Arkansas' Ten Commandments Monument Lasted Less Than 24 Hours, Laurel Wamsley, NPR, June 28, 2017

Staff at the Secretary of State’s Office inspect the damage to the new Ten Commandments monument outside the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark.,
on Wednesday morning. Police say a car crashed into it less than 24 hours after it was installed. Jill Zeman Bleed/AP



Less than a day after a monument of the Ten Commandments was installed outside the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock, it was destroyed when a man smashed a car into the stone.


Authorities say Michael T. Reed II drove a 2016 Dodge Dart into the 6,000-pound granite slab at about 4:47 a.m. local time on Wednesday.


“My boss called me and told me the Ten Commandments monument had been destroyed,” Secretary of State and Capitol Police spokesman Chris Powell told NPR. “When I got here, it was rolled over on the sidewalk and broken into multiple pieces.”


A video that appears to have been taken from inside the car was posted on the Facebook account of a Michael Reed early Wednesday; Powell told the AP that officials believe the video is authentic. It shows what looks like the Arkansas State Capitol building. A man’s voice says: “Oh my goodness. Freedom!” as the car careens into the monument.



Powell said the crash into the 6-foot-tall slab was no accident.


“This was deliberate. The individual drove down there and stopped. He was videoing it on his cellphone as he accelerated into the monument,” Powell said. “One of our Capitol Police officers was on patrol and witnessed it.”


Reed, who police say is a 32-year-old white man from Van Buren, Ark., was arrested outside the Capitol and booked at the Pulaski County Jail. He faces preliminary charges of defacing an object of public respect, a Class C felony; criminal mischief in the first degree, a Class C felony; and trespassing on the state Capitol grounds, a misdemeanor.


Reed was arrested in 2014 for driving a car into the Ten Commandments monument at Oklahoma’s state Capitol, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Opgrande told The Associated Press. He was admitted to a hospital the next day for mental treatment and was not formally charged, the AP reports. In the 2014 incident, The Oklahoman reported that the U.S. Secret Service interviewed Reed and that he told agents that he has bipolar disorder and that Satan had directed him to destroy the monument.


The Tulsa World reported in 2015 that Reed sent the newspaper a letter apologizing for the destruction of the Oklahoma monument. “I am so sorry that this all happening (sic) and wished I could take it all back,” Reed wrote, explaining to the World that he had begun to believe the voices in his head.


Police said Wednesday that Reed was cooperative during his arrest and that, so far, there is no indication of motive.


The erection of the privately funded monument has been contentious. The Arkansas Legislature passed a law in 2015 requiring the installation of the monument on Capitol grounds. The Ten Commandments were erected Tuesday morning, and the ACLU of Arkansas has said it will sue for the monument’s removal.


Meanwhile, Powell said Capitol workers are left picking up the (extremely heavy) pieces: “Our crew is in the process of cleaning all that up and carting it off. They have to get a tractor and put it on pallets and lift it up.”


And the Dodge Dart was towed away, Powell said, adding, “There was minor damage, but not what you’d think, from what I hear, from knocking over a big stone monument.”


Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert, who spearheaded the effort to install the Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol, says he wants to replace it, Michael Hibblen of member station KUAR reports.


“We will rebuild the monument,” Rapert said. “It will be put in place and hopefully protect it from any future harm.”



Laurel Wamsley
NPR


***


Ten Commandments Monument Destroyed. The Satanic Temple Comments: "My immediate response is one in which I want to be clear that we do not celebrate the monument's destruction or vandalism. Ultimately, it will come down, but it can and should be done by the proper legal process," said Lucien Greaves (Satanic Temple) in a statement Wednesday. "I also want to stress that the man who did this, while clearly mentally ill, is also a self-described born again "Jesus Freak." When he did the same thing in Oklahoma, the politicians there attempted to describe him as a Satanist. I want it to be clear that while we do not celebrate what he has done, he clearly also does not align himself with us either." (Article © Arkansasmatters.com by Austin Kellerman) #thesatanictemple

A post shared by The Satanic Temple (@thesatanictemple) on

Were Early Christians Tripping on Mushrooms?




PODCAST SUMMARY


Jerry Brown, PhD, author of Psychedelic Gospels, joins us to talk about psychedelic mushrooms in early Christian society. We hear about the evidence for psychedelic use that exists in Christian art, and how the Inquisition could have resulted in the destruction of these psychedelic traditions. Jerry also shares his vision of a future with freedom to practice psychedelic use as part of our basic religious rights.



PODCAST HIGHLIGHTS


  • The Amanita muscaria mushroom was used by Siberian nomads and its use spread to early Christianity
  • Use of psychedelic mushrooms was probably targeted by the Inquisition
  • Amanita muscaria is the most likely identity of the ‘soma’ mentioned in many ancient texts.


Jerry was professor of anthropology at Florida International University for the past 39 years, and ran a course entitled “Hallucinogens and Culture.” Unsurprisingly, his classes were always popular.


Jerry’s course covered the indigenous use of psychedelic plants, including Amanita muscaria; the famous fly agaric mushroom. This red and white-spotted mushroom was used mostly by Siberian nomads, who noticed their reindeer acting strangely after eating the mushrooms.


