Secular Blogging / Ingersoll Oratory Contest First Place Video

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 – 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, “How the Gods Grow.”
Slaughter, competing for the second time, took top honors at the October event in Washington, D.C.’,s Dupont Circle, which was designed to bring to life the words of the 19th-century orator known as the “Great Agnostic.”
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 year’s oratory contest. “In the Venn diagram of things I’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,” he says.
Slaughter won $150; a rare original period poster including a color gravure photo of Ingersoll with his grandchildren, a quote from “Love,” 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 Ingersoll–a Civil War veteran, successful lawyer and political speaker who has been neglected by history.
The seven contestants entertained the audience with Ingersoll’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: “A Reply to the Rev. Henry M. Field, D.D.,” “About the Holy Bible,” and a speech at the Lotus Club’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: “Reply to Rev. Drs. Thomas and Lorimer,” “The Ghosts,” “The Gods,” and “What is Religion?” 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, “How to Edit a Liberal Paper.” 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 world’s 10th largest Toastmasters District.
Ms. Downey helped to open the event by performing in period costume as Ingersoll’s wife, Eva, known as “a woman without superstition”. 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: “The hands that help are better far than the lips that pray.”
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.
–Suzanne Perry

H.L. Mencken calls for a “new Ingersoll”

The American Mercury
Volume 3, Number 11
November 1924
pages 290-293

EDITORIAL

WHAT the country lacks is obviously an Ingersoll. It is, indeed, a wonder that the chautauquas have never spewed one forth. Certainly there must be many a jitney Demosthenes on those lonely circuits who tires mightily of the standard balderdash, and longs with a great longing to throw off the white chemise of Service and give the rustics a genuinely hot show. The old game, I sus­pect, is beginning to play out, even in the Bible Belt. What made the rural Method­ists breathe hard and fast at the dawn of the century now only makes them shuffle their feet and cough behind their hands. I have spies in such lugubrious regions, and their reports all agree. The yokelry no longer turn out to the last valetudinarian to gape at colored pictures of the Holy Sepulchre and the Mount of Olives, or to hear a sweating rhetorician on “The Fu­ture of America.” They sicken of Service, Idealism and Vision. What ails them is that the village movie, the radio and the Ku Klux Klan have spoiled their old taste for simple, wholesome fare. They must have it hot now, or they don’t want it at all. The master-minds of Chautauqua try to meet the new demand, but cannot go all the way. They experiment gingerly with lectures on eugenics, the divorce evil, women in politics, and other such porno­graphic subjects, but that is not enough. The horticulturists and their wives and issue pant for something more dreadful and shocking—something comparable, on the plane of ideas, to the tarring and feath­ering of the village fancy woman on the plane of manly sports. Their cars lie back and they hearken expectantly, and even somewhat impatiently. What they long for is a bomb.
My guess is that the one that would blow them highest, and that would shake the most money out of them going up and coming down, is the big black bomb of Atheism. It has not been set off in the Fed­eral Union, formally and with dramatic effect, since July 21, 1899, when Bob Inger­soll was snatched to bliss eternal. Now it is loaded again, and ready to be fired, and the chautauquan who discovers it and fires it will be the luckiest mountebank heard of in these latitudes since George Harvey thrust the halo on Woodrow’s brow. For this favorite of fortune, unlike his fellows of the rustic big tops, will not have to drudge out all his days on the lonesome steppes, racking his stomach with fried beefsteak and saleratus biscuit and his limbs with travel on slow and bumpy trains. He will be able almost at once, like Ingersoll before him and the Rev. Billy Sunday in the lost Golden Age, to horn into the big towns, or, at all events, into the towns, and there he will snore at ease of nights upon clean sheets, with his roll in his pantaloons pocket and a Schluck of genuine Scotch under his belt. The yokels, if they want to hear him, will have’ to come to Babylon in their Fords; he will be too busy and too prosperous to waste himself upon the cow-stable mias­mas of the open spaces. Ingersoll, in one month, sometimes took in $50,000. It can be done again; it can be bettered. I believe that Dr. Jennings Bryan, if he sold out God tomorrow and went over to Darwin and Pongo pygmaus, could fill the largest hall in Nashville or Little Rock a month on end: he would make the most profound sensation the country has known since the Breckenridge-Pollard case, nay, since Han­nah and her amazing glands. And what Bryan could do, any other chautauquan could do, if not exactly in the same grand manner, then at least in a grand manner.
