Religion and Death

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     The following, called Incident in a Rose Garden, was written by Donald Justice:

Gardner: Sir, I encountered Death Just now among our roses. Thin as a scythe he stood there.

     I knew him by his pictures. He had his big black coat on. Black gloves, a broad black hat.

     I think he would have spoken, Seeing his mouth stood open. Big it was, with white teeth.

     As soon as he beckoned, I ran. I ran until I found you. Sir, I'm quitting my job.

     I want to see my sons Once more before I die. I want to see California.

Master: Sir, you must be that stranger Who threatened my gardner. This is my property, sir.

     I welcome only friends here.

Death: Sir, I knew your father. And we were friends at the end.

     As for your gardner, I did not threaten him. Old men mistake my gestures.

     I only meant to ask him To show me to his master. I take it you are He?

     Religions represent philosophical systems that are mainly concerned with death. Christianity, for example, is centered around the death of Christ and his ressurection to eternal life. The suggestion is that believers should follow in his footsteps in order to avoid permanent death and/or condemnation in Hell. The threat of death, along with the fear of the same, is used to get people to love one another and behave as society would expect them to. Without feelings toward our own death, religions would cease to exist as we know them.

     Reminders of death are everywhere. The Holy Bible mentions the word "death" about four-hundred and fifty times, and that does not include words such as "dying," "dead," "tomb," "grave," "sleep," etc. Many of these passages are direct threats as is illustrated in the following:

     The dialogue in John concerning the death and resurrection of Lazarus, and the developing plot to kill Jesus, is particularly interesting from the standpoint of matter-of-factness. Here are excerpts from John 11 from the King James version of the Holy Bible:

[1] Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

[14] Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

[15] And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

[16] Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

[17] Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

[19] And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

[20] Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

[21] Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

[22] But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

[23] Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

[24] Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

[25] Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

[26] And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

[27] She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

[28] And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

[32] Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

[33] When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

[34] And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

[35] Jesus wept.

[38] Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

[39] Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

[40] Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

[41] Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

[43] And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

[44] And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

[45] Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

[46] But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

[47] Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

[48] If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

[49] And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,

[50] Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

[51] And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

[52] And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

[53] Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.

[54] Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.

[55] And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.

[56] Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?

[57] Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

     Tracing the history of death, the dead, and the dying in the Christian religion shows major and important changes since Christ's death. The following is paraphrased from the book Western Attitudes Toward Death, by Phillippe Aries. It was translated by Patricia M. Ranum:

     The Church as, a general rule, refused to link physical being in the afterlife with physical decay.

     In 680 A.D. there was belief in the Apocalypse. Christ would return at the end of the world to resurrect the dead. He would be carrying the Book of Life. There would be no judgment or condemnation made of the dead. All would be resurrected unless they were not members of the Church (the wicked) when they died. The dead, after their long sleep, would awaken in Jerusalem to experience a glorious afterlife in Paradise. Since the dead bodies were thought to belong to the Church there was little care given to the disposition. Rarely was a grave marked. Rarely did anyone have a notion to visit the burial spot which was usually on the Church grounds. There were common graves. After a period of time the graves would be reopened for use. The bones remaining of the previous burials were placed in a charnal house.

     This paragraph is from the author of Death and Dying: Pope Stephan VI (died in 897) was made a Bishop by Formosus. Stephen did not want the job. Formosus was later disposed but continued to act as a Bishop by blessing people. He died by paralysis (stroke?) and was buried. Pope Stephan decided Formosus should not have gotten away with his behavior and should be put on trial. So the body was exhumed and placed in a chair in the "courtroom". When Formosus was found guilty the body was stripped of the sacred vestimates, 3 fingers of the right hand were cut off, redressed in common clothes and buried in a common grave. Later it was dug up and thrown in the river. Later Pope Stephan VI was executed by strangulation.

     In the 1100's the philosophy was similar. However, all would be resurrected and and judged after that event. The just and the damned would be separated during the Last Judgment where their souls would be weighed by the archangel, Michael.

     In the 1200's Judgment won completely over the previous idea of Christ's Second Coming. At this time Christ was placed on the judgment throne and was surrounded by his court, the apostles. The Virgin Mary and John were at the side of Christ. The good and bad deeds for each person dying were placed on a scale.

     In the 1400's the death bed became the place of judgment. Relatives and friends were at the bedside for the death as well as for a ritual. It was not uncommon to experience supernatural beings appearing in the bedchamber. On one side there would be the Trinity and the Virgin. On the other would be Satan and his demons. Judgment of the dying was done at that time. The attitude of the one dying would either erase all sins or all good deeds. Because of that, life was less strict because a good death could redeem everything.

