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The Church of the Laughing Christ

Another Greg Hill sketch for Kerry Thornley's Church of the Laughing Christ. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
A Greg Hill sketch for Kerry Thornley's Church of the Laughing Christ. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

For your general amusement, here are a couple of rough sketches Greg Hill produced inspired by a Discordian Cabal that Kerry Thornley cooked up called the Church of the Laughing Christ.

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The CalHi Pranksters

Kerry Thornley’s Senior Class photo, CalHi, 1957.
Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bortin.
In The Prankster and the Conspiracy, Kerry Thornley’s high school friend, Sylvia Bortin, recalled an infamous hoax which occurred in Drama Class at CalHi (Whittier, California).

Apparently the perpetrators — Kerry, Greg Hill and other unnamed cohorts — made a recording of what, at first, appeared to be a regular radio program, with music playing innocently from a radio positioned on the apron of the stage. In actuality, the sounds were projected from a reel-to-reel tape machine hidden backstage. Inserted into the seemingly mundane radio program, our merry pranksters had planted a series of interruptions, made by a newscaster, to the effect that Soviet planes were invading the U.S. and dropping bombs.

Photo of Greg Hill with the CalHi (Sophomore Class) Drama Club in 1957. Greg, who over the years cultivated a fetish for rubber stamps (featured prominently in the Principia Discordia), applied a stamp over his picture in the photo (center, top row).
Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bortin.
As Sylvia recalled:

“Somebody had told me early on that it was a joke, but some of the students didn’t know and got really scared… What made me feel bad was that one of the boys in the class was so scared that he was praying.”

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Chasing Eris: Tantra Bensko on Kerry Thornley

Brenton Clutterbuck of the worldwide Chasing Eris project quest poses with the original cover page of the Paste-Up Principia Discordia (known as the Sacred PUD). Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
My young friend, Brenton Clutterbuck of Chasing Eris fame, is working on a book about contemporary Discordia, which I expect the Goddess will ultimately approve of.

Along the way I’ve tried my best to introduce him to a number of fellow Discordians, among them Rosemary Tantra Bensko, who in the following video describes her introduction to Kerry Thornley and the subsequent ritual the two engaged in concerning butter and cats licking thereof.

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The Origins of “Historia Discordia”: A Flashback Review of The Prankster and the Conspiracy

Back in 2004, Brian Doherty of Reason Magazine reviewed The Prankster and the Conspiracy (Amazon Kindle, Paperback) and titled his review “Historia Discordia,” a title that, with Brian’s consent, I’ve decided to use for this website, as well as the forthcoming book Historia Discordia: The Origins of the Discordian Society coming soon from RVP Publishers.

Reprinted with permission, here’s Brian’s article from Reason Magazine:

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Apocalypse: A Trade Journal For Doom Prophets

Apocalypse: A Trade Journal for Doom Prophets, cover, 1960. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Among the many curiosities discovered in the Discordian Archives is what appears to be the first collaboration between Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley, predating Principia Discordia by five years, which, of course, corresponds to the Discordian Law of Fives. (Hail Eris!)

In 1960 — following Thornley’s Marine Corps discharge — he returned to Whittier, California and reunited with Hill at that time and the two produced a humor zine called Apocalypse: A Trade Journal For Doom Prophets.

Hill and Thornley published only one issue of Apocalypse, mainly because no one else, besides them, found it the least bit humorous. As Thornley later noted: “Things we thought were funny, nobody else did.”

Apocalypse: A Trade Journal For Doom Prophets will appear in its entirety in the forthcoming Historia Discordia: The Origins of the Discordian Society available soon from RVP Publishers.

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A Very Merry Manson Christmas To All

Charles Manson's Christmas Postcard to Kerry Thornley, "Front." Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Twenty years ago this holiday season in 1993, Kerry Thornley, the Discordian Co-Founder & Pope known as Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst or more simply Lord Omar, was corresponding with a friend who was an inmate at the time in Georgia’s prison system. This friend of Thornley’s, as it were, just so happened to be a pen pal with none other than notorious Tate-LaBianca murders mastermind, Charles Manson, then being housed at Corcoran State Prison in California.

