The Devil at Harvard?

Francisco_de_Goya_y_Lucientes_-_Witches'_Sabbath_-_WGA10007

It seems a group of students at Harvard University are hosting a Black Mass as a “cultural event”, saddening the Diocese of Boston. I never cared for those Harvard snobs* and find it hard to get upset over this sort of thing: brats will be brats.
What I find deeply annoying is some of the adolescent double-talk surrounding the event.
First the student group claimed they would have a “real consecrated host” for the Mass. When pressed to explain from which church they stole the host, they said “well, it isn’t a real host because we don’t believe in religion”, which of course was not answering the question. They finally said “it is absolutely not a consecrated host”, which is probably the truth, though I suppose it is not above a self-proclaimed Satanist to tell a lie. (The history of the claim can be read at The Anchoress, a well-read blog that helped popularize the story.)
Second, the organizers are insisting that the event “is not intended to offend any religion”, which is stupidly dishonest on the face of it. The Black Mass is, by definition, a parody of the Catholic Mass, which in turn represents the death and Resurrection of Christ. It is designed and conceived as an act of blasphemy: as an attempt to insult God by desecrating the Eucharist. The only purpose of a Black Mass is to offend. It has no other conceivable purpose.
You would think that the followers of Satan would have a little more backbone, and just say “Why yes, we are trying to be offensive. Now try and stop us.” After all, isn’t Satanism about throwing off culturally imposed standards of behavior and the exaltation of self? Shouldn’t a Satanist’s last concern be “not to offend”? Alas, no; they are just as spineless as any other Harvard student. If I were Satan I would be a little embarrassed by such followers.
Which I think illustrates the adolescent silliness of this thing called Satanism, which shouldn’t appeal to anyone over the age of 18. Besides the philosophical problem of calling nihilism “enlightenment” and slavery to your passions “freedom”, there are the straight up stupidities at the heart of the movement:

  • It is a bunch of atheists worshiping a god.
  • It claims that bowing before a non-existent Satan is the exaltation of the self.
  • It is a group of people who do not believe in Christ, and yet feel a compulsive need to insult him.
  • It is the claim that people who really do believe in God and try to honor him are dishonest hypocrites, while those who claim  not to believe in Satan and yet honor him are “enlightened”.

As an aside: it seems the general consensus about the history of Black Masses is that they are a “post-Enlightenment” reality with little basis in the ancient or medieval worlds, which speaks poorly of the Enlightenment, which should have been above such foolishness. Black Masses have never been particularly popular even if they have occasionally been the subject of popular paranoia. Their real origin may have been among the pre-Revolution French upper classes (that is, among the bored and effete elites, not unlike our own Harvard kids), but it is not clear if they actually practiced the ritual or just wrote about it.

A second aside: I was reading up on the nature and rubrics of the Black Mass I was confused by the references to “the altar” as in “the priest shall penetrate the altar”. How naive of me, for the apparently inanimate object is in fact the body of  a live woman! How is that for equality and empowerment, ladies?

But, then, what do you expect of a religion that exists mostly in the heads of teenage boys?

 

* Of course, I exaggerate for effect. You meet all kinds of people at Harvard. It is just most of them I don’t like.

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