It was on a visit to Scotland that Jerry and his wife Julie became interested in how psychedelic mushrooms might have been used in Christian tradition. Upon seeing the famous Amanita muscaria mushroom engraved upon fertility symbols in Rosslyn Chapel, Jerry and Julie set out across the world to discover how deeply psychedelic mushrooms were set in Christian art.


They found symbols of psychedelic mushrooms spread throughout Europe and India, as far back as 300AD and throughout the Middle Ages. There’s evidence to suggest that both Amanita muscaria and Psilocybin mushrooms were used in secret rituals throughout Christianity.


During the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, herbal medicines and midwifery were clamped down on, and treated as witchcraft. It’s believed that the Inquisition was a large factor in the gradual decline of psychedelic symbols from Christian art.


Jerry hopes that we won’t see another Inquisition-style crackdown on psychedelic ritual. He envisions modern psychedelic centers, where anyone can go to explore psychedelics in the presence of trained guides. He thinks that this time, a psychedelic renaissance is unstoppable.



SHOW LINKS


Jerry and Julie’s book, The Psychedelic Gospels.
Soma by Gordon Wasson – investigating a mythical and mysterious psychedelic found in many ancient cultures.
Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna – looking at psychedelic plants and their usage throughout human history.
The Road to Eleusis by Gordon Wasson – unveiling the secretive psychedelic rituals of ancient Greece.



thethirdwave.co


***


Moses Was Tripping, And Other Scientific Explanations For Biblical Miracles

CARA GIAIMO, Atlas Obscura, September 25, 2015


Thomas Jefferson was a great fan of Jesus. The author of the Declaration of Independence called the Son of God “the greatest of all the Reformers,” a font of “eloquence and fine imagination,” and the author of “a system of the most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man.” He wrote of him often, and tried to keep his teachings in mind.


But there was one catch—Jefferson didn’t think Jesus was the son of God. Indeed, he didn’t believe in miracles at all. So for a couple of evenings in February of 1804, after he had gone through the day’s papers and correspondence, the then-President kicked back in the White House, pulled out a razor and some glue, and did something out of a Congressional Republican’s worst nightmare: he cut the parts he didn’t like out of the New Testament, and stuck the parts he did like together again.


The resulting Frankenbook—now known as the Jefferson Bible — “abstracts what is really [Jesus’] from the rubbish in which it is buried,” Jefferson explained 15 years later in a letter to his secretary, William Short. That rubbish included the concept of the Trinity (which he called “mere Abracadabra”) immaculate conception (which he predicted would someday be “classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter”), and nearly everything else with a hint of hocus-pocus. “If necessary to exclude the miraculous, Jefferson would cut the text even in mid-verse,” biographer Peter S. Onuf writes in Jeffersonian Legacies. His was a Bible without prophecy, resurrection, or infinite loaves and fishes; a Bible where angels feared to tread. It was only 46 pages long.


Jefferson was not the first faithful, rational person perplexed by miracles. For as long as the law of scripture has bumped up against the laws of physics, theologians, philosophers and scientists have looked for ways to reconcile the two. But in recent years, some researchers have taken things a step further. Armed with improving technology, a willingness to wade through incompatible fields, and, often, great personal conviction, they have set out to scientifically explain the definitively inexplicable. (…)


READ

There is no sharp distinction between cult and regular religion

Cult or religion? The Easter ‘Passion of the Christ’ procession in Comayagua, a small town in Honduras. Photo by Teun Voeten/Panos



Cults are exploitative, weird groups with strange beliefs and practices, right?
So what about regular religions then?


Cults, generally speaking, are a lot like pornography: you know them when you see them. It would be hard to avoid the label on encountering (as I did, carrying out field work last year) 20 people toiling unpaid on a Christian farming compound in rural Wisconsin – people who venerated their leader as the closest thing to God’s representative on Earth. Of course, they argued vehemently that they were not a cult. Ditto for the 2,000-member church I visited outside Nashville, whose parishioners had been convinced by an ostensibly Christian diet programme to sell their houses and move to the ‘one square mile’ of the New Jerusalem promised by their charismatic church leader. Here they could eat – and live – in accordance with God and their leader’s commands. It’s easy enough, as an outsider, to say, instinctively: yes, this is a cult.


Less easy, though, is identifying why. Knee-jerk reactions make for poor sociology, and delineating what, exactly, makes a cult (as opposed to a ‘proper’ religious movement) often comes down to judgment calls based on perceived legitimacy. Prod that perception of legitimacy, however, and you find value judgments based on age, tradition or ‘respectability’ (that nice middle-class couple down the street, say, as opposed to Tom Cruise jumping up and down on a couch). At the same time, the markers of cultism as applied more theoretically – a single charismatic leader, an insular structure, seeming religious ecstasy, a financial burden on members – can also be applied to any number of new or burgeoning religious movements that we don’t call cults.


Often (just as with pornography), what we choose to see as a cult tells us as much about ourselves as about what we’re looking at.


