Luther’s Pact With the Devil

lutherdevil

Luther & the harmonious union with Lucifer, Leipzig, 1535

Great Moments in Reformation History! Medieval gossips claimed that Luther’s mother was seduced by a demon disguised as a jewelry merchant, and that the demon then counseled Martin throughout his wayward journey into heresy. After a visit to Rome, so the stories go, he felt shabbily treated and asked his father how he could get his revenge. “Write a commentary on the Lord’s Prayer,” was the demon’s suggestion.

Another legend tells of where Luther got his new ideas. One night a monk visited him in his chamber and asked him about papal errors. The monk persisted for some time until Luther noticed his taloned hands and ejected him. (See print above.) The monk-demon vanished with (I am not making this up, although someone else might have) a thunderous fart that stunk up the room for days.

There’s an interesting biographical element to these stories: Luther did claim to be harried by demons for much of his life. There’s a story of him throwing an inkpot at one, and others of his scatalogical, poo-flinging battles with Satan.

Luther loved foul references (I shall “throw [the devil] into my anus, where he belongs,”) and deployed them often. Reformation historian Heiko Oberman quotes him saying to Satan,

“But if that is not enough for you, you Devil, I have also sh*t and p*ssed; wipe your mouth on that and take a hearty bite.”

Paging Dr. Freud….

Lest you think the Luther-is-the-devilspawn talk was all on the Papist side, here’s how our heretical friends saw the pope:

popedemon

 

And here we are in 2015, with Germans still making trouble for the church.

Fundie Follies: Cultists Will Curse Your Fetal Ultrasound Via Facebook

Pat Robertson is basically a cartoon character spouting the kind of nutty nonsense many non-Christians think we all believe. I don’t share it because I think he’s an important voice: he’s not. I share it mostly to point and laugh, but also to warn against wadIng into the deep end of the crazy pool. As someone who takes demons seriously and writes about them often, it’s as much a warning for myself as anyone.

Note how he begins by saying he doesn’t see anything wrong with it, wanders into the weeds muttering something about demons, and ends up by calling it abhorrent. Basically, his brain is dribbling out his mouth. I might be tempted to excuse it as the ramblings of a sad old man whose mind is going, but he’s always been like this. 

Christopher Lee’s Best Movie

I was genuinely saddened to learn that Christopher Lee died last Sunday. For some of us, he wasn’t just great talent, but an iconic figure from our childhood. I was a Monster Kid of the 1970s: raised on Saturday matinees, the 4:30 movie, Chiller Theatre on channel 11 (that hand!), and Famous Monsters of Filmland. I didn’t do sports and wasn’t much of a student. I did Karloff and Chaney and Cushing and Lee.

And he was the last. They’re all gone now. Lugosi and Chaney, before I was born. Then Uncle Boris, Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Jr, Peter Cushing, Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury, Peter Lorre, John Carradine, all of them. And now the towering legend with the giant voice and those amazing eyes joins them.

house-of-the-long-shadows-group-picture

Reunion time?

Christopher Lee appeared in a couple hundred movies. I’ve sought them out and maybe seen less than half. A great many of them were crap, a number of them were quite good, and some were classics.

There are a few titles that fans would place at the top of their lists: The Wicker Man, of course. Horror of Dracula. Curse of Frankenstein. Lord of the Rings. Maybe Hound of the Baskervilles or The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes or Richard Lester’s Musketeers movies.

But one film many of fans, myself included, would single out as their favorite is The Devil Rides Out (1967), directed by Terence Fisher from a screenplay by Richard Matheson.

This was a pet project of Lee’s, and he had to push Hammer to get it done. Lee was tired of the pop-up scares of Dracula movies. He wanted to depict real evil and Satanism in a serious way. He wanted to show that the occult was dangerous, and treat it with intelligence. I just rewatched this film a week ago with the commentary track on, and was struck by how knowledgeable he was about the subject, and how much the film meant to him.

