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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 Search for God.

Schwarz, Hans. (1975).
Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg House.

ISBN: 0-8066-1470-6

Description: Hardcover, 288 pages.

Contents: Preface, The Search for God, 7 chapters divided into 3 parts: 1. God or No God, 2. A Search for Ultimates, 3. God's Self-disclosure in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, notes, bibliography, index of names, index of subjects, index of biblical references.

Excerpt(s): The English philologist John Allegro advanced a very interesting thesis concerning the origin of religion which because of the wide attention it received should at least be mentioned here. In his books The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross and The End of the Road he claims that religion can be explained as originating from orgiastic drug and fertility cults. ... Thus Christianity, like all other religious manifestations of the near East, was derived from a fertility cult first celebrated in ancient Sumer. Allegro finds the reason for pointing to Sumer in the fact that it was there that man first started to entrust his thoughts to written words. This means for him that Sumer encompasses mankind's whole (unwritten) history of thought.

But how is this fertility religiousness related to drugs? Allegro discovers the clue in the red-capped Amanita muscaria or toadstool. This mushroom contains in its cap several powerful drugs which can give users effects varying between light euphoria, extreme physical violence, or display of almost supernatural strength. ...

While the judgment might be true that Allegro's hypothesis "is unlikely to cause many sleepless nights in the theological faculties," in their general implications Allegro's observations deserve some attention. 1. We agree with Allegro that fertility cults do indeed play a major role in man's religions. This is true for the Canaanite Astarte cult in Israel's neighborhood as well as for the ancient mystic-orgiastic Cybele cult. Yet to reduce all religions to fertility cults overstates the point. It would have been good for Allegro not to confine his observations in Pan-Sumerian fashion to the ancient near East. Buddhism, for instance, would be very difficult to explain on the basis of a fertility cult. 2. Man's anxiety and fear are certainly conducive to a religious apotropaic attitude. Yet, as we will see, besides anxiety and fear there are other basic characteristics of religion. 3. As we have learned from Bonhoeffer, the sentiment that religion is only a transient phenomenon on man's way to adulthood is shared by many. ...

Yet we must ask: Is it only a lack of maturity that religiosity did not collapse as Marxists had projected long ago and as many seemingly enlightened people in the West still prophesy? Only an understanding of the basic structure of the major world religions can answer this perplexing question. (pages 100-102)

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