Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kerry Thornley, founder of Discordianism

On April 17, 1938, was born Kerry Thornley (d. November 28, 1998), co-founder (along with childhood friend, Greg Hill) of the alternative religion known as Discordianism. In this context he is usually known as Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst, a name he derived from Omar Khayyám. He and Hill authored the religion's seminal sacred text, Principia Discordia, Or, How I Found Goddess, And What I Did To Her When I Found Her.

Thornley served in the same platoon as Lee Harvey Oswald in 1959, and, in 1961, wrote a book, The Idle Warriors (unpublished until after 1963; later reprinted as Oswald) with Oswald a key character featured under the fictional name of Johnny Shellburn – the only book in which Oswald appeared prior to President John Kennedy's assassination in 1963.

Jim Garrison, District Attorney of New Orleans from 1962 - '73, best known for his investigations into the assassination of JFK (as depicted in Oliver Stone's JFK movie), at one time formed a theory that Thornley was an Oswald-lookalike co-conspirator, and a CIA agent. In 1968, Garrison charged Thornley with perjury after Thornley's denial that he had been in contact with Oswald in any manner since 1959. The perjury charge was eventually dropped by Garrison's successor Harry Connick, Sr.

Thornley wrote of himself: "I was an extreme rightwing laissez-faire capitalist. I wanted John Kennedy assassinated and made no secret of it." Fellow Discordian, Robert Anton Wilson, said that Thornley was "just about" "the most paranoid man in America", but Wilson was open to the possibility that Thornley might have been Manchurian Candidated. Thornley came to believe that he had been a subject of the CIA's notorious LSD-soaked Project MKULTRA mind-control research program. Fnord.

According to Thornley's biographer, Adam Gorightly (The Prankster and the Conspiracy), Thornley coined the term 'paganism' to describe various Nature religions. This assertion is difficult to verify; however, the modern use of the terms 'pagan' and 'neopagan', as they are currently understood, is largely traced to Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, who, beginning in 1967 with the early issues of Green Egg magazine, used both terms for the growing movement ...

Today is 'BoomTime, Day 34 of Discord, YOLD 1276' in the Discordian Calendar

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Johnny Shellburn said...

Thanks for your report on Kerry Thornley. We wanted to let you know we're in the process of building http://www.kerrythornley.com with the help of Thornley's family and friends. Anyone who has writings, photos or memories of Kerry Thornley or the early Discordians is asked to email us at the address listed on our site.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Pip said...

Dear Johnny, That's wonderful. The site's looking good. I have added it to my Favorites. - Pip

12:05 AM  

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