I’m pleased to release the video of a lecture given on March 1st of this year when I was invited to speak on the topic of Satanism for a class at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Filmed in HD and edited to include quite a few graphics not presented in the original lecture, I’m pleased with the outcome and hope that for those already familiar with Satanism there is enough to still keep you interested and possibly entertained.
Embedded below is a playlist of all 9 videos, to play without interruption.
Below are two parts of the Q&A session that followed:
If you enjoyed the lecture and would like to make a voluntary monetary donation, please do so below:
Satanism as Weltanschauung
Ch. 1 “Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself…”
Rev. Kevin I. Slaughter introduces himself and gives a short biographical background to establish his long-held interest in Satanism explicitly, but also the occult or hidden aspects of culture.
Ch. 2 “A Brief Overview of Satanism”
Rev. Slaughter gives a very brief overview of Satanism, what a Satanist is, and how it is viewed by society.
Ch. 3 “The Satanic Bible”
Rev. Slaughter discusses the first High Priest of the Church of Satan’s book “The Satanic Bible”. He reads “The Nine Satanic Statements” and other pertinent selections from it.
Ch. 4 “The Satanic Scriptures”
Rev. Slaughter discusses the current High Priest of the Church of Satan’s book “The Satanic Scriptures”. He reads pertinent selections from it.
Ch. 5 “Egalité vs. Hierarchy”
The natural world is stratified, the weak, slow and stupid tend to be worse for wear. The smart, quick and strong tend to have a better time of it. In the animal kingdom, the world that we exist in, it is eat or be eaten.
Satanism takes few overtly political positions, and there is absolutely no affiliation between the Church any political party. The Satanic philosophy positions itself as a third side, rejecting the simplistic dichotomies of good vs. evil, republican vs. democrat, liberal and conservative. The one position most clearly associated with politics is Lex Talionis.
Ch. 7 “Magic”
Magic, in the Satanic sense, is not about shooting fireballs or riding on broomsticks, we do not have “spells” that guarantee sex or death – the two things people always seem to want a spell for. When the Satanist performs greater magic, it is an emotional psychodrama, intended to charge the participant with a specific feeling or to put him in a specific emotional state. It’s made clear in the writings that Greater Magic is an emotional working as opposed to intellectual. Like the power of a masterfully written book or piece of music has, this productive fiction is useful and possibly necessary to the human animal.
Ch. 8 “A Few Unkind Words…”
In this part of the lecture Kevin discusses Christian Child Abuse, a blog that collects stories about pedophile priests. He discusses religiously motivated atrocities committed by Islam and Judaism in the name of their religion and accepted by their communities.
Satanism isn’t merely a reactionary stance, it is about knowing ones self and building real relationships with worthy people. Rev. Slaughter recites a poem titled “Love” that was written by freethinker Robert Greene Ingersoll, to illustrate this and other points in the Satanic worldview.
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:
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).
The first effect of what used to be called natural philosophy is to fill its devotee with wonder at the marvels of God. This explains why the pursuit of science, so long as it remains superficial, is not incompatible with the most naif sort of religious faith. But the moment the student of the sciences passes this stage of childlike amazement and begins to investigate the inner workings of natural phenomena, he begins to see how ineptly many of them are managed, and so he tends to pass from awe of the Creator to criticism of the Creator, and once he has crossed that bridge he has ceased to be a believer. One finds plenty of neighborhood physicians, amateur botanists, high-school physics teachers and other such quasi-scientists in the pews on Sunday, but one never sees a Huxley there, or a Darwin, or an Ehrlich.
A NEW USE FOR CHURCHES
The argument by design, it may be granted, establishes a reasonable ground for accepting the existence of God. It makes belief, at all events, quite as intelligible as unbelief. But when the theologians take their step from the existence of God to the goodness of God they tread upon much less firm earth. How can one see any proof of that goodness in the senseless and intolerable sufferings of man—his helplessness, the brief and troubled span of his life, the inexplicable disproportion between his deserts and his rewards, the tragedy of his soaring aspiration, the worse tragedy of his dumb questioning? Granting the existence of God, a house dedicated to Him naturally follows. He is all-important; it is fit that man should take some notice of Him. But why praise and flatter Him for His unspeakable cruelties? Why forget so supinely His failures to remedy the easily remediable? Why, indeed, devote the churches exclusively to worship? Why not give them over, now and then, to justifiable indignation meetings?
