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Love, Sex, Fear, Death [Paperback]

Timothy R. Wyllie , Adam Parfrey
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 17.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 Sep 2009
The Process Church is one of the most controversial cults of modern times. Its apocalyptic ideas and powerful literature brought on extreme allegiances and shocking accusations. Here, the secretive group's history is finally revealed for the first time. Through its various incarnations, the Process Church has kept its history sealed for decades. Though the church was not as horrifying as some made it out to be, its actual history is truly unexpected and sensational.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: FERAL HOUSE (3 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932595376
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932595376
  • Product Dimensions: 25.5 x 17.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Reimer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Handsome book but leaves me hardly any clearer as to the cult's beliefs - DeGrimston, the theological eminence grise of the cult, provides some opaque, doomy stuff in excerpts from the group's set-texts I find hard to believe were comprehensible enough to be credible as the basis for a life of religious devotion for anyone. Then again, this bunch was very much a product of the 60s - RD Laing turns up in their support at one point, which is highly appropriate. Indeed, celebrities of the era figure a good deal in Wyllie's memoir - he drops many names from the beautiful people the Process tried to cultivate in its mission to change the world by hanging out among the hip sorts with disposable income sought after by advertisers everywhere.

Like Laing (and Monty Python), the Process ends up transplanted to the US, finding the place more receptive to its barely-intelligible messages of alternative bollocks (apparently this stuff sounded deep and meaningful to Yanks when coming from Home Counties middle-class types), and more promising for the growing of the business, oops I mean "Church". The cult's members abase themselves for years on end at the behest of a toxic ex-prostitute who some of them belatedly come to realise might not be the Goddess they took her to be. Intense experiences are experienced. Alsatian Dogs are venerated for no clear reason. The cult splits. Members leave to go off and be successful in other alternative fields, we are told. Eventually an avant-garde divvy from Hull with a terrible haircut forms a tribute cult to the Process.

The short chapter on the neglect and abuse of members' kids is the clincher. Don't expect to learn much from this book other than the depressing capacities of the supposedly "enlightened".
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ever done acid ? 13 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a good primer/intro to the strange world of cults and the cultic mindset. After reading about the strange goings on in The Church Of Final Judgment it's very clear that if you are interested in cults then do not join one, START YR OWN,it seems like a great wheeze.
The long essay by Tim Wyllie about his time in the church is both heart breaking and funny and worth the price of admission alone, but the contribution by GPO is extraordinary, not only is it intelligible(!) it sheds a demystifying light on the inner workings of TOPY (when is someone going to write THE book about TOPY ?)
Most of the other contributions tell of lost souls looking for something to believe in or belong to and serve as a valuable reminder to always try and be aware of yr motivations
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Process of Love Sex Fear And Death 10 Jun 2009
By Robert N. Taylor - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There is no doubt that The Process Church of the Final Judgment has left a dark, indelible watermark of a sort upon the psyche of many who grew up during the 1960s and 1970s. Much of its mystique was due to the ultra-secret constraints placed upon members of the cult by the leadership, coupled with certain atrocities perpetrated by those with tenuous connections with the cult, such as the Manson family.

Over the decades since the cult's ostensible demise, conspiracy theorists and yellow journalists have woven a rich tapestry of innuendoes and lies which have blossomed to monstrous proportions, from Ed Sanders' The Family to Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter and to Maury Terry's phantasmagoria tale and sensationalist screed The Ultimate Evil and many lesser tomes in print and on the internet.

Compounding such wild-eyed speculations were the group's own visual style and strident theological manifestos bearing such titles as The Gods On War and Humanity is the Devil.

Love Sex Fear Death will, I am sure, be a big disappointment to many of those intent upon cheap thrills and titillations. The truth is generally far less prosaic, and in this case, certainly not sensationalist in any sense of the word. It is instead an insightful and factual account written by those who were there and a part of the cult.

Timothy Wyllie has written a sober, heartfelt chronicle of the cult. He was there from the inception of the group and was a classmate of one of the two principal founders and leaders of the group: Robert Moore DeGrimston.

Such sermons in print, whether symbolic, metaphorical or literal, certainly lent credence to such theories and provided a ready handle for paranoid speculations. Add to all of this the group's external attire and symbols, and it would be easy to feel that something wicked this way has come and arrived.

