Today I was quite pleased to give a lecture at a local college on Satanism and the Church of Satan. I quickly spliced together the audio and video to put a sample online, but the full editing of the video will take a bit of time.
I’ve been invited to blog over at Secular Perspectives, a regional blog for “secular humanists, atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, brights and others”. I’m a couple of those, and I’ve submitted my first post the other day. I haven’t decided what kind of stuff I’ll be writing, but keep yer good eye open.
The video for my winning Robert G. Ingersoll speech was uploaded to YouTube this morning. I’m going to start a video page at the top to collect that kind of stuff in one place. Damn my hair looked good that day.
Suzanne Perry wrote the following in November. I think it was supposed to be for print, but I’m not sure. It’s available at the Contest Website.
PRIZES AWARDED IN SECOND ANNUAL ROBERT G. INGERSOLL ORATORY CONTEST
Washington, DC, November 2010 â€“ Kevin Slaughter, of Essex, Md., won first prize in the second annual Robert G. Ingersoll Oratory Contest for his rendition of an Ingersoll lecture about blasphemy, â€œHow the Gods Grow.â€
Slaughter, competing for the second time, took top honors at the October event in Washington, D.C.â€™,s Dupont Circle, which was designed to bring to life the words of the 19th-century orator known as the â€œGreat Agnostic.â€
A graphic designer, publisher and sign maker who has emceed burlesque shows and hosts a podcast, Slaughter says he has been an atheist since high school and started reading Ingersoll seriously after hearing about last yearâ€™s oratory contest. â€œIn the Venn diagram of things Iâ€™m interested in, Ingersoll finds himself at the intersection of my fascination with forgotten/intentionally neglected icons of the early 20th century, lost art forms and entertainments, godlessness and anti-theism,â€ he says.
Slaughter won $150; a rare original period poster including a color gravure photo of Ingersoll with his grandchildren, a quote from â€œLove,â€ and a facsimile signature; and the biography Robert G. Ingersoll: A Life, by Frank Smith.
The contest was sponsored by the Washington Area Secular Humanists (WASH), the Center for Inquiry DC, the American Humanist Association, and the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum as a way to revive interest in Ingersollâ€“a Civil War veteran, successful lawyer and political speaker who has been neglected by history.
The seven contestants entertained the audience with Ingersollâ€™s critiques of religion, defense of reason and liberty, and homages to Charles Darwin and Walt Whitman. The contest, held outdoors to draw attention of the public, attracted numerous passersby who stopped to watch, take fliers about the event, or sign up for e-mail notices.
The other winners were:
Second place: Donald Ardell, of St. Petersburg, Fla., a writer, speaker, and blogger on REAL (reason, exuberance, athleticism, and liberty) wellness. Speaking from memory, he presented selections from three Ingersoll works: â€œA Reply to the Rev. Henry M. Field, D.D.,â€ â€œAbout the Holy Bible,â€ and a speech at the Lotus Clubâ€™s 20th anniversary dinner. He won $100, a mounted photo of Ingersoll and his two granddaughters, and the Smith biography of Ingersoll.
Third Place: Tony Toledo , of Beverly, Mass., a professional storyteller. He presented selections from four Ingersoll works: â€œReply to Rev. Drs. Thomas and Lorimer,â€ â€œThe Ghosts,â€ â€œThe Gods,â€ and â€œWhat is Religion?â€ He won $75 and a book, The Best of Robert Ingersoll, by Roger E. Greeley.
Fourth Place: Wendy Shore, of Ashton, Md., a triathlete and academic researcher. She read an excerpt from an Ingersoll letter, â€œHow to Edit a Liberal Paper.â€ She won $50 and a book, Reason, Tolerance and Christianity: The Ingersoll Debates.
Each contestant also won one of two DVDs: about the Ingersoll museum in Dresden (see http://www.rgimuseum.org) or about D.M. Bennett, founder of Truth Seeker magazine (see http://vimeo.com/10514808 .
The prizes were awarded by a panel of three judges: Margaret Downey, founder of Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia; Tom Flynn, Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism and Director of the Ingersoll Birthplace Museum; and Monifa (Mo) Hamilton of Washington, a Distinguished Toastmaster and Lieutenant Governor of the worldâ€™s 10th largest Toastmasters District.
Ms. Downey helped to open the event by performing in period costume as Ingersollâ€™s wife, Eva, known as â€œa woman without superstitionâ€. Robert and Eva Ingersoll lived in Washington, DC, on Lafayette Square from 1878-1883 and were most surely seen in Dupont Circle.