     In the 1600's survivors became more concerned for the body than in previous times. The Church was criticized for caring more for the soul than for the body. The money collected by the Church was earmarked for the souls rather than for the tombs. The tombs were in disrepair, unhealthy odors wafted from the common graves, bones were freely displayed in the charnal houses, and the Church cemeteries became saturated with bodies. The survivors increasingly became unwilling to accept these conditions as well as the departure of the loved one. Some people attempted to keep the remains close to them by burying on family property, labeling tombs and marking graves in the public cemeteries, and making frequent visits to the grave. There even were some that placed the remains in large viles of alcohol!

     As time passed the ritual is slowly being replaced by technology. Dying is now done mainly in hospitals with little metaphysical intervention.

Revelations 20 from the King James version of the Holy Bible:

[1] And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

[2] And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.

[3] And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

[4] And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

[5] But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

[6] Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

[7] And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison.

[8] And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

[9] And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: And fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

[10] And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

[11] And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

[12] And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

[13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: And they were judged every man according to their works.

[14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

[15] And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelations 21 from the King James version of the Holy Bible:

[1] And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

[2] And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

[3] And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

[4] And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

[5] And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

[6] And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is a thirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

[7] He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

[8] But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

[9] And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

[10] And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

[11] Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

[12] And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

[13] On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

[14] And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

[15] And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

[16] And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

[17] And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.

[18] And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

[19] And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;

[20] The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

[21] And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

[22] And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

[23] And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

[24] And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

[25] And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

[26] And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

[27] And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: But they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

     Why would God give Satan any power? Why does evil exist? Time Magazine, in its June 10, 1991 issue, had an article titled, EVIL and written by Lance Morrow. In that issue the following points were made:

1. God is all powerful. God is all good. 3. Terrible things happen. This is the Theologian's Problem.

2. Thomas Aquinas admitted that the existence of evil is the best argument against the existence of God.

3. In Job 2 Satan and God meet. God asks Satan where he has been. Satan replies that he has been traveling around the world. Then God and Satan decide to "test" Job's resolve. They make a bet on how much pain Job, who is God's friend, can withstand before he falls apart and curses God.

Here is the dialogue:

Job 2 from the King James version of the Holy Bible:

[1] Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

[2] And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

[3] And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

[4] And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.

[5] But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

[6] And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

[7] So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

[8] And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

[9] Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

[10] But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

[11] Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.

[12] And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.

[13] So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

     Over the years I have encountered Satanistic information in school. It was thought to have been generated by students trying to get attention by anonymously penning the unusual. Words such as, "Lucifer 666", "Children of the Beast", "Lucifer shall regain his crown! 666", "Children of the Corn: Satan lives", and "Eat Hell's foul feces" are a few examples of scrawlings, notes, and inscriptions in books.

     One day while conversing with a student he described himself as a Satanist. He wanted to come to the Death Education class and discuss his philosophy. Realizing this could present a problem, especially if the end result was the conversion of other students to Satanism, it was decided it could be done in a debate format with another student representing Christianity. Two entire class periods were devoted to the debate:

     In our discussion of religious philosophies we had two speakers: Mr. Brian Cuthbert. (Brian) represented the doctrine of Satanism, and Mr. Michael Hinkley (Michael) represented the doctrine of Christianity.

Brian: I don't think people know what Satanism really is. When one hears the words, "Satanism" or " Satanistic" what do you think of? Usually it's "Devil, Fire, Damnation, etc." People think of sacrifices. Sacrifices are not really part of the Satanic religion. Those are people that are hiding behind the Satanic religion and are nuts. People that sacrifice animals and stuff, in the name of the Devil, is just an excuse. Satanism does not condone that and never will. Instead of sacrifices Satanism is a little sexually oriented, which it is. Then again, Satanism is the indulgence in the Seven Deadly Sins. Instead of killing things you can achieve what you want through orgasm. The reason animals or humans were sacrificed wasn't for their soul, it was for their blood. The blood was the sacrifice. So you didn't need to kill the animal because all you needed was their blood. Murder is a sin because we are told it is a sin when we are young. Now, that is part of the Christian religion and every other religion including Satanism. Murder is a sin and should not be condoned. Instead of sacrificing, instead of killing something, you indulge in lust in order to obtain that which you desire. Obviously, because lust is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, it is a very powerful force. Everybody here has felt lust at one point or another, and they always will. That's the way you can obtain what you want.

Q. What are the other Seven Deadly Sins?

Brian: Anger, Sloth (Laziness, that's what "sloth" means). If I don't want to get out of bed in the morning, I won't.

Q. Why would a Satanist sacrifice an animal?

Brian: In order to please God, or in order to get to Heaven, you try to be good. In order for one to please Satan and get to Hell, in the way they desire then they would do that.

