The story you’re about to read is 31 years old. It should only take you about half that time to read it.
I have long wanted to preserve my memory of this experience somewhere. I fear my aging brain will whittle the details down to a quirky party anecdote, stripped of it’s meaningful subtleties. On the other hand, I have also avoided putting this story in my blog for fear of it being misconstrued by parents as blind advocacy (and casual condoning by the young whippersnappers).
But screw it! The time has come for me to share my psychedelic evolution.
Our journey begins in the East bay of Northern California, early 1980′s.
DECEMBER 27TH, 1982: THE MIDDLE
I sat in the backseat of the police car staring down at my new Birkenstocks. The dashiki shirt I stole from the costume department of the Walnut Creek Civic Arts repertory was wilting around my sweaty body. For a moment, I could swear I was drooling. As we turned a corner and drove past the smoldering, charred remains of a small church, one cop said to the other, “Fire gutted it.”
I blurted out, “The churches!”
The cop turned back and asked sternly, “You know who set it on fire?”
I started mumbling nonsensically since I wasn’t so far gone as to get any friends into trouble. Even though I knew they hadn’t started the fire. I suspected it was Satan and that Armageddon might have begun…
But let’s back up.
When I was young, I would steal Playboy and Hustler magazines from the local 7-Eleven, cut out the women, paste them in a masturbation book in six sections from dressed to fully copulating – with an allotment of strokes per section. I thought it was efficient. Looking back, I see it as a hysterical manifestation of my obsessive nature. But what’s obsessive without compulsive?
Enter superstition! During the early days of spanking the monkey, I believed that if I masturbated once in the morning I would have a good day at school. But twice? Bad luck for sure. This meant that on feverish days where I slipped up and did it twice I’d have to masturbate a third time to reverse the bad luck. Compulsive? Check.
Of course, it was never determined if I had OCD or not because what 11 year old talks about his masturbation habits to adults?
Whatever it was that drove my unique self-loving practices also drove my drug experimentation days in high school. Once I ate that pot cookie before PE class, I was inspired to do a lot of research.
My parents never realized I was doing drugs because of two factors; 1) I had always received bad grades so there was no noticeable change in them, and 2) I was born an ACTOR! I once gave Christmas shopping advice to my mom while she decorated the tree and I tripped my balls off. Pretty sure the advice I gave was to buy colorful things of meaning over mechanical things. Ya dig?
If Mary Jane was my gateway drug, hallucinogenics blew the doors off my Jungian house. I fell fast and furiously in love with LSD and shrooms. And it was through the help of our theatre department’s resident drug aficionado, Terry, who acquired my first hit for me.
• Terry, a sophomore, befriended me early in my Freshman year and remained friends with me even after I yelled “It takes a real man to admit he’s a homosexual!” from Terry’s car as we passed a group of jocks after school.
• Terry was always the sweetest and most positive kid in our group, and also the most daring with his drug experimentation. He once offered to freeze my eyes with Lidocaine. I, of course, said yes without hesitation.
Even though my first LSD trip included a kid (who looked like Avery “Doritos ” Schreiber) threatening to stab me with a screwdriver, I still was enchanted by Albert Hoffman’s “medicine for the soul” discovery. (The electric fairy that danced in front of my face while I laid on the backseat of Terry’s 1972 Datsun really helped sell the upside of it.)
It was a mental exploration unlike anything else. And a love affair that lasted much longer than my other OCD driven drug experiments. Of course, I was an idiot in the way I used them initially…
By December of 1982 I was dropping acid every three or four days. And my trips would almost always veer into insecurity, coloring everyone’s intentions with my darkest fears. But I was still in love with the visuals and the discoveries. I just hadn’t learned to drive the mental train yet.
That December, I offered to act as an LSD middleman for all my friends. I took orders at recess in front of the high school drama wing. When asked by kids I didn’t know what I was taking orders for, I said, “Bee Gees posters! You love disco, right?”
Then I took BART (our subway) to San Francisco to buy a sheet from a girl named Bear who I had met in the summer while visiting my sister. This particular time there was an issue and I had to wait for several hours in her flat with her heroin addled “Stray Cats” look-alike 40-year-old roommates while she went to find it. When it finally arrived, Bear took me downstairs and handed the baggie to me.
