Volume 18, Issue 1: Flotsam
Marilyn Manson (Brian Warner) attended Heritage Christian School in Canton, Ohio. It was a definitive experience for him. If he had never entered Heritage Christian School then he never would have gotten stuck calling himself the "Antichrist Superstar," he wouldn't have so much trouble making friends, and he probably wouldn't have to wear lipstick to keep his fans. Brian said all
the hypocrisy in Christianity made him choose his route. Chapel can do that to a guy. But maybe he just couldn't make the soccer team.
Poor little Zeena. Her father founded the Church of Satan. He also made Brian Warner an official priest during a concert. Anton LaVey (Howard Levey) claimed that he was a circus performer and an organist. He saw lots of the same men in the tent at the Saturday night skin shows and singing hymns at the Sunday morning revivals. All the hypocrisy made him ritualistically shave his
head, write The Satanic Bible, design a few logos and make up a bunch of rituals. His daughter Zeena was the lucky recipient of the first satanic baptism at the age of three and a half. They said, "Hail Satan!" and there was a nude priestess and everything.
"Which one is the Heaven star?" my son asks. We're supposed to be getting in the car. More offspring are waiting to be carried out. But he's looking up and pointing. It's a clear night, a skin-thickeningly cold night. The car is prewarmed. Exhaust is crawling slowly down the driveway. Gravel huddles in its warmth. The two of us ignore it and shiver, staring up at our stellar backdrop, a
reality full of throbbing, exploding spheres that God has dusted through His narrative. Thrift is not one of His attributes. Of course, given the numbers He could have worked with, perhaps the Milky Way is a picture of restraint.
"Probably that one," I say. I'm pointing at Polaris. "That's the North Star. Satan tried to move his throne further north than God's. He was proud."
"I'll tell you somethin'. Jesus threw him down into the dirt." He's going to kink his neck if he keeps it cranked back. I open the car door and start feeding him into his seat, but not before the catechism begins. Of course, most people wouldn't call it a catechism. It's more a mythic history of the world, an overview of reality's plotline from a three-year-old's perspective.
"Jesus made everything," he says.
"That's right." The buckle isn't clicking. I'm going to have to climb in after him.
"He made fruit. And bugs. And stars. Samson's in the stars. And Jonah. And David. He made giants for us to fight." Thus the creation. "He put Adam and Eve in the Garden and told them not to eat the fruit."
"What happened?" I ask. He's buckled now, but I like to let him get through history once he's started.
"The dragon came."
"The dragon was Satan. Did Adam fight him?"
"Satan was from the stars. Jesus threw him down. Adam didn't fight him."
"What did he do?"
"He disobeyed Jesus. Adam and Eve made their hearts dirty." He grabs at my face. He wants eye contact. I give it to him. "They had to die," he says.
"We all do."
He nods seriously.
Brian Warner/Marilyn Manson married a girl named Heather Sweet. Of course, when you're moving in Manson's circles, real names are rather gauche. She goes by Dita Von Teese. Brian wore a John Galliano taffeta tuxedo. Heather wore a purple taffeta gown (by Vivienne Westwood) along with a tricorner hat. It was very anti-the-man. The ceremony was traditional (though
surprisingly nondemoninational for a priest in the Church of Satan). Heather says that Manson is actually really nice inside and likes to lead his private life in accordance with traditional Judeo-Christian values. Actually, she just said that he's extremely genuine and passionate. He says that he's now into monogamy. Which makes him genuinely what? The Antichrist Superstar? Or maybe just little Brian
Warner from Heritage Christian School. Of course he did serve
frappé at the receptionabsinthe
For his thirty-seventh birthday she bought twenty live, flying bats, and people said there was a great big cauldron full of red punch. The punch was very symbolic. Blood is red, too.
Now that Manson is full of love, he isn't scary anymore. People figured out that it's just red punch. Of course, he's a little angry about being ignored by Midwestern mothers. "Hey!" he said to one interviewer who questioned his scariness. "I'm the first Eminem!"
Christians always define themselves in terms of the mainstream.
I'm not sure where we're going after the Fall. Maybe the flood. Maybe David and Goliath. But my son keeps things moving pretty well. We're going straight to Christmas.
