Thanks to James Nicholson for referring to my article on Christian-based duotheism in his recent post on sectarian Satanism. However, he seems to have misunderstood what I mean by the term “Christian-based duotheism.”
Archive for the 'religion' Category
Who and what is Satan? The vast majority of the lore we have about Satan comes not from His worshipers, or from others who celebrate Satan, but from His enemies. Hence, in my opinion, the key to understanding today’s mythology about Satan is to ask these questions: (1) Who and what are Satan’s avowed enemies (SAE’s)? (2) What are SAE’s threatened by?
I believe in Satan as a deity. But I do not believe in the literal truth of any myth about any deity. I believe that the true essence of any deity is probably beyond human comprehension, but that there are real spiritual forces/entities that may manifest to us via our myths.. So, what kind of deity would manifest via the Satan myth?
In Lilith: Queen of the Desert, Anya Kless says that Lilith is one of the few deities she associates with all four elements.
Personally, I’m inclined to believe that most deities have associations with all four elements — at least if we dig deeply enough into their lore — and that relatively few of them are truly specialized by element.
Lilith’s Tribe in New York City aims to be inclusive of the many different kinds of people who are drawn to Lilith. That’s tricky to accomplish, on many levels.
If such a group were to perform a public or semi-public ritual, what kind of ritual format would be appropriate?
Lately, challenging people’s prejudices has gotten much harder than it used to be. Once it was easy and fun. Over the years it became much more difficult. Lately, it often seems to have become almost impossible. For whatever reasons, it seems that most people today are a lot less willing to consider new ideas than most people were, say, back in the 1970′s.
Nevertheless, even today it is still possible to make progress in counteracting specific prejudices, if one is willing to be persistent about it.
Here’s a brief history of some of my major successes and failures at challenging people’s prejudices over the past few decades:
Another post by Anya Kless has called my attention to the following: (1) Fun Facts For the Deity-Owned by Laura Patsouris, Patheos, January 26, 2011, and (2) God-Owned: Humans as Pets by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, January 26, 2011.
I can relate to the experience of being “God-owned,” although I’ve tended to use different terminology to describe it.
I don’t know if I’m ready to say that anyone who works with Satan is actually working with Samael (or one of His faces), but it seems quite possible. Considering the eye-rolling I used to do about Satanism, it’s actually rather ironic that, if the Satanists are right, I’m working with Him. Gods are funny that way.
I am, of course, relieved to see that past-tense “used to.” She also references a website called “Severity of God” (about Samael) by a LaVeyan Satanist who is also an Aztec reconstructionist.
Anyhow, Anya Kless’s post is an interesting compilation of lore about Samael, plus a brief account of some of her own personal spiritual experiences involving Samael.
In a comment on my previous post, Preliminary response to Michael Cuneo on exorcism, Raul Gil requested a separate thread to respond to my page about the murder case of Father Gerald Robinson in Toledo, Ohio (U.S.A.) on my Against Satanic Panics site. So here it is.
Raul, thanks for respecting the topicality of the original comment thread.
In particular, Raul wanted to discuss allegations about Catholic priests who secretly practice Satanic rites.
I recently ordered a copy of American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty by Michael Cuneo, who teaches anthropology and sociology at Fordham University in the Bronx, here in New York City. According to various reviews (listed near the bottom of this post), Cuneo’s book is an in-depth study, from an open-mindedly skeptical point of view, of exorcism as practiced by both Catholics and Protestants here in the U.S.A.
The recent movie The Rite is loosely based on a (supposedly) nonfiction book that was published two years ago, The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio. The book is about an American priest who spent his sabbatical year in Italy training to be an exorcist.
As Laura Miller explains in “Eat your saints, purge your demons,” Salon, March 27, 2009:
Father Gary Thomas, Baglio’s trainee exorcist, half fell into the job; he volunteered when, in 2004, the Vatican asked every Catholic bishop to appoint an official exorcist to his diocese. This startling development can be explained by the fact that for the past decade Italy has been gripped by an intermittent satanic ritual abuse panic similar to the hysteria that swept through the U.S. in the 1980s.
(revised February 10, 2011)
Here in New York City, there is a Cult Hotline and Clinic run by the JBFCS (the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services). They provide various helpful services to ex-members of “cults” and to estranged families and friends of “cult” members. They are, as far as I can tell, the only place in New York City that offers such services.
