Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998
From: "Carl E. Olsen" <>
Subject: My Story

Louv Brother Dennis,

I first heard about your dad in 1970.  I was told that your dad had resurrected himself as Christ.  It's been a while since 1970, but I think I remember being told that your dad even had stigmata (wounds in his hands, side and neck resembling the wounds inflicted on Christ during the crucifixion), although I can't say this was something I heard very often.  I was told that Christ was a black man, that the black people were the Jews of the Bible (in this present dispensation - not literally, but figuratively), and that the United States and Great Britain were the last of seven kingdoms (modern day Babylon).

At first, I thought this was just some lunatic bunch of religious fanatics.  I was brought up in the Lutheran Church (Martin Luther was a Catholic Priest), and I didn't have a very favorable opinion of religions.  To me, religion seemed to be too much form and not enough substance.

It seemed like I was trying to kill myself in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  I was using a lot of powerful drugs in 1970 and 1971, methamphetamine probably being the most destructive of them.  The Vietnam War was an event that marked those times, and I was drafted (involuntary servitude) in 1972.   The only reason I wasn't drafted sooner, was because I took a college deferment.

Of course, I started out using alcohol before I got into other drugs, and my intention was probably not so self-destructive at first.  A lot of people use alcohol and it seemed fairly safe, although I got drunk, passed out, and threw up a lot of the time while I was drinking.  I'm not sure why I thought it was fun at the time, but it was probably because it was something to do with my friends.

When I started using ganja, I was surprised at how mild it was compared to alcohol.  I had been told it was a very dangerous drug, and my first experiences with it seemed harmless.  I laughed a lot, ate a lot, slept a lot, and woke up the next day feeling fine.  I never woke up feeling good after using alcohol.   It wasn't until it became difficult to find ganja that I started using other drugs.   I didn't want to go back to using alcohol, so I tried a drug called mescaline.   I also started using stimulants such as amphetamines.  It wasn't too long before I decided to try cocaine.  However, cocaine was expensive and it didn't last very long, so I finally migrated to methamphetamine as my drug of choice.

I'm not sure, but I think part of the reason I was so careless about my life was because I felt it my life had no value to anyone.  I felt as if the government was out to kill me, and I knew they had lied to me about ganja.   It all started to seem like an evil conspiracy.  As I said, when I started smoking ganja sometime around 1968, it was like a revelation to me to find out that everything I had been told about ganja was a lie.  Sure, ganja could sometimes be overwhelming, but it didn't last long and I'd always feel fine a short time later.

Sometime around 1970, some friends of mine went to Jamaica looking for good weed and that's how they met your dad.  They came back and told me the story of a religious experience.  They told me to sell everything I had and go to Jamaica, but I was too strung out on drugs to make the trip.  I felt like a mess, and I was too ashamed to go.  Although it sounded like some religious cult, these people did seem to be a lot more conscious than me.  I was afraid I would end in Jamaica and be rejected as a misfit.

After my friends left and moved to Jamaica, I began to think about what they had told me about the earth being destroyed a second time by fire.   With the Vietnam War and the Cold War (with Russia) raging, it was not difficult to imagine a nuclear war.  When we were small children in school, we were taught to duck under our desks in case of a nuclear attack.  Ducking under a desk wouldn't provide much protection in a nuclear strike.  Everyone was building fall-out shelters (underground rooms) at the time and stocking them with non-perishable food.  I began to think I had made the biggest mistake of my life by not going to Jamaica.

I began to think about what they had told me about the black people being Goud's chosen people, in light of the similarity to the Book of Exodus in the Bible.  I began to think that it would make sense for Goud to raise a son from amongst the despised and rejected of the earth.  The story of Chirst in the Bible was one of a lowly birth.

Maybe a year after my friends moved to Jamaica, they returned and told me of your father's death.  I was told that he was poisoned.   They told me he had sent them to bring other brothers and sisters out of Babylon.   However, it began to change from bringing them out to a physical place (Jamaica), to bringin them out to a spiritual place (a change in their way of thinking).

They (Brother Carl Swanson) set up a camp in northeastern Iowa.  I went to the camp, but I couldn't concentrate on what was going on.  All I could think about was that I didn't fit in.  I  thought I was too evil and there was no way I could be saved from sin.  I wanted to leave the camp and go back to the where I had come from.  The brothers and sisters memorized psalms and scripture and had prayer services early in the morning, throughout the day, and late at night, all while burning ganja furiously.  I couldn't stand it.  It took too much concentration for me to keep up.

