‘A natural and, perhaps, even necessary component of spirituality’

Out of Wyoming, firm proponent of self-ownership Mama Liberty has weighed in with a thoughtful commentary on “The Testament of James” (here), focusing on what the tale tells us about the nature of organized religion, and its relation to social control.

“Some people got together and figured out how to use the belief or disbelief of people to their own advantage, to gain control over the people themselves,” as she puts it. “It’s been going on for most of recorded history, and probably before that. . . . It is obviously in the best interest of those controllers not to encourage or allow any competing beliefs among those they control, and new or different stories might just become a threat to their power. . . . People are easy to manipulate if they can be convinced that anyone or anything ‘different’ is threatening, that those who do not believe as they do must be less than human.”

Many an American or European reader will doubtless respond to this summary by preening “Not us; we’re enlightened; we tolerate and even welcome religious diversity.”

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Really? This week’s revelations by Zvika Klein, of the Jewish news outlet NRG, of what happens when a Jew wearing a yarmulke walks silently and peacefully through the streets of Paris, might rock some of that complacency.

Even here in America, where Latin men walking arm-in-arm have been attacked and beaten with baseball bats on the false belief this meant they were gay (as though that were grounds for attacking anyone), such smugness about our “tolerance” seems awfully selective.

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Why is it Native Americans must prove their “percentage of racial blood” to the federal government to be conditionally “allowed” to peacefully practice their peyote religion — so that a father of “37 percent native blood” may not be “allowed” to share his religious faith and sacrament with a son or daughter of “only 19 percent native blood”? (Also see here.)

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BYPASSING ESTABLISHED PRIESTHOOD HIERARCHIES

In fact, Terence McKenna may have best summarized the current situation in his 1984 “High Frontiers” interview: “Unfortunately, religion for the past 500 years has been a hierarchical pyramid at whose tops were theologians interpreting dogma. This interpretation was handed down through a hierarchy to the faithful. I think religious hierarchies are very unsettled by the idea of direct revelation.”

I’d put that at more than 1,600 years, though McKenna doubtless refers to the hysterical eradication of the entheogen-based religions of the witches and then of the Mesoamericans, about 500 years ago.

It’s increasingly hard to believe humankind went accidentally from thankful, respectful, and enthusiastic employment of visionary plant sacraments (which McKenna argues facilitated the development of language and the human intellect as we know it), found in almost all “stone age” cultures, both contemporary and archaeological — and even in Hellenic culture until the eradication of the Eleusinian Mysteries — to today’s frenzied insistence on eradication of all these “demon plants,” and even unknown molecules which might bear any RESEMBLANCE to the active components of those plants.

Why is soma now missing from religious practice in India? Why is the manna now missing from religious practice in the Judeo-Christian Holy Land? Couldn’t that be because these long suppressed plant sacraments provide a direct and highly efficacious route to religious revelation, bypassing established (and highly lucrative) priesthood hierarchies, in which we must now include “government licensed medical doctors”?

McKenna, again: “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

How would today’s “tolerant” America respond to a church that declared LSD to be its sacrament, rendering irrelevant any intervening priesthood, fake celibates desperately scrabbling to prescribe sterile and ineffective ritual in place of direct revelation? With outrage and long prison terms, of course, disguised behind a bunch of pathetic chest-beating about “Kids staring at the sun till they go blind” and “people stoned on narcotic LSD driving around on the highways” — when we all know the drug that causes the huge majority of traffic accidents is perfectly legal alcohol.

This is one of the themes of my next novel from the case files of Matthew Hunter and Chantal Stevens, “The Miskatonic Manuscript,” which asks “What if they fought a War on Drugs, and someone fought back?”

‘A CAPTIVATING STORY’

Anyway, back to Mama Susan’s new and welcome posting on “The Testament of James,” the theme of which was probably best summarized by cover designer Bear Bussjaeger as “The War on Drugs is Older Than You Think”:

Mama Liberty finds it a “captivating story of people who have possibly discovered a book, supposedly written by someone in a position to know, that pretty much stands most Christianity on its head, contradicting the most basic of the stories written centuries ago about the death of the central character, Jesus.

“The characters are unique (and classic Suprynowicz);” she continues, “honestly human, fallible and thereby delightful. The plot is clever, yet not cluttered with false clues or digressions. The settings, the main one in a rare book store, are also very real, with attention to relevant detail that makes them come alive.

“The very serious sub-theme, that hallucinatory drugs are somehow a natural and, perhaps, even necessary component of spirituality and religious expression,” she concludes, offers “serious food for thought, for all those who do not fear what is different or challenging to their deepest learned beliefs.

“This book is just the first of those challenges. I’m looking forward to reading all of them.”

Plans proceed to offer “The Miskatonic Manuscript” sometime in 2015, hopefully while some of the 650 signed, hardcover first edition copies of “The Testament of James” remain. There are currently no plans to issue any more.

One Comment to “‘A natural and, perhaps, even necessary component of spirituality’”

  1. MamaLiberty Says:

    Two kinds of people in the world… those who think they own other people, and those who know they only own themselves. Unfortunately, the first seems to be the vast majority. They spend their entire lives as whirling dervishes, trying to control everything and everyone else, one way or another. They have no idea how to live as free individuals, don’t want to learn, and will attempt to cage or kill any who get the idea.

    Stop the world… I want to get off.

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