Jesus wins.

Based on Dennis Wheatley’s novel, the film stars Lee as Nicolas, the Duc de Richleau, a character who appeared in many other novels by Wheatley. Nicolas and Rex Van Ryn learn that a young friend, Simon, is being drawn into Satanism by a charismatic Aleister Crowley type played by Charles Gray. (Both Gray and Lee later played Bond villains.)

The film is notable for its accuracy and its sober depiction of occult practices and their dangers. Even more notable is its strong Christian message. Over and over, either God or Jesus is used to thwart evil. The final triumph (it’s not like I’m spoiling things here) is accomplished by the overwhelming power of the cross. Even when the good guys use an incantation, it hearkens back to Solomon. (In esoteric tradition, Solomon was able to control and cast out demons.)

A lot of horror has a winking quality: the audience understands this is a lark. The Devil Rides Out plays it straight down the line, and it’s stronger for it.

Lee clearly believe in the devil and the power of God to thwart him, and was adamant about the dangers of trifling with the occult, as he shows in this clip.

Lee himself was Anglo-Catholic. His noble blood line was traced back to Charlemagne, and I believe that he had a pope somewhere in his family tree. He was the one of the last men of a dying generation. He saw evil up close in the war, and he knew the devil’s power.

lee

Lee’s autobiography is great fun.

The Devil Rides Out is out of print on DVD, but you get all 11 of the original Wheatley occult novels in one Kindle collection

Get all 11 of the original Wheatley occult novels in one Kindle collection. Well-researched and good fun.

Out of print and expensive. Even when I needed money I wouldn't sell this one.

Out of print and expensive. Even when I needed money I wouldn’t sell this one.

The Most Important Book of the Year is Only $5 For a Limited Time

manual-spiritual-warfare-1043105Paul Thigpen’s Manual for Spiritual Warfare is a must-have. I hate the phrase “instant classic,” partly because it’s an oxymoron, and partly because time is fickle, but I can see this one being read and handed down and treasured a hundred years from now.

Thigpen’s book is a clear-headed and faith-filled look at the devil and his works, and the tools we have to fight him. My blogmother Julie D. has a review of it here. I hope to write a more considered appraisal of it in the future.

TAN books published it in a leather-bound prayer-book format meant to be carried around, but they blew through their initial print run so fast that people are having trouble getting a copy while TAN prints more.

Because of this, the’ve reduced the price of the Kindle edition to $5 for a limited time. At that price, just buy it. You will not regret it.

Taking the Devil Seriously

Republished from June 2014, because posts about Satan always bring the evil little worms out of the woodwork.

The reality of the devil was one of the hardest things for me to accept when I returned to the Church. When I made my choice to assent and submit to all the Church teaches, I knew I had a long road ahead of me. I knew that much pride and intellectual vanity and modernist funk would have to be scraped away before I could conform myself fully to the Church.

This process of death to self and the world in order to allow a new life in the Spirit to take root is not easy, and indeed it is ongoing. Each Catholic is in a different places in his or her journey. If you would have questioned me about my faith in my early 20s, I would have dismissed many key elements of Church teachings and sounded like a typical cafeteria Catholic. Faith is not a static thing. It’s organic. It has its seasons of growth and seasons where it seems to lay fallow.

And we all have those weaker moments. Not moments of disbelief, necessarily, but of weakness, of a lessening ardor, of a gentle fading of the passion for the Lord. The distractions and pressures of the world batter us and threaten to push faith to the fringes.

That’s the place where Satan wants us. When we aren’t looking, when we are distracted, when we are weak or sick in body or mind, when we have doubts: those are moments for him to do his work.

Families are organic, and thus they, too, have their cycles from fallow to fruiting. The Church is always under attack, from within and without, and the family is an image of the Church. Why think it could be any less under attack? One look around us shows a society where the meaning of marriage has collapsing. Gay marriage didn’t do it. That was just a final bullet to the head after the damage wrought by no-fault divorce and other family-destroying policies and social trends.