I stopped talking shortly after arriving in northeastern Iowa, and they made me burn my own pipe of ganja.  They said they couldn't smoke with me, because they would be infected with my evil spirit.  Every time I let the fire go out, they told me to light it back up again.  They told me I couldn't stop smoking until I came up with an utterance.  They thought the ganja would loosen my tongue.   My lips turned dark from ganja resin and began to crack and get sore.

One day, Brother Carl told me to get in his truck and droped me off along the road.  A farmer stopped and picked me up.  The farmer drove me out to the highway.  Some youths picked me up and drove me back to the city.   The youths were talking drugs (LSD, I think) and smoking ganja, so I had a smoke with them.  (I still enjoyed a smoke, but not in the amounts they were making me smoke at the camp).  I was amazed that they drove me almost 200 miles, because I don't think they were going in that direction when they stopped and picked me up.

Not too long after I returned to the city, maybe a few months later, the brothers came by and told me that a brother had been arrested in the International Airport in Miami, Florida with a pound of ganja taped to his body.   They told me they needed money to get the brother out of jail.  They asked if could sell some ganja.  I didn't know if I could, but I agreed to try.  They left me with seven pounds of ganja, and to my surprise I sold it almost immediately.

Up to that point, I never would have believed the brothers would sell ganja.  To me, it was their sacrament, and I didn't think they would ever sell it.  Well, things just continued on, and I kept selling more and more ganja.   By 1973, I was selling so much ganja that I stopped working for wages and sold ganja for a living.  I even had enough money to buy a new car.

However, I started attracting attention, and in 1973 I got arrested with six pounds of ganja.  A friend of mine got arrested with 50 pounds of ganja in 1974 while he was driving my car, so the police thought they had arrested me again.  The police knew something big was going on, because they watched my house for months.  In 1978 I got arrested with 100 pounds of ganja, and in 1979 I got arrested with another pound of ganja.

In 1979, I moved to Star Island in Miami, Florida where I met Brother Tommy, Brother Nathan, Brother Allen, Brother Keith Gordon and Brother Laurenton Dickens.  I also went to Jamaica for two weeks and met Brother Walter Wells.  That's when I began calling myself a member of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church.  Until about 1975, I had never heard the name Coptic.  From 1970 to 1975, all I heard was Rastafari.

One thing I do remember is that none of these people told me that Rastafari was Haile Selassie.  In fact, they told me that Rastafari was not Haile Selassie.  Now, of course, we said that prayer every day "Our Imperial majesty Emperor Haile Selassie, King Alpha and Queen Omega the beginning and the end the first life of a man."  Brother Laurenton Dickens told me that Haile Selassie meant "Father of Time."  In other words, he told me that it was not the emperor of Ethiopia (at least not the physical one everyone thinks of - the one who was coronated in 1930).  I was told this was a false belief that was carried by the ropeheads (people who did not comb their hair and the hair became long because of knotting, rather than just by letting it grow).

You asked if I am writing a book.  I think the Internet is changing the way we communicate.  My website is like a book.  I think we are all brothers and sisters and there is only one church and everyone belongs to it.

Going back to how I got involved in the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, one of the things that had the greatest impact on me was the the brothers and sisters didn't believe in the Catholic and Lutheran belief in a virgin birth.   The Catholics and Lutherans say that Christ had no natural father.  They said that some god in the sky impregnated Mary and she gave birth without ever having sex with a man.  That was one of the reasons I grew up to hate religion, because they told me I had to believe something which I had absolutely no evidence to believe.  Some say it was the ganja that attracted me to Rastafari, but there was a lot more than just the ganja that attracted me.

A person calling themself a Rastafari sent me an email the other day.  He said the Bible is to be eaten, not read.  That reminded me of what I was told by the Ethiopian Zion Coptics about Goud writing the word in our hearts, and not on paper.  We are the living testaments.  Ink and paper cannot convey louv by themselves.  We are the living fulfillment of the word.  The word has no force if it's only written with ink and paper.  The word comes to life when it's spoken.

Louv Bro. Dennis