Much Ado About Nothing

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really find this illustration particularly helpful in explaining why it’s SO FREAKIN COLD OUTSIDE.  And the typo is making me nuts, but I’m too chilly to search for another image.

Well there I was all hunkered down against the c-c-c-cold of the polar vortex- or whatever they’re calling it- getting ready to kill an evening watching some tv or something equally mindless.

Decided to check the WP Reader before turning off the laptop for the night and, what’s there?  A wee little goad by my friend OM- over there at Harsh Reality.

It’s one of the fun things he does- he gets conversations started.  I actually saw the link about the Baphomet statue earlier today.  I read the article, smiled a little and then forgot about it.

Jeepers.  People really don’t have larger concerns?

The constant negative back-and-forth between the atheist and non-atheist groups out there nowadays is inexplicable to me.  I don’t get it at all.  The defensiveness- on both sides- is astonishing.

Back when I had the time- and the interest- to be producing academic articles about new religious movements (including early Christianity- in an historical perspective, and the Church of Satan as a contemporary movement), a sociologist friend and I set the stage for some research into the phenomenon that seems to be overtaking some atheist movements out there.  The atheists are becoming as institutionalized as the institutions they seek to deride at every given opportunity.

I’ve talked about this a bit in passing before.  Our freedoms are supposed to allow us to express the manifestations of our faith- or complete lack thereof- without fear of reprisal or threat.  Regardless of whether they are sourced in a 1st century CE Nazarene carpenter or a horned figure that is assumed (by those unwilling to do a little homework) to be the antithesis of said Nazarene carpenter.

Before y’all go leaping to conclusions about my potential adherence to the Lord of Flies, let me remind you (or let you know if you’re visiting for the first time- a big ‘welcome’, if so) that I don’t believe in the existence of any deity- be it many-armed and elephant-headed; a complicated triumverate that is at once father, son and spirit; a one-eyed, raven-loving northerner; a creator Grandmother Spider; and/or the source of all evil and temptation who is set against the perceived originator of the world.

But I do like, and respect, them all.  I appreciate them as the manifestations of our human need to answer the unanswerable questions and I celebrate the variety and the beauty of these manifestations as representations of both the best and worst that we people can come up with in the recesses of our imaginations and ways of viewing our world and the one(s) that may exist beyond this one we know.

I’ve written about that Devil Dude here at colemining a time or two and it’s therefore unlikely to be a surprise that I personally feel that the guy(s) has gotten a very bad rap.  For lots of politically, sociologically and theologically motivated reasons.  I like him.  He’s an interesting character that has contributed significantly in Western art, culture and literature.

It can even, possibly, be safely said that he is my favourite mythological character.  I do hate to choose- it’s like picking my favourite book or song.  How can you fairly choose with so very many wonderful inventions that span millennia?

I don’t worship him, though.  Or believe in him- as such.

I’m not a satanist.  I don’t worship the flip-side of the coin that is the Christian deity.

You know what?  Neither do Satanists.  Not those folks who want to build the statue, anyway.  One would have to subscribe to the beliefs about the nature, theology and theodicy of the Christian deity in order to revere its opposite.  And they don’t.

They use the terminology based in its foundation: satan as ‘adversary’- and as found in the Hebrew scriptures.  Satanism is mainly an ideological social movement- opposed to things like herd mentality, stupidity, pretentiousness and lack of perspective (okay, maybe I AM a little bit of a satanist…)- and the movement developed its precepts and beliefs based on the examination of human nature and the ‘laws of the jungle’.

Anton LaVey based its core beliefs on things like secular humanism, individualism, religious skepticism and an eye-for-an-eye mentality that is positively Old Testament in flavour.

No sacrificing of babies or virgins to the Devil.  No desecration of Christian churches or symbols.  No black masses.

While some off-shoots of LaVeyan Satanism do envision a deity, it is one that is much more associated with older iterations of the satan/Lucifer/fallen angel who was responsible for bringing wisdom and technology to humanity.  For our benefit.  Like Prometheus.  I talked about that guy before too.

And poor old Baphomet.  Symbol of a doomed Knighthood that was brought down by a corrupt king, jealous of their wealth, power and influence.

His origins are hazy, but he maintains a presence- his likeness is representative of the Devil in many Tarot decks to this day.

Various theories (and accusations, at the time) suggested that the Templars brought the worship of Baphomet back from their adventures (on behalf of Church and Crown) as they attempted to ‘reclaim’ the Holy Land from the ‘infidels’.  Some suggest that Baphomet is a derivation of Mohamet- and that the assumption was that the Muslim infidels worshiped their Prophet as a deity.

That novel about Leonardo and a supposed ‘code’ played with the idea that Baphomet was a creation of a substitution cipher, and meant ‘wisdom’- but arcane- anti-Church and anti-King- wisdom that flew in the face of the social mores of the day.  Hence both the destruction of the Templars, and the equally-heinous development of the cult of Dan Brown.

So we’re back to the symbol of the satanists being all about the imparting of wisdom– that was outside the control of the ruling authorities- and therefore verboten.

How is any of that bad?  Let alone the embodiment of evil?

I say again, ‘Jeepers.’

Baphomet, Satan, Lucifer, Church of Satan?  All victims of bad PR (although, in the case of the Church of Satan, they aren’t all that interested in what others think these days- now that the era of ‘Satanic Panic’ has thankfully passed into sordid memory), nothing more.

Anyhoo.

The intent of OM’s post was to start a discussion about ‘tolerance’ and whether or not people expect tolerance of their worldviews yet remain quick to condemn those of others.

I commented that the statue would bother me not at all.  Just as statues of Jesus or Buddha bother me not at all.  (Although if they are erected in public spaces using public funds… there’s a different argument to be found.  I touched on that here).