But this is a Christian country! Is it, in­deed? Then it was doubly a Christian country in the days of Bob the Hell-Cat. Bob faced a Babbittry that still went to church on Sunday as automatically as a Prohibition enforcement agent holds out his hand. No machinery for distracting it from that ancient practice had yet been invented. There were no Sunday movies and vaudeville shows. There were no auto­mobiles to take the whole family to green fields and Wet road-houses: the roads were too bad even for buggy-riding. There was no radio. There was no jazz. There were no Sunday comic supplements. There was no home-brewing. Moreover, a high tide of evangelistic passion was running: it was the day of Dwight L. Moody, of the Sal­vation Army, of prayer-meetings in the White House, of eager chapel-building on every suburban dump. Nevertheless, Bob hurled his challenge at the whole hier­archy of heaven, and within a few short years he had the Babbitts all agog, and after them the city proletariat, and then finally the yokels on the farms. He drew immense crowds; he became eminent; he planted seeds of infidelity that still sprout in Harvard and Yale. Thousands aban­doned their accustomed places of worship to listen to his appalling heresies, and great numbers of them never went back. The evangelical churches, fifty years ago, were all prosperous and full of pious enter­prise; the soul-snatching business was booming. Since then it has been declining steadily, in prosperity and repute. The typical American ecclesiastic of 1870 was Henry Ward Beecher, a pet of Presidents and merchant princes. The typical American ecclesiastic of 1924 is the Rev. Dr. John Roach Straton, a pet of yellow journals.
In brief, the United States, despite its gallant resistance, has been swept along, to some extent at least, in the general current of human progress and increasing enlight­enment. The proofs that it resists are only too often mistaken for proofs that it hasn’t moved at all. For example, there is the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Superficially, it appears to indicate that whole areas of the Republic have gone over to Methodist voodooism with a bang, and that civiliza­tion is barred out of them as effectively as the Bill of Rights is barred out of a Federal court. But actually all it indicates is that the remoter and more forlorn yokels have risen against their betters—and that their uprising is as hopeless as it is idiotic. Whenever the Klan wins, the fact is smeared all over the front pages of the great organs of intelligence; when it loses, which is at least three times as often, the news gets only a few lines. The truth is that the strength of the Klan, like the strength of the Anti-Saloon League and that of the Methodist-Baptist bloc of moron churches, the pa of both of them, has always been greatly overestimated. Even in the most barbarous reaches of the South, where every village is bossed by a Baptist dervish, it met with vigorous challenge from the start, and there are not three Con­federate States today in which, on .a fair plebiscite, it could hope to prevail. The fact that huge hordes of Southern politi­cians jumped into night-shirts when it began is no proof that it was actually mighty; it is only proof that politicians are cowards and idiots. Of late all of them have been seeking to rid themselves of the tell-tale tar and feathers: they try to ride the very genuine wave of aversion and dis­gust as they tried to ride the illusory wave of popularity. As the Klan falls every­where, the Anti-Saloon League tends to fall with it—and the evangelical churches are strapped tightly to both corpses.
This connection, when it was first de­nounced, was violently denied by the Bap­tist and Methodist ecclesiastics, but now everyone knows that it was and is real. These ecclesiastics are responsible for the Anti-Saloon League and its swineries, and they are responsible no less for the Klan. In other words, they are responsible, di­rectly and certainly, for all the turmoils and black hatreds that now rage in the bleak regions between the State roads—they are to blame for every witches’ pot that now brews in the backwoods of the Union. They have sowed enmities that will last for years. They have divided neighbors, debauched local governments, and enormously multiplied lawlessness. They are responsible for more crime than even the wildest foes of the saloon ever laid to its discredit, and it is crime, in the main, that is infinitely more anti-social and dangerous. They have opposed every honest effort to compose the natural dif­ferences between man and man, and they have opposed every attempt to meet igno­rance and prejudice with enlightenment. Alike, in the name of God, they have ad­vocated murder and they have murdered sense. Where they flourish no intelligent and well-disposed man is safe, and no sound and useful idea is safe. They have preached not only the bitter, savage moral­ity of the Old Testament; they have also preached its childish contempt of obvious facts. Hordes of poor creatures have fol­lowed these appalling rogues and vaga­bonds of the cloth down their Gadarene hill: the result, in immense areas, is the conversion of Christianity into a machine for making civilized living impossible. It is wholly corrupt, rotten and abominable. It deserves no more respect than a pile of garbage.
What I contend is that hundreds of thou­sands of poor simpletons are beginning to be acutely aware of the fact—that they are not nearly so stupid as they sometimes appear to be—above all, that there is much more native decency in them than is to be found in their ecclesiastical masters. In other words, I believe that they tire of the obscenity. One glances at such a State as Arkansas or such a town as Atlanta and sees only a swarm of bawling Methodists; only too easily one overlooks the fact that the bawling is far from unanimous. Logic is possible, in its rudiments, even to the Simiidae. On the next step of the scale, in the suburbs, so to speak, of Homo sapiens, it flourishes intermittently and explo­sively. All that is needed to set it off is a suitable yell. The first chautauquan who looses such a yell against the True Faith will shake the Bible Belt like an earth­quake, and, as they say, mop up. Half his work is already done for him. The True Faith, the only variety of the True Faith known to those hinds, is already under their rising distrust and suspicion. They look for the Ambassador of Christ, and they behold a Baptist elder in a mail-order suit, describing voluptuously the Harlot of Babylon. They yearn for consolation, and they are invited to a raid on bootleggers. Their souls reach out to the eternal mys­tery, and the evening’s entertainment is the clubbing of a fancy woman. All they need is a leader. Christianity is sick all over this pious land. The Christians have poisoned it. One blast upon a bugle horn, and the mob will be ready for the wake.
H. L M.