Michael: First of all, let me say what I consider myself to represent: I think there are a lot of myths on both sides. I don't consider myself representing the Church. I go to the Lutheran church, but I do not represent Lutherans. I do not represent all Christians. I, to the best of my ability, tend to represent Jesus Christ. I worship Jesus. From what I read of him in the Bible, from what I see of him working in my personal life, I am committed to him. So, that is the basis upon which I try to speak. I try to say the things that I think Jesus would say if he were me, based on my life studies and my personal experience. First of all, let me address George's quote: If I were to write that I would say, "My experience with Jesus encompasses a philosophy of dealing with death." "Death" is mentioned in the Bible 450 times. What George didn't tell you is that "Life" is mentioned in the Bible 591 times. The word "dying" appears in the Bible 15 times. The word "living" appears in the Bible 323 times. Death and life are a big part of everything we do and naturally, a philosophy or a religion that does not encompass them would be foolish. But, to say that this religion only deals with death, or that its premise is death, or that its focus is death, would be like me saying to you, "The premise of mathematics is to multiply numbers." The premise of communication is to understand words. The way I see it personally is that, when my will comes in conflict with your will: Let's put it this way, we all have our desires. I desire to do things I want to do. I want to make money, I want to have a family, I want to play sports and be successful, and I want to have someone that loves me. And you have your desires too. And, every so often in our lives, actually quite often, my desires come in direct conflict with your desires. It may be with you as a person, it could be with a dog. I may want the dog to go out and he may want to stay in. It is my view, when those desires meet there are two major things that happen. One is called "love". In love, I willingly submit and allow your will to happen. Now, first of all, someone could jump on that and say, "You have had an abused life, that man is abusing you! You are saying love is to allow him to abuse you?" Nothing is ever as simple as it sounds. Obviously there are situations we could talk about for hours. But, in general, I am with my girlfriend and she wants to go out to the movies and I want to watch a basketball game. I would say, "Look, lets do what you want to do." I am going to allow you to do this because I care about you. And love has something in its nature that always builds up the object of love. Any and every time that I love you, that I show my love, I am going to build you up and make you a better person. And, then there is the opposite: Power. Power is when I can coerce you to follow my will. Usually when power is involved, there is something I hold over you. And, if it's the power of a sacrifice, for example, an animal being sacrificed is the ultimate display of that, because of you, because of your power, have a group of people who subdue this animal, the animal is much smaller than you, you are much more intelligent than this animal so you can outwit it and get it tied down. In a sacrifice that is the ultimate display of me dominating the will of that animal to get it killed. In my view, I know that the Wicca, the Association of Witches, which is closely tied in with Satanism, has established that the credo of Satanism should be, "Do as thou wilt." or "Do want you want to do." That's going to be involved in evoking power. Satanism involves invoking your own power, and the power which you can bring onto yourself, through any chant or the association of demonology, or an association with Satan you can accumulate power to be able to enforce your will. My view is that I am trying to make my views, as Jesus said in Luke 9:23, "If you want to follow me you must pick up your cross daily." I am aiming to be the sacrifice. I want my life to be the sacrifice to everyone around me. I have a question for Brian. You have said some Satanists hide behind sacrifice. Would you consider Alister Crowley to be a Satanist?

Brian: No. I don't think Alister Crowley was a Satanist. Personally, I thought Alister Crowley was a violent nut-case. He wrote a lot of things on Satanism, but nothing of what I believe.

Michael: Alister Crowley ordained a frog as Jesus Christ.

Q. Michael, you have labeled the major difference between Christianity and Satanism is that Christianity is based on love and Satanism is based on power. Where does the biblical book, Corinthians come from?

Michael: It was one of the books that the Apostle Paul wrote. He was a preacher that really established the Christian theology in its early days. What he would do was to go around and establish provinces of Greece. As he went around and established churches he found out they were all having problems. The churches would write him letters telling him of the problems. Paul would write back and this was a letter to the Corinthians . They kept the letters, so if you read the first Corinthians you are reading the first letter that Paul wrote to the people of Corinth.

Q. Then there were 2 letters he wrote to the Corinthians. In Corinthians I, his first letter, in Chapter 2, Verse 5, "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." This seems to indicate there is a lot of power involved here.

Michael: There's no doubt about it. I will say this to you: There comes a point in your life, when in order to do the loving thing you must use power. Christianity is based upon that dichotomy in the human nature. I have a part of me that constantly wants to love and do the right thing, and there is another half of me that constantly wants to do the wrong thing. What the Bible teaches is that my relationship with God is healthy. What I am allowing is God's power to destroy the part of me which wants to be wrong. And I submit myself to God's love so that part of me can grow. There's no doubt about it, that God is all-powerful and all-loving. He is all-powerful to that which is evil and all-loving to that which is good. Paul would certainly want the Corinthians to recognize that power because the people of Corinth were having a lot of problems with lust and immorality. Paul was trying to say, "Look, you don't have to struggle anymore. God has the power to destroy the part of you which you are trying to outrun." And that, to my mind, does not contradict the power of love.