Perhaps men will incline to this idea later on. It is not inconceivable, indeed, that religion will one day cease to be a poltroonish acquiescence and become a vigorous and insistent criticism. If God can hear a petition, what ground is there for holding that He would not hear a complaint? It might, indeed, please Him to find His creatures grown so self-reliant and reflective. More, it might even help Him to get through His infinitely complex and difficult work. Theology has already moved toward such notions. It has abandoned the primitive doctrine of God’s arbitrariness and indifference, and substituted the doctrine that He is willing, and even eager, to hear the desires of His creatures—i. e., their private notions, born of experience, as to what would be best for them. Why assume that those notions would be any the less worth hearing and heeding if they were cast in the form of criticism, and even of denunciation? Why hold that the God who can understand and forgive even treason could not understand and forgive remonstrance?
THE ROOT OF RELIGION
The idea of literal truth crept into religion relatively late: it is the invention of lawyers, priests and cheese-mongers. The idea of mystery long preceded it, and at the heart of that idea of mystery was an idea of beauty—that is, an idea that this or that view of the celestial and infernal process presented a satisfying picture of form, rhythm and organization. Once this view was adopted as satisfying, its professional interpreters and their dupes sought to reinforce it by declaring it true. The same flow of reasoning is familiar on lower planes. The average man does not get pleasure out of an idea because he thinks it is true; he thinks it is true because he gets pleasure out of it.
Free will, it appears, is still a Christian dogma. Without it the cruelties of God would strain faith to the breaking-point. But outside the fold it is gradually falling into decay. Such men of science as George W. Crile and Jacques Loeb have dealt it staggering blows, and among laymen of inquiring mind it seems to be giving way to an apologetic sort of determinism—a determinism, one may say, tempered by defective observation. The late Mark Twain, in his secret heart, was such a determinist. In his “What Is Man?” you will find him at his farewells to libertarianism. The vast majority of our acts, he argues, are determined, but there remains a residuum of free choices. Here we stand free of compulsion and face a pair or more of alternatives, and are free to go this way or that.
A pillow for free will to fall upon—but one loaded with disconcerting brickbats. Where the occupants of this last trench of libertarianism err is in their assumption that the pulls of their antagonistic impulses are exactly equal—that the individual is absolutely free to choose which one he will yield to. Such freedom, in practise, is never encountered. When an individual confronts alternatives, it is not alone his volition that chooses between them, but also his environment, his inherited prejudices, his race, his color, his condition of servitude. I may kiss a girl or I may not kiss her, but surely it would be absurd to say that I am, in any true sense, a free agent in the matter. The world has even put my helplessness into a proverb. It says that my decision and act depend upon the time, the place—and even to some extent, upon the girl.
Examples might be multiplied ad infinitum. I can scarcely remember performing a wholly voluntary act. My whole life, as I look back upon it, seems to be a long series of inexplicable accidents, not only quite unavoidable, but even quite unintelligible. Its history is the history of the reactions of my personality to my environment, of my behavior before external stimuli. I have been no more responsible for that personality than I have been for that environment. To say that I can change the former by a voluntary effort is as ridiculous as to say that I can modify the curvature of the lenses of my eyes. I know, because I have often tried to change it, and always failed. Nevertheless, it has changed. I am not the same man I was in the last century. But the gratifying improvements so plainly visible are surely not to be credited to me. All of them came from without—or from unplumbable and uncontrollable depths within.
The more the matter is examined the more the residuum of free will shrinks and shrinks, until in the end it is almost impossible to find it. A great many men, of course, looking at themselves, see it as something very large; they slap their chests and call themselves free agents, and demand that God reward them for their virtue. But these fellows are simply idiotic egoists, devoid of a critical sense. They mistake the acts of God for their own acts. Of such sort are the coxcombs who boast about wooing and winning their wives. They are brothers to the fox who boasted that he had made the hounds run….