The sheet inside was red with yellow lightening bolts on each blotter. “It’s called Flash,” Bear whispered, “and it’s fucking strong, so be careful.”
As I ran up Stanyan to get to my sister’s flat, I placed a half blotter in my mouth. It was so bitter, I spit it out. I didn’t want to trip too hard; I was going to see Yul Brynner on stage in the “King and I” with my grandparents.
SHALL WE DANCE?
Yul Brynner leapt across the stage in a persistence-of-vision extravaganza! It was glorious! However, his accent became thicker throughout the evening and I began to think everyone on stage was speaking a different language. I leaned over to my sister, who knew I was “frying,” and discreetly asked, “Are they speaking English?”
She leaned over and whispered, “Of course. Listen…” Yul said something I couldn’t understand and then my sister parroted him in my ear, “Gazhuva perdia pondopal phla!”
I looked at her startled and she quietly cackled her evil big sister laugh. Not the kind of “guide” one wants when having their psychedelic experience.
Nor should one do it around their grandparents. I don’t think Grandma appreciated my in depth and compassionate analysis of a homeless guy who almost urinated on Grandpa’s Cadillac.
But the evening ended with me lying on my sister’s bedroom floor as she alternated between drawing in her sketchbook, smoking herbal cigarettes, and belting out David Bowie as we listened to “Ziggy Stardust.” It was a perfect ending. I knew the next night’s LSD trip would be exciting.
DECEMBER 27TH, 1982: THE BEGINNING
The plan was to drop our “Flash” before an epic party that Aaron was throwing at his parents house since they were on a cruise.
• Aaron was a hyper-intelligent kid with a devious sense of humor. He had graduated high school the year before but was still floating around without direction. His affinity for punk rock and anarchy may have had something to do with it.
• He once told me he thought I was a profound bi-sexual. Wasn’t sure if it was because he was flirting with the skinny, cute kid or because that skinny, cute kid was wearing parachute pants and a Dr. Pepper-esque vest.
• One night a group of us were getting stoned in the park and Aaron just stared at me for five minutes before saying, “You’re gonna die before your 50.” No follow-up. He just left it at that.
So, my two closest friends, Eric and Terry, and I went to Aaron’s house early to drop the acid. I divvied up what they had ordered, dropped a full hit, and put the sheet back in the baggie and into my jeans pocket.
I should note that the Levi jeans I was wearing were complimented by my new Birkenstock sandals and a recently stolen Dashiki shirt with angular flowing half sleeves. I was hell bent on willing the 60′s back into existence through my wardrobe.
Seeing that the party wasn’t quite underway, Terry suggested we go down the block to his mother’s house and get high while we waited for the acid and the party to kick in.
SOMETHING WICKED (AND MELTING) THIS WAY COMES
My first hint this trip would be different from all my others was that I could physically feel electricity subtly shoot throughout my body. I sat on the plush couch, trying to pretend it was nothing. In fact, we all seemed to be feeling it rather quickly. I was staring at my hand. Then my hand looked back at me. Don’t ask what this means. It just happened.
“Hello…” I said to my hand… Terry laughed. I looked up at them.
“That word has no meaning…” I said.
Eric was sitting with his black trench coat still on. His arms tightly around his chest as one hand caressed his sharp chin rhythmically. His fingers appeared to be going inside his cheek skin and then back out. His grin was right out of Mad Magazine’s “Spy versus Spy.”
“This is a very interesting night,” he said.
• I met Eric in our 8th grade drama class. We were both too tall and skinny, but he had the bone structure, wavy hair and could play guitar. I knew if I walked next to him down the halls I might look a little cooler. He also stopped a kid from randomly punching me in the stomach at recess. Eric was very cool.
• He also came from a semi-religious environment and was attracted to both the drama of the bible and it’s D&D aspects. But his affinity for Rush and Black Sabbath was strictly musical.
• By this point in our friendship, two girls I had crushes on had made out with him (or more – fuzzy memory or I’m repressing the horror!) and we were drifting apart a bit. He was hanging with Aaron a lot and talking anarchy while I was holed up in my room, rewriting early Pink Floyd song lyrics to soothe my romantic melancholy teen soul.
Terry, the most “experienced” of us teens, knew we were about to get much higher than expected and suggested we head back. As we stepped out of his house Eric froze.
