I’m frequently asked how I, as a Satanist, practice my Satanism. Whenever I get this question I struggle to answer it, because my Satanism is so all-encompassing for me I don’t know how not to practice it. It isn’t as if I’m just a Satanist when I’m writing about Satanism, doing Satanic ritual, or talking to other Satanists. I’m also a Satanist when I’m doing my finances or watching Netflix. Religion is not just something I do, but something I am, and as in most religion the boundary between doing and being is blurred.
But a central aspect of my Satanic practice comes down to something very private: what Cal Newport calls a Root Document. For years now I’ve kept what I can only call my own personal Sacred Text. It is a holistic document, containing the very mundane (checklists for work) and the very sacred (my guiding principles, meditations, and rituals.) It is also a living document, shifting according to what I learn and need.
I recently wrote an article titled On Forfeiting the Word Atheist in which I explored how using the word “atheist” predisposes people to having the least charitable view of me. I’ve gotten so exasperated explaining again and again what the word “atheist” means that I’ve opted for the word “nontheist,” just because it has a different connotation and isn’t as poisoned by anti-atheist propaganda.
To be clear, I like the word atheist, and I see it as identical to the word nontheist. I don’t care if other people use the word atheist, I just find the word a stumbling block when I try to have productive conversations with theists. I have limited patience, and I personally find it more expedient to not use the word.
Along these lines, a reader sent me this question:
“Why then would you self-identify as a satanist when it seems (from your writings at least) that THAT label is also widely misunderstood?”
Several weeks ago, a fellow named Elijah left a comment on my post Why Satan? The comment addresses concerns about Satanism which I think many people share. I was planning to write a full response, but I find that I just don’t have enough energy for that right now. I ended up corresponding with Satanic Temple Director of Ministry Priest Penemue on the subject. We had a lively discussion. Instead of writing a full response to the article, I will simply post the comment (it’s tedious, I’m sorry) followed by my correspondence with Penemue.
A few days ago, I realized that the intense feeling of religious and spiritual homelessness I’d felt for so long was gone. Since the beginning of my deconstruction, I’d begun to feel myself forced out of my Christianity, like a child being forced out of a womb. This left me with a profound feeling of existential homelessness — drifting away from my religious identity and family, and with little to cling onto as a home.
But, a few days ago, I realized that I no longer felt that homelessness — my home is now The Satanic Temple, my spiritual and religious identity is Satanist. (Does this surprise you? I recommend reading my articles on Satanism.)
In The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, Eastern Orthodox Theologian David Bentley Hart writes that he believes true atheism must be “nurtured by an infantile wish to live in a world proportionate to one’s own hopes or conceptual limitations.”
I hit a breaking point today. I woke up and discovered that I just couldn’t do social media anymore. My gears had ground to a halt. Burnout sneaks up on me, and when it’s time for me to burn a bridge, I douse it in gasoline and incinerate it.
This week in curiosities: Jordan Peterson comes unprepared to a debate with Marxist titan Slavoj Zizek, Matt Dillahunty debates the resurrection of Christ, and The Satanic Temple receives tax exempt status.
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.