Actions, not Aesthetics, is What Matters

Being as how we are in the fading afterglow of Halloween, here is something from the Bay Area Satanists:

It has got to be supremely frustrating to the actual Satan to see so-called “Satanists” upholding Jesus’ teaching about supporting the vulnerable, fragile, and abused and rebuking exactly the same sort of religious bullies he rebuked. Most so-called “satanism” is just satire suffused through and through with a deeply Christian ethos about defending the weak from the strong and cruel, with a thin veneer of Prince of Darkness aesthetic to scare the sort of Fundamentalist who can’t tell the difference between a Halloween mask and demonic possession.

Conservative MAGA types, who don’t trust God, don’t believe the gospel, and therefore live in perpetual fear that the enemy is going to bring it all tumbling down with his clever wiles see expressions of kindness like the above as “Satan disguising himself as an angel of light”. They never seem to see MAGA cultists selling lies, fraud, cruelty, and sadism via a Bible-waving con man as Satan dressed as an angel of light. They imagine they can see fern seed a mile away, while being blind to the GOP elephant in the sanctuary:

Week In The News: Nationwide Protests, Trump Bible Photo, Chauvin Charge  Upgraded | On Point

Here’s reality: A Christian who cheers for kidnapping children at the border, or torture, or jailing miscarrying women, or rich sex predators, or mockers of the disabled and POWs is far more a servant of Baphomet than some guy in a black cape helping refugees to spite MAGA bigots or saying something kind to a fragile soul. A “Satanist” sock drive for the homeless is closer to the Kingdom of God than this paradigm of “Christian” righteousness.

“What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.  For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him. (Matthew 21:28-32)

A so-called Satanist who loves his neighbor and shows him kindness is nearer the kingdom of God than a Christian who hates his neighbor and enjoys inflicting pain on him.


19 Responses

  1. “Most so-called “satanism” is just satire suffused through and through with a deeply Christian ethos about defending the weak from the strong and cruel, with a thin veneer of Prince of Darkness aesthetic”
    I don’t know if that’s true across the board, but it is certainly not true of the Satanic Temple. The ST are the people who keep filing lawsuits to get Ten Commandments monuments removed from courthouses and they, at least, really believe what they say they believe. They are quick to point out that their actual beliefs are quite different from what fundamentalist Christians imagine them to be, but they hold those beliefs sincerely. It isn’t satire.
    Watch the documentary film “Hail Satan?” to learn more.

    – joel

    1. ST are avowedly atheists, so Mark’s description of their “Satanism” is still accurate. They do a certain amount of community / charity work but their big thing is defending the separation of church and state. They seem to be a bit of a one trick pony, but it’s quite a good trick: if anyone tries to get Christian prayers or imagery or proselytising into public institutions then they insist that if Christians are allowed then they can get their own “Satanic” imagery etc in there, too, and people tend to back down.
      I’ve seen them criticised as being self-publicists and counterproductive (although I’ve no idea if this is fair) but I don’t think anyone who knows anything about them has suggested that they are actually Satanic.

      1. @ iain

        For some people, a strict separation of church and state, or what I call purely theological concerns, IS satanic.

      2. @Iain,

        I was objecting to Mark’s description of Satanism as “satire.” I stand by what I wrote above.
        Still, it is true that The Satanic Temple’s actual beliefs about Satan are different from what most Christians/ex-Christians are used to, and I suppose it is understandable that a good Catholic like Mark might mistake it for satire. Here is a quote from their website explaining what Satan means to them:

        “Satan is a symbol of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds. Satan is an icon for the unbowed will of the unsilenced inquirer – the heretic who questions sacred laws and rejects all tyrannical impositions.”

        – joel

      3. A lot of non-Christian religions have a “trickster” figure, e.g. the Norse Loki, or the Native American Kokopelli, that are often compared to the Christian figure of Satan, or the Devil.

        The “trickster” figure fits in with the Satanists’ motif of the “eternal rebel.” i.e. the ultimate asshole. With the eternal rebel, there can be no consensus, no unity, only constant conflict. The Christian conception of the Devil fits in as well, as the Devil has the same Latin root “Diabolus” “to divide.”

        That being said, it is in the spirit of truth that opposing viewpoints must be heard out, and either taken as truth or refuted. Seeking and reaffirming truth is a noble concept and it is possible to continue in this pursuit for all of eternity.

  2. I suppose I shouldn’t write anything about the difference between faith and tribalism, or what is the difference between caring about others and saying, “We Christians are called upon to love everyone“. And I would probably be excoriated beyond recognition if I wrote something about Jesus and his commentary on what people say versus what they do.

    So, i won’t.