The throwing overboard of free will is commonly denounced on the ground that it subverts morality and makes of religion a mocking. Such pious objections, of course, are foreign to logic, but nevertheless it may be well to give a glance to this one. It is based upon the fallacious hypothesis that the determinist escapes, or hopes to escape, the consequences of his acts. Nothing could be more untrue. Consequences follow acts just as relentlessly if the latter be involuntary as if they be voluntary. If I rob a bank of my free choice or in response to some unfathomable inner necessity, it is all one; I will go to the same jail. Conscripts in war are killed just as often as volunteers. Men who are tracked down and shanghaied by their wives have just as hard a time of it as men who walk fatuously into the trap by formally proposing.
Even on the ghostly side, determinism does not do much damage to theology. It is no harder to believe that a man will be damned for his involuntary acts than it is to believe that he will be damned for his voluntary acts, for even the supposition that he is wholly free does not dispose of the massive fact that God made him as he is, and that God could have made him a saint if He had so desired. To deny this is to flout omnipotence—a crime at which, as I have often said, I balk. But here I begin to fear that I wade too far into the hot waters of the sacred sciences, and that I had better retire before I lose my hide. This prudent retirement is purely deterministic. I do not ascribe it to my own sagacity; I ascribe it wholly to that singular kindness which fate always shows me. If I were free I’d probably keep on, and then regret it afterward.
QUID EST VERITAS?
All great religions, in order to escape absurdity, have to admit a dilution of agnosticism. It is only the savage, whether of the African bush or the American gospel tent, who pretends to know the will and intent of God exactly and completely. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord?” asked Paul of the Romans. “How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” “It is the glory of God,” said Solomon, “to conceal a thing.” “Clouds and darkness,” said David, “are around him.” “No man,” said the Preacher, “can find out the work of God.” … The difference between religions is a difference in their relative content of agnosticism. The most satisfying and ecstatic faith is almost purely agnostic. It trusts absolutely without professing to know at all.
THE DOUBTER’S REWARD
Despite the common delusion to the contrary the philosophy of doubt is far more comforting than that of hope. The doubter escapes the worst penalty of the man of hope; he is never disappointed, and hence never indignant. The inexplicable and irremediable may interest him, but they do not enrage him, or, I may add, fool him. This immunity is worth all the dubious assurances ever foisted upon man. It is pragmatically impregnable…. Moreover, it makes for tolerance and sympathy. The doubter does not hate his opponents; he sympathizes with them. In the end, he may even come to sympathize with God…. The old idea of fatherhood here submerges in a new idea of brotherhood. God, too, is beset by limitations, difficulties, broken hopes. Is it disconcerting to think of Him thus? Well, is it any the less disconcerting to think of Him as able to ease and answer, and yet failing?…
But he that doubteth—damnatus est. At once the penalty of doubt—and its proof, excuse and genesis.
BEFORE THE ALTAR
A salient objection to the prevailing religious ceremonial lies in the attitudes of abasement that it enforces upon the faithful. A man would be thought a slimy and knavish fellow if he approached any human judge or potentate in the manner provided for approaching the Lord God. It is an etiquette that involves loss of self-respect, and hence it cannot be pleasing to its object, for one cannot think of the Lord God as sacrificing decent feelings to mere vanity. This notion of abasement, like most of the other ideas that are general in the world, is obviously the invention of small and ignoble men. It is the pollution of theology by the sklavmoral.
Ritual is to religion what the music of an opera is to the libretto: ostensibly a means of interpretation, but actually a means of concealment. The Presbyterians made the mistake of keeping the doctrine of infant damnation in plain words. As enlightenment grew in the world, intelligence and prudery revolted against it, and so it had to be abandoned. Had it been set to music it would have survived—uncomprehended, unsuspected and unchallenged.