In both of the two primary sections of the book written as personal accounts by former insiders in the cult's hierarchy, we are presented with the fact that, however photogenic and verbally adept DeGrimston and his writings may have been, the real leader and ultimate fuehrer of the group was his wife, Mary Ann MacLean, a former London call-girl whose specialty was the role of dominatrix.

And dominatrix extraordinaire she was, taking the trade to a new level and unique application. Based upon the two primary accounts by Timothy Wyllie and Malachi McCormack, Mary Ann was a master manipulator brimming with charm and guile. She apparently had learned her stuff during her previous profession and learned its lessons well, and knew exactly how to apply these insights into human psychology to her customers and later to her followers. She knew how to seduce them and twist them around her finger and kept them coming back for more. Those who encountered Process members often spoke of the high level of intelligence and civility of its members. Unfortunately, well mannered, intelligent types with academic backgrounds were little match for the well honed instincts and intuitions of Mary Ann.

Most deplorable was her manipulating her own breeding program among the members and the manner in which she had the children treated in a fashion less kindly than the dogs of the group were treated. Mary Ann was a childless and barren woman, and it seems she was disposed to a contempt and resentment of those with normal maternal instincts in regards to how the children were treated and nurtured.

Her counterpart, Robert, seemed little more then a medium for her message and a window-dressing for the group. When he no longer served his mistress, he was conveniently cast to the wayside. She and Robert composed what they called the Omega of the group (the pinnacle of its power) and lived like the reigning Queen and King off the labors of the membership. Their lifestyle and travels were like that of the rich and famous. Large, expensive apartments, palatial estates were their lot in life as the membership of the cult often subsisted on leftovers from supermarket dumpsters.

Mary Ann seemed to take her dominatrix skills to an awesome level. She seemed worldly wise beyond her followers, many of whom viewed her as a goddess incarnate (in this case, Hecate) and worshipped her and served her whims with unquestioning loyalty and obedience, thinking all the time that her callous manner was somehow geared toward a spiritual growth or revelation.

Timothy Wyllie's account is clear and concise, informed and thoughtful. There are shorter chapters by a number of members of lesser stature in the group, all who in one way or another corroborate Wyllie's more lengthy account in the main. All the dispositions have an essentially subjective First Person accounting. That, I think, is to be expected in a group so very compartmentalized.

The book itself is handsomely packaged and providing nearly half of the volume with colored and black and white samples of the beautiful and artistic publications from the Process. Adam Parfrey has outdone himself on the editing and aesthetics of his production, and Timothy Wyllie no less can share that credit.

Though the book broadens knowledge of the inner dynamics of the cult, it is not so much a definitive history of the Process writ large, but is instead many personal accounts of individual experiences in the group. As Wyllie makes clear, there are probably as many stories as there were individual members.

There are still some relevant questions that were not addressed here and perhaps were beyond the personal knowledge of the authors. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in the Process as well as the period of history covered here. It serves as an essential and primary building block in understanding the social and cultural aspects that have helped to shape the world we currently abide in.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating read 15 Jun 2009
By Ute Mattea Heldner - Published on
Love, Sex, Fear and Death is a must read for anyone interested in the inner workings of a secretive organization. The late 60s, early 70s were rife with cults but this one was very different in that it still has an impact on society so many years later. Timothy Wyllie has done a remarkable job detailing the events that led up to the formation of a cult and its eventual decline. Since the people that stayed through to the bitter end now run the largest no kill animal sanctuary in the US and are worth millions of dollars, this makes the book even more interesting and relevant.
I was involved with The Process for a few years, on the inside. Therefore I know that these writings are honest to the extreme. For anyone that wants to better understand that era this is a must-read.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Experimenting with Life "outside the box"... 2 July 2009
By mokshasha - Published on
COMMONLY HELD ASSUMPTION: Cults attract mindless, feeble-willed automatons who blindly fulfill oft-deranged leaders wishes and whims.

REVELATION: Highly motivated, articulate individuals of complex intelligence and unparalleled loyalty propel societies, cultures and yes, also cults to infamous achievements and horrific downfalls.

