Just Have Faith in Yourself and Believe You Can Do It!
My original title for this post was “The Psychology of Satanism or The World According to Deepak Oprah” but I decided against it. As I was doing my research into the Satanic sentiment that pervades popular culture (or at least the popular notion that being true to oneself and tapping your inner power, happiness, or deity will lead you to a happy and fulfilled life) I uncovered a vast array of crackpot conspiracy theorists proclaiming Oprah the Great Satan. Not wanting to be numbered with the cracked pots, I’ll approach this topic from a different angle. Perhaps.
The subject of Satanism came up whilst talking with a friend who happens to be in training to become a therapist. We were talking about how clients are encouraged to pursue their own happiness: a sort of “follow your bliss” idea. It’s the secret of The Secret: You can effect change in your own life; the power is yours; if you want it then you can will it and you can have it; it’s all about you. This is a core tenet of Satanism and is derived in relatively equal measure from its two patron (anti)saints and their thought: Aleister Crowley (“Do what thou wilt is the whole of the Law”) and Ayn Rand (individualistic “objectivism”). It should not be confused with the Devil worship our culture was so obsessed with in the 1980’s. It is really a form of self worship in which you, the individual, are the most important thing in Heaven and Earth; you have the power to achieve whatever you put your mind to; and you should let no one stand in your way. Anton Lavey, founder of the Church of Satan, said, “I give people Ayn Rand, with trappings.” It’s like Paul Ryan said “Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism.” But Satanism in economics and politics, is a direct result of the satanic psychology that pervades our popular culture. (You can read more about Satanism’s influence on Paul Ryan in the article Paul Ryan’s Favorite Philosopher Inspired “The Satanic Bible”, Experts Say.)
Popular psychology is like a serpent coiling about us; whispering beguiling things in our ears; telling us just what we want to hear: You can do it. Have confidence in your self. Eat this and you’ll be like a god. So, what do you do when you’re a counselor and your client says, “I’m an atheist because God and the church have let me down?” What do you do when you’re a counselor and you encounter a client who has “lost his faith?” What do you do when you’re a counselor and popular psychology, society, and the psychology of our political system require you to help your client find the power within so that true and lasting happiness can be found?
I’m not sure I have an answer.
One may be able to examine the tendency of the psychologist toward Satanism by looking at our culture more broadly, and our cultural obsession with, depending on which side of the “conservative” line you stand, rights or special rights: who has them and just how the rightful privileged hand them out, like useless gifts to the poor. The root of the tree is nurtured by the Enlightenment; in the philosophy of the founding fathers (USA):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The tree that grows nurtured with the water of a vaguely spiritual Enlightenment has many branches, and they include the right to bear arms, civil rights, and gay rights. Those branches bear fruit. If you eat that fruit you will be god, or at least feel that you are until you start to learn just what your rights are. This is a public service announcement (with guitar)…
These rights may also be called freedoms as in the freedom of the press, or the right to free speech, the freedom of religion, or the right to religious freedom. When you know your rights you can start to realize that, as the old song says “Freedom is merely privilege extended unless enjoyed by one and all.” When you know your rights you can realize that you have no rights!
“No rights?” you ask. No rights! I say. It is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that produces the fruit of rights: a fruit that empowers and allows one to do it all on their own because the individual has the right to… pursue happiness, bear arms, marry, afford healthcare or food, the right to life. Rights are works of the flesh. “Nowe the workes of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adulterie, fornication, vncleannesse, lasciuiousnesse, idolatrie, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, enuyings, murthers, drunkennesse, reuellings, and such like…” I think there is only one thing, murder, in that list that one might say is not covered in the philosophy of rights, and even murder, if it is to protect another right, may fall under that philosophic umbrella. Our laws even make these our rights. Psychiatry helps us to accept that these desires live within us and accept ourselves as we are. Eat of this fruit and you will be a god. It’s a radical idea to say that we have no rights, but if we have no rights what do we have?
We do have responsibilities. We are responsible to God and to one another. As Jesus said “The first of al the commandements is, Heare, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt loue the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soule, and with all thy minde, and with all thy strength: This is the first commandement. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt loue thy neighbour as thy selfe: there is none other commandement greater then these.” It is every person’s responsibility to insure that life and liberty are preserved for all; that the benefits of education, marriage, affordable healthcare or food, and life are provided for all. The fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is adultery, fornication, uncleanliness, licentiousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, sedition, heresie, envy, murder, drunkenness, reveling and the like “but the fruit of the spirit is loue, ioy, peace, long suffering, gentlenesse, goodnesse, faith, meekenesse, temperance: against such there is no law.”
When looking for that inner strength, for a lasting happiness “Who can you trust with your life, your money, your secrets, your man & most of all—your hair!” “Trust your gut. It’s never wrong.” All you need is confidence to come into your own. Isn’t that an attractive idea.
It’s certainly more attractive than this:
Like the serpent that beguiled Eve, Satanism is the attractive choice. It is the affirmation that you hold the truth within yourself, and all it takes to tap this truth is to admit that you are perfect as you are: sinless and blameless; capable of perfection on your own. But… “if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It is not that we are entitled to this forgiveness; we do not deserve it; this is not a right. What it is is Grace freely given on the tree of the cross. It is the tree of Grace that bestows the fruits of love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.