PIA VENEZIANI, POI CRISTIANI
I have spoken of the possibility that God, too, may suffer from a finite intelligence, and so know the bitter sting of disappointment and defeat. Here I yielded something to politeness; the thing is not only possible, but obvious. Like man, God is deceived by appearances and probabilities; He makes calculations that do not work out; He falls into specious assumptions. For example, He assumed that Adam and Eve would obey the law in the Garden. Again, He assumed that the appalling lesson of the Flood would make men better. Yet again, He assumed that men would always put religion in first place among their concerns—that it would be eternally possible to reach and influence them through it. This last assumption was the most erroneous of them all. The truth is that the generality of men have long since ceased to take religion seriously. When we encounter one who still does so, he seems eccentric, almost feeble-minded—or, more commonly, a rogue who has been deluded by his own hypocrisy. Even men who are professionally religious, and who thus have far more incentive to stick to religion than the rest of us, nearly always throw it overboard at the first serious temptation. During the past four years, for example, Christianity has been in combat with patriotism all over Christendom. Which has prevailed? How many gentlemen of God, having to choose between Christ and Patrie, have actually chosen Christ?
OFF AGAIN, ON AGAIN
The ostensible object of the Reformation, which lately reached its fourth centenary, was to purge the Church of imbecilities. That object was accomplished; the Church shook them off. But imbecilities make an irresistible appeal to man; he inevitably tries to preserve them by cloaking them with religious sanctions. The result is Protestantism.
The notion that theology is a dull subject is one of the strangest delusions of a stupid and uncritical age. The truth is that some of the most engrossing books ever written in the world are full of it. For example, the Gospel according to St. Luke. For example, Nietzsche’s “Der Antichrist.” For example, Mark Twain’s “What Is Man?”, St. Augustine’s Confessions, Haeckel’s “The Riddle of the Universe,” and Huxley’s Essays. How, indeed, could a thing be dull that has sent hundreds of thousands of men—the very best and the very worst of the race—to the gallows and the stake, and made and broken dynasties, and inspired the greatest of human hopes and enterprises, and embroiled whole continents in war? No, theology is not a soporific. The reason it so often seems so is that its public exposition has chiefly fallen, in these later days, into the hands of a sect of intellectual castrati, who begin by mistaking it for a sub-department of etiquette, and then proceed to anoint it with butter, rose water and talcum powder. Whenever a first-rate intellect tackles it, as in the case of Huxley, or in that of Leo XIII., it at once takes on all the sinister fascination it had in Luther’s day.
Do I let the poor suffer, and consign them, as old Friedrich used to say, to statistics and the devil? Well, so does God.
Just picked up the book (at retail even! oy vey iz mir…), subtitled “Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism”… a wondrous title in a world where all major parties and advocates are doing their heavens-best to have the shiniest good-guy badge pinned to their lapels. If it’s not far left utopian top-down social engineering and tax-raising (while neglecting to report their exotically getaway summer houses or slums), it’s the religious holier than thou right bellowing about family values (while scurrying off to fuck mistresses in exotic locals, or pages in exotic orifices).
As approprite for a book nerd, my bone folder and plastic jacket cover is ready for application. I tend to do this for all my hardback books, regardless of possible market value – because you never know when a house guest will sit a beverage down on one of your books (there is a strong correlation between this act and my becoming angry and inhospitable, but without a proper study it would be hasty to attribute a causal factor).
I’ll fess up, I looked through the 5 copies on the shelf, inspecting the jackets and head and tail to pick the most pristine copy. They were all shelves face out in a new release section, so there wasn’t much concern about the head or head band being damaged from people pulling on them as when a book is shelves spine out. Earlier when I had my wife grab a copy of The Greatest Show On Earth”, I’ll cop to a bit of nervousness that she’d bring home a copy with a ding in the jacket and board or some marring that wasn’t immediately apparent. She did well for me, and puts up with my stuttering “make sure it’s a clean copy” over the phone.
This is all rooted in my comic collecting as a child. It was my age group that heard the sad tales of parents and older folks lamenting that their mom threw away their old comic books, and they’d recall rare and early issues that would fetch a fortune in the secondary market of people willing to pay too much for comic books.