Such are the revelations in this candid, intimate and disturbing look back at a dark side of the peace and love hippie years, The Process Church of the Final Judgement, written by former insider/high-ranking cult member Timothy Wyllie and other "processeans".

Mr. Wyllie, both multi-talented and a highly creative intellect, writes from the head and heart exposing both his soft underbelly as well as the gaping discrepancies that any devotee to "The Process" had to rectify, ignore or dismiss in order to function in the convoluted reality created by cult leader Mary Ann MacLean - the "incarnate Goddess" all but worshipped by cult members.

Having dabbled on the periphery of a number of cults and cult-like movements over my years, I was simultaneously delighted (relieved!) and yet a tad envious having never personally committed so fully to any movement as Timothy and the others did to "the Process", thus I have missed the exhilaration... and horrors of this heightened level of social experiment.

For that is, in the bigger picture, the function cults have played over the millennia in "civilized" societies. Just as an individual may become enmeshed in a cult for reasons of personal need or past trauma, cults are society-specific, working out the needs or distortions inherent in the structure of each. As the "black sheep" in the family will act out and thereby absorb the brunt of a nuclear family system disorder, cults can also serve to help societies purge/decompress their systemic dysfunctions but giving voice to often unspeakable aspects, ultimately serving the societal good.

This book, with all the heartfelt and self-deprecating admissions, also highlights the potential for human growth through "alternative" experiences - as challenging and absurd as they may look next to the mediocrity of "normal" socially acceptable lives and behaviors.

A great read - richly revealing, engaging and provocative.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satanists, Style Gurus or Slackers? Here's the Evidence! 8 Aug 2009
By James J. Omeara - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Since Robert N. Taylor has provided an excellent review of the contents of this book and an overview of the historical context of the Process Church, I would like to contribute some reflections that are more personal, but also more metaphysical.

I first became aware of the Process Church, or at least its name, in Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where Thompson taunts his drugged-up and hungry attorney by pretending to know about a cafeteria run by the Process, "just a few tables" but with an interesting back room... The attorney freaks out and tells Gonzo "Don't even mention the Process around here, man," implying they could give Manson a run for his money in the woo-woo department. Later, I came across some references in Burroughs [he, like they, flirted with Scientology in London]; usually, at this point Bowie would follow up, but I don't recall him ever mentioning them, although the infamous `fascist' period, with uniform and salute, might speak of some influence.

Instead, much later one heard of their influence on Psychic TV [and indeed Gen pops up here to add his own chapter]. But it wasn't until nearly the Millennium that I found some of the original materials, republished in Simon Dwyer's Rapid Eye.

Alas, however impressed I might have been in 1973, by this time they seemed like the home-made theology of some art student, or the sort of thing Fred Berger might have cobbled together to surround photos of languid runaways in Propaganda. Still, cool graphic design.

So it was with great expectations that I ordered this book, so as to finally get some inside insight into the ultimate hippie cult.

The good news is that about half the book consists of an unrivaled collection of reproductions of rare Process publications, photographs of Processeans going about their tasks [ranging from "donating" their time, i.e., panhandling, to hosting cable-access talk shows] and original doctrinal statements by Robert deGrimston. This part alone makes the book self-recommending to anyone who has wondered what made the Church so compelling in its time, and a continuing source of artistic inspiration to this day.

The balance of the book consists in a variety of personal memoirs, which I found of less interest, as least on their own terms. While a few, such as Edward Mason's "My Life in the Process," manage to convey what made the Church's doctrines attractive to them and how they tried to implement them in their own lives, the rest, including the longest, Timothy Wyllies's "My Life Inside The Process Church" seem like typical "my life in the cult" stories.

There is, however, one really cool story about how Miles Davis freaked-out and tried to assault a group of Process mendicants in Greenwich Village; perhaps this is where Miles got his notorious wish to "get the chance to strangle a white man" before he died. There's also some bitchy Scientology gossip, such as L. Ron's teeth rotting out because of his fear of dentists, that should give Tom, Katie and Kirstie something to think about.

But anyone expecting "inside information" or a serious discussion of the Church's theology and practices should still look to William Bainbridge's older and "outside" study, Satan's Power : A Deviant Psychotherapy Cult.

