Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Prayer for Atheists & Devil Worshipers

As Magus Peter H. Gilmore explains in The Satanic Scriptures, Satanism's current watchword is: Justice.

As it turns out, it goes both ways: a Justice can watch words. Bear with me.

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court debated the issue of prayers at town board meetings. Normally, this would be of interest exclusively as a matter of separation of church and state. That principle is always significant, and has special implications for Satanists. But, in this exchange, what caught my ear was the conspicuous absence of the very term "Satanist."

Justice Samuel Alito asked for an example of a town hall prayer that would be acceptable to an assortment of religions, including, among others, Christians, Buddhists, and Wiccans. Justice Antonin Scalia, playing Devil's advocate, added atheists and devil worshipers to the list. Despite the laughter in the courtroom, this successfully illustrated that it would still be insufficiently inclusive to address town hall prayers to a generic "almighty."

Getting to my point: Scalia mentions "atheists" on the one hand and "devil worshipers" on the other. Phew! Living up to his title, the Justice did not drag Satanists into this. Since we're already covered by "atheists," Scalia's use of "devil-worshipers" in this case introduces a welcome specificity that doesn't risk conflating Satanism and, lehavdl, devil worship.

It seems like an almost deliberate choice. After all, public figures usually love the word "Satanist." It's even the more efficient choice, being two syllables shorter! But the Justice put in about 66.6 percent more effort, resulting in a much clearer argument that kept Satanism out of the whole mess.

Perhaps I'm more pleased than I should be. The truth is, most people probably still don't know that Satanists are atheists. Nonetheless, this vocabulary-obsessed Satanist was excited to hear a legislator managing not to use "Satanists" and "prayer" in the same breath. (Oops!) I'm very happy to be thrown in with the atheists and not mentioned by name, because the last thing Satanism needs is another ignorant association with theism.

This isn't exactly the answer to our – ahem. Even so, on some level, I think that this little moment demonstrates the potential for public discourse to approach Satanism in a more informed manner. But at the very least, as long as they aren't using our word, they aren't misusing it.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Empathy from the Devil

Satanists are generally expected to be misanthropes. However, we are rarely given credit for being tolerant and understanding. Anton LaVey noted the cathartic candor with which some people communicated with him because he was a known Satanist. Yet I find the same happens to me, even though I rarely tell anyone about my religion. These strangers and acquaintances sometimes even tell me that they're not sure why they're being so open with me.

I think that people open up with Satanists because, though socially critical, we possess an advanced capacity for empathy. Don't mistake this for a Goodguy Badge, though. It simply means that a Satanist is more likely to understand why people exhibit certain behaviors ― whether laudable, dismissible, or despicable.

The Satanist embraces honesty in its truest sense and on every level. Satanism recognizes human instincts for what they are, from our most savage lusts to our loftiest creativity. Unlike other religions, it provides a framework that reinforces productive urges while harnessing, rather than denying, destructive instincts. Operating beyond good and evil, the Satanist emphasizes the principles of indulgence and justice. Along with these values, the Satanist tends to be both inquisitive and imaginative, studying freely and creating prolifically.

With this profoundly aware mindset, the Satanist sees with balanced understanding that which the herd usually evaluates with primitive prejudice.

Lucifer might not always like what he sees, but he doesn't kid himself into thinking everything will be okay. Nor does he despair. Ever the pragmatic realist, Lucifer faces the situation with bold honesty so that he can maximize his own joyous autonomy within the given circumstances.

A Satanist truly knows what it means to look out for Number One. Perhaps this balanced, responsible selfishness is ultimately that to which people respond by, from time to time, confessing their uncensored thoughts and feelings to Satanists.

I think it is safe to say that when someone meets a Satanist, that person usually doesn't know it. But looking into the eyes of a Satanist, the average person is as close as he will ever be to true self-acceptance. And self-acceptance is the first step toward evolution.