The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
Woman Claims To Be Descendant of Jesus Christ (And Gets Huge Book Deal)
Status: Clever marketing scheme
Kathleen McGowan claims to be a descendant of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. That belief would make her no different than all the other people in this world suffering from delusions of grandeur, except that she's managed to leverage her extraordinary claim of ancestry into a major book deal. Simon & Schuster will soon be publishing her novel, The Expected One, with a print-run of 250,000 copies. The book is a loose fictionalization of her claim. She wanted to publish it as nonfiction but explains that she couldn't do so because "she couldn't make public the sources she developed while researching and writing her book."

Many might view McGowan's novel and ancestry claim as an extraordinarily brazen Da Vinci Code rip-off. But not so, she says. And she's quite right. I think it's actually a Holy Blood, Holy Grail rip-off (as was the Da Vinci Code itself). And I have to hand it to her that it is a clever way to cash in on the religious thriller mania that Holy Blood, Holy Grail and the Da Vinci Code have inspired.

As proof of her ancestry, McGowan says that she's had visions of Mary Magdalene. She also claims to have genealogical records passed down through her family during the past two thousand years. But, of course, she's not sharing these documents with anyone.

What I find interesting (though not surprising) are the comments in support of her ancestry claim from the editor-in-chief of Touchstone and her literary agent. Her editor says, "Yes, I believe her. Her passion and her mission are so strong, how can she not be?"

And her agent says, "She spent 20 years of her life researching this subject. You have to give her any benefit of the doubt because she's totally rational. I believe her absolutely. She had total credibility with me from the very beginning."

In other words, her editor and agent seem to be arguing that as long as someone is fanatical enough about what they claim, then they must be right, even if they offer no evidence to support what they're saying. Unfortunately, most of the people in the world probably would agree with this sentiment.
Literature/LanguageReligion
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 21, 2006 Comments (26)
I believe there are plenty of people dumb enough to take her seriously. Occam's razor should be required study in school.
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Fri Jul 21, 2006  at  08:02 PM
If Jesus did exist and did have offspring, his line would either have died out after a very few number of generations (as did William Shakespeare's) or millions of people would be able to count themselves among his descendents.
Posted by Joe  on  Sat Jul 22, 2006  at  12:25 AM
I read this woman's story on some website the other night. She reminded me of when I worked outside the White House back in the mid to late 90's. There are a LOT of crazy people who gravitate to the House because they "need" to tell the President something. I knew not one, but two, Second Comings--people who believed they were the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. While they were most certainly paranoid-schizophrenics, they were VERY entertaining to talk to.

This woman is either bullgoose loony, like my pals on Pennsylvania Avenue or she's a very savvy self-promoter.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sat Jul 22, 2006  at  03:25 AM
The USA Today article includes these paragraphs..

So far, McGowan [the author] is offering only her word about her lineage and only hints at her proof. In addition to the visions, she says, she has discovered that her family is related to an ancient French lineage that traces its roots to Jesus and Mary Magdalene's descendants. Legend holds that Mary Magdalene settled in France after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. "That's all I'm prepared to say right now," McGowan says. Some members of her family, she explains, want her to respect their privacy and not discuss it.

Despite the lack of hard evidence, McGowan's supporters include her literary agent Larry Kirshbaum, who left his position as CEO of Time Warner Books in December to start his own literary agency. McGowan was one of his first clients and he helped her get a seven-figure, three-book deal with Simon & Schuster.

Kirshbaum believes McGowan when she says she is a descendant of Mary Magdalene. "I feel she's entirely credible," says Kirshbaum.

McGowan originally planned to write "The Expected One" as non-fiction but says she couldn't make public the sources she developed while researching and writing her book.

=======

I would add there is precedent for agent Kirshbaum in this situation. As CEO of Warner Books he also oversaw the Little, Brown imprint. In 1997, the imprint was going to publish a book titled "The City of Light," which was purportedly based on the diaries of one Jacob of Acona, who was said to have explored China ahead of Marco Polo. The book had been published in England, but right before its release in the U.S. it was about to be debunked in a NYT book review by Jonathan Spence, a specialist on China at Yale. Kirshbaum withdrew the book from publication to avoid embarassment. The author, David Selbourne, consistently refused to produce the diaries that were purportedly the basis of his book, which of course raised strong suspicion that the whole thing was a hoax.

Likewise, regarding this woman's book, USA Today has the following quote: "I'm always a little suspicious when people say, 'I've got all this information but I just can't tell you. If you only knew, then you'd believe it, too. So just take my word for it.' That's not how scholarship works," says Marvin Meyer, a professor of Bible and Christian Studies at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

=======

On Jacob of Acona and Little, Brown see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_of_Ancona

AND

http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/10/19/reviews/971019.19spencet.html
Posted by Mperk2000  on  Sat Jul 22, 2006  at  07:05 AM
Hmm. Kathleen McGowan says she has proof she's descended from Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, except she can't let us see any of the top-secret evidence.

George W. Bush says he has proof that Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, except he can't let us see any of the top-secret evidence.

