Archive for April, 2007

Welcome, Theistic Satanists (and others)

April 29, 2007

Hi everyone! I’d like to experiment with the idea of using WordPress categories/tags to create a de facto unmoderated forum, as a possible replacement for my Theistic Satanism forums on Yahoo, in the event that I decide to phase out the latter.

For every tag, WordPress.com has a page of all the recent posts on WordPress.com with that tag. So, if a bunch of us regularly use a sufficiently rare tag, that page becomes a defacto forum for all relevant posts by us here on WordPress.com.

Publishing this post with the tag “theistic Satanism” will enable me to find the page for the tag “theistic Satanism.” I’ll then add a comment with a link to that page.

To put a tag on a post the first time, type the tag in the text field under the heading “Categories,” next to the “Add” button, at the top of the side panel of the page where you write a new post, and then click the “Add” button before you publish the post. To add the same tag again to a subsequent post, check the checkbox for that category/tag.

As we can do with the tag “Theistic Satanism,” so some of us can also do with the tags “Black Goat Cabal” and “Church of Azazel.”

To try out another neat feature, let’s experiment with trackback pings. In your post, put a link to this post. (Note: That’s a link to this individual post, NOT to the page for the tag, or to my home page.) Soon afterward, a link back to your post will automatically appear as a comment on my post.

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More about “fringe cults” — What is “normal”?

April 21, 2007

Eariler today I posted a blog entry titled “Fringe cults”, about the debate following “The Devil Is In The Details” on the blog “Sailing to Byzantium.”

In response to my initial reply to “unitedcats,” I got replies not only from “unitedcats” himself but also from another person:

katyjane wrote::
April 18th, 2007 at 5:28 pm

dianavera… are you not guilty, in that last line, or doing the same thing you decried of unitedcats? Why would non-mainstream folks be “even more varied” than mainstream folks?

You get some pretty different ideas, regardless of where you’re looking.

I replied:

Diane Vera wrote::
April 20th, 2007 at 10:56 am

katyjane wrote:

“dianavera… are you not guilty, in that last line, or doing the same thing you decried of unitedcats? Why would non-mainstream folks be ‘even more varied’ than mainstream folks?”

Obviously there are more ways to differ from the norm than there are ways to be normal. That’s simple math.

Of course it’s true that even amongst “normal” folks there is quite a bit of variety.

I would add now that what I was doing was not at all the same thing that I (perhaps incorrectly) perceived that “unitedcats” was doing. I was not making a generalization about all people outside of some norm of my own.

As it turns out, I may have misperceived what “unitedcats” meant by “fringe cults.” (See my previous post,“Fringe cults”.)

Admittedly my reply to “katyjane” was rather abrupt, since I was arguing what seemed to me to be an extremely obvious point. But apparently it wasn’t.
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“Fringe cults”

April 21, 2007

Shortly after writing my first two posts here on this new blog of mine a few days ago, I looked at WordPress’s listing for the Satanism tag, to see if my post on Satanic panic in Russia? had appeared there yet. It hadn’t, but my eye was caught by a blog entry titled “The Devil Is In The Details” on a blog called “Sailing to Byzantium.” The post was about Anton LaVey. I agreed with most of the what the author had to say. I was glad to see his open-mindedness about LaVeyan Satanism, but I also agree with most of his stated reservations about it, as well as with most of what he said he liked about it.

Then I looked down at the comments and came across the following:

unitedcats wrote::
March 4th, 2007 at 12:59 am

I would have to agree, all fringe cults are pretty much the same. Satanism, UFO cultists, whatever…just lost souls who want to be special somehow and don’t have much identity of their own. Mostly harmless, I mean things like the Solar Temple, Jim Jones, Aun Shimrikyo make the news…but there must be million’s of people in fringe cults around the world so the dangerous ones are the exception, not the rule. And mostly dangerous to their own members even when they do go nuts. Often confused too, like the dyslexic Satanist who sold his soul to Santa. ;) JMO —Doug

Startled by this person’s claim that “all fringe cults” (apparently including all the many different kinds of Satanism???) are “all … pretty much the same,” and that their adnerents are all “just lost souls who want to be special somehow and don’t have much identity of their own,” I quickly dashed off the following reply:

dianevera wrote::
April 18th, 2007 at 12:39 pm

unitedcats, you sure do generalize about people in “all fringe cults,” claiming that they are all “just lost souls who want to be special somehow and don’t have much identity of their own.” People in nonmainstream religions have a variety of different motives, just as people in mainstream religions do. You have fallen into the common human tendency to oversimplify and to be socially dualistic, to see everyone outside one’s own little box as being fundamentally all alike. But that’s an error — they aren’t all alike. Nonmainstream folks are even more varied than mainstream folks.