Historically, our obsession with cults seems to thrive in periods of wider religious uncertainty, with ‘anti-cult’ activism in the United States peaking in the 1960s and ’70s, when the US religious landscape was growing more diverse, and the sway of traditional institutions of religious power was eroding. This period, dubbed by the economic historian Robert Fogel as the ‘Fourth Great Awakening’, saw interest in personal spiritual and religious practice spike alongside a decline in mainline Protestantism, giving rise to numerous new movements. Some of these were Christian in nature, for example the ‘Jesus Movement’; others were heavily influenced by the pop-cultural ubiquity of pseudo-Eastern and New Age thought: the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (aka the Hare Krishna), modern Wicca, Scientology. Plenty of these movements were associated with young people – especially young counter-cultural people with suspicious politics – adding a particular political tenor to the discourse surrounding them.


Against these there sprang a network of ‘anti-cult’ movements uniting former members of sects, their families and other objectors. Institutions such as the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) formed in 1978 after the poison fruit-drink (urban legend says Kool-Aid) suicides of Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple. The anti-cult networks believed that cults brainwashed their members (the idea of mind control, as scholars such as Margaret Singer point out, originated in media coverage of torture techniques supposedly used by North Korea during the Korean War). To counter brainwashing, activists controversially abducted and forcibly ‘deprogrammed’ members who’d fallen under a cult’s sway. CAN itself was co-founded by a professional deprogrammer, Ted Patrick, who later faced scrutiny for accepting $27,000 from the concerned parents of a woman involved in Leftist politics to, essentially, handcuff her to a bed for two weeks.


But that wasn’t all. An equal and no less fervent network of what became known as counter-cult activists emerged among Christians who opposed cults on theological grounds, and who were as worried about the state of adherent’s souls as of their psyches. The Baptist pastor Walter Ralston Martin was sufficiently disturbed by the proliferation of religious pluralism in the US to write The Kingdom of the Cults (1965), which delineated in detail the theologies of those religious movements Martin identified as toxic, and provided Biblical avenues for the enterprising mainstream Christian minister to oppose them. With more than half a million copies sold, it was one of the top-selling spiritual books of the era.


Writing the history of cults in the US, therefore, is also writing the history of a discourse of fear: of the unknown, of the decline in mainstream institutions, of change.



Every cultish upsurge – the Mansons, the Peoples Temple, the Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church (or Moonies) – met with an equal and opposite wave of hysteria. In 1979, the US sociologists Anson D Shupe, J C Ventimiglia and David G Bromley coined the term ‘atrocity tale’ to describe lurid media narratives about the Moonies. Particularly gruesome anecdotes (often told by emotionally compromised former members) worked to place the entire religious movement beyond the bounds of cultural legitimacy and to justify extreme measures – from deprogramming to robust conservatorship laws – to prevent vulnerable people falling victim to the cultic peril. True or not, the ‘atrocity tale’ allowed anti-cult activists and families worried about their children’s wellbeing (or their suspicious politics) to replace sociological or legal arguments with emotional ones.


This terror peaked when atrocity tales began outnumbering genuine horrors. The ‘Satanic panic’ of the 1980s brought with it a wave of mass hysteria over cult Satanists ritually abusing children in daycare centres, something that seems entirely to have been the product of false memories. In the now-discredited bestselling book Michelle Remembers (1980) by the psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder and his patient Michelle Smith (later, Mrs Lawrence Pazder), the lead author relates how he unlocked Smith’s memories of Satanic childhood. This influential atrocity tale influenced the three-year case in the 1980s against an administrator of the McMartin Preschool in Los Angeles and her son, a teacher, that racked up 65 crimes. The prosecution spun a fear-stoking narrative around outlandish claims, including bloody animal mutilations. The number of convictions? Zero. But mass-media hysteria made Satanic panic a national crisis, and a pastime.


And yet it is impossible to dismiss anti-cult work as pure hysteria. There might not be Satanists lurking round every corner, lying in wait to kidnap children or sacrifice bunny rabbits to Satan, but the dangers of spiritual, emotional and sexual abuse in small-scale, unsupervised religious communities, particularly those isolated from the mainstream or dominant culture, is real enough.


It is also keenly contemporary. The de-centred quality of the US religious landscape, the proliferation of storefront churches and ‘home churches’, not to mention the potential of the internet, makes it easier than ever for groups to splinter and fragment without the oversight of a particular religious or spiritual tradition. And some groups are, without a doubt, toxic. I’ve been to compounds, home churches and private churches where children are taught to obey community leaders so unquestioningly that they have no contact with the outside world; where the death of some children as a result of corporal punishment has gone unacknowledged by church hierarchy; or where members have died because group leaders discouraged them from seeking medical treatment. I’ve spoken to people who have left some of these movements utterly broken – having lost jobs, savings, their sense of self, and even their children (powerful religious groups frequently use child custody battles to maintain a hold over members).


In one Reddit post, James Chatham, formerly a member of the Remnant Fellowship, a controversial church founded by the Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin, listed every reason he’d been punished as a child:


Allow me to give you a short list of the super-crazy [discipline] I recieved [sic] ‘Gods loving discipline’ for.
Opening my eyes during a prayer
Joking with adults (That joked back with me) …
Saying that i don’t trust ‘Leaders’ (Their name for those that run the church)
Asking almost any question about the bible.
Trying to stop another kid from beating my skull in …
Sneezing …
Not being able to stand for 30 minutes straight with no break.
Asking if my mother loved me more than god.
Does such extreme disciplinarianism make the Remnant Fellowship a cult? Or does the question of labelling distract us from wider issues at hand?


