The Doors of Perception is the title of a book about taking hallucinogenic drugs, especially LSD. It was written by Aldous Huxley almost 100 years ago, now. Jim Morrison, the late lead singer of The Doors read this book. It inspired the name he chose for his group. Timothy Leary read this book and became a prophet of LSD. I read the book back about 1966 or 1967. It took me until fall of 1968 to screw up the courage to try LSD. That first trip is an experience I will never forget, along with a few other memorable “trips.” “Trips” are what we called the experience of taking LSD.
The first trip was on a nice warm day in October, I think, as I was hanging around with some friends on the streets of Old Town in Chicago – the hippie district. The reason the trip was so memorable was that was when I called my father back in Furlong, Pennsylvania, to tell him that I was in Chicago and I was not coming back. A very interesting conversation, indeed.
About two years later, I was working at an auto parts store on the South Side of Chicago. I had recently moved in with the woman who became my second wife. We shared a large apartment on the North Side of Chicago, a couple blocks from an elevated train station. The reason that is important to this story is that I used public transportation, a bus and the elevated, to get back and forth to work. I had been there at the auto parts store for several months and had made friends with several of the guys who work there. One afternoon, when we were outside on a smoke break, one of the guys I knew handed me a little orange barrel shaped pill. I knew exactly what it was – a very, very good form of LSD called “orange sunshine.” It was recognized as one of the purest forms of acid available on the street. My friend said I should take this as I was leaving work and I would be tripping quite nicely by the time I got home an hour later.
Continue reading Through the Doors Of Perception
It’s hard to believe that it’s Halloween again already. I guess that’s one of the joys of getting older – time seems to fly when you’re having fun! Yes, getting older is fun! You get to sit around a lot and reflect on all kinds of crazy things. No pressure, no stress. I really enjoy being retired and being older. As the old saying goes, wisdom seems to come with age and I seem to have gained some wisdom finally.
Halloween is one of my most favorite holidays, not because of the celebration that we use on Halloween. Rather, it’s the contradiction between what Halloween really is and what it has become due to its “Christianization.” Halloween is the Christian rasterization of the ancient druidic holiday that celebrated the dead. As my son Michael just reminded me, it was also the celebration of the harvest. In traditional agrarian cultures, late fall was time to celebrate the end of the harvest and the preparations for winter. Days are getting shorter and shorter as we approach the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, the dying of the light.
Continue reading Happy Halloween!
What I want to talk about today is directly related to some of the stuff I’ve been talking about on my Christian Heresiology blog, especially the Digging Deeper articles(See right sidebar on homepage). It is my contention that we humans collectively shape our reality; that there is no reality outside of our collective consciousness. On an individual level, depending on the strength of our psyche, we can shape, to some extent, our own realities. If you have ever done any motivational training, or sale training, you have been exposed to a mundane form of this theory of mine. Not that this theory is original to me other than perhaps in the breadth that I use it.
Many religions, including Christianity, have mystic forms. In almost every form of mysticism, there is some variation of this idea of there being no reality beyond what we humans create for ourselves. One of the most ancient forms is in Hinduism that sees the world of reality as illusion. Buddhism also believes this to be true and that enlightenment for a Buddhist is to escape from this reality of illusion to a state of true reality. In some ways, this is what Christ was talking about in his kerygma. In my journey through my looking glass of religion, I have come to the conclusion that this escape to enlightenment, or whatever you want to call it, is what Christians call the Resurrection. Death is not the end of existence, neither spiritual or physical. It is only a doorway into a new level of perception(thanks to Aldous Huxley for that one).
In my trip through the looking glass I have explored, to some level or another, most of the major forms of what we term religion. That includes, of course, the five major religions as well as various forms of “paganism” and “witchcraft.” Looking back at all those religious experiences these past few years is what led to where I am now. I do not deny the existence of God; I do deny the existence of the Fundamentalist Judao/Christian/Islamic concept of God. That concept has led to the oppression of both ethnic and sexual minorities, all kinds of stupid wars and other rediculous acts of violence and a general oppression of intellectual freedom. Religious fundamentalists, of which at one time I was one, feel they have the monopoly on truth, which is hysterical, since truth changes over time. Contrary to what these people argue, there is no absolute truth, and there never has been. This belief in absolute truth and it’s corollary of a monopoly on truth is what Karl Marx was talking about when he said that religion is the opiate of the masses.
