From Our Archives Sept. 2014
WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister
On Monday Sept 22, I went to the front door and picked up my LA TIMES, took it to the kitchen with my coffee, and gasped. A Huge OBIT was written for GERALD LARUE, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at USC, and one of my true “kindred spirits”, “role models” and friends.
He was 98 years old. An internationally respected scholar, a maverick, free thinker, humanist, and “Debunker of biblical stories” in the words of the LA TIMES. His books are treasures filled with the thousands of contradictions and errors in the bible… that the bible thumpers still comically claim is “without error” and “infallible”. It is very similar material to what I have been writing in my newspaper columns for 50 years, and what Joseph Campbell and other biblical scholars have been trying to teach the very gullible and naive public for years.
Our wonderful friendship started at a delightful and stimulating “book signing” event in that incredible book store on “Fashion Island” in Newport Beach, years ago. (Hope it is still there?) We both had written essays for a new book with the title of “THE BOOK YOUR CHURCH DOES NOT WANT YOU TO READ.” Essays included, not only present biblical and religious scholars, but also historical ones of monumental stature, such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, etc.
Director Rob Reiner has joined a new group called the Committee to Investigate Russia, to highlight what is known about the Russian threat to interfere with American elections and other institutions.
The committee went live today with a website at InvestigateRussia.org, as well as a video featuring Morgan Freeman. Reiner and David Frum of The Atlantic announced the launch of the group.
The committee’s advisory board members include Reiner; James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence; Charlie Sykes, the conservative political commentator; Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
The non-partisan committee features explanatory material on its website, as well as a social media campaign, daily newsletter, and breaking news updates. The announcement did not mention Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference and whether there were any connections to the campaign of Donald Trump.
According to an announcement, one of the reasons for forming the group is that, in contrast to the days of the Cold War, “it’s a lot harder to recognize today’s cyber attacks and espionage from Russia, but the goal is the same — to undermine our country. This isn’t about politics. This is about ensuring the Russians cannot wage war on us without Americans knowing it and making sure our elected leaders do something about it.”
Frum was special assistant to President George W. Bush. He is not an advisory board member, but has written extensively on Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign.
Reiner and his wife Michele were founding members of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which challenged California’s Proposition 8 in federal court. The state initiative was overturned, clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California and a prelude to marriage equality nationwide.
Disclaimer: In this piece we are offering a broad-brush advocacy for therapeutic psychedelic use coupled with rigorous scientific research. However we are research psychologists, not medical practitioners and we are not offering tailored medical or mental health advice. Furthermore, outside of narrow religious and research use, any psychedelic use is illegal in the U.S., and we do not recommend breaking the law.
Imagine a substance so powerful that, when used in the correct context, it could permanently change your personality in the direction of greater openness and inspire flow states of heightened creativity. It could help treat the depression or mood disorder that you’ve had to endure despite countless ineffective therapies. Indeed, although the substance is technically a drug, it could help you break addictions to other drugs. Finally, this substance could give you some of the most meaningful experiences of your life, including mystical ones imbued with an unrivaled sense of clarity, unity with your surroundings, and profound knowledge experienced at an intuitive level. If you were a religious sort, it could deeply strengthen your religious beliefs and spiritual connection.
Imagine what you could do with a substance like that in the interest of bettering yourself and the world, from helping you design incredible architecture like Machu Picchu or amazing technology like the iPhone, to easing suffering by providing people with a sense of meaning and peace with their own mortality. And imagine that this substance is incredibly inexpensive and easy to use. One might view this substance as a gift from heaven.
Well, the reality is that this substance—in fact, many forms of it—do exist. It has been used by humans around the world for millennia. It is known most commonly under the umbrella term of psychedelics although other terms like entheogens or hallucinogens are used. Classical psychedelics are those that bind with the Serotonin 2A receptor in critical regions of the brain for example psilocybin, DMT, mescaline, and LSD.
This article summarizes the ideas of Daniel Quinn, first written about in The Story of B, which was a sequel to Ishmael. The longer, original essay can be read here, and comes highly recommended, especially if you find yourself disagreeing with the summary below. Most disagreements we’ve read about have turned out to be misunderstandings, so please check the original before coming to conclusions.
The Great Forgetting refers to the wealth of knowledge that our culture lost when we adopted our new civilized lifestyle. The knowledge that allowed indigenous cultures to survive, the knowledge that we had once also been tribal and the understanding that we were but one mere culture of thousands. All of this disappeared in a few short generations.
The Great Forgetting accounts for an enormous cultural collapse as once tribal people found themselves in a new and strange mass centralized society. New beliefs, new ways of life rushed into this cultural vacuum to fill the void. But without being tested by natural selection over thousands of years this new culture was evolutionarily unstable.
It is only recently that the Great Forgetting has been exposed. Understanding it holds the key to making sense of our destructive culture. And remembering what it is that was forgotten holds the key to our future.
How The Great Forgetting Took Place
From The Friendly Atheist
In novels, plays, and motion pictures, it’s a well-known trope. From Star Wars to The Matrix, Lord of the Rings to Battlestar Galactica to Harry Potter and even Julius Caesar, there’s a prophecy, and the characters have been holding to it for many years — generations even. The problem is, the prophecy is so vague, no one can agree on its meaning.
Even when the prophecy’s fulfillment is readily apparent to some of the characters, others balk. In the rare cases there’s a general consensus regarding the prophecy’s fulfillment, it’s only post-fulfillment that such agreement arises, thereby rendering the prophecy sterile.
Why do storytellers resort to such flimsy devices? Why are the prophecies so unclear as to be left futile, if not completely useless? Probably because the authors of such works grew up being sold on the idea that prophecies are cryptic, an idea handed down to them from their religious upbringing.
Indeed, when trying to prove the Bible’s divine inspiration, a favorite recourse of fundamentalists is to point to prophecy. Among the more popular examples are: the Old Testament prophesied Jesus’ arrival, Daniel predicted the march of world powers, and Revelation predicts the end of days.
But we’re all rational people here. We know that for a prophecy to have any sort of merit, it must meet four basic requirements. Let’s consider them one by one.
1. The prophecy must have predictive power