So when Francis speaks of the family being under attack by the Devil, he’s speaking a truth more need to hear:

Families are the home Church where Jesus grows. He grows in the spouses’ love and in the children’s lives. For this reason, the enemy attacks the family so much. The devil does not want it. He tries to destroy it, to prevent love from becoming free. Families are the home church. But married people are sinners like everyone else, they do not want to go in faith, in its fertility, in children and the faith of their children. May the Lord bless the family, and make it strong in the face of the crisis by which the devil wants to destroy it.

We need to start acting like the devil is real and threatening, particularly in our families. The Church cannot stand without the family. One is a reflection of the other.

Dealing with the devil: tie him and give him a heavy burden.

The problem is that we don’t like to think about demonic activity in our world, and we certainly don’t like to talk about it. When was the last time you ever heard Satan mentioned in a homily? I don’t think I ever have. The recent controversy about the Black Mass at Harvard pushed it forward and forced us to deal discuss it in the open, and we shouldn’t let that moment go to waste.

There’s one basic fact you must accept: you cannot be a Christian and reject the existence of the devil. It’s that simple. Jesus talks about the devil more than anyone else in scripture.  He’s not a metaphor. He’s not another word for evil or sin. He’s a fallen angel, and he’s real.

That’s tough stuff for modern man to grasp. The devil was used so effectively as a boogeyman for so many years that eventually the real understanding of his existence was lost, and only the boogeyman remains. And what do parents tell frightened children? “There is no boogeyman.”

Satan’s had a pretty good run lately. A look around the world seems to show that it’s pretty much his playground. We see it the broken families and broken lives. We see it in the anxiety and doubt of faithful Catholics and the boldness of the forces of disbelief. We see it in a government and society that dehumanizes the individual.

And yet we see hope, too, and though it’s never as flashy or as evil, it’s a powerful thread binding us all together in the Catholic community, the larger Christian community, and in human family. We’re all either tending upwards towards heaven or downwards towards hell.

In the face of so much evil at work in the world, the differences separating Catholics from each other and even Catholics from other Christians and other faiths shouldn’t occupy as much energy as they do. We have a common enemy, and it’s trying to destroy faith and destroy families, since it knows it can’t destroy the Church is itself. Convincing the world he didn’t exist was Satan’s most powerful act, but shattering Christian unity and fomenting discord runs a close second. We can’t fight him and each other at the same time.

Let’s begin by taking the devil seriously. If you don’t already pray the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel every day, you should start. Teach it to your children and students.

Indeed, it’s well past time that we returned the prayer to its rightful place at the end of each mass. It keeps the enemy always in sight, and reminds us that we are not alone in this struggle against the powers of this present darkness.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

 

Satanist Guilty of Killing Two Women

As part of what was allegedly a “Satanic suicide pact,” Mark Dobson killed Helen Dorrington (age 52) and Mary Hepburn (32) in May 2012. He cut their throats in a TraveLodge motel in Barrie, Ontario, in a bloody scene marked by Satanic art and dismembered dolls.

Dobson tried to plead guilty, but the judge refused because he felt the plea was not in the best interest of the defendant. If Dobson could prove mental illness had compromised his ability to know right from wrong, he might have been able to escape the harsh punishment of the plea.

During his plea attempt, Dobson told the judge, “I did it, I murdered them and now I want to do my time in the pen.”

This week, he was found guilty of first degree murder because he appreciated the gravity of his crimes.

Dobson met the women in a chat room for a Satanist site called (and I am not making this up) the Joy of Satan, which is filled with the usual Church of Satan-style hoo-ha about this being a true religion of peace and other lies. Please don’t go there. You’ll get dumber just glancing at it.

