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The Minneapolis Star and Tribune reported a story on Thursday that caught my attention. There was recently a presidential election in Turkmenistan and a new president was sworn in on Thursday. Probably only a handful of people could point out Turkmenistan on a map. It’s the country that borders Afghanistan and is known for its vast natural gas reserves, but what was interesting to me is the book that the new President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov swore his allegiance to during his inaugural ceremony.

President Berdymukhamedov was sworn in holding a book titled “Rukhnama.” It’s a nationalistic book full of Turkmenistan history and state policy. And it is also an authoritative moral guide on the same level as the Bible and the Koran. Turkmenistens call it the "Book of the Soul." Children are required to study it every day and former president Niyazov said diligent reading of it would guarantee a place in heaven. (Star Tribune, 15 February 2007)

The interesting point is that his predecessor said that diligent reading of this nationalistic and spiritual book would guarantee a place in heaven. But how does he know for sure?

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