In a couple of interesting bits of synchronicity, recent news reports are tracking subjects covered this week on this blog.
The folks at Harvard have succeeded in using public pressure to get a student group to cancel a planned "satanic black mass," Bloomberg news reports.
This blog, of course, just covered an apparently similar ritual in Illuminatus! A sentence from the Bloomberg report: "The school’s administration had worked with students to ensure that no consecrated host, the sacramental wafer that’s been blessed by a priest and is used in the Eucharist ceremony, would be used to re-enact the black mass." A couple of sentences from Illuminatus! (page 118), "Padre Pederastia handed him the Host. 'I stole this from the church myself,' he whispered."
The whole Bloomberg story is worth reading; check out the priest representing the church that backed the Inquisition lecturing the rest of us on what a college campus should permit. There's a lot of the usual double talk about preserving freedom of inquiry from the college president, Drew Faust (love that last name), who had planned to attend a Catholic church to protest the black mass. Maybe she can look for female priests while she's there.
My informant for the Bloomberg News piece, John Merritt, also pointed me to the news that Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart has died. Information about her is here.
She was an important figure in the Church of All Worlds, the religion inspired by Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Robert Anton Wilson was intimately involved with those folks and published many articles in the group's journal, Green Egg, some of which you can read by clicking links on the right side of this page. Carole Cusack's book Invented Religions, mentioned in yesterday's blog post, has an excellent chapter on the Church of All Worlds.
Speaking of Stranger, Oz Fritz mentioned the book in his recent post on his blog on Aleister Crowley:
Crowley apparently had direct experience with followers misunderstanding his tantric teachings particularly in reference to the Agape Lodge that operated in Los Angeles around the end of his life. As recounted in The Unknown God by Martin Starr, Crowley basically fired the head of the Lodge, Wilfred Smith. Though I don't recall the specific reason he gave, he must have obviously thought that Smith wasn't doing a good job. It seems the Lodge may have turned into a bit of a love cult with Smith placing emphasis more on sexual conquest and endurance than on the postbiological activities, voyages, or magick it's meant to fuel.
Further evidence for this supposition might be found in the science fiction classic, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Heinlein had visited the Lodge, attending at least one party there, and was friends with Jack Parsons who took over the leadership of the Agape Lodge when Smith departed. Plausible rumor has it that Heinlein got the assignment to write a popular account of Crowley's teachings. I call it plausible because Stranger does read as an excellent presentation of Crowley's basic gist with the added benefit of only indirectly referring to him once with the mention of The Book of the Law thus avoiding the association of these liberating ideas with his sinister reputation. In Stranger, Heinlein seems to satirize, ridicule and skewer the whole love cult aspect of the new religion presented by the central protagonist Valentine Michael Smith. I suggest that this may have been a commentary on the Agape Lodge.
Apropos of this, did you see John Merritt's comment in yesterday's blog post? "One other thing: the June publication of the last volume of Bill Patterson’s biography of Robert Heinlein is undoubtedly going to cause a lot of speculation about the origins and meaning of Stranger in a Strange Land to be irrelevant. It should be interesting….. "