Bush's deputies say all the people they're imprisoning without trial and torturing around the world are a threat to our national security, except they can't let us see any of the top-secret evidence.

... Nope, I can't see any similarity there.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Wheaton, Illinois  on  Sat Jul 22, 2006  at  09:56 AM
I'm somewhat proud to say I stirred clear of the whole Da Vinci Code mania--book, movie, game, gossip... wait, what am I doing?
Posted by Gutza  on  Sat Jul 22, 2006  at  11:21 PM
She can't be a descendent of Jesus! Her name is not Kathleen Christ Superstar! All of Jesus' descendent carried his name - such as Sarah Christ Superstar, Bubba Christ Superstar and Ted Turner Christ Superstar. Don't be fooled.
Posted by superstar descendent  in  where its at  on  Mon Jul 24, 2006  at  11:03 PM
This Gnostic-type garbage was debunked decades ago... actually, it was debunked over 1700 years ago. Excuse me, though, don't let me spoil the fun by pointing out the facts.
Posted by Dano  on  Fri Jul 28, 2006  at  01:42 AM
So was Christianity, but nobody ever let that stop them. wink
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Fri Jul 28, 2006  at  11:02 AM
There is one slight problem with Miss McGowan's claims about her lineage and the "secrecy" she claims is so necessary. There is a web site where a woman DID post her lineage straight back to Jesus and Magdalene, names, dates, and all. No secrets or secret plots. No commercial hype. No rants about being "The Chosen One."

Here's my geneaology. What can we make of this together? I like that approach much better.

Just the facts, ma'm.

Maybe Kathleen's "sources" and inspiration for this story haven't been in France, as she claims, but on the internet all this time under the guise of others who had their geneology clearly visible long before, but never engaged in all the hype.

Under such circumstances, I'll wager a bet the lawyers will get all the money.
Posted by Ambrosia  in  Hawaii  on  Sun Jul 30, 2006  at  08:41 AM
Big ruckus at the amazon.com forum about McGowan's claims. Lawsuit paradise there!
Seems McGowan has been trying book ripoff schemes and making money at it for years. Three, count em, three previous encounters with the law in her past life as an "author" getting material in questionable ways.
Can't imagine how editors at Simon and Shuster got so hoodwinked.
Such is the sad decline of good literature and good editors in the USA.
Posted by Cameron  in  New Mexico  on  Sat Sep 02, 2006  at  12:27 AM
Cameron posts: Big ruckus at the amazon.com forum about McGowan's claims. Lawsuit paradise there! Seems McGowan has been trying book ripoff schemes and making money at it for years. Three, count em, three previous encounters with the law in her past life as an "author" getting material in questionable ways.
Cameron, I know McGowan. This is all lies. You post these lies as if you really like to promote the agenda of those posting the lies. How can you read something and post it as if it's true? If you picked up the paper tomorrow and the headline read "Cameron is a drug dealer" would you want everyobe who read that to post it all over the internet without saying this may not be true? Its lies, you know it's lies but those with an agenda use lies and propaganda to liable others. You are helping them. Maybe that is your agenda. Is it?
Posted by Clarence  in  San Francisco  on  Sun Sep 17, 2006  at  03:09 AM
Clarence, she's lying about being a decendant of Christ. Nothing else about her really matters.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Sun Sep 17, 2006  at  03:32 AM
Clarence,
This is not about liable.

Criticism is one thing. Liable is another.
Do you know the difference? The information is from first hand accounts.

Let's look at the book reviews first.
The good book reviews at amazon are not from established reviewers, just one shot deals..highy suspicious.

The bad book reviews say McGowan can't write. The book is awful. Material appeared in other books before hers that she claims she "never read."
Did McGowan forget her numerous appearances in the Gardner forums and others?

Leaving her husband and children to cope with
babysitting, laundry, mortgage payments and food bills while she wanders half dazed on French "expeditions" wearing expensive perfumes and designer shoes, she gets visions. Most rational grounded people dont leave their families in dire situations to indulge themselves and most sane people just don't get visions from famous people just before they release a new book. Once, maybe it could be believed, but two or three times?

And over here folks,I have this bridge for sale.

This can't be slander and liable on the internet because these are statements directly from McGowan herself, and from people who had first-hand knowledge about her. No liable there. Just facts.

USA Today has the following quote:

"I'm always a little suspicious when people say, 'I've got all this information but I just can't tell you. If you only knew, then you'd believe it too. So just take my word for it.' That's not how scholarship works," says Marvin Meyer, a professor of Bible and Christian Studies at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

The good reviews may be very good (especially if written by the author and her family as some have suggested) but the bad reviews tell the real truth.

Finally, there are the unanswered questions to Simon and Schuster. Is this a "first book
Posted by James  on  Mon Sep 18, 2006  at  12:37 PM
Wow...that's a lot of information to digest, but important to know. If I were Jesus and Magdalene, I'd be downright embarressed to have grandkids like that bragging about being related to me, and hope they don't intend to ask me for a loan.
Posted by Alice  on  Tue Sep 19, 2006  at  10:45 AM
The author of this book has provided us, in her own words, why this book should be avoided. This is what she wrote when attacking Sylvia Browne and the "Mystical Life of Jesus."

