Who is Preston Harold?

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As mentioned in my last post, it’s time to find out more about our esteemed author, Mr. Preston Harold.  This is where the fun begins.  The author of the introduction to the 3rd edition of the book (published in 1973, it was originally published in 1967), Winifred Babcock, tells us about him on the “About the Author” page:

Preston Harold is a pen name. Neither Mr. Heard, Mr. Barrie, myself, nor anyone else connected with publishing the Harold manuscript knows who or what the author was.  They know only that he is deceased, and they are confident his identity can never be made known.  The anonymous author was convinced that truth makes its own way, because it enlists the aid of those whose hearts resound accord as they are presented with it.  To him, THE SHINING STRANGER must and could withstand this test.

So our author is a mystery. Like the wind, the spirit, we know not from whence he comes nor where he goes. It is obvious the author wished it to be this way.  The reader will have no appeal to a “higher” authority.  The weight of the words will stand on their own. The reader will him or herself be the ultimate authority to which he or she will turn upon for verification of truth.  The author believed truth makes “hearts resound accord,” and therefore sets men free (John 8:32).  We will see how this ties in with Jesus and his mission as we take our steps through Harold’s work.

In his introduction to the first edition of the book, Gerald Heard says:

It was the author’s desire to let the work speak for itself (Preston Harold is a pen-name.) The manuscript was given to Michael Barrie and me.  Although I do not agree with all this book has to say, I believe it should be published, and that other efforts to discover a new meaning in Jesus’ teachings will be made…

I, too, am aware of the limitations of this book, and of the criticism that may justly be directed against it… A work of such scope, however, is necessary to accomplish the objective Harold saw to be essential, an objective he took from Jesus’ command: “Either make the tree good and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by his fruit.” To accomplish this objective, Jesus’ revelation must be posed against the vast body of twentieth century knowledge, an overwhelming task for one man to undertake.

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The reader will have to decide what sort of fruit Harold’s work will bear. Heard tells us the ultimate objective of our author:

Harold’s effort was not to challenge every theology and many prevailing theories so much as it was to restore man’s faith in Jesus by presenting Jesus’ idea of man, based upon the authority of his own words as reported in the Gospels.  Harold believes Jesus’ idea of man is valid and that humankind can accept it wholeheartedly because in his view Jesus’ teaching is congruent with the “given data” of science and human experience, and through Jesus’ ability to tap the fount of truth in his own unconscious, he was able to reveal the true nature and psychological operation of each human being.  How near THE SHINING STRANGER comes to stating a valid interpretation of Jesus and a valid idea of man, each reader must decide for himself.  Probably, the book will stir up violent controversies, but whatever the reaction of its readers, it will do one thing: it will force them to re-think their whole position in regard to Jesus and Christianity.

As far as I know, this book never stirred up any type of controversies, violent or other.  I had never heard of it until the day I stumbled upon it.  Perhaps it was just too overwhelming when it was released in 1967.  Perhaps people just weren’t very interested.  A Google search for “The Shining Stranger” or “Preston Harold” brings up scant information apart from the books published by the Harold Institute, which Institute itself yields little to no information.  Maybe this is as it should be.  However, one of the objectives of this blog will be to make this work better known and appreciated, and each of you reading this are helping to make that happen. Thanks for coming along for the journey!

In my next post, we’ll cover the main points of Harold’s interpretation of who Jesus was, and how he understood his mission.  Hold onto your hats, it gets windy!  Until next time, peace…

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20 thoughts on “Who is Preston Harold?

  1. Kent,

    Interesting! I have never heard of or read this book, but I can tell you that I am curious. I am glad you are taking to the time to shed some light on this work.

    I especially look forward to his arguments about Jesus as a man. Looking forward to the next post.