Q. How do you define these words, "good" and "evil?"

Brian: Let me define the words as Satanist's would define "good" and "evil." "Good" is simply what you like, and "evil" is what you don't like. One person's evil could be another person's good. Satanists and Satan see people for what they are. People are animals. We are human. We make mistakes and Satanism does not punish people for making mistakes. Everybody wants to go to Heaven (I'm assuming that) but if you don't go to Heaven you are being punished for being human, basically, for indulging in your desires. Why not indulge in your Earthly desires if that's what you want. If you enjoy it you should not worry about that which you do know about. Nobody knows what there is after life.

Q. Should you indulge in your Earthly desires if it's going to hurt someone else?

Brian: No. That's all in Personal Morals. If you believe that what you are about to do will hurt someone else, or you know it's going to, then it's your choice. If you want to do it, do it. If not, don't. And no one is going to condemn you for that.

Q. What do you personally indulge in?

Brian: Let me get to the Seven Deadly Sins. There's greed, gluttony, anger, lust, sloth, pride, and envy. Now, everybody here wants to have pride in themselves. Whether it's having a nice car or dressing the way they want for themselves. Some do and some don't. Some dress that way to please other people. As I interpret it, that would be sinful according to the Christian church. That is, to have pride in yourself. As I see it, why should you fear God? If he is supposed to be all forgiving and such a great supreme being, why should you fear Him? Death in the Christian church, and in a lot of other churches, is the great awakening. We see death as a great abstinence. We live our lives to the fullest because we do not know what is beyond. And we are willing to pay for whatever that is during our life. In my earthly existence I have been willing to leave something behind for people to see and for people to remember me by.

Michael: I totally and wholeheartedly believe that I am living my life to the fullest. There is an incredible sense of joy in what I want to do. And, I'll be honest with you, the church has given itself a bad rap. I have a hard time defending the church because the church has put out the idea, "Hey, if it's good and it's fun, don't do it." That's the church's fault. Like I said to somebody one time, "We pretty much agree that democracy is a good idea, but it's been abused. We have put governments in power that have abused democracy. But we all agree, that rule by the people is probably the best way to do things." It's the same way with Christianity. What I usually say to people is, "What the churches say is one thing. What Jesus said in the Scripture is another." I personally believe there are many good and fun and wonderful and exciting things. Sex is so wonderful and beautiful that I don't want to take advantage of that out of marriage. I want to save it for the most wonderful and beautiful person that I meet. That is why I saved my virginity through high school. It was not a bummer to me. I could loose my virginity in a second. Whoever has lost their virginity can never get it back! I say, "I am so glad I am a virgin. I feel so good about that. I feel good that I saved myself for the one I love so I can look my wife in the eye and say, 'Honey, I've saved myself for 25 years for this moment. I've saved myself for you!'" And, I can't wait to say that. In all honestly, I'll be very frank with you. If I said that I did not stumble at times, I would be lying to you. I have done things which I regret. There have been times where we have met in the middle of the road somewhere because I would realize, "Well, doggone, you are an awfully attractive girl." I'm not going to stand up here and tell you I'm a Christian because I'm a pure-hearted guy who is incapable of doing wrong. I am a Christian because I see the beauty and I see the good in worshiping God and living His lifestyle. There have been times I have met girls and I've said, "No!" and it has turned a girl off. There have been times I've said, "No! But can I make you a bargain?" and, I regret those times.

Brian: You are afraid to go to Hell, correct? You don't want to go there, let's put it that way. That is not a place you would like to be. That's a place that is fire and brimstone and you are eternally tortured. In order to not go there you are trying to please God. If it makes you feel good to do what you are doing to please God, then I am all for that. I am not saying that what you guys do is wrong or that it is any different. I have an open mind. I don't limit myself to, "Your wrong, I'm right." I don't know what is in the afterlife, but I'm going to find out. But while I'm here I don't want to worry about it. There are people that fear God. They do not fear Him but fear His threats. People look at it like: He wants you to be a better person. Is that what you want to be, or is that what He wants you to be?

Q. How did you get into Satanism?

Brian: I was born to be this way. Satanism is good to me. There was a point in my earthly existence where I was down. I was down on myself and I was down on other people around me. If you ask my friends, I was a very depressed person. I prayed and went to the Dutch Reformed church. I prayed for my misery and my depression to end. My prayers were never answered and have never been answered for as long as I can remember. I was not turned on to Satanism by anybody. For me, I started getting into it and it made me respect myself and respect others. It made me feel good about myself and boosted my confidence. I started by reading literature about the occult, witchcraft, Satanism, and other paranormal stuff. It sparked my interest. I started to learn that this was me! It basically enlightened me into who I was. My regular religion did not develop fast, and what development took place was due to my parents. We are not a big religious family. The last time I was in church they dunked my head in water. That was the last time I went and was really involved.

