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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Chemical Ecstasy: Psychedelic Drugs and Religion.

Clark, Walter Houston. (1969).
New York: Sheed and Ward.

ISBN: 8362-0412-3

Description: First edition, xii + 197 pages.

Contents: Preface, 10 chapters, annotated selected references, index.

Excerpt(s): It is the terror, the joy and the risks of the religious life that are in some way inseparable from its effectiveness. Man approaches those most intimate concerns buried deeply within himself with dread, although he faces almost any danger that is open and plain to see with intrepid courage. It is not so much the statistical chance of things going wrong in the use of the psychedelics that produces the witch hunt, the hue and cry against those who misuse them. It is the fear of the unknown, of the "forms that swim and the shapes that creep under the waters of sleep" that so terrorize the ordinary man, both educated and uneducated.

This does not mean that there are not true risks, but that one must properly calculate them, then have the courage to act on the calculation. This has always been a large element in the progress of science, and it is always present in some form when high religion is involved, whether this religion is to be approached through the psychedelic drugs or in some other way. It is the only kind of religion for which brave men have any respect, and it is the only kind that works. A great deal of society's refusal to grant sufficient freedom for experimenting properly with the psychedelics can be blamed, not so much on knowledgeable caution relative to their dangers, as to this failure of nerve in the face of the unknown. (pages 127-128)

"Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God," said Jesus to the bewildered Nicodemus. This is exactly what some favored spirits have reported through the drugs. They found their lives by losing them. It is for these reasons that neither scholarship nor religious study, neither the university nor the church, not the scientist , nor the artist, the , nor the mystic can neglect informing himself of the opportunities for personal growth available through chemical ecstasy. At the very least, the inquiry requires a careful weighing of the facts, an unwillingness to be satisfied by social or scientific cliches about the matter. In a time of such hysteria over a controversial subject, the true intellectual and religious inquirer cannot rely on information from others, not even the most scientific hearsay. He dare not refuse to look himself through Galileo's telescope. (page 156)

In one way or another, it will be necessary for the churches to take notice of the drug movement. Many members of churches and synagogues have already taken notice, have tried the drugs and have left their ancestral faiths, convinced that church leaders are too timid and too blind to recognize their own best interests. (page 165)

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