Haunting words: What did Jeffrey Epstein mean when he used the term 'spiritual stimulation'?

I have followed the acidic soap operas (timeline here) surrounding Jeffrey Epstein for more than a decade. That may sound strange, but there’s a logical reason — I lived in West Palm Beach from 2001-2005 and taught at Palm Beach Atlantic University, right next to the mini-towers of Trump Plaza.

Yes, that was a long time ago, back when Donald Trump was embracing his good buddies Bill and Hillary Clinton and acting like a rather mainstream Democrat, in terms of moral and social issues. And it was impossible to read the news in the Sixth Borough of New York without bumping into the kingdom of Trump. That included, from time to time, the people being courted — socially speaking — by Epstein and Co.

Life behind the scenes? That, of course, is where everyone who cares about the details of this sordid affair has to dig into the essential “Perversion of Justice” series by Julie Brown of The Miami Herald. Download it into an iPad program of some kind, because you’ll have to read it in painful chunks.

So why bring this up here at GetReligion? To be blunt: I am waiting for some kind of religion shoe to drop, some angle linked to twisted religion or anti-religious convictions. In my experience, great evil almost always involves twisted religion or blunt, demonic rejection of what is good, beautiful and true.

In one recent story, I was struck by an Epstein statement — when he was a young prep-school teacher — that mentioned his use of “spiritual” activities with his students. Hold that thought.

Meanwhile, everyone is waiting to see the long lists of people who socialized with Epstein, did “business” with him or both. Some of those names — such as Bill Clinton and Donald Trump — are already known.

Will the list contain hypocrites as well as libertines? Of course it will. We live in a sinful and fallen world.

A new Vanity Fair piece on this scandal notes that it’s hard to talk about the mysteries of Epstein’s fortune without getting into the moral dynamics inside his entourage and clients:

In the absence of much other information, the reigning theory on Wall Street currently is that Epstein’s activities with women and girls were central to the building of his fortune, and his relations with some of his investors essentially amounted to blackmail.

When push comes to shove — and push will come to shove — Epstein’s fall will affect other big names in the elites of South Florida-New York City and around the world.

Check out this Vanity Fair summary of this size of this mess:

The questions about Epstein are metastasizing much faster than they can be answered: Who knew what about Epstein’s alleged abuse? How, and from whom, did Epstein get his supposed $500 million fortune? Why did [Alexander] Acosta grant Epstein an outrageously lenient non-prosecution agreement? (And what does it mean that Acosta was reportedly told Epstein “belonged to intelligence”?) But among the most pressing queries is which other famous people might be exposed for committing sex crimes. “There were other business associates of Mr. Epstein’s who engaged in improper sexual misconduct at one or more of his homes. We do know that,” said Brad Edwards, a lawyer for Courtney Wild, one of the Epstein accusers who gave emotional testimony at Epstein’s bail hearing. “In due time the names are going to start coming out.” (Attorneys for Epstein did not respond to a request for comment.)

Likely within days, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will release almost 2,000 pages of documents that could reveal sexual abuse by “numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders,” according to the three-judge panel's ruling.

Read that second paragraph again — slowly.

As an on-the-record #NeverTrump #NeverHillary voter, I was also struck by the strange dynamics in this follow-up paragraph:

During the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton’s campaign consulted Bill’s post–White House Secret Service logs because they were worried Trump would bring up Bill’s close association with Epstein and wanted to get ahead of the story. …

Now, what about the early years in the 1970s when Epstein — without a college degree — taught math and science at the elite Dalton School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side? How did he land that job and what was he doing there, in addition to disturbing some of his colleagues by flirting with students?

Dig into this long feature at The Daily Beast about the Dalton years and one hits a haunting reference that floats by with zero explanation. This is long, but I want readers to see context:

While at the Dalton School, Epstein was the coach of the math team. In competitions with several local schools, Epstein led the students to victory in one instance and to second place in another. At a February 1976 math meet, the Dalton team competed against Ramaz and the Manhattan Talmudic Academy with “Boss Epstein watching from the sidelines…” (The Daltonian March 5, 1976). At another match up in April 1976, Epstein told his team “a victory would be as easy as Pi.” The paper reported Epstein would be starting a “math-track team” the following year due to his “unique philosophy of integrating physical exercise with spiritual and mathematical stimulation.” The Dalton School students and families are comprised of some of the wealthiest families in the United States—unlike Epstein’s own. But this access may have created an opening for him.

As a young man from a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn (equipped with a deep Brooklyn accent), Jeffrey Epstein at Dalton likely had to be a “quick study” to gracefully flow among the social upper class. Vicky Ward’s 2003 Vanity Fair profile of Epstein deemed him “The Talented Mr. Epstein” — drawing a parallel to Matt Damon’s character in the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley, where Tom Ripley cons his way into the upper class through fraud and misrepresentation (and plenty of piano playing).

What, pray tell (or “prey” tell) is meant by the reference to Epstein’s “unique philosophy of integrating physical exercise with spiritual and mathematical stimulation”?

Let me end with another strange detail in this giant puzzle that, I fear, will end up being important. It concerns a structure built on Epstein’s “private island” in the Caribbean, near the U.S. Virgin Islands.

An Associated Press report noted:

Epstein built a stone mansion with cream-colored walls and a bright turquoise roof surrounded by several other structures including the maids’ quarters and a massive, square-shaped white building on one end of the island. Workers told each other it was a music room fitted with a grand piano and acoustic walls.

The Law & Crime website went into more detail. However, the key details there came from a piece at the INSIDER website. Inquiring minds want to know: What about the structure that resembles a “temple” of some kind, the structure that AP said might be a “music room”?

Here is a long, detailed, passage from INSIDER:

The front is flanked by statues painted in gold; one of them appears to be the trident-wielding Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, while two others look like birds perched on the corners of the roof. It is surrounded by a line of palm trees and a terrace with a labyrinth motif. Finally, the exterior seems to incorporate an optical illusion, to create the impression that the exterior windows and door are set within carved flanges.

It strongly resembles a temple, though of which sort remains elusive. Epstein is Jewish, and it is possible that he wanted his own private synagogue. But the statuary would be out of place at such a temple, given the Old Testament's prohibition on graven images. Though the cubic base and dome call to mind Islamic architecture, Poseidon would likewise be an odd choice for a mosque. Churches, of course, tend to feature crosses.

Also, researchers are very interested in the doors:

When INSIDER consulted James Both, a contractor and engineer based in Chicago, he first pointed to the wooden door. "It's styled like what you might see on a castle, with what appears to be a reinforcing lock bar across the face," he said. "What makes it peculiar is that if you wanted to keep people out, the bar would be placed inside the building, [but the] locking bar appears to be placed on the outside ... as if it were intended to lock people in."

I think that we will stop there. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar?

Lots of very important people are waiting for the big shoe to drop. Should religion-beat professionals open up a research file of their own?

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