In the time that I’ve been away (see facebook for reasons) I’ve had time to give this series a lot of thought. Talking about some things in my past may not be all that edifying or even relevant to anything anymore, so I am going to ignore those areas. Some things that I -am- going to talk about may offend some people from my past. Unfortunately, that’s unavoidable, and hopefully they will understand and forgive me for any negativity.
When I was growing up, I was pretty much both a religious and political fundamentalist. It was not until I got away from home that I started really thinking for myself. To a certain extent, that is true of most people growing up. We are the products of our immediate social and cultural environment. In some ways, I was lucky that my mother died while I was a senior in High School. It was her death that actually set me free, although it has taken a lot of time to realize that. Much of my life has been spent trying to fill the emotional hole that her death left in me. It was not until I met Elizabeth in 1990 that I found someone who could fill said hole. Also, much of my life has been spent searching for, for the lack of a better way to express it, my own personal sense of truth. [I suggest you read my article “What is Truth” on my christianheresiology site to understand what I’m trying to say here] Truth is not objective; truth is relative to one’s position on the space-time continuum. It’s like the old Indian fable of the blind men and the elephant, what you see and what you know depends on where you are and what part of the elephant you perceive.
My search for truth has led me all over the place, but these meanderings have always followed the same two rivers. Religion, and politics, in the broadest sense of both cases. The failed marriages, the many different jobs, the multiple career paths are all nothing more than bends in those rivers. With an occasional waterfall or two.
What I have learned over the years of my meanderings is that we create who we are and often recreate who we are. I know I’ve gone through several manifestations of who I am in the 65 years of my life. I can honestly say that I am extremely happy and at peace with who I am. That person is so far removed from the person I was growing up that I seriously doubt most of my High School friends would really have any idea of who I am unless they have read my Facebook page or my blogs. In the next few posts, I will talk about my meanderings from fundamentalism to… Well, I’ll let you decide what you want to call where I am.
In thinking about how to organize the content of this series, I basically considered two different options: Either a purely chronological pattern or a series based themes. Either way, there would inevitably be some overlap of the two systems. Since my own thinking tends more to themes, I am going to use that approach as the central organizing characteristic of the rest of this series.
Given that religion is the overriding passion in my life these days, other than my family, I guess we will start with a discussion of my spiritual journey. This also allows me to respond much more fully to a question I got on Facebook from one of my former High School Classmates. She asked me if I had ever been a Fundamentalist; I replied that I had in my younger days. My own personal Fundamentalism was both in the area of religion and politics. Today, I’m going to focus on the religious Fundamentalism and save the political Fundamentalism for a later date.
I was baptized in the German Lutherine Church in Musberg but I was raised a Methodist. Why my parents converted, if you want to call it that, was not something I ever discussed with them. I suspect expediency had a lot to do with it (see previous posts). As a child, I went to Church regularly with my mother, my brother and my sister. My dad almost never went to Church. I’m not sure why. I was originally confirmed a Methodist, probably at the Willow Grove Methodist Church. I have a gilt-edged leather-bound Revised Standard version of The Bible that I received from Jenkintown Methodist Church when I was about seven or eight for being very good at memorizing Bible verses. I think that that particular competition is what put me off on future attempts to do memorization of Bible verses. To this day, I refuse to seriously work on memorizing Bible verses, although I do enjoy other forms of memorization.
Continue reading Confronting the Past Part Five
Christian Fundamentalists argue for a literal interpretation of the Bible. But that raises a very important question: which version of the Bible should we use? And in what language?
What language did God use when he told the Evangelists what to write? Was it the same language he used to tell Moses what to write in the first five books (the Pentateuch) of the Old\r\nTestament? Was that the same language God used to talk to David and Solomon or the Prophets? If one listens to some of the more extreme fundamentalists God speaks the English of the King James Version of the Bible. But modern editions of the King James Bible are written in modern English but in the style of the original edition. The words are not exactly the same. Continue reading What Language Does God Speak?