As Thornley told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution at the time, “I have a friend in jail who was a tattoo artist. He got into drawing pastels, and he drew a picture of Manson and sent it to him. And Manson wrote him back, and then he asked Manson to write me.”

Charles Manson's Christmas Postcard to Kerry Thornley, "Back." Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Charles Manson responded by sending Thornley a Christmas postcard of sorts. The card was a folded-up piece of paper featuring a sketch by Manson of a dark-haired Santa Claus on the “front” with hand-written rants ranging from God to Buddha to Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys on the other “sides” of the postcard.

During this period, one of Thornley’s Little Five Points friends from Atlanta, a young lady known as Molly, who Thornley characterized as “little brown-haired Molly,” traveled to Los Angeles where she was brutally attacked and sexually assaulted.

According to Kerry’s friend, Chris Wilhoite, “Molly had a mental breakdown over that and ended up in a public asylum. She wrote Kerry, asking for help and we Xeroxed the Manson Xmas card and raffled off the original to free Molly.”

Kerry Thornley rounding up support in Little Five Points, Atlanta for Molly's safe return. Photo courtesy of Tim Cridland.
Thornley made up flyers, as was his wheelhouse, and contacted local press to announce he had an authentic Christmas card from Charles Manson and would be raffling off tickets to win the Manson postcard for $5 a pop. As Thornley stated on some of the flyers, “So we Friends of Molly Moonie Rainstar, a slightly schizoid but very warm and wonderful young Discordian lady in her late teens, are raffling off my Manson letter. According to all I have been able to learn on short notice, any letter from Manson is worth at least $850.00 to collectors. Some have auctioned for tens of thousands.”

A Kerry Thornley Flyer: A Letter From Charles Manson. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Molly was soon released and brought back home to Atlanta due to Thornley’s fundraising efforts. Thornley thus declared, “Charles Manson, by the way, has been appointed Superintendent of Sunday Schools in the Discordian Society.”

As Wilhoite recalls of Molly, “She turned out to be a handful and I remember babysitting her during a dissociative episode. Kerry eventually managed to reconcile her with her mum in Maine, so we sent her home…”

And Charlie bless us, everyone.

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A Christmas Story: Excerpt from Kerry Thornley’s THE IDLE WARRIORS

What was Lee Harvey Oswald really like?

In 1962, Marine Corps Pvt. Kerry W. Thornley (and Discordian Society co-founder with Greg Hill) finished writing his first novel based on a friend and fellow Marine buddy, Lee Harvey Oswald, who strangely ended up defecting to the U.S.S.R. in the middle of the Cold War.

Little did Thornley know that his former friend, Oswald, who he used as a template for his main character Johnny Shellburn in his oh-so-hot-new-first novel, The Idle Warriors, would soon become the most-hated-man-in-America, unbelievably accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy. As a founder of Discordianism, perhaps a young Kerry should have expected some turn-about-is-fnord-play from his sweetheart Eris, the Goddess of Discord, in this matter.

Through the book’s fictional Oswald-based character Johnny Shellburn, The Idle Warriors gives a rare and first-hand insight into the mind of the man who allegedly committed the most infamous crime of the 20th Century.

The Idle Warriors is Thornley’s fictional book written about Lee Harvey Oswald before the John F. Kennedy Assassination, making the work the only unique and pre-assassination artifact completely free of later events and their subsequent biases regarding Oswald and the JFK Assassination. Unfortunately, after the events on 11/22/63 in Dallas, Texas and the subsequent Warren Commission investigation which ended-up hauling Thornley into testify about his personal relationship with Oswald in the Marines and included interest of Thornley’s own pre-Assassination writings about America’s First Lone Nut Assassin, the original type-written manuscript was somehow lost by Kerry Thornley to his eternal dismay.