“Stop! … Do you hear it…?”
We looked at Eric, not knowing what he was hearing.
“The bells…” Then like magic, we heard faint church bells! Eric raised his hand into the air and magically gestured in exact time with them. It was uncanny. He slowly turned to me with a wicked grin.
“Oh yeah… This is a very interesting night…”
I was not raised in any particular religion other than default capitalist christianity sans savior fetishizing. My grandmother had given me a St. Christopher to wear as a remembrance of our trip to Disneyland when I was six, but that’s kind of like saying “default capitalist christianity sans savior fetishizing.”
In fact, my mother encouraged exploration of all beliefs. Even so, TV news stories of “exorcisms” when I was 12 had me worried that if I thought the words “fuck Jesus” in my head, demons would gain access to my soul. Of course, what phrase relentlessly popped into my head when I was sitting on the toilet? Thanks Eyewitness News! (This also would explain why I still wore that St. Christopher in high school.)
So, at 16, standing next to my trench-coat-cloaked Black-Sabbath-loving friend with angular features predicting the mysterious bells with his finger… let’s just say I was still operating under the good versus evil paradigm.
THE KIDS AREN’T ALRIGHT
The party was now underway with music blaring and teens wandering about. I sat at the dining room table to catch my breath as the hallucinatory designs were intensifying fast. No longer superimposed over my reality, but making up my reality.
That’s when I saw Kathy. She immediately knew I was tripping because we had been partner CosmicNauts™ for the few months leading up to this party. (It was during one of our more profound trips that Kathy came up with “BART is a fart.”)
“Do you have any for me?” She asked disappointedly. I was worried it was too strong and lied. She let it go and sat next to me, eagerly wanting to live vicariously through me.
“Soooo! Are you having a good trip?”
“I don’t know…” I didn’t at that moment because Eric was turning evil and the electricity in my body was now a circle around my legs that traveled up my body to the top of my head then out my mouth to the tip of my tongue where it painfully exploded. Then it would repeat, like a metronome… or the bells we had heard.
“Lets go for a walk,” she suggested. She was a good CosmicNaut™ and knew when a fellow CosmicNaut™ was losing his tether on a space walk.
Keeping on the sidewalk was difficult as my toes seemed to be going in their own individual directions. Everything in my vision then smeared to the right like a fresh watercolor painting. Kathy tried to talk me into a good place as we walked back into the party, which was now in full swing. I found a spot on the breathing couch and just watched everyone moving about.
This was my usual routine. I was not very outgoing in large groups unless on stage or drunk at a cast party. When on acid, I would sit in the corner and observe everyone’s interactions – the games people played. Oh, the martyrdom of adolescence.
So I watched them all. But a curious thing happened. It appeared that everyone was emotionally and physically regressing into their six year old selves. Petty. Selfish. Awkward body movements. They actually looked like six year olds and I could suddenly see the psychological underpinnings of everyone around me.
The guy next to me said something.
I must’ve pissed him off because he got up and ran away like a kid. I couldn’t be sure it was me. White noise was filling my head.
Craig, a smiling, whip-smart punk rocker in Billy Idol attire, ran in and jubilantly yelled, “The church is on fire! The church is on fire!” But I didn’t hear him correctly. Call it the Yul Brynner Syndrome.
What I heard was: The churches are on fire! The churches are on fire!
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL
Several friends cheered and ran out the door with him to see the glow in the sky.
All the churches are BURNING?! Eric heard the warning bells earlier. He knows his bible. He KNOWS Black Sabbath. He said this was a very interesting night!!! Oh my God, is Armageddon happening?!
That’s when this girl I barely new from school recognized me. She had pierced my ear a week earlier at the mall.
MEET THE GIRL WHO PIERCED MY EAR AT THE MALL:
Okay, not really. Just wanted to take a moment to toot my own horn. You see, in 1982, only Elton John and George Michael could pierce their ears. Maybe pirates, but that was questionable. And if I pierced the wrong ear, I would be proclaiming my homosexuality! Dear God!
But, as it was, piercing my left ear didn’t quell the “faggot” taunts. Primarily because, along with my pierced ear, I:
• was a drama geek
• drove a moped
• wore a baret
• wore white sailor pants with rope ties
• wore sandals
• wore velour shirts
• carried a side satchel
• yelled “It takes a real man to admit he’s a homosexual!” from Terry’s car.