Truly harmful religious groups certainly do exist, and it’s good that there are at least a few places, like the JBFCS Cult Clinic, where people who have been hurt by such groups can get help. But the website of the JBFCS Cult Clinic associates Satanism in general with “cults,” even though the vast majority of Satanist groups (or, at least, most of the ones I’ve run into) do not fit the JBFCS Cult Clinic’s definition of a “cult.”
Earlier I commented briefly on the nonsensical protests against the construction of a mosque several blocks from Ground Zero. Now, according to a post today by Richard Bartholomew, a Controversial Preacher Seeks to Establish “Outreach Center” Near Ground Zero. The controversial preacher is Bill Keller, who is planning to build an anti-Muslim “9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero.”
Recently I was contacted by someone interested in learning about Luciferianism as distinct from Satanism. In my view, Luciferianism and Satanism are overlapping categories, and most people today who call themselves “Luciferians” really are Satanists too, as far as I can tell. However, there have also existed plenty of occultists who didn’t even call themselves “Luciferians,” but who nevertheless were “Luciferian” in the sense of making favorable references to a being that they called “Lucifer.” In most though not all cases, this “Lucifer” is indeed quite distinct from “Satan.”
Here is a far-from-exhaustive list.
On another blog of mine, someone identified as “Axis Sallyboy X” posted a fervent comment on my post announcing the Church of Azazel’s statement against violent crime and vandalism. Unfortunately, the comment was full of expletives plus some implied threats, which are not in my interests to allow, as they are likely a terms-of-service violation.
So I’ve deleted the comment. Below is an edited version of the comment, followed by my reply:
Today I surfed onto a blog belonging to a fundamentalist/evangelical Christian named Hank Hanegraaff, who runs something called the Christian Research Institute (CRI).
He seems to be, in some ways, one of the more honest and reasonable evangelical Christian public figures. Back in the early 1990′s, CRI published some articles debunking the “Satanic ritual abuse” scare , for which I would like to thank him. Back then, standing up against the SRA scare required quite a bit of courage.
In most other ways, though, I still have to regard him as being very much in the enemy camp, for reasons aptly summed up here on RationalWiki (although, as I’ll detail later, the RationalWiki page contains some inaccuracies).
Anyhow, I would like to call attention to some things he says that are of interest both to Satanists and to Pagan Witches.
In the General feedback thread,
Hi Ms. Vera, I’m trying to write a novel utilizing themes of pagan symbolism in Christianity as part of the plot device … , but thus far I have not located a great source documenting the history of that symbolism.
I’m writing to you to ask if you could recommend any such sources that I can use to research.
I’m sorry — this is not a topic I’ve researched in depth. If anyone else here is knowledgeable about this, I too would be interested in recommendations of good scholarly sources on this topic.
You also wrote: “(if you’ve seen the Zeitgeist documentary on YouTube, that gives you some idea)”
Ugh. Zeitgeist. Definitely not a good source on anything. Amd full of grand conspiracy ideology and other related nonsense, e.g. regarding the Federal Reserve System. For some debunking, see Resources for debunking grand conspiracy claims, and for documenting their political significance.
In the general feedback thread, meowmixeater asked me one of the usual questions that Christians commonly ask theistic Satanists: “Do you believe that satan is actually more powerful than God? If so why?”
My answers to that question can be found here:
- Post-Copernican natural theology
- The here-and-now principle in theology
- Theology of the Church of Azazel
If you have further questions, feel free to post them as a comment here.
Phil Orenstein posted a reply, here, to my post More about the controversy over the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA). Phil, I’m sorry about the delay in moderating your comment, which was posted during my recent hiatus from this blog. Anyhow, here is my further reply.
My post The “Stop the Madrassa” Coalition and its campaign against the Khalil Gibran International Academy has been quoted on the FrontPage magazine site in an article titled Fantasizing “The New McCarthyism” by Phil Orenstein, FrontPageMagazine.com, Friday, May 23, 2008.
Islamism (the totalitarian ideology) does pose a real threat. But it’s a threat that needs to be addressed with surgical precision, not blind hysteria.
Alas, Phil Orenstein’s article comes across to me as hysteria-mongering: a flood of accusations against various people, combined with a blatantly fallacious dismissal of the civil rights concerns of Muslims. But his article has inspired me to research several topics more deeply this past week, including hate crime statistics and the recent history of bigotry against both Jews and Muslims.
I highly recommend the excellent article Recent Developments in the Study of The Great European Witch Hunt by Jenny Gibbons.
Too many modern Pagan writers still cling to outdated ideas about the European witchhunts. Jenny Gibbons shows where many of those wrong ideas came from and how they were eventually corrected.