Steve Lowe, founder of the Ingersoll Oratory Contest, thanks the coordinating committee, judges, sponsors and especially the contestants for their contributions in making one of his favorite Ingersoll sayings come true: â€œThe hands that help are better far than the lips that pray.â€
In addition to Steve, the coordinating committee included Lindsay Gemberling, Beth Kingsley, Suzanne Perry, and Jeff Randall.
The other contestants were Joseph Ben-David, of New York City; Craig Howell, of Washington, D.C.; and Steven E. Jones, of Herndon, Va.
For more information about the contest, including videos of the presentations, go to http://www.ingersollcontest.wordpress.com. Write to Ingersoll@wash.com with questions or comments.
The following was a talk prepared for Skepticamp DC, October 3rd, 2010. I made a few on the spot changes, but the talk presented was largely true to the following text.
This was my first time speaking with aÂ PowerPointÂ presentation, and I couldn’t stand the limitations in the program or my ability to use it to get the effect I wanted, so I designed everything in Adobe InDesign and then imported them all as flat .jpg images.
I was holding out to publish this until I had audio from the event (why I decided not record it myself is a mystery), but I can always post that later anyway.
Thanks to JD for posting the video online and adding (most) of the slides!
Satan as Rebel Hero:
Henry M. Tichenor and the Radical Anti-Religious
My name is Kevin I. Slaughter. Iâ€™m the publisher of a book just released on the 122nd Anniversary of the publication of Nietzscheâ€™s â€œThe Anti-Christâ€, and what is referred to as International Blasphemy Rights Day, September 30th.. This is the day the cartoons of Mohammad were published in a Dutch newspaper, triggering a wave of violence and mayhem by Muslims who have found their most precious beliefs rocked by… editorial cartoons. The book is titled The Sorceries and Scandals of Satan, and the author was Henry M. Tichenor. â†»
I caution you now, if youâ€™re offended by strong words, take an early break. We will be pushing our time limit here and ask that you reserve any questions or comments for the end. If you have a question that isnâ€™t answered, please feel free to approach either of us during the break.
Now, I would like to present the author of the forward to â€œThe Sorceries and Scandals of Satanâ€, Robert Merciless, to discuss this unique book and itâ€™s forgotten author.â†»
Pt.1 – Henry M. Tichenor: Progressive Era Skeptic and Muckracker
(ROBERT MERCILESS SPEAKS, HIS TALK HAS NOT BEEN TRANSCRIBED)
Pt.2 – A Brief History of Blasphemers
What short memories we humans have, our collective view of the world likes to create visions of the past free from harm or hate, except when explicitly advantageous. Because of this, our newspapers, blogs and television news report stories as if America is a tabula rasa, swept clean every night, to be shocked anew every evening by the days events. When people bemoan the brusqueness of the â€œNew Atheistsâ€, they do so out of some seemingly willfull ignorance of the Old Atheists – and Iâ€™m not talking about James Randi, though he is pretty old.
I hope, in this short time to provide a sort of intellectual and poetic framework for understanding that Tichenor and his book are not an anomaly of the early 20th century, but part of a larger current of Western radical philosophers and muckrackers who openly took the fight to Christianity and the superstitions of the day.
Evolution may or may not have planted the seed of faith – or believing in something even contrary to evidence otherwise, but the here is the story of our most obvious target, one youâ€™re probably familiar with, Iâ€™m sure, so I wonâ€™t belabor the obvious too much. â†»
â€œIn the beginning, there was…â€
…well, Iâ€™m not sure, and nobody really knows, but everyone has always wanted to know, because thatâ€™s a frustrating predicament, and our minds like answers over unknowns, folks decided to make a story up. Itâ€™s been done thousands of times, but only occasionally does the story stick, or the people prosper enough. The short and simple explanation was that there was an invisible thing, awesome in power and timeless. Why are we here? â†»
â€œHe did itâ€.
Because it was people, who made this creation story up, they needed to add to the story how, after everything else, the invisible all powerful uncreated creator then finished the job by making people. In the Judeo-Christian version of the story, the one weâ€™re dealing with here, there were two perfect people.
Now, everything was perfect, just as long as those two folks stayed dumb. They had but one rule to follow – donâ€™t eat the magic fruit.