Believed by Thornley himself and others to be forever misplaced and forgotten, a copy of the The Idle Warriors‘ original manuscript was miraculously rediscovered and rescued from the National Archives in the early 1990s by an unlikely pair of fellows attending a Dairy Queen Christmas-time franchisee convention in Washington, DC, who happened to have a side-interest in JFK Assassination lore, research, and materials.

Thornley gave his a copy of The Idle Warriors manuscript to the Warren Commission as background information to Oswald’s life and motives, and it languished as an obscure evidence item in the National Archives. Originally submitted as exposition to his testimony, the manuscript by Thornley had mostly been forgotten. Over the years, Thornley came to misplace his only other copy of The Idle Warriors and came to believe he had lost all copies of the manuscript.

By some Discordian Xmas miracle, the Dairy Queen franchisee amateur researchers requested, and were oddly granted, special permission by the National Archives to deconstruct the Warren Commission’s copy of the manuscript page-by-page and allowed to photocopy Thornley’s type-written The Idle Warriors pages.

Eventually this photocopy was handed over to infamous conspiracy and innovator publisher Ron Bonds of IllumiNet Press who immediately published The Idle Warriors, in conjunction with Kerry Thornley with a new introduction by Best Evidence author David S. Lifton, in 1991 under the IllumiNet Press imprint, launching the Ron Bonds conspiracy publishing empire.

The only book about Oswald before the JFK Assassination was finally published. Hail Eris and Dairy Queen dip cones!

Here’s your Christmas miracle fnord excerpt from The Idle Warriors:

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Kerry Thornley: Anarchist, Bard, Etc.

Kerry Thornley sketch by Barbara Blackman. Courtesy of Barbara Blackman.
Kerry Thornley was many things to many people. Discordian, anarchist, Zen Buddhist, JFK assassination conspirator, acid gobbling hippie, pornographer, paranoid schizophrenic and MK-ULTRA mind control victim—to name but a few of his many personas, or how he was perceived.

The old Kris Kristofferson song sums up Kerry quite succinctly:

“He’s a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction, taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home.”

Or to quote Walt Whitman:

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Kerry Thornley sketch by Barbara Blackman. Courtesy of The Discordian Archives.
One person who saw Kerry Thornley in a quite positive light was Barbara Blackman who was friends with both Kerry and Greg Hill during the 70s.

In the following passage, Barbara recalls how she first met Kerry:

“My friend was taking her children for the prerequisite visit to their father during summer vacation. He had kindly arranged for us to stay at Stone House, a Quaker Commune. I was trying to find my spiritual self I suppose & connected with Kerry on a very high level. I had never sat with someone & meditated in the purpose of the two beings focused together in meditation. For me he was very much the Indian Yogi walking a path of spiritual awareness. Sometimes he was a whirling dervish, others a Shakespearean bard, then Krishna with his lovers. He was asexual in that he made love with the world.”

Below: Letter from Kerry to Barbara Blackman dated January 1, 1971. Courtesy of Barbara Blackman.

Letter from Kerry to Barbara Blackman dated January 1, 1971, Page 00002. Courtesy of Barbara Blackman.
Letter from Kerry to Barbara Blackman dated January 1, 1971, Page 00001. Courtesy of Barbara Blackman.

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Interview of Louise Lacey, Early Discordian Goddess by Adam Gorightly

Early Discordian Louise Lacey. Photo courtesy of Faith Echtermeyer, Copyright 1980.

I recently happened upon an interview I did with Louise Lacey back in 2007 and thought it’d make a good addition to Historia Discordia, including — as it does — Louise’s recounting of the halcyon days of Discordianism along with some fond remembrances of Robert Anton Wilson, Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley.

At one point in the interview, Louise corrected (as she is wont to do!) my apparent butchering of the pronunciation of Eris — “Ear-reese” — which is how Robert Anton Wilson invoked the Goddess, and so often times I’ll use that pronunciation. Wilson was also the first person I heard pronounce “Principia” with a hard “c,” which is the correct way of saying it in Latin. (Just so ya know I’m not a total dodo!)

