Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Reflections on the Manson Trial: Journal of a Pseudo-Juror.
Baer, Rosemary. (1972).
Waco, TX: Word Books.
Description: Hardcover, 175 pages.
Contents: Preface, 25 nunumbered chapters, notes.
Note: The author's husband was a juror in the Tate-La Bianca murder trial, which included information about the accused having used LSD. Imagining she was a juror, this book is a record of the author's thoughts during the trial, often having to do with her understanding of the Bible and of Christianity as they apply to the moral issues the tiral raises.
Excerpt(s): She [Linda Kasabian] was believable as a repentant sinner. For hours she answered questions about her use of drugs, her promiscuous relationships at the ranch, and her metaphysical beliefs. I copied this for later meditation: "I was as the principle of Charles Manson I did not like, the spirit of Charles Manson is the same as the universal spirit, which Jesus had, and I have ... No, when I was on drugs searching for the truth, I never saw Jesus. I wasn't too much into Christ at the time." ...
I am confused about more than courtroom procedure, it would appear. I am swayed, by a superficial physical resemblance, into an irrational, sentimental, and quite tentative approval of the villain. I am intrigued by the distorted philosophy he propounds. I recall when I personally have been "into Christ," when I too "felt real." is it blasphemous of me to remember another trial twenty centuries ago which ended with the unanswered question, "What is truth?" (page 28)
Throughout the day, Manson listened and smiled a lot. He was enjoying the day, obviously. His pupils got a lot of his teachings right, I suppose.
He himself has a lot of Christian theology right. where, I keep asking myself, did he come to the peak of his understanding and tumble over the precipice into the bottomless pit of which he spoke?
I flounder so helplessly, not only because I an untutored in philosophy and unskilled in theology, but because I am barred from talking about the subject. If I broach the topic of drugs or insanity or counterculture, people ask, "Is that what your husband thinks?" If I start with the words "Manson said ...", someone spits out a savage, "You tell that husband of your to skin that Satan alive and quit stalling around." I know several pastors who could help harness my skittering thoughts, but I don't want to put anyone in the position of possibly later having to admit on a witness stand that he had discussed the case with me.
The Tate-La Bianca case, it has been said, is not so much a trial of four defendants accused of seven and a half murders, as a trial of the long-haired, loose-living, group-sex, drug-oriented, hippie subculture by the established culture of our society. For me, at this point at least, it is a trial of Manson's death-is-life philosophy by the Christian perspective of death-unto-life. (pages 58-59)
Where do we find parallels in the Bible for this embracing of the death theme by violent mystics? Compare "You have to die to give life; you have to give up to become whole" in Poston's testimony with Romans 8:13b, RSV: "... if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live" and John 3:3a, RSV: "... unless one is born anew ...."
"You've got to give up who you are so that you can be me," Poston quoted Manson as saying. The Apostle John quoted Jesus in a similar admonition: "Abide in me ... apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4a,5d, RSV).
Perhaps the distortions in Manson's thinking come from absorbing only the first, conditional clauses of a passage and ignoring the conclusions. Take this example from Romans 6:5,6 RSV: "For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed...." Note that this appears to mean not the physical body as such, but the sinful self. Did Manson reject the conclusion as irrelevant? In verses 8, 10, and 11 (The italics are mine): "But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him ... The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."
When Manson was talking about killing the ego, did he pick only the first phrases of Ephesians 4:22-24, RSV — and reject the concluding description of the new nature — "created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness"? (pages 60-61)
Thursday, March 4, 1971. Defense attorney Maxwell Keith, the replacement for the still-missing Hughes, asked many questions of Dr. Keith S. Ditman, a psychiatrist specializing in the study of drug abuse. He said much the same as the man a couple days ago. LSD users are affected in both personality and mind. LSD makes users more impressionable, more open to the stimulus of suggestions. It changes their mores and value judgments, results in bizarre behavior, gives them an "unreality viewpoint."
No longer a moral problem!
No longer a blame-the-brain cop-out!
I've found the villain, the basic cause, and it's LSD. It's a chemical-medical problem. We do not yet have knowledge that LSD brain damage may not be reversible by chemical discoveries.
Let them live, while we research. (page 135)
A Dr. Joel Forte [sic] testified that LSD can make users highly malleable, convert their values and. under certain circumstances, "brainwash" or "program" them even to commit murder.
Unanswered is my question whether the trial is close to the end.
Psychologically, it is over for me. the matter described yesterday of locating the villain, the cause for the senseless lack of motive (i.e., the drug LSD), has so relieved my mind that the turmoil of bewilderment is past. I have three think-things to do for Christian education, so the alternative object of attention has been provided. I can begin to see "space" ahead. than god for this overseeing of my affairs, especially this supportive watchfulness over my "state of mind."
Were I a juror, I could vote now. (pages 136-137)
Mr. Fitzgerald told the jurors as he began his argument ... "The origin of the illness was in her infancy. She sought drugs in order to have feelings, communion. This is a medical, psychiatric, and social case. We need time and a clinical setting.
"This case may be the first of LSD murders. As a nation we need to know why and how, in order to prevent it from happening again. How many children are now using drugs in groups without adult supervision? How many children are alienated, abandoned, disturbed? Will it happen to our children, our children's children?" (pages 148-149)
It was the end of the counsels' four-part defense. Psychologically it was the end of the trial for me. But the prosecution has the privilege of rebuttal. Mr. Bugliosi brought in the Bible. regarding the fifth commandment he quoted the New English translation, dated 1970, as now rendered, "You shall not commit murder" rather than the old "Thou shalt not kill" so long used as the no-death-penalty argument against killing. In addition to Exodus 20:13, above, he cited Exodus 21:12 and 14 and Acts 25:11 to prove that the bible supports the death penalty.
The prosecution's stand is that whether or not the defendants were under the influence of LSD when the crimes were committed is a medical, not a legal problem, and must make no difference in pronouncing the sentence.
I disagree. "Under the influence," when used of LSD, unlike alcohol, does not imply a reaction period of mere hours. My admonition is Observe, Study, Redeem these girls and the future children of the world from the gassy chambers of LSD. (pages 149-150)
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