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from the saved-by-the-hell dept.
What went wrong with Eric Pryor's salvation?
On Halloween night of 1990, evangelist Larry Lea brought a massive Evangelical Crusade to the San Francisco Civic Auditorium, promoting a world-wide spiritual cleansing program that he dubbed "Spiritual Warfare". Many other high-profile Bay Area evangelists were on hand for this event, including Jubilee Christian Center's Dick Bernal, who was also one of the pioneers and founders of the "Spiritual Warfare" movement, along with Lea and other ministers.
A very visible but dubious Pagan named Eric Pryor made a dramatic showing outside the Civic Auditorium that night, burning Bibles, casting curses, making a big show for the television cameras that promoted his image nationally (ABC News) and even internationally. Eric had been appearing on various talk shows and generating publicity in newspapers and magazines for a number of months promoting his protest of the Evangelical event.
On Halloween night 1990, Eric Pryor became a Christian.
I was one of the people outside the Civic Auditorium that night myself, handing out laser printed copies of "The Hymn to Pan" to Christians and non-Christians alike, but I don't recall seeing Eric Pryor or his demonstration, though there were an awful lot of ashes, burned candles, and various other trappings of a large Pagan protest littered about in the area in front of the Civic. I did not hear of Eric Pryor or his story until a couple of months later.
I became a Christian myself in unrelated circumstances on November 17th of that year. Upon attending Christian Churches for pretty much the first time in my life, I recall hearing rather a lot about this Pryor character -- "The Witch Who Switched." One night in early 1991 while attending Jubilee Christian center in San Jose, near the end of the service Pastor Dick Bernal began saying that there was someone else in the room, a former pagan, who was struggling with issues of "Kinky Pagan Sex." He basically began reading my mind, exposing all of my secrets to the congregation. This went on for an embarrassingly long time. He continued to say that this person was in the room and needed to come to the altar for "healing," at one point, even looking right at me. Eventually, wanting to just end this and go home more than anything else, I walked to the altar and knelt to be prayed for. The audience gave me a "standing ovation" and I felt more than a little pissed-off and manipulated about the whole thing. (It has been pointed out to me that this is something of a well known parlor trick method of "mind-reading" since nearly everyone is always thinking of sex.)
As I rose from the "laying on of hands" by several of the Associate Pastors of JCC I felt a pair of arms embrace me from behind, and a voice began to speak into my ear. It was Eric Pryor.
I knew Eric for a period of time, although I went my own ways wandering and searching for God -- at one point studying Catholicism for three years with intent to postulate at a Monastery in Big Sur as a Benedictine. Jubilee Christian Center was, and still is, far from my cup of tea. But in all of my experiences with Eric, I never experienced him as anything but a nice guy. A little goofy, a little high strung on occasions, but never anything but nice.
Jubilee paid something on the order of $1000/week to prostitute Eric as an evangelical puppet and a Junior Pastor. Even as a Christian, Eric discussed Goetia and Abramelin magic with me, though urged me that it was in confidence, since he couldn't be caught discussing that kind of stuff by the other pastors of Jubilee. Eric once projected an image into my head, a vivid image of a meerschaum pipe and an oil-painted hand in the style of Michelangelo, and said to me, "Put that in your pipe and smoke it!" It was like a little gift.
An overwhelming majority of people tell a different kind of tale about him.
After the events of the previous story, Eric began to experience a very disturbing downward spiral that was documented in the Silicon Valley Metro.
I read a half page article in a local paper in Aptos, California in 1999 about an incident where Eric was picked up on a combination of Jack Daniels, LSD, Heroin and Cocaine, screaming that he was a Satanist and a Black Magician, wielding a knife and shouting that he was going to kill his neighbor. I am unaware of Eric's whereabouts today, or if he is even still alive. It seems almost certain that he did some prison time, he may still be in prison somewhere, I don't know.
