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Recently we had the opportunity to read all about it in the Globe & Mail how Robert E. Lee Goodwin 111 was able to hustle his non existent Westminister College designation to bestow useless degrees.

We in London had our very own Philathea Bible College under the leadership of Bishop Ben Eckhard in the 1970's that bestowed post doctorate degrees to those who registered and sent along their cheques.

Ben was a very affable fellow who was the Pastoral leader of the Protestant Free Episcopal Church on Elizabeth Street in London East just behind my fatherís store, London Credit Jewelers on Dundas Street East. He was also President of Philathea College that was located in a one room empty building on Huron Street. There were no professors or students in attendance. A mail box was the only designation that a school of higher learning even existed.

Ben drove a very expensive car that had United Nations flashing light insignia in the back of the car. He also was the Padre of the City of London Police force for many years. Londonís principal radio station, CFPL gave him air time to pray for us wayward listeners at midnight.

Graduations were held the last week of June and Elizabeth Street was closed to the public to prepare for the graduation ceremonies. I was a young man in my twenties attending the University of Western Ontario and was amazed at the pomp and ceremony given to the celebration.

City of London Police Officers, Ontario Provincial Police and even the red surge of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police displaying their uniforms was captured by the media for posterity. City, provincial and federal politicians along with the judiciary in their flowing robes enjoyed the notoriety of being invited to attend the very prestigious graduations.

Graduating students with their caps and gowns proudly posed for pictures with their degrees in hand to the delight of their families.

The college was very kind and awarded honorary framed degrees to adorn the offices of those who attended the festivities.

Ben was a man of impeccably good fashion who was sure a ladies man. His new young wife was a very pretty petite well dressed young women. They were an item with her miniature poodle in hand strutting down Dundas Street for all to see. Minimum wage female sales clerks who worked on the Strip bristled at the sight and turned their backs to the display.

No boring lectures exams or dissertations to defend at Philathea. You paid your money and you took your chances. Everyone wanted something for nothing and Benny obliged and gave everyone nothing for something.

You may ask where is the harm? So called Doctoral students who used the embossed certificates were able to use them to bilk innocent clients from their money. But, it did not turn out to be so innocent. Some of these recipients of the degrees used their inflated designations as a licence to practice Psycho-Therapy in New York State.

One can only guess at the harm that the Doctorate designation from Philathea did to hundreds of innocent patients who were duped and hustled for their money?

The shit sure hit the fan when a man dressed as the Black Monk was arrested/tried in Kitchener for soliciting funds for his non-existent charity. His claim of innocence was that he was an illiterate only able to read and write his name. The Crown had evidence that he had a Doctorate from Philathea College. The press picked up the news of the deception and voila Philathea was history.

The sages teach us that: " since man to man is so unjust, I hardly know which one to trust; so you pay me cash to-day and I will trust you to-morrow." Like the philosopher, Socrates, with his magic lamp in hand we all try discern the truth from the hubris.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com