- Religion and Philosophy
True Crime: God Fraud
Once I wrote an article on the occult for a publication I worked for, and as part of my research I decided to visit a New Age bookstore. As a result of that, and more recent experiences, I have learned five important things about the occult. They are:
- The occult can crack you up
- The occult makes other people suspect you’re on crack
- The occult makes you think crackheads are sexy
- The occult can be more dangerous than crack;
- The occult is all it’s cracked up to be.
I will explain:
1. The occult can crack you up
The New Age bookstore I visited was a small, secretive establishment whose windows were covered over -- I suspect because the sight of customers browsing in floor-length black robes might have startled passers-by. Or possibly because the heavy smoke might not have been incense, in spite of assurances to that effect from the excessively mellow cashier. For this and other reasons, the New Age bookstore scored pretty high on my wack-o-meter.
I could just hear my grandmother shrieking “heathens!” as black-robed witches (yes, floor-length, black robes) browsed spell-casting magazines. I picked one up out of curiosity: the spells were somewhat like recipes (just not as happy as grandma’s – mostly they were about cursing love rivals or making somebody puke up their lunch.) Plus, lots about fertility goddesses, their purported powers, and attendant rituals. I will not elaborate.
So there I was, browsing the magazines, learning what ancient Babylonian goddesses, or Druid incantations, or aura balancing, could do for me. It boiled down to: “Try anything! It doesn’t matter what – all of them are paths to Power! Tap into your Power! Feeeeellll your supernatural Power!”
I was tempted, after reading them, to believe I could fly like Wonder Woman.
And as I stood there reading, considering what my article should say, slowly something dawned on me about the occult, something fundamental: Why – the occult isn’t really about ritual orgies or human sacrifice or becoming a vampire (though these were certainly favorites). No, it’s lust for power, pure and simple!
Yes, stupid lust! Way, way-over-the-top, Genghis Khan, global domination lust! It wasn’t enough to see the future or contact the dead or make some unsuspecting slob your love slave. No, you had to go for the gusto!
Because when I looked up from my magazine, there on the store bulletin board was a flyer that cut right to the chase. “Take our Avatar Course,” it trumpeted, “and at the end of 10 days we’ll declare you a god!” (For only $2,000, which was a deal when you considered that most people lusting for godlike power had to wait much longer than 10 days to get it.)
Yes, godlike power! Amaze your friends!
Now I have every faith that the thieves of the world are diligent and creative. But I defy them all to concoct a more ridiculous scam than the “10-day godhood course.” It will be Number One until the crack of doom. And I will always regret not calling the number on that flyer. I could’ve had some real fun with those people.
As it was, I laughed out loud, even though I was in the middle of a room full of witches who could’ve read my mind and cursed me.
2. The occult makes other people suspect you’re on crack
When it was finished, the article I wrote could be distilled down to this: Occult bad. Occult make stupid. The first day it appeared in print one of my co-workers came to argue with me because --
“You say it’s wrong to worship the devil!”
I admitted that was true, and suggested that the Bible frowned on devil worship. Even this, however, he disputed.
“The Bible says it’s okay to worship the devil!”
I assured him that it did not, and offered to eat any part of it that he could produce to support that idea. He went away to search, and I beat my head on the desk for awhile.
3. The occult makes you think crackheads are sexy
Since visiting the New Age bookstore, I notice that occult-inspired books have grown and multiplied. Lots of romances these days are supernatural porn, usually involving vampires. They have lurid covers depicting women getting their necks bitten by lean, mysterious men. The most popular young-adult book in the country is about a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire.
The only trouble is, there’s no such thing as a vampire. So if you want a vampire, you’ll have to find some real-world approximation. Some wild-eyed, wormy-looking guy who’s filed his teeth down to points. I saw several such men at the New Age bookstore.
Of course, they were crackheads.
4. The occult can be more dangerous than crack
Not far from my home there lives a woman who works out of her house as a palm reader. Every time I drive by I stare at her house, not just because it’s pink and bat-ugly, but because the police found a body buried in her backyard.
Yes, I said found a body in her backyard. It made the front page of the local paper.
Incredibly, she’s still open for business. And if I ever needed confirmation that palm readers are in league with the devil, I have it now. Because if the police found a body buried in my backyard, we all know how that story would end.
In any case, I think the takeaway here is, going to the palm reader can be hazardous to your health.
5. The occult is all it’s cracked up to be
I left the New Age bookstore that day feeling as if I needed to wash my hands, as if I’d come into contact with something profoundly unclean. Probably that was because they had done more smoking than dusting; but there was more to it than that.
As a Christian I had to consider that while many of the New Age ‘gurus’ were hucksters, about as concerned with the supernatural as my dog, still – some others probably were genuine witches -- all that they were cracked up to be.
And as I considered the implications of that, I felt a sense of nastiness I can’t adequately describe. The Bible uses words like “defiled” and “unclean” for that sort of spirit. And unclean was the overwhelming sense I got.
Unclean, and dangerous. In spite of its absurdities, the occult still delivers for the other side, and that part isn’t a bit funny. The ridiculous, transparent shell game sometimes actually works.
Or at least, it will if left unchallenged. But the good news is, even when its followers are genuine, the occult is a big, fat bull’s-eye, a honking bad deal begging to be laughed away.
I’m happy to do my small part.
And maybe – I can’t help it – have just a little fun in the process.