Christopher Hurt graduated in 2008 with an REL major and a minor in Creative Writing. Now living in Los Angeles and training dogs at The Zoom Room (he’s been working with dogs for 3 years), he is pursuing a career in music: recently singing and playing Hammond Organ in the Jamestown Pagans.
Like many people, from what I read, I have been obsessed with HBO’s “True Detective” lately….
I took to it for a lot of reasons, but one thing in particular stood out to me. It happens about six minutes into the first episode. As Matthew McConaughey’s and Woody Harrelson’s characters arrive to a crime scene, one of the sheriffs is talking about the victim’s body:
“Them symbols…, they’re Satanic. They had a ’20/20′ on it a few years back.”
What struck me as interesting about this moment is that it places us in the midst of The Satanic Panic, a period of time, not so long ago, when the idea that secret satanic cults were a real threat to America was extremely popular. The idea was popular not only amongst lay people and TV talk show hosts, but also among law enforcement officials, social workers, and psychiatrists. The activities of these so-called cults included brainwashing, sacrificing, kidnapping, and having influence over local, national, and international affairs. One case mentioned in Jeffrey S. Victor’s book, Satanic Panic, involved a couple’s children being put in foster care over allegations of planned Satanic Ritual Abuse. (A detailed description can be read here.)
The article, in part, reads,
Their investigation, they said, had turned up a curious fact about the kids’ grandfather: Dave Stecks, the alleged Satanic priest, lived on a boat in Oceanside Harbor named the “Witch Way.” Never mind that the vessel was named that when Stecks bought it.
I wonder, though, if scholarly work in the academic study of religion doesn’t sometimes function in much the same way; curious as the designators assigned to our data may be to us, how much of it is insignificant to the people we study?
How many boats have just never been renamed?