One thing that a number of people (who did not know Eric as well as I) have concluded is that apparently he was a Christian before the "conversion" and the whole thing was a hoax. I can tell you with a fair degree of certainty this is not the case. On 10/31/90, Eric Pryor had long, stringy bleached blonde hair, was thin as a rail, and was quite freaky looking. He looked like -- and apparently was -- a heroin addict. It has been fairly well documented in a number of places, on the Internet and elsewhere, that the motivation behind Pryor's "conversion" was at least as much money as legitimate evangelism. I have every reason to believe that Eric's acceptance of Jesus and his teachings was every bit as authentic as my own, and that he was a pawn in a very evil scheme to use legitimately authentic spiritual awakenings for the creation of wealth and power for the evangelists.
It is really hard to say in hindsight what would have happened to Eric had he not been "converted" so manipulatively, for such obviously devious reasons. I can't help but think that Eric would be a lot better off today if they would have just left him alone.The Argument
"Spiritual Warfare" teaches evangelical Christians a variety of Theurgic techniques not only very similar to, but in fact clearly stolen from, Golden Dawn and Ceremonial Magic traditions, such as the LBRP. If the Christians performing these acts had any idea of their origins they would most certainly be horrified beyond belief, since they are simultaneously taught to view Magic as Evil, a thing most surely determined to cast one's very soul into Hell.
An essential use of these Theurgic techniques, in the domain of Lea and Bernal's Spiritual Warfare, is to claim souls for (and I emphasize here) their interpretation of Christ. A key element in the Spiritual Warfare ideology is the idea that we are not free to think for ourselves, and the degree of intent and emphasis placed by these "Christian Magicians" upon liberating us from our freedom of choice is quite extraordinary.
It is with a fair degree of embarrassment and horror that I relate the fact that I was convinced by Pastor Bernal to burn my own Occult library in early 1991. Obviously my current view is that this was wrong with a capital WRONG. Burning books of any sort is only a gnat's hair away from witch hunting and lynching in grossness and error. Several of the books that were burned in this sad, fateful event were priceless beyond compare and simply irreplaceable. I will never forget this or the horror and error of this act. By telling this story, I want to point out the high degree of persuasion and mind-control that is practiced in these situations, though this should really not be much surprise to the readers of this article, since I have heard a number of very similar stories shared by my Thelemic brothers and sisters.
It seems to me that some of Christ Jesus' central teachings concerned Freedom (Luke 6:1-5, Luke 6:37-38) and Non-Judgement (John 8:3-11). He also spent a good deal of his energy denouncing the religious fundamentalism of his own day, primarily a stuffy and hypocritical religious sect known as the Pharisees. How could these people (Lea and Bernal) have gotten Christ's message so wrong? Could they have possibly gotten it more backwards?
In finding my way back full circle to the place I was when I started (Thelema, Paganism, and Wicca), I have not found reason to let go of Christ or his teachings. I understand that there are some quite difficult doctrinal contradictions between the two systems. I have been able to answer these contradictions somewhat conclusively in my own mind; unfortunately they amount to interpretation of Liber Al, which I would like to avoid at this time.
I learned quite a lot about my own "Shadow Projection" concerning these evangelists in the discussion "Dangerous Art", out of which this topic sprang, and which is also a very worthwhile addition to this topic as auxiliary information. It seems to me, more than just a little, that these Christians should be encouraged to dabble in Thelema, as they already are quite comfortable dabbling in Magick.
It also seems to me that if any worthwhile progress is to be made in these avenues, toning down the hatred (which I myself still need so much work on) and getting down to the business of communication and understanding will be indispensable tools in the work.
In conclusion: I have a particular interpretation of a Biblical scripture that I feel quite certain the truth of, but which many orthodox Christians would shudder in horror at. Saint Paul (who on the whole I take with a rather large salt mine) stated in one of the epistolary letters, "In the station you were when saved, in that station stay", which I take to mean, "once a Witch, always a Witch." I feel I learned the truth of this from hard-earned personal experience, mainly the burning of my occult library, which I now view with utter horror, my own horror being the answer to the orthodox horror at my interpretation of "their" scripture.
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