Cult Following

Christopher Evans. Cults of Unreason. Harrap. 1973
In this book Dr Evans examines four aspects of modern cultism: Scientology, the UFO cults, the medical "Black Box" cults, and the quasi-Eastern occult groups. The ufologist coming to this book can only be disappointed by the chapters dealing with his speciality. The first of the three chapters is a re-hash of the contactee stories of the fifties. It gives nothing that will not be familiar to most readers of this Bulletin. The major part of the ufological section is devoted to the ubiquitous Aetherius Society, a subject which was dealt with in Patrick Moore's recent book. The fascination that this completely untypical UFO cult seems to have for writers is quite remarkable. The fact that its history is well documented in its journals, and its HQ conveniently situated in the Fulham Road, may, of course be a factor in this.

The 'cult of unreason' that has built up in Warminster is mentioned only in passing and serious ufologists must regret that Dr Evans has not researched some of t he less well-known aspects of this affair, rather than waste space on the already over-exposed Aetherius Society.

The chapters on the various pseudo-medical cults built around "Black Box" diagnostic devices give valuable insight into the curious and rather sad world of the cultist, although those dealing with the various brands of Eastern mysticism currently fashionable are rather superficial, as is virtually inevitable when trying to cover so many subjects in a limited space. Dr Evans' revelations about Lobsang Rampa, although not new, will be unfamiliar to many ufologists.

How ever, the most valuable part of the book is the first and longest section dealing with Scientology. Here Dr Evans treats the growth of the movement from the Dianetics of the 1940s, to the dramatic events of the late sixties, dealing with a complicated, at times barely comprehensible subject in a very readable and amusing manner. Perhaps the major surprise of this book is that after dealing at length with the "unacceptable face of Scientology, his ultimate conclusion on the value to the individual and possible future development of the cult is far from dismissive. – John Rimmer. Merseyside UFO Bulletin, volume 6, number 3, January 1974.

1 comment:

Terry the Censor said...

I read this book a few years ago. I especially liked the Scientology segment. I knew about the last years of Hubbard and the Hollywood connection, but was not aware of the early UK days. Good stuff.

I also liked the Aetherius section. At the time of writing, UK UFO buffs would have found it tedious, no doubt. But here in Toronto, 40 years later, I couldn't find good reporting on the society. I had been to a lecture of the Toronto branch of the cult but my UFO books tended to give only brief mentions, usually lumped in with statements about the (allegedly bygone) contactee era. It seems modern "serious" ufologists want nothing to do with contactees, and so pretend they ceased to exist in the 1960s, implicitly eradicated by Barney and Betty Hill.

I can report the Toronto Aetherius Society still meets, currently on Mondays.