"Jesus had to come to clean our hearts," he says. I'm stuck leaning in the car. If he loses eye contact, he'll have to repeat everything. "He was born a little baby so He could grow up and fight the dragon. He threw him in the fire."
"Yeah," I don't need to say anything else. He's picking up speed.
"Jesus died. The bad men hammered Him to a tree." He points to his wrists, his feet, and his side, identifying the stigmata. "He had lots of blood. He washes our hearts with His blood."
"What happened when He died?" Sometimes the blood gets a little distracting.
"They put Him in the ground. He went all the way down to the fire." His hands go up and he smirks, a little half smile. His eyebrows go up with the inflection. "He didn't stay dead!"
Zeena had a son when she was fourteen or so. But that was no tragedy. Her tragedy came as she began to be disillusioned with her father, Anton. The Church of Satan, like so many other more traditional denominations, had a little trouble with hypocrisy. While Anton claimed that membership had peaked well into the hundreds of thousands, Zeena seems to feel that it never exceeded
three hundred. In addition to this, though her father wore a hood with little horns on it, he was a materialist honoring Satan as representative of radical individualism only. He built his religion on the thought of Ayn Rand more than any spiritual influence. Did he even believe in magic? Luckily Zeena believed herself to be truly magical due primarily to the fact that her mother was actually a
manifestation of Diana the Huntress. Zeena fell away from the faith and moved to Europe with her son and husband in order to establish something truly magical. She and her husband now worship Set, a homosexual Egyptian god of evil whom the Egyptians couldn't stand but couldn't really shake. She now lives in Berlin trying to find a higher plane of enlightenment primarily through misbehaving sexually.
Her son, Stanton, then did his own falling away. Disillusioned with his disillusioned mother, he returned to the U.S. where he was raised by his grandmother and currently tries to maintain (rather unsuccessfully) a satanic blog. He's been disowned for speaking to his grandfather, and is currently with a woman who thinks she channels dark magic by means of a hula hoop. Hail Satan.
"What happened?" I ask. Easter can be pretty close to the finish line.
"He came back! And then He went up into the stars. He's going to take us up into the stars. He gives us His body and blood at church. The bread is His body. There's lots of bodies, but He only has one. The wine is His blood."
"Is it really His body and blood?" Transubstantiation is not beyond a three-year-old.
"No. It's like His body and blood. It makes us stronger to help us keep our hearts clean. He gives it to us because He loves us. We're baptized."
"You're right. Jesus told us to eat the bread and drink the wine and remember Him."
"Daddy, I tell you somethin'?" His hands go back on my cheeks. His eyes are excited. We're reaching the punch line. "I do remember Him."
I smile. I do all the things a father should do when faced with pristine faith. I rub his head. I put my hand on his face. He's smiling, too. I kiss him.
"I know you do. I've got to get your sisters. I'll be right back."
"Okay." He's looking out his window. "There's the stars!" And we're right back at the beginning.
The Onion ran a story entitled, "Marilyn Manson Now Going Door-To-Door Trying To Shock People." They described him as kicking off a fifty-city "Boo" tour.
Anton LaVey is dead. But he left behind one disillusioned Zeena and an older daughter who has since tried to revive the Church of Satan, apparently as an intellectual discussion group. She makes it perfectly clear that they do not have orgies, sacrifice animals, or worship the Devil. It's an odd sort of Satanism. They're probably vegans. Anton also left behind a son, Satan Xerxes
Carnacki LaVey, born to his third consort in 1993. Somewhere there is a teenager preparing for his own path of disillusionment.
My two-year-old daughter doesn't walk through the overall plotline. She claims her baptism, professes that Christ's blood washes her heart clean, discusses the stigmata and the crucifixion and pronounces the defeat of the dragon. My one-year-old daughter lights up and answers yes or no questions, and will name Jesus when helped. She's never happier than when communing and she holds
her own bread patiently. From her first communion she has never tried to eat it early, but waits and watches her grandfather. She does struggle. When she receives the wine, her joy is a little more than she is used to containing. The cup never survives her teeth.
When I look at the faith of my children, I see health. I see something young, something that will grow, something that needs stories told and retold. But more than that, I see something to be imitated. I pray that I will never push them away, because once pushed, the pushing never stops. I hope that they will never know a day apart, that they will never feel excluded.
Millstones are heavy, and many Christians wear them.