The magic of YouTube is such that I can be watching a lecture on four dimensional pseudo-Riemannian manifolds and in the related videos section see a documentary on the “Church of Satan”. I would love to see the inner workings of the Google suggestion algorithm that came up with that based on my YouTube history.
I was very surprised to learn what Satanism is, and in the process got a valuable lesson about the danger and the power in what you name your organization. It’s clear that people will often literally judge a book by it’s cover, and will often passionate and aggressively oppose an idea or group based on nothing more than its name. We are truly an awesome silly primate species.
When I say “Satanism” or “Church of Satan”, what do you think it is?
If you’re anything like me, I think of some variety of heavy metal fan, everything from the melodic 80’s metal of Iron Maiden to the absurd intensity of death metal. Perhaps those of you who are Christian (or were brought up Christian) probably imagine something on a religious theme, maybe a group of people who embrace the evil aspects of human nature.
Well, in reality, as about 30 minutes of reading has led me to understand, Church of Satan is to religion is what Stephen Colbert is to the modern Republican party. There is nothing religious about it, it’s just a giant dark satirical Halloween party. It was started in the 60’s by one guy, Anton LaVey, who basically enjoyed provoking people, and in the process picked up a large following.
What he and the Church of Satan are is just “objectivists in halloween costumes”. PS: Objectivism is the name adopted for Ayn Rand’s philosophy. It’s an organization that promotes atheism, rational thinking, individual freedom, and a productive life. But it pushes that further into embracing all the natural things that are often condemned by religion such as sexuality, competition, aggression, envy, etc. I think it gets a little weird in the sexuality aspect, but no more weird than nudist parties. It’s strange but harmless.
To be honest, these folks creep me out a bit. They are certainly not the type I would want to “have a beer with”, but I think the Church of Satan is kind of funny at least in its original intent. Its founder (Anton LaVey) is clearly a very funny (in a sick way) guy. The problem is when you name your organization after the symbol of evil for many religious people, you’re going to get the kind of attention that could be counter-productive.
So next time you start a business or a club, try to avoid using Satan in the title unless you’re starting an Ozzy Osbourne fan club, in which case Satan might be a good call.
By the way, when I hear “Satan” the first image that pops into my head is probably the most hilarious cartoon character of all time: Satan from South Park (pictured below).