for it is the number of a man;
and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."
The Bible (King James Version), Revelation 13:18
(This was intended as post #666 -- one of those rare occasions when I actually plan a post in advance. But Alan Johnston went and got released, and I couldn't let that momentous occasion go unmarked.)
I love tales of fire and brimstone. Films like The Exorcist and The Omen tap into something rooted deeply within our consciousness -- whether or not we are religious, whether or not we believe in God. Such stories, when well told, can raise questions within us. Even stories and films that are a bit average can get away with it because it's a fascinating subject: movies like The Ninth Gate, for example.
As a longtime non-believer, I like to be challenged in this regard, to be made to contemplate my belief system. It's just like when, as a kid who no longer believes in Santa Claus, on Christmas Eve you just want to keep your options open.
"I don't believe in God, but I do believe in the Devil." I've heard people say this, just as I've heard the opposite. Neither makes sense to me. I think if you buy into one, you've got to accept the other. They're a toofer, a BOGOF, the double act of their day. I opt of course not to believe in either and to believe instead in the good and evil of Man.
There's also the popular notion of rock music as the Devil's music. That theme, I'm sure, has run for as long as music has been made, with each adult generation seemingly more convinced that what their kids are listening to is bad for them, whether ethically, morally, or spiritually. I love especially the way bands that appear "anti-Christian" can upset some people so much. Look at the stir Marilyn Manson causes in the minds of Wal-Mart type consumers in the United States. How I laugh when I hear the lyrics of some of these acts. Sometimes because they are so lame; and sometimes because they are so funny. Either way, I find it interesting that somebody somewhere is getting upset by them.
I think, though, that some people confuse atheism with Satanism. That somehow, by being an atheist, I must be some sort of Devil-worshipper. That amuses me; but it also scares me. Because the sort of people who would be likely to think such things are probably not the sort of people you would not want to find yourself alone with. Their God-fearing ways might get the better of them, y'see. I suppose a parallel could be drawn with radical Islamists wanting to wipe out the infidels.
But some Satanists do seem to have a sense of humour. My favourite fun-loving Satanists right now (not that I know very many) are rock band Alkaline Trio. Their music sounds so benign. Indeed, it's quite poppy and singalongy. And while their lyrics are not overtly satanic, they are dark and make for quite a stark juxtaposition with the musical accompaniment. Here's a bit from the sweetly titled "This Could Be Love":
Step two: play in my blood;
Step three: cover me in dirty sheets and run laughing out of the house;
Step four: stop off at Edgebrook Creek and rinse those crimson hands.
You took me hostage and made your demands.
I couldn't meet them so you cut off my fingers, one by one.
I love the graphic imagery in this chorus, like an extreme S&M relationship gone bad. And so jauntily catchy. Before you know it you're hooked, reaching for the phone, and calling Satan-Busters on 555-666-SATAN.