Thursday, August 13, 2020

Devil Masks

No, not the kind of devil masks that Anton LaVey once recommended purchasing in large numbers from drug stores on the day after Halloween. Today the masks I'm talking about are regular masks, the kind you wear to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Elmbook school district in Brookfield, Wisconsin has decided to re-open in September, with the requirement that everyone wear masks and practice social distancing. The debate over whether re-opening schools is a good idea, even with masks, is ongoing. Where it falls into Augoeides territory is the claim made by a parent that wearing masks and "six-foot distance" are "pagan rituals of satanic worshippers."
The Elmbrook School District will reopen five days a week to in-person learning. The decision came after three and a half hours of discussions by school board members.


Along with returning to in-person learning, the board also made a decision on requiring students to wear masks. However, not everyone liked that idea.


“Six-foot distance and wearing masks are pagan rituals of satanic worshipers,” said parent Heidi Anderson. “My kids are Christian they are not subject to wearing masks.”

This sounds really dumb to any normal person, but it makes sense to Poor Oppressed Christians because they seem to have this idea that actions and objects have immutable "essences" that cannot be changed. An example of this is yoga - Poor Oppressed Christians think it's evil even if you remove all of the Hindu context and do nothing but stretching.

That's because those particular postures are somehow immutably Hindu and therefore pagan. The corollary is that they can't do a stretch that is used in any yoga routine - in any context, knowingly or unknowingly - without committing the sin of idolatry.

This approach to life requires a lot of ignorance to function in the world. If "six-foot distance" is Satanic (which, you know, as an occultist I can tell you it totally isn't in any context) technically you would be committing a sin whenever you were that far distant from another person. Masks are also not that common in magical rituals - but it is true that they are used sometimes. And anyway the "Satanic" thing about masks that probably is being referred to here is Halloween, which Poor Oppressed Christians flat-out hate as "The Devil's Holiday."

The big problem here is that "sin" as defined by these folks doesn't actually require you to deliberately do anything sinful. Just like doing a stretch that happens to be found in a set of yoga stretches doesn't mean you're practicing Hinduism, unless, you know, you're doing it to practice Hinduism, wearing a medical mask for safety doesn't mean you are engaging in an occult ritual just because some occult rituals employ masks.

And the "six-foot-distance" thing is just bizarre. Is it because 6 is part of 666, the alleged number of the beast? If so, why can't they just practice 7-foot distance? Even safer for everyone, and 7 is the number of God, right?

The other thing this highlights is why the Poor Oppressed Christians are so dangerous in the world of politics. It's not enough for our society to just leave them alone to believe whatever they want. What they want is to make sure they can't ever "accidentally sin" by seeing or hearing or coming into contact with LGBT people, or non-Christians, or the wrong kinds of Christians, or pagans of whatever sort, or anybody who doesn't precisely share their beliefs. Without straight-up eliminationism, that goal is flat-out impossible.

This is why I get so confused by occultists who are willing to support candidates backed by the religious right. There's no negotiation with those folks because there can't be. If they ever amass enough power, they'll be coming for all of us, conservative and liberal alike.
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