Thursday, October 3, 1997

Dear Robert,

    "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."   Matthew 5:7  Grace, mercy, peace and love to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, I pray.  Thank you very much for your recent letter and your inquiries.  I think you may have caught me in some logical inconsistencies, but I am glad that you at least took the time to read my letter and to comment.  Because of your inquiries, I am forced to rethink my position and more clearly formulate my beliefs.  It may be a rather lengthy process and I may not finish this letter for a few days, but I wanted to start it this evening and try to get on with it as soon as I can.  I have only 252 hours and 48 minutes until I am released from this dump (but who's counting?), and I definitely want to put this in the mail before I go.  I will make a copy and send it to Carl Olsen to keep him up on our dialogue.  It may be helpful because some of the comments I made that you ask about were in response to a letter that I received from him some time back.
    First of all, let me explain that it is my habit to clip articles from the newspapers and paste them up on typing paper and use it as a sort of home made stationery.  That is what you see alongside this page and explains a reference I made in my letter to Mr. Olsen.  Understand, the newspaper articles do not necessarily have anything at all to do with the letter that eventually gets written on them.   This one is a case in point.  I selected this particular story simply because it was a long one and I figured it was going to take a long letter to properly respond to your questions.  Now, I find the article rather interesting, but I recommend that the rating of the presidents be read as a separate story.  It has nothing to do with this letter.
    Same for the verse with which I opened this letter and the one with which I opened the letter I wrote to Mr. Olsen.  It is another habit of mine to open each letter with a verse.  That verse reflects only what I happen to be reading at the time.  I read the entire Bible through each year by reading several chapters each day.  I usually try to select a verse appropriate to the individual, and sometimes the verses turn out to be amazingly prescient, but again, it is more accidental than planned.  As I read in the fifth chapter of Matthew, it is purely coincidental that I also happen to be reading a book about the sermon on the mount and the study fits right in with the reading.  This was not planned either.  Some of the extrapolation in that study may well fit in with this letter, which may make the verse quoted more appropriate also, but that too will be purely by accident.
    So, having considered those two things, which you may wish to look upon as merely affectations on my part, let me try to get to the heart of the subject when I resume this letter tomorrow (Lord willing).  Who is Jim Tranmer, FCI?