Damn, if I wasn’t brave getting my ear pierced!
So The Girl Who Pierced My Ear At A Mall walked over to me and asked how I was doing.
Now, you’d think I’d go home since the world was ending, but I was getting more and more physically passive. But not necessarily with my demeanor.
“The piercing you did has gotten infected. I’ve tried using alcohol and followed your instructions but it’s just getting worse and I need to do something about it. You pierced it so what should I do now, huh?”
This, it seems, came off a bit dickish since she replied, “Why don’t you just rip it out of your fucking ear!” and walked off. Jesus, what a six year old.
I was sinking into a place I had never been before. Why were all interactions heading into the negative? Was it me? Was I misperceiving it all? Was it Armageddon? Where the hell did Kathy go?!
Just then, Eric came barreling down the hall at me, black trench coat flapping behind him…
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
Eric pulled me up off the couch and said, “Come with me…” then ushered me quickly down the hallway into Aaron’s bedroom, shutting the door behind us.
Aaron, Terry, Eric and myself were in the room. Craig was slumped in the closet with the door half open.
Eric turned to me, still grinning his Mad Magazine grin. “We thought it would be wise to keep all of us away from all of them since we’re tripping pretty hard.”
I sat on the floor and listened to the odd fragments of conversation floating up within the eerie silence.
“Whoa!” Craig gasped. “I can see an x-ray of my hand!”
Someone saw Aaron frowning and asked him what was wrong. “Poland,” he replied (they were, indeed, going through a revolution – “Solidarność”).
I glanced over at the clock on Aaron’s night stand. I knew that the big hand was pointing at the 2 and the little hand was pointing at the 10, but didn’t have the slightest idea what that meant.
“Aaron!” some partier yelled from outside the door. It then opened to a landslide of people filling the room, wanting Aaron to sell them some coke. Off he went to his parents’ bathroom to set them up. The rest of us melted out in different directions.
IN A FLASH
I had oozed back up onto the couch when “it” happened.
The sound of broken glass.
Followed by more broken glass in Aaron’s parents’ room and people hollering.
(Apparently too many people were vying for the coke and so he broke the mirror he had it on and the coke went down the bathroom sink. He turned around and scrawled on the bathroom door “Time. No cops. No mommy. No daddy.” Then he proceeded to break more things in the bedroom.)
After the second crash people started running out of the bedroom and down the hall towards me. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I was pretty sure it was being done by the guy who said I’d be dead before I was 50. I started to believe he might be right. I got up and ran into the dining room where some guys were playing poker (or beer pong – memory is a bit fuzzy, as one might imagine).
“Could you open the window for me?” My body was closing in on itself, wrapping me tightly with my insecurities.
They were torn between wondering why the hell I needed some one else to open a window and what the noise emanating from the other room was.
I knew that I needed to get out of there fast. I didn’t think that the day I died I would be on acid! My life was so short! I didn’t believe Armageddon would happen! Must jump out that window.[No, people, this is the first floor and Linklater's daughter had other issues, but it was turned into an anti-LSD smear campaign.]
They got up as Aaron walked into the kitchen area, still trashing the place. I quickly walked around to the front door, but it was closed. I asked some guy next to it, “Could you please open the door?” Still unable to do anything for myself! He just stared in confusion at the evolving chaos.
I have to get out of here before he comes over!
Thankfully, the door opened with the arrival of new kids. I was home free! I started out the door when -
Shit! He saw me! I double-timed it out the door.
“Wait, D.C.!” Aaron ran after me, stopping me by the driveway. He was sweaty, out of breath, barefoot, shirt open and in utter bliss.
“It’s okay, man,” he said with genuine tenderness and a smile, “I know where it’s at.”
Then he reached out to me and gave me a long bear hug.
Then he stopped and backed a few steps away, just staring at me like a messiah.
All was still.
And Aaron’s bathroom door poem had come to fruition. There was no mommy or daddy or cops. And in this moment, time seemed to stand still.
Eric and Terry broke the surreal moment by quietly advising me, “D.C., whatever you do, don’t run off.”
That’s when Aaron jumped on the hood of the car in the driveway, yelling, “Let’s trash my parents car!”
