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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 Mushroom and the Bride:
A Believer's Examination and Refutation of
J. M. Allegro's Book `The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross.'

Jacques, John H. (1970).
Derby, UK: The Citadel Press.

ISBN: None

Description: Hardcover, iv + 126 pages.

Contents: 9 chapters.

Excerpt(s): My main purpose in writing this book is to give my own personal reasons why I am not disturbed in my faith by John Allegro's views on the origins of Christianity and his assertion that Jesus Christ never existed but is merely a hidden way of referring to the sacred mushroom. I want to try and do this in a positive way; to take the facts that he presents, and where they are acceptable, so to reinterpret them as to show that they support the Christian position rather than the scepticism which Mr. Allegro favours. (page 19)

... Consequently, it is a basic presupposition of Mr. Allegro's method that if we can trace back the roots of words and religious practices to their Sumerian origin we shall have a clear idea of what they mean.

Here at the outset is where we begin to differ. Tracing words and practices back to their origin is a fascinating pursuit but it by no means follows that the remote ancestral beginnings of a modern activity or usage can determine whether it is valid and true for us to-day. Astronomy began as astrology; the history of medicine takes us back to some very questionable goings-on, while the whole of the scientific method can be seen to have affinities with the less well-founded activities of the primitive magician. Undoubtedly the origins of religion are often such as to seem debased and degrading to our more sophisticated minds, but such inauspicious beginnings do not mean that out of them much more worthy and edifying beliefs cannot emerge at a latter date.

So too with the origin of words; certainly we can trace the history of many words very far back but it would be a mistake to imagine that this is going to enlighten us as to their contemporary meanings. (pages 6-7)

Here I am content to make three brief points. First, I would say that Allegro's exposition of the New Testament is far too selective. He makes no reference to St. Paul, whose vivid letters to his converts are our earliest sources of information about the church and which certainly do not have the appearance of being the stylized products of a cryptographer. Secondly, Allegro's theory fails to explain the devotion to Jesus as a real person displayed by the New Testament writers. If they had known that He was only a literary construction, it seems unlikely that their loyalty to him would have been expressed in such realistically personal terms. Thirdly, the credibility gap between what is known of the history of the early church and the idea that it was a secret sect devoted to the fertility cult is too great to be bridged by so much etymological conjecture. But my main argument which I shall develop in the rest of this book is that the Jewish environment out of which Christianity emerged was such that it is impossible to believe that a fertility cult could have appeared in it, let alone have flourished in several forms (Christian, Essene and Zealot) as our author suggests. (pages 16-17)

Since Mr. Huxley wrote The Doors of Perception, the use of hallucinatory drugs, such as mescalin and L.S.D. to produce intense experiences of a religious and mystical kind has spread enormously and appears to be developing into a major problem in our civilization. ...

What are we to say to these things? Are they to be encouraged because of the alleged value and richness of the experiences, or stamped upon as dangerous and degrading? Dangerous they certainly are, but have they any value from a religious point of view? My own answer to this would be a very definitive, No. ... Religious experience for its own sake is not a Christian ideal; the search is not for experience, but for God. Those who resort to drugs in search of the Beatific Vision may imagine that they are transcending themselves but they never escape from the prison of their own experience. They become connoisseurs, searching for experiences as if they were collectors' pieces. Their descriptions are accounts of their own interior states which in the end are of interest to nobody but themselves.

... Indeed, it is strongly affirmed in the Christian tradition that there is something misguided and even wrong about trying to induce an experience of God. The rare intuition of God that is achieved by the genuine mystic is always regarded as a divine gift; to force it is impossible; even to expect it is a mistake. ... For the Christian, the basic religious experience is not the ecstasy of the mystical vision but the conviction that God is there and Jesus Christ is a personal Saviour. This is faith, which, in the end, depends not on a vivid experience [sic] or mystical vision but on the will; the will to believe. (pages 113-114)

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