War in Heaven is Hell

by Ron Hale-Evans (rwhe@ludism.org)

"The self-replicating ideas are conspiring to enslave our minds." -- Donald Going, in Douglas Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas

Suppose you're reading a book that claims you're under constant attack by invisible psychic vampires. You feel drowsy and listless, and sense, with some alarm, a malefic presence nearby. You thus conclude the book's thesis is correct -- until you look up, to see that the book itself is sucking your brain through a straw!

Such a book is War in Heaven, a "channeled" work by author Kyle Griffith, and I suggest you approach it with due caution, if very little respect. Griffith claims to demonstrate that Earth's history has been molded by two opposing conspiracies on the Astral Plane -- the Theocrats and the Invisible College. The Theocrats are a band of aethereal ex-human thugs who brainwash humans into believing them gods, and who literally eat the deluded souls after death in a grisly anti-Eucharist. Not only that; they also drain energy from living humans too. The Invisible College are an élite cadre of extraterrestrial spirits and psychically-trained human souls who combat the Theocrats magickally (and admit to a little brainwashing themselves).

Griffith calls his purported knowledge the "Great Secret" of occultism, and his awakening to this Great Secret "the breakthrough." Shoving his words into the Buddha's mouth and down our throats, he claims that the Buddha's "enlightenment" is nothing but Griffith's own "breakthrough." What's more, the appearance of the serpent in Genesis is a clue to the existence of the Good Guys. (There are clues in the New Testament too, but you have to read between the lines; most of it was dictated by the Bad Guys.)

And so on. Griffith is obviously an experienced skull farmer, and though he claims he is "neither smart enough nor crazy enough to have hallucinated it all," and also that he "really [doesn't] care if readers say they accept or reject the theories in this book," War in Heaven is a masterful piece of memetic engineering. Griffith also claims he doesn't want to make money, but there are indications near the end of the book that he's been hitting up rock stars for cash.

Like the paradoxical quotation that heads this article, Griffith's meme is trying to infect you, and when accused, will exclaim, "Little ol' me? Naw, it's THEM FELLERS OVER THERE!" Most "liberatory" meme complexes that preach an "awakening" (like Gurdjieff's Fourth Way and Zen Buddhism) do this to some extent, but War in Heaven is a particularly paranoid and unpleasant one, and I hesitate to call such a claustrophobogenic meme "liberatory." Rather, it's a new sort of predatory memetic life-form which camouflages itself as a meme that will free you, then eats your brain raw while you're looking the other way. Part of the problem with Griffith's scheme is that it's so appealing; he openly admits that he cribbed his cosmology from the Shaver Mystery, a 79-cent quasi-religion from Ray Palmer's 1950s SF pulps that featured evil dwarfs in subterranean caves beaming soul-shrivelling mind-rays at unsuspecting humans. The Shaver Mystery ate a lot of brains in its day, and its latest incarnation may do so as well.

As Karl Popper said of Marxism and Freudianism, War in Heaven "explains everything." UFOs, near-death experiences, and the rise of the Age of Reason are all traced to the activities of either the Invisible College or the Theocrats. A friend of mine calls this sort of oversimplistic scheme a "One-Thing Theory," and, because it provides a certain comforting certainty in a bewildering world, it's a darn good memetic ploy. (Of course, most readers of this magazine will see a few holes in Griffith's thesis; his book raises innumerable metaphysical questions, but never answers them.)

War in Heaven has most of the other time-tested makings of a successful meme too. The simplicity of Griffith's meme is a work of genius, and such simplicity is itself an important factor in memetic spread. His movement has a snappy name (Spiritual Revolutionaries) and a snappy logo, a five-pointed star with a `<' or Roman `C' within. It's got White Hats who fight Black Hats who enslave humans, thus fulfilling the villain-vs.-victim motif that has made world-class contenders of Nazism and lesbian separatism. It's got threats of punishment and promises of reward: if we don't believe Griffith, the Bad Guys will eat us, but if we pull together, we can save civilisation. It's got in-groups and out-groups: believers are "enlightened" and possess the "Great Secret of occultism"; non-believers are "Jesus junkies" and "cattle". Griffith even capitalises on the millennial frenzy of the 90s with some choice words about the "End Times."

Above all, War in Heaven is compelling science fiction -- just keep telling yourself it isn't real. If we use Robert Anton Wilson's simple IQ test -- that when your world is getting bigger and funnier, your intelligence is increasing, and when it's getting smaller and nastier, you're aimed the wrong direction -- then Griffith's true believers, the soi-disant "Spiritual Revolutionaries," are dumb, dumb, dumb.

And also funny. I hope your world stays big enough for you to see just how funny, because that's the real "breakthrough" about the War in Heaven.

Pending Griffith's permission to upload the book to FringeWare's FTP site (fat chance), War in Heaven is available on both Delphi and CompuServe in their respective New Age Forums. You can reach Griffith himself at spiritrebel@delphi.com.

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Ron Hale-Evans rwhe@ludism.org