    1. In the high and far-off times, I was in a support group (OA, CODA, ACOA and similar) run out of an Evangelical Free Church, so there was a focus on Scripture verses to inform recovery. And at one meeting I brought up Matthew 25: 34 and following, and one of the nice ladies told me rather urgently that Paul tells us clearly that Faith is the saving thing, and this verse is all about Works Righteousness. And I was baffled and asked her sincerely, “Did you just tell me that Jesus Christ is wrong?” Then she was baffled too, because that clearly had never occurred to her.

      “Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then”.
      And Ben, if somebody wants to excoriate me, they can help themselves.

      1. @ lise

        Thanks. I’m laughing about your comment, even though I am kind of used to it around here.

        *looking meaningfully and pointedly at someone*.

        Paul did this a number of times. You can google “verses where paul contradicts jesus” and find a number of places.

      2. That Fundamentalists, both atheist and Christian, think Paul contradicts Jesus does not mean Paul contradicts Jesus. Try not to let your eagerness to bash Christianity on the flimsiest provocation lead you into saying just anything you can to land a punch.

  3. Years ago, over at Roger Olson’s blog at Patheos Evangelical, I tried to make a similar point, but he just couldn’t get past the surface-level aesthetics. He wrote a post about how Satanists doing an invocation, despite their actual words, must be deceitful and evil.

    So I made the point that they did not conceive of “Satan” in the same way that a Christian as himself did. I told him that other denomination’s ideas of “Jesus” would be antithetical to his own.

    He went on to say that what “Satan” represented was settled and universal, just like Hitler. I told him that you can’t compare a historical figure with with one that many people considered to be fictional. I told him that he was conflating the universality of the concept of “Satan” with Christianity’s cultural dominance.

    I also told him that he might be mixing up the group calling themselves “The Satanic Temple”(TST) with an earlier and separate group called “The Church of Satan” which did seem seem to align with his criticisms and prior experiences.

    But it was all to no avail. He kind of shut down at the end and even deleted my last comment. I guess some people just can’t see past labels. I think that for others, and I don’t think Mr. Olson is in this particular category, the labels is all there is. Any notion of “evangelism” is just a thinly veiled exercise in tribal territory marking.

  4. This reminds me of my old coworker the witch and former catholic. I’m still trying to figure out why she so publicly threatened another coworker with a Voodoo doll. I have two theories:

    a. She was hoping to get fired so she could sue the school for religious discrimination
    b. She has had such a rough life that threatening people with magic is the only thing that makes her feel powerful

    I really miss her actually. She was fun to talk to. We laughed a lot about the same stuff. She is clearly highly intelligent. Some of the kids and parents really missed her when she left. What I didn’t like was the animosity she harbored toward some individuals. She had a controlling personality too. Often, on Mondays, she would smugly report to me her winnings at the Casino she frequented. She claims that she has supernatural help, and that she could help others win, when she sensed that they needed it.

    I’ll admit that as much as I liked her, I was slightly worried that she might snatch a hair off of me and make one of her dolls.

    If she was evil she would have a beef with Jesus, but she didn’t. She just hated the Catholic Church with a passion. I’m sure she had her reasons. She also utterly despised the Republican party and Trump. She could see them for what they are.

    Life’s a mixed bag.

  5. CS Lewis pointed out that the devils wanted us to either disbelieve in them or be excessively fascinated with them. I think Satan is probably pleased with himself for concocting modern Satanism where its adherents both disbelieve in him and are excessively interested in him. Are there things in Satanism that are true or good? Sure, it would be hard to found a religion completely void of any truth. But I haven’t found that their creed is anything particularly close Christianity and they still do things like this:
    The pharisee/tax collector juxtaposition has been the m/o of your blog lately and sure, it’s probably something that really needs to be said in the state of our current church and political system. But sometimes I wonder if you slip into the trap of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Or you overlook the sins of the left because you feel like you need a party you can belong to.

    1. I wouldn’t claim to know what “party” Mark belongs to, and nor would I say he has any obligation to criticise “the left” when he talks about the sins on the right.

      That reasoned criticism from an explicitly Catholic perspective is useful and sufficient, as well as helpful to me. It helps me make sense of the politics of a party that used to appeal to me before they went all in with Evangelical Christians for the sake of temporal power. It also gives me a lifeline in the messy storm at sea that is the modern Church. Finding emotional and intellectual fellowship with others offers me a place to stay.

      For my own part, I suppose I’m just a Communist, like Big Bird.

    2. I neither need nor want a party to belong to. What I want is for people to obey Jesus and if Satanists can shame proud Christians into do it (as Jesus tried to shame his proud countrymen with the Parable of the Good Samaritan), then I have no scruples about doing that.

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