Around the 12 minute mark of the recent podcast edition of Freethought Radio, during a conversation about prayer in Lodi city meetings, Ms. Gaylor stated “…or even Satanists, if there are such people”. As a regular and fairly long time listener of the podcast version of the show, I thought I would write in on the subject. I will try to keep it as succinct as possible.
I am a skeptic, an atheist, a secularist and a Satanist. There is no contradiction or ethical or logical tension between these four self-identifying labels. I am an ordained priest in the Church of Satan and the day after this episode aired (Oct. 4th) I gave a rather rousing rendition of a lecture on blasphemy by Robert G. Ingersoll at a contest in Washington, D.C. – sponsored by CFI-DC, American Humanist Association and the Washington Area Secular Humanists. I am not a member of any of the organizations, however, and only officially represent the Church of Satan.
I attended the Satanic High Mass on 6-6-06 held at CFI Los Angeles in the Steve Allen Theater and have attended local atheist Meet Up groups. Just recently I found a Usenet post I made from 1997 where I stated flatly that I was an Atheist and a Satanist, giving proof that this is not a passing phase or lark.
Though there may be significant differences in Humanism and Satanism, it doesn’t discount the fact that Satanism has a strong streak of skepticism and atheism that goes back to its founding in 1966 by Anton LaVey. The current High Priest of the organization, Peter H. Gilmore and I had a discussion about how important the book “Atheism: The Case Against God” was to the both of us. I can provide a long list of unequivocal quotes by LaVey and Gilmore stating that skepticism and atheism are integral parts of Satanism.
I can offer a list much much longer of quotes from mainstream media sources, Christian media and (more recently) the blogopshere and websites blatantly misrepresenting and slandering our world view and sometimes even calling for the criminalization of our legally recognized organization and the imprisonment of our members merely because they adhere to a minority philosophy. As a persistent and rather infuriating urban legend, I can’t recall how many times I’ve seen (possibly) well-meaning but woefully misinformed people send out letters or post flyers around Halloween claiming that “Satanists” may “steal your cat, especially if its black, and kill it” and urging pet owners to keep their animals indoors.
I write all of this not because I want you to appreciate Satanism, defend or promote it, or even accept it (Satanists do NOT evangelize). I only want to make it clear that it exists, and the largest Satanic organization in the United States, having been in existence for over 44 years, has been a constant and strident advocate for pluralism, skepticism and separation of church and state.
Please keep up the work you are doing at the FFRF to secure a proper secular American government, nationally and locally.
I’m nervous… in a few hours I’ll be in our nations capitol reading a lecture by the great American orator Robert G. Ingersoll. I won’t be posting this until after the event is over, so I can append a recording of it to the post (assuming it turns out well). No matter what mundane or crazy shit I’ve done in front of an audience, I’ve always been plagued with nervousness before beginning. From making an announcement in a room or doing an interview over the phone, to being cut open in a blood ritual performance or crawling across a ceiling half-naked covered in silver paint – I’m a bit of a wreck until I start doing whatever it is I need to be doing. I’m not an extrovert by nature, but I’ve been performing in front of audiences since I was in Elementary School.
MC'ing for "Three Ring Vixen" fashion show in April of 2006. This is a card trick called "The Tattooed Sailor".
I think I took this chance to help subdue that fear response a bit, but then here I am waking up at 6:30 am when my alarm is set for 8. Typing a blog post because I need a distraction.
I have my problems with his worldview outside of his agnosticism, but that he was well known and well received in the late 1800’s for making remarks on stage that would infuriate most general audiences in 2009 makes me respect him greatly. That I have such a shitty memory makes me frustrated that I’ll probably be doing more reading of a page than proper oratory.
The event is sponsored by a few groups, none of which I am a member. All the details can be found here.
I’ve chosen (predictably) his lecture on blasphemy and I’ve had to heavily truncate it in order to fit within the 3-6 minutes allowed. My greatest concern is that I’ll be the 5th or 6th person to recite some of the same words, and boring the audience instead of entertaining. The orig. text can be found here.
