Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy – Doris Sanford

don't make me go back, mommy - doris sanfordDon’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child’s Book about Satanic Ritual Abuse
Doris Sanford

Multnomah – 1990

Jesus Shitting Christ, this book is miserable.

I searched for a copy of this book for several years. I went so far as annoying random people on facebook that lived in towns where the local library had a copy cataloged. I’d message these folks and ask them to go to that library to scan/photocopy the book for me. That plan never worked. When I finally saw a copy going for one cent, I bought it without thinking.

I was very excited when it arrived in the post, but as soon as I glanced inside, all excitement was replaced with sadness and discomfort. This book is truly horrible.

This is the story of 5 year old Allison. Allison attends a preschool where the teachers make her and the other children take part in depraved Satanic rituals. These kids are drugged, raped and forced to worship the Devil.

perverse satanic ritualWhat the fuck lads.

I think I thought I’d read through this and do my usual “haha, look how dumb and misinformed this evangelical Christian author is”, but this book is depressing, not amusing. Doris Sanford wrote this book to counsel the survivors of despicable child abuse, and while the events it depicts aren’t real, reading it is still a thoroughly unpleasant experience.

While we can rest assured that the events depicted in here never actually happened, we can not so easily discount the suffering that this book caused. It doubtlessly scared the shit out of any child unfortunate enough to get their hands on it, and I’m sure it terrified a few parents too. People will err on the side of caution when it comes to the safety of their children, and when confronted with something as horrifying as this book, many people will throw rational thought out the window and join the witch hunt. This book is exactly the kind of thing that makes problems worse instead of better.

library slip mommyAt least I know that nobody in recent history had borrowed this book from the church library it originally belonged to.

I would be willing to forgive anyone for overreacting if they solemnly believed that children were being abused, but Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy is more than just an overreaction; it is particularly insidious fearmongering. It was released in July 1990, the same month that saw Raymond Buckey acquitted for the second and final time. Buckey was the defendant in the McMartin Preschool trial, perhaps the most notable case of “Satanic Ritual Abuse” and to this day the most expensive criminal trial in American history. While child abuse doubtlessly does occur, there has never been ever any proof of the existence of an organised Satanic cabal of paedophile pre-school teachers.

monster in meI got seriously bad vibes off these pages.

The Satanic Panic had been in session since 1980 when Michelle Remembers was published, and after 10 years with hundreds of claims but no evidence, things were beginning to cool off. Sanford’s book stoked the embers of paranoia and kept the conspiracy alive. Both the Martensville Satanic Sex Scandal and the Oak Hill Satanic Ritual Abuse Trial took place after the publishing of Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy. The latter case resulted in an innocent couple spending a combined total of over 40 years in prison. I’m fond of being dramatic, but realistically, this book could be partially to blame for either or both of these cases.

Doris Sanford wrote quite a few other books for children. While none were quite as mental as this one, the rest of her catalog is certainly curious. Some of these books like Brian is Adopted or Maria’s Grandma Gets Mixed Up, a classic tale of senility, are merely strange, but her 1989 opus, David Has Aids,  confirms her sadistic desires to petrify suffering children.david has aids sanfordmy body is filled with aidsdavid dying from aids

Children dying of AIDS isn’t remotely funny, but it’s hard not to laugh at how ill-conceived this book was. Seriously, what kind of a mental case would give this horrible rubbish to a child?

Sanford didn’t work alone though. Graci Evans worked as an illustrator for loads of her books, and the whole team at Multnomah publishing must have been mental to put this garbage out. Also, although the exact nature of her input is unclear, Lauren Statford was at least marginally involved in the creation of Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy (source). Statford is famous for writing Satan’s Underground, a discredited book in which she claimed to be a Satanic Ritual Abuse survivor. During the aforementioned McMartin Preschool trial, Statford sought out the parents of the supposedly abused children and told them that she had insider information on the abuse (source). Her story was so ridiculous that even these frightened parents didn’t believe her. After the whole Satanic Panic thing blew over, Statford changed her name to Laura Grabowski and claimed to be a Holocaust survivor. Statford was clearly a depraved, egomaniacal psychopath, and yet she was involved in the creation of a book for children. It is hard to believe that Sanford and co. meant this book to have a positive effect on anyone. Everyone involved in its creation of his horrible book was either a complete idiot or a sadistic pervert.

