GOD & the Gods: Yaqui Indian Sorcery


The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge was copyrighted in 1968—the year I graduated high school. At that time, I was totally unaware of Carlos Castaneda. I first discovered Castaneda’s books sometime in the late 70s early 80s. As I recall, I read at least three of his latter books: The Second Ring of Power, The Eagle’s Gift, and The Fire from Within. I’m confident in my recollection since I still have those books in my library. However, for this installment in my “GOD & the Gods” series, I wanted to reference Castaneda’s early writings so I was able to acquire a used Touchstone Book paperback set of his first four books.

Back when I first read those three hardcover titles, I automatically assumed that don Juan, Castaneda’s teacher or guide into the world of sorcery, was Mexican or Hispanic when in fact he was a Yaqui Indian from Sonora, Mexico. According to Encyclopaedia.com, Yaqui Indians are an indigenous people of northwestern Mexico and Arizona. The Yaqui are unique in that they have preserved their own culture and identity for nearly 400 years by resisting assimilation into Mexican society.

In the years following my last read of Castaneda’s latter three books, I recall hearing that Castaneda recanted on his experiences with Yaqui Indian sorcery as described in his books. I was quite surprised to hear this news (I don’t recall the source) since I found it hard to believe someone would spend some 10 years of their lives devoted to such an endeavor to later admit it never happened. After conducting a little research, I discovered Castaneda never recanted however many academics and critics have since discredited his work.1 Nevertheless, I found his writings believable since he mentions in his books being chided frequently for his incessant notetaking during meetings with don Juan. Moreover, the detail with which he describes his sessions with don Juan, in my opinion, lends credibility to the narrative.

Each book in my set of paperbacks lists the book category as Philosophy/Anthropology or simply Anthropology on the back cover. While these books in fact present a detailed study of alternate realities and human culture, they also present a study of the occult and the spirit realm. While many of Castaneda’s critics have argued that his writings should be classified as fiction, His publisher Simon and Schuster still regards the books are nonfiction.2 As previously inferred, this writer accepts Castaneda’s books as nonfiction.

Perhaps Castaneda’s many critics and academics were led to dismiss him as “a hoaxer, a fraud, a sexual predator, a cult leader and maybe a psychopath”3 due to his productization of his shamanic teachings called “Tensegrity®” currently being administered by Cleargreen. I’m more inclined to lean towards this assessment since Castaneda made it very clear in his books that to become a “man of knowledge” along with being an impeccable “warrior” one had to be chosen.4

Aside from his personal experiences which he described in great detail in his books, Carlos Castaneda lived a very private life in conformance with Yaqui culture. According to a New York Times article from 1998, Castaneda “lived in almost total anonymity, refusing to make public appearances, be photographed or tape-recorded.”5

Carlos Castaneda died on April 27, 1998.

If you perform a google search on the word “Sorcery” you will get definitions that consistently contain the terms: evil spirits, supernatural powers, black magic, witchery, cast lots (divination), and magic. Personally, I think the definition provided in Wikipedia best describes the type of sorcery practiced by Castaneda and his teacher don Juan:

Magic (supernatural), beliefs and practices used to manipulate natural or supernatural beings and forces

Castaneda writes in the introduction to his first book that the people who lived with and who knew don Juan considered him to be a brujo, someone who possessed some sort of “secret knowledge” and who had extraordinary powers.6 However, don Juan referred to his teacher (unnamed) as a diablero, a person whom the locals described as an evil person who practiced black sorcery and who could change into an animal such as a bird, dog, or coyote.7 There is a parallel to this in Celtic spirituality, where certain deities had the ability to change into various animal forms, also known as shapeshifting.8

While many critics and academics have recast Castaneda’s writings as so much gibberish, the Bible on the other hand has established a clear precedent in that many books include narratives involving sorcery, magic and the secret arts. The three biblical narratives that I will use to defend my assertion are: Moses and Aaron and the plagues upon Egypt; the visit of wise men or magi after the birth of Jesus; and the encounter with Simon the magician in Samaria.

Moses and the Plagues

So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. [emphasis mine] (Exod. 7:10-12 NASB)

Earlier in the book of Exodus, God had granted Moses powers so that he could perform certain signs and wonders before Pharaoh and his servants. Note that the magicians were able to emulate the sign Aaron performed but God demonstrated that His power was greater than that of the Egyptians in that the magicians’ serpents were consumed by Aaron’s staff.

So Moses and Aaron did even as the Lord had commanded. And he [Aaron] lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt. But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts; and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said. [emphasis mine] (Exod. 7:20-22)

Again, we see that the magicians of Egypt were able to duplicate the Lord’s second sign of turning the waters to blood. It’s also recorded in Exodus that the magicians were able to imitate God’s third wonder of calling up frogs over the land. It would seem that the magicians’ power was pretty much equal to the power God gave to Moses, that is until God’s fourth sign manifested itself.

They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt. The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said. [emphasis mine] (Exod. 8:17-19)

The text doesn’t explicitly state whether or not the magicians ran up against the limitations of their power or whether God intervened to prevent their magic from working as it did previously. I believe the former to be the case since the magicians were able to discern the difference between “the finger of God” and the source of their power.

Visit of the Magi

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” [emphasis mine] (Matt. 2:1-2)

This is the Christmas story that everyone knows but not everyone agrees who the magi really were. It’s common for commentators and other writers to attempt to soften the text by substituting “magi” with “wise men” since magi is the root of our English word magic. Nevertheless, the NASB Dictionary defines Strong’s Greek #3097 “a Magian, i.e. an (Oriental) astrologer, by impl. a magician”9 definitely someone associated with the secret arts.

Even if the magi were really astrologers, how did they know the “star in the east” correlated to the “King of the Jews,” that is, the Messiah? What verse or verses in the Hebrew scriptures did they use to assert their belief? I’m sure a weak case can be made for the star in Numbers 24:17 but there is certainly insufficient information to make the association with the Jesus child. So, if the magi didn’t reference the Hebrew scriptures, then what manuscripts did they consult, if any? These are difficult questions to answer.

Finally, contrary to the title and lyrics in the song “We Three Kings of Orient Are” the Bible doesn’t specify how many Magi there were who followed the star to where Jesus was. The number three was probably instigated by an overzealous trinitarian.

Simon the Magician

But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. [emphasis mine] (Acts 8:9-11 NKJV)

The phrase “practiced sorcery” in the text is derived from Strong’s #3096 and defined in the NASB Dictionary as “to practice magic.”10 I believe these verses speak for themselves.

Castaneda began his sojourn into the world of sorcery quite by accident—some would say. Castaneda writes that his original reason for his visit to the border areas of Arizona and Mexico was to learn more about psychotropic (medicinal) plants known to the Yaqui Indians there. Castaneda was introduced to don Juan by a friend at a Greyhound bus terminal, who just happened to be there at the same time they were. Even though Castaneda’s initial meeting with don Juan was cordial, it wasn’t until after a year and multiple visits with don Juan that Castaneda was taken under his wing, so to speak.11

However, it wasn’t until Castaneda’s encounter with Mescalito that don Juan affirmed his decision to take Castaneda on as his apprentice.12 Castaneda’s encounter with Mescalito occurred after chewing six peyote buttons13 Don Juan stated that he saw Mescalito playing with Castaneda which he interpreted as an omen that indicated Castaneda was the escogido or chosen one.14 15

I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between Castaneda’s encounter with Mescalito and certain scenes in the film The Serpent and the Rainbow where Bill Pullman’s character Dr. Alan has an encounter with An Hango, a powerful shaman, in the Amazon Basin.16 What follows is a summary of Dr. Alan’s hallucinogenic experience depicted in the film.

Dr. Alan arrives at the shaman’s location by helicopter. Dr. Alan is accompanied with an interpreter/guide to his meeting with the shaman. During the meeting, the shaman offers Dr. Alan one of his potions to drink. After drinking the potion, Dr. Alan almost immediately goes into a hallucinogenic mental state.

During his drug induced trip, he is confronted with a large cat (probably a jaguar) who instead of attacking him, begins to play with him. The shaman smiles while seeing Dr. Alan frolicking on the ground with the large cat.

When Dr. Alan awakens from his trip, he finds himself alone. He makes his way back to the helicopter only to find the pilot dead in his seat. Dr. Alan then starts his trek out of the Amazon basin on foot.

At some point on his journey out of the Amazon, he again encounters the same big cat he frolicked with earlier but now instead of trying to run away, he follows the big cat who leads him to a road which facilitates his passage back to civilization.

So, was Mescalito taking the form of the big cat in Dr. Alan’s experience? Or was the entity an ally? There’s really no way to tell for certain. However, the similarities with Castaneda’s experience are striking. Even though Mescalito appeared to Castaneda as a black, transparent dog,17 he doesn’t appear the same to everybody according to don Juan.18 Nevertheless, the big cat was Dr. Alan’s spiritual protector (e.g., ally?) a role that Mescalito also assumes along with teacher.19

According to the “structural scheme” provided by Castaneda at the end of his first book, Dr. Alan’s spiritual protector would not be considered an ally because Mescalito didn’t have a rule therefore he could be used by anyone without having to undergo a long apprenticeship.20 Nevertheless, don Juan classified both types of entities as “impersonal forces or powers”21 Eventually, he would admit that Mescalito was “like a spirit.”22

I believe don Juan was not being entirely honest with Castaneda when he described the entity Mescalito as an impersonal force since you wouldn’t expect an impersonal force to behave differently depending on the person he [Mescalito] is interacting with. Don Juan seems to contradict himself again during his discourse on Castaneda’s encounter with Mescalito as follows:

You see, sometimes he is playful, like a child, at other times he is terrible, fearsome. He either frolics or he is dead serious. It is impossible to know beforehand what he will be like with another person. Yet, when one knows him well—sometimes. You played with him tonight. You are the only person I know who has had such an encounter.23

Notice don Juan uses the pronoun “he” when referring to Mescalito. Wouldn’t a more appropriate pronoun be “it” for an impersonal force? Continuing the previous conversation, don Juan implies that Mescalito has feelings.

Can you tell me now, don Juan, how does peyote [Mescalito] protect…He did not let me finish. Vigorously he touched me on the shoulder. Don’t ever name him that way. You haven’t seen enough of him yet to know him.24

An impersonal force? I don’t think so. Mescalito, whoever he is, is definitely a person or an entity with a personality, i.e., spirit.

Another troubling inconsistency is with don Juan’s teachings on a minor entity called a “helper”25 which he describes as “a spirit that lives on the other side of the world.”26 Again, he deviates from his earlier teachings on the nature of Mescalito and allies.

Finally, as Castaneda points out in his structural analysis, an “ally was a power that had a rule.”27 Maybe a better definition would be “allies are entities with their own unique personalities who have established specific protocols to allow the adept to manipulate their power.” That is to say, rules are established for the adept or sorcerers to follow—allies, on the other hand, have a will of their own.

Another interesting aspect of don Juan’s teachings is the emphasis he places on the doctrine of election or predestination which are not subjects to be discussed in polite company. While I’m convinced the Bible clearly teaches election with respect to salvation, you won’t find many Christian ministers teaching this doctrine. Don Juan on the other hand had no problem with the concept of a higher power interceding in our lives by the communication of their will to the adept through the use of omens.

Don Juan confirmed the importance of omens when he explained his role as a teacher, “a teacher never seeks apprentices and no one can solicit the teachings It’s always an omen which points out an apprentice.”28 He further confided to Castaneda that “you, Genaro and I are stuck together by a purpose that is not our decision.”29 Clearly higher powers were at work.

As for Castaneda’s decision to become a man of knowledge under don Juan’s tutelage, it really wasn’t his decision but was “a design of power.”30

©2013-2024 Gerard Sczepura. All rights reserved.

  1. “The dark legacy of Carlos Castaneda,” Robert Marshall, Salon, April 12, 2007, The dark legacy of Carlos Castaneda | Salon.com

  2. Marshall, “The dark legacy.” 

  3. “Castaneda the sorcerer,” Daniel Miller, The Critic, March 04, 2023, Castaneda the sorcerer | Daniel Miller | The Critic Magazine

  4. Castaneda, Carlos, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1974), 221. 

  5. “Carlos Castaneda, Mystical and Mysterious Writer, Dies,” Peter Applebome, The New York Times, June 20, 1998, Carlos Castaneda, Mystical and Mysterious Writer, Dies – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

  6. Castaneda, The Teachings, 14. 

  7. Ibid., 15. 

  8. Gerard Sczepura, “GOD & the Gods: The Celts,” Theological Ruminations (blog), June 06, 2018, GOD & the Gods: The Celts – Gerard Sczepura

  9. Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries: Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998). 

  10. Ibid. 

  11. Castaneda, The Teachings, 13-14. 

  12. Ibid., 55-56. 

  13. Ibid., 45. 

  14. Ibid., 55. 

  15. Castaneda, Carlos, Tales of Power, (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1974), 197, 229. 

  16. The Serpent and the Rainbow, directed by Wes Craven (Universal Pictures, 1988), 1:38:00. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) – IMDb

  17. Castaneda, The Teachings, 46-47. 

  18. Ibid., 102. 

  19. Ibid. 

  20. Ibid., 249-250. 

  21. Castaneda, Carlos, A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan, (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1971), 15. 

