Thursday, February 5, 2015

Satanists Who Don't Believe in Satan

About a month ago, I did a really long interview with one of those late-night syndicated radio shows that deals with the paranormal (i.e. UFOs, sasquatch, Bermuda Triangle, etc.) It was a blast, although I don’t think the hosts and I were necessarily on the same page from the very beginning. For instance, he told me I was the “second exorcist” they’d had on the show (aside: I’m actually an author and clergyman by trade, not “an exorcist”) and he told me just as matter-of-fact as can be that the Vatican has a secret asylum somewhere (I think he said Denmark?) for all the demoniacs that were beyond the ability of the papal exorcists to deliver.

At any rate, after like thirty radio interviews about Playing Saint (many of them feeling like déjà vu all over again), this very different kind of conversation was welcome. And, as Christmas was then a recent memory, we naturally got on the topic of satanic Christmas displays. I told him about the "Satanic Temple" display, which was about two miles down the street from my house, on the State Capitol lawn. It was a "snaketivity" put up by a group, who (according to the Lansing State Journal) "does not worship Satan, but promotes individuality, compassion and views outside Christian and many conservative beliefs." And...apparently...feels the need to publicly desecrate the holy days and symbols of other religions. Sounds...umm... compassionate? The funny thing is, they expected all sorts of strife and unrest around it, but nobody cared about their ugly little display.

Anyway, the host scoffed a bit at all of this and told me there were some “real Satanists” near his home, who had actually done a black mass right near a public nativity. Those, he said, were the serious, hardcore Satanists, not to be confused with our more moderate types.

I tried to explain to him that the Church of Satan (and, with it, the “Satanic Bible” and the whole “Satanism as a philosophy” movement that’s been bumbling around the ether for the past fifty years) is not made up of people who believe in the Satan of the Bible and choose to worship him. Rather, it’s largely made up of people whose worldview is not too far off from a Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins. Anton LaVey seems to have largely embraced Crowley's Law of Thelema ("Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law...")

 Sure, they might do a black mass, just for the drawwwwma of it all (not unlike public clown PZ Meyers desecrating the sacrament on his blog), but they’re being no less Satanic when they erect an idol to Knowledge and tie that in to the serpent of Genesis 3.

I believe it was Keyzer Soze (and, like, eight other ‘90s movie characters) who said “The Devil’s greatest trick was convincing the world he doesn’t exist” and, ironically, he’s even convinced the members of his own “church.” But that shouldn't surprise us. Throughout Scripture, Satan is portrayed as having two main strategies: the lion, roaring and stalking about, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8) and the serpent (Gen 3:1, Matt 24:24) . Both can be seen in the Dragon (Rev 12:7). And while we are often on guard against the frontal attack of the Lion, that’s often a diversion so that the serpent can slip in unseen.

Just look at Peter, who was ready to chop off some ears when the mob came for Jesus, but was easily manipulated into denying his Lord, just hours later. Or look at the Christian pop culture of my youth, sounding the alarm with full vigor against slasher flicks, heavy metal (especially heavy metal played backwards) and Dungeons & Dragons, while a worship of wealth and pleasure permeated the culture as a whole (including the Church).

This is a main theme in my book Playing Saint. We’ve got to be watchful (Phil 3:2), ready to meet Satan in the obvious evils and the more subtle twisting of Truth (Matt 7:15). Pray for strength and endurance, yes, but also for discernment.

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