In this episode of Sacred Tension, I speak with Mandisa Thomas, founder and president of Black Nonbelievers. We discuss the experience of being a black atheist, the black church in America, racism in the atheist community, and much more.
It was the activism that first drew me to The Satanic Temple in 2017. My boyfriend was sitting on his laptop and suddenly exclaimed, “oh my God, Stephen, you have to see this.” He showed me the BDSM baby protest, in which diaper and baby-mask clad protestors peacefully poured milk over themselves in protest against anti-abortion theocrats.
In this episode of Sacred Tension, I speak with musician and Youtuber May of Nyx Fears. We discuss transgressive media, horror, fascism, trauma, childhood neglect, LGBT representation in horror, the moral complexity of extreme media, and much more. Watch May’s youtube channel here.
On his podcast Deep Questions, Cal Newport said something that has gotten deep into my brain and utterly complicated my life. I notice, by the way, that the very best things tend not to make my life simpler — they make my life more interesting, complicated, and challenging. This is one of those things:
I think a lot of what we see on social media is basically what I call intellectual groupieism. Like, I don’t want to do the work, someone else tell me the cliffnotes. What are the basic ideas we all agree with, and more importantly, what’s good and what’s bad, and what do I do to make sure I do the good thing and not the bad thing? like great, I’m with it. And now I’m going to, with great fervor, push this philosophy, but there is nothing below it. You haven’t read any of the things, you haven’t done the hard reading, you haven’t confronted the criticism, you haven’t read the alternative and let that collide and then let your roots grow deep. On social media you are often just a groupie for intellectuals, and say, “I just trust you. Just give me the cliffnotes I need, because I just want to go around with your metaphorical jam band and make sure I have bootleg tapes from your concerts…” We don’t do this anymore – we don’t build philosophies from scratch, we don’t go to the sources. Social media says “don’t bother with that. In fact, if you do bother with it, we might yell at you, so just come on, we will just give you the cliff notes.
In this episode of Sacred Tension, I speak with comedian, Satanist, and former senatorial candidate Steve Hill. We discuss police brutality, racism, the prison system, comedy, his journey to Satanism, and much more.
Growing up in the evangelical world, a central lesson I learned about reality was that there were necessary and normative divisions. These divisions began at the moment of creation itself: God separating light from dark, land from water, sky from earth, and, most relevant to me, woman from man. The first 27 verses of the book of Genesis describe this process of creation by way of division, from an earth “formless and void.”
As a gay child, I was raised to believe that the sin of my homosexuality blurred these foundational distinctions established at the dawn of time. Homosexuality, by its very nature, violated the metaphysics of man and woman. It was therefore understood as an act of Uncreation: a terrifying unraveling of the created order, a returning to an earth formless and void.
In this episode of Sacred Tension, I speak with Satanist, criminal defense attorney, and Old Ben Kenobi of Satanism Stu de Haan. We discuss the political activism of The Satanic Temple, free speech, and why TST should be seen first and foremost as a religion and not a political activist group.
For the past few days, I’ve watched with fascination the trashing of prominent leftist cultural critic, author, and youtuber Lindsay Ellis. Several weeks ago, she tweeted something about Avatar: The Last Airbender which apparently sparked a controversy. (I’ve never seen any of the pieces of media she was referring to, so I can’t offer comment on them.) The ensuing controversy, trashing, and demonizing led her to delete her twitter account, and I witnessed some anonymous twitter users dancing on her digital grave. The whole episode seemed, in typical twitter fashion, bewilderingly excessive.
In this episode of Sacred Tension, I speak with transhumanist author Peter Clark about Satanism, scientific religion, artificial intelligence, the future of humanity, and much more. You can find Peter Clarke here.
You can read his article on the character of Satan here.