That magic fruit was from the tree of knowledge – one bite and youâ€™d no longer be the pollyannas and milksops that the all-powerful wanted to perform as sexless and stupid pets in his garden of perfection.
No, the two listened instead to the talking snake, and the talking snake said this: â†»
â€œFor God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.â€
Now this story, as accurate to reality and history as a Garfield strip in the Sunday paper, has permeated Western Civilization for thousands of years- much of it at the end of a sword, or threat of the fire – a central story coming from the religion of Jews to the splinter-sects that cover the globe. From the Mohammedians of the middle east and Africa to Mormons of the middle US, Adam and Eve have varying importance, but are always present.
And of course, they bite, and of course, the invisible baby in the sky threw a tantrum, because man has strayed from his law, his vision of paradise made real…
In short, the philosophy espoused by the invisible god-baby in his official handbook is as follows – and I’m paraphrasing this a bit: â†»
â€œThe natural world is wicked, the flesh is evil, thinking is really bad..â€
But this story from the official handbook is old and has been told time and again, and has been changed and misrepresented, and misunderstood. But that it is only a story, and a fantastic one at that, has not stopped those millions and now billions of one-book lovers from using it as an excuse to do what comes naturally to all animals without excuse – to prey upon their fellow man, to help their own above others – and often at the expense of others – all the while congratulating themselves as being righteous and self-less, on the path of goodness and love.
Now this philosophy, to any eyes not distorted by the contradictory clap-trap espoused by the invisible oneâ€™s book, is absurd and often gastly. Some of them have had such a strong response theyâ€™ve decided that not only are they appalled by such human-hating philosophy, but they are angered. In the pious posturing of the religious potentates, they express scorn and ridicule. In the laws put into the mouth of the all powerful invisible monster, they have proudly snarled: â†»
â€œI question all things. As I stand before the festering and varnished facades of your haughtiest moral dogmas, I write thereon in letters of blazing scorn: Lo and behold; all this is fraud!â€
Weâ€™re talking about skepticism born of resentment, a feeling that a confidence game has been perpetrated on humanity, and the skeptic and those he loves have been taken for more than just money – theyâ€™ve been taken for their dignity and the very urges that make them human animals.
These are skeptics that not only take a step back to inspect – coldy, sternly, objectively, – but to accuse – boldly, mockingly, and with derision reserved for all those things that are thoroughly hateful to the world and the ego.â†»
They are Satan.
They will not wait idly because theyâ€™ve been offered some sham paradise once theyâ€™ve died, but will reside in the world, eyes open, in search of knowledge. They have seen Satan not as some pure evil as the followers of Christ would paint him, but as something more dashing, challenging, and often… dare I say, romantic. â†»
Certainly, kind hearted humanists and literalistic secularists will bristle at using this mythological figure to oppose another mythological figure, however symbolic it might be used- but for me, for some of histories most creative and challenging artists and thinkers, and certainly for the author of the book that my partner will elucidate on, it is a poetic tribute to the individual, the rebel, the world as it is, man as an animal — life as finite, fallible and real. â†»
These are men who have bitten the fruit, symbolically, they have opened their eyes intellectually, and they have set about learning what god knows, and that is the secrets of the world and life itself.
In 1676, in Surrey, Enlgland yeoman John Taylor offended the ears of the ruling class by speaking aloud the following words in a fit of hedonistic rebellion: â†»
â€œChrist is a whore-master, and religion is a cheat, and profession is a cloak, and they are both cheats, and all the earth is mine, and I am a kingâ€™s son, my father sent me hither, and made me a fisherman to take vipers and I neither fear God, devil, nor man, and I am a younger brother to Christ, an angel of God and no man fears God but an hypocrite, Christ is a bastard, God damn and confound all your Gods, Christ is the whoreâ€™s master.â€
These blasphemies were punished by a mere hour in the pillory, and Leonard Levy claims that the townsfolk afterword carried Mr. Taylor on their shoulders to the local tavern to celebrate. However joyous the immediate celebrations may have been, the case, known as Rex v. Taylor, have had long reaching implications. Lord Chief Justice Haleâ€™s brief opinion on the case was reported secondhand, but it reads: â†»
â€œ…such kind of wicked blasphemous words were not only an offence to God and religion, but a crime against the laws, State and Government, and therefore punishable in this court. For, to say religion is a cheat, is to dissolve all those obligations whereby the civil societies are preserved, and that Christianity is parcel of the laws of England; and therefore to reproach the Christian religion is to speak in subversion of the law.â€
These words by Hale have served as the foundation for dragging blasphemers into court in England and later the United States. Even today, that the phrase â€œChristianity is parcel of the laws of Englandâ€ has given the Religious Right precedent to claim, however wrongly, that the Bible is the source of our common law here in the United States.
