Monday, January 23, 2006

Sympathy for the Devil

I've just come from a very interesting website.  For some reason, I got fixated today on Jayne Mansfield, the sex-kitten of the late-50's/early-60's who is widely believed to be an active participant in the Satanic Church begun by Anton Szandor LaVey.  However, this website takes a different tack.  Their view is that LaVey was little more than a circus charlaton, a con-man, a reprobate huckster who happened to be in the right place at the right time, and gave the American public what it wanted: the delicious thrill that somewhere, someone was behaving in completely depraved ways.  Personally, I've always believed that rumors of sexual profligacy should be taken with a grain or two of salt.  But something about this website rings true to me.  Hollywood is about making a buck.  A further argument for its credibility is its source: the Church of Satan itself.  Perhaps by distancing itself from its carnival-like founder, it hopes to make itself seem respectible. 

It wouldn't be the first time a religion was created solely to cash in on a fad and to make buckets of lucre for its founder.  LaVey wasn't as successful, apparently, as L. Ron Hubbard, as he died in poverty on public assistance.  Hubbard died in a schizophrenic free-fall somewhere in the California desert, forbidden to obtain, by the tenants of his own church, the psychiatric treatment he so desperately needed.

The interesting part of the CoS site is its absolution of Jayne Mansfield's participation as a CoS "high priestess," which CoS avers is a deliciously vile rumor,  That rather than being powerful magi bent on emancipating America from the idea that sex was sinful, it was little more than a photo-opportunity designed to grab newspaper space, free publicity and the cash sent to them by the lunatic fringe. 

But then, I read another website, this time from a Christian perspective which not only believes these stories, but casts Anton Szandor LaVey as the incarnation of evil, and points to him as some kind of anti-pontiff bent on the destruction of the Christian church, with Hollywood as his unindicted co-conspirator.  And then I realized: LaVey's chicanery works equally well as a money-grab for the Evangelical lunatics as for his own church.  Ironic, ain't it?

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