My total time tends to be about 6 and a half to 7 minutes, but the introduction runs around a minute +, so the actual lecture is within the regulation time limit. There was a joke about half-way through, but I took it out because I didn’t think I could pull it off.
The event will be video recorded (I started writing “taped”, but that’s probably not technically true) and I’ll record the audio as well. As you can see in the introduction I’ve included a “Blasphemy Challenge” – thematically appropriate, and a fun addition.
—back from event—
Before the event, in "costume".
I just got in from my drive back from DC. I dropped a dear friend who went to support me at home and I’m trying to finish and post this thing…
Out of the 20 possible contestants only 14 ended up speaking. From the star my chances for winning were statistically better. I drew “12” as my order number, but since there were 20 numbers and 14 people, I didn’t have to wait through 12 speakers. My time was intermittently crouching and listening and pacing and smoking near the back of the audience. When it was my time to go up I was terribly nervous, all the moisture from my mouth vanished when I hit the podium.
At one point my papers flew away in the wind. I think I handled it well, moving on to the next section of the speech without too much of a lapse. I couldn’t get my pages to turn on the last page. I figured that shouldn’t be too much of a problem with only three pages, but I was wrong. Next time I’ll put some sticky tabs on each sheet or something.
My pal Erin was in charge of the camera and forgot to take photos while I was speaking, so we’ve got scant few photos. Her support meant more than her failure to photographically capture the moment, so all is well.
I wore my black suit, fedora and a plantation tie, and everyone assumed it was a costume for the event. I don’t mind that so much, when I was in Vegas with friends in ’06 people stopped us on the street and asked us if we were performing somewhere and if they could get a photo… “no” and “no” were the answers. I thought it was funny though and I took that and changed my introduction in my head a few minutes before I spoke – it allowed me to more personalize the introduction and inject a little more humor. I had two great lines that I thought up and I subsequently forgot to utter, and I don’t think they’d come across well just typing ’em out here. I’ll just let them lie in some corner of my brain until they dissolve away.
Though many of the speakers were very good, and one even committing his entirely to memory, quite a number of folks left me with the impression that I was certainly in the top tier of presenters. Though I did have to reference my notes, and at one point my papers flew away in the wind, I’m proud of the job that I did – ultimately it wasn’t enough to impress the judges. Even though they gave a tie to fourth place – giving a total of 5 winners out of 14, somehow my speech was scored in the bottom 9.
The really nice presenter whose name I forget and the faceless judges that judged me unworthy.
I got quite a few hearty “congrats” immediately after speaking, and one lady even turned to me and said “that was so wonderful, you gave me goosebumps!”, but when they were calling out the winners, my name was no where to be heard.
The kicker, walking to the car a guy who introduced himself to me earlier that day before I talked was walking back toward DuPont Circle. I guess he’d stepped away at some point and was returning, missing the awards. I must have made an impression because he called out my name from a distance, “Kevin!”
“How did it go?” he asked.
“Pretty well, I enjoyed myself.”
“Did you win?”
“No, I didn’t even come in fourth.”
“WHA?!?” he seemed to express sincere disbelief.
Again, other speakers did a great job. I don’t know what the scores were, and I’m generally very humble about my work and performances. This, I think I should have at least placed. But I didn’t, and I’m not complaining. It was a beautiful day in the park, and I publicly blasphemed, on film (and audio)…
One of the organizers videotaped the event and will theoretically be putting some portions online. If I make it, I’ll post it here, of course.
