Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism

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9780814756454: Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism
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Rumors of Devil-worship, or Satanism, have circulated for centuries. Tales of Black Masses, demonic possession, mysterious nighttime ceremonies, and human sacrifices have captured the popular consciousness, prompting the Christian Church to move aggressively to root out Satanism and its practioners through often extraordinarily brutal means of detection and interrogation.

Until recently the stuff of myths and stories, allegations of occult worship have of late taken the form of police investigations concerning ritual child abuse, teens involved in Satanic cults, and serial killings. Unsubstantiated rumors have found their way into the popular and serious press and have been reported as fact, often with little or no verification. Obsessive anti-Satanists find evidence of Satanic lyrics in rock music from Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" to Live Aid's "We are the World," while the numbers "666" are found in barcodes in supermarkets.

The Lure of the Sinister draws on a remarkable range of sources, from newspapers and pulp literature to early modern works on demonology to explore the entire history of Satanism from the origins of the Devil in pre-Christian theology through the Inquisition to the life and times of Aleister Crowley, "the "wickedest man in the world." The book also investigates modern charges of Satanism, the psychology of the people who make the allegations, and the legal and religious contexts in which they arise, showing how rumors of Devil-worship come to take on a life of their own. Lively and wittily written, The Lure of the Sinister reveals a strange tapestry of dark and fearful beliefs which have haunted our imagination for centuries.

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About the Author:

Gareth Medway studied physics at Imperial College, University of London and has since been a freelance writer specializing in comparative religion and the history of occultism. His writing has been published in numerous specialist journals and magazines including Fortean Studies, Magonia (which awarded him the Roger Sandell Memorial Prize), and Pagan News.

From Publishers Weekly:

Although the furor over allegations of Satanic ritual abuse appears finally to have abated, wild claims inevitably persist. This book aims to put them to rest. Although packaged as a cultural history of Satanism, it is better seen as an apologetic work that seeks to debunk the outlandish accusations leveled against Pagan practices by irresponsible journalists, overzealous evangelists and outright liars. Medway, a freelance writer and a priest of Themis in the Fellowship of Isis, reveals the mundane truths behind "satanic panics" both medieval and modern. On so-called satanic crime, he sensibly points out that it is as foolish to blame occultism for the acts of isolated criminals as it is to blame the depredations of religious maniacs on the Bible. Unfortunately, this book suffers from poor organization (not to mention a terribly clunky title) and reads as a collection of anecdotes rather than as a sustained argument. Medway's discussion of historical incidents such as the elaborate hoax the freethinker L‚o Taxil perpetrated in the 1880s and 1890s on a gullible French public are the best parts of the book. His amply documented criticism of contemporary anti-Satanists is convincing, but the accumulation of detail on so many unrelated episodes bludgeons the point. This book may serve as a useful reference tool for Pagans on the defensive, but it does not make for compelling bedside reading.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description New York University Press, United States, 2001. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Rumors of Devil-worship, or Satanism, have circulated for centuries. Tales of Black Masses, demonic possession, mysterious nighttime ceremonies, and human sacrifices have captured the popular consciousness, prompting the Christian Church to move aggressively to root out Satanism and its practioners through often extraordinarily brutal means of detection and interrogation. Until recently the stuff of myths and stories, allegations of occult worship have of late taken the form of police investigations concerning ritual child abuse, teens involved in Satanic cults, and serial killings. Unsubstantiated rumors have found their way into the popular and serious press and have been reported as fact, often with little or no verification. Obsessive anti-Satanists find evidence of Satanic lyrics in rock music from Led Zeppelin s Stairway to Heaven to Live Aid s We are the World, while the numbers 666 are found in barcodes in supermarkets. The Lure of the Sinister draws on a remarkable range of sources, from newspapers and pulp literature to early modern works on demonology to explore the entire history of Satanism from the origins of the Devil in pre-Christian theology through the Inquisition to the life and times of Aleister Crowley, the wickedest man in the world. The book also investigates modern charges of Satanism, the psychology of the people who make the allegations, and the legal and religious contexts in which they arise, showing how rumors of Devil-worship come to take on a life of their own. Lively and wittily written, The Lure of the Sinister reveals a strange tapestry of dark and fearful beliefs which have haunted our imagination for centuries. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780814756454

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Book Description New York University Press, United States, 2001. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Rumors of Devil-worship, or Satanism, have circulated for centuries. Tales of Black Masses, demonic possession, mysterious nighttime ceremonies, and human sacrifices have captured the popular consciousness, prompting the Christian Church to move aggressively to root out Satanism and its practioners through often extraordinarily brutal means of detection and interrogation. Until recently the stuff of myths and stories, allegations of occult worship have of late taken the form of police investigations concerning ritual child abuse, teens involved in Satanic cults, and serial killings. Unsubstantiated rumors have found their way into the popular and serious press and have been reported as fact, often with little or no verification. Obsessive anti-Satanists find evidence of Satanic lyrics in rock music from Led Zeppelin s Stairway to Heaven to Live Aid s We are the World, while the numbers 666 are found in barcodes in supermarkets. The Lure of the Sinister draws on a remarkable range of sources, from newspapers and pulp literature to early modern works on demonology to explore the entire history of Satanism from the origins of the Devil in pre-Christian theology through the Inquisition to the life and times of Aleister Crowley, the wickedest man in the world. The book also investigates modern charges of Satanism, the psychology of the people who make the allegations, and the legal and religious contexts in which they arise, showing how rumors of Devil-worship come to take on a life of their own. Lively and wittily written, The Lure of the Sinister reveals a strange tapestry of dark and fearful beliefs which have haunted our imagination for centuries. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780814756454

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