  22. Ibid., 81. 

  23. Castaneda, The Teachings, 49. 

  24. Ibid., 49-50. 

  25. Ibid., 209. 

  26. Ibid., 210. 

  27. Ibid., 236. 

  28. Castaneda, Tales of Power, 229. 

  29. Ibid. 

  30. Ibid., 62. 

Song Lyrics in Retrospect

School taught one and one is two.
But right now, that answer just ain't true.1

Now if 6 turned out to be 9,
I don't mind, I don't mind...2

Red is grey and yellow white,
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion.3

The west is the best
Get here, and we'll do the rest4
For the times they are a-changin'.5
Ev'rywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
'Cause summer's here and the time is right for fighting
in the street boy6

We'll be fighting in the streets...
And the morals that they worship will be gone7

Your ballroom days are over, baby
Night is drawing near8

Your old road is
Rapidly agin'9

Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Why don't you all f-fade away (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
And don't try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin' 'bout my generation)10

Television children fed11

And all the children are insane
All the children are insane12

The order is
Rapidly fadin'13

The old get old
And the young get stronger...
Gonna win, yeah
We're takin' over
Come on!14

Hey! Think the time is right for a Palace Revolution
But where I live the game to play is Compromise Solution!
Hey! Said my name is called Disturbance
I'll shout and scream, I'll kill the King I'll rail at all his servants15

There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls...16
For the times they are a-changin'.17
I heard some of you got your families, living in
cages tall & cold,
And some just stay there and dust away, past the
age of old.18

Well I asked my friend where is that black smoke comin' from
He just coughed and changed the subject and
said oh wa I think it might snow some...
Look at the sky turn a hell fire red Lord
Somebody's house is burning down down, down down19

...and the smell of a world that has burned.20

I said the truth is straight ahead so don't burn yourself instead
Try to learn instead of burn, hear what I say, yeah, yeah.21

Blood in the streets in the town of Chicago22

Save our city, save our city
Right now23

They're going to destroy
Our casual joys
We shall go on playing
Or find a new town24
For the times they are a-changin'.25
Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection26

The gate is straight
Deep and wide27

Bodies confused
Memories misused28

The future's uncertain, and the end is always near29

Save us!
Save us!30
For the times they are a-changin'.31
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall32

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution33

And I come back to find the stars misplaced34

Blood will be born in the birth of a nation35

Mother, should I trust the government?36

Its leaders were supposed to serve the country
But now they won't pay it no mind37

Mother, should I run for president?38
When the music's over
Turn out the lights39

Reason has been raptured—we were forewarned!



©2013-2024 Gerard Sczepura. All rights reserved.

  1. “Ride My See Saw,” The Moody Blues, In Search of the Lost Chord, 1968. 

  2. “If 6 Was 9,” The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Axis: Bold as Love, 1967. 

  3. “Late Lament,” The Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed, 1967. 

  4. “The End,” The Doors, The Doors, 1967. 

  5. “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’, 1964. 

  6. “Street Fighting Man,” The Rolling Stones, Beggar’s Banquet, 1968. 

  7. “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” The Who, Who’s Next, 1971. 

  8. “Five to One,” The Doors, Waiting for the Sun, 1968. 

  9. “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Dylan. 

  10. “My Generation,” The Who, The Who Sings My Generation, 1965. 

  11. “Unknown Soldier,” Doors. 

  12. “The End,” Doors. 

  13. “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Dylan. 

  14. “Five to One,” Doors. 

  15. “Street Fighting Man,” Stones. 

  16. “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Dylan. 

  17. Ibid. 

  18. “Up from the Skies,” Hendrix. 

  19. “House Burning Down,” The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland, 1968. 

  20. “Up from the Skies,” Hendrix. 

  21. “House Burning Down,” Hendrix. 

  22. “Peace Frog,” The Doors, Morrison Hotel, 1970. 

  23. “Roadhouse Blues,” Doors. 

  24. “Strange Days,” The Doors, Strange Days, 1967. 

  25. “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Dylan. 

  26. “When the Music’s Over,” Doors. 

  27. “Break on Through (To the Other Side),” Doors. 

  28. “Strange Days,” Doors. 

  29. “Roadhouse Blues,” Doors. 

  30. “When the Music’s Over,” Doors. 

  31. “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Dylan. 

  32. Ibid. 

  33. “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” The Who. 

  34. “Up from the Skies,” Hendrix. 

  35. “Peace Frog,” Doors. 

  36. “Mother,” Pink Floyd, The Wall, 1979. 

  37. “Monster,” Steppenwolf, Monster, 1969. 

  38. “Mother,” Pink Floyd. 

  39. “When the Music’s Over,” Doors. 

Election Season Obfuscations

An unlikely former FLOTUS recently proclaimed “Donald Trump is the wrong president for America…It is what it is” or is it…

According to the US Census bureau, about 2.5 million people die in the U.S. every year from all causes. So, where’s the outrage over that? Why don’t we lock down the entire country to keep people safe and to keep them from dying? Well, maybe it’s because the government doesn’t decide who lives and who dies…well, not yet at least. I wonder how many unsuspecting people died from walking on dry sand instead of wet sand in Los Angeles?

I posed a somewhat rhetorical question in a previous blog post that asked what the difference was between the H2N2 virus during the 1968-1969 flu season and today’s COVID-19 pandemic? Well the answer is simple, Lyndon B. Johnson was president and he wasn’t a republican. During the H2N2 outbreak, you either got the flu and lived or you got the flu and died. However now, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, if people test positive without even having any symptoms it’s a national crisis.

Even though I don’t have any documentary evidence to back up my position, nevertheless, I believe Dr. Anthony Fauci is a democrat at best and a fascist at worst. This guy is supposed to be an infectious disease expert and the best advice he can give is for us to wash our hands and social distance. My grandmother knew about those things a hundred years ago and she immigrated from Poland.

If Dr. Fauci had his way, everyone would be walking around like Scuba divers on dry land.

I remember long, long ago our family used to make many trips to the Jersey shore from our home in Bound Brook, NJ. On some occasions, my father would take Rt. 18 through New Brunswick instead of using the Garden State Parkway. While driving through Old Bridge during the coldest winter months, we would marvel at residents of a Jewish retirement home, many of whom were sitting outside in the sun all bundled up. They had the common sense of the Old World and understood that fresh air and sunshine were necessary for maintaining health which precluded wearing masks and being locked down in their rooms for months at a time.

Whenever I see Dr. Birx, an Obama nominee, on TV news videos, I think of white privilege.

The new Pandemic Lexicon for the New Normal: “harmful misinformation,” “stay safe and healthy,” “economic intercourse,” “core morbidities,” “lockdown,” “flatten the curve,” “stay at home,” “quarantine,” “social distancing,” “shelter in place.”

Wearing something other than a 3M 8511 N95 Respirator Mask around other people carrying the virus is analogous to having sex without a condom.

Every weather event is an historic event. This coming November, the perfect storm will be named Biden, Bernie, and Ocasio.

I remember seeing two ads on a news feed, one ad criticizing President Trump for wanting to open the economy and very close to it, a second ad showing the jobless claims.

Whenever I hear a certain section of the electorate, in particular suburban white educated women, say things like, “We need a leader who will unite the country,” I have to wonder if they really believe what they are saying. Do they mean we need a leader like Abraham Lincoln? Technically, Lincoln united the country through a civil war but did he really unite the people? I think not since unity = conformity and now as then, neither side has any desire to conform.

Treason <- Treachery <- Leaking.

Absentee Ballots ≠ Mail-in Ballots.

Electing Donald Trump to a second term would be like instituting a national lockdown to eradicate a virus pandemic; the only thing either would accomplish would be to postpone the inevitable.

Einstein once said, “If you want different results, do not do the same things.” Yet, we still see people who live in cities under siege by Bolshevik mobs continue to vote democratic candidates into office who not only condone but encourage the violence and lawlessness. Go figure. People get what they deserve and deserve what they get.

I’ve never seen a United States Congress in my lifetime fight so hard for the rights of foreigners at the expense of United States citizens.

It’s been said that “there’s no vaccine for stupidity,” however after listening to democrats for the past four years you could say that “there’s no vaccine for hypocrisy” either.

The fools who bow the knee to anarchists and insurgents so that they might be spared the wrath of the woke mob will surely bow the knee to the beast.

It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

Rev. 13:7-8 NASB

South Korea is a surveillance state. They have over a million closed-circuit television cameras installed throughout the country. Not only that, there is a significant police presence especially in Seoul and other larger cities. In addition, many cars sold in South Korea have black boxes installed. Yet, for the most part, the Koreans are okay with being tracked by their government. I wonder why that is? Could it be that South Koreans have a sense of patriotism and respect for their culture? Or, maybe they have more trust in their government than we have in ours here in the U.S.

Recently, Biden chose Kamala Harris, a 4% candidate, for his running mate. Come on, man it’s pronounced Komma-la not Ko-mala. Okay, I got it. Now here we have a political party that despises old white men, picking an old white guy as their presidential candidate. And who does the old white guy pick as his running mate? He picks the person who cleaned his clock during the presidential debates. “I’m not joking.” “It was a debate!” You can’t make this stuff up. I don’t know about you, but when I see Biden and Harris together…the optics just don’t seem right.

Biden is the Trojan Horse and Kamala along with the entire Sanders camp are the Greeks. And if that’s the case, will you still vote the Harris-Biden ticket?

Speaking of candidates of color, until Herman Cain was convicted of committing the unpardonable sin during the 2012 presidential race, I was a “honky for Herman.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent European Virus-positive patients back to nursing homes, effectively euthanizing over 6,000 elderly residents while the Navy hospital ship Comfort sat unused in New York City.

If Trump had only done [ fill in the blank ] then no one would have died from COVID-19 and no one would have lost their job.

Trump Derangement Syndrome is nothing more than penis envy.

There’s a conspiracy theory floating around that was conjured up by future Pulitzer Prize winning journalists that Donald Trump will not leave the White House voluntarily if he loses the 2020 election. One particularly unbiased commentator on a particularly unbiased network claimed that the military would need to be called in to remove Trump from office on Inauguration Day. Roger that…Hooah! But I have a better theory. I think Trump should leave the White House quietly without fanfare soon before the inauguration. Why give credibility to the incoming socialists. Then, sometime before the haters are sworn in and before the inauguration speech, Trump should hold a news conference with Melania from Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, FL to say goodbye and to thank all his supporters.

the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

P.S. I was pretty tough on Sen. Ted Cruz in many of my posts during the runup to the 2016 election. I admit I misjudged his character and I offer this apology. Sen. Cruz has since been a steadfast defender of the president’s agenda and conservative principles unlike many other so-called republicans. I suppose at the time I was as unacquainted with Sen. Cruz as he was of Trump.

I was also justifiably tough on civil rights attorney Leo Terrell. Terrell, a frequent guest on Fox News talk shows, had the annoying habit of filibustering other guests with whom he disagreed. He also had a habit of talking over the host. But that was then, now Leo Terrell, known as “Leo 2.0” on Fox News, is an ardent supporter of republicans and Donald Trump. He is just as passionate now as he was then, but now he is respectful of other guests and hosts. If you don’t believe what I’m saying, watch any current interview with Terrell and then watch an interview with Christopher Hahn…the contrast couldn’t be more obvious.

©2013-2024 Gerard Sczepura. All rights reserved.

GOD & the Gods: Runes

I first became interested in runes, and Stonehenge for that matter, after viewing the film, Curse of the Demon sometime during childhood. The film concerns a highly skeptical scientist portrayed by Dana Andrews who specializes in debunking claims of the supernatural who ironically finds himself confronted by a demonic death curse passed to him by an adept occultist on a parchment containing runic symbols.

The black and white film Curse of the Demon is a British production released in 1958 in the U.S. but was released in the U.K. in its original longer runtime in 1957 as Night of the Demon. This film may seem quaint to modern audiences who have been jaded after being exposed to years of TV watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Vampire Diaries, and of course Supernatural but I think this film is worth watching if for nothing else than to get a glimpse into the hidden risks associated with necromancy and demonolatry.

As might have been expected, none of the references I’ve chosen to use for this writing have even come close to mentioning the use of runes in offensive or demonic ways. To the contrary, Evelyn Green in hir Runes for Beginners book, promotes the “ethical and safe magic”1 that can be derived from runic practices while at the same time acknowledging that runes “were believed to be a good method to help communicate between us here on earth and the supernatural, and many times they were used in spells to provide success or protection.”2 And so, if there are ethical and safe rune uses, then it stands to reason that there are unethical and harmful uses as well.

The ethical and safe uses of runic divination and magic that Evelyn Green and other writers have advocated are to provide the [rune] reader or some other person with guidance or help in navigating life’s path, that is, to “gain insight into a situation or an answer to their questions.”3 Runes don’t provide direct answers to questions put to them, they merely provide hints leaving the reader holding the bag so to speak.4 In other words, runes aren’t used for fortune telling or predicting the future since the “future isn’t really fixed”5 or as it was carved on a wooden table, “No Fate.” The following excerpts from Green’s book explain it best:

Before you start to use these runes to help with divination, it is important to understand that what rune readings present to us is not going to be a prediction of fate that we can’t change at all. Instead, a successful type of divination, no matter what kind you use, will be able to provide us with a snapshot at the present moment. It will show us what unseen factors are going on in our situation and can point to the most likely outcome based on the course of action that we are currently on.