Friday, October 10, 1997

    Please forgive my lousy typing too.  To get to the meat of the matter, I have to admit that the comments about not refusing the sacrament and working to bring about the New Kingdom were not very well thought out by me, but they were intended as a response to similar comments in a previous letter from Mr. Olsen.  The scripture referred to by the transliteration is Matthew 26:29, where Jesus says the same in reference to the wine sacrament.  That may be more appropriate to your comments about the catholic refusal to substitute grape juice for wine.  Mr. Charles Ryrie says that the verse directs the disciple's attention toward their eventual reunion in the future millennial kingdom with its joy and fellowship.
    To answer your first question, I believe, as I stated earlier in my letter, that marijuana may be used as a sacramental "adjunct" to religious services.  I base this upon my belief that incense was an important part of nearly all religious services until recent times, and I believe that most, if not all incense (particularly that used in religious services) contained hashish as a base for the perfumes and other scents which were added to it.  I do not have ready access to source materials because I have shipped everything I was referencing home in anticipation of my release and it will probably take while to sort it out even after I get there.   Much of the source material for the incense belief comes from publications by the Rastas which you mention in your letter.  But it is well documented that hemp was one of the first plants cultivated by man and it has a long history of use for food, fuel and fiber.  It would be almost impossible for early man to have failed to notice the intoxicating effects of the flowers when smoked or cooked and eaten.  I also think it is only reasonable to think that the intoxicating (consciousness-expanding/enlightening) properties of the smoke would have been quickly put to use in religious observations.   So I believe basically that it was a part of all religions, at least all that burn incense as a part of worship (and that is nearly all) , almost by accident because of the very nature of the incenses burned.  I don't think people gave it a lot of thought.   There was no hysterical "war on drugs" type of frenzy to cause them to give it any more thought than they would to the fact that over half of all medications contained some amount of cannabis.  It is certain that use of cannabis-based incense would have definitely let some folks "see God".  By that, I mean that I believe that the experience of "getting high" really is a genuine mystical experience and one that leads the user to better behavior and to a better way of thinking about his/her fellow man or the world in general.  That was my experience the very first time I ever smoked the herb (hashish) , and I was not doing so in the spirit of it being a religious sacrament.  Had I been specifically seeking such, I believe the effect would have been even more profound.
    There is also some etymological evidence that cannabis was in general use by the Hebrews as well as other peoples in that part of the world and at that time.   The Hebrew word, "Cane Bos" is translated by the King James Bible as "sweet cane", but the cognitive similarity to cannabis is almost too close to overlook.  Samuel is instructed to use the Cane Bos oil as 1/6 of the anointing oil which he is instructed to prepare for the anointing of the Kings of Judea.  I do not have the exact reference handy at this time (sent home) , but will look it up and get it to you along with the article where I first became aware of this reference.  I hope we will continue to communicate after I am out of prison.
    But the general basis of my belief that marijuana should be recognized as a legitimate sacramental adjunct is that listed above and my own experience with the herb and with prayer.  I have prayed about this very subject and this is what the Lord has revealed to me in the same way that other aspects of his will have been revealed to me in prayer.  It is a personal thing and I cannot explain it, but I know that God does not condemn the smoking of marijuana if done with the proper respect and reverence for his creation.  He doesn't condemn the smoking of marijuana for whatever reason, but I think he may not reward casual use as much as he does the respectful and reverent use.  I also stress that it is an adjunct and not a requirement.  I do not believe that the Eucharist or baptism are required for salvation either.  But I am of the opinion that any and all of these rituals of sacrament can and do enhance worship.   Mr. Olsen indicates that leaving the use of marijuana as an option instead of declaring it to be essential to our religion, leaves us in a weaker legal position, but I can not, in all good faith see myself placing such requirements on others when it is obvious to me that the central truth of Jesus' teaching was that what happens in the heart is more important than adherence to ritual forms.

December 7, 1997

    Please excuse the hiatus.  I am back after nearly two months.   Things got very hectic as it got closer to the time for me to leave the prison camp, and the conditions were even more impossible at the halfway house when I first arrived.  I have only recently gotten my word processor up and running and I am still in a learning mode as far as it is concerned.  It is like a new car.  It still has the "new" smell about it.  This is my first weekend to get a pass out of the halfway house, and the first opportunity I have had to take up an answer to your letter.  I just hope this will print within the parameters of what I already have on this page.  (Almost, but not quite)

December 13, 1997

    As I look back over what I had previously written, I see that I have actually answered several of the questions you had asked, at least to the best of my limited abilities and knowledge.  I do not in any way claim to have all the answers and I am reluctant to espouse any course of action that would cause hardship for others.   On the other hand, it is my understanding that it is the lot of true believers to suffer for the faith and that Satan is the lord of this world, causing injustice to be the norm rather than the exception.  Persecution is the only thing we are actually promised in this life.  Well, not the only thing, but one thing for sure.
    As to the question of bringing about the New Kingdom, the best text I have ever found in that regard is Luke 17:20-21, which says, "...The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."  Those are the words of Jesus to the Pharisees when he was asked about the coming of the kingdom.  Again, Charles Ryrie points out that "with observation" means "with outward show, like a political coup", and that "the kingdom of God is within you" is better understood to mean "among you".  The necessary elements of the kingdom were present and needed only to be recognized.  It cannot mean "within you," for the kingdom certainly was completely unconnected with the Pharisees to whom Jesus was speaking.
    So, in truth, we are not able to bring about the kingdom by any actions of our own since, by Jesus' own words, the kingdom is or was already among us.  But, in a broader sense, it is our work and faithful ministry which does bring about the kingdom by the preaching of the word and the winning of souls.
    I am in agreement with Mr. Olsen about the wisdom of refraining from the use of marijuana in the current political climate.  The prohibition laws have already victimized too many of our brothers and sisters.  Their rights have been forfeited and their voices have been silenced.  Abstinence becomes, in that light, a strategy for continuing the struggle against the oppression.  Believe me, it is not easy to carry on the struggle from within the confines of prison.  I have been trying for the past two years, but there are a lot of hurdles to be overcome.  I am still fighting against the pressures of time and circumstance, but I have higher hopes of eventually being able to accomplish something out here.  I didn't have such high hopes from within.  There are still limits to what I can say and to whom, but there I had only other prisoners to persuade and it was sort of like preaching to the choir.   Most were pretty much in agreement, but were in the same boat I was in and unable to effect any change.  Our opinions had been discredited and our right to participate in society taken away.
    I liken the marijuana laws to the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany.  It is a religious issue and we potheads are the scapegoats for a whole host of societal ills that are totally unrelated.  The "War on Drugs" is a holy war in the strictest sense of the meaning.  Drug policy is a secular religion that portrays certain substances (certain drugs, but not all drugs) as "evil" or "demonic".  That is the basis of my idea that a religion is needed to combat a religion.  It might appear that I am trying to create a new religion just to give me an excuse for using marijuana.  That is another reason to abstain ... to defuse those sorts of accusations.  I believe that I am espousing a return to the original, true religion that has been diluted over the years by people who were more interested in catering to earthly governments than in keeping the truths of God's word.   Some will undoubtedly call it sacrilegious and that is their right, but I understand that we are to try the spirits to see if they are of the devil or of the Lord.   And the surest test I know is the test of truth.  The D.E.A., the courts, the cops and the prisons are all convicted of being liars in every thing they do and say.

