St. Mary Jane's?

by S. M. Hutchens

Receiving an article recounting the antics of a "church" devoted to the religious use of marijuana, I found myself asking how, indeed, could anyone whose chief devotional object is the amplification of religious feeling object to this—is there any metaphysical difference between one kind of neural ecstasy and another? As a Protestant, I tend to trace the confusion back to Schleiermacher's Gefühl, but he is actually no more than the chief modern apologist among liberal Protestants for a universal and pervasive phenomenon found in every religion, Christianity included so far as it is a "religion" (which no Christian should affirm that it is).

St. Paul tells us that when he was caught up into Paradise, he heard sublime discourse (hremata), unrepeatable on earth. I used to think his admonition not to be drunk with wine but filled with the Spirit (followed by "speak to one another . . .") was a bit of a throwaway line commending the obvious to introduce further text, but not anymore. Rather, he is contrasting authentic and inauthentic "religious" experience. Being filled with the Holy Spirit results in no oracular trances or enthusiastic loss of the senses but their strengthening and sharpening to engage the Word. And that is why this silly marijuana church—and any number of ecclesial opium dens with their more or less respectable methods of excitement—is no church at all.

S. M. Hutchens is a senior editor.

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