On a related note: The “Church” of “Satan” has complained to Patheos before about my reference to Satanic murderers as Satanists. Apparently, people who worship Satan and kill in the name of Satan are not real Satanists because: reasons!

Mark Dobson, who slit the throats of two women in an orgy of Satanic violence, worshiped Satan.

Ergo, he was a Satanist.

Sources here and here.

Church of Satan Angry That Satanist Murderers Are Called Satanists

 

Actual Satanist

Actual Satanist

The Church [sic] of Satan [sic] is sad and angry that a couple of Satanic murderers are being called Satanists.

They’re not real Satanist like us, they say. They’re “devil worshipers,” which is a different thing!

Why? Because!

Follow this one if you can. The Church of Satan, founded by a comical fraud named Howard Levey (“Anton LaVey”) in the 1960s, is the”true” Satanism because they say so.

Poseur

Poseur

Now, it doesn’t actually believe in Satan. In fact, it’s just bog-standard might-is-right hedonistic Objectivist nonsense dressed up in a Halloween costume to annoy the squares. It’s something mildly clever and alienated teenagers might cook up, which may be excusable in teenagers, but is less so in adults. It’s also completely atheistic, meaning, of course, that it’s not a “Church” at all.

But we’re supposed to believe that’s the “real” Satanism, while actual Satanism as understood for millennia–worship of the Adversary, demonolotry, devil worship–is the “fake” Satanism.

Here’s Peter Gilmore (“Magus” of the “Church” of “Satan”)

Ultimately, when the media promotes devil worshipping criminals as Satanists, then the many productive people who are our members—or those who have aligned themselves with our philosophy without joining—must work harder to rectify such misrepresentation and the consequent prejudice and bigotry they face when they “out” themselves as Satanists to their family, friends, and co-workers. Many decide not to be open about their affiliation, except to a few people who might be open to taking the time to learn the truth about Satanism’s life enhancing, atheist philosophy.

Let me get this straight: their idiot founder named his “philosophy” after the incarnate force of all evil, destruction, lies, and murder–a force worshiped by some and fought by others for a couple thousand years–and now claims that this is the only true Satanism, despite it not being Satanic at all.

I take Satanists like “Pazuzu Algarad” extremely seriously. I accept them at their word as worshipers of the devil, aka Satanists.

And as I’ve written before, Real Satanists Don’t Send Press Releases. And they certainly don’t give interviews to the Washington Post.

A Compilation of My Dark and Ghostly Posts

My first writing was in the horror genre, contributing to publications like The Horror Show and Cemetery Dance, and writing entries for the encyclopedia Supernatural Fiction Writers. I even worked for George A. Romero’s Laurel Entertainment film and TV production company for a little while. I think there’s value in exploring dark themes, fear, and even revulsion in art. The medievals certainly thought so, or they wouldn’t have produced so much of it.

I had fun with this month’s two series: Dark Country and Ghosts in the Church.

I’m not going to link all the individual Dark Country posts individually, but you can find all all them here, from “Eli Renfro” to “The Man Comes Around.”

I’d been thinking about ghosts for a while now, and wondering where they fit in the theology and life of the church. I didn’t get as much written as I’d hoped because we had a family medical crisis while I was working on it, but 10,000 words is plenty for now. A shorter article will be published by the National Catholic Register.

Here are all the posts in the Ghosts in the Church series:

Ghosts in the Bible

Ghostly Visions in the Early Church

Tertullian’s Deceiving Devils

Three posts on St. Augustine’s detailed consideration of ghosts:

St. Martin and the Thief’s Ghost

St. Gregory the Great’s Bath-house Ghost

St. Thomas Aquinas Believed in Ghosts (True fact)

Do You Believe in Ghosts? (In which I answer the question: “Sorta, sometimes”)

I’ve also written quite a bit about Satan and ancient burial customs. And Boris Karloff. And MR James.

Have a happy Halloween.

Frankenstein color (220 x 265)