Mark Galli, who wrote about my transformative mystical experience under the influence of psilocybin-containing mushrooms in Christianity Today, revisits the subject in light of the recent spate of articles about the Hopkins research. I addressed his original article and how he labeled my beliefs about the experience “narcissistic” here, and he responded with some thoughtful comments.
In his current article, The End of Christianity as We Know It, he again mentions my experience, though he inaccurately labels me as a Roman Catholic (I was raised Roman Catholic, but haven’t considered myself a mainstream Christian, much less a Catholic, since I began to question Catholic dogma as a preteen). He also unwittingly makes the case for the Perennial Philosophy, best described by Aldous Huxley as:
…The metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being; the thing is immemorial and universal.
To his credit, Galli is a bit more open to the value of non-Christian mystical experiences in this recent piece, writing:
Some Christians balk at the artificiality of drug induced mysticism, but that may merely be an aesthetic distaste. In the long run, it may not end up being any more serious than those who at first thought it unnatural to use penicillin to heal infections.
But then, as I suppose he must as a writer for a magazine that calls itself “A magazine of evangelical conviction” (emphasis mine), he twists himself in knots to push the primacy of evangelical Christianity as the only true path to divinity. Which is a shame. I suspect Galli is a mystic, as he clearly understands the value of primary transcendent experiences, but he can’t break out of the dogmatic beliefs that insist there is only one true source of them—the man from Nazareth.
At the core of such fundamentalist dogma is a schism—a binary division that says “You’re either with us or against us.” It’s the fatal flaw of all fundamentalist religions, from Galli’s flavor of Christianity to the radical interpretations of Islam that propel fanatics to fly planes into buildings. Mystical awareness should be, and frequently is, the solvent for such literal interpretations, opening the minds of experiencers to deeper understandings of universal consciousness and the interconnectedness of all beings. To those who have had these profound and life-changing insights, religious squabbling over dogma, literal interpretations of ancient holy books, and the primacy of one version of God over another is like arguing over which shade of green is the real green.