Storming Heaven: Whitley Strieber, Changing Images of Man, & Religious Engineering

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”
— Matthew 11:12

Next month, Whitley Strieber & Jeffrey Kripal (the chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University) are releasing The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained. I used to be a fan of Strieber, the popular writer, mystic, and “alien abductee.” Then, in 2008, I started looking more closely into his writings. In 2013 I uncovered a wealth of evidence suggesting that he—or at least his writings and the experiences that inspired them—were part of a vast, generational socio-spiritual engineering program. I wasn’t the first to reach this conclusion. The researcher Ty Brown (“Dream’s End”) wrote a series of thought-provoking pieces about Strieber in 2007, including research into the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and a report commissioned by the US Department of Education in 1973, called Changing Images of Man. Brown referred to the book as “a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream” and “nothing less than a blueprint for a vast social engineering project undertaken by the very highest levels of the military/industrial complex.” According to Brown and other researchers, “SRI was at the hub of just about every major development in the evolving ‘New Age’ community.” I still haven’t read the full report, but I have browsed it for some useful quotes, including this one, already cited by Brown and others:

Of special interest to the Western world is that Freemasonry tradition which played such a significant role in the birth of the United States of America, attested to by the symbolism of the Great Seal (on the back of the dollar bill). In this version of the transcendental image, the central emphasis is on the role of creative work in the life of the individual. (In “true Freemasonry” there is one lodge, the universe-and one brotherhood, everything that exists. Each person has the “privilege of labor,” of joining with the “Great Architect” in building more noble structures and thus serving in the divine plan.) Thus this version of the “new transcendentalism” (perhaps more than other versions imported from the East more recently) has the potentiality of reactivating the American symbols, reinterpreting the work ethic, supporting the basic concepts of a free-enterprise democratic society, and providing new meanings for the technological-industrial thrust. [Emphasis added]

The implications of this quote, Brown’s research, and the data I collected and organized in 2013 by studying Strieber’s opus, are that organized spirituality (or “new transcendentalism”) was at the very least coopted (and at worst created) as a means to prop up and inject new life into the Western capitalist system. While Images refers specifically to Freemasonry, there’s every reason to suppose that other spiritual and/or magical doctrines have been similarly “seeded” as carriers for an anything-but spiritual movement. Including the work of Strieber and, lately, Jeffrey Kripal, who wrote the biography of Esalen, as well as the foreword to Strieber’s 2012 book, Solving the Communion Enigma: What is to Come. Kripal also wrote a short essay called “The Traumatic Secret,” about George Bataille, the French intellectual who died in 1962. The article uses Strieber as an example of Kripal’s focal interest: the relationship between early trauma (often sexual in nature) and mystical states of realization. It begins with a quote from Solving the Communion Enigma: “Had I not as a child been brutalized by whoever this was, I don’t think that I ever would have been able to perceive the visitors.”

The visitors are Strieber’s name for supposed nonhuman beings which he came into contact with as a child, and eventually wrote about, in 1987, in the best-selling Communion, a book that had a massive influence on me, as well as hundreds of thousands, if not millions of other readers.

In the quote which Kripal uses, Strieber is referring to memories of abuse he suffered from around the age of four to nine as part of a government secret program allegedly carried out at the Randolph Air Force base, under the direction of someone he names “Dr. Antonio Krause” (unsubstantiated). Strieber first began to write publicly about these disturbing incidents at his website, Unknown Country, in March, 2000: “I went to classes at Randolph, and they were terrible, terrible experiences. Fear was everywhere, fear was my life. I believe that it is why my immune system shut down when I was seven. It was just the sheer stress of it all, stress so great that my little body literally tried to die. But I did not die. Instead, I went on to become quite at ease with close encounter experiences and to do what I have done with my life.”

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Jasun Horsley

Jasun Horsley

Existential detective. Liminalist author. Movie autist in chronic confessional mode. You only think you don't know who I am.
Jasun Horsley

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