We label cults ‘cults’ because they’re easy pickings, even if their beliefs are no more outlandish than reincarnation

The historian J Gordon Melton of Baylor University in Texas says that the word ‘cult’ is meaningless: it merely assumes a normative framework that legitimises some exertions of religious power – those associated with mainstream organisations – while condemning others. Groups that have approved, ‘orthodox’ beliefs are considered legitimate, while groups whose interpretation of a sacred text differs from established norms are delegitimised on that basis alone. Such definitions also depend on who is doing the defining. Plenty of ‘cults’ identified by anti-cult and counter-cult groups, particularly Christian counter-cult groups such as the EMNR (Evangelical Ministries to New Religions), are recognised elsewhere as ‘legitimate’ religions: Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, even the Catholic Church have all come under fire, alongside the Moonies or the Peoples Temple.


To deny a so-called ‘cult’ legitimacy based on its size, or beliefs, or on atrocity tales alone is, for Melton, to play straight into normative definitions of power. We label cults ‘cults’ because they’re easy pickings, in a sense; even if their beliefs are no more outlandish, in theory, than reincarnation or the transubstantiation of the wafer in the Catholic Eucharist.


In a paper delivered at the Center for Study of New Religions in Pennsylvania in 1999, Melton said: ‘we have reached a general consensus that New Religions are genuine and valid religions. A few may be bad religion and some may be led by evil people, but they are religions.’ To call a group – be it Scientology or the Moonies, or the Peoples Church – a cult is to obscure the fact that to study it and understand it properly, both sociologically and theologically, we must treat it like any other religion (Melton prefers the term ‘New Religious Movements’). His point underscores the fact that questions of legitimacy, authority and hierarchy, and of delineation between inner and outer circles, are as much the provenance of ‘classical’ religious studies as of any analysis of cults.


Whatever our knee-jerk reaction to Scientology, say, and however much we know that compounds where members voluntarily hand over their savings to charismatic leaders are creepy and/or wrong, we cannot forget that the history of Christianity (and other faiths) is no less pockmarked by accusations of cultism. Each wave of so-called ‘heresy’ in the chaotic and contradictory history of the Christian churches was accompanied by a host of atrocity tales that served to legitimise one or another form of practice. This was hardly one-sided. Charges were levied against groups we might now see as ‘orthodox’ as well as at groups that history consigns to the dustbin of heresy: issues of ecclesiastical management (as in the Donatist controversy) or semantics (the heresies of Arianism, for example) could – and did – result in mutual anathema: we are the true church; you are a cult.



Of course, the uncomfortable truth here is that even true church (large, established, tradition-claiming church) and cult aren’t so far apart – at least when it comes to counting up red flags. The presence of a charismatic leader? What was John Calvin? (Heck, what was Jesus Christ?) A tradition of secrecy around specialised texts or practices divulged only to select initiates? Just look at the practitioners of the Eleusinian mysteries in Ancient Greece, or contemporary mystics in a variety of spiritual traditions, from the Jewish Kabbalah to the Vajrayāna Buddhist tradition. Isolated living on a compound? Consider contemporary convents or monasteries. A financial obligation? Christianity, Judaism and Islam all promote regular tithing back into the religious community. A toxic relationship of abuse between spiritual leaders and their flock? The instances are too numerous and obvious to list.


If we refuse any neat separation between cult and religion, aren’t we therefore obligated to condemn both? Only ontological metaphysical truth can possibly justify the demands that any religion makes upon its adherents. And if we take as writ the proposition that God isn’t real (or that we can never know what God wants), it’s easy to collapse the distinction with a wave of a hand: all religions are cults, and all are probably pretty bad for you. The problem with this argument is that it, too, falls down when it comes to creating labels. If we take Melton’s argument further, the debate over what makes a cult, writ large, might just as easily be relabelled: what makes a religion?


Besides, accusations of cultism have been levelled at secular or semi-secular organisations as well as metaphysically inclined ones. Any organisation offering identity-building rituals and a coherent narrative of the world and how to live in it is a target, from Alcoholics Anonymous to the vegan restaurant chain the Loving Hut, founded by the Vietnamese entrepreneur-cum-spiritual leader Ching Hai, to the practice of yoga (itself rife with structural issues of spiritual and sexual abuse), to the modern phenomenon of the popular, paleo-associated sport-exercise programme CrossFit, which a Harvard Divinity School study used as an example of contemporary ‘religious’ identity. If the boundaries between cult and religion are already slippery, those between religion and culture are more porous still.


In his seminal book on religion, The Interpretation of Cultures (1973), the anthropologist Clifford Geertz denies that human beings can live outside culture (what he calls the capital-M ‘Man’). Everything about how we see the world and ascribe meanings to symbols, at a linguistic as well as a spiritual level, is mediated by the semiotic network in which we operate. Religion, too, functions within culture as a series of ascriptions of meaning that define how we see ourselves, others, and the world. Geertz writes:


Without further ado, then, a religion is:
(1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing those conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.


