Three types and one exonym

The terms ‘satanic’, ‘satanism’, and ‘satanist’ are being thrown around so lazily it’s driving me crazy.

Not from my own religious point of view but from the point of view of a student of religion. I hate our collective ignorance on the topic of religion so here is my brief breakdown on how to understand these terms in the 2 contexts they are most mentioned.

Context 1: Organized Religion.

There are organized religions referred to as Satanism but the ideology is broken up into different movements so distinct from each other that they shouldn’t be thought of as a single religion. They fit on a spectrum with three basic categories.

First, Atheistic Satanism. This is a systematized belief system where the historical Juedo/Christian/Islamic supernatural enemy of God and humanity is taken on as a symbol of rebellion, independence, and free will. Under this system the concept of a literal God and a literal Satan are rejected outright. Even if some degree of the supernatural is embraced the system remains atheistic (e.g. LaVeyan Satanism)

Second, theistic Satanism. This is an incredibly eclectic category. It applies to any group that practices a systematized religion organized around the concept of the Juedo/Christian/Islamic supernatural entity called Satan or any other associated figure. These religious movements may be some form of Paganism, Gnosticism, or even the more stereotypical Devil worship but the defining common trait is the belief that there is a supernatural entity in some way connected to the Juedo/Christian/Islamic Satan (e.g. the Neo-Luciferian Church).

Third, Non-Theistic Satanism. Those who fit in this category are more in line with a form of political antagonism than what people tend to mean by the word religion. Whether they believe in any kind of god, God, or devil is irrelevant. They basically use the cultural shock value of the concept of Satan to troll social and political groups & leaders with a specific goal to produce systemic change. The key element is using the symbolism associated with Satan as a way to provoke social changes without an intent to produce a personal spiritual experience. It’s important to note that the irreligious nature of this category should not be equated with insincerity; the people who embrace this ideology are quite genuine in their convictions (e.g. The Satanic Temple).

Before I move on it’s worth reiterating just how different these categories are. Not only are the beliefs widely divergent but there is often a degree of antagonism or even outright hostility towards some ideologies (e.g. the Order of Nine Angles).

Context 2: Exonyms

An exonym is a name used to refer to a social group that the group itself does not use.

Within the Juedo/Christian/Islamic tradition the concept of Satan at its most basic is the supernatural adversary of the one true God. How to understand Satan changes from one group to another but that basic understanding applies: the enemy of God and usually also the enemy of humanity.

So in the context of Protestants in America you’ll find the term Satanic applied to literally any person, group, or belief system defined as an enemy.

Political parties

Pop culture figures

TV shows

Video games

Modern healthcare

Even other Christian individuals or groups who are the wrong kind of Christian.

It’s true that there has been a recent uptick in the accusations that those defined as enemies are literally worshiping Satan.

At the same time that doesn’t really matter. From this mindset any act that does not fit within their rigidly defined orthodoxy is the equivalent of worshipping Satan.

When these individuals use the terms “satanism” and “satanist” it’s not as nouns but adjectives. Anyone who does other than what their belief system prescribes is then by default the adversary of God and therefore Satanic.

Satanic is the exonym they use for those they consider to be their enemies.

I have seen people on every side of the political spectrum mishmashing all these terms together into attempts at GOTCHA! moments while missing the nuance these terms have come to take on as well as the real disparities in how the terms are used. It bothers me because I am a student of religion.

Sadness, Anger, & Apathy: Part 2

Sadness & being a bad friend

This exercise in dumping raw emotions could come off as a vainglorious laundry list of complaints. That’s not what I want so I’m going to start with myself.

My failures are many. This is the one most present on my mind.


I’ve been a terrible friend to someone incredibly important to me during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If I make a list of the people that are more important to me than my own life, they will be on that list.

If I make a list of the people that put me above themselves with their own actions, they will be on that list.

If I make a list of the people that have never done a single thing to hurt me (short list), they will be the absolute top of that list.

I am talking about one of the best friends I have ever had. A person that I absolutely love. A person that has absolutely loved me.

ᾰ̓γᾰ́πη love.

At some point during the pandemic I recognized a glow that came over them. It wasn’t all at once, this emotional glow grew over time. It was beautiful to see.

And then I realized I had no idea what was causing it.

I should’ve known.

If this person is someone I love the way I think it do, how could I not know what was happening on their life to make them so happy.

I realized: wow, I’m a terrible friend.

I’ve been lazy.

I’ve been complacent.

I’ve been inconsiderate.

I finally took the initiative to talk about these positive changes that they were broadcasting with a beautifully enriched and emotionally swollen affect.

As I took this in it slowly dawned on me that this friend has moved past me. Moved on into a better world. Moved on in their life.

And I missed it.

I cut myself out with my indifference & indolence. They had been such a perfect friend for so long that I didn’t even realize my own inattentiveness until it was too late.

I’m sad because I miss my friend.

I’m angry because it’s my fault.

Sadness, Anger, & Apathy: Part 1

Incompatible

These are the 3 feelings I’ve been having simultaneously:

Sadness

Anger

Apathy

Sadness about things happening around me, about people I used to believe, about the dangerous choices & consequences I’ve been witnessing, about the way my relationships have changed.

