Not of the World
A History of the Commune in America

by Daniel Cohen
Follet Publishing Company, Chicago
224 page, 1973

Section on the Lyman Family: pp 169-171

Perhaps the most controversial commune leader active today is Mel Lyman, a former rock musician, whose "family" occupies houses in Boston, New York, and San Francisco, and has recently purchased a farm in Kansas. The Lyman family is not large, but because it has attracted a few wealthy members, it is well financed. The control that Lyman exercises over his family members is legendary in hip circles.

Lyman claims that he is Christ returned. One issue of a Lyman publication called Avatar contained a picture of a grinning Lyman sitting lotus position and floating among the stars with a drink in one hand and a halo above his head. The caption read in part:

"Hi, gang, I'm back, just like the book says. By God here I am, in all my glory, I thought I'd never come. But I'm here now and getting ready to do the good work. Maybe some of ya think I ain't Him. You'll see. I ain't about to prove it for you, much too corny. I'm Him and there just ain't no question about it .... So while most of you turn your heads and continue sticking to your silly romantic beliefs I'll let the rest of you in on a little secret. I'm Christ, I swear to God in person, and I'm about to turn this foolish world upside down . . . ."

Lyman's Christ claim is obviously something of a put-on, but the line between put-on and belief can be a very indistinct one. Those who have investigated the Lyman family closely testify that he is indeed regarded as a messiah or a god by his followers.

photo caption: "Mel Lyman, from an altered photograph emphasizing his claims of divinity."
Mel Lyman