Q. What are your services like?

Brian: We meet more on a monthly basis or on certain holidays. We just passed a holiday and one of the member's birthday is coming up and that's a most important holiday. That's when your life started. That's when the party begins.

Q. Where do you meet?

Brian: At an abandoned warehouse.

Q. Could the Death Education class watch one of the services?

Brian: They could come and watch a ritual.

Q. Wouldn't that bother some of the other members of the group?

Brian: Well, let's ask them. They're in here. I don't know if they want everybody to know (who they are). I think most people in here know Vin. Vin is what we would call, "a High Priest." The only other one in here, aside from some people who strayed, would be Matt. That's all that is in the organization now and I don't want it to grow too big.

Q. What are you in this organization?

Brian: It's a title called, "Overlord" or "Organizer." It's a title that I was given by another group that is organized in a nearby city.

Q. Are you connected with a larger group?

Brian: We were but are now making it into a independent thing. Jayne Mansfield was a high priestess. She was well into Satanism. Anton Szandor LaVey formulated the Church of Satan and she was very close to him. Every Friday night she went there for ritual. He was with Marilyn Monroe for a while.

Q. When you have these meetings in the abandoned warehouse, what do you do?

Brian: It depends on what we have to get done. There are rituals for lust, compassion, and there are rituals for destruction. I don't want to reveal the secrets of the rituals until other people come to see it. It is a very tightly organized and secretive thing.

Q. What would happen if you revealed these rituals to the entire school?

Brian: I'm sure the media would become quite involved in that. My parents do not know what is going on. They have an idea and fished me out many times about it. I don't want it to be a big public thing. I personally invite everyone here, whoever wants to go. We are having one this Saturday as soon as it gets dark. The guy that owns the warehouse knows that I am having it and he doesn't mind as long as we don't destroy the property.

Michael: My personal feeling is that God loves Brian and God loves me. I am no better than Brian. I am no more pure than Brian. I don't lead a more righteous life-style than Brian. In some sense Brian is very honest in saying, "Look, I'm going to go for the Seven Sins. I am going to lust." In my sense I say I am not aiming for that. But to be honest with you, I end up sometimes doing the same things Brian does. Only, instead of glorifying it or going at them with a passion, when I do these things I try to turn and change my path. I would not say that a Christian has any right to put down Brian and say, "Oh, we are better because we go to church." The biggest facade is that in Christianity the good people should have a high standing and the bad people should have a low standing, and some are better than others. I fully believe that the Pope is no better than Brian. I don't believe that Billy Graham is better than Brian. I believe that in God's eyes everyone is the same. I believe He loves everyone the same. I don't believe He is a fool. God created each one of us with a purpose and that was to love one another.

Q. Why did God create Satan?

Michael: He was originally Lucifer, the Angel of Light. God created many angels and then human beings. He created Satan as an angel to serve Him and worship Him. Satan as Lucifer was the highest of all the angels.

Brian: He was the angel that reported human bad things to God. Another thing I would like to clear up is: I don't believe his name was originally Lucifer. Lucifer was a Greek god too. He was a Roman god of the underworld. Satan, as I see him, isn't a being so you can call him whatever you want. You can call him "Satan." You can call him "Lucifer." You can call him, "The Prince of Darkness."

Michael: One of the things I run into all the time when people, who are generally angry about it, ask me about being a Christian. I had a girl walk up to me one time and say, "Mike Hinkley, you are an a-hole." And I said, "Why?" And she said, "Because you think you got this and you think you got that..." The way I look at it is plain and simple: Think of the attitude with which you approach anything you want to do in life. If you want to be good in a sport, not only does it depend on the rules of the sport, you have to eat the right things so your body works well. You have to exercise on a regular basis. Not only that, you have to submit yourself to a coach that knows more about the sport than you. I am trying to succeed at love. I have a bias in my life and will admit it. My bias is that God loves me and God intends for me to love everyone else. And that God, if I submit myself to him, will tell me and actually love people through me. That encompasses a lot of rules. It is very difficult to love someone you are murdering, who you are cheating, who you are stealing from, who you are imposing your lust on, if you are being lazy and not accomplishing the duties you have to other people. You're going to have instability. God knew that so He set up rules. A lot of people say they do not want to play by the rules. It's funny because people say, "How can a loving God judge and condemn people?" Some people turn it around and say, "How can God allow this world to be the way it is?" In my mind, you cannot have both of those arguments. Either you've got to say, "God is totally justified in destroying us all, and therefore, He should change the world." because, let's face it, a lot of the world's problems have come from us. Or, you have to say, "Hey, I respect the fact that God loves all the people equally because to do anything else would mean God would use His power to destroy evil He would end up destroying us." We all would like to say, "Why didn't God destroy Adolph Hitler?" Well, why didn't God destroy the Nazi Party? Why didn't God destroy all the Germans? Why didn't God destroy the whole group of people that allowed Hitler to come to power? The point is, somewhere down the line I think that anyone that is honest and sincere will have to realize that we are the mold where we are sometimes part of the good and we are also part of the problem or the bad things. People say that Christianity is a "crutch." It's a great crutch. When you are in the hospital a crutch is sometimes one of the best things you could have. And, I need a lot of help to love people because I don't have the ability to love all people. Yes, Jesus is a crutch to me. I need him on a daily basis. Yes, there are rules that I don't like. But I am accomplishing goals so that I can see myself becoming the person that I desire to become. I am generally a joyful person.

