Friday, November 25, 2016

Satanist Versus Satanist

Last week Rooster put up an article on the growing feud between Anton LaVey's Church of Satan and the upstart, activist Satanic Temple led by Lucien Greaves. I always find it odd when disputes erupt between similar organizations over what seem to be small differences. The Church of Satan and the Satanic Temple are both examples of atheistic Satanism, and agree on most things besides, it would seem, style and media presence.

LaVey's version of the religion grew, and still exists. But whatever fun they used to have, it's dropped away. The Church doesn't have regular meetings or temples. And a reverend claims that even the infamous orgies are rare. In some ways, the Church of Satan is now disturbingly square. They do not "condone illegal activities," their website says. On that site, theis message comes across as preachy high school goths whose denim jacket said "future anarchist" but whose marching-band flute-playing and front-row seat in AP Algebra said "future sexually-frustrated tax attorney."

Although, just as a point, plenty of occultists like myself don't care much for going around breaking laws. If you have to do that to have a good time, it seems to me that you just lack imagination. But anyway...

But the Church of Satan laid the groundwork to make satanism semi-acceptable in modern society. And now they're understandably mad because the Temple, new and bold, has dropped them like a hot skull, dropped the incense and the rituals and the chants and all the other self-important mumbo-jumbo of the old Church. They're simply out there kicking ass, challenging kings and presidents and getting interviewed by Megyn Kelly.

As an outsider, it's easy to see both kinds of satanism as a joke or a sideshow. But that's a mistake. The Satanic Temple is a real challenge to Christians who want America to be a Christian-only nation. And that's a lot of Christians, including possibly our next Vice President. This is part of why the Satanic Temple continues to grow so quickly. They added thousands of members in the few hours after the election, Greaves said.

I will say that it seems strange to me to bother with complex rituals if you don't believe in anything paranormal. Magick is a technology, after all, and I think it is a profound mistake to treat it as some kind of fashion statement. On the other hand, you can be an atheist and still believe in the paranormal, so maybe that's the big difference - the Satanic Temple rejects paranormal technology and focuses on activism.

Still, you really can't say at this point that the Satanic Temple has not accomplished "change in conformity with will." Their many legal challenges have produced concrete results that stand against the the Poor Oppressed Christians who are desperate to write the privilege they fear losing into law. Plus, who doesn't love their Satanic coloring book? I mean, that was a big win right there.

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