As we will see later, I may have misunderstood what “unitedcats” meant by “fringe cults.” I got the impression that, by “all fringe cults,” he was referring to all nonmainstream religions. He may have meant to refer just to the more authoritarian, “brainwashing,” and controlling ones, rather than to nonmainstream religions in general. Or does he perhaps believe that all nonmainstream religions are “cults” in the authoritarian/”brainwashing”/controlling sense? If so, that belief is wrong. Or does he perhaps believe that all forms of Satanism are “cults” in the authoritarian/”brainwashing”/controlling sense? If so, that belief is wrong too. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to ask these questions in my reply.
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Gwan Garrison, the next Mike Warnke?

April 19, 2007

I recently ran into the following two stories, both on the website of Baptist Press in Tennessee:

Gwan Garrison claims to be an ex-Satanist. Googling “Satanism Gwan Garrison,” I found the following earlier versions of the above two articles, on Christian Index, a Georgia Baptist site:

His bio seemed awfully fishy to me.

I also found some witty and thought-provoking commentary on About.com, on Witchvox, and on J-Walk Blog.

On About.com, in an article titled “Satanic Panic, or ‘I was a Satanic Witch (No, Really, I Could Fly and Everything!)’,” Jennifer Emick sums up Gwan Garrison’s story as follows:

Baptist Pastor Gwan Garrison talks about how much he enjoyed “persecuting Christians,” and he’s sure to mention (with the amount of accuracy typical in these stories) his “Satanic altar” and his “crystals.” It’s light fare compared to some of these stories- no bloody sacrifices, no marriages to Satan- but there is a glowering cat and a high-voltage Satanic bible- and there is, of course, that ever-present character, the tirelessly persistent evangelical whose refusal to stop pestering the ungodly results in his miraculous transformation.

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More about school shootings and stereotypes

April 19, 2007

Well, I guess it was only a matter of time before someone would start talking about “Satanism” in connection with school shootings, in the wake of the Virginia Tech murders — even though the killer at VT, Cho Seung-Hui, had no connection with any kind of Satanism, as far as I can tell.
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Satanic panic in Russia?

April 17, 2007

A Russian Orthodox public movement called the “People’s Council” has made some ill-informed, panic-stricken claims about Satanism:

  • “People’s Council urges authorities to equate Satanists to terrorists,” Interfax-Religion, Russia – Apr 2, 2007

It released a statement claiming that “ritual murders” and various other nasty activities are all “characteristic of Satanic organizations.”

The statement is said to mention several ritual murders including the allegedly notorious “murder of three Optino monks killed by a Satanist on Orthodox Easter.” (I found no further information about this crime via Google.)

The statement also says, “There is an enormous number of Satanic organizations and groups acting in Russia today. Many of them are united in a single branchy network.”

Yeah, right.

The statement then goes on the mention the “Church of the Satan” [sic], failing to note that the Church of Satan has been an above-ground organization for over 40 years and does NOT endorse any kind of criminal activity.

I found the following blog entry:

  • “‘Satanists as dangerous as terrorists! World at risk from Satan cults’ claim Russian Orthodox,” Signs of Witness

It closes with the comment, “It could be that Religious Right Hysteria is the real ‘danger to Society…'”

Virginia Tech shootings — possible scapegoating?

April 17, 2007

When I first heard about the Virginia Tech shootings yesterday, one of my first thoughts was to wonder what minority groups or nonmainstream subcultures the shooter might have belonged to, if any. If he was anything other than a religiously and culturally mainstream heterosexual white male, would this lead to any scapegoating of whatever groups he did belong to, the way the Columbine killings led to scapegoating of the Goth scene and anyone wearing a trenchcoat?

Among other things, I worried about the possibility that the Virginia Tech shooter might have been gay. Virginia seems to be one of the most homophobic states in the country, with one of the most stringent prohibitions on anything resembling same-sex marriage. Might life in Virginia be bad enough to drive at least one gay man crazy enough to go on a shooting spree? And, if so, might that lead to an even worse situation for gays?

Most of all, I worried about the possibility that the killer might have had an interest in Satanism. Might he even have been a member of one of my own Theistic Satanism forums? I sure hoped not. Yikes!

Some early newsreports mentioned that he “wore black.” Might this result in heightened prejudice against kids who wear black? I’ve heard that, in some parts of the South, any kid who wears black is assumed to be a Satanist, and Satanists are assumed to kill cats and eat babies.

So far, I’ve seen no evidence that the Virginia Tech killer was either gay or interested in Satanism. Today we found out that he was from South Korea. Understandably, Koreans are worried, according to various articles I’ve seen today including the following:
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