To this day, my post on Michelle Remembers is the largest source of traffic to this site. Because of this, I have considered reviewing more books on this topic, but while the Satanic Ritual Abuse phenomenon is fascinating, it’s also very depressing and I don’t enjoy reading books about it. I read gross, violent, perverted books all the time, but it’s these books by “Christian authors” that are the most ludicrous and upsetting.

 

 

UFOs and the Alien Agenda – Bob Larson

UFOs and the alien agenda bob larsonUFOs and the Alien Agenda – Bob Larson
Thomas Nelson Publishers- 1997

Some of the books I have read about aliens approached the topic from a rational, scientific point of view. Others looked at this phenomenon through a less critical lens. I preferred reviewing the latter because I had more to make fun of. It’s harder to argue with a person when they’re using evidence and mathematics to make their point than it is when the author’s information comes from an alien that intermittently possesses their body and claims to be Jesus Christ.

Having studied both sides of the debate, that of the scientists and that of the new-age gurus, I needed another perspective. Where better to look than my old friend, Bob Larson?bob larson walking turd

Bob, as you should well know, is an Evangelical exorcist who has made his living preaching about the evils of rock music and extorting money from the vulnerable. Well guess what folks! In 1997, he made a breakthrough. The Devil isn’t only to be found on MTV; he’s also been riding around Earth in a flying saucer for the last 70 years! That’s right. Aliens, much like everything else that Bob Larson doesn’t like, are the Devil!

This book was quite a strange read in comparison to the other books I’ve read about aliens. If you imagine the skeptical, rational books about aliens to be a psychiatrist, the nutty new age books will appear as the patient, struggling to come to terms with what they’ve witnessed. If we carry this metaphor one step further, Bob Larson will appear as an escaped lunatic who has rushed into the psychiatrist’s office and is attempting to make both psychiatrist and patient smell his magical brown finger.

scientists are witchesScientists are heretical witches.

Larson uses science to dismiss some of the claims of abductees and believers, but he’s quick to dismiss science based facts as ridiculous when they don’t fit into his own worldview. At the same time, he’s completely willing to accept some of the crazier claims of the alien channelers because the Bible accepts spiritual possession as objectively real. Instead of coming down on one side of the argument, he forms his own, completely ridiculous, conclusion.

Ever since the late 1940s, the Devil has been using mainstream media to familiarize the world with the concept of a non-hostile alien invasion of Earth. The beings we refer to as aliens are objectively real, but they are actually evil spirits from another dimension, not visitors from a different planet. The Bible doesn’t mention life on other planets, so we can safely assume that all notions of extraterrestrial life are misleading and Satanic. Aliens are really just demons in spacesuits. After the rapture, when the physical bodies of all good Christians ascend to heaven without trace, the evil “aliens” will land and take over the world. The remaining humans will welcome their new Satanic overlords. With no Christians around to realise what’s really happening, these demonic aliens will lead the remaining population of the Earth into a new age of Occultism and sin. This will allow the Antichrist, doubtlessly another alien, to assume control and bring about the end of the world.

You probably got about halfway through that last paragraph before rolling your eyes and skipping to this bit. No. Go back and read it. Let it soak in.

I mean, I think that’s a fucking cool idea, but let’s be honest; there’s a few plot holes. Also, was the plan to saturate mass media with stories about aliens orchestrated by a group of Satanists or did it happen by chance? Satan works in mysterious ways.

My favourite part of the book was when Larson described his meeting with Whitley Strieber on the set of the Oprah Winfrey show. Strieber is a frustratingly gullible new-age conspiracist and alien abductee. A large portion of the last review I wrote of one of his books was spent comparing reading the book to drowning in a river of diarrhea. Strieber is a very stupid man. Imagine my surprise on reading about an exchange in which he comes across as the voice of reason. Imagine my delight on reading Larson’s conclusion that Strieber was guilty of being a witch. This is wonderfully silly stuff.

clever devilSo crop circles were originally human pranks, but then the Devil saw them and thought they were cool, so he did them too.

There were moments when the depth of Larson’s research surprised me a little, but always more surprising were his bizarre conclusions. Ol’ Bob is a crazy, dangerous man who makes money from exploiting people’s fears. A vile human being.
bob larson crayon

 

Marx and Satan

marx and satan wurmbrandMarx and Satan – Richard Wurmbrand
Crossway Books – 1986

Wow.

