Renaming Our Boats


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?

4 thoughts on “Renaming Our Boats

  1. Ivan,
    Thanks for your response! Analyzing our tools and concepts is, to me, another way of “getting one’s boat in the water.” To place importance on studying religion vs. studying people who study religion ignores that they’re both studying human doings.

  2. Chris, thought I’d add my 2 cents to the satanic musings. Even though I do not believe we are being taken over by “Satanic Cults” there are evil spirits in the world, just as there are angels. Can’t say that I ever really knew either one, but I do believe God’s Words. Whether they are written in red letters are not, I believe all are “inspired”. And when Paul said we “do not war against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” there has to be something to that. Not that true Christians can be “possessed” by them, only that there is evil in the world that is too strong for us to fight against without Someone to help us. That Someone, in my opinion, is Christ and Him alone. All one has to do is look around at the crazy happenings in the world today and realize that there is too much for me handle alone. A relatively new show, “The Following” has the theme of satanic worship. The villain is an evil man, “Joe”, who has a cult-like following that he trains to kill for him so they can earn martyrdom. Expect cult-like leaders to be raised up in our world and eventually be the real “anti-Christ” who will lead a revolt against Christianity. Most people in the world will not even know it is happening. Others, who are persecuted for their faith, will definitely know. Will it happen in our lifetime? I do not know, but it is closer to that time than when Jesus (God, in human flesh) appeared on earth. Our jobs? Watch!

  3. Too, too much of the navel gazing is remote from significance. Or, to put it otherwise, at some point one has to see if one’s boat floats!