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Christ on a Cannabis Crutch 

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y most any standards, I would be considered a Heathen. The wormhole for word nerds, dictionary.com, defines Heathen thusly:

Noun, plural heathens, heathen 1) (in historical contexts) an individual of a people that do not acknowledge the God of the Bible; a person who is neither a Jew, Christian, nor Musum; a pagan.

The definition goes on to say it's a word that is "disparaging and offensive," although I have never felt it to be so.

But I may be willing to cleave unto the Lord at a recently opened church in Denver, Colo., which was profiled in an article by The Guardian.

The Church of Cannabis opened on April 20, 2016 and to expanded membership on April 20, 2017, because, of course that's the date it should open. The church is the brainchild of Yale University graduate Steve Berke and his fellow stoner buddy, Lee Molloy. Steve had relocated to Denver to enter into the cannabis industry, and was living in the 113-year-old church that his parents had purchased with plans to convert it into apartments. In a conversation that many of us would to have loved to have heard, Berke convinced his parents to lease him the church so that he could start up a place of worship, with some unique facets.

With stained glass windows and traditional dour imagery found in many mainstream houses of worship, they engaged the services of artists Kenny Scharf and Okuda San Miguel. Their murals are bright, bold, semi-hallucinatory and a strong indicator that there may be some cannabis consumption amongst the faithful.

"Our spiritual journey is one of self-discovery, not one of dogma...We believe there is no one-path solution to life's big questions. This is simply a supportive place for each one of us to find a pathway to our own spirituality, whatever that may be."

About that consumption: Colorado only allows it in private homes and clubs, and said clubs must be members only. The membership for the church presently tops 3,000 online with 500 members within driving distance and is growing, with public viewings of the building from Thursday through Sunday. On Friday nights are the private, members-only services—with consumption.

click to enlarge Inside the Church of Cannabis
  • Inside the Church of Cannabis
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his hasn't been sitting well with local officials, who have filed citation charges against three founding members for, among other things, violating the Colorado Clean Indoor Act. State Rep. Dan Pabon (D), went so far as to tell The New York Times that the church "offends both religious beliefs everywhere, as well as the voter's intent on allowing legalization of marijuana in Colorado." (Such a statement would be news to most every Rastafarian anywhere, if they cared about the false beliefs of a Babylon Bubu such as Pabon.)

Attendees refer to themselves as "elevationists," which former Bible Quiz champion Lee explains as a term they came up with to cover their broad based belief system. "Our spiritual journey is one of self-discovery, not one of dogma," he says. "We believe there is no one-path solution to life's big questions. This is simply a supportive place for each one of us to find a pathway to our own spirituality, whatever that may be."

Members get to know one another while passing joints, singing songs and general fellowship, which is made all the more appealing to some by the onsite video arcade and ping pong tables.

Altered states in religious practice is a hardly new thing: Sufis, Rastafarians, Haitian Voodoo priests and many others have used mind-altering substances for countless millennia, and even the Catholic church offers wine during communion.

In the end, anything light on dogma and judgment, but heavy on community, gathering in peace and exploration of one's belief system in relationship to the cosmos seems worthy of support and encouragement in these dark times.

Praise the lord(s) and pass the dutchie, from the left hand side.

The Church of Cannabis
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