As far as I know, I’m not a Marxist. I encountered a small amount of Karl Marx’s writing when I was in university, but I’ve never read Das Kapital or the Communist Manifesto. I certainly have no interest in defending or attacking Marx’s views, and even if I did, my horror/occult book blog would not be the place to do it. It might seem strange then that this blog is the perfect place to attack a book critiquing Marx, but there you go.

This book, you see, claims that Karl Marx, the man who famously referred to religion as “the opiate of the masses”, was in fact a devout theistic Satanist. Again, I’m not an expert on Marx, but the general consensus is that we was actually an atheist who had complex opinions about religion. The writer of this book, a mad person named Richard Wurmbrand, builds his case against Marx by exaggerating or misreading every single time the words devil, evil, demon, etc., appear in the entire, enormous corpus of Marx’s writings. Richard Wurmbrand probably read Marx’s books, but when you look at this title of this book, you’ll notice that it’s not a biography. It’s called Marx and Satan. To me, that suggests that this book should be equal parts Marx and Satan, or that at least the same amount of research should have been done on both. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Richard Wurmbrand’s concept of Satanism is contradictory, sensational, inaccurate and absolutely stupid. I may not be an expert on Marx, but I’ve read enough books about Satanism to I feel qualified to point out a few problems here.

First off, at several points throughout his book, Wurmbrand notes that his cause is particularly difficult to fight for because of the secretive nature of the Satanists. He uses the phrase, “the highly secretive Satanist church”. Soon thereafter, he quotes from the Satanic Bible. Despite the aforementioned “highly secretive” nature of the Satanic church, Wurmbrand was somehow been able to track down a copy of their Bible. The Satanic Bible, for those of you who don’t know, is a widely available book that has now gone through 30 printings and sold a million copies. I know that this is the book he’s talking about because I have a copy on my shelf. The Church of Satan, the organization that puts that book out relies on new membership fees and book sales to survive. They also run a popular twitter account with 160,000 followers. You could accuse them of many of things, but secretive they are not.

Now, I know that there are many branches and varieties of Satanism, but by quoting from the Satanic Bible, Wurmbrand has clearly identified the LaVeyan brand of Satanism as the one he is discussing. I don’t think that it’s at all unreasonable for me to make that claim. (Why would he quote from a book if it wasn’t directly relevant to the point he is making?) Ok, but this is interesting because after referring to these Satanists as highly secretive, he also claims that “The Satanist sect is not materialistic.” Of course, the Church of Satan is, and always has been, materialistic. On their website, they boast about their “materialist philosophy“. Obviously, their website wasn’t available when Wurmbrand was writing his book, but this materialist philosophy is clearly propounded in the book that Wurmbrand quotes from. So allow me to recap here. Despite Wurmbrand’s claims to the contrary, the Church of Satan is not “highly secretive”, they are not “not materialistic”, and they are certainly not secretive about their being materialistic. I have no personal reason to defend the Church of Satan here. I am merely pointing out facts that are clearly apparent to anyone who has done even the smallest amount of research on LaVeyan Satanism.

But how did Wurmbrand get things so wrong? How did he misinterpret the Satanic Bible in such a remarkable way? Well, to understand that, let’s take a look at the quotations that Wurmbrand actually used:

“The Satanic Bible,” after saying “the crucifix symbolizes pallid incompetence hanging on a tree,” calls Satan “the ineffable Prince of Darkness who rules the earth.” As opposed to “the lasting foulness of Bethlehem,” “the cursed Nazarene,” “the impotent king,” “fugitive and mute god,” “vile and abhorred pretender to the majesty of Satan,” the Devil is called “the God of Light,” with angels “cowering and trembling with fear and prostrating themselves before him” and “sending Christian minions staggering to their doom.”