This makes them unique. They do not control your destiny, and you can always choose the path that you want to take rather than following this. There is still an element of free will that comes with these. And they are not seen as a form of fortune telling, so they are different from some of the other options that are out there.6

Occasionally though, the writers reveal, however subtly, what is really going on with runic divination practices when they make claims such as, “you can easily override any information about that rune if there is intuition that tells you the meaning should be something different. This is the other realm talking to you and trying to get your attention about what is right and what is not for your own experience.”7

In the context of the runes, the Norse concept of free will allows for actions in the present to affect outcomes in the future, that is, there is no hard and fast concept of a pre-determined destiny since people are capable of changing certain aspects of their fate.8 Do I detect a strain of Norse mythology hypocrisy? Doesn’t the Norse belief in the mythological Ragnarök contradict any notion of free will since not even the gods will be able to prevent it from happening?

On the other hand, Iva Kenaz writes that Odin’s wife Frigg “was naturally clairvoyant, could see beyond the surface of things, and foretell the future.”9 I believe Chamberlain may be incorrect in her assertion about free will and the Norse concept of fate since even the Roman historian Tacitus wrote that “the ancient Germanic peoples believed that there was something sacred in women and that they had a gift to foresee future events.”10

So, based on Norse mythology and Tacitus’ writings, are women more inclined to be adept runemasters? Well, according to Iva Kenaz, “women seem to access their unconscious better”11 which may coincide with the intuition that Green referenced. Chamberlain adds that in addition to having a “special aptitude for magical work,”12 the practitioner is required to dedicate themselves to a certain amount of “study and discipline.”13 Or, it may just be that women have been so predisposed since creation. (Gen. 3:6)

Free will and fortunetelling are mutually exclusive concepts because how can you foresee something that may or may not actually happen? The ability to foresee the future is only possible if that future is already pre-determined. Free will is the fortuneteller’s malpractice insurance. As Chamberlain has written, “when it comes to reading the runes—if there were no way to have any affect [sic] on future outcomes, then why bother with divination, or any other form of magic, in the first place?”14 I agree, why bother?

Divination is not exclusively relegated to the domain of the occult. A form of divination was used by the apostles when they cast lots to determine who would replace Judas. (Acts 1:26) The casting of lots is synonymous with the casting of runes according to Vivienne Grant’s book.15 As it was, the apostles called upon the name of the Lord before they cast lots. (Acts 1:24-25 NASB) I wonder who runemasters call upon?

This post on the runes is actually an addendum to my two previous posts on the Celts and Norsemen since the origins and uses of the runes have been traced back to both cultures.

While the exact origins of the runes are the subject of debate, the Norse people have no doubt as to their origin, they were a gift from the gods16 to “Alfadir, Alfadir, or Allfather, Odin.”17 Chamberlain even goes so far to say that “the runes are eternal—they have always existed.”18

On the other hand, historians seem to lean towards the theory that the runes originated with the “Goths, a race of East-Germanic people.”19

The common thread that runs through the translations of our English word rune in all cultures are the words: “secret,” “whisper,” and “mystery.”20 21 Chamberlain adds the words: “magic,” and even “spells or incantations” to the list of definitions.22

The occult nature of the runes precluded their use as a general writing system for communications in the vernacular but were instead used as “magical signs”23 and eventually as a “tool of divination.”24 Runes were used for magical purposes long before they were used as a writing system.25

The runes are a cipher and would be useless to anyone who didn’t possess the necessary decryption key.

Some scholars trace the word ‘rune’ back even further to the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European language, which is believed to be the ancestor of many later ancient languages. These linguistic roots pre-date the use of runic characters for writing, which tells us that runes belonged to the world of mystery and magic well before they became a system of writing. Indeed, as we will see throughout this guide, their role as a means of ordinary communication barely scratches the surface of what these ancient symbols were—and still are—capable of.26

While most people in today’s popular culture would associate the Celts or Celtic culture with Ireland, the Celts as a people occupied a significant portion of Western Europe including northern Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and France (Gaul) along with the United Kingdom. In fact, the Gallic people, as they were known to the Romans, actually referred to themselves as Celts according to Julius Caesar’s writings as early as the 1st century BC.27 According to scholars, what unified the “disparate ancestral tribal cultures”28 together was their written language—the Lepontic runes.29

Figure 1. Rune Stone, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

We will see that it is language that reveals the modern notion of a uniquely characterized, fleshed out, and identifiable Celtic cultural identity, defined by shared similarities among languages, classical texts, works of art, tangible historic artifacts, and even social organization and mythology.30

According to various sources on Celtic spirituality, more than 700 Celtic gods have been identified from Gaul, and while these were local gods, they were not part of an official pantheon.31

As I discussed in my earlier post on the Celts, many of the gods and goddesses such as the Scottish goddess Brighid could “shift between various animal forms, such as snakes and cattle.”32 In addition, the theme of “triplicity”33 was prevalent in Celtic spirituality as some important deities would appear in sets of three.34

According to Thompson, “the earliest records of runes date back to 150AD”35 Thompson also claims that the runic alphabets were originally derived from “Old Italic”36 alphabets since their existence can be traced back several hundred years before the establishment of the Germanic runic alphabet.37

Runic script is composed of 24 letters divided into three groups of eight called aettir or families. The oldest script called the Elder Futhark was derived from the old Germanic alphabet.38 The first six letters of the alphabet “sounded like f, u, th, a, r, and k, giving the alphabet its distinct name: futhark.”39

Contrary to conventional wisdom, “Germanic tribes were peaceful, lived in harmony with nature, and had a special relationship with the dense, dark forests” according to the Roman historian Tacitus.40 The Germanic tribes connected with or worshiped local nature deities who were considered kindred spirits with the people unlike the Roman gods and goddesses who were part of an official ascendant pantheon.41

Kenaz writes that the runes belong to the geometry of creation:

The runic characters are made from crossing and triangular shapes, and they can all be derived from the six-fold pattern of the hexagon, hexagram, and the six-pointed star, also known as the snowflake pattern, which has actually been a common depiction of the Tree of Life throughout ancient history.42

Kenaz continues with hir claim that the Germanic and Norse peoples probably represented the Yggdrasil or Tree of Life as a six-pointed star which is derived from the Flower of Life—the blueprint of creation.43

Kenaz in hir book, Runes: Magical Codes of Nature, provides a lengthy discussion of how the runes, frozen water molecules, DNA and other phenomenon are related to the Flower of Life geometrical pattern. An in-depth study of Sacred Geometry is beyond the scope of this post; however, I tried a simple experiment using the snowflake pattern in Figures 2 and 3. Note that I followed the rules for Germanic runes in that there are no horizonal lines, only vertical and diagonal strokes.44

Figure 2. Six-Pointed Star
Figure 3. Hooked Cross

A final thought concerning runes. Was Jesus writing on the ground in cipher when the scribes and Pharisees challenged Him to condemn the woman taken in adultery? (John 8:1-11) The Scripture doesn’t give us an explanation as to what Jesus was writing, to whom He was writing, or why He was writing what He was writing. Could it have been some form of ancient runic script? We just don’t know.

As the Scripture teaches, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God.” (Deut. 29:29)

©2013-2024 Gerard Sczepura. All rights reserved.

  1. Green, Evelyn. Runes for Beginners: The Complete and Practical Guide to Read and Interpret Runes in Divination and Magic, and Discover the Meaning and Secrets of the Elder Futhark Alphabet. Kindle Edition. 

  2. Ibid. 

  3. Ibid. 

  4. Ibid. 

  5. Ibid. 

  6. Ibid. 

  7. Ibid. 

  8. Chamberlain, Lisa. Runes for Beginners: A Guide to Reading Runes in Divination, Rune Magic, and the Meaning of the Elder Futhark Runes (p. 16). Chamberlain Publications. Kindle Edition. 

  9. Kenaz, Iva. Runes: Magical Codes of Nature (p. 58). Kindle Edition. 

  10. Ibid., 66. 

  11. Ibid., 58. 

  12. Chamberlain, Runes for Beginners, 19. 

  13. Ibid. 

  14. Ibid., 16. 

  15. Grant, Vivienne. Runes for Beginners: Your Complete Beginner’s Guide to Reading Runes in Magic and Divination. Kindle Edition. 

  16. Thompson, Sarah. Runes: Learn Everything about: Runes, Celtic Religions and Celtic History (Viking History, Norse Mythology, Celtic, Wicca, Divination, Fortune Telling, Celtic Religions) (p. 14). Kindle Edition. 

  17. Grant, Runes for Beginners

  18. Chamberlain, Runes for Beginners, 14. 

  19. Grant, Runes for Beginners

  20. Thompson, Runes: Learn Everything about, 14. 

  21. Chamberlain, Runes for Beginners, 5. 

  22. Ibid. 

  23. Green, Runes for Beginners

  24. Ibid. 

  25. Chamberlain, Runes for Beginners, 1. 

  26. Ibid., 5-6. 

  27. Thompson, Runes: Learn Everything about, 79. 

  28. Ibid., 80. 

  29. Ibid. 

  30. Ibid., 81. 

  31. Ibid., 123. 

  32. Ibid., 121. 

  33. Ibid., 117. 

  34. Ibid. 

  35. Ibid., 8. 

  36. Ibid., 15. 

  37. Ibid. 

  38. Green, Runes for Beginners

  39. Grant, Runes for Beginners

  40. Kenaz, Runes: Magical Codes of Nature, 14. 

  41. Ibid. 

  42. Ibid., 31. 

  43. Ibid., 34. 

  44. Thompson, Runes: Learn Everything about, 15-16. 

The Godhead as an Aggregate Class

Most Christians will, at one time or another, find themselves in a situation where they will be forced to defend their belief in the Godhead or Trinity. Their defense will most likely go something like this, “God is one God who exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” I’ve used this approach in the past myself because it’s the defense we’ve all heard from the pulpit thousands of times. However, to most non-Christians especially Jews and Muslims, this explanation is inadequate and sounds too scripted—i.e., just another pat answer.

The universally accepted notion of the Christian Godhead existing as one God in three persons doesn’t adequately represent the special and unique relationship between God as Father and Jesus as Son. In addition, the Trinity doesn’t address the problem of Melchizedek who was the first of a priestly Order that bears His name.

The foundational theory for this writing was initially presented in my “GOD & the Gods” series inaugural blog entry, “One God”. However, in this writing, I propose to refine and expand on the ideas presented in that former blog post by demonstrating that the notion of the Godhead can be expressed as an aggregate class.

I concede that any attempt to explain spiritual or religious beliefs using concepts derived from computer science and object-oriented programming and design is ambitious to say the least. Nevertheless, I believe it works since it makes sense to model the abstract using tools and techniques designed for that purpose namely the Unified Modeling Language (UML) and the Object Modeling Technique (OMT) developed and published by Rumbaugh, et. al.1

This blog post models the Godhead using the following four fundamental object-oriented terms and concepts: class, object, inheritance, and instantiation. In the context of this writing, class is the abstraction whereas object is the actual thing or in this context, the actual person. In computer programming parlance, instantiation means to create an instance of an object, in other words, the creation or realization of the abstraction or class.

This discussion on object-oriented terminology may seem too techy for some readers but these basic concepts are necessary in order to understand the primary focus of this writing which is aggregation. It’s important to remember that for the remainder of this blog post, the terms “object” and “person” are synonymous because the term “object” in this discussion will always refer to persons specifically, not things in general.

The main problem which needs to be addressed before a meaningful model of the Godhead can be developed is how to deal with Melchizedek. In Genesis, Melchizedek appears to Abram and offers him bread and wine and a blessing. Abram responds by offering Melchizedek a “tenth of all” (Gen. 14:20 NASB) or tithe. The parallels that can be drawn between Jesus and Melchizedek because of the offering of bread and wine are unmistakable which led most writers and theologians to classify Melchizedek as a Christophany—the visible and bodily manifestation of Christ before His incarnation.

I believe the writer of Hebrews clearly teaches that Melchizedek, king of Salem, was a person of the Godhead when he wrote, “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.” (Heb. 6:20) I also believe the writer of Hebrews deliberately, under inspiration, made a point to mention Melchizedek’s lack of genealogy so as to draw a distinction between Melchizedek and Jesus whose genealogy was well documented by Matthew and Luke. In addition, the phrase “made like the Son of God” clearly indicates that Melchizedek took on human form as did Jesus but unlike Jesus, he came into being without having been born of a human mother.

The Christophany interpretation fits right in with those who hold to a Trinitarian view of the Godhead because if Melchizedek was a person of Divine origin and not simply a manifestation of Christ then that would upset their entire belief system. This Trinitarian bias is evident in the NASB translator’s Hebrews Chapter 7 heading which is, “Melchizedek’s Priesthood Like Christ’s” which implies Melchizedek’s priesthood proceeded Christ’s earthly ministry when in fact it preceded Christ’s earthly ministry as the writer of Hebrews states: “where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 6:20) The reader should be aware that chapter and verse divisions in our Bible translations were not in the original autographs and are therefore not inspired.