Most of the morality tales weâ€™ve been told have been tales woven by the advocates of the invisible one in the sky though, stories to scare the children and the elderly. â†»
â€œAn apology for the devil: it must be remembered that we have heard one side of the case. God has written all the books.â€
Samuel Butler wasnâ€™t the first to note that it is mainly the Christians who have written slanderous stories of Satan, and wondered who has told the other side of the story. But it was also Twain, in his â€œLetters From the Earthâ€, who puts the following words into the mouth of Olâ€™ Scratch himself: â†»
â€œ(The Bible) is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.â€
By aligning oneself with the rebel hero, it is a rebuke to those mired in a childish dualism, of good vs. evil, a morality bereft of subtlety or circumstance. If we are to build a philosophy in the devils spirit, would not the enemy of dualism advocate non-dualistic thinking? It isnâ€™t those who are ignorant of a God that demand this dualism, it is the proponents of God: â†»
â€œFor the doers of sin there is another leader; they choose another patron and pattern : â€˜He that commits sin is of the Devil.â€™ …Sin is Satan’s domain, his sphere, his work ; and every sinner is his ally and instrument. The committer of sin makes himself of the Devil’s partyâ€
If the Bible is the document of Godâ€™s will, it is the job of any reasonable and sane man to reject not only him, but this disjointed book. It is the joy of an even fewer number of men that they do so by picking the other team, at least symbolically.
We can find New York journalist and author, Benjamin De Casseres, in the very same year of 1904 writing in The Metropolitan an essay on cynicism in the theater titled â€œThe Dramatic Devilâ€™s Advocateâ€. In it he opines on one of the supposed mortal sins: â†»
â€œEnvy is not moral, but it’s right. The difference between moral and right is the difference between doing what you ought to do and what you want to do. Morality was invented in deference to the policeman. Right is might and springs from nature. Morality is polite. Right is brusque. Morality says by “your leave.” Right says “Up and at you.” A mere difference in breeding. One is urban; the other is not even urbane. Well, envy is right. It gives us pleasure; it is stimulating. It promotes health and induces pleasant dreams. The beggar envies the king, and the king envies the beggar. The wise man envies the fool, and the fool envies the wise man. Envy is the basis of that divine discontent praised by the delegate who walks. Envy is ennui on a strike. To pine for what your neighbor has got shows taste. If his wife is beautiful, it would show a total lack of aesthetic appreciation did we not pine for her. Envy is the sincerest flattery.â€
DeCasseres came out swinging even harder 24 years later in the literary journal The American Mercury with a piece entitled â€œHymn to Satanâ€: â†»
â€œThe grandeur of America today is satanic, materialistic, irreligious, unethical… The settlement of America was the birth of a New Reality. It began the dethronement of the mystical God and the rejuvination of the Prince of This World — prince of this world not in the Old World theological sense, but as the spirit of the Will to Material Power.â€
As proof of this idea of America as a new Satanic empire, he states: â†»
â€œRead the preamble. There is not an ounce of imagination, religion, metaphysics or poetry in it… the Constitution came into this world like a prolonged cynicism in the mouth of an atheistic lawyer… The Constitution is the cold sun of Reason.â€
The publisher and editor of that magazine, HL Mencken deserves to be mentioned as well. In his memoirs from his youth he posited the following: â†»
â€œI made up my mind at once that my true and natural allegiance was to the Devilâ€™s party, and it has been my firm belief ever since that all persons who devote themselves to forcing virtue on their fellow men deserve nothing better than kicks in the pants.â€
Eventually our journey from the rabble-rousing blasphemer in the 17th century, through novelists and journalists in the 19th and early 20th centuries – entirely skipping the decadent poets and erotic writers, Carducci, Voltaire, Byron, DeSade – bringing us to 1966, when a man took this idea of the earthy and rebellious Satan to another level.
Anton Szandor LaVey shaved his head and founded a religion in the spirit of Twainâ€™s Satan, Tichenorâ€™s Satan, Menckenâ€™s Satan. He founded, of course, the Church of Satan, an anti-religious religion, an anti-church church. Instead of a revelatory text of divine inspiration, two years later he published a collection of writings that celebrated the ego, the flesh and pursuit of knowledge. He promoted the occult in the true sense of the word- the things that are hidden by the platitudes of the politicians, the hypocritical piety of the Christians and social uplifters, and the shallow respectability sought by any means necessary by the booboisie. Those who, in Menckenâ€™s words, devote themselves to forcing virtue on their fellow men.
