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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

The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart

Gomes, Peter J. (1996).
New York: William Morrow.

ISBN: 0-688-13447-5

Description: hardcover, xvi + 383 pages.

Contents: Apologia, 16 chapters divided into 3 parts: 1. Opening the Bible, 2. The Use and Abuse of the Bible, 3. The True and Lively Word, afterword, notes, index.

Excerpt(s): Joy that is complete and full transcends, indeed overcomes, its context, and is not bound by the limitations of the context. Our eyes are opened, and having seen wholeness once we will want to see it again and again. Those who have had this experience are restless for another. This is what Augustine means, in his famous collect, when he prays, "Thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee."

How Do We Make It Our Own?
We don't. Timothy Leary and the culture of drugs that he spawned tried to manufacture joy and put into powders, potions, and pills, like the alchemists of old who tried to turn base things into something of beauty and worth. All they succeeded in doing was destroying all those who wanted shortcuts to joy. Joy is not a natural substance to be quarried, mined, or minted, and it doesn't belong to us as we imagine that property or ideas belong to us. That slightly crazed seer-poet William Blake, he who gave us "Jerusalem" the poem, not the city reminds us of this:

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise.

("Eternity," 1973)

We have known these moments, unbidden, surreptitious, elusive, in which by grace, perhaps in nature or in life, we have seen wholly and fully, if only for an instant, and we have been enraptured by an unexpected discovery, a vision, an incarnation, a manifestation. New fathers tell me that they have had such moments upon sharing the birth of their children with their wives. Women have told me of such moments coming to them as they have held the hand of a dying friend. A young Harvard undergraduate told me in tears of joy commingled with embarrassment that he had seen all heaven and earth in an instant of enlightenment while singing a hymn at the daily service of Morning Prayers in Appleton Chapel. Surely the Lord was in this place, and he knew it not.

I do not have to sell these moments of joy, these exaltations, to anyone, for we have all had them. All I can say is that we ought to recognize and cherish them for what they are: glimpses of holiness at the thin places that remind us that we are neither our own nor on our own. If ever there was a biblical principle for making sense and meaning, this is it. (pages 244-245)

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