Elsewhere in the interview I state erroneously that Kerry Thornley did NOT appear before the Orleans Parish Grand Jury (during the Jim Garrison Investigation madness) which at the time of our interview was my understanding. However, I was wrong, which seldom happens to your humble Discordian reporter, but when it does I’m the first to admit it!

Hail Eris! All Hail Imperfection!

On to the Untamed Dimension’s Louise Lacey fnord Interview…

Links for Louise Lacey:

http://lunaception.net
http://www.growingnative.com
http://www.seri-worldwide.org/id291.html

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brother-in-law camden benares discordian timeline discordianism greg hill jfk jim garrison kerry thornley lee harvey oswald robert anton wilson warren commission

The Discordian Timeline of Chaos – Kerry Wendell Thornley

April 17, 1938: Kerry Thornley is born in Los Angeles to Kenneth and Helen Thornley.

1956: Kerry Thornley meets Greg Hill and Bob Newport while attending California High School (CalHi) in East Whittier, California.

Kerry Thornley: An award winning high school student who had no idea of the conspiratorial madness that would await him in 1976!

1957: Kerry Graduates from CalHi.

1958: Kerry attends the University of Southern California as a journalism student. That same year, Kerry and Greg Hill form the Discordian Society.

1959: Kerry enlists in the Marine Corps and meets Lee Harvey Oswald and Bud Simco. Begins work on The Idle Warriors (Paperback). Oswald is dishonorably discharged from the Marines and defects to Russia.

1960: Kerry is discharged from the Marines and returns to Los Angeles.

1961: Kerry and Greg Hill move to New Orleans, where they meet Slim Brooks and Gary Kirstein, aka “Brother-in-law.”

June 1962: Oswald returns to the U.S. from Russia.

November 1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.

December 1963: Kerry moves to Alexandria, Virginia, and works as a doorman at the Shirlington House.

Spring 1964: Kerry testifies before the Warren Commission.

April 1965: Kerry’s book, Oswald (Paperback), is published by New Classics House.

December 1965: Kerry marries Cara Leach at Wayfarer’s Chapel near Palos Verdes, California.

Late 1965 through early 1966: Kerry begins experimenting with psychedelics. Meets Camden Benares.

1967: Kerry helps organize and participates in the first Griffith Park Human Be-In. Begins correspondence with Robert Anton Wilson.

Late 1967: Kerry and Cara move to Tampa, Florida. Jim Garrison launches his Kennedy assassination probe.

January 1968: Kerry is served with a subpoena to testify before the New Orleans grand jury in Jim Garrison’s investigation.

Later in 1968: Operation Mindfuck begins.

1969: Greg Hill creates the Joshua Norton Cabal. Kerry’s son Kreg Thornley is born.

1970: Perjury charges against Kerry in the Garrison investigation are dropped.

Late 1971: Cara and Kerry separate.

1973: Kerry’s memories of “Brother-in-law” come flooding back, and he suspects he was part of a Kennedy assassination conspiracy.

Not only the definitive, but only, biography of Kerry Wendell Thornley by Adam Gorightly, The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture
1975-1977: Kerry’s paranoia intensifies. He now suspects that Robert Anton Wilson is his CIA controller and part of a clandestine assassination bureau.

1980s: Kerry lives the life of a vagabond, hitchhiking from coast-to-coast. Most of his time is spent in Florida or Atlanta, with occasional trips to the West Coast.

1986-1987: Kerry begins circulating The Dreadlock Recollections (recounting his unwitting participation in a JFK assassination conspiracy) via samizdat format.

1991: Kerry starts experiencing kidney problems.

1992: Kerry is interviewed by Oliver Stone, who is researching his forthcoming movie, JFK. Kerry appears on A Current Affair (YouTube: Part 1, Part 2).

November 28, 1998: Kerry dies from complications related to Wegner’s granulomatosis disease.