These days, too many public atheists come across as even more hostile toward liberals and religious moderates than toward fundamentalists. This is unfortunate, because, in my opinion, atheists and religious liberals and moderates need to stand together against the worldwide trend toward theocracy.
When I first ran into the “Stop the Madrassa” Coalition’s blog last week, I was inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt that they may have had a valid church-state separation issue regarding the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA). I do think it’s important to uphold separation of church (mosque) and state.
However, the more I’ve looked into this matter, the more it seems to me that the “Stop the Madrassa” Coalition is crying wolf. Their one valid complaint is the Board of Education’s unwillingness to provide complete information about the curriculum to the general public. On this matter, their arch-scapegoat, the Khalil Gibran school’s founder and former principal Debbie Almontaser, agrees with them, as I learned last night. She too wishes that the Board of Education and the school’s current administration would be more transparent, to allay public fears.
Recently, there seems to have been revival of classic libels against Jews, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and ye olde blood libel, in many parts of the world.
I’m not Jewish, but I have a personal interest in this topic, as a member of another, much smaller religious minority which has frequently been a target of what can best be described as warmed-over anti-Jewish propaganda. Also, I live in New York and have had quite a few Jewish friends.
Below, I’ll discuss some classic anti-Jewish claims, with links to sites refuting them.
I do question whether these beliefs have become quite as widespread as some folks claim. Pro-Israel hawks have seized upon the promulgation of anti-Jewish libels as a justification for their own intransigance, which makes me wonder whether some of them might be exaggerating just a tad. Nevertheless, the revival of traditional anti-Jewish nonsense does indeed seem to be a real and growing menace.
New Yorkers Against Religion-Based Bigotry will oppose both Islamism (the political ideology of Sharia supremacy) and bigotry against Muslims, as stated here (as well as opposing bigotry against people of various other religions too).
As I now envision our activism, it will include, among other things, both (1) participating in political actions against torture and in favor of indicting Bush, Cheney, et al for war crimes, and (2) attempts to reason with anti-Muslim bigots, who often seem to be motivated by valid concerns about Islamism.
In trying to reason with anti-Muslim bigots, I’m inclined to argue from a pragmatic point of view, rather than an abstract moral point of view. Specifically, I think a good approach might be to empathize with their concerns about Islamism (which I share) and point out that there are many Muslim reformers and Muslim moderates who are not just different from Islamists but also our natural allies against Islamism and against the more repressive and retrograde forms of Islam.
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I’ve been having a very interesting discussion with “The Apostate,” who is “a Pakistani woman, raised as a Muslim in Saudi Arabia, and an atheist since the age of 17,” now 25 and living in San Francisco.
In a post of hers titled Why I Criticize Islam and Muslims, she wrote:
Nevertheless, I don’t wish to ‘demonize’ Muslims, nor to paint a monochromatic picture of them. There are Muslims who have commented on this blog who represent a kinder gentler Islam. I know they exist – I also know they are, at this point in time, few and far between. I can also differentiate between truly enlightened Muslims and those who are primitive in their religious interpretations but who have good hearts.
Back in 2001, shortly after 9/11, I remember seeing rhetoric about how the U.S invasion of Afghanistan was going to liberate Afghanistan’s women. Various “gay conservatives” claimed that a U.S. invasion would be good for Afghanistan’s gays, too. Likewise, various gay neocons thought the U.S. military was going to bring human rights to Iraq as well.
Some have belatedly changed their minds, at least about Iraq.
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After publishing my previous post, I clicked on the “Islamism” tag to see what other folks were saying on that topic here on WordPress.com. One of the blogs I came across was Islamoscope, whose About page says:
We believe that by creating awareness of the radical element of Islam both moderate Muslims and non-Muslims from all religious and ethnic persuasions can ensure we can still enjoy the freedoms created in the West free from radical persecution.
I agree so far.
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New Yorkers Against Religion-Based Bigotry will need to tread a very delicate balance as far as Islam is concerned.
On the one hand, the Muslim world seems to be dominated, to a large and very scary degree, by extremely intolerant Islamist factions. We need to take a stand against Islamist persecution of “apostates,” persecution of gays, etc. (Among other things, this means we should expose the history of U.S. government support for Islamist militants – continuing even after 9/11/2001!)
On the other hand, Muslims in general, including the more moderate and reformist Muslims, have themselves been the target of a lot of bigotry here in the U.S.A. We need to oppose that, too. We also need to oppose the egregious human rights violations, e.g. torture, that have been justified in the name of opposing Islamist terrorism.
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