January 23, 1998

    No, I do not believe that abolishing all laws regarding marijuana would be in and of itself The New Kingdom.  And I can not comment on what would have been wiser for those who were persecuted for earlier prohibitions or who are still be persecuted for their religious beliefs.  I admire those who have had the strength of conviction to endure great hardships and even martyrdom for their beliefs.   Ultimately, their sacrifice probably did lead to growth in the church.  But I do not believe that Christ taught us to be martyrs.  His basic teaching was one of joy and peace, and there are many biblical admonitions for believers to cooperate with civil authority; to render unto Caesar that, which belonged to Caesar.  Paul goes so far as to say, in effect, that all government is ordained of God and that we owe respect and allegiance to the government.  I have had Romans 13:1-7 quoted to me on innumerable occasions to convince me that I am wrong to oppose the laws of the government.   But I do not interpret those verses to mean blind obeisance to every law whether good or bad.  I certainly don't believe that Hitler was right or that God really wanted the Nazi reign of terror in Europe.  But God does allow such governments and governmental mistakes in general as a way of testing his children.
    Remember too that God is not active in controlling the precise destiny of this world so long as Satan continues to be Lord of this realm.  I guess the best way I have ever heard it put is the old saying that "all the peoples of the earth have exactly the kind of government they deserve."  That does not mean that God approves of bad government.  It is the concept of government for which He requires respect, not individual governments or individual policies.  I also do not advocate my own strategy of dealing with the marijuana laws to anyone who feels that abstinence would be in conflict with their basic beliefs.  It is my tactic, and it is designed solely to keep me out of prison and free to continue to argue against the prohibition laws.  If I felt that it was essential to the salvation of my soul, or that I would be refusing to obey the will of God by abstaining, then I would smoke it despite the consequences.  But that is precisely the reason that I do not argue that it is essential to our religion and, thereby, weaken the legal argument for legalization as a basic religious freedom.  I want the right to welcome those who may not wish to smoke into the church as well.  I believe that smoking enhances worship, but only to those who choose to do so.
    The central focus of the early Christian church was the Eucharist or the "body and blood" of Christ, also know as communion or "The Lord's Supper".  In meeting the Resurrected Lord in the Eucharist meal, the Christian community had the expectation of the Kingdom of God and salvation.  Baptism is defined as the Christian sacrament used in purification and the spiritual rebirth.