I have pasted the text that I took with me to read below. Where I’ve added or changed a word, it is set off in brackets. Where I’ve truncated in the middle of a sentence I’ve used the ellipses. Of course, what I have below and what I ws able to actually get out of my mouth diverge somewhat slightly…
UPDATE: I found a few photos on facebook from someone who was there, so I was able to add a few of me actually speaking! The photographer has given me permission to use the images here and here is a link to all his photos from the event (on Facebook)!
photographer: Brian D. Engler
photographer: Brian D. Engler
UPDATE 2: A few more photos of the Devil’s Angry Man… photos below by Bruce Press
UPDATE 10-28-09: The videos…
CFI edited every speaker down to their own video, here is just my part:
The AHA took the winners of the event and a few other speakers and edited to about an hour (I’m at the 35 minute mark):
Ingersoll’s Lecture on “Blasphemy”
Edited and introduced by Kevin I. Slaughter for the Robert Ingersoll Oratory Contest
Washington, DC, October 4th, 2009
According to the rules I may give a brief introduction to why I selected this bit of text. How do you truncate the words of a man who would sometimes spend three hours pontificating on a topic into 3-5 minutes. All the speakers here have done an admirable job and I hope that I have distilled the essence of this speech on the topic of Blasphemy to fit into that time.
My name is Kevin Slaughter and what follows this preface are Ingersoll’s words alone, but I take them as my own. I am not just honoring a great orator and thinker, I am telling you how I feel. Before I begin to speak his words, I will make it utterly clear: “I deny the Holy Spirit.”
This rejection of god means not just that I am a free thinker, but standing in our nation’s capitol today, it it a pronouncement that I am a free man!
Ladies and Gentlemen …what is the origin of the crime known as blasphemy?
It is the belief in a God who is cruel, revengeful, quick tempered and capricious;
a God who punishes the innocent for the guilty;
a God who listens with delight to the shrieks of the tortured and gazes enraptured on their spurting blood.
You must hold this belief before you can believe in the doctrine of blasphemy.
[You see,] God was a kind of juggler. He did not wish man to be impudent or curious about how He did things. You must sit in audience and watch the tricks and ask no questions. In front of every fact He has hung the impenetrable curtain of blasphemy. Now … all the … reason that … man ha[s] is useless.
To say anything against the priest was blasphemy
and to say anything against God was blasphemy—
to ask a question was blasphemy.
Finally we sank to the level of fetishism [and] we began to worship inanimate things.
If you will read your bible you will find that the Jews had a sacred box. … To touch this box was a crime. [And] You [may] remember that one time when a… [man] thought the box was going to tip he held it.
God killed him.
It always has been blasphemy to say “I do not know whether God exists or not.”
In all Catholic countries it is blasphemy to doubt the bible, to doubt the sacredness of the relics.
It always has been blasphemy to laugh at a priest, to ask questions, to investigate the Trinity.
In a world of superstition, reason is blasphemy.
In a world of ignorance, facts are blasphemy.
In a world of cruelty, sympathy is a crime,
and in a world of lies, truth is blasphemy.
Last night there was a fire in Philadelphia, and at a window fifty feet above the ground Mr. King stood amid flame and smoke and pressed his children to his [chest] one after the other, kissed them, and threw them to the rescuers with a prayer. That was man.
[This book says that on] the last day God takes His children with a curse and hurls them into eternal fire. That’s … God as [this book] describe Him. [And] If this creed be true, God is the insane keeper of a mad house.
Blasphemy is a padlock which hypocrisy tries to put on the lips of all honest men. At one time Christianity succeeded in silencing the infidel, and then came the dark ages, when all rule was ecclesiastical, when the air was filled with devils and spooks, when birth was a misfortune, life a prolonged misery of fear and torment, and death a horrible nightmare. They crushed the infidels, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, wherever a ray of light appeared in the ecclesiastical darkness. I want to tell [you all gathered] that that day is passed. All the churches in the United States can not even crush me. The day for that has gone, never to return. If they think they can crush free thought in this country, let them try it.
I’ll tell you what is blasphemy. It is blasphemy to live on the fruits of other men’s labor, to prevent the growth of the human mind, to persecute for opinion’s sake, to abuse your wife and children, to increase in any manner the sum of human misery.
I’ll tell you what is sacred. Our bodies are sacred, our rights are sacred, justice and liberty are sacred. I’ll tell you what is the true bible. It is the sum of all actual knowledge of man, and every man who discovers a new fact adds a new verse to this bible. It is different from the other bible, because that is the sum of all that its writers and readers do not know.