Finally, according to the writer of Hebrews, both Melchizedek and Jesus remain priests forever and that Jesus’ genealogy was not of the tribe of Levi but of Judah, a tribe which Moses never spoke concerning priests (Heb. 7:14) therefore Jesus was made a priest forever by prophetic decree:

The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.’ (Ps. 110:4)

The special relationship that exists between the Father and the Son is documented in detail throughout the Gospel of John. The following are just a few examples that illustrate this special relationship:

Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me’ (John 8:42)

‘For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.’ (John 12:49)

‘Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.’ (John 14:10)

The traditional Trinitarian view of the Son as being co-equal with the Father and the Comforter as separate persons of the Godhead neglects to consider the obvious reciprocal relationship that exists between Father and Son.

‘All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.’ (Matt. 11:27)

The UML (Unified Modeling Language) diagram for the Trinitarian view of the Godhead is presented in Figure 1.

Trinitarian Godhead Model
Figure 1. Trinitarian Godhead Model

As illustrated in Figure 1 above, the three subclasses: Father, Son, and Comforter all inherit attributes from the Godhead superclass. Only four attributes are shown in the Godhead symbol because a detailed discussion of Divine attributes are beyond the scope of this writing.

As the Trinitarian model demonstrates, any instantiation (actualization) of one of the subclasses is not dependent on any of the other subclasses. In other words, God the Father can exist without God the Son existing or without God the Comforter existing. The actual instantiations of the three subclasses are not shown in Figure 1, however the implication is YHVH is instantiated from Father, Jesus is instantiated from Son, and the Holy Spirit is instantiated from Comforter where all three instantiations make up the traditional view of the Trinity.

Note that Melchizedek could not be instantiated from any subclass shown in Figure 1 since a Priest class had not been taken into consideration.

The Trinitarian model, as defended by Christianity—one God in three persons—is easily attacked by Jews and Muslims as being polytheistic since it would appear to allow multiple individual Gods to be instantiated from the Godhead superclass.

The UML diagram for the improved aggregate view of the Godhead is presented in Figure 2.

Aggregate Godhead Model
Figure 2. Aggregate Godhead Model

Figure 2 presents a more biblical representation of the Godhead since a Priest subclass is included along with the expected Father, Son, and Comforter subclasses. The model shows that the Godhead superclass shown in the first level of the model is an aggregate of the subclasses in the second level of the model. Aggregation says that if multiple objects “are tightly bound by a part-whole relationship, it is an aggregation.”2 Another way aggregation can be tested is by applying the phrase, “part of”3 or “a-part-of”4 to a relationship. So, in our model in Figure 2 we can say Son is a-part-of Father, and Father, Priest, and Comforter are collectively a-part-of Godhead.

Rumbaugh, et. al. further defines aggregation as an “and-relationship”5 so that given the model in Figure 2 we can say that Godhead is made up of {Father and Son}, and Priest, and Comforter—a class trinity.

I chose to name the Holy Spirit’s subclass “Comforter” which is the rendering of “paraklêtos” in the King James Version of the Bible. I could have also used “Helper” as rendered from the Greek in the New American Standard Bible and other newer translations. However, I believe “Comforter” adds a compassionate dimension to “Helper.”

In addition, I’ve extended the UML notation by adding instantiation to the model. Instantiation is shown by dotted lines with open arrowheads pointing to each of the four person symbols labeled with each person’s actual name.

As demonstrated in this blog post, the notion of One God who exists in three persons is not as simple and straightforward a concept as many would have you believe. There is a reason the word “Trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible.

©2013-2024 Gerard Sczepura. All rights reserved.

  1. Rumbaugh, James, M. Blaha, W. Premerlani, F. Eddy, W. Lorensen, Object-Oriented Modeling and Design, (Englewood Cliffs, Prentice Hall, 1991), 16-17. 

  2. Ibid., 58. 

  3. Ibid. 

  4. Ibid., 59. 

  5. Ibid. 

The New Communism—Without Religion or God

Bob Avakian in all his talks and writings continues to promote the new communism as the emancipator of humanity. Without religion or God, Avakian attempts to persuade the masses to put their faith in the scientific method and dialectical materialism for their salvation, not in the hereafter but in the here and now.

In his book entitled, Away with All Gods! Avakian argues that God, as revealed in the Bible, doesn’t exist because how can a loving, all powerful god allow tragedies and suffering to afflict mankind? Avakian also states that if such a god existed, “it would be a cruel, vicious, sick, twisted, and truly monstrous god”1 [emphasis added] that no “sane and decent”2 person would want to follow or worship. This is the age-old argument that every atheist and agnostic has used to attack God and the People of the Book.

On the other hand, Christians of all denominations have struggled with the problem of how to reconcile the fact that God seems to allow human suffering while at the same time professing to love His creation. Apologetics, as a branch of theology, has attempted to reconcile these two apparent mutually exclusive aspects of God’s character. However, what most pundits fail to factor into the equation is the holiness of God. It’s not surprising since we, as the Church, have largely fallen away from realizing God’s holiness because we are too caught up by the world system; we are more of the world than we are in the world.

Even so, Avakian is clever enough to use an obscure incident from the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel 24 to convince his readers of how monstrous God really is.3 Avakian was obviously aware that most people, including Christians, wouldn’t be familiar with the particular verses in 2 Samuel which would make it easier for him to catch his readers off guard. The incident that Avakian is pointing out is where David was incited to conduct a census because of God’s anger against Israel in order to force God’s hand. The back reference for 2 Samuel 24 is in Exodus.

The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying,

When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them. (Exod. 30:11-12, NASB)

Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD.

The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves. (Exod. 30:14-15)

David was fully aware that if he conducted the census without collecting the required ransom or contribution from the people as God commanded in Exodus, God would be forced to send a plague as a judgement upon Israel.

In 1966, John Lennon made the following remark concerning the Beatles, “We’re more popular than Jesus…” Lennon wasn’t being idealistic when he made that remark, he was basing it more on dialectical materialism. However, in today’s political climate, Hitler has replaced Jesus in popularity. In this respect, Avakian was ahead of the curve because in his book published in 2008, he wasted no time accusing Christian fundamentalists as being Christian fascists and associating them with Hitler.4

It’s interesting that whenever a left-wing extremist accuses someone or something as being fascist, they always bring up Hitler, not Mussolini—the father of fascism. I wonder why that is? Could it be that it would be embarrassing if people knew that Charles Lindbergh and Joseph Kennedy, among others were fascist sympathizers,5 and that Columbia University’s Casa Italiana was once controlled by Mussolini supporters?6 Fascism is statism, and communism is emancipation. Fascist economic systems are corporatist, but in communist society, there are no classes in that the proletariat owns everything which really means no one owns anything.

Avakian makes a valid point when he accuses hypocritical fundamentalist Christian fascists of insisting that people obey the Ten Commandments while otherwise ignoring other aspects of the Mosaic Law. Avakian labels this tendency as “Salad Bar”7 Christianity. Rightly so, since not only are the Ten Commandments still in effect, but the entire Law as given in the Old Testament of the Bible is still in effect—forever.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29) [emphasis added]

Jesus Himself affirms the Law, as given in the Old Testament, is still in effect.

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt. 5:17-18)

As a “Salad Bar” Christian myself, I usually pass on the salad and go straight for the strong meat. (Heb. 5:12 GenevaBible)

Avakian deviates from his tactic of misinterpreting obscure Scripture verses such as 2 Samuel to attack God and Christianity directly using Darwin’s theory of evolution and the scientific method. Avakian repeats all the typical progressive talking points used to defend evolution such as, “evolution has for some time been a settled question.”8 Evolution is a settled question like the Big Bang theory is a settled question. Like it or not, organic evolution like the Big Bang theory are examples of historical science, not operational science.9

In his book, Away with All Gods! Avakian bases a significant portion of his objections to the Bible by presenting the viewpoints of Bart D. Ehrman, Chairman of the Religious Studies Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.10 Avakian is quick to point out Ehrman’s authoritative credentials since Ehrman is himself a former evangelical fundamentalist.11

Ehrman zeroes in on many accusations and criticisms of the Bible but I’ve decided not to address each of those criticisms and accusations individually, but instead, I’ve provided excerpts from Tom V. Taylor’s class handouts from a Bible history course I took at Biblical Theological Seminary in 1991. The following excerpts provide answers, either directly or in some cases indirectly, for many of the questions people have concerning our English Bible.

None of the original manuscripts survive and if they did men would worship them instead of the Lord. We feel the Lord has been pleased to give us very good copies…it is a technical study, but very good copies.

The work of translation is hard work because no two languages have identical vocabularies…and few even have identical alphabets…In addition many languages did not have some of the word ideas that are in the Bible (like redemption) and translators had to assess what speech idiom in a language would make this meaningful to the people of that place.

(Note: we do not change the Bible we change the translation of it…the rendering of it…to meet new concepts and societies.)

That is the beauty of the Bible. God gave us a book of truth that retains its character and meaning for life in spite of the many translations…these helping to make the biblical message relevant and meaningful from age to age.

The Word of God is the inscripturated message, not the individual translation. We may apply the term to any translation in a general sense because it contains the inscripturated message but if someone says well…’Did God actually write these words?’ the answer is ‘No, these are the words into which the God breathed message has been put by men for the people of their language and culture.’ They should be careful, of course, but they were not working under inspiration (technical inspiration of 2 Timothy 3:16) and are simply doing the best they can to serve God and His people.

It is also true that some heretics have translated the Bible and changed its basic thrust at some points to support their teachings. Naturally we are not going to endorse any such works but it is surprising that even in some of these books the inscripturated message of salvation and grace can still be seen.

The bottom line is that only the original manuscripts were “inspired” or God breathed. But what about “inerrancy,” i.e., nothing contrary to fact and “infallibility,” i.e., incapable of teaching error. If there are any errors in a Bible translation, they are due to “translation or an insufficient current body of knowledge,”12 as Taylor’s class handouts have implied. And according to the Ligonier Ministries’ website, “We can have inerrancy without infallibility, but we cannot have infallibility without inerrancy.”13

Practically speaking, whether or not our current Bible translations are infallible or incapable of teaching error, is dependent on whether or not the translators were working from an agenda. That is, if the translators were faithful to the best available manuscripts then the results of their efforts would be infallible but still not technically inerrant, again, as Taylor seems to imply from his class handouts. Nevertheless, “through the process of textual criticism, we can recover the original wording of the manuscripts with a high degree of certainty.”14

Slavery was abolished in the United States on December 18, 1865, but if you listen to Avakian you would think that slavery is still being practiced in America and that God, the Bible, and Christianity are responsible. Contrary to the nonsense that Avakian is peddling, nowhere in the Bible is slavery encouraged or promoted. The Bible references slavery because the practice was widespread during the times in which the books of the Bible were written. As a matter of fact, the Bible gives strict guidance on how masters were to treat their slaves and how slaves where to behave towards their masters. Slaves were not without rights in the Scripture as revealed in the following verses: Exod. 21:2, 21:20, 21:27, 23:12; Deut. 23:15-16; and Prov. 30:10.

In Matt. 8:9, Jesus heals the centurion’s servant or slave.

And then there’s the story of the runaway slave Onesimus who was ministering to Paul in prison and whom Paul sent back to his master with a letter. In the letter, Paul writes:

For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever,

no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. (Philem. 1:15-17 NASB)

Jesus makes frequent use of the master/slave relationship in many of His parables as an analogy for the type of relationship He desires between Himself and His followers. (Matt. 24-25)

Since Avakian has irrefutably discredited God, the Bible, and Christianity, there is no reason to debate unchangeable human nature since it doesn’t exist according to Avakian.15 He further asserts that all the conflicts, tragedies, and injustices that have occurred in human history are all a result of the “system.”16 If you remove the spiritual dimension from human beings, then humans are no more than cogs in the machine. Okay, so were John Mauchly and Presper Eckert, the actual inventors of the world’s first digital electronic computer, cogs in the machine? Or how about William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Houser Brattain, the inventors of the transistor, were they just cogs in a machine? I could go on but you see my point. The capitalist system, which communists hate so much, is responsible for bringing about all the major innovations that the world now takes for granted. Would these innovations been possible under a system that promotes a “do as you’re told” work ethic?

Avakian, along with all other good communists, would like you to believe that God, the Bible, and Christians are all against science. Well, I doubt that Avakian is familiar with Donald E. Knuth, computer scientist, mathematician, and professor emeritus at Stanford University who is most famous for his The Art of Computer Programming multi-volume book series. In addition to his computer science and mathematics writings, Knuth is also a student and teacher of the Scriptures. He has written a book, 3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated that is the result of his unique Bible study approach which he describes as “stratified sampling.”17 By using this mathematical principle, Knuth believed that “A large body of information can be comprehended reasonably well by studying more or less random portions of the data.”18

As a result, Knuth ‘randomly’ decided on Chapter 3, verse 16 from each book of the Bible given that John 3:16 is so well known and because he felt it would be easier for his class to remember.19 After allowing for books that don’t have 16 verses in Chapter 3 and for books that don’t even have a Chapter 3, Knuth arrived at 59 instances of the 3:16 rule.20 In addition, Knuth decided to provide his own translation for each of the selected verses even though he isn’t a Greek or Hebrew scholar.21 Considering the translations, commentary, and calligraphy, I think the results were impressive, particularly John 3:16 as follows (minus the calligraphic flourish):

Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only child, so that all people with faith in Him can escape destruction and live forever.22


©2013-2024 Gerard Sczepura. All rights reserved.