Well, yeah. That clears things up a bit. Apart from the first quote there, the crucifix symbolism one, none of those quotations are even from the Satanic Bible. The rest are from the Satanic Rituals, an entirely separate book by the same author. That’s not all though. I did a little research and I found the following passage from a 1977 book called Don’t Waste Your Sorrows: Finding God’s Purpose in the Midst of Pain by Paul E. Billheimer.

waste your sorrows billheimer

Compare the Billheimer quote to the Wurmbrand one. Notice any similarities? Billheimer’s book was published 9 years before Wurmbrand’s. Now, I don’t like jumping to conclusions, but it’s entirely clear that Wurmbrand plagiarized Billheimer’s work. He also made an absolute fool of himself in the process. To provide evidence for his critique of Karl Marx, Richard Wurmbrand quoted from books that he himself had never read. In doing so, he not only highlights the fact that he knows nothing about the concept that he has chosen as the topic for his book, he also proves that he is a cheat with a poor eye for details.

So if he didn’t read the Satanic Bible, what texts did he read during his research for his book? Well, at one point in his text, he directs his readers to Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain for more information on occultism in Russia. That particular book was one of the worst I have ever read, but it’s the kind of book that this Wurmbrand guy considers trustworthy.

 

Two of Wurmbrand’s trustworthy sources

Psychic Discoveries was bad, so bad in fact that I referred to it as both a “horrendous pile of nonsense” and “a load of shite” in my review, but it’s really only guilty of being boring and unconvincing. You come away from a book like that pitying its authors rather than disliking them. If you want the really infuriating stuff, you’ve got to look towards the religious nutjobs. The most popular post I’ve ever done on this blog was about a book called Michelle Remembers. That book made me really angry. It’s about a mad woman who claimed that she had been a victim of Satanic ritual abuse as a child. It has been proven to be complete and utter bullshit on many counts. It’s nothing more than the sinister fantasies of a sex-pervert with a low IQ. Hey, guess what! Richard Wurmbrand bought it hook, line and sinker, and he quotes extensively from that book of absolute garbage. Not only that though; the quotations that he uses are from one of the most cringeworthy and ridiculous sections of the book, the Devil’s nursery rhymes. Anybody who has ever done a lick of research on Satanism would be able to tell that the entirety of Michelle Remembers is rubbish, but even the most gullible Christian should have a hard time swallowing the notion of the Devil singing childish rhymes to a bunch of evil Canadians. It’s not a problem for Wurmbrand though. He unquestioningly presents it as damning evidence in his case against Karl Marx.

Towards the end of the book, he also mentions the whole “if you play Stairway to Heaven backwards…” thing. I couldn’t understand why he did this in a book about Karl Marx, but he did.

I haven’t really said much about the central idea of his book, but I really don’t feel like I need to. I have successfully shown that Richard Wurmbrand was completely oblivious to both the nature and realities of Satanism and argumentative writing. There is absolutely no direct evidence for the claims that he makes. He never read some of the source material on Satanism from which he quotes, and I have no real reason to presume that his research on Marx was any more thorough. Other sources that he chose to include in his book are completely bogus. Throughout the book, Wurmbrand comes across as gullible, arrogant, hysteric, and paranoid; the guy was clearly mentally ill. He had had a tough life, spending 14 years in communist prisons (There’s a poorly animated movie about this on youtube if you’re interested), so it’s understandable that he wasn’t a fan of Marx. I hope that the process of writing this book was therapeutic for him.

Well, there you go. Marx and Satan, what a wonderful way to celebrate 3 years of this blog. I’ve reviewed 177 books so far, and I have no plans on stopping soon.

Drunk With Blood

drunk with blood steve wellsDrunk with Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible – Steve Wells
SAB Books – 2013

I read (past tense) the Bible largely out of spite. I went through the whole thing, chapter by chapter, underlining or highlighting bits that I thought were silly or violent. Needless to say, it took a lot of ink. I did a Bible post on this blog, but it was a fairly general overview of the entire text, and I didn’t get into specifics. When it comes to a text like the Bible, there’s not much a person can say that hasn’t been said before.

While I didn’t bother to get into specifics, Steve Wells has been doing so on his sites the Skeptics Annotated Bible and Dwindling in Unbelief since 1999. In this book, Drunk with Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible, he examines each murder committed by God throughout the events of Bible. It’s a bit like a true crime book about the most insane and successful serial killer of all time. Using the numbers provided in this text (which are sourced from the Bible itself), I worked out that throughout the Bible narrative, God was murdering between 500 and 7000 people a day on average.

The material in the book is well organized, and Steve Well’s comments are often very funny. It does get a bit boring at times, but that’s not really the author’s fault, and in a way, the offending sections make the book more effective. These boring passages highlight the fact that the Bible should be seen as nothing more than a collection of repetitive folktales from the iron-age.

