In Memory of Wesley Johnson McAllister (1913 - 2009)
Wesley McAllister's Spiritual Database
Wesley Johnson McAllister, my grandfather, passed away just several years ago. He lived to be 96, and enjoyed a fulfilling life. A farm-boy from Southern Utah with little formal schooling, he moved to California during the Depression, taught himself machinery and eventually managed a large factory plant for the U.S. Army. Determined to make up for his lack of education, he earned his Bachelor's at age 56. He liked to tell stories, and is remembered by those who knew him for his grand ideas.
Wes always had a passion for inventing. In his old age, realizing that his remaining years were few, he decided that he wanted to leave his mark as one of the great American innovators. He was constantly looking for the next big idea, something so grand that it would seal his legacy. He came up with quite a lot of ideas, though one is worth mentioning for its relevance in the future of technology.
He was intrigued by computers, although he hardly understood them. He became fascinated by the advent of the internet. The idea that pieces of information could be transmitted from one machine to millions of others in mere seconds seemed unreal. He watched as companies such as AOL and Hotmail rose out of practically nothing, and he saw that the Web was a new frontier, waiting to be exploited.
Within time, the roots of Wes's own big idea took shape. He knew that the greatness of the internet was the ability to share information. He saw an opportunity in this. Information is valuable. If he could gather important data, he could control its distribution. But it would have to be something so rare that it wasn't already available for free through a Google search. Where would he find such precious knowledge?
Wes had a strong faith in life after death. He believed in a spiritual afterlife, that it was present all around us, that is invisible to mortal eyes, but which harbored the spirits of all women and men who have died.
If such a world existed, surely the kind of information he sought was there. The knowledge and memories of all previous generations of humanity seemed a worthwhile prospect.
Sadly, my grandfather developed Alzheimer's, and his mind slowly drifted. It was then, however, that his idea came together. He reasoned that if he built a bridge to the spiritual world, he could access the endless bits of information that exist there. He alone would control it, and sell it for any price he demanded. Naturally people would be willing to pay to get to the hidden secrets of the past. With his monopoly secure, he'd lead the human race into a new era, and forever be remembered.
All he had to do was build a connection to the spiritual world. The solution was obvious; design software to do the job. His program would link to the afterlife, download all the information there, and store it in a database on his desktop computer. He didn't think it was crazy. He though it was visionary. He had lived long enough to see so many ideas come to life that were once considered unimaginable. Why was his idea any different?
Wes never saw the fulfillment of his grand idea. His condition became worse with age, until he was barely able to function at all. His mind was gone. Eventually he quietly passed on.
Although he is gone, his children and grandchildren remember how he used to ramble on and on about his spiritual database. Perhaps it did sound ridiculous, but if so, it was mainly because it seemed nothing more than a crazy old man's dream. Yet the idea of a spiritual database is something that lives in the psyche of humanity. The major religions of the world preach similar doctrines. Science has its theories on hidden information as well, in hypotheses such as dark matter, the multiverse, and string theory.
He may have lacked the credentials of the great scientists of our age, but his idea, at least to me, was just as grand.
Wes has now passed on from this life. He lived to the end firm in his belief that if he could not access the spiritual world through technology, he would find it at last in death. ◼