June 10, 2017

In Defense of Individual Expression

Picked up this essay from the Church of Satan today, "In Defense of the Feared Religion." Huzzah for people who are willing to fly and defend the black flag, but I surely struggle to understand why some Satanists see Satanism as a zero-sum game. Aren't we a little old to be playing "with us or against us?" It's possible to both love and criticize Satanism. 

You know, it's like how your favorite restaurant attracts shitty guests and the head chef just can't seem to make a good creme brulee but they've still got an awesome wine selection and cook the best steaks in town. I'm not going to say, "Ugh, I refuse to expose myself to these minor irritations, so I'm not going to get my favorite steak and paired red wine anymore." How about, "I really like a lot of what's happening at this restaurant, I just wish they'd fix the other stuff?" 

This is what happens when the Church of Satan claims absolute authority over the definition of Satanism: criticism of, or disagreement with, parts of Satanism become a criticism of, or disagreement with, the Church of Satan. As it happens, I'm an active member of the Church of Satan and I think it's a pretty cool organization: It's got a lot of history, and I feel like I owe a debt to them for promoting a religion and philosophy which has done a lot to improve the quality of my life. 

But just because I'm grateful to the Church of Satan for keeping the black flame lit doesn't mean they get my unconditional support. I'm going to have independent thoughts and occasionally disagree, you know? I'm going to white-wash Satanism interpret the fundamental tenets of Satanism through my individual lense. I'm going to be a detractor talk about the things that I think are silly because I didn't sign a loyalty pledge it's my prerogative to speak freely and share my thoughts.

What can I say? I think that differences of opinion make organizations stronger, not weaker, and I'm genuinely baffled why it's so important to squash divergent views.

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Freedom of Expression =/= Freedom from Consequences