In the News: Westboro, Paris, Haiti, and Beyond!

A round-up of the week’s religion news. Continue Reading →

In the News: Bernie, Bagels, Buddahs, and more!

A round-up of the week’s religion news. Continue Reading →

Enter the Dragon: How Al Gore, the U.N., Earth First!, and an Episcopalian Bishop are All in Cahoots… with Satan

by Jack Downey

In 1964, Richard Hofstadter published a rather enduring essay in Harper’s Magazine that succeeded, if nothing else, in accomplishing what most (egomaniacal) writers only fantasize about: he coined a new phrase that had legs, and has proved a valuable addition to our intellectual lexicon.1 “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” investigated the social psychology behind the contemporary rise of the anti-intellectual “Radical Right,” and witnessed profound similarities between his allegedly secular subjects – although the distinction is not as clean as he seems to hope (especially in his treatment of anti-Catholicism) – and Christian millenarianism:

I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind…2 The distinguishing thing about the paranoid style is not that its exponents see conspiracies or plots here and there in history, but that they regards a “vast” or “gigantic” conspiracy as the motive force in historical events.

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Satan: Literarily and Literally

Two stories, a song and a link:  For years I’ve been dabbling with a series of short stories about Satan.  In my drafts I call him Coldcheek.  He’s a dapper guy who only comes out at night, grudgingly enjoys his job of ushering souls to the next world with a kiss, is immortal (of course) and smells of gardenias.  He can travel through space (quickly) but not time. He’s got a clap-trap memory and he can delay your death but not forever.  And, as with most immortals, he’s incredibly patient (and very good in bed).

It’s nothing new, really.  Everybody from Flaubert to Pushkin, from Hawthorne to Ibsen has featured Satan as a character in their works.  Recently Saramago did it (and deliciously called him Pastor).  My friend Steve Moramarco and his band Hill of Beans did it for the rousing song, “Satan, Lend Me a Dollar.” Continue Reading →