  1. Bob Avakian, Away with All Gods!, (Insight Press, Chicago, 2008), 6. 

  2. Ibid., 6. 

  3. Ibid., 4-5. 

  4. Ibid., 16. 

  5. Gerard Sczepura, “American Fascism,” Theological Ruminations (blog), August 21, 2017,  https://gerardsczepura.com/myblog/american-fascism/

  6. Ibid. 

  7. Avakian, Away With all Gods!, 32. 

  8. Ibid., 44. 

  9. “’Evolution Is a Fact.’ Argument 1,” Answers In Genesis, October 17, 2017, https://answersingenesis.org/theory-of-evolution/evolution-is-a-fact/

  10. Avakian, Away With all Gods!, 61. 

  11. Ibid. 

  12. “Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer,” We Talk of Holy Things, accessed April 02, 2020, http://www.wetalkofholythings.com/2013/03/inerrancy-vs-infallibility-theological.html

  13. “Infallibility and Inerrancy,” Ligonier Ministries, accessed April 02, 2020, https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/infallibility-and-inerrancy/

  14. Ibid. 

  15. Avakian, Away With all Gods!, 226. 

  16. Ibid. 

  17. Donald E. Knuth, 3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated, (Madison, Wisconsin, A-R Editions, Inc., 1991), 3. 

  18. Ibid. 

  19. Ibid., 5. 

  20. Ibid., 7. 

  21. Ibid., 8. 

  22. Ibid., 171. 

Marilyn Manson: Satan’s Disciple?

Satanic and occult influences can be found everywhere especially in contemporary music. Don’t believe it, then just try playing your favorite records backwards and you’ll hear all the occultic and satanic messages. Oh, I forgot…nobody buys records anymore, they just download MP3s.

I’ve been listening to music a long time from various sources including radio, 45 and 33 1/3 RPM vinyl records, cassette tape, reel-to-reel tape, and CDs. I never considered playing the songs backwards; I never even thought to try. That was back in the 1970s, now if you want to learn how to play your media backwards, all you need to do is watch a video on YouTube.

Of course, not even Mr. Ed was exempted from the 1980s Satanic Panic hysteria since the notion of a talking horse must be satanic after all. Since Satan is cunning and deceptive, his followers needed to find a clever covert way to get his messages across to the masses and that was through backward masking. A clear example is in the theme song to the Mr. Ed TV show played backwards includes the phrase, “the source is Satan.”1 Shocking! I watched the Mr. Ed show when I was a kid and I don’t remember the theme song ever being played backwards and I don’t remember hearing any satanic messages either.

I guess those folks who are determined to find Satan will find him wherever and whenever they choose.

Many of those folks were pastors and evangelists along with a few politicians, namely Tipper Gore, who along with other Senators’ wives, created the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC).2 I never realized there were so many pastors and evangelists who liked to play their heavy metal records backwards. On the other hand, most politicians naturally hear everything backwards anyway.

As a result of the PMRC getting its way with forcing the record industry to affix parental warning labels on album covers containing objectionable material, the sales of heavy metal records surged.3 If you want people to touch your freshly painted doorways or handrails, all you need to do is display “Wet Paint!” signs. It’s in our nature to want to do the things we are told not to do. Remember the biblical story of Adam and Eve? (I know there’s a heavy theological implication in that last question.)

So, heavy metal music that instigated the Satanic Panic which gripped the nation during the 1980s and threatened to destroy Western civilization is still alive and well today primarily due to the fact that most current heavy metal artists and those from the 1980s have become mainstream. And then there’s Marilyn Manson…

Brian Hugh Warner was born on January 5, 1969 in Canton, Ohio into a seemingly normal family and according to photos provided in his book, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, he was someone who appeared to be your typical all-American, midwestern, innocent looking, clean-cut high-school student— the kind of guy who would have the prettiest girls lining up to sign his yearbook.

Brian’s parents insisted he attend Heritage Christian School instead of public school through his first year of high-school. Brian’s family was Episcopalian, not exactly a fundamentalist, evangelical faith. So, why did they insist on sending him there? Could it be that they were fully aware of the grandfather’s depraved behavior4 and wanted to prevent their son from following in his grandfather’s footsteps?

Based on Brian’s recollections, I’d say the Friday assemblies at Heritage Christian School resembled the alter call at Billy Graham crusades. The young Brian Warner knew he should have gone forward but the embarrassment was too much for him.5 Brian writes that he realized he was “morally, spiritually and religiously behind everyone else.”6 Again, this where most unbelievers get it wrong. You can’t compare yourself to other people because you will either feel unworthy or worse, superior to others as the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and publican. (Luke 18:9-14 NASB).

So, did Brian’s first year of attendance at a Christian high-school contribute to his low self-esteem, feelings of isolation, frequent nightmares, and sexual frustrations as he strongly infers in his book?7 Probably so. But, contrary to what some may believe, Christianity doesn’t just rub off on you because you attend Christian school, have Christian friends, listen to Christian radio, or attend church. If Christianity actually spread that way, everyone in the United States would be a Christian.

Nevertheless, Brian found no “safe spaces” during his time at Heritage Christian School. For Brian, everything he was allegedly taught about Christianity concerned the antichrist, the beast rising from the ground, 666, and the rapture.8 These apocalyptic teachings can be terrifying to mature believers let alone to a troubled teenager who apparently didn’t have parents who could explain the doctrines he was being taught at school.

As it turned out, his Heritage Christian School teachers’ obsession with the imminent return of Christ and the end of the world had the opposite effect on Brian. Instead of driving him toward Christianity, it drove him away…permanently.9 Cry wolf too many times and after a while people won’t take you seriously.

In the end, Brian convinced his parents to transfer him to public school in his sophomore year, but the damage was already done.

During one of Marilyn Manson’s meetings with Anton Szandor LaVey, LaVey made Marilyn a minister in the Church of Satan.10 So, M. Manson became a card-carrying11 member of LaVey’s satanic church. This was quite an honor for Brian (LaVey never called him Marilyn),12 but was it deserved?

I’ve never even heard a Marilyn Manson (MM) song until I landed on a music video of him covering the Doors song “The End” while researching material for this writing. While I never particularly cared for the Doors song at first, I thought it was too long and boring, nevertheless I started to get into it again after I heard it in the movie Apocalypse Now. Quite to the contrary, MM’s cover is anything but boring; it is loud and aggressive while still retaining the dark feeling and imagery of the Doors original. This is not what I was expecting from MM.

Marilyn Manson’s music videos are not your usual MTV garden variety. I would describe MM’s videos as an amalgamation of images resembling those seen in movies like Saw, Insidious, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Depraved and disturbing are also adjectives I’d use to describe MM’s videos but does that qualify them as satanic? Sometimes, the most satanic lyrics in music recordings and TV/movie dialog and situations are the ones that portray good as evil and evil as good.13

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2 Cor. 11:14-15)

Anton Szandor LaVey never believed in a literal Satan, so by extension he also didn’t believe in God. How is it possible for a person to so vehemently hate someone or something they don’t believe exists as LaVey had hated God and Christianity? This is a contradiction. As MM has said, “it’s a lot easier to hate someone you’ve cared about than someone you never have.”14

I like to tell people who are afraid to watch horror movies that you can’t be afraid of something you don’t believe is real. But maybe, just maybe…deep down inside they entertain the possibility that it could be real. And so, I believe it is with LaVey and Manson, particularly Manson.

Marilyn Manson’s song catalog is extensive which precluded me from being able to analyze most of the lyrics but one song in particular stood out to me and that was “Terrible Lie.” I’ve reproduced snippets of the song lyrics here from the AllTheLyrics.com website. (Since MM is male, I’ve decided to use masculine pronouns.)

Hey God, I really don’t know what you mean.
Seems like salvation comes only in our dreams.
I feel my hatred grow all the more extreme.
Hey God, can this world really be as sad as it seems?

In the preceding verse, the author claims ignorance of God’s plan of salvation and is angry that he can’t make it real for himself. The author again levels an accusation against God for allowing all the suffering in the world. I provided a somewhat terse explanation for why God allows suffering in my “GOD & the Gods: LaVeyan Satanism” blog post.

Don’t take it away from me.
I need someone to hold on to.
Don’t take it away from me.
I need you to hold on to.
Don’t take it away from me.
I need someone to hold on to.

This verse closely resembles the plea the biblical David directed to God in Psalm 51.

Hey God, there’s nothing left for me to hide.
I lost my ignorance, my security and pride.
I’m all alone in this f***king world you must despise.
Hey God, I believed your promises. Your promises were lies.

Again, this verse illustrates the reaction of someone trying to approach God on their own terms instead of on God’s terms and then blaming God for rejecting their overtures. Again, more accusations. Does God really owe anyone anything?

How many you betray.
You’ve taken everything.

These lines from a verse imply that because God has placed constraints on human behavior, the author’s life was ruined because he didn’t receive the reward he was expecting at the end.

I’m on my hands and knees.
I want so much to believe.

The author wants God to accept him but only if it’s on his (author’s) own terms as was the case with the biblical Esau. (Heb. 12)

As mentioned earlier, Anton bestowed Brian with a great honor by naming him a minister of LaVey’s Church of Satan. But what was the one thing that endeared Brian to Anton so strongly. I believe that one thing could have been the evocative quality of Brian’s music. As I wrote in a previous blog post, LaVey wasn’t a fan of rock music, he was a musician who played “The lyrical, romantic tunes of the ’30s and ’40s,”15 quite unlike any of the music being played by heavy metal groups at the time or now for that matter. According to LaVey, true “occult” music is music that is unique, forgotten, neglected.16 17 Hardly the type of music that could inspire the Satanic Panic of the 1980s.

And…I’m beginning to like Marilyn Manson’s music.

I think the Stones got it right in the song “Sympathy for the Devil” with the lyrics, “Please allow me to introduce myself I’m a man of wealth and taste.” Can these lyrics which describe some of the Devil’s characteristics be applied to either MM or LaVey considering the words, “wealth and taste” imply sophistication? Probably not.

It cracks me up that LaVey, an avowed atheist, was the technical advisor on the movie, The Devil’s Rain, a film about literal Devil worship.

In LaVeyan Satanism, the person of Satan is an archetype or an imitation and if it is an imitation, then what is it an imitation of? The archetype of Satan opposes God who also doesn’t exist so He must also be an archetype. So, in LaVeyan Satanism, we have an archetype in opposition to another archetype. The bottom line is that LaVeyan Satanism is guilty of the same error it accuses Christianity of and that is it is all man-made. Anton LaVey used his Devil shtick18 to attract attention to himself and to shock the Christian community, an angle which MM adopted with great success.

While researching Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan, I found myself in agreement with many of his so-called satanic positions. I consider myself to be fairly individualistic and out of the mainstream. I am also no fan of organized religion. I find myself to be “old-school” on a lot of things. I’m also somewhat of an introvert and I do prefer animals and things to people19 So, does all this make me a Satanist of the LaVeyan variety? Probably not, since I don’t harbor any hatred towards God. Yes, I believe Christians can legitimately question God’s motives and sometimes feel anger and disappointment towards God, but not the vehement hatred that LaVey expressed.

I’m sure many would argue that I’m hypocritical because I haven’t passed judgment on MM as other more “spiritual” Christians might have done given Manson’s membership in LaVey’s pseudo-church. Remember Jesus’ teaching on not trying to remove a splinter in someone else’s eye when you yourself have a log in your own eye. (Matt. 7:2-5) Oh yea…they also say the Bible is humorless.

M. Manson believes the Bible is outdated; a book written for a “culture long since defunct.”20 Is that really true? Can anyone argue that any society at any time in history wouldn’t have benefited from the stability provided by the Ten Commandments. Without them, chaos and lawlessness would prevail.

MM also claims to be the Antichrist.21 I would disagree since the Bible teaches there are many antichrists (1 John 2:18). In addition, the spirit of the antichrist was already in the world when the Apostle John wrote his gospel. (1 John 4:3) Was he (John) describing Marilyn Manson? I think not since MM can’t lay blame on a God whom he doesn’t believe exists and he certainly isn’t trying to deceive anyone either since his song lyrics speak for themselves.

In the Acknowledgements section of his Long Hard Road book, Marilyn Manson includes the dedication, “to the memory of Anton Szander [sic] LaVey”

When I visited the Marilyn Manson website, I watched the “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” music video and really liked it. I did some research and learned that Johnny Cash also recorded the song for his American V album. I like Cash’s rendition also, but Manson’s version is more urgent with the usual sonic overload placed in just the right spots that Manson is noted for. And you don’t even have to play it backwards to hear all the lyrics. I liked the song so much that I ordered the limited-edition vinyl picture disc from a link on Manson’s website.

©2013-2024 Gerard Sczepura. All rights reserved.

  1. “SATAN TAKING MR. ED ALONG FOR THE RIDE?” Justin Mitchell, Chicago Tribune, May 8, 1986, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1986-05-08-8602020267-story.html

  2. “6.66 Hot Points Of The ’80s Heavy Metal Satanic Panic,” Mike McPadden, VH1 News, February 11, 2015, http://www.vh1.com/news/54726/remembering-the-80s-heavy-metal-satanic-panic/

  3. Ibid. 

  4. Marilyn Manson with Neil Strauss, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, (Dey Street, New York, 1999), 15-16. 