Such a definition of religion isn’t limited to groups with formal doctrines about ‘God’, but encompasses any wider cultural narrative of the self in the world.


Geertz’s definition – somewhat dated now – has been updated: most notably by postcolonial thinkers such as Talal Asad, who argue that Geertz overlooks one of the most significant mechanisms for meaning-making: power. How we conceive of God, our world, our spiritual values (a hunger for ‘cleansing’ in yoga, or for proof of strength, as in CrossFit, or for salvific grace) is inextricable both from our own identities and our position within a group in which questions of power are never, can never be, absent.


Even the narratives that many religions, cults and religious-type groups promulgate – that they are in some sense separate from ‘the others’ (the Hebrew word for ‘holiness’, qadosh, derives from the word for separation) – are themselves tragically flawed: they are both apart from and firmly within the problems of a wider culture.


Cults don’t come out of nowhere; they fill a vacuum, for individuals, and for society at large

Take, for example, the cultural pervasiveness of ideals of female thinness. It is precisely the aspirational desire to be Kate-Moss skinny that allows a Christian diet programme such as Remnant to attract members in the first place (don’t eat too much; it’s a sin!). So too does it allow cults of ‘wellness’ to take hold: a woman who is already obsessed with cleansing toxins, making her body ‘perfect’ and ‘clean’, and ‘purifying’ herself is more likely to get involved with a cult-like yoga practice and/or be susceptible to sexual abuse by her guru (a not uncommon occurrence).


Likewise, the no less culturally pervasive failure of mainstream institutions – from the healthcare system to mainline Protestant churches – to address the needs of their members gives rise, with equal potency, to individuals susceptible to conspiracy theories, or cultish behaviours: to anything that might provide them with meaningfulness.


The very collapse of wider religious narratives – an established cultural collectivism – seems inevitably to leave space for smaller, more intense, and often more toxic groups to reconfigure those Geertzian symbols as they see fit. Cults don’t come out of nowhere; they fill a vacuum, for individuals and, as we’ve seen, for society at large. Even Christianity itself proliferated most widely as a result of a similar vacuum: the relative decline of state religious observance, and political hegemony, in the Roman Empire.


After all, the converse of the argument ‘If God isn’t real then all religions are probably cults’ is this: if a given religion or cult is right, metaphysically speaking, then that rightness is the most important thing in the universe. If a deity really, truly wants you to, say, flagellate yourself with a whip (as Catholic penitents once did), or burn yourself on your husband’s funeral pyre, then no amount of commonsense reasoning can amount to a legitimate deterrent: the ultimate cosmic meaningfulness of one’s actions transcends any other potential need. And to be in a community of people who can help reinforce that truth, whose rituals and discourse and symbols help not only to strengthen a sense of meaningfulness but also to ground it in a sense of collective purpose, then that meaningfulness becomes more vital still: it sits at the core of what it is to be human.


To talk about religion as a de facto abuse-vector of hierarchical power (in other words, a cult writ large) is a meaningless oversimplification. It’s less an arrow than a circle: a cycle of power, meaning, identity, and ritual. We define ourselves by participating in something, just as we define ourselves against those who don’t participate in something. Our understanding of ourselves – whether we’re cradle Catholics, newly joined-up members of the Hare Krishna, or members of a particularly rabid internet fandom – as people whose actions have cosmic if not metaphysical significance gives us a symbolic framework in which to live our lives, even as it proscribes our options. Every time we repeat a ritual, from the Catholic Mass to a prayer circle on a farm compound to a CrossFit workout, it defines us – and we define the people around us.


Today’s cults might be secular, or they might be theistic. But they arise from the same place of need, and from the failure of other, more ‘mainstream’ cultural institutions to fill it. If God did not exist, as Voltaire said, we would have to invent him. The same is true for cults.



Tara Isabella Burton
Aeon


***



Holy Hell
Will Allen, USA, 2016, 100 min



Based on 22 years of footage inside a modern cult


Just out of college, a young filmmaker joins a loving, secretive, and spiritual community led by a charismatic teacher in 1980s West Hollywood. Twenty years later, the group is shockingly torn apart. Told through over two decades of the filmmaker’s archival materials, this is their story.


holyhellthedocumentary.com

ŚṬN


Picture a Satanist, and you might imagine someone dressed in a black cloak and mask engaging in bizarre violent rituals involving the blood of dead animals and an inverted pentagram etched onto the ground in chalk. At some point in this vision, Satan might even burst through the floor in a flurry of fire and bring an end to the world. All in all, a Satanist is not the sort of person you’ll be calling up to have dinner with your mum anytime soon.


But those are the sorts of stereotypes that Ashley S. Palmer, a reverend of the Church of Satan, wants to debunk.


Satanists may not sound like the friendliest types, but the 31-year-old who lives on the south-east coast of England with his wife and baby daughter is happy to explain why his religion is misunderstood. It has nothing to do with devil worship, he stresses. The religion, founded just over 50 years ago by US author and musician Anton Szandor LaVey has much more to do with atheism and libertarian ideals of the freedom to indulge, muddled together with a dash of Machiavellian pragmatism.


