Tuesday, July 30, 2013

RIP Bonnie Lange

As mentioned in the previous post on "Thomas Paine's opera glasses," Bonnie Lange has shed her mortal coil and departed earthly life. She was the last publisher/editor of The TruthSeeker journal ... by some estimations the longest continuously published freethought publication in US history. The TS was a great paper in its heyday prior to the 1920s and the original publishers -- D.M. Bennett and the Macdonald brothers -- did more for Thomas Paine's memory and record than anyone in their period. Bennett acquired the seed-library of his project from Gilbert Vale, the subject of this writer's dissertation and guiding personality in the erection of the Thomas Paine monument in New Rochelle, NY. Rod Bradford, btw, has written a worthwhile biography of Bennett to which the author of this blog contributed many hours of editing to the rough draft. Here are the data on Rod's book:

Bradford, Roderick
D. M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker
  • Hardcover: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 11, 2006)
  • ISBN-10: 1591024307
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591024309
All that aside, the legacy of Bonnie Lange is mixed. The TS had already been stained by the militant atheism of one publisher (Charles Lee Smith, 1937-1954) and the pro-Hitler, anti-semitic rantings of another (Bonnie was protegĂ© and "girl-friday" of the latter, James Hervey Johnson, 1954-1988). Bonnie took the TS even further afield from its original mission by the admixture of a succession of conspiracy/illuminist theorists including Zacharia Sitchin, David Ickes and Jon Rapoport.  Bonnie and I remained friends until her death -- a miracle, since, as I often reminded her, there is indeed a fine line between having an open mind and a hole in one's head.

Perhaps the TS will be reborn and return to something reflecting its early integrity and quality -- it was a FINE periodical in its glory-period and counted Mark Twain, Margaret Sanger, Clarance Darrow, Robert G. Ingersoll and many other progressive crusaders among its subscribers or contributors. Mr. Bradford appears to be the best person to carry the periodical forward, but if it sinks into the historical record, then RIP Bonnie and the TS.

Addendum: the TS website at http://www.truthseeker.com/ contains no mention of Bonnie's death nor obituary. How sad.

9 comments:

  1. Folks, I'm saddened by the Death of Bonnie Lange. I've known her a long time, since I don't remember when. We didn't talk often, but when we did, it was easy and interesting. As the years progressed, I became a Free Thinker and find myself disentangled from many common institutions. Instead, I'm enthralled by the minutest of detail thought of by Intelligent Design and Staff, much of it still unbeknownst to me, lurking there for me to discover and admire!

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  2. Thanks for the generous comment, Garland.

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  3. Is there an obituary for Bonnie anywhere?

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  4. Is there an obituary for Bonnie anywhere? I knew her in the 70s.

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  5. Thanks for your notes. No, I have yet to locate one.

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  6. There is no obituary for Bonnie. She did not want one nor any service.

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  7. No obit for Bonnie and she would NEVER had turned the reigns over to Rod Bradford. He knows why too. Let's leave it at that.

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  8. YOU PEOPLE WANT AN OBITUARY ON BONNIE? Just wait for the book to come out. I am writing her story, because she deserves to have it told truthfully. Rod Bradford will never stake his greedy hands on her life story. Idolize him, but wait til the book comes out and you will know his true colors. He is where he is today because Bonnie believed in him and trusted him. And he betrayed her. Stay tuned folks. Bonnie's not finished.

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    1. Ms. Hieronymous, thanks for your interesting comments. We don't "lionize" Rod Bradford, but state the facts as we understand them. His bio of D. M. Bennett is the only in-depth piece of work other than the two-volume 50 YEARS OF FREETHOUGHT - long out of print -- and the biographical extracts in THE TRUTHSEEKER itself. If you have a better person in mind to resurrect (pardon the term) and carry on THE TRUTHSEEKER, we'd happily notice the nomination.

      You make a valid point where Bonnie's wishes were concerned. We do know that she felt deeply betrayed -- she shared that with us personally. What I know from my own familiarity with the history of the TS and of freethought in general is that it has always been contentious and contested.

      Look forward to the forthcoming biography.

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