  5. Ibid., 20. 

  6. Ibid. 

  7. Ibid., 19. 

  8. Ibid., 18-19. 

  9. Ibid., 22. 

  10. Ibid., 170. 

  11. Ibid. 

  12. Ibid., 168. 

  13. Gerard Sczepura, “GOD & the Gods: LaVeyan Satanism,” Theological Ruminations (blog), February 17, 2019, https://gerardsczepura.com/god-the-gods-laveyan-satanism/

  14. Manson, Long Hard Road, 126. 

  15. Barton, Blanche. The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton Szandor LaVey (p. 130). Feral House. Kindle Edition. 

  16. Ibid. 

  17. Sczepura, “LaVeyan Satanism.” 

  18. Ibid. 

  19. Barton, The Secret Life of a Satanist, 121. 

  20. Manson, Long Hard Road, 176. 

  21. Ibid., 213. 

GOD & the Gods: Catholicism

My previous entry in this series GOD & the Gods was on the topic of LaVeyan Satanism. I concluded that writing with the statement that LaVey had “appropriated the spiritual into an extreme atheistic and carnal belief system”1 because LaVey never believed in a literal Satan. In a way you could say that LaVey’s Church of Satan consisted primarily of philosophies espoused by its founder and not necessarily those of its namesake. In the same way, it can be argued that Catholicism appropriated spiritual concepts into an outward form of Christianity that embraces tradition and ritual over sound biblical teaching.

Not many readers will disagree with my observation concerning ritual, but my statement on tradition (human customs) is sure to ruffle some feathers. However, my intent is not to ruffle feathers, but to encourage the reader to re-examine their belief system.

Let’s set the record straight, I’m not someone who was always on the outside looking in; I was raised a Catholic and received my First Holy Communion at St. Mary of Czestochowa R.C. Church in Bound Brook, NJ. By the way, I’m the expressionless communicant highlighted in the photo in Figure 1. Most all my close relatives on both my father’s and mother’s side were Catholic—what would you expect from Polish-Americans and those of Polish descent? I am also a godparent to my niece.

St. Mary's Communion Class
Figure 1. St. Mary’s Communion Class

St. Mary’s Church uses the “R.C.” designation in its name indicating that it associates with the Roman or Latin rite in Catholicism. The designation also signifies that the church recognizes the authority of the Pope in Rome. In this writing however, the focus is primarily on doctrine not liturgy. Some readers may choose to split hairs over my use of the term Roman Catholic to describe the Catholic Church, but be that as it may. I understand the academic term for the Church and all its rites is simply Church of Rome.

For the practicing catholic who happens upon this blog post, there is no need to be overly concerned because you will not find the usual rantings that can be found on other protestant-oriented sites. My position is to confront not condemn by adhering to the charge given by Timothy in the following scripture:

…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (2 Tim. 4:2 NASB)

Nevertheless, why include an installment on Catholicism in a series GOD & the Gods which implies there are other gods other than the one God? Doesn’t the Catholic Church believe in the one true God just as other Christian churches believe? Well…that’s the whole point of this installment. The premise being put forth here is that the worship of other gods in the Catholic Church is shrouded in doctrine and tradition.

Unfortunately, Catholic doctrine is not derived from Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura) but from Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church. The Catechism teaches that these sources of Revelation are co-dependent, meaning all three sources have equal authority.2 The Catechism goes on to teach that Sacred Scripture is inspired by God and is God’s Word3 which is all well and good. That being true then why has Catholic doctrine undermined God’s authority by elevating human tradition and church bureaucracy (office-holders) to the level of Deity. If God is God, wouldn’t His inspired Word as given in the Bible be sufficient, complete, and final?

The Catholic Church distinguishes between Holy Tradition with a capital “T” and human tradition. Tradition (capital “T”) is what the Catholic Church believes has been passed down from the apostles. If I remember correctly, there is an entire book in the Bible called Acts which records the Acts of the Apostles. The Tradition that Catholics hold in such high regard is redundant at best and irreverent at worst since God has already provided us with all the information we need in His written Word.

Before continuing on and in order to avoid confusion, a definition of the word “worship” needs to be established. Wikipedia defines worship as an “act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity.” [emphasis added] Also, it’s important to remember the following synonyms: reverence, veneration, adoration, praise, devotion, and glorification.

So then, in the context of this discussion, who are the “other gods?” Certainly not the mythological gods: Zeus, Odin, Apollo, Thor, etc., as they would be too obvious. But what happens when a church officially sanctions the use of iconography in its liturgy, that is, its worship, even though the images are representations of biblical characters or even God himself? The answer is the religious icons used in worship have become idols in violation of God’s specific command:

You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God… (Exod. 20:4-5)

These two verses are taken directly from the Ten Commandments. What other interpretation of these two verses can be argued except that which is obvious. This is why Bible-based, evangelical protestant churches never display or possess statuary and images in their sanctuaries, only empty crosses.

Evangelical Christians have many issues with Catholic doctrine, but this writing is primarily focused on Marian Veneration with only a passing mention of Apostolic Succession and Sacramentalism.

Consider the words of the Hail Mary (Traditional) Catholic prayer:

Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

The first four lines of the prayer are scriptural but the remaining lines of the prayer go off the rails. In Luke 1:35, Mary calls herself a bondslave and she goes on to declare what God has done for her and that “holy is His name.” Mary puts the focus rightly on God, yet somehow the Church of Rome elevated her with the title, Mother of God. Fact is, Mary is the mother of Jesus. Since Jesus is God, therefore Mary is the Mother of God. Does this line of reasoning make sense? Obviously, it does to the Church of Rome.4

As an adolescent, Jesus willingly submitted Himself to his parents until He entered His ministry.

Then His mother and His brothers *arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him.
A crowd was sitting around Him, and they *said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.”
Answering them, He *said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?”
Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He *said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!
“For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)

The event described in these verses demonstrate that Jesus afforded no special privileges to His mother or to any of His brothers. If Mary didn’t get any special consideration while on earth, what evidence is there that she has special privileges in Heaven? Not even the angels in Heaven are worthy of our worship as John records in Revelation:

Then I [John] fell at his feet to worship him. But he *said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God…” (Rev. 19:10)

Jesus had to be conceived without the intervention of any earthly father so that Adam’s sin wouldn’t be imputed to Him, therefore He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Can the same be said of Mary? In order for Mary to have been conceived without original sin, as the Catechism teaches, she would have to have been conceived by the Holy Spirit just as Jesus had been. In order for Mary to be born without original sin, the same would also be true for Mary’s mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and so on, all the way back to Eve. Were all these women without original sin and were all these women eternal virgins? I think not since if it were true, then all women in Mary’s lineage would be placed on at least an equal plane as Jesus, guiltless and perfect.5 This doctrine is not derived from Scripture but from the Magisterium, that being the Pope and the bishops. The Catechism also teaches in no uncertain terms that Mary lived her entire life without sin,6 just as Jesus had done.

I remember during one of our vacations at Cape May, NJ while strolling through the Washington Street Mall, I noticed something interesting over the entrance to Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church which I had never noticed before during any of our previous visits to the area. What I noticed over the entrance to the church was an image of Mary surrounded by the Latin words, “Ad Jesum per Mariam” which is translated, “To Jesus through Mary.” So ingrained in Catholic theology is the worship of Mary!

Let us also not forget that the Church of Rome teaches that Mary precedes Jesus in the order of salvation. What else would the saying, “Ad Jesum per Mariam” infer? I wonder how many practicing Catholics realize that their Church teaches this error.

In addition, Catholic doctrine places Mary as the Mother of the Church7 and since she was without sin, she holds the office of advocate for sinners seeking forgiveness from Jesus as there is no salvation (forgiveness) outside of the Church.8 According to Catholic doctrine, one must receive the sacraments administered by the Church in order to be saved. Since the sacraments can only be administered by the Church, which is Christ’s instrument on earth, there can be no salvation outside of the Church.

Philip C. L. Gray, from a reprint of his Lay Witness article, puts an interesting spin on this no salvation outside of the Church doctrine claiming that this teaching doesn’t necessarily apply to those who through no fault of their own, were never offered the truth, that being the Gospel.9 For the most part, Gray quotes the appropriate Scripture verses to make his point along with examples of Old Testament saints who were not baptized yet were saved. He explains this situation with a quote from the Catechism, “God has bound salvation to the Sacrament of Baptism, but He Himself is not bound by His sacraments.”10 In other words, God has given, to the Church, unnecessary and non-binding commands. Of course, it is no surprise that the Church teaches that those who willingly reject the authority of the Church of Rome, the Pope, and the sacraments are lost.11

Getting back to my discussion on Mary, if, as the Church believes, Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium are co-dependent and co-equal, you would expect that one wouldn’t contradict any of the others but that is not the case. How is it that both Tradition and Magisterium are in contradiction with Scripture concerning “Ad Jesum per Mariam” as illustrated by the following verse:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (1 John 2:1)

Let’s see how this would work; Mary advocates for sinners with Jesus, then Jesus advocates for Mary with the Father? Since Mary is the Mother of God and the Father is God, and Jesus is God, then Mary is really the one dispensing salvation to the Church. This may make sense in Rome but nowhere else. Interestingly, if Mary is as indispensable for the economy of salvation as the Church of Rome contends, then why is her name only mentioned once in the Book of Acts?

Coincidentally, or perhaps by design, the Church of Rome consists of an earthly trinity: Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium. However, the notion of a trinity is not unique to Christianity. You can find many instances of trinitarianism in the belief system of Hinduism and the Celtics in particular. Alexander Hislop, in his book The Two Babylons, points out that the worship of the first person of the Hindu Trinity, Brahma, is almost never worshiped, even in India.12 He goes on to say that even in Europe, the worship of a Father God, first person of the Christian Trinity, has been replaced with the worship of the Mother and Child.13 Hislop’s contention is that the Catholic images of the Virgin Mary holding her child originated in ancient Babylon, “The Babylonians, in their popular religion, supremely worshipped a Goddess Mother and a Son, who was represented in pictures and in images as an infant or child in his mother’s arms.”14

Just as Hislop’s premise that the Mother and Son originated in Babylon, he also claims that the statues of Peter, who is claimed to be the first Pope, which are found in Rome are really statues of the Roman god Jupiter; and likewise, Peter’s keys15 are those of the Roman god and goddess Janus and Cybele.16

Hislop’s book, The Two Babylons, is probably one of or the most thoroughly researched book on the subject of the origins of the Catholic belief system. I challenge anyone to dispute Hislop’s academic rigor, though many will certainly dispute his findings, but not on the merits of his arguments.

This concludes my discussion on Catholicism as it relates to the GOD & the Gods series. I plan another writing on the Church of Rome by evaluating some books written by Catholic apologists which will hopefully provide the opportunity for me to expand on the Apostolic Succession doctrine and the Magisterium. In addition, I plan to examine the history and beliefs of the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) headquartered in Scranton, PA. I doubt many people have ever heard of this church but nevertheless I believe it deserves consideration.

©2013-2024 Gerard Sczepura. All rights reserved.

  1. Gerard Sczepura, “GOD & the Gods: LaVeyan Satanism,” Theological Ruminations (blog), February 17, 2019, https://gerardsczepura.com/god-the-gods-laveyan-satanism/

  2. U. S. Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Complete and Updated, (Image, New York, 1995), 34. 

  3. Ibid., 36. 

  4. Ibid., 139. 

  5. Ibid., 138. 

  6. Ibid., 140. 

  7. Ibid., 273. 

  8. Ibid., 244. 

  9. “Without the Church There Is No Salvation,” Philip C. L. Gray, Catholic Education Resource Center, accessed April 1, 2019, https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/apologetics/without-the-church-there-is-no-salvation.html

  10. Ibid. 

  11. Ibid. 

  12. Hislop, Alexander. The Two Babylons or The Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and his Wife (p. 18). Kindle Edition. 

  13. Ibid. 

  14. Ibid. 

  15. U. S. Catholic Church, Catechism, 178-179. 

  16. Hislop, The Two Babylons, 188. 

GOD & the Gods: LaVeyan Satanism

The decade of the ‘60s was a turbulent and transitional time particularly in the U.S. It was the decade when the culture in America was irreversibly changed, and I would argue…for the worse.

During this period, the attacks on America were unprecedented for the time: Cuban Missile Crisis, Assassinations, Tet Offensive, Race Riots, and Hippies along with the Haight-Ashbury Counterculture Movement. How is it that we survived all these assaults…or did we? Looking back from today’s perspective you could say that we are reaping what was sown back in the 1960s—what goes around, comes around.

Of course, there was some turbulence in the film industry as well since movies are an integral component of the culture. Notably, the untimely deaths of two of Hollywood’s most notorious sex symbols, Marilyn Monroe by overdose on August 5, 1962 and Jayne Mansfield by car accident on June 29, 1967.

While it may have been the worst of times in many respects, it was the best of times for music. The British Music Invasion gave us the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals and many others. It was also the decade when three of the best double albums ever recorded (or ever will be recorded) were released, Cream’s Wheels of Fire, Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, and the Beatles’ White Album.

Alas, the decade did not go out quietly. On July 20, 1969, the United States landed a man on the Moon; on August 8–9, 1969 members of the Manson Family committed the Tate-LaBianca murders; and finally, on August 15–18, 1969, the Woodstock Music Festival was held on a farm in the New York Catskills which attracted an audience of over 400,000 to hear 32 outdoor acts perform.