Q. Did Satan kill Jesus?

Brian: I don't believe he did. Possibly what he stood for may have, but not directly. They were afraid of Jesus. They knew he had the power to get off the cross if he were tied to it, so they nailed him to the cross and they did not help him to get off. They knew he could perform miracles and if he wanted to get off the cross he could have. Jesus did not commit suicide or kill himself. He just submitted to his death.

Q. The words "Satanism" has a bad name. Is that why the Satanists here do not want to reveal themselves fully?

Brian: Let me give you an example: There is a lot of fear invoked in people in the presence of a known Satanist. People can wear crosses because they think it will affect me. It may shock them to find out I am not a vampire. You can sprinkle holy water on me and I am not going to burn. I am going to rub it in. We have been labeled as "murderer," "baby-killer," "animal-hater," "sicko's," "psychopath," and "nutcase." Many people, nobody from the school, have said these things, but not to my face. I am as sane as anyone else in this class.

Michael: Would you say that many people live according to the philosophy of Satanism without calling themselves that? Many people do what they want, and indulge in the things they like without acknowledging Satan?

Brian: Right. The way I see it is that there are many people doing this. More than I care to count. They are following him and not realizing they are doing it, and they are doing it but not paying homage to him. The way I feel: If you are doing this at least admit there is a part of you that is [Satanistic]. Now, there are articles implying Satanists are involved in baby abducting, drug-trafficking, and all that. We do not condone drug use in any way! People that do those things may think they're Satanists and they very well may be. If they were true Satanists, and knew what it stood for, they wouldn't be doing exactly those things.

Q. If all the members of your local Satanist group decided to go out and sacrifice an animal or some person wouldn't you do it?

Brian: No. No sacrifice would be condoned or tolerated in any way. The only time you would kill an animal if it was for our food or if you were working in a packing room. This is the true Satanic philosophy.

Q. Why do you wear the skull at your waist then?

Brian: The reason why I wear this is because it is a part of Satanism and it sparks curiosity. It is hanging on a black leather thing that keeps it aside from me. This does not represent what I stand for. It is just another part of Satanism. This is the hypocritical part of Satanism. I did not kill this animal. This was my friend's dog.

Q. If there is eternal life? Aren't you scared of what is going to happen to you after you die?

Brian: No I am not, because if there is eternal life I am going to Hell. That is what I choose. The people that do the things that Satanists do, but don't pay homage to him, are part of the damned. The ones who worship him and respect him are part of (I don't want to use the word "chosen" but I can't think of anything else) those chosen to do a job.

Q. You don't mind going to Hell knowing it is fire and pain?

Brian: There are seven levels of Hell and that is one of the levels. That is the deepest level. You can't choose your level. I am going to accept whatever is out there for me after I die.

Michael: I am a little bit skeptical that Satanism in its truest form does promote sacrifice and those types of things. Aside from the fact I have read accounts supporting this, from a philosophical account, if you are promoting anger, let's be honest here, when you talk about an unbridled focus in a certain direction you are going to start accomplishing those goals. You are going to accomplish them at a higher and higher level. It's going to go to the nth degree. If you get proficient enough at it, the nth degree of all these things we are talking about, is murder. If you get angry enough with me you will kill me. This is especially true if you are practicing unbridled anger, and anger to accomplish your goals. It's like saying, "You can drive your car as fast as you can and not get into car accidents."

Brian: We pride ourselves on being able to control ourselves. There are those that call themselves Satanists, and they may very well be, who are nuts enough to go out and say, "Look at that cat or drunk - let's kill it." They may say that is a Satanic ritual.

Q. When you are worshiping and go through the rituals, and when you come to the rituals of Anger, Destruction, or Lust do you then display them?

Brian: There is the Ritual of Destruction that has never been used in ours. The Ritual of Lust is a magical ritual. It takes part with either one person or two. It involves either sex or blood-letting. Now, you're not feeling love toward the person you are having intercourse with because that's not the purpose. You might care about them in some way or it wouldn't be right. As weird as that may sound, it is done for magical reasons to get someone else to care for you, or lust after you. A lot of witchcraft does that.