"Please be very very wary of anyone who puts herself on a book cover in full technicolor with a title like "If you could see what I see" or whatever whatever elititist tripe. Ick. ""

Then she goes on to advise us all that only her visions are valid, according to her and her book:

"There is an element of 'Truth against the World' that makes it imperitive for me to speak out against the phonies that become superstars in the name of 'spiritual publishing."

Oh my God. What elitist dillusions are these in the mind of McGowan?
Posted by Moonriver  on  Mon Nov 27, 2006  at  08:41 AM
I am on McGowan's yahoo forum. (go to http://www.theexpectedone.com/expected/forum.htm)I asked questions and got answers directly from McGowan and those who know her.

Suzzanne Olsson is posting all these lies. You will find her hate splattered all over the internet. She can be found at the following address

http://www.therefinersfire.org/challenging_suzanne_olsson.htm

Also go to
http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/former_irish_news_editor_direct_descendant_of_jesus/P25/

Click on the names longbow,tom,joe and you will see this is the same wacko who
Posted by alan  on  Thu Dec 07, 2006  at  01:43 PM
Regardless of how unreliable her detractors might be, you still can't escape the fact that McGowan is lying in order to sell her book. She's not exactly a paragon of virtue herself.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Thu Dec 07, 2006  at  02:22 PM
regsrding a post by Charybdis in Hell. How do you really really know what you are accusing McGowan off is true.How do you know. You read it , right. I read a story once that a car didn't stop at a check point and so the cops fired in self defence. I was there the car stopped the cops fired.

I read that the man had a gun and so the cops fired in self defense. I then found out from paying attention to the story months later that the man was not armed but was shot because hel looked like a terrorist.

People have agendas like yours. They post a few lies and then quote each other. Suxanne Olsson quotes Robin Crookshank, Crookhank quothes Theresa Welsh and visa versa. Then you all come here using different names and continue lying. People are on to you just go to http://www.theexpectedone.com and click on Guestbook.
Posted by alan  on  Sat Jan 06, 2007  at  04:04 AM
I'm a decendent from Santa Claus.
Posted by Kris  in  North Pole  on  Sat Jan 13, 2007  at  08:55 AM
Kris in North Pole said:

"I'm a decendent from Santa Claus."

I asked your predecessor for a lot of things when I was a kid that I never got.

You OWE me, mofo!
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Jan 14, 2007  at  08:30 PM
Just curious, but why did people from McGowan's own forum turn on her and publish in McGowan's own words her admissions that she lied about the ring on national TV, and she even lied about her own book..and she lied on Beliefnet when she claimed to be the 'first and only Jesus decendent to come forward' She knew there were several in her own forum who had websites online.

The same forum members even published a paragraph from McGowan's book (ya know, the only part of the book anyone says was well-written it was a quote from the Kolbrin)and pages from Olsson's website published two years before..and it's almost a perfect match. Even 'The Way' of Yesua was published first by Olsson.If all this is added togther it adds up to a LOT of copying!

Olsson wrote a public letter to McGowan that is on the internet and sounded very stressed that McGowan did these things.

No matter what Simon and Schuster 'claims' to tell McGowan (and I doubt they'd make such a claim without first having a legal hearing) it's for the law to decide, not for Kathleen McGowan to decide..and not for S & S to decide if the work was taken from Sue Olsson.

I haven't seen any claims that Olsson did anything to McGowan, but if someone published even one line of my work and claimed it was their own, and got a heap of money for it, I wouldn't be as nice as Olsson. I'd have slammed their arse into court and blasted their names all across the front pages, and exposed them for what they really are long before this.

What have you been waiting for Sue? I think you have been too kind to McGowan for too long.
Posted by Natalie (real name)  in  Honolulu  on  Fri Jan 19, 2007  at  01:20 AM
Suzzanne Olsson in hell (above)would fight you on that one Kris. She wrote an idea on a napkin once that stated in part that she was Santa Suzzanne Claus:)I sense a law suit
Posted by alan  on  Sun Feb 25, 2007  at  11:19 AM
Gee one two bit hack writer rips of an out of date conspiracy theory and every one has to jump on the band wagon. Its amazing that despite the volume of refferences both christian and non to the life of christ not a single one mentions or implies he was ever married let alone had children. Personally I think the holy grail was a plot device invented by midevil authors and that the cup for the las supper has probably since decayed, been destroyed, melted down or other wise no longer exists.
Posted by Kevin  in  Doylestown  on  Sat Mar 10, 2007  at  06:28 PM
I read this book called the "secret war" by Heidi Hollis. And It was a sopposeadly true story of these "shadow people" that are trying to take over the world. It was so unbelieveable. And the research was based on fiction books for a true story! My mom says she must be nuts!
Posted by exmortisfangirl  on  Mon Jan 28, 2008  at  04:59 PM
McGowan who? what she say? lord another quack....please don't let her own guns...
Posted by truth seaker  in  mississippi  on  Sat Aug 10, 2013  at  09:21 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.