Touched 

Remember Dr. John E. Mack at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.

Dr. John E. Mack began his career with a remarkable bang, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Oberlin and receiving a medical degree from Harvard. His exploration of how people's perceptions of the larger world affect their human relationships led him, in 1977, to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of T.E. Lawrence. But around 1990, his fascination with "worldview" began to lead him down a road less traveled: researching alien encounters. He insisted these encounters were more spiritual than physical, and compiled his work in the best-selling book Abduction. Not surprisingly, Harvard Medical School organized a faculty committee to review Dr. Mack's studies, but after a fifteen-month investigation, it chose to take no action.

Dr. Mack's disgust with the West's materialist ways led him to many progressive causes. In 1991, he wrote in New York Newsday: "[T.E.] Lawrence spoke of America's 'Christian idealism,' our ability to espouse the highest of moral principles ... while at the same time to massacre and sequester our native Indian population. ... With the sanctimoniousness that Lawrence identified as characteristically American, we repeatedly declare our intention to avoid targeting civilians and to minimize the loss of civilian life in Iraq. Yet the bombing has been so overwhelming that the loss of human life is verging on massacre."

Mid-September of 2004 found Dr. Mack in New Hampshire campaigning door to door for John Kerry in depressed urban neighborhoods. A week later, while attending the T.E. Lawrence Symposium in Oxford, England, as a speaker, he was struck by a drunk driver, and died shortly thereafter. He was 74.

This Sunday at 2 p.m., there will be a San Francisco Bay Area Remembrance for Dr. John E. Mack at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th St. Attendees can hear speakers such as Joe Firmage, Stanislav Grof, Father James O'Dea, and many others, with live music and more. A short film with clips from various films -- including Emmy winner Laurel Chiten's documentary on Dr. Mack, Touched -- will be shown at the start of the event. A $10 donation is suggested. Reserve your space at JohnEMackInstitute.org

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