Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Christian Mysticism: The Future of a Tradition.
Egan, Harvey D. (1984).
New York: Pueblo Publishing
xviii + 438 pages.
Contents: Foreword by
William Johnston, preface, 9 chapters,
chapter notes, index.
Excerpt(s): In the Latin
Church, however, the word "mysticism" was infrequently
used until the late Middle Ages. Broadly speaking, earlier Church
for example-used the word "contemplation" for what we
call "mysticism." Still, in the Christian mystical tradition
"mystical theology" gradually came to mean the knowledge
of God attained by direct, immediate, and ineffable contemplation.
It was distinguished from both "natural theology" (knowledge
of God obtained from creatures) and "dogmatic theology"
(knowledge of God received from revelation). It must be emphasized,
however, that the best of Christian tradition never reduced mysticism
to the psychological level nor dissociated it from its biblical,
liturgical, and sacramental basis. (page 3)
... When the lives of Aldous
Leary, and those recorded by drug researchers are compared to
the lives of the great Christian mystics, it is even more striking
how paltry psychedelic transformation is when compared to Christian
mystical transformation. (page 345)
To summarize, this author contends that most of
the claims made for the mystical effects of psychedelic drugs
are bogus. Most psychedelic experiences are nothing more than
low-grade, destructive alternations of consciousness that diminish
consciousness, integrity, and personality. They should be called
what they are: regressive, and often pernicious, pseudo-mystical
experiences. (page 345)
Some psychedelic experiences undoubtedly have religious
implications, however, and might be the catalyst for authentic
religious conversion. If well-timed beatings or even being struck
by a cannon ball (as in the case of St. Ignatius)
can be the occasion for Zen enlightenment and Christian conversion,
perhaps drugs can be the same "trigger." They may function
in the same way that alcohol can cause a person to sink into such
misery that he is forced to rethink and do something about his
Some psychedelic experiences resemble genuine Christian
mystical experiences in the same way that self-induced and demonically
induced experiences likewise resemble them. Infused contemplation,
the devil, the pathological self, and psychedelic
drugs all have the ability to awaken deep levels of the psyche
and to bring about secondary or charismatic mystical phenomena.
But the same discernment that genuine Christian mystics have always
used to differentiate God-induced phenomena from phenomena induced
by other factors must be applied to psychedelic drug experiences.
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Compilation copyright © 1995 2001 CSP