It was bombastic, sarcastic, and spoke of a hard-nosed philosophy of pragmatism and Epicurean delight mingled with a carnival barkers knack for the dramatic.
He couldnâ€™t have expressed it more clearly in his Satanic Bible: â†»
â€œAll religions of a spiritual nature are inventions of man. He has created an entire system of gods with nothing more than his carnal brain.â€
LaVeyâ€™s successor, Peter H. Gilmore, has been just as, if not more more explicit and outspoken in his own collection of essays, titled The Satanic Scriptures. A book I was also proud to design and publish in 2007.
Five years after the media frenzy surrounding the founding of an organization dedicated in name to the Lord of this Earth, another figure among the counterculture penned a guidebook for political activists. Saul D. Alinsky released â€œRules for Radicalsâ€, subtitled â€œA Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicalsâ€.
Following the dedication page are three quotes, the first by the super-Jew Rabbi Hillel, the second from our Godless founding father Thomas Paine, advocate of reason, and the third was penned by the author himself: â†»
â€œLest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins â€” or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom â€” Lucifer.”
Olâ€™ Saul has seen quite a resurgence in popularity in the past few years, being linked to the rise of our current President, and the Religious Right has been absolutely delighted to find this homage to the dark one, so they can predictably use it to scare the pious Christians into believing Barack Obama is in league with the Devil… you know, when heâ€™s not bowing to Mecca five times a day.
But lest you think that only poets, novelists, journalists, political activists and cynical outsiders tend to tip the hat to the Dark Oneâ€™s rule of this world, you may be familiar with the quote from Charles Darwin: â†»
“What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature!”
And this, at least from the big picture view, is the advocacy of a genuine Satanic worldview. In a nutshell, there is no god who loves you and looks out for your best interest. There is no heaven or hell waiting for you when you die. The earth doesnâ€™t love you nor does it need your love. At the end of the day, we are left with the greatest offense that one can give to the invisible monster baby…
… that we humans must love ourselves, and when we look outside of ourselves, it is into the eyes of another animal, and not bent over gazing at the feet of wooden idols. â†»
Last year I was not alone in thinking I gave one of the better speeches at the contest, but I did not win or even place. I had a great time, and as I said in my talk – it was a pleasure to blaspheme the lord of Christians in our nation’s capitol on such a beautiful day.
This year, the topic I chose was the same, but pulled from a different speech: “How The Gods Grow”. This talk by Ingersoll included a few lines that tied in well with the theme of the Tichenor book I just published through Underworld Amusements – that Satan is a better friend to man than God.
And if (the Bible) is true, ought we not after all to thank the devil? He was the first school master; he was the first to whisper liberty in our ears. He was the author of ambition and progress.
I will update this post once this years videos are made available on YouTube.
I am going to be doing a full podcast on Ingersoll that will include the audio below, so if you listen to the UAVH, you’ve been warned of redundancy.
I didn’t even realize a helicopter had flown over until later listening to the audio recording.
One of my favorite comments after the event was as follows:
“You looked like a Hasidic Jew, you sounded like a Baptist Preacher, but then we realized that you were a tattooed atheist! It was so confusing!”
Though I recieved many really wonderful and sincere compliments on my performance. The woman who came in fourth place, when we all lined up to get photos taken, asked me “So are you an actor?”, to which I responded “No, I’m just a ham.” I have done quite a bit of public speaking and performance over the years, and there’s even a photo printed in a school newspaper from when I was in 1st Grade singing a solo in front of the whole school assembled. From there I’ve MC’ed burlesque shows, performed “avant-garde industrial noise perfomance art” that included being entirely covered in blood or silver paint and burnt pages from a bible (sampling two performances), to givingÂ slightlyÂ serious talks and even performing a handful of wedding ceremonies (one Satanic and two secular). I’m terribly nervous EVERY time. This time, however, I ended up having to work the HL Mencken Club conference and had little time over the 48 hours prior to the Contest to fret (or memorize). It seemed to work out okay, obviously – I wasn’t nearly stressed as I normally am, and I knew the talk well enough to recite a majority by head (“heart” is just not correct, is it).