Q. Are you having intercourse or masturbating during these rituals?

Brian: I would say that is part of it although I've never come across that.

Q. You've invited this class to observe a ritual. Would they see that?

Brian: They would never be invited into one of those. You don't do it in the Ritual Chamber. Its a personal ritual and if you want to do a personal one that's your life. You are in a different room. If it's a group ritual and there are partners, nobody sees the others because it's your ritual. You two are performing the ritual together. The only reason why other people are there is to gain more magical power with the others believing and thinking about it. I do not do any of the sexual things, and my girlfriend is not involved with this in any way. In fact my girlfriend is a good Catholic.

Michael: Have you seen any personal power like demon or Satanic power? Is it a myth about things such as spells?

Brian: I believe strongly in magic and Voodoo. I believe it works. For me, if I believe it works then it will work for me. I have to work at it to make it work. I cannot just do a spell and sit back and wait. I have never seen any of the "side-show" type happening.

Q. What about love and marriage?

Brian: There's love. We have love just like any other religion. Love is the same thing but our marriages would be performed by a Satanist. If I were to get married to a non-Satanist, and the girl was important enough to me, I would get married in her Church. That would mean something to her. In order for her to know it meant something to me we would get married in the Church of Satan. My girlfriend and I have discussed this many times.

Q. Do you ever worship with another chapter?

Brian: I went to a ritual elsewhere. They were nice guys. There were accountants, lawyers, teachers, etc. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is equal but it is predominantly Caucasian.

Michael: It is a positive thing to love people even though it may not be in your best interest to do so. Even though you may not want to love someone, it is still a good thing to love other people. I doubt whether a true Satanist would adhere to this.

Brian: The way I interpret what is written about love is that it is up to you as to how to think. I make the rules in our organization. They don't have to follow them. Everyone has a little bit different way. You can get divorced. It's all normal. I believe in God but I don't fear God. I respect those that have their own religion and follow it as much as they possibly can without questioning it.

Following the class Brian was interviewed to obtain more information about Satanism.

Q. How does one join the Satanist religion?

Brian: If someone inquires about Satanism they are first given material to read so they will be able to understand what they are about to enter. If the interest continues, questions are asked in order to prove their interest is genuine. One of the questions might be, "Who are the four Crown Princes of Hell?" If the answers are satisfactory they will be asked if they really want to join. If so, they are then invited to the Ritual Chamber in order to be baptized. The newcomer is wearing a white robe for the baptism. The high priest says a series of the Infernal Names and after each is said it is repeated by the joiner. The Infernal names are Satan's name, the demon names (such as Tchort, Abbadon, Belial, Dagon, etc.), or some others. Following that everyone present repeats the word, "Shemhanmforash" after the high priest says it. The high priest chants, "Hail Satan" and then the others say the same. At this point the person being baptized takes the white robe off and sits completely nude for 5 minutes while the rest of the members welcome them. To do this each approaches with a candle and the person blows it out. When the last candle is extinguished the new membership is declared (a member) by giving the person a black robe and a pentagram. The pentagram is hung from a point one-half way between two of the 5 points on the star. If one hangs the pentagram from one of the points it represents a witch or warlock instead of a Satanist.

Q. What would you say the overall objective of Satanism is?

Brian: Satanists want to please Satan. There are several ways to accomplish this. They can indulge in the Seven Deadly Sins. They can practice his rituals of which there are three: The Lust Ritual, the Compassion Ritual, and the Destruction Ritual. Most importantly, they can live their lives to the fullest doing what they want to do. Lust is considered one of the highest emotions felt by man. In Satanism organism is equated with sacrifice. The Lust Ritual is an ideal way of pleasing Satan. Indulging in the Lust Ritual involves inducing organism through masturbation or fornication with another Satanic member, while reading an incantation for lust. If you desired to have sex with someone else, you would place their name in the incantation and be involved in sexual activity while reciting it. As a reminder, this is performed outside the Ritual Chamber.

Q. Why are Satanists associated with animal sacrifices and blood?

Brian: Blood represents death. Satan and his disciples drink blood. When a Satanist consumes blood they are demonstrating their allegiance to Satan. If a person wants to make such an offering to Satan, or any other demon, they could get blood from any source. It could be cow's blood from a butcher. It does not have to involve killing anything just for this purpose. The blood only might be consumed one time and does not have to be an on-going activity. In fact, since an organism is considered a sacrifice there does not have to be any blood involved.

Q. What, or who, are the demons?

Brian: There are four Crown Princes of Hell. They have a lifespan of 54,312 years. Each of them represents a different point on the compass. Satan is the one at the North point, Lucifer is South, Belial is East, and Leviathan is West. Belial. one of the demons, was once a minister in a Christian church in England. He was really an agent of Satan unbeknown to the congregation. During sermons he would preach Satanism and the congregation didn't know it. When they discovered the truth they killed Belial and he became the most viscous of the demons. Belial now rules nine armies in Hell. The members of the armies come from the damned.