It's hard to believe that so many people could spend so many years apparently doing nothing all day but sell magazines on the streets and run a coffee house on Thursdays. Far from being Satanists, vampires or cannibals, the Processeans seem to have been the original slackers; its not hard to imagine them hanging out at the Process Comic Book Store and whiling away the time comparing various superheroes to their own gods, Jehovah, Christ and Satan.

The enormous amounts of leftover time seem to have been filled in with occasional bouts of "training" in telepathy and other such New Age junk, as well as, in Wyllie's case, far-out predictive dreams and "near death" experiences, to hit the rest of the New Age checklist. Oh, and endless bull sessions wondering what the leaders, living grandly in their separate quarters [usually a penthouse or upstate mansion] were thinking about them.

One get the impression of a group of people who think, correctly, that they are much smarter than everyone else, and even more spiritually attuned as well. Unfortunately, lacking access to what Frithjof Schuon would call "metaphysical data," they are unable to do more than construct their own personal theology out of random bits that seem `cool'. Unable to judge anything by objective metaphysical principles, they are easy prey for the husband and wife team [or rather, wife and husband team] of the deGrimstons, aka The Omega.

On reflection, the wearisome content of the various memoirs may actually be more significant than one might think at first.

It's the emphasis, if only by default, on telepathy and other "cool" "spiritual" experiences that provides the key to not only why these memoirs fail to maintain the occult thrill of the Church`s own media, but also why The Process itself failed. As Guenon pointed out over and over, spiritual development [or `initiation'] has nothing to do with "experiences," however far-out.

Preoccupation with such "experiences" is the chief sign of an essentially non-metaphysical, indeed materialistic, point of view; the vast "systems" [another bad sign for Guenon] and cults build up around them, which Guenon tirelessly exposed [see The Spiritist Fallacy and elsewhere for his evisceration of Theosophy and its smarter cousin, Anthroposophy] are either mutual deception in good faith, or, as here, a cynical method of controlling and exploiting the duped.

We have either a foolish pseudo-Tradition, or a Satanic counter-Tradition; in neither case has materialism been surpassed, only a "cooler" version for "the new generation" has been produced.

Speaking of Theosophy, and other "spiritualist" groups beloved by stereotypical "old ladies," it is only too appropriate that The Process turned out to be a matriarchal cult, whose "leader," Robert deGrimston, was simply the first victim, soon cast aside as the female-led group mutated into a very-70s cable access "ministry," complete with leisure suits and goatees worn by various Fr. Groovies, and then became an animal rescue charity in Utah. Manson, it turns out, would have eaten their lunch, and then the members themselves.

In the end, The Process seems to have been, as Guenon says in Perspectives on Initiation, one of "the many fantastical groups of our day, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, which `ape' the forms of initiatic organizations but conceal absolutely nothing" and "reminding one of children who, left to themselves, want to handle redoubtable forces without knowing anything about them; if deplorable accidents too often result...we should not be unduly surprised."

Still, really cool fashions and graphic design sense, still the best around.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside the Control Factory 6 July 2009
By Ronald Bass - Published on
Timothy Wyllie has written a merciless depiction of his own motives and activities during his long, strange trip with the Process Church of the Final Judgment. Half a dozen other former members contributed shorter pieces. Adam Parfrey did an excellent editing job, incorporating Process-related graphics, texts, and photographs, and a chapter by Genesis P-Orridge on the influence of the Process materials on his own work. (The graphics reproduced from the Process magazine are excellent!)

After finishing the book I found myself thinking about the Process Church (and the later organizations it morphed into) as an awesome exercise in control on the part of the cult leader, Mary Ann MacLean. A prostitute earlier in life, she mastered the control techniques of the pimps she encountered, and later employed them to keep a religious order (and later an animal rescue organization) supplying her with the cash she needed to live in high style.

I am not capable of evaluating the theological aspects of the Process Church. I found the reproduced texts (by Robert de Grimston) about Jehovah, Lucifer, and Satan to be tedious. I suspect a lot of the "magick" that Timothy Wyllie describes was real, but had to be encountered first-hand in live sessions in some of the more advanced Process chapters relatively early in the group's existence.
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