Through all the turmoil of the 1960s, there was one event that occurred around mid-point of the decade that instigated a media frenzy but is mostly forgotten today, and that event was when Anton Szandor LaVey founded the Church of Satan on April 30, 1966 in San Francisco, CA. “Anton declared 1966 Year One, Anno Satanas—the first year of the reign of Satan.”1

For those who weren’t caught up in all of the Church of Satan’s outlandish occult symbolism, it was clear to them from the start that LaVey denied the existence of a literal Satan. It’s Interesting that the Church of Satan repudiates their own organization’s namesake. I wonder how Satan really feels about that. Oh, I forgot…he doesn’t exist, he’s just an archetype.2

LaVeyan Satanism is not your daddy’s Satanism notwithstanding all the occultic symbolism that is so stubbornly associated with the Church of Satan and its adherents, primarily a result of LaVey’s cartoonish devil shtick.

Legitimate Satanists, as LaVeyan Satanists like to be called, are atheists, that is, not believing in either God or the Devil. The Church of Satan is a purely secular religion that rejects the supernatural. On the other hand, for a religion that eschews the supernatural, LaVey and other Church of Satan members made liberal use of religious terms such as “unholy,” “infernal,” “devilish,” and “sinister” in their literature. LaVey complained that people accused his religion as Devil worship yet he used every trick in the book to appear as a literal Satan worshiper, at least on the surface.

People identify with labels, so what label can we put on this Legitimate Satanist doctrine? I believe the appropriate label is “cultural liberalism,” that is, the view that individuals are freed from cultural norms. In other words, “You can go your own way.”3 LaVey’s genius was in the way he codified the “Do your own thing” philosophy into a pseudo-religion.

LaVeyan Satanists take cultural liberalism even further by not only rejecting cultural norms, but by creating their own reality by rejecting concepts of good and evil which are derived from any particular moral code and by redefining concepts of right and wrong.4 And according to Nikolas Schreck, black magician and founder of the Werewolf Order of Satanism, who, along with Zeena, in their interview with Bob Larson, declared that “Humanism is not Satanism” and that Humanism and Christianity are the same thing—he calls both “evil.”5 It’s interesting that Schreck was quick to deny the existence of good and evil, but had no trouble calling Christianity evil, all in the same interview!

During the Bob Larson interview, the subject of revenge was discussed. Zeena gave a classic explanation of why Satanists don’t believe in turning the other cheek, she said it’s because “You keep turning the other cheek, you run out of cheeks.”6 I’m always amazed when unbelievers take a literal interpretation of Scripture instead of their usual figurative approach. If you read Luke 6:29 and the following verses in context, you can easily interpret the command to offer the other cheek as not being literal but figurative. I believe the verse in question is how Christians should respond when they are being taken advantage of by someone, which is not the same as self-defense. The verses clearly speak against the wronged person trying “to get even.” To illustrate, it was self-defense when the allies fought against the Germans in World War I, but the terms of the 11/11/1918 Armistice imposed upon Germany was revenge.

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. (Rom. 12:19 NASB)

I must have watched the nineteen eighty-nine Bob Larson interview with Zeena LaVey and Nikolas Schreck at least a half dozen times and I was a little disappointed that Larson was so slow to catch on to essence of LaVeyan Satanism. Both Zeena and Nikolas easily dodged every bullet that Larson fired at them. Larson was defending his position based on biblical absolutes whereas, Zeena and Nikolas defended the Church of Satan’s viewpoints based on relativism.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor. 1:18)

One of the last zingers that Nikolas Schreck fired at Bob Larson was his pronouncement that “Everything in the Bible drips with morbidity and death.”7 This is a common criticism that has influenced popular culture. For example, consider the sharp contrast between believers and non-believers, and between sinners and saints in the Billy Joel song “Only the Good Die Young” where Billy Joel proclaims in a line from the song, “The sinners are much more fun…”8 Undeniably, the lyrics of Joel’s song, whether intentional or unintentional, pay homage to LaVey’s brand of Satanism.

So, if you remove the supernatural element from Satanism, as LaVey had done, can LaVeyan Satanists continue to legitimately call themselves Satanists? Well, the answer is yes and no, depending on whether or not you believe it is legitimate to call upon someone’s name whose very existence you deny, that would be delusional, but that is exactly what LaVey and his followers have done.

On the other hand, you could say that Anton LaVey was the ultimate Satanist since he vehemently hated God as he so clearly and fearlessly stated in his book, Satan Speaks! I won’t repeat the worst of what he said in his book here, but he accuses God of being unjust and a rewarder of those who are “rotten.”9

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isa. 5:20)

It’s well known that Anton LaVey was critical of Christians and Christianity since he believed Christians were for the most part hypocrites; a belief he held since the time he observed his friend’s Sunday School teacher frolicking at Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch one night, an incident which he referred to as his “Satanic epiphany.”10 LaVey reasoned that since the followers of Christ can be hypocritical then God is necessarily hypocritical as well. Doesn’t this sound exactly like the classic case of man projecting his own attributes on God?

Satan opposes God, Anton LaVey did the same. Satan accuses God’s people, Anton LaVey did the same. Satan hates God, Anton LaVey hated God also. So, was Anton LaVey accurate in calling himself a Satanist? Based on LaVey’s virulent opposition to God and Christianity, most reasonable people would have to say, “Yes!”

Anton LaVey, the man, in private life was not the monstrously evil denizen of San Francisco’s Black House as most people would think. In fact, according to descriptions of LaVey as presented in Barton’s biography, LaVey was what we would describe as merely being different or individualistic or as LaVey has said, “supernormal.”11 Contrary to his outrageous public image, LaVey was an introvert—a private person who preferred material things and animals over people,12 which kind of reminds me of the imagery found in the lyrics of the Pearl Jam song, “Jeremy.”

Anton had a nostalgic bent—an aversion to modernity if you will; he realized the value found in things lost and forgotten. As he said, “It’s our past that makes us unique.”13 He believed that magic was doing something in isolation or out of the mainstream—something unique. The power of exclusivity is where the power of magic resides.14 Obviously, Anton’s view on exclusivity was the basis for his belief that Satanism is a religion for the elites instead of for the masses.

While LaVey wouldn’t be considered in alignment with the today’s radical, leftist political views, he did believe in eugenics and natural selection15 or “thinning the herd.” Also, along those same lines, he opposed society’s rewarding of mediocrity, that is, society and its institutions appealing to the “lowest common denominator” instead of the highest.16

Anton LaVey was an enigma. He liked cars, guns,17 and rare red meat.18 He wasn’t a fan of rock music.19 Surprisingly, he was a lifelong “strict law-and-order man.”20 Anton was also against what we would call today, the “herd mentality”21 a doctrine totally embraced by Hollywood, academia and the media elites. You could almost ascribe many of his non-religious preferences to those of a traditional conservative rather than someone firmly on the Left-Hand Path (LHP).

Nevertheless, he embraced most of the tenants of the LHP such as individualism, relativism, and subjectivism. But his true claim to the LHP was his fierce opposition to conventional religious doctrines and beliefs. He didn’t achieve the title of High Priest of the Church of Satan for nothing.

Left-handed people have historically been considered inferior and evil since etymologically the words “left” and “sinister” are related.22 The left is evil and wrong whereas the right is moral and correct. I suppose that’s how Left-wing political parties acquired the label.

For the record, I’m left-handed and I experienced ill-treatment and prejudice regularly in elementary school and beyond while growing up in a predominantly Catholic town—old beliefs die hard. I remember when my parents, on one occasion, were told by my teacher(s) that I should be encouraged to switch handedness since it’s a well-known fact that left-handed people are “in league with the Devil” and no one wants to associate with that kind of person. Besides, being different is the worst thing that could happen to you in school—you just don’t fit in. I wonder if Anton was left-handed.

Anton LaVey fell prey to the one common objection to Christianity that atheists use to discredit God and that is, “How can a loving God allow suffering?” The atheists also expand their objection by substituting “suffering” with “evil,” “calamities” or “natural disasters.” In their view, the reason is that God is either incompetent, uncaring or both. What the atheists, and those in the social gospel camp, forget or refuse to acknowledge is that God is also holy. Man[kind] was placed in the Garden of Eden and commanded what and what not to eat. Adam, as the representative of the human race, decided to disobey God’s command so he incurred God’s judgement which is the curse. The curse was upon Adam and Eve, all their descendants, but also upon the natural world. Anton’s accusations against God were misinformed.

Anton believed he was getting a better deal with Satan, who he didn’t believe actually exists. But did his devotion to Satan provide the rewards he was expecting? I think not based on the following events:

  • Anton was only 67 years old when he died
  • Zeena and Diane (his longtime partner) betrayed him
  • He was forced to sell off his prized collections
  • He was forced into bankruptcy
  • His will was contested
  • Zeena and Karla (older daughter) ransacked the Black House
  • The Black House was eventually torn down

The Church of Satan’s administrative office has since moved from San Francisco to Poughkeepsie, NY at POB 666. Peter H. Gilmore is the High Priest. The church has a website resembling the convergence of the opening credits to an old Hollywood movie and the LaVeyan devil shtick.

Lastly, there is a danger in invoking the name or names of spiritual beings, even if it is done in ignorance. Satan exists and it is possible that Anton was truly beset by an evil spirit along with those closest to him. Refer to 1 Sam. 18:10 where God sends an evil spirit to torment Saul. Dabbling in magic and satanic rituals as Anton LaVey had done may have resulted in some unintended consequences:

Was it just coincidence that both Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield, who were involved with LaVey to varying degrees, died tragically?

Or was it a coincidence that Susan Atkins, who once worked as one of the girls at LaVey’s nightspot in San Francisco would later go on to become one of the Manson Family members who committed the Tate-LaBianca murders?

Again, was it just coincidence that Sharon Tate, at the time of her death, was married to film director Roman Polanski who directed and wrote the screenplay for Rosemary’s Baby, a film about the occult, real Satanism, and witchcraft? The movie was filmed on location at the Dakota apartment building in New York City where John Lennon lived and was shot.

Finally, was it merely coincidence that in the Rosemary’s Baby film the character Roman Castevet, the warlock/coven-leader, exclaims, “Nineteen sixty-six, the Year One!” during a New Year’s Eve gathering in his apartment, echoing almost verbatim what LaVey declared when he founded the Church of Satan.

Theologically speaking, Anton LaVey was the ultimate natural man (1 Cor. 2:14) who lived what he preached apparently right up until his death. He was a man who possessed many worldly talents and was ingenious enough to appropriate the spiritual into an extreme atheistic and carnal belief system.

©2013-2024 Gerard Sczepura. All rights reserved.

  1. Barton, Blanche, The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton Szandor LaVey (p. 76), Feral House, Kindle Edition. 

  2. Bob Larson. Satanism, “Interview with the Daughter of Anton LaVey,” Filmed 1989(?), YouTube video, 1:26:02, Accessed December 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=didlhvI-9yY

  3. Fleetwood Mac, “Go Your Own Way,” Rumors, 1977, Accessed December 30, 2018, https://genius.com/albums/Fleetwood-mac/Rumours

  4. Larson, Interview with the Daughter of Anton LaVey

  5. Ibid. 

  6. Ibid. 

  7. Ibid. 

  8. Billy Joel, “Only the Good Die Young,” The Stranger, 1977, Accessed January 13, 2019, https://genius.com/Billy-joel-only-the-good-die-young-lyrics

  9. LaVey, Anton Szandor, Satan Speaks!, (Port Townsend, Feral House, 1998), 1. 

  10. Barton, Secret Life of a Satanist, 23. 

  11. LaVey, Satan Speaks!, 33. 

  12. Barton, Secret Life of a Satanist, 120-122. 

  13. Ibid., 121-123. 

  14. Ibid., 120. 

  15. Ibid., 160. 

  16. Ibid., 231. 

  17. Ibid., 253. 

  18. Ibid., 129. 

  19. Ibid., 133. 

  20. Ibid., 117. 

  21. Ibid., 232. 

  22. “What are ‘Left Hand Path’ Religions?,” Vexen Crabtree, The Human Truth Foundation, November 28, 2016, http://www.dpjs.co.uk/lefthandpath.html

GOD & the Gods: Hinduism

Swami Achuthananda in his book, Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism, writes that in order to understand or appreciate Hinduism, an individual must necessarily also understand Indian culture.

In India, the religion is the culture and the culture is the religion. You cannot learn one without understanding the other.1

In the 1960s, the Beatles brought an awareness of Indian culture to those in the West through their involvement with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Transcendental Meditation. Naturally, the mode by which the Beatles expressed their exposure to Indian culture was through their music, specifically through George Harrison’s sitar playing, notably on the song, “Norwegian Wood” and others. At the time, George Harrison took a few lessons from the classical sitar master, Ravi Shankar, but would later abandon the instrument. In today’s culture, Harrison probably would have been accused of “cultural appropriation” because of his blending of Indian music with Western pop music and without having taken the “proper” approach to his studies.

As it happens, Indian music was the topic of my high school senior essay. I wanted a topic that was different, and it was. Probably too different since, if I recall correctly, my English teacher dissed it.

