Friday, September 30, 2016

A Subtler Satanism

From Crisis:
Since our theologians no longer speak of Satan, however, Ven. Sheen says we must summon the poets instead. So Lucien Greaves, the co-founder and spokesman for the Satanic Temple, explains that Satan is not literal but rather a “metaphorical construct.” As the group writes: “Satan is symbolic of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority… Ours is the literary Satan best exemplified by Milton and the Romantic Satanists.” And now Milton’s “bold” Satan taunts, like some great soul, elementary and middle school parents with After School Satan.

Numerous Christians and conservatives counsel us against undue alarm over the proposed club. We’re quoted vague literature from the Satanic Temple promising lessons on science, free inquiry, and art. We’re reassured, with collective little jokes, that these Satanists don’t “worship” Satan. We’re advised, indeed, that they are in fact “faux Satanists”—atheists exploiting Lucifer to be “jerks” to people of faith, “satirists” capitalizing on the “PR value of standing for Satan instead of Reason.” So mark the humor, we’re told, of the intentionally “jarring” promotional video featuring backwards-walking schoolchildren, ominous chanting, and a guttural, diabolical voice.

We’re urged, by some Christians, to elude this “trap,” this provocation to shut down all religious clubs with our naïve indignation. We’re exhorted, by others, to extol the Satanic Temple for sharing our “struggle for justice” and shielding our “freedoms,” including “the freedom to offend.” And we’re utterly missing, in our legal shrewdness and brave free thought, the terrible seriousness of the Satanic Temple’s “symbolic” Satan.

Frequently invited to shed Satan to gain support for his crusade to separate church and state, Greaves is unpersuadable. He finds it “annoying” to be dismissed as “‘just’ an atheist group trying to make a political point.” Others don’t comprehend his “atheistic religion,” a religion emptied of “supernaturalism.” Satan may be just a metaphor, but he’s too essential to the religion’s “symbolic structure,” “sense of purpose,” and “religious narrative” to be ceded. (Read more.)

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