace Troubadour.’” That’s not all. He’s also “the founder of The Beloved Community, a network of spiritual peace ministers around the world.” The network’s website, which looks just like Twyman’s personal website, quotes a thirteenth-century “Cathar Prophesy” as saying:

The Beloved Community has no fabric, only understanding.

The Beloved Community has no membership, save those who know they belong.

The Beloved Community has no rivals, because it is non-competitive.

The Beloved Community has no ambition, because it seeks only to serve.

The Beloved Community knows no boundaries, for nationalisms are unloving.

twyman(The Cathars, by the way, were Gnostic Christians who thrived in southern Europe from the 12th to 14th centuries.)

Twyman’s site further informs us that he founded something called the Seminary of Spiritual Peacemaking, “which has graduated and ordained over 500 ministers.” It, too, has a website, which explains:

Our goal is to train thousands of dedicated people to serve the world as Peace Ministers in the Beloved Community, being the front line in a profound movement toward lasting peace. In the program we assist people in celebrating their unique gifts,finding their path of service and in identifying ministries where they may best BE Peace.

twymanbookIn other words, Twyman is, or at least represents himself as being, a New Age macher.

Frankly, we hadn’t heard of Twyman before. That changed earlier this month, when he made international headlines. Here’s the beginning of the story at Fox News:

An Oregon folk singer plans to leave next week to serenade the Islamic State, and he intends to bring the black-clad barbarians a prayerful message of peace – despite a warning from the State Department that his life could be in danger.

One of Twyman’s CDs is called God Has No Religion. That should be popular with ISIS.

The Fox story continues:

James Twyman, of Portland, Ore., told he feels a “calling” and believes he can soften the hearts of the Islamist army known for beheading Westerners, throwing gays off of buildings and summarily executing innocent women and children.

twymancd“It’s going to be pretty powerful,” Twyman said, referring to his plan to have those attending and others around the world sing and pray for peace at the same time. “When people come together and focus on something in a positive way…there’s scientific evidence that it can change things for the better.”

A report in the Daily Beast added further details. Twyman would fly to Italy on January 20. After a weekend there, he’d head to Tel Aviv. From there, it’s on to the Majdal Shams, a town near the Israeli-Syrian border. Which means he’s probably arriving there…about now.

We’ll be staying tuned to see what happens.