Anger about the same.

Apathy towards the same.

It never works out well to juggle contradictory emotions. Sometimes the incompatibility of the mixture of feelings exacerbates each one individually.

I will say that I’ve experienced all these emotions before for very similar reasons.

Friendship

Occupation

Family

Social circumstance

Religious Community

And last, definitely not least, my own behaviors

It’s all just come together in such a unique way during this pandemic that I can’t process it the have in the past.

The convergence of incompatible feelings leaves you in an emotional pit that you have to break some nails to crawl out of

Sadness, Anger, & Apathy: Intro

This blog was meant to be about the convergence of science & faith. I have attempted to stick to that purpose but now I am intentionally going to take a detour.

These are topics that could still be examined from the perspective of science & faith.

I’m not going to do any examining though. Maybe someday. But right now I just have thoughts that need to spill out.

So here they spill.

The Healthcare-Industrial Complex

The healthcare–industrial complex describes the relationship between a nation’s healthcare infrastructure (doctors, , nurses, medical & lab assistants, hospitals, education, foundations and lobbyists, etc.) and the industries that support it (administrators, pharmaceutical manufacturers, dispensing pharmacies, equipment manufacturers, professional associations, instrument and waste disposal, office professionals, billers, coders, etc), seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy (voters and politicians).

Save Ourselves

Of course the heresy hunters came after Raphael Warnock over his tweet about “saving ourselves”. I would argue this comes down to an issue of exegesis.

In this case I’ll call it the Underwood vs Offerman hermeneutical conflict.

As I read the tweet I took it to mean “saving ourselves” in the corporeal sense.

That is, relating to worldly matters as opposed to salvation in the sense of Jesus’ victory over the powers which hold mankind in bondage: sin, death, and the devil.

So the tweet would present a hermeneutic that we have been released from that bondage by Christ’s victory; that by the guidance of the Holy Spirit we are empowered to save ourselves & our neighbors from powers & principalities that oppress us in the here and now with our own actions as we work to build God’s kingdom based on grace, compassion, and justice while awaiting His return, rather than relying on faith without works.

NOT that we ourselves need to achieve ultimate victory over those same powers, which would be unnecessary since that victory has already been won by Christ.

Further, that the actions wrought through our love of Christ & neighbor to fulfill God’s command that we begin building His kingdom on earth, are worked by those that confess their faith in Christ as well as those who are called to fulfill God’s purpose regardless of their standing with any church or creed.

These critics apparently have a different hermeneutic.

They all seem to believe that God calls us to no action in his creation other than to maintain their orthodoxy of disempowered faith that generates no change in the world to advance God’s kingdom as we await the return of Christ.

As I said earlier, the Underwood vs Offerman hermeneutical conflict:

They all seem to seem to propound the theology of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” as written by Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson, and Carrie Underwood.

In contrast, my analysis of this tweet coincides with the theology of “Pray While Turning Into The Skid” as proposed by Nick Offerman

On the Underwood side, we surrender all action to God produce nothing by our faith.

On the Offerman side, upon accepting God’s Grace we embrace our call to do good works as He has commanded.

Of course, perhaps there is no exegesis here at all. Perhaps this has been an exercise in eisegesis. Eisegesis being the process of interpreting text in such a way as to introduce one’s own presuppositions, agendas or biases.

Hard to know*. We’d have to ask Warnock as well as the self-appointed heresy hunting defenders of the faith.

But ultimately it’s irrelevant because this has exposed the underlying theology of the critics which represents a divide in two of the many forms of Christianity that are ultimately and fundamentally irreconcilable.

*it’s pretty obvious that I’ve been reading my own thoughts into this situation 😉

Continue reading “Save Ourselves”

Race

This is a map of “races”. The specific grouping here are: Ethiopian, Caucasian, Mongolian, Malaysian, and American. These classifications are nonsense. If you look at the groupings on the map you’ll notice areas where groups with recent common ancestry are grouped separately while others seem to have arbitrarily determined boundaries that ignore the long standing intermingling of the people on both sides of that boundary.

These groupings are not scientific.

It is true that some early anthropologists tried to determine biological realities that could create distinct biological categories. Those attempts did and have ultimately failed.

Instead, influencial figures like Kant & Hume came to define and popularize the biological notion of race. These were NOT scientists. They were European philosophers formulating justifications for European superiority. They did no research. They provided no evidence.

And the 4-5 categories that emerged are still assumed today to be real. Whether it’s European/Caucasian/White or Ethiopian/African or any other variation, the notions survive and continue to define popular ideas of biology.

To begin dismantling the various forms of racism we need to dismantle these systems of thought. You don’t just find these falsehoods showing up in explicit and overt racism.

You’ll literally find terms like “Caucasian” in medical records.