I don’t understand the impulse to defensiveness that comes with belief.  I really don’t get the reactionary fall-out of being challenged in belief that causes people to malign the beliefs of others.

We all have things to teach- and we definitely all need a little more learning about certain things in this wide world of ours.  If such lessons can be gleaned by the placement of a statue- representative of the beliefs of a portion of humanity- in close proximity to another statue- also representative of the beliefs of a portion of humanity- where, exactly, is the harm?

That’s not simple rhetoric.  In my own search to understand us people-type-people I welcome all differences of opinion and perspective that are open to discussing such things.

Might help keep us all warm on this chillychilly night.

PS- I have to take issue with the creators of those myths about Hell- much as I do enjoy them.  If they had ever spent any time in a polar vortex, they’d know that such a place- if it existed would be COLD, not hot.  Warming trend can arrive any time now…

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25 comments on “Much Ado About Nothing

  1. Rick says:

    I visited a Mayan site a few days ago and was interested in how they used religion to control the masses. Not much has changed.

    On another note, I started yesterday at 80 degrees and ended it at 6 degrees.

    • colemining says:

      Rick- Not sure how your crazy Fahrenheit thermometer works, but current Celsius temp here is -18 BEFORE WIND CHILL.

      Yes- religion has been used a means of social control since its invention. Which doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing- but we really do have to be aware of that reality.

      Look forward to reading more about your Cancun adventures- and vicariously experiencing some warmth! Thanks for reading- and Happy New Year!

  2. I have one question. If hell is cold how are we going to make the bacon?!? lol.. 😉 Nice article.

  3. I have a hazy memory of reading that the Celts (or maybe some other people — Bretons, perhaps?) believed in a cold Hell. And I’m also remembering one of Gary Larson’s scenes from Hell in The Far Side — two guys with coffee cups, and one of them says, “Oh man, they’ve thought of everything — the coffee’s cold!”

    • colemining says:

      Yes, Audrey. Those Northerners knew what they were about. Hell is COLD. And Gary Larson remains one of my favourites- for strips just like that one!
      Thanks for reading!

  4. Miep says:

    I think people tend to believe what they perceive, and that we don’t all perceive the same stuff.

    • colemining says:

      Miep- most definitely. A big part of belief comes from perception- and perception is contextual (geographically, culturally, historically, socially…) and so differs greatly from place to place and across time. Understanding this should help us accept that those beliefs that differ from our own are no less relevant or potentially ‘true’ to those who hold them.
      Thanks for reading!

  5. I’ve never understood the whole mindset that goes along with the idea that if you’re not of my faith there must be something horribly wrong with you. I don’t know if that mentality comes from a sense of insecurity, a need for power or something else, but I long ago realized that someone else who peacefully practices a faith different than mine (or no belief system at all) doesn’t affect me one iota.

    As for the graphic at the top of your post, it would have been much more informative if you’d had an image of something akin to a grizzled old warlock blowing icy cold air toward the earth. Now that’s a real infographic.

    • colemining says:

      CBC- I don’t get it either. If you believe in something, believe it. Forcing those beliefs on others and/or belittling those don’t subscribe to the same worldview? Nonsensical and offensive, both. Defensiveness of that kind, to me, demonstrates a complete insecurity- one that is often sourced in the fact that the beliefs have been ingrained without the least element of understanding or analysis. ‘I believe because that’s what I’ve always believed’ is a poor way to live a life, IMHO, but I’m of the mind that if someone chooses to live that way they are completely entitled. But please don’t attempt to convince me that your unanalysed beliefs are the only way to see the world- and other people.

      And now I have to go look for an ice warlock graphic.

      Thanks for reading- and the comment!

  6. bethbyrnes says:

    Interesting post. Live and let live, no? That is my philosophy. I really couldn’t care less what anyone else believes as long as they don’t harm the planet and leave me in peace.

    • colemining says:

      Exactly, Beth. I will never understand why some feel the constant need to disparage others as a means of maintaining the supremacy of their views of the world. Yet attacking the enemy- too often without anything like foundation in fact- has become the norm- whether the supposed-discourse is in the religious, cultural or political realm. Makes me crazy.
      Thanks for reading.

  7. […] can honestly say that I love the devil/satan/Lucifer.  As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t believe in the/a devil, but his various iterations are among the most colourful, […]

  8. colemining says:

    Reblogged this on colemining and commented:

    So this topic has shown up in the news again. People are fighting it, people are agreeing with it… not enough else to be worried about, I guess.

    Meanwhile, our municipal train wreck has finally derailed and upped stakes for rehab in Chicago. But not before we made The Daily Show, again.

    Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

  9. […] ago. So okay. Fair enough. The search engine brings people- who happen to be looking for the guy- here. But it seems like a whole lot of people are looking for info about a 14th century construct […]

  10. […] Baseball angst notwithstanding, here I was, looking forward to a bit of a break from dealing with the day-to-day, serious stuff, while watching my Jays and getting some things done ’round the house and ’round the town. It’s Thanksgiving weekend, so there will be time with family, and one of my favourite musical dudes is paying us a visit on Sunday night at Lee’s (unfortunately conflicting with a Jays game, but I’ll miss that one to hang with Jesse – interesting that I first wrote about him in the context of some concerns I had with the federal bureaucracy), some spa time, a little wandering around and enjoying the change of the season (and storing up memories of relative warmth before the horrors of winter set in. I don’t like the cold, have I mentioned that before?). […]

  11. […] okay with it. Really I am. After the years of the ‘Polar Vortices‘, I’m pretty much done with ridiculous cold and snow, so the unseasonable warmth […]

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