Keeping that in mind, I sometimes felt a bit sorry for the Bible when reading Wells’ criticisms. He’s interpreting it literally, and for most texts of this era and genre, I would say that this would be a fairly silly thing to do. It would take all of the entertainment out of the old Greek or Irish myths if you were to take them at face value. Of course, very few people have taken literal interpretations of the Greek and Irish myths to enforce their perverse ideals upon others in the last thousand years, so I completely understand the author’s approach. I just want to put it out there that the Bible is actually a really interesting resource for entertaining stories and cultural insight. Just please understand that it’s a book from history, not a history book.

It has been long enough since I read the Bible for me to have forgotten big chunks of it. Reading this book reminded me of Biblical gems such as the tale of Elisha and the children (2 Kings 2:23-25). Elisha was a mate of the prophet Elijah. One day, he was out and about when a group of 42 children teased him for being bald. Luckily for Elisha, his merciful and forgiving God sent two bears in to kill the children. He didn’t give them a dose of diarrhea or a headache or have their parents talk to them about being polite. He had their little bodies torn limb from limb by a pair of nature’s fiercest animals.

Will many Christians read Drunk with Blood and change their minds? I doubt it. If they haven’t read the Bible, the book where all this horrible shit came from, why would they read a criticism of it? I’d imagine that most non-believers wouldn’t have much time for this kind of thing either; I mean who cares if the imaginary man in the sky is a murderer? I guess that leaves the annoying people who like to think that they know more about scripture than the majority of believers to enjoy this book.

It’s good. Read it.

jesus cant dieWhile we’re on the subject of Bibles, I “found” this illustration in a hotel room Bible over the summer. Thought this would be a good opportunity to post it.

Rover, Wanderer, Nomad, Vagabond

tarry thou till i come crolyTarry Thou till I Come or Salathiel, the Wandering Jew – George Croly
Funk and Wagnalls – 1902 (Originally Published in 1828)

A long time ago, I read Paul Murray’s article on the greatest Gothic novels ever written. At that stage I had already read most of the books on the list*, and out of the ones I had not yet read, there was only one that I had never heard of: Salathiel The Immortal by George Croly. Murray’s description of the book reads:
Now almost forgotten, the Reverend George Croly was a friend of the Stoker family. In Salathiel the Immortal (1829), there are similarities of predicament between Salathiel and Dracula (as well as with that of Melmoth the Wanderer). Salathiel led the mob which promoted the death of Jesus, in return for which he was condemned to the misery of the undead state. A reshaping of the Wandering Jew legend which underlies so much of the gothic genre, including Melmoth the Wanderer. Like Maturin, Croly was a Church of Ireland clergyman.”
I have emboldened all the parts of this description that convinced me that I would have to read this book. I looked it up to research further, but could not find a single review. Ohhh, the alluring mystique! I quickly ordered a copy online, and when it arrived, I was thouroughly impressed with the physical book. It was printed in 1901, includes several full page colour illustrations, and ends with a bunch of notes and critical essays. It’s about 700 pages of small text though, so it sat on the shelf for four years before I found the time to read it.

tarry thou frontispiece
So, the Wandering Jew is a legendary character who was supposedly doomed to immortality after insulting Christ during the events leading up to his death. In this version of the tale, he is Salathiel, a priest of the Temple who had been gravely insulted by Christ’s heresy against traditional Judaism. Salathiel is the man who led the crowd demanding the blood of Christ. The book begins right at the moment of his exultation. As Jesus is lead to the cross, Salathiel hears a voice whisper “Tarry thou till I come” and understands that this is the voice of God telling him that he is going to have to wait around on Earth until Jesus returns on judgement day.

Ok, so we’re off to a good start: a cursed priest doomed to walk the earth until the end of time. Now this tale was originally published in 1828, so you would imagine that its 500+ pages cover a time period of almost two millennia. However, the protagonist’s most striking feature, his ability to survive for thousands of years, barely comes into play in the events of the story. The book ends with the destruction of the Second Temple, roughly 35 years after Jesus was crucified. Yes, Salathiel shows impressive endurance and manages to escape from some very tricky situations, but aside from the book’s title, first chapter and final chapter, there is very little in here that suggests anything preternatural about the title character; by the end of the book, he might be as young as 60.

tarry thou sorcerorSalathiel meets a sorceror and spirit (That’s him in the back.)