RUN LIKE HELL
Advice rejected. I bolted down the street. Walking as fast as I could without looking like I was panicking.
I was panicking.
It was a long desolate boulevard where cars drove by fast. I feared Aaron had gotten in the car and was going to run me over. Each car coming up from behind me sounded like the scream heard at the beginning of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” album. Just the scream. Screaming cars.
Each subsequent car screamed louder until I was convinced he was upon me. I jumped in a single bound over a five foot wall and landed in a backyard.
In front of me? A German Shepherd. A perplexed one.
The moment reminded me of when fellow CosmicNaut™ Kathy and I would drop by her home “frying” and her infant twin niece and nephew would stare into our eyes without blinking. Lost in our dilated pupils or the synaptic ballet behind them. It was consistent and startling every time it happened. But not as dangerous since they couldn’t shred my arms with their teeth.
Like the German Shepherd in front of me could!
But he just stared at me and I at him. Then I blinked and jumped back over, continuing down the street, unsure if Aaron was still after me and/or if the world was actually ending.
I did my best to straighten out my thoughts as I turned onto a small residential street. I’m on drugs. I can’t know what’s really the truth. Forget it all. I’ll get back home. Get in my room. Turn on my blue and red lights, put on Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” album and it all will be fine.
Ironic that an epic story about an unhinged man could soothe an unhinged teen.
But, just as I had resolved to walk home and ignore the epic drama, I immediately forgot that I had resolved to walk home and ignore the epic drama! If it’s the end of the world I need to find help. Fast! I need to find someone religious. I need a hospital.
Just then I saw a car coming. I jumped into the middle of the street and waved my arms. They stopped. I stopped. We stared at each other. Did I mention the baby staring into my eyes story? Right. They drove off as I stayed still, tied up again by my insecurities.
I knew I had to knock on a door, but which one?
WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE
“I.D… Hospital.” were the only words I could get out as I held my driver’s permit up to the sweet faced lady who opened the door.
“Just a moment,” she said as she closed the door. A few moments later she was back.
“They want to speak to you.”
I walked into what was apparently a family gathering. All the relatives staring at the dashiki clad teen as he tentatively walked by them into the kitchen. The kind lady handed me her phone.
An officious voice came back on the receiver through a tunnel, echo chamber and some of the best EQ effect psychedelics could offer. “What’s your name (name, name, name)?”
This one confounded me. Which name? My stage name? My full name? The partial name change I did that year before I discovered initials were cool? Just who am I?
Eventually they got the information they needed and told me to wait. The kind lady began washing some dishes as we waited.
“I’m sorry I ruined your party…”
In that moment, she let down her guard and decided to dump all her shit on me.
“Oh, it’s not much of a party. Just a send off for my son who’s moving out. He’s only 32. I don’t think he knows what he’s doing and it’s not a good time what with my mother dying of cancer last year…”
I know this went on for much longer but it blended into a stream of grey fecal sludge flowing out of her mouth and around my head, only interrupted by the arrival of the police.
As they escorted me out, I apologized once more.
“It’s okay, dear. I know you’re a good boy. I saw your St. Christopher.”
Oh my God! I DID find a religious family!
The cops thought I was lying about being under the influence of hallucinogenics. No paramedics were needed.
I didn’t divulge where the party was and even had the presence of mind to lie about the LSD. I said the punch was spiked… Which I’m sure was quite believable coming from a kid wearing a dashiki and Birkenstocks.
They decided to take me home. I was starting to calm down and feel safe until we turned the corner and saw the smoldering church! Did ALL the churches burn to the ground?
I wiped imaginary drool from my mouth.
I knocked on my mother’s bedroom door, “Mom?”
“Shh! Your step-dad is sleeping!”
“Mom, the cops wanna speak to you.”
My mother was silent for a moment.
The cops explained that I just had too much to drink at the party and should just sleep it off. I was so invested in my freak out that I was offended.
“But, mom, I’m freaking out!”
Then, like out of “The Stepford Wives,” my mom laughs and says, “You know you can’t handle your alcohol.” She ushered the cops out the door with friendly “thank yous.”
Once the door shut, I protested, “Mom!”
“I know,” she said dead serious, “Let me get my coat and keys and I’ll take you to the hospital.”
