Friday, December 16, 2005

Satanic Ethics - Part One

Starting today and concluding early next week I plan to post the log from an online exchange with a self-professed Satanist. Reviewing this dialogue reminded me of something C.S. Lewis wrote in his preface to The Screwtape Letters. In warning against the two equal and opposite errors of disbelieving in devils and obssessing about them, Lewis noted that evil spirits "...hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight." In our fractured, postmodern ethos, sometimes the materialist and the magician are, as in the case with the individual I'll (uncreatively) call Notna, one.

I chose not to omit the profanity used by my conversation partner though I have replaced some letters with asterisks. My reason for leaving such language untouched is because I think Christians have to stay on point and not get sidetracked by such speech. Furthermore, we need to perceive and portray fallen life as it really is so that depravity and lostness are not diluted. I also believe that our willingness to listen to what a person is saying under and at times, through such coarse language is part of our witness.

I'm fully aware of the limitations of conversations like these. This one didn't "seal the deal" and culminate in my dialogue partner's repentence and faith. In fact, I didn't even get around to presenting the gospel. However, as Mark Coppenger notes in the article I linked to in the previous post, such encounters "can strip away smugness, loosen up hardened soil, embarrass treasured criticisms and sow disarray in a pagan worldview." My goal in exchnages like the following is the same as that described by Greg Koukl. I really like the image:
I want to put a stone in his shoe. All I want to do is give him something worth thinking about. I want him to hobble away on a nugget of truth he can’t simply ignore because it continues to poke at him. Whether the opportunity is a short one with a transient audience or a long one with a captive audience, my goal is the same - a stone in the shoe.


Notna: No I'm not materialistic if by that you mean that I only believe in that which is "tangible" or "proveable.” Magick is not tangible or proveable any more than the power of God but believe me when I tell you that it is real.

KP: I had in mind philosophical materialism, the idea that all that exists is that which consists of matter and/or material processes.

Notna: I base things on reasoning and intellect. I can choose when and how I react spiritually. I have an energy as well as anyone else, and how I direct it is not materialistic, nor can it be.

KP: Can you tell me how Magick is consistent with rationality whereas Christian theism isn’t?

Notna: Because I can practice it solitarily with my OWN influence. I am the keeper, and I'm not being instructed or told how to do it. It is all performed with my own mentality and creativity.

KP: That doesn't really answer my question, though. The fact that I can do something solitarily doesn't mean that it is necessarily rational. I may choose to believe a whole host of things privately but there is no necessary connection between that and their being rational.

Notna: I use rationality to decide when, how, and if a ritual is appropriate. I'm not told to have this ceremony on this specific day, or worship this deity on this day, etc. It's a thought-out mental process first. I'm not amongst a herd of sheep who repeat after their "teachers."

KP: I think you're missing my point. Does it necessarily follow from the fact that I believe something on the basis of authority that the belief itself is irrational?

Notna: You'd have to understand where I come from. I do not condemn you for your beliefs. What you asked me was, am I materialistic and the answer is no. I explained why.

KP: Please tell me where you come from.

Notna: What do you want to know?

KP: Whatever it is that you think I need to know in order to understand your position.

Notna: It would require a lot of reading. Truthfully, I am a Satanist which does not mean I worship Satan WHATSOEVER. I simply oppose Christianity, and I believe it is repressive and an insult to human nature. It rides guilt on people for being normal.

KP: Thank you for telling me.

Notna: No problem. I come into Christian rooms to learn more, not make enemies. Nice talking with you.

KP: With you as well.

KP: Can you tell me whether you believe there are any ethical absolutes?
Notna: Sure, there are ethical absolutes. What you reap is what you sow. But there are times when boundaries are crossed and ethics don't apply.

KP: What do you believe to be the nature of those absolutes?

Notna: I suppose the nature of the situation in which they apply could alter the nature of the absolutes, however I believe in karmic consequence. This conversation could get really deep, man. Not to mention long-winded.

KP: That's no problem for me. I thrive on such conversations. :-)

Notna: There are so many ethical absolutes. What would you like to inquire about?

KP: Your objection to Christianity seems to be on moral or ethical grounds, at least to some extent. Am I right?

Notna: Somewhat. I don't think overall that it is immoral, but I believe it promotes herd mentality, control, and represses free thought. I don't think it's unethical necessarily. For some people it works. For me, I just have trouble swallowing all of it. It's tough living as a religious minority. You must know when to shut up and when to speak.

KP: Well, you certainly must believe that it is immoral to repress free thought, right? And you obviously believe that people should not promote or submit to a "herd mentality."

Notna: Indeed it is. And I believe that for SOME people Christianity does just that. They look to religion to answer for everything, they give themselves no credit for good and blame Satan for everything that goes wrong.

KP: So, in some sense you're making ethical prescriptions, aren' t you?

Notna: Somewhat. I guess I could see how you might think that. But to me it feels like more of a personal inhibition to the theory.

KP: You're making assertions about how people SHOULD or SHOULD NOT behave and/or believe, aren’t you?

Notna: Those are just my opinions and that is how I base the path I choose to take.

KP: But nevertheless, you're making ethical assertions.

Notna: By no means are my ideas indoctrinated nor should they be followed by everybody. The mentally weak could not handle the left hand path. They would crumble. Perhaps I am making ethical assertions but everyone does.
KP: You're right about that. But what I'm curious about is why anyone else should believe as you do.

Notna: A lot of people do. More people believe as I do than you think. Benjamin Franklin, for one. I’m curious as to why people believe as you do. That's why I come to the Christian room and debate. Once in a while I meet someone lucid such as yourself. Mostly I get brainwashed, scripture quoters would couldn't conjure up a debate to save their butts.


Notna: You laugh ‘cause you go to the same room.

KP: Yes. And believe me, what I see here at times frustrates and disturbs me. I agree that there is a mindlessness that is rampant in some segments of Christendom but I don’t believe (obviously) that that is inherent to Christian faith. Rather, I think it is more of an accommodation to the mindlessness and anti-intellectualism that so pervades our culture.

Notna: Well, actually this conversation turned out nicely. I thought this would be the battle of evermore. If you are interested in what I believe, Barnes & Nobles or Books-a-million carry or can order the collection of writings from Anton LaVey. I don't expect you to succumb to his theories, but it may be educational to you.

KP: I'm vaguely familiar with the Satanic Bible.

Notna: Satanism has the same misdirected goofballs, but they are not recognized, nor welcomed. They come looking for orgies and some magic power that will hold them high above the rest, and that's not at all what it's about. It's almost completely psychiatric theory.

Part Two

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