The text below is what I prepared for the contest, though I had to skip a few lines near the end because of time limitations:
Today I present a truncated but not Bowdlerized version of Ingersollâ€™s lecture titled â€œHow the Gods Growâ€.
Priests have invented a crime called blasphemy.
That crime is the trenches in which ignorance, superstition and hypocrisy have crouched for thousands of years to shoot their poisoned arrows at the pioneers of human thought. Priests tell us that there is a God somewhere in heaven who objects to a human being thinking and expressing his thought. We have been taught that it is dangerous to reason upon these subjectsâ€”extremely dangerousâ€”and that of all crimes in the world, the greatest is to deny the existence of that God.
Redden your hands in innocent blood; steal the bread of the orphan, deceive, ruin and desert the beautiful girl who has loved and trusted you, and for all this you may be forgiven; for all this you can have the clear writ of that bankrupt court of the gospel. But deny the existence of one of these gods, and the tearful face of mercy becomes lurid with eternal hate; the gates of heaven are shut against you, and you, with an infinite curse ringing in your ears, commence your wanderings as an immortal vagrant, as a deathless convict, as an eternal outcast. And we have been taught that the infinite has become enraged at the finite simply when the finite said: “I don’t know!”
The other day I read a sermon (you will hardly believe it, but I did); I had nothing else to to. I had read everything in that paper, including the advertisements; so I read the sermon. It was a sermon by Rev. Mr. Moody on prayer, in which he claimed our prayer should be â€œThy will be done;â€ and he seemed to believe that if we prayed that prayer often enough we could induce God to have his own way. He gives an instance of a woman in Illinois who had a sick child, and she prayed that God would not take from her arms that baby. She did not pray â€œThy will be done,â€ but she prayed, according to Mr. Moody, almost a prayer of rebellion, and said: â€œI cannot give up my baby.â€ God heard her prayer, and the child got well; and Mr. Moody says when it got well it was an idiot . For fifteen years that woman watched over and took care of that idiotic child; and Mr. Moody says how much better would it have been if she had allowed God to have had his own way. Think of a God who would punish a mother for speaking to Him from an agonizing heart and saying, â€œI cannot give up my baby,â€ and making the child an idiot. What would the devil have done under the same circumstances? That is the God we are expected to worship.
They say to me, God has written a book. I am glad he did, and it is by that book that I propose to judge them. I find in that book that it was a crime to eat of the tree of knowledge. I find that the church has always been the enemy of education, and I find that the church still carries the flaming sword of ignorance and bigotry.
And if that story is true, ought we not after all to thank the devil? He was the first school master; he was the first to whisper liberty in our ears. He was the author of ambition and progress. And as for me, give me the storm and tempest of thought and action rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Punish me when and how you will, but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. And there is one more thing I need to mention. While the world has made gods, it has also made devils; and as a rule the devils have been better friends to man than the gods. It was not a devil that drowned the world; it was not a devil that covered an infinite sea with the corpses of men, women and children. That was the good god. The devil never sent pestilence and famine; the devil never starved women and children; that was the good God.
You hate a God like that. I do; I despise him. And yet little children in Sunday-school are taught that infamous lie. Â And if you will just read the old testament with the bandage off your eyes and the cloud of fear from your heart, you will come to the conclusion that it was written not only by men, but by barbarians, by savages, and that it is totally unworthy of a civilized age.
In the vast cemetery, we call the past, are most of the religions of men… and there, too, are nearly all their gods.
- That the ever-dominant and only inherent impulse in all living beings, including man, is the will to remain alive â€” the will, that is, to attain power over those forces which make life difficult or impossible.
- That all schemes of morality are nothing more than efforts to put into permanent codes the expedients found useful by some given race in the course of its successful endeavors to remain alive.
- That, despite the universal tendency to give these codes authority by crediting them to some god, they are essentially man-made and mutable, and so change, or should change, as the conditions of human existence in the world are modified.
- That the human race should endeavor to make its mastery over its environment more and more certain, and that it is its destiny, therefore, to widen more and more the gap which now separates it from the lower races of animals.
- That any code of morality which retains its permanence and authority after the conditions of existence which gave rise to it have changed, works against this upward progress of mankind toward greater and greater efficiency. I
- That all gods and religions, because they have for their main object the protection of moral codes against change, are inimicable to the life and well-being of healthy and efficient men.
- That all the ideas which grow out of such gods and religions â€” such, for example, as the Christian ideas of humility, of self-sacrifice and of brotherhood â€” are enemies of life, too.
