Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Devil's Finest Trick... to persuade you that he does not exist.  - Charles Baudelaire

I'm tired right now, but I feel somewhat compelled to address the Harvard/Satanist issue, even if I have to cobble together others' better words on the subject.

Basically, some group calling themselves Satanists are advertising that they will hold a "black mass" for "educational purposes," that they will use a consecrated host but they don't want to offend anybody, and they miscommunicated and it won't be a consecrated host (why bother with that), not by their definition anyway, and no, not by other people's either. Elizabeth Scalia follows the story herehere, here, and here (so far) and keeps rounding up the reactions, including her own:

This is not quite what he had said to me, earlier, and it seems to me to be word-parsing that cannot be overlooked. Did he mean that while he, Lucien Greaves would not call the host consecrated, others would?
I’m not sure how any performance of a Black Mass would not be an ipso facto denigration of the Catholic religion. “Tolerance” and “Sensitivity” have become such tricky things.

Lots of obfuscation about — the Father of Lies likes to sow confusion.
A key aspect of this mess is that the people responsible for the event profess no particular belief in anything. This is just an academic exercise meant to broaden the mind beyond conventional ideas of religion or something. Callah at Barefoot and Pregnant describes the confusion and the danger:

And it makes it worse, somehow, that the people doing it aren’t actually Satanists, despite their name.
Greaves says his Satanism is “a metaphorical construct” meant to unshackle the world from belief in supernatural good or evil because belief has “led to horrible things” and “the idea of Satanists as deviants has never done the world any good.” 
I can’t help but think about the little girl in The Exorcist, who just thought she was playing a silly game.

.... I really worry about the other possibility…especially for young college kids going to see an “educational reenactment”. I’m glad they are not using a consecrated host, but I’m seriously confused about why they’re doing this at all. This idea of being a Satanist in order to “unshackle belief” or change the perception of Satanists as deviants makes zero sense to me. A Satanist is, by definition, a deviant-they are deviating from Christianity. There could be no Satanism if there wasn’t first a Christianity. It is a totally reactionary religion, born solely from the desire to deviate-to be deviant. The straight-laced sour-faced church ladies aren’t imposing some kind of artificial judgment upon Satanists because they’re different, or they wear black, or whatever. To be a Satanist is to deliberately choose evil over good, deviance over obedience. You can’t unshackle someone from a false perception if the perception is factually true.

And Tom McDonald takes it the next step:
The modern so-called Satanists who make all the noise are not really Satanists. They don’t actually believe in Satan. Most are atheists who couch their so-called “Satanism” in terms of resistance or philosophy. It’s not a religion, but a critique of religion, or somesuch blather. It’s all theater.


The problem, however, is that their deep ignorance and hatred has left them stumbling around in a very serious, very dark place.

And even though the Satanic Temple is a fraud, Satanism is quite real. It’s just that real Satanists don’t advertise the fact.

The Satanic Temple is saying they’re performing a black mass, about which they seem to know nothing, which makes its educational content precisely nil. At first, they said they were using a consecrated host, but then walked back that claim, possibly in response to the ensuing outrage.I do believe they intended to use a consecrated host, because in their first response they claimed they had one. I can’t imagine they care at all that desecration of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is wicked, offensive, and hurtful to millions of people. They want us to be hurt. That’s why they’re doing it: to wound people they do not even know, because in their philosophy we are beneath contempt, and because they don’t believe they’re actually doing anything at all. They obviously don’t believe in the Real Presence, so it’s a all a big lark to them, regardless of the good people who will weep at the very thought of it. They want those people to weep, and in this way they are truly doing the Devil’s work.

See, they may not believe in Satan, but Satan believes in them, and he knows Useful Idiots when he sees them.

Of course, being slippery is a characteristic of these Useful Idiots, people who want to be considered the forward-thinking, populist enlightened of society. Mark Shea calls them out for actually being "pantywaists passive aggressives" instead.
There’s something unique to our time about people who engage in obvious hatred of Catholics while wanting very much for people to like them and not feel offended. Man up, people! If you are going to spit in the eyes of God and your Catholic neighbor at *least* have the stones to not make mewling pleas to be liked for it.

And that's the part that scares me. I know people who, I am afraid, would fist-pump this kind of activity as a "super-awesome" way to fight the power. They think for themselves. They be the change.  But when it comes to actually talking about such things in substance, they cheerfully abstain from the drama—to each his own, that's your belief, it doesn't work for us. No need to argue about it. It's literally page one of Screwtape's playbook:

Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn't think of doctrines as primarily "true" or "false," but as "academic" or "practical," "outworn" or "contemporary," "conventional" or "ruthless." Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don't waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, or stark, or courageous—that is the philosophy of the future. That's the sort of thing he cares about.

Well, there's plenty of jargon surrounding this story. The best response is prayer, and Sherry brings that call to prayer home:

So if you'd like to join the blog rosary in this month of May for all those affected by even the intent to form a blasphemy on the Eucharist and the mass, post this picture on your blog and just leave a note in the com box. You can also pray anonymously, but I think knowing others are praying, that we are really a community of Catholics, who pray for those who hate the Eucharist, and who do not know what they are doing, and who are doing things which can destroy themselves, is a comfort and a good way to fight against the cackling devil and those who think this harmless. For some evils, the only recourse is prayer and fasting. This is one of those moments.

 I will reach out to those I know personally, because evil must be resisted and publically, by those who know it to be evil. Even if it is a hoax, those who presented it, need prayers. Even if it is stopped now that people in positions of authority know about it, these people need our prayers.

I do like this proposed response, too, from Pascual-Emmanuel Gobry, whom I've just recently started to read:

My suggestion would be, if this does go through, and if Christians want to respond somehow, to do it not with protests, but with standing outside and singing hymns–hymns of joy, and love, and mercy, and forgiveness. I’m serious. Bring tambourines. Dance. They who have eyes, they will see.

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

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