My mom quizzed me on what my address was, birthdays of family members, anything to keep me grounded as we drove up to the hospital. I was calming down…
Until we realized there were no cars in the parking lot and the hospital looked evacuated! Armageddon?
Turned out she had driven up to the wing that was under renovation. The rest of the evening consisted of lots of paperwork, smaller waves of hallucinations ebbing and flowing, a man dying on a gurney, an ER doctor telling me I could be dead in a month if I did LSD and telling my mother that letting me go to the party was tantamount to child abuse.
Yeah, I owe her big time for putting her through that experience.
In retrospect, I would’ve been fine if we stayed at home, but I had committed to the scenario and had to achieve my objective… like an actor… Or a very insecure kid who didn’t want to impose on anyone by changing the trajectory.
I had a dream right afterwards where all I could see was a neon yellow grid – like graph paper – and a voice asking if I wanted to see evil. Then a laser beam shot out from my perspective to each square, eliminating them one by one.
“Am I destroying evil?” I asked.
“No. It’s not there.”
I eventually got back into hallucinogenics, but mainly with mushrooms since the trip was more controlled and introspective without the abrasive insecurities, misperceptions of human interactions or end of world delusions.
I moved out six months later into my own apartment and had vague designs on becoming an actor in LA someday. In the meantime, I wasted time with friends as we all descended into an amphetamine chapter of our lives (which I highly recommend avoiding at all costs).
One night, an acquaintance called and asked if I wanted to buy some LSD. It was an unusual batch – more contemplative – and he thought of me. He called it Zeppelin.
“Remember Gary who worked at the AM/PM store?” He asked. “He dropped this three days ago. In the middle of it he called me and said he saw God in his watch. The next day he quit work and moved back to Indiana to be a pig farmer.”
I bought a hit.
I decided to do it alone at home. I wasn’t going to turn on my blue and red light (which made purple in the center of the living room – crown chakra, dontcha know). I was going to do some introspection, dammit.
I sat in front of my 12″ black and white TV , changing the channel and imagining the evolution of human interaction, emotions. I thought of the psychological underpinnings I could sometimes glimpse in strangers. I landed on a movie about Kennedy with William Devane. I began imitating him imitating Kennedy. Sitting cross-legged on the floor in my underwear. Looking down at my hands and arms while I was doing it. Then something happened.
I experienced persona. My arms were now his arms. William Devane’s. Kennedy’s. Anybody’s. Then I saw my own persona clearly. I saw how it was made up of all the influences I had around me at the time. How my idioms and gestures were culled from the strongest personalities around me. How my reactions to things were modified by earlier fears and likes. I was a collection of traits, training and conditioning.
So I stripped them away by going back in time. I could see/imagine the influences at 12, then at eight years old, the awareness accelerated back through my years and I found myself with just my mother and father as influences at my core (emotional/genetics).
Then I stripped that away and asked myself what was left of “me.”
That feeling in the gut hit. It was that feeling when you’re a kid and you ask yourself imponderables like “where would I be if i didn’t exist?” My stomach twisted and butterflies hinted at the answer – it was at the tip-top of my consciousness.
Then a click – an illumination - followed by a massive visual and emotional parade of evolution moving across a rotating Earth that spun out into the solar system, then out to our galaxy, then suddenly became a panorama of space – a fine line of the material plane.
I erupted in euphoric laughter and tingles. My perception of reality had completely and irreversibly changed. I had broken free of religion and binary morality.
Yeah, it was good acid.
LSD helped me tear down my inherited good versus evil paradigm and replace it with a unified understanding of my reality. It had given me some of the best experiences of my life, as well as some of the psychologically worst.
Had I researched its power and the beneficial ways to use it back then, I would have dramatically minimized my bad experiences. I would have respected it as a tool and not abused it and my psyche.
I might have understood that by holding onto my ego as identity while on a drug that dissolves it would automatically pull up some dark roots.
I might have understood that my fear of Armageddon was really a metaphor for the nuclear arms race occurring at that time.
I would’ve seen that my friend Eric was an innate musician and just intuitively in time with the rhythm of the bells he heard.
I might have gone outside to see the glow of just one church burning in the night sky.
A church, by the way, that was set on fire by a mentally ill young man who thought the church design didn’t do justice to their Christian God. He thought if he burned it down, they would replace it with something better.
And they did.