Unless one has had the opportunity to actually travel to India, most of us in the U.S. tend to get our exposure to Indian culture, and other far away cultures, through the media, namely movies. Accordingly, I’ve provided a short list of movies that I believe provide a glimpse into Indian culture:

  • The Rains Came, 1939
  • Gunga Din, 1939
  • The Man Who Would be King, 1975
  • Gandhi, 1982
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 2011

The Rains Came is a story that takes place in 1938 Ranchipur, India during the time of British rule. As most would expect, in the opening sequence there are monkeys surrounding a group of men playing instruments (a sitar is being played in another scene) near the grounds of an English family’s home. There are also many scenes of cows roaming the streets unencumbered. The Western view is that cows are sacred in India. Also, nearby an English residence is a statue of Queen Victoria symbolizing British rule. Considering the movie was released in 1939, you never saw anyone sweat even though many characters were complaining of the heat. There was only one scene near the end where Myrna Loy’s character was seen sweating. Throughout the film, there is an undercurrent of British arrogance and contempt towards the Indians and an understated sense of Indian resentment towards the British. In today’s culture we would say the British were guilty of “white privilege.” The film also portrays a high-ranking Indian welcoming his guests with the Namaste—the Indian equivalent of a handshake. In another scene, an apparent Hindu is chanting the word OM while the floods were raging in an attempt to appease a deity or deities since tradition held that catastrophes were caused by God.

Gunga Din is a story set in 1880 British controlled India. The film opens in Tantrapur where members of a Thuggee Cult are cutting telegraph lines leading into the village in preparation for their attack. The landscape including and surrounding the town is mountainous, desolate, and generally inhospitable. Members of the Thuggee Cult, a Hindu sect, are seen calling upon their goddess Kali for help when they are captured by a British patrol who arrived at the village. The Thuggee method of killing is by ritualistic strangulation. Towards the end of the film, two British soldiers and Gunga Din are captured in the Thuggee temple while trying to rescue one of their fellow soldiers who was previously taken. The leader of the cult or Guru as he is referred to in the film, encourages his followers to “Kill! Kill! Kill!” for the love of Kali. As everyone is probably familiar with the story, in the end it was the water boy, Gunga Din—a wannabe soldier, who saves the regiment from certain annihilation by the cult.

The Man Who Would be King is a story taking place in and around Marwar Junction, India. In the opening scenes we see a crowded, hectic marketplace. Camels are ubiquitous. Snake charmers and scorpion tempters are performing in the streets, very occultic. The countryside as viewed from the train scenes travelling from Lahore to Jaipur appears hot, dusty, desolate, and foreboding. The film very explicitly attempts to tie in the Masonic Order with the history and culture of India. References to the theoretical origins of Freemasonry with the builders of Solomon’s Temple are made early on in the film. Our two protagonists in the film attempt to dupe the inhabitants of Kafiristan by one of them pretending to be an incarnation of the Great Architect of the Universe. Initially, the Kafiristan inhabitants fall for this deception due to their recognition of the Square and Compass Masonic symbol. However, our protagonists’ deception is short-lived—the story doesn’t end well for them.

Gandhi begins by showing his assassination by Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a Hindu nationalist, in Delhi. Interestingly, the film doesn’t provide an insight into the motives of Godse, it only shows the assassin’s apparent hatred of Gandhi. After Gandhi returns to India from South Africa, he begins his transformation into the non-violent, Indian Independence leader he is remembered as today. Gandhi’s British resistance movement is best described as civil disobedience. Along the way we see squalor in Bombay, overcrowded train cars, and the occasional camel. The film portrays the British in the worst possible way. At one point, the importation of British clothing into India is blamed for the poverty in the country. Sitar music is played throughout the film along with everyone greeting one another with the Namaste gesture. The issue of the adherence to Indian Untouchable caste is seen when Gandhi’s wife refuses to perform duties that are normally assigned to an Untouchable. The film frequently exposes the underlying current of mistrust between different religious groups in India, particularly between Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi’s philosophy isn’t portrayed as specifically Hindu, because at one point he declares that he is a Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Jew—Gandhi is in favor of Hindu-Muslim unity. The film points out that both the ‘Gitas’ and the Koran were used during worship in Gandhi’s temple. Nevertheless, when India is granted independence from Britain, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is established.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom primarily takes place in the fictitious Pankot Palace but most likely takes place in Rajasthan, India in 1935. Everyone knows the story, Indiana Jones arrives at a remote village where the inhabitants claim that the Hindu god Shiva brought him and his companions to their village so that he [Indiana] could retrieve a Shankara stone that was removed from the village by an evil cult residing in nearby Pankot Palace. As it turns out, the evil cult is none other than anti-British Thuggee worshippers of the Hindu goddess Kali who were thought to have been eradicated long ago. Many strange un-Indian practices are portrayed in the film including the eating of snakes, beetles, and monkey brains. In addition, the worship of Kali consisted of some very occultic practices including “voodoo” inferences. In the final scenes, after saving the village from the “evil” Thugee cult, the characters Indiana Jones, Willie Scott, and Short Round greet the village chieftain with an authentic Hindu Namaste.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a story about a group of retired dysfunctional British citizens who decide to spend their retirement in India at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The film explores and, for the most part, normalizes the outsourcing of jobs to India. The movie opens with the character Evelyn talking on the phone with a support center obviously located in India. The theme of British racism is portrayed by the character Muriel who is advised by her British doctor of Indian descent that she could have her hip replacement surgery done sooner and cheaper if she decided to have it done at a hospital in Jaipur. After the group leaves the airport in India, they are overwhelmed by the apparent chaos, noise, and crowds of people. Camels and elephants are seen roaming the streets while buses made by Tata weave in and out of traffic. The buses are overcrowded and the heat seemingly intolerable. Muriel eventually befriends a hotel maid who is an Untouchable, a person of the lowest caste in India. The character Graham is gay. He confesses to Evelyn that long ago he disgraced Manoj, his former gay partner, and Manoj’s entire family when their relationship was discovered. When Graham dies, Manoj gives him a proper Hindu funeral by cremation and then spreading his ashes in a nearby lake. At one point in the film, Evelyn experiences the infamous Indian headshake. Also, prominently displayed near the hotel’s reception desk is a large photograph of the hotel’s owner, Sonny Kapoor, in a Namaste pose.

Figure 1. Moti Jhula (Krishna)

Unlike most other installments in this GOD & the Gods series, Hinduism is not considered to be a mythological belief system as is the case with the Norse and Celts. Hinduism is also not believed to be a polytheistic religion as is commonly perceived by those in the West or those outside the religion, but it is believed to be henotheistic. Hinduism, like the three other major mainstream religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, all believe in a supreme deity. Hinduism is also recognized as the oldest religion in the world, possibly older than Zoroastrianism.2

However, unlike Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Hinduism embraces other significant distinctions in that it has no known founder, no single scripture, and was never under any obligation to a particular dogma.3 Nevertheless, Hindus do believe in three specific doctrines: Karma, Predestination, and Reincarnation.

Along with Swami Achuthananda, Swami Bhaskarananda also believes that Hinduism is henotheistic, that is, a belief in one god without denying the existence of others.4 On the other hand, viewed from a Christian point of view, Swami Achuthananda appears to be in error when he says in one place that “the learned ones call Hinduism a henotheistic religion” and later on implies that Hinduism accepts many paths to God.5 Is he confusing many paths with many gods? Probably not since the Hindu understanding of the term “gods” is different from what is believed in Christianity or in the West. It’s also reasonable to question how Hinduism can be considered monotheistic if the belief in many gods exist? Again, it all boils down to how you define the term “gods.”

I concede that Hinduism accepts that there can be many approaches or paths to understanding God, but the final destination is the one true God, not the many gods. And for Hindus, that “One and Only God”6 is Brahman.

Contrary to what is understood in Christianity, Brahman is not a person but a “single primordial and extremely abstract principle designated THAT.”7 This principle is beyond human comprehension and unknowable by ordinary humans and has evolved into what is now known as Brahman.

The concept of Brahman or the One has always existed, even before anything was created!8 If Brahman is an abstract principle beyond human comprehension, then how is it that this concept has come to be known? The answer is by divine revelation recorded in the Vedic texts.9

Before creation, God (Brahman) existed. The Hindus refer to God in this pre-creation transcendental state of existence as Nirguna Brahman. Nirguna Brahman is not a person and does not possess attributes such as being male or female which explains why the neuter pronoun “That” is used.10 Nevertheless, Nirguna Brahman does possess the non-personal attributes of being infinite, changeless, unfathomable, and indescribable, as well as transcending time and space.11

How is it then that Hindus worship something that is unknowable and impersonal as Nirguna Brahman? Well the answer is simple, yet somewhat difficult to arrive at, and that is by human characteristics being projected on the impersonal infinite Nirguna Brahman by its finite votaries. Through this process, the impersonal becomes personal, Nirguna Brahman becomes Personal Brahman or Personal God.12

Hindus refer to this Personal God as Saguna Brahman or Ishvara. If Ishvara is the one personal God, why so many other gods? Well, the other gods aren’t other gods at all, they are merely different aspects or facets of the one God. Surprisingly, Hinduism has its own version of the Trinity13 which comprise the three fundamental aspects: creator, preserver, and destroyer and are given the names: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva respectively.

Figure 2. Ganesha

Anyone trying to understand the Hindu concept of God who has just a passing interest in Christianity will be immediately struck by the apparent similarities between the two religions. However, despite the similarities, there are many significant differences that seekers of God should be aware of.

The first difference is that the God of the Bible is personal…very personal. While the Hindu concept of Brahman and its derivative Nirguna Brahman is an abstract principle being neither male nor female and referred to as “That,” GOD declares his name in Exodus as “I AM WHO I AM.” (For a more detailed discussion on the name of God, see my “One God” blog post.) GOD is a person possessing personal attributes: goodness, benevolence, mercy, love, holiness, righteousness, and justice along with some other controversial attributes:

Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau… (Mal. 1:2-3 NASB)

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deut. 4:24)

Note that the Hindu Trinity is economical (create, preserve, destroy) as is the biblical Trinity. However, in the biblical Trinity, the Father, Son, and Spirit are all persons but are economically subordinate meaning they each operate distinctly yet are all equally GOD. The Father initiates, the Son accomplishes, and the Spirit applies.

The second difference is that Christianity, unlike Hinduism, is dogmatic. In order to be considered a Christian, a person must believe that: The Bible is the living Word of GOD; Jesus is GOD incarnate being both GOD and man; and GOD exists in three persons. As I’ve said in another place, “The Bible is the living Word of God, but it isn’t a living document.”

The third major difference is that all paths don’t lead to GOD. Since Hinduism is non-dogmatic, all religions are basically equivalent in that the votaries of each religion can create God in their own image. As expected, the Bible says otherwise:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.
For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:13-14)

I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images. (Isa. 42:8)

In Genesis, it says “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen. 1:27) In Hinduism, God is created in man’s image.

Now, how do the three Hindu doctrines compare to biblical doctrines? To partially answer that question, I refer the reader to my blog post on “Free Will or Destiny.” That blog post takes care of karma and predestination, so that leaves us with the doctrine of reincarnation.

Swami Bhaskarananda writes that there are two reasons for a soul to be reincarnated, one is to satisfy unfulfilled desires, and the second is to achieve a higher-level of spirituality; and interestingly he writes that the departed soul is the one who initiates the reincarnation, not God!14 Sounds like a similar doctrine espoused in verses from a famously arrogant and rebellious poem, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”15

Hinduism is also no stranger to the belief in the evolution of species and the transmigration of souls. Swami Bhaskarananda notes that it is also possible in exceptional circumstances for a soul to be reincarnated in some sub-human species.16 I suppose this aspect of the doctrine is the reason why the character Dr. Vijay Alezais in the film Wolf tells the character Will Randall that his being bitten by a wolf at a time when the moon was closest to the earth in 100 years was auspicious,17 meaning a sign of future success. Dr. Alezais believes Will Randall’s condition to be a gift to be desired and not evil or something to be despised. Dr. Alezais also confesses that damnation is not part of his belief system18 which is consistent with Hinduism.

I’ll close the discussion with two biblical references concerning the impossibility of reincarnation and the certainty of judgement and damnation.

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment… (Heb. 9:27)

‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us. (Luke 16:26)


©2013-2024 Gerard Sczepura. All rights reserved.

  1. Swami Achuthananda, Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism, (North Charleston, SC: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013), 1. 

  2. Swami Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism: A Comprehensive Overview of the World’s Oldest Religion, (Seattle, Viking Press, 2002), 1. 

  3. Achuthananda, Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism, 98. 

  4. Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, 65. 

  5. Achuthananda, Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism, 61. 

  6. Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, 65. 

  7. Ibid. 

  8. Ibid., 66. 

  9. Ibid., 65. 

  10. Ibid., 68. 

  11. Ibid., 66. 

  12. Ibid., 69. 

  13. Swami Harshananda, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, 2nd ed., (Mylapore, Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1982), 4. 

  14. Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, 94. 

  15. “Invictus,” William Ernest Henley, Poetry Foundation, accessed December 02, 2018, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/51642/invictus

  16. Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, 95. 

  17. Harrison, Jim, Wesley Strick. Wolf. Blu-ray. Directed by: Mike Nichols. Culver City: Columbia, 1994. 

  18. Ibid.