- That human beings of the ruling, efficient class should reject all gods and religions, and with them the morality at the bottom of them and the ideas which grow out of them, and restore to its ancient kingship that primal instinct which enables every efficient individual to differentiate between the things which are beneficial to him and the things which are harmful.”
There are many ways to understand Satanism as a philosophy, many tacs to take when discussing it. From literary or artistic to philosophical or religious.
Satanism proper isÂ relevantÂ in a Christian dominated society, but the philosophy behind it is universal. Outside of a Christian society, it would probably need to be called something else (unless there’s enough Christian influence that it is still a sort of exoticism). Changing the label doesn’t change the underlying content, though it can change how people view that content.
But while on vacation I ran across this little book: Â “The Joy of Womanhood: The Keepers of the Home Series” by Keepers of the Faith.
It seems to be a sort of workbook for Christian women to work out how they are fallen creatures by answering leading questions. I couldn’t bring myself to buy it, but when I saw one of the questions I had to at least snap a photo of it and post here.
Here. This is one of the angles, where I say “Yes, you’re right Christling, it is the Lord of This Earth that I pay tribute to. I enjoy my posessions, education, and fortune (though this latter thing is only on a theoretical level) and I want the same for my wife. You continue to reject these things, keep your kids home from school, don’t buy them anything, and continue to let them know they are nobody and will never amount to nothing.
Der Tag (Mencken Day), September 11, 2010
Mencken Day 2010Â will commence at 10:00 AM on September 11, 2010 at the Enoch Pratt Free Library,Â 400 Cathedral St, Baltimore,MD. The Mencken Societyâ€™s Annual Meeting begins at 10:30 in the Wheeler Auditorium.
The Societyâ€™s speakers (in the morning) areÂ Marion Rodgers, who will speak on her recent (hot off the presses) two-volume set of Menckenâ€™sÂ Prejudices, published by the Library of America, andÂ David DonovanÂ of the Enoch Pratt Free Library who has done heroic work in exhuming the entombed collection of Saturday Night Club material held by the Library. He will play selections from a recording of the Concert Artists of Baltimoreâ€™s concert, â€œA Saturday Night Club on Sunday Afternoonâ€, held April 11, 2010. If you missed the concert, here is your chance to at least get a taste of what was.
The Mencken Memorial speaker (in the afternoon) isÂ Jonathan Yardley, book reviewer for theÂ Washington Post and editor of Menckenâ€™sÂ My Life as Author and Editor(Knopf, 1993).
(Notice, the Mencken Society is different from the HL Mencken Club .)
I thought the following comment I made in a thread was quite clever, but that also leads me to think I’ve unknowingly stolen it from someone else. If you know the source, clue me in.
I’ve found much truth in all religious texts as well. Mainly the words “the”, “a”, “and” and “to”. The other words get fuzzy from there.
For me, I’ve never claimed there was no “truth” to any religious system, but that Islam, Christianity, Judaism, et. al. are not the truth they claim. They claim to be divinely inspired. What this means is that you pretty much need to take the bad with the good. You don’t HAVE to, but then you’re not a follower of the religion, you’re a tourist with a camera who picked up something from the gift shop to take home.What “truth” or “goodness” does the Quaran or Bible contain that cannot be found completely independent of it?
I’ve spent a LOT of time putting together a series of 13 podcast episodes of HL Mencken’s Baltimore Evening Sun reports on the Scopes trial from Dayton, Tenn. I’m releasing them in somewhat “real time”, according to the dates they were published 85 years ago. I’d like my visitors to this blog to hear them, and if you enjoy it, please pass a link along to others.
First, a list of the episodes and dates they’ll be released, I’ll link them up as they come out:
June 29th – Homo Neanderthalensis
July 9th – Sickening Doubts About Publicity
July 10th – Impossibility of Obtaining FairÂ Jury
July 11th – Trial as Religious Orgy
July 13th – Souls Need Reconversion Nightly
July 14th – Darrow’s Eloquent Appeal
July 15th – Law and Freedom
July 16th – Fair Trial Beyond Ken
July 17th – Malone the Victor
July 18th – Genesis Triumphant
July 20th – Tennessee in the Frying Pan
July 27th – Bryan
Sept. 14th* -Â Aftermath
*Will be released by July 30th.
The full text of the report at the end of the blog!