Rebel Hero – A Brief History of Blasphemers – VIDEO UPDATE

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 a PowerPoint 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. I’m the publisher of a book just released on the 122nd Anniversary of the publication of Nietzsche’s “The Anti-Christ”, 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. ↻

I caution you now, if you’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 isn’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 “The Sorceries and Scandals of Satan”, Robert Merciless, to discuss this unique book and it’s forgotten author.↻

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 “New Atheists”, they do so out of some seemingly willfull ignorance of the Old Atheists – and I’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 you’re probably familiar with, I’m sure, so I won’t belabor the obvious too much. ↻

“In the beginning, there was…”

…well, I’m not sure, and nobody really knows, but everyone has always wanted to know, because that’s a frustrating predicament, and our minds like answers over unknowns, folks decided to make a story up. It’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? ↻

“He did it”.

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 we’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 – don’t eat the magic fruit.

That magic fruit was from the tree of knowledge – one bite and you’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: ↻

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

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: ↻

“The natural world is wicked, the flesh is evil, thinking is really bad..”

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 one’s book, is absurd and often gastly. Some of them have had such a strong response they’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: ↻

“I 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!”

We’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 – they’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.↻

They are Satan.

They will not wait idly because they’ve been offered some sham paradise once they’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. ↻

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. ↻

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: ↻

“Christ 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 king’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 whore’s master.”

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 Hale’s brief opinion on the case was reported secondhand, but it reads: ↻

“…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.”

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 “Christianity is parcel of the laws of England” 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 we’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. ↻

“An apology for the devil: it must be remembered that we have heard one side of the case. God has written all the books.”

Samuel Butler wasn’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 “Letters From the Earth”, who puts the following words into the mouth of Ol’ Scratch himself: ↻

“(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.”

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 isn’t those who are ignorant of a God that demand this dualism, it is the proponents of God: ↻

“For the doers of sin there is another leader; they choose another patron and pattern : ‘He that commits sin is of the Devil.’ …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 party”

If the Bible is the document of God’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 “The Dramatic Devil’s Advocate”. In it he opines on one of the supposed mortal sins: ↻

“Envy 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.”

