The new Magnolia Pictures documentary Hail Satan?, directed by avant-garde documentarian Penny Lane, is a thought-provoking darkly comedic study of an upstart faction of Satanists known as The Satanic Temple (TST). Cofounded by Lucien Greaves and Malcom Jarry in 2013, TST has been a growing, mischievous, and yet whimsical presence in public life. The group has earned a reputation as diehard political activists, that takes the art of trolling to a whole new level. The discussion covers what Satanists believe, how Satanists are misunderstood, and how TST differs from other branches of Satanism.  

In addition to an deep dive review of the film, there is also a discussion of occcultism as a pervasive influence marked by the pursuit of hidden knowledge or power through divination (fortune-telling), spiritism (spirit-contact), and magic. Occultism poses a special threat to the church because it doesn’t operate like mainline religion. Instead, it spreads like a fog, able to infiltrate most every cult, religion, and church. It’s a countercultural phenomenon that can reorient good ideas and faithful practices into tools of occultism. It’s too dangerous and too prevalent to ignore. But we can combat occultism first by recognizing its appeal (the promise of secret knowledge, power, and autonomy), and the signs of its influence, including wide-spread beliefs such as self-deification, depersonalization of God, and magickal thinking. Then, appreciating the different ways occultism leads practitioners astray from biblical faith and practice, we can respond with tactful discernment and devotion to God, demystifying the allure of occultism.

This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author John D. Ferrer about his online-exclusive “Infiltrated: Recognizing and Responding to Occultism in Your Church”and movie review of, “Satanic Lessons on Religious Freedom: A review of Hail Satan?“.

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