My Dear Turned-Off Brothers:

Theological reflection turns up in most unexpected places these days. Perusing the Berkeley Barb, the underground tabloid of California acidheads, I was confronted by the headline: “Did Jesus Turn On?” Stationed as I am on the frontier of contemporary theology, I could not avoid this article, especially since it claimed that “psychedelic or alchemic enlightenment may have supplied the mystic heart of Western religion with its life blood.”

Authors Thaddeus and Rita Ashby, recipients of a research grant to investigate LSD and creativity, assert that psychedelic plants are referred to in the Bible and that these may well have been responsible for many biblical events better described as LSD experiences. For example, the manna from heaven may have been “magic mushrooms.” And did the Israelites dig those crazy toadstools!

Our psychedelic theologues hypothesize that Jesus’ first contact with drugs came from the wise men’s myrrh. From this opiate he may have “graduated” to psychedelics. They further claim that Jesus probably had more than his share of natural LSD so that he was divinely “turned on in front” at birth. But Jesus’ superior endowment of natural LSD did not prevent him, they say, from “turning on artificially” by eating herbs and wild psychedelic flowers.

The Ashbys, however, would not have us think less of a prophet’s authority and visions now that we have a scientific explanation of alchemic inspiration. No, sir! After all, did not William James say, “We judge trees by their fruits, not by their fertilizer?”

Before you summarily turn from the acidhead school of theology, consider the service the psychedeliacs have rendered for the community of professional theologians. To men who have become ...

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