DeCasseres came out swinging even harder 24 years later in the literary journal The American Mercury with a piece entitled “Hymn to Satan”: ↻

“The 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.”

As proof of this idea of America as a new Satanic empire, he states: ↻

“Read 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.”

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: ↻

“I made up my mind at once that my true and natural allegiance was to the Devil’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.”

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 Twain’s Satan, Tichenor’s Satan, Mencken’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 Mencken’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 couldn’t have expressed it more clearly in his Satanic Bible: ↻

“All religions of a spiritual nature are inventions of man. He has created an entire system of gods with nothing more than his carnal brain.”

LaVey’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 “Rules for Radicals”, subtitled “A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals”.

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: ↻

“Lest 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 — 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 — Lucifer.”

Ol’ 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 he’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 One’s rule of this world, you may be familiar with the quote from Charles Darwin: ↻

“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 doesn’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. ↻

Robert G. Ingersoll Oratory Contest 2010 – This time I won…

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.

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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 giving slightly 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 Ingersoll’s lecture titled “How the Gods Grow”.

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 subjects—extremely dangerous—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 “Thy will be done;” 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 “Thy will be done,” but she prayed, according to Mr. Moody, almost a prayer of rebellion, and said: “I cannot give up my baby.” 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, “I cannot give up my baby,” 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.  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.

“…the Christian ideas of humility, of self-sacrifice and of brotherhood — are enemies of life…”

From “The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche”  by Henry Louis Mencken:
“Reduced to elementals, Nietzsche’s philosophy consists of the following propositions:
  1. That the ever-dominant and only inherent impulse in all living beings, including man, is the will to remain alive — the will, that is, to attain power over those forces which make life difficult or impossible.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. That all the ideas which grow out of such gods and religions — such, for example, as the Christian ideas of humility, of self-sacrifice and of brotherhood — are enemies of life, too.
  8. 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.”
==========
“Let a boy of alert, restless intelligence come to early manhood in an atmosphere of strong faith, wherein doubts are blasphemies and inquiry is a crime, and rebellion is certain to appear with his beard. So long as his mind feels itself puny beside the overwhelming pomp and circumstance of parental authority, he will remain docile and even pious. But so soon as he begins to see authority as something ever finite, variable and all-too-human — when he begins to realize that his father and his mother, in the last analysis, are mere human beings, and fallible like himself — then he will fly precipitately toward the intellectual wailing places, to think his own thoughts in his own way and to worship his own gods beneath the open sky.”

And we know that the things of the world belong to Satan.

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 is relevant 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:  “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.

“When you look at all the things in the world (And we know that the things of the world belong to Satan.) such as posessions, education, fame or fortune, what are some of the things you desire?”

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.

Mencken Day – September 11, 2010

Der Tag (Mencken Day), September 11, 2010

Mencken Day 2010 will commence at 10:00 AM on September 11, 2010 at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, 400 Cathedral St, Baltimore,MD. The Mencken Society’s Annual Meeting begins at 10:30 in the Wheeler Auditorium.

The Society’s speakers (in the morning) are Marion Rodgers, who will speak on her recent (hot off the presses) two-volume set of Mencken’s Prejudices, published by the Library of America, and David Donovan 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 Baltimore’s concert, “A Saturday Night Club on Sunday Afternoon”, 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) is Jonathan Yardley, book reviewer for the Washington Post and editor of Mencken’s My Life as Author and Editor(Knopf, 1993).

(Notice, the Mencken Society is different from the HL Mencken Club .)

I’ve found much truth in all religious texts….

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?

HL Mencken on the first great evolution trial…

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 Fair 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* – 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 scathing verbiage 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, it’s a small door to a sometimes unseemly and Satanic world. Applying the true definition of “occult” 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:

“I hope I need not confess that a large part of my stock in trade consists of platitudes rescued from the cobwebbed shelves of yesterday… 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 day’s work.”

-H.L. Menken, from “In Defense of Women”

***

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’ve received 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 whole separate 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).