  2. I discovered The Shining Stranger, way back in 1968. I even wrote Babcock about it. I’ve given this book away to at least a dozen people. I find it one of the most remarkable books ever written, as to who Jesus was and his mission. Yes it was ahead of its time. And in truth still is.
    The author’s analysis of the messianic
    madness of the world, is right on.
    This book is a danger to religious institutions inasmuch as it can free people of following blindly down the road of vicarious atonement. I know for sure that some religious leaders are aware of this book. I saw it once, way back in the 60s on a prominent religious leader’s desk. I am glad you discovered it. peace

    • Thank you for checking in, Mo! I’m thrilled to hear from someone who has actually read the book; to me it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. I’d love to keep hearing from you if at all possible as the blog continues – any contributions you choose to make woud be warmly welcomed. Peace…

  3. There was a follow up book to The Shining Stranger that contains the balance of his writing. In fact there was to be only one book The Single Reality, but because of its size they decided to break the book into two parts with The Shining Stranger to be the first part and The Single Reality the balance of Harald’s writing. I find the second book much to didactic inasmuch most of the writing is not by Preston Harald. What is really wonderful about Harald’s writing is how poetic it is. Truly great prose. Funny you don’t get this in The Single Reality. It’s almost like it was written by someone else.

    • I am aware that “The Single Reality” exists, Mo, but have not really felt the need to track it down. Thanks for your general overview. I am also aware of Babcock’s “Palestinian Mystery Play” which is based off Harold’s writings. I’ll track that one down one day.

  4. The Shining Stranger of course has not been published for a while. You can find used copies on the Internet. And also some copies, but not many, of The Single Reality. The Palestinian Mystery Play is included in The Single Reality. With a preface by a physicist and summary by Oliver Reiser

  5. While looking to see if any copies of TSS were available, as I was recommending it to someone, I came across your blog. Winifred Babcock was my aunt. I read TSS many, many years ago, and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to discuss the book with her only weeks before her death. I see the discussion of some of her other works, but wasn’t sure if you were aware of her final work related to Preston Harold and TSS: “Jung-Hesse-Harold: A Spiritual Psychology”, Dodd Meade, 1983.

    I look forward to checking in on your work once in a while.

    • Wow Henry, thank you so much for your comment. It’s great to connect with folks who are familiar with TSS, and in your case someone with a direct connection to the original manuscript and publication of the work. I will very much look forward to hearing from you and any insights you may care to share, either from your own mind or from your Aunt Winifred! Peace….

  6. I purchased this book (The Shining Stranger) after reading a quote about it and then finding this website. I just finished chapter 1 and am reading chapter 2.

    It’s a very dense book, there’s no filler. I have to check vocabulary with my smart phone as I read certain words.

    Jerry

  7. I read Thé Shining Stranger for 10 years,all through the seventies.It is a Bible unto itself and I have often wondered why it never received more publicity.I myself have always thought it was Arthur Koestler who wrote it,never mind, what matters is that it comes back into publication

  8. The Shining Stranger, I believe, will never be a popular book. It goes against the messianic madness that is the world. Plus all of the organized religions are messianic. It is their stock and trade, their bread and butter. They could never preach this philosophy of an inner savior. No one can save anyone, because in truth, one can only save oneself.
    But, TSS can be a guide for an inner journey, a singular journey that we all must do alone.
    To do what Jesus did….become perfect.
    There is another book that I would recommend that speaks even more to the speciality
    and how-to as to a way. A great way to conscious immorality. It is called “Thinking and Destiny.” The author is Harold Waldwin Percival. And it is still in print.
    Get this book and be enlightened.

    • Thanks Mo. Completely agree concerning humankind’s messianic delusion. Harold Percival: there’s a name I haven’t heard in a long while! I am familiar with “T&D” but have never read it. I’ll have to get on that. Thanks for the “reminder!”

  9. I do not believe Jesus thought he was perfect,he was a taste of the next generation and as such tried to show the way. For Jesus and the Dalai Lama the common denominator is the suggestion that they were welcome to the world,the best start.Feeding a baby is the key and the food is “royal jelly”. As long as the direction is sound we will find a way to navigate. An interesting site,thankyou.

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