You’ll find populations with known genetic mutations, like the HEXA gene in people Ashkenazi Jewish descent, being the focus of study, while other groups categorized as a different “race” are ignored. This has resulted in these populations suffering from lack of genetic counseling because the issue hasn’t been identified, such as the prevalence of mutations of the HEXA gene in people of Irish descent, which was only recently recognized because of the lack of research resulting from prejudiced attitudes arising from inaccurate concepts of race. Same has shown to be true of the malaria hypothesis.

You’ll find cases like the industrial redlining in the US. Where postbellum policies led to the creation of toxic industrial zones intentional concentrated in the communities of disenfranchised former African slaves and their descendants, a practice that literally continues to this day. So while many medical conditions were tied to “race” in these communities, we have now clearly demonstrated that the environmental impact of the industrial zones is the catalyst, not ancestry. This is even more obvious in areas where different ancestral groups slowing integrated in these industrial zones and the rates of specific medical conditions rose in all ancestral groups. Similar issues apply to notions of “racial” health risks that ignore the environment impact of sun exposure and folate, which applies to any ancestral population with similar skin tones regardless of geographic origin but relative to the location of that population to the equator.

You’ll even find the incredibly disturbing influence that pseudoscientific beliefs about race had on people of African descent in the US throughout the covid pandemic after several groups & individuals made claims (largely online) that people of African ancestry could not catch the SARS-CoV-2 virus

As Nina Jablonski states:

“Race has a hold on history but no longer has a place in science. The sheer instability and potential for misinterpretation render race useless as a scientific concept. Inventing new vocabularies to deal with human diversity and inequity won’t be easy, but it must be done”

This is by far the most difficult task in confronting racism on all levels because we have become so heavily invested in our erroneous conceptions of race and integrated them so deeply into our identities that we’ll end up kicking and screaming to hold onto them.

I would say that the start is to understand that these categories were created and expounded by non-scientists specifically to justify their own sense of inherent superiority; that all attempts to justify distinct biological race categories have failed because the evidence has shown and continues to show that there aren’t any.

Persistencism

I’ve been trying to define the core element of Donald Trump’s socio-political approach.

Many have just been saying “Trumpism” but I’d rather have it derive for one of the components of the approach.

Finally got it.

Persistence.

If you Google it persistence you get this:

noun: persistence

1. firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

This perfectly describes his basic strategy. Make a statement and then repeat, repeat, repeat.

No matter what.

And the sad thing is that as a technique Persistencism works quite well.

It plays off some basic neuro-cognitive mechanisms.

Hearing something from someone you trust makes it seem more believable. And hearing something over and over makes it seem more believable.

Persistencism

Likely a lasting force in American politics for the foreseeable future.

Superior

We need to stop using the term: racist.

It’s being misused.

The issue is much broader. It’s a big tent issue.

Plain racism is about ancestry. The belief that those with a specific biological ancestry are superior to those without that ancestry.

There are other terms extrapolated from racism, mostly dealing with historical contexts that have produced some form of lasting inequality.

But the emphasis on ancestry is currently dissolving and pupating into something different. Something more dynamic.

I would use the term: ethnocentrism.

This term can have a few different interpretations as well so here is the specific definition I am using: the attitude that one’s own culture is superior to others.

This is similar to a belief in superiority based on ancestry but with a progressive inclusiveness interwoven. So even though racism may still lurk within the current emergent movement of ethnocentrism, the movement is ultimately evolving past it.

The emphasis in ancestral racism is that something biologically superior has been inherited from parents at birth.

The emergent ethnocentrism emphasizes that something culturally superior has been inherited at birth.

That is why this movement is so much broader. The ancestry of the person is not relevant; they inherit the superiors from the cultural norms and practices of those around them. Or, even more intriguingly, outsiders can inherit that superiority by converting, by adopting the superior culture.

As much as racist views and practices may still permeate some aspects of this movement towards ethnocentrism, the movement is definitely in the process of shedding the racism.

The movement is stronger in its reach because it can recruit more individual without having to birth them.

Irreconcilable

All this talk about

“Coming Together”

“Finding Common Ground”

“Uniting the Country”

I get it, I understand the motivation for unity. But it’s not happening.

Can we reconcile the view that abortion is acceptable with the view that it’s acceptable under certain circumstances? Sure. At least there is the potential for a compromise.

But we absolutely can not reconcile the view that from the moment of conception forward all abortion is murder with any view that some form of abortion is permissible.

There is no middle ground to be found there, the 2 views exclude the possibility that the other can be accommodated.

We might say “well those are extreme views”. Quite right. And in this country those with extreme views are the most politically motivated and they are more likely to shape the makeup of the government.

Same applies with LBGTQ+ stances.

The people who want to be welcoming but not quite affirming could potentially find some common ground with the people who are affirming. Maybe.

But there are those who believe every issue pertaining LGBTQ+ is purely about personal choices and that all of those choices are inherently wrong and evil. They can never reconcile with the affirming.

There is no middle ground between the LGBTQ+ are evil and the LGBTQ+ should be affirmed camps.

Same with many others.

The views cannot accommodate each other.

Our country has been building to this confrontation for a long, long time. Failing to acknowledge this will prolong the current hostility and escalate the final confrontation.