This book includes virginal maidens, gloomy dungeons, heros, tyrants, curses, bandits, miraculous survivals, clergy, secret passageways, night journeys, and strange spectres: in short all the things that one might expect to find in a Gothic novel. But these elements are strewn (rather sparsely I will add) amoungst 500 pages of historical fiction about the siege of Jerusalem. Realistically, this is a fairly dry adventure novel about a warrior who has little fear of death. The main character has to rescue his family from captivity about 5 times, he escapes from captivity himself about 10 times, and finds himself doing battle (both physical and mental) with countless foes. He becomes stranded on a desert island, he briefly takes command of a pirate ship, he plans devastating attacks against the Roman forces, and he does it all for the love of his wife and children. There are a few spooky parts; he meets a ghost, a magician and some strange spirits, but these events only make up a few paragraphs in this tome. Referring to this book as a Gothic novel is a bit of a stretch.

 

 

 

Just some of the adventures on which our hero finds himself

So maybe it’s not Gothic, but is it any good? Well, it took me well over a month to finish it. I found the first 300 pages or so to be very, very boring. In fact, when I was reading it, I started wondering if this was not a precursor to the modernist novel. I wondered if Croly had deliberately avoided mentioning the legend of the wandering Jew and instead focused on extremely boring details. The horrendously wordy prose inflicts a sense of brutal tedium on his reader, and this technique gives that reader a sense of what life would be like for an individual who was doomed to live forever. Is this a stroke of absolute genius, or is it just poor writing? It’s hard to say.

The characterization is quite awful. Aside from their names, Salathiel’s associates are mostly interchangeable; they’re either completely good or completely bad. Also, some characters reappear after hundreds of pages of absence, and the reader is expected to remember exactly who they are. The biggest problem is with the title character though. Aside from a few hasty moments when he is contemplating his daughters being courted by a goy, Salathiel, the hero of this novel, is a very sensible, rational, empathetic individual. The idea that he was the man that led the mob against Christ (the proverbial ‘Jew that broke the camel’s back’) is very strange indeed. I would not be surprised to find out that Croly had written the novel and tacked on the few Wandering Jew parts afterwards because he realized that nobody would be interested if he didn’t lure them in with a familiar legend.

tarry thou jesus crolyLOL, keep walking, lil bitch!

Of course, the legend of the Wandering Jew is in itself quite bizarre. The idea is that Jesus put a curse on the lad for being mean to him. Let’s just recall that the fundamental belief of Christianity is that Jesus Christ died so that the sins of man could be forgiven. Isn’t it a bit odd then that he would personally inflict immense suffering on any individual for wronging him? Also, the nature of Salathiel’s trangression isn’t even that severe when you consider the context in which it occurred. He, a holy man, genuinely believed that Christ was a heretic trying to pervert his religion. Sure, it was a shitty thing to do to try to get him killed, but Salathiel seems genuinely remorseful afterwards. If Jesus had only cursed him with a bad dose of verrucas, Salathiel probably would have had to sit down for a while to contemplate his bad behaviour, and I reckon he’d quickly realize that he had been a bit harsh. He would have asked God for forgiveness, and if God had truly meant all the stuff that he had just had Jesus tell everyone, he’d have to forgive Salathiel immediately. As things currently stand, Salathiel is doomed to suffer regardless of how remorseful he is. Jesus is a hypocrite.

To today’s socially conscious reader, the title of this book might set off alarm bells. After all, the Nazis once made a propaganda film titled Der Ewige Jude (the German name for the Eternal/Wandering Jew). The legend of the Wandering Jew is doubtlessly anti-Semitic in its origins, but in fairness to Croly, I think it is safe to say that this book was not anti-Semitic by the standards of the time in which it was written; he’s definitely not attempting to demonize the Jews. He is however, more than happy to malign black people at every given opportunity. At one point he refers to Ethiopians as “Barbarians, with a tongue and physiognomy worthy only of their kindred baboons”.

In fairness, this book does pick up quite a bit towards the end, but overall, it’s really not that great. Tarry Thou till I Come will be a real treat for anyone with an interest in historical