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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 Seduction of the Spirit: The Use and Misuse of People's Religion.

Cox, Harvey. (1973).
New York: Simon and Schuster.

ISBN: 671-21525-6

Description: 350 pages.

Contents: Preface, 13 chapters divided into 3 parts: I. Testimony, II. People's Religion, III. The Electronic Icon, notes on sources, index.

Excerpt(s): I don't believe for a minute that all those terrifying "drug education" spots on TV will scare kids out of trying drugs. In fact, they may have the opposite effect. Everyone longs, sometimes secretly, to experience altered states of consciousness. Adolescents are intrigued by death and danger, not repulsed. How can people lure them into movies with the same symbols they somehow think will repel them from drugs? Our drug epidemic may or may not be a serious one. But I believe it is a symptom of a deeper cultural disease-the disappearance of legitimate occasions for ecstasy, trance, emotion and feeling, and the erosion of traditional rituals. When I was a kid, people got "high" at revivals and during other religious events. Everyone needs to experience that special kind of mental elation now and then. If we don't do it one way we will do it another. We won't outgrow drug abuse until those needs too, not just our needs for bread and housing, are cared for. Man does not live by bread alone. (page 41)

The mystics and contemplatives have served as the guardians and explorers of that uniquely human realm called "interiority ." I think we need them today, perhaps more than we ever have, precisely because authentic personal life is now so fatally threatened by an intrusive technical world. This may explain why we are seeing around us a spectacular rebirth of interest in meditation, Zen, Yoga and the classical contemplative disciplines. It is a renaissance of interiority, and it represents an instinct for survival by the jostled modern spirit. We are so relentlessly pounded today by messages and stimuli from without that we need support from any source whatever to learn again to listen to what comes from within. There is even good clinical evidence that these ancient spiritual practices help us "deautomatize" ourselves and teach us how to tune down our overdeveloped capacity for responding to external signals from the media and elsewhere. ...

"Interiority" may be another word for what Kierkegaard called "subjectivity" or for what an older tradition simply called the "soul." In any case, these different words all remind us that men and women are more than the sum total of all the social, economic and other forces that influence them. This in turn suggests, however, that the old religious fear, that somehow I can "lose my soul," is not as silly as we once supposed. I lose my soul if I become merely the sum total of all the external inputs. ... The renewed quest for interiority is a way of fighting the violation of our marrow we experience in an acquiring-consuming-competing society. (pages 93-96)

Paradoxically, faith is politically relevant only because it comes to any given moment with a perspective that seems a little out of phase, even odd, to those with no such perspective. This out-of-phase quality gives faith its leverage, its critical perspective and its capacity for moral suasion. (page 221)

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