Q. Who are the damned?

Brian: The damned are people who do evil, sadistic things such as child-molesting and murder. They do this for themselves rather than for Satan.

     The reader will note Brian stated neither he, nor his group, have performed the Ritual of Destruction. That is no longer true. On a May day in 1993, a very negative remark was made about Brian's Satanism to one of his friends. It was overheard by Brian. Also overheard was the statement, "I hope he [Brian] rots in Hell!" Brian returned the comment with, "That is the plan!" Because of this encounter, Brian decided to invoke the Ritual of Destruction against the remark-maker. First, Brian did a personal Ritual of Destruction in his home on his alter. He used a wooden table that was placed on the west wall of his room. He had a pentagram drawn on the table. (Because he is a musician, his parents had his room sound-proofed so they remained, to this day, almost totally unaware of the Satanistic ventures.)

     If this were done in the Ritual Chamber, on the alter would most likely be a nude woman. She would be lying on another table with a white candle in her right hand, and a black one in her left hand. The right represents the Path to God and the left represents the Path to Hell. The pentagram is either under her or on her belly. Other things are placed on her such as the chalice, sword, phallus, bell, pictures or accurate drawings of the person to be cursed, and a gong.

     The actual Ritual of Destruction that was performed proceeded as follows: The air was first purified by ringing the bell 9 times. (Nine is Satan's number.) The Invocation was read. That asked Satan to do your bidding. The proper demon was then called upon. In this case it was Belial. He was asked to grant your wishes. The four Crown Princes of Hell were called upon. If a fire was going at this time the flames would rise and fall. It supposedly happens with candles as well. The next action was to drink from the chalice. An estimated 10 ounces of whiskey was in the chalice. It was consumed quickly. The Enochian Keys, which open the gates of Hell, are read. In this ritual the 6th and 3rd were recited. The destructive wish was written on paper which must be blank beforehand. The paper was burned in the candle. The Ritual was closed by hailing Satan and striking the gong. Finally the bell was rung 9 times again and the words, "So it is done" were said.

     Being rather skeptical, I asked Brian to write down the name of the person the Ritual of Destruction was performed on, as well as some of the particulars of the case. It was then sealed it in an envelope and hidden from Brian. About one month later Brian told me the ritual worked: The target had become quite ill over a weekend and that was a sure sign of the ritual's success. We then opened the envelope together and I learned the ritual was directed at another student in New Paltz High School. I went to that student several days later and casually questioned him about any illness he had during the past weekend. He said there was none and wanted to know why I was asking. After confronting Brian with this information he was quite upset over his source of information and was off to check that person out.

     During the last year of the course I wanted to repeat the debate for the class. I made arrangements with Brian and Michael to attend the class. The day prior to the debate I announced the debate to the students. After the class Brian's girlfriend, who was in this class, and I had the following dialogue:

Brian"s Girlfriend (BG): Who is coming in Thursday?

Me (M): Brian and...

BG: Have you talked to him?


BG: When?

M: On the telephone.

BG: When?

M: Why?

BG: Because he is now a member of my Dutch Reformed Church.

M: You're kidding.

BG: No, it's no joke.

M: Well, I talked to him about 2 months ago and I talked to him again...

BG: Yea, but just recently...

M: Then I talked to him again about it. That he could still come in and represent the Satanist view, I hope. I called his house today and left a message to remind him.

BG: I was thinking about this and he is working. He has a job full-time, working all day.

M: But I left a message at his house so do you think he might not be able to make it on Thursday?

BG: I don't know.

M: What are you going to do about it?

BG: I'll talk to him and tell him because I don't think he knew.

M: This is like his second reminder.

BG: He has changed dramatically.

M: Where does he work and I will call him right now.

     After giving me the number I called Brian to confirm the second debate. He told me he was not able to come in that Thursday because he was taking Friday off and his boss would not allow him to take two days off. Would he be able to come in the following Thursday? Yes, he would be able to do that. I told him about the confrontation I had with his girlfriend, and about her claim he was no longer a Satanist. He told me that was a load of shit and he was a stronger Satanist now than before. I questioned his going to the Dutch Reformed Church with her and he said he just went to church with her but it had absolutely no influence on him.

     So, The second debate was scheduled for the following Thursday. After a few days I received another call from Brian. He claimed he would not be able to take any more days off from his job to come into the class. He told me his boss was mad because I called him at work. I asked to speak to his boss so I could explain the educational importance of the debate. He told me he was not at work, and that his boss would take it out on him if I called and got him out of work. He did offer to have another of the Satanists call me to replace him. That call was never received and the debate was called off.

     The following article appeared in the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record on October 4th 2008:

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