When I was a believer nothing, and I mean NOTHING, was more blood-curdling, blood freezingly frightening than the idea of the devil, any powers or beings related to the devil, and anything related to demons. The church had me so scared of this mythical being that I was frightened of my own thoughts, of images, of stories about the ultimate evil, Satan. You want to make an adult human being tremble in honest fear, talk openly about Satan with a Christian or a Muslim.
I clearly recall rooms full of adults wailing in panic and in fear that an actual evil spirit was at play in the world and wanting to target well-meaning people and their families. I remember sermons and talks given that were especially intended to stir up an infectious alarm of imminent contact with evil incarnate. One human causing ultimate terror in another person.
Deep fear of symbols, sounds, words, thoughts, ideas, designs. This is the kind of fear that makes a body shake and quiver and feel on the edge of the abyss. The kind of fear that makes a pitiful, powerless mortal grasp onto anything offered as a lifeboat against such damnable evil. This is the thing that gets into one's head and grows and stews and taints everything. It scares the beauty and the joy away. That is the kind of fear of Satan that some churches teach.
I remember being one of those people who feared that which I did not understand or that was different from me. One night my dear friend stormed into the house after one of her Evangelical meetings and started asking me about Men at Work's song Land Down Under. Did I even know what vegemite was? Could it be of the Devil? A trail head full of zombies?! What does it mean the land down under where women blow and men plunder?!!!!!!
Could this be a demonic song?, she asked, wide-eyed, fearful that she had missed an obvious demonic presence on the airwaves and on MTV.
I had to admit that I did not know!
Now, of course, I see that Men at Work were seriously evil. *wink*
I don't want to make an adult human being tremble in honest fear, yet I am going to talk about Satan. FIRST by stating that in no way and under no circumstances do I believe in a devil or evil spirit incarnate or minions or anything of that nature. No body or spirit or intention. None of it. It just makes no sense.
Most of today's Satanists have an admirable goal in mind when they use the metaphor of Satan. They are saying that, historically, wisdom and intellectual discovery and individualism have been treated by some churches and churchgoers as signs of evil at work in a person. Hence the anti-intellectual movement of these recent years. But Satanists are forthrightly claiming intellectualism and individuality as highly-desirable goals for a well-lived, honest life. Today's Satanists use the allegorical Satan to celebrate a crisis of faith, the admirable awareness of free will, and a strong grasp of personal liberties as positive personal human traits to celebrate and to encourage.
For this post I did some reading from The Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple, among others. and I was unimpressed, unmoved. I guess that is because I found them to be mostly putting on a show, trying to shock, etc., when the message is far simpler than the show. While I appreciate their deliberate actions to unsettle the comfortable, I feel that the message is lost.
I believe in Keep It Simple:
- Be Yourself
- Keep Learning
- If It Feels Good and Doesn't Harm anyone else, do it
And I don't need a group of people that I belong to to have that.
What do you think?