Saturday, October 16, 2010

Loki is not a joke, and he is not the devil

Someone sent me this by email. They've given me permission to publish it anonymously:

1) Another weird (fake) religion that reminds me of the flying spaghetti monster is The humor is more dry, I actually had to ask "is this a joke?" when I first saw it. Which, to me, makes it a more humorous one.

2) The other thing that I thought of is that Anton LaVey's brand of Satanism and probably many other "new age" religious practices might already satisfy quite a few of your qualifications. From what I remember LaVey's goal with Satanism was to give people rituals and faith, but one which didn't allow for belief in a deity. It seems like he had some of the same goals you do, namely finding a replacement for religions like Christianity that would throw out the things he saw as bad about them (such as belief in deities) without throwing out what he saw as the benefits of organized religion (such as ritual, community, comfort, etc.).

I chose to email rather than comment because I felt weird about bringing up Satanism in a more public forum. I'm not a Satanist, but I have read a little about it. I that also means that I may not have the most accurate understanding of it. Anyway, it just seemed like the conversation was mostly concerned with the really huge religions of the world and I'd be interested in how it applies to some of the more fringe groups. Even things like Scientology which is another very deliberately designed religion.

This was my response:

The problem with joke religions is that they are jokes. And the problem with satanism is that it evokes an even more negative visceral reaction in people than atheism.

The cool thing about Loki is that religious people wouldn't really know what to make of him. He's a "real" (Norse) god, so he's not a joke. He's obscure enough that he doesn't come with baggage like satan does. (The mere fact that you felt the need to make this communication private is an indication of just how much baggage satan has.) And he has an actual constructive message: be skeptical, because I might be playing a trick on you.

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