As frequent readers of this blog know, I’m a big fan of Mencken’s writing. He’s got a viewpoint that is hardly expressed anymore – a no-bullshit commentator on the follies of his day. Moreso, much of what he criticised then has only gone downhill, and his mockery and scathingÂ verbiageÂ is a balm for the mind appalled by the utter stupidity of the modern scene. The only man I’ve read that was able to mix his best elements together with style was Anton Szandor LaVey. LaVey introduced me to Mencken, as well as any number of authors, philosophers, artists and ideas. LaVey is indeed the proverbial gateway drug. It is the opposite of the religions of “the book”, his was a religion “of the world”. When Adversary Recordings rereleased his “Satan Takes a Holiday” CD, and I was tasked with writing promotional copy, this is the tail end:
“…as with most of the work that Anton LaVey has done, itâ€™s a small door to a sometimes unseemly and Satanic world. Applying the true definition of â€œoccultâ€ to these songs is probably most appropriate, as they are hidden wonders.”
A few of the folks who didn’t get turned onto LaVey get real tripped up on the S-word. I’m not going to go into apologetics here, but I think I will be doing an episode on the topic. Let me assure you that you are nowhere near the first person, if you’re like many, to ask “But why not just call yourself ______?”
I’m not a writer. There are a few things that I’ve pecked out on the keyboard that I’m proud of, but I hold no illusion that they could even serve as an introduction to Mencken’s own words. Though mecken has penned a few pithy quotable lines, there has been one that I’ve found most reflects my own lifelong work, and I’ve used it many times. It is, in fact, the very first quote on my quotes page:
â€œI hope I need not confess that a large part of my stock in trade consists of platitudes rescued from the cobwebbed shelves of yesterdayâ€¦ This borrowing and refurbishing of shop-worn goods, as a matter of fact, is the invariable habit of traders in ideas, at all times and everywhere. It is not, however, that all the conceivable human notions have been thought out; it is simply, to be quite honest, that the sort of men who volunteer to think out new ones seldom, if ever, have wind enough for a full dayâ€™s work.â€
-H.L. Menken, from â€œIn Defense of Womenâ€
July 6th was my 35th birthday and the 2nd anniversary of Underworld Amusements (I made a public announcement in October of ’08, but July was the time I started working on it seriously… well, as seriously as I’ve had spare time for). I’ve done quite a bit in the last two years under the banner of UA, but I’m reevaluating it as one should do everything. The podcast started in
The past month and a half I’ve been running ads on Facebook. It’s as cheap or expensive as you want to make it, so I made it cheap and tried to target the people I think would be most interested. It’s brought traffic to the site, but the idea of paying .15 to .50 cents for someone to merely visit the site is hard for me to do. UA is a no-budget operation, more or less. The meager profits from books just go to spending money on website hosting and whatever expenses come along.
This isn’t a wind-up to hitting you up for donations, though it probably sounds like it. No, this is a wind-up to ask anyone who has enjoyed a podcast or book released under the Underworld Amusements banner to occasionally, or at least once, post a link on facebook, write a review on itunes, or do some simple free task to promote what I’m doing. After 14 podcasts, including a number of interviews (from Oscar winner HR Giger, to one-time “worlds worst person” John Derbyshire, to Church of Satan High Priest Peter H. Gilmore, among others), I’veÂ receivedÂ exactly one review on iTunes, and that I hounded a friend for.
A few folks have been very supportive, and I’ve done my best to reciprocate. That’s how I roll. I’ve done my best to avoid SPAMMY behavior. I haven’t trolled social network sites begging for folks to “friend” me. I rarely do it on my personal profile and just as rarely do it on my “business” pages. I promote other projects and publishers directly on the UA site and moreso on my personal site. This respectable method isn’t working. Paying for clicks is, but it’s also spending the little money I make that could be spent on new projects or making ongoing projects better.
I’ve tried thinking of ways to organize some sort of project that would assist others who are working on projects or have blogs or books to promote to do so easily. Something either a little more targeted than “facebook”, but not a wholeÂ separateÂ system that competes with the established sites. I don’t want to build a social network for misfits, but I would like something like an Instapundit for misanthropes. Something that’s compelling enough to bring returning visitors, but not so involved that people have to set up identities, and something that can push that same info out to folks.
I’m not sure what form it’ll take, but it has a name and a url, though I’m not letting that on right now, as it could radically change or not happen. It’d be like telling you my sons name while still a virgin (well, technically, after I had the first two kids aborted, and was planing on making another kid).