Hail, Satan?

The excellent film Hail, Satan? released to select theaters over the weekend (Easter weekend, no less) and to celebrate I had director Penny Lane come on to Sacred Tension to talk atheism, religion, and Satanism.

Hail, Satan? is a marvel of a film: funny, provocative, beautifully shot, and unexpectedly moving. It chronicles the rise of The Satanic Temple (of which I am a member) and it was everything I hoped it would be. In this episode, Penny Lane talks about what led to her interest it the Satanic Temple and how the process of making the film challenged her atheist preconceptions about religion.

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Gender Critical, Pro-Life Propaganda, and Religion Tearing Families Apart

Welcome to Sunday Curiosities: the series where I bring you the bizarre and interesting tidbits I’ve collected through the week.

This week in Curiosities: ContraPoints on “Gender Critical” feminists, also known as TERFS; the Unplanned film; and Matt Dillahunty talking about a schism in his family caused by religious belief.

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I Have Always Been an Abomination: On Homosexuality, Satan, and The Church

Why do I relate to the figure of Satan? Why, in my deconstruction, has the figure of Satan emerged as the far more sympathetic, heroic, and interesting character? I can go on and on about post-modernist reframings of classic stories (if Gregory Maguire can do it with the Wicked Witch of the West why can’t I do it with Satan?) but, none of that really gets to the heart of it. I think, for me, it all goes back to being gay.

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Non-Theism and Satanism with The Pastor With No Answers

I was recently interviewed by the Pastor With No Answers. It was a great conversation, in which we explored our differing theologies and points of agreement. I was impressed with Joey’s cordiality and openness to what must have been some profoundly uncomfortable ideas, like Satanism and non-theistic Christianity. I found this conversation refreshing, and Joey’s attitude delightful, and I hope we can have more conversations in the future.

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Why Fundamentalism Hates and Fears Imagination

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks reading the brilliant book Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic Over Role-Playing Games Says About Religion, Play, and Imagined Worlds. I’ve already written about this book, and even interviewed the author for my podcast, but I wanted to touch on another aspect Laycock explores in the book: the great fear fundamentalism has of imagination. Laycock calls these critics “Moral Entrepreneurs”, but I find fundamentalism a personally more helpful term.

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Games, Religion, and Walking Between Worlds

I’m the middle of a fascinating book called Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says about Play, Religion, and Imagined Worlds. Author Joseph Laycock explores, with great detail and insight, the parallel worlds of role-playing games and religion. For three decades, role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons were at the center of a moral panic involving everything from fears of cults, satanists, to a lost generation of super predators. His thesis is that role-playing games were threatening to the religious right because, if communities could create such intricate, imagined, and meaning-making worlds through games, does that mean that religion itself is a sort of game? But beneath this initial thesis lie some profound insights for people like me who still greatly value religion, even as I doubt the existence of a personal God.

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On Depression and Needing Books

After years of battling depression and anxiety, I’ve learned that some weapons are more potent than others. I’ve learned that exercise is as indispensable as food, that sleep is magic, and I can’t be afraid to ask for help before depression robs me of the ability to ask. But also, surprisingly, I’ve learned that reading – what I read and how much – is an indicator of my mental health.

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What is Esoteric Christianity?

For over a year now I’ve been describing myself as an Esoteric Christian. I adopted this terms before I fully understood what it meant, but I also knew that it was the best description of where I am in my faith journey. Whenever people ask me what an Esoteric Christian is, I jokingly respond, “it means I’m a Christian who’s into weird shit.”

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