Palmer spoke to The Independent about how Satanism affects his daily life, and why a Satanist’s favourite holiday is their birthday.



How old are you, where are you based, and what is your role in the Church of Satan?


I am a 33-year-old entrepreneur living on the south-east coast of England with my wife and baby daughter. As the founder of ASPculture.com, I design and create merchandise, and curate cultural content for an audience of fellow Satanists and heathens worldwide.


My role in the Church of Satan grew organically out of my passion for the philosophy, and pursuits pertinent to the propagation of Satanism as codified by its founder Anton Szandor LaVey. These activities were recognised by High Priest Peter H. Gilmore as authentic and effective additions to our world view, and I was ordained a Priest out-of-the-blue due to these meritorious efforts. In accordance with the social Darwinian basis of Satanism, membership in the Priesthood of the Church of Satan is by invitation only and is strictly meritocratic, affirming the truisms, “actions speak louder than words” and “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it”.


There are no set duties for members of our Priesthood, as levels of involvement vary depending upon each individual’s talents and unique circumstances. I publicly promulgate Satanic philosophy and aesthetics, but not all Priests speak on our behalf and may even choose to keep their affiliation secret if beneficial to do so. Machiavellian strategies are particularly prevalent in professional circles due to the manifold misconceptions surrounding Satanism.



When did you first find out about Satanism and how long have you been a committed Satanist?


I first discovered the Church of Satan and writings of Dr LaVey through my older brother. We both grew up listening to death and black metal and industrial music, and were naturally drawn to the bands that had anti-Christian lyrics and employed Satanic imagery. Determined to learn of the origin and philosophy of Satanism, my brother delved through various books.


My brother realised he had finally found the source of Satanism was thoroughly impressed with LaVey’s philosophy, but as I was only 10 or 11 at the time, he made a point of letting me discover Satanism on my own, after I had expressed interest independently a couple of years later.


As a natural non-joiner I was initially sceptical of the Church of Satan and incorrectly assumed, as most do, that Satanists were members of a devil worshipping cult, and was therefore happy to remain an atheist with a penchant for Satanic aesthetics prior to reading any official literature.


At around the age of 13 I eventually read The Satanic Bible and considered myself a Satanist shortly after. I realised that genuine Satanism had nothing to do with the supernatural devil nonsense that I cringed at whilst reading death metal lyrics, but was instead a pragmatic and unusual carnal religion which perfectly complimented my own atheistic, sceptical, and rational world view.


At the age of 15, as part of my English coursework, I gave a lecture on Satanism and the Church of Satan to a surprisingly receptive classroom in which I sought to smash through the misinformation I had encountered through mass media hysteria and discussed the hidden merits of Satanism.


Several years later, once an adult and having mulled over many aspects of Satanic philosophy, myself and my wife officially affiliated with the Church of Satan.



What is the biggest misconception people have about Satanism?


The main and most persistent misconception about Satanism and Satanists is that we believe in and worship an anthropomorphic or spiritual being known as ‘Satan’ or the ‘devil’. This is false. We Satanists are atheists who adopt ‘Satan’ as a symbol of passion, pride, liberty, and heroic rebellion in the tradition of the proto-Satanic themed poetry and writing of Giosuè Carducci, Lord Byron, John Milton, Benjamin DeCasseres, Mark Twain, and others that predate the founding of the Church of Satan.


Stating that one is an atheist leaves a lot of room for belief in a myriad of other spooky delusions unrelated to the existence of god(s) that are also regularly incorrectly packaged with Satanism, so I shall further clarify that as I apply the tool of scientific scepticism to critically analyse and question all things, I therefore reject all forms of pseudo-science, New Age spirituality and the supernatural, including, but not limited to: the occult, magick, Ouija boards, tarot,psychic divination, ghosts, immortality, astral projection, chakras, faith healing, astrology, and conspiracy theories. All of this is as ridiculous to me as praying to Jesus or Shiva.



What are the core philosophies of Satanism?


The philosophical concepts at the heart of Satanism are atheism, scientific scepticism, evolutionary biology, social Darwinism, heroic individualism, meritocracy, Lex Talionis, hierarchy, pragmaticism, aesthetics, dark romantic realism, humour, carnality, Epicurean indulgence in balance with Lycurgan Spartan vitality, a Faustian will to explore cutting-edge technology tempered by a respect for the past, and a passion for wildlife and nature.


One can find common conceptual ground with the likes of Ragnar Redbeard, Friedrich Nietzsche, H.L. Mencken, Ayn Rand, Jack London, and H.P. Lovecraft, all of whom were acknowledged as influences on Satanism. Dr. LaVey’s vision to synthesise various schools of thought with his own original ideas and symbolism, developed into an entirely unique and powerful philosophy, and a religion for the irreligious, which continues to inspire and grow over fifty years after its inception.



What is the average Satanist like?


The Church of Satan keeps all membership information private, but based upon my own interactions off and online, I have observed similar demographics to atheism in general. The majority of Satanists appear to be men between the ages of 20 to 45, although I have personally met many Satanic women above this age range.