January 31, 1998

    I hope I have answered a few of your questions and 1 hope you will not give up on me for taking so long to get the answers together.  I would love to hear from you again and to hear your views on these same subjects.  I admire and respect those who are working to get beneficial medicine to those who desperately need it.   It is a long, tough, uphill battle against entrenched interests who are cold-bloodedly unfeeling towards the suffering of others.  I still feel that personal liberty is the greater issue and that religious freedom is the key to ending the prohibition.  I don't know if 1 will have any impact at all with my own efforts, but I will certainly be in there trying.
    I have been hosting a Ganjah Bible Church chatroom each Sunday afternoon on AOL, but there has not been a lot of response so far.  At this point, we are still looking for members for the church so we can incorporate.  At least, I think incorporation should be our next goal.  I could be wrong.  We may want to stay completely underground.  I continue to write to those still in prison and to encourage them to hang on and stay out of trouble and then to come join us on the outside.   I continue to communicate with my hippy friends in the Rainbow family and to network the best I can with people nationwide who want an end to the madness.
    One Bible test of any philosophy or teacher is that, "by their fruits shall ye know them."  That does not mean we are to become fruit inspectors and be constantly into the business of our fellows, passing judgement based upon our own perceptions.  The quote was aimed at the false teachers of Christ's time and can be applied to the same sort of false teachers in this day and age.   Specifically, one need not look very far to see that the fruits of the war on drugs are totally evil.  The drug problem is worse in every single category, and the percentage of users just keeps rising, almost as fast as the prison population.  If one were to stand back and look objectively, one might have to conclude that the war on drugs has actually fueled a great increase in drug use.  In that light, my arguments for an end to prohibition is actually an argument for a policy that would lead to less drug usage, not more.  That is the crucial connection that most Americans miss.   Wanting to end prohibition is not the same as encouraging drug use.  Quite the opposite.  By it's results, I would say that the war on drugs is the policy which is encouraging increased drug usage.  It is having that effect.  The divisiveness of the drug policies is another bit of evidence to me that it is not of God.  God's spirit unites all people in a sacred connection.  The policies of the drug warriors have ripped the fabric of our society, causing untold pain and misery and making the situation worse than ever.  The Bible says there is one body and one Spirit.  We are one in Christ Jesus.  But the war on drugs teaches us that we are not one and some must be persecuted for their actions, which do not meet with the approval of the persecutors.  This divisiveness is the result of the original sin and the satanic policy of "good and evil".  Remember that the forbidden tree was not the tree of the knowledge of evil.  It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  In God's perfect creation, there was no good and no evil.  There was only His perfect love.  It was the conscious decision of mankind to accept the policy of "good and evil" that removed us from that love and put us under God's perfect justice, which is not nearly so pleasant.
    The war on drugs is the classic instance of this policy of good and evil.  It says that some drugs, which are virtually harmless, are evil and must be illegal and that others, which are very dangerous, are still legal.  It is the ultimate expression of Satan's policy.  And it is expressly designed to confound intelligent sensibilities by making good bad and bad good.  And the scripture expressly warns us against that too.
    I hope I haven't rambled on too much and I hope what I have tried to say has made a little bit of sense.  I hope that you and others will continue the efforts to change the prohibition laws and to bring a little bit of sensibility to drug policy in America.  We can only do it one person at a time.  Each of us contributing what we can may eventually bring enlightenment and spiritual awareness to a dying world.  It is our Christian duty to try.
    But the war on drugs is only one aspect of a dying world.  The most important message of all is the Gospel truth of Christ's love and the possibility of His salvation by grace through faith.  If all would truly listen to Christ's words and not to some preacher, then we would not get in these situations of confusing dogma for kharma.
    I thank you for your letter and for your interest.  A copy of this letter will go to Mr. Olsen, and I would send one to Mr. Tranmer also if I had his address.  Now that I am more or less settled and the feds are leaving me a little bit more alone, perhaps I can be more efficient at answering my mail in the future.  So, if you write back, look for a quicker answer, even though it may not be any more coherent.   I will try to edit some of this letter into an essay format and save it for future reference.  Nothing is set in stone.  I am always willing to reassess my beliefs and to change my point of view if it seems I have been wrong.  In that, I am much more open-minded than the opposition.  Person by person, we can spark a surge of spiritual awareness that may spring forth to enrich our lives and to enrich our world.   I believe that God is preparing me today for even greater blessings tomorrow.
    God's grace and mercy to you,
    Charlie (Kahuna) Holbrook

Charlie Holbrook
3758 West 14th
Odessa, TX 79761