How does being a Satanist affect your day-to-day life? Do you use the Satanic Rules for guidance, for instance? Are there any ceremonies or rituals?


As a Satanist, one could say that Satanism permeates all aspects of daily life, but for me this as natural as breathing, and is largely an unconscious process and a result of following my instincts and passions. Satanic rituals are not a requirement of Satanism and should be used as an optional cathartic tool for those that gain psychological benefit from structured ceremonies of the kind found in our texts. As my business activities largely revolve around Satanic principles and concepts, I have personally found that these creative pursuits, alongside the discipline of daily strength training, are effective forms of ‘ritual’ which provide sufficient stimulation, stress relief and satisfaction which allows me to save any formal Satanic ritualisation for extremely rare and special occasions. Through the designs, clothing and merchandise that I create for ASPculture.com, I’m able to channel my unique vision and aesthetic tastes to bring myself and other Satanists around the world pleasure and inspiration through tangible objects.



Are there Satanist holidays, for instance something comparable to Christmas?


Satanists are free to celebrate any holidays or “unholidays” they wish, although for most Satanists, as egoists, one’s own birthday is naturally considered the highest holiday of the year.


There is no requirement to celebrate any holidays, but as someone who embraces science, nature, and pre-Christian pan-European traditions, I tend to indulge in and observe the vernal equinox, Ostara, Walpurgisnacht, the founding of the Church of Satan, summer solstice, autumnal equinox, Halloween, and Yuletide, winter solstice, Saturnalia and New Year’s Eve.



The Satanic Rules seem pretty reasonable. Where it states “act cruelly” or “destroy him”, is it to be taken as literally as that sounds? It doesn’t seem to allow much room for negotiation. What’s the philosophy behind that?


Those parts of ‘The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth’ are natural conclusions of our recognition of man as an animal whose highest law is self-preservation. As social Darwinists we adhere to a “might is right” philosophy of vengeance, and support the idea of justice through Lex Talionis, an aspect of which can be understood by the colloquial concept “an eye for an eye”. Timid would-be Satanists often try to sanitise Dr LaVey’s language, but the intention of these statements is obvious and can be taken literally depending upon the statement in question and the severity of the circumstance.


Obviously if somebody approaches you in the street in a non-threatening manner, and continues to bother you after you ask them to stop, physically destroying them would be an irrational, unwarranted, and illegal response. But you could “destroy” them symbolically with your words or by ignoring and removing yourself from the situation. However, if there was a legitimate threat and your life depended upon it, then to literally “destroy” the attacker in an act of self-defence may be completely rational as the only course of action left to avoid death. However, it is important to note that as strict advocates of law and order, we demand that each Satanist operate within the legal parameters of their country of residence with regards to all actions.



How does Satanism overlap with libertarianism?


As Satanists are free to align with any branch of politics, or remain apolitical if they wish, there are likely some anarchist and libertarian members of the Church of Satan. I feel it is improper to inject too much of one’s own personal politics into discussions when representing the Church of Satan, but as Dr. LaVey’s own politics are implicitly and sometimes explicitly encoded in Satanic philosophy, I shall attempt to measure libertarianism against Satanism from a mostly objective viewpoint.


Anarcho-capitalism and libertarianism in general appear more conducive to Satanic ideals. H. L. Mencken, one of the earliest Americans to identify as a libertarian, along with fellow traveller, Ayn Rand, were influential on Anton LaVey and Satanic philosophy, particularly in their advocacy of heroic individualism and rejection of religion, mysticism, supernaturalism in general.


A point of departure between Satanism and libertarianism that I have noticed, is that many schools of libertarian thought have a delusional view of human nature. This appears to arise in part from belief in the pseudo-scientific tabula rasa theory which claims that each human is born as a ‘blank slate’ without innate biological differences. This faulty notion leads many libertarians to conclude that all humans have equal potential ability and free will to become masters in any field of human endeavour, so long as the person is afforded the opportunity and necessary education. This utopian view of human potential is unfortunately unrealistic and un-Satanic. Satanism aligns with the scientific discoveries of evolutionary biology, and recognises that the natural world is stratified, exceptional talent and genius is rare, and the universe doesn’t care.



Kashmira Gander
The Independent


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THE ELEVEN RULES OF SATANISM


  1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
  2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
  3. When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there.
  4. If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.
  5. Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
  6. Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved.
  7. Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.
  8. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
  9. Do not harm little children.
  10. Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.
  11. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.


Pédophilie dans l’Eglise : le poids du silence
Présenté par Elise Lucet pour l’émission Cash investigation sur France 2, France, 2017, 133 min



Pendant près d’un an, l’équipe d’Elise Lucet, en partenariat avec Mediapart, a travaillé sur l’un des secrets les mieux gardés de l’Eglise de France, le fléau de la pédophilie, qui fait vaciller l’institution. Des religieux, condamnés, seraient toujours en activité, parfois même au contact d’enfants. L’enquête révèle que des hauts responsables de l’Église ont couvert certains agissements et protègent des prêtres accusés d’agressions sexuelles sur mineurs en les déplaçant de pays en pays, notamment en Afrique. Cash Investigation a cartographié ces exfiltrations internationales. L’équipe s’est rendue au Vatican, à la rencontre du pape François.


Pédophilie dans l’Eglise : le poids du silence (2017) présenté par ELISE LUCET

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La névrose chrétienne (1976) par le Docteur PIERRE SOLIGNAC (May 25, 2012)


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One in 14 Catholic priests accused of abuse in Australia (February 6, 2017)
Des prêtres de Montréal se verront interdire d’être seuls avec des enfants (June 23, 2016)
Le pape crée une instance pour juger les évêques couvrant des abus sexuels (June 10, 2015)
Les propos du pape sur la pédophilie ont des échos jusqu’au Québec (July 15, 2014)
Des victimes de prêtres veulent Mgr Ouellet comme pape (March 11, 2013)
Pornographie juvénile : un prêtre de Sorel-Tracy accusé (March 8, 2013)
Congrégations générales – Les problèmes de l’Église sur la table (March 7, 2013)
Agressions sexuelles: un deuxième frère de Sainte-Croix sera arrêté (December 29, 2012)
Symposium sur la pédophilie – Le pape appelle au «renouveau de l’Église» (February 15, 2012)
Pornographie juvénile – Sitôt condamné, l’ex-évêque Lahey est libéré (January 5, 2012)
Église néerlandaise: des «dizaines de milliers» de mineurs abusés sexuellement (December 16, 2011)
Pédophilie – L’Église veut éduquer son clergé par Internet (June 28, 2011)
Former Catholic bishop Raymond Lahey pleads guilty to child pornography charges (May 4, 2011)
Pédophilie – Le Vatican va envoyer une «circulaire» aux évêques (November 20, 2010)
Le Vatican durcit les règles contre la pédophilie (July 15, 2010)
Top Catholic Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing His Own Sons (June 25, 2010)
Pope addresses priest abuse scandal (June 11, 2010)
Vatican Sex Abuse Prosecutor: Guilty Priests Are Going To Hell (June 4, 2010)
Priest Accused Of Abusing Boy, Turning Home Into ‘Erotic Dungeon’ Surrenders To Police
(May 26, 2010)
Le Vatican publiera un guide contre la pédophilie (April 9, 2010)
Agressions sexuelles par des membres du clergé – Les victimes exigent la démission de Mgr Ouellet (February 17, 2010)

MICHAËL BORREMANS 'The Ear' (2011)

MICHAËL BORREMANS

MICHAËL BORREMANS '10 & 11' (2006)

MICHAËL BORREMANS 'Amenra & Raketkanon' (2017)

MICHAËL BORREMANS

MICHAËL BORREMANS 'Trickland' (2002)

MICHAËL BORREMANS 'The Load' (2008)

MICHAËL BORREMANS 'The Performance' (2004)

MICHAËL BORREMANS 'The Promise' (2016)

MICHAËL BORREMANS

MICHAËL BORREMANS 'Dead Chicken' (2015)

MICHAËL BORREMANS 'The Sleeper' (2008)

MICHAËL BORREMANS 'Tracy' (2015)

MICHAËL BORREMANS 'Devil's Dress' (2011)

MICHAËL BORREMANS est un peintre belge né à Grammont en 1963.
Il vit et travaille à Sint-Amandsberg (Gand).


ATMORE, ALABAMA – When the prison staff asked 33-year Jeremy Morris if he wanted anything special for his last meal, he answered “I just want a Bible”.


The prison guards of the William C. Holman Correctional Facility thought he wanted to pray and repent, so they gave him an old copy of the King James Bible. Against all expectations, the condemned murderer began tearing up the holy book and eating it. It took hours of chewing and swallowing small pieces of paper, but Mr Morris ate the totality of the 1200-page book, including the cover. Walter Henri, the prison guard who handed him the old and worn out Bible, says the inmate seemed to “savor every bite”.


“He kept tearing pieces from his Bible and eating them like they were potato chips!”

Holman Prison director, Frank Davis, says the staff decided to let the prisoner eat the Bible because it didn’t violate the establishment’s “last meal policy”.


In most states and various countries where the death penalty is legal, it’s customary to give sentenced prisoners a special last meal at their request. Restrictions do apply, concerning mostly the legality, the accessibility and value of the meal. Despite its unusual nature, Mr Morris’ choice of meal was “locally accessible and worth less than 40$”, making it conform to the rules of Alabama correctional facilities.


Jeremy Morris is expected to be executed tomorrow – 26 April 2017 – for the killing of two Catholic nuns in 2007.



worldnewsdailyreport.com


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FACT CHECK : Death Row Inmate Eats an Entire Bible as His Last Meal?
An article reporting that inmate Jeremy Morris decided to have a Bible as his last meal was a hoax.

Liturgie Apocryphe

"The production of nervous force is directly connected with the diet of an individual, and its refining depends on the very purity of this diet, allied to appropriate breathing exercises.

The diet most calculated to act effectively on the nervous force is that which contains the least quantity of animal matter; therefore the Pythagorean diet, in this connection, is the most suitable.

...

The main object was to avoid introducing into the organism what Descartes called 'animal spirits'. Thus, all animals that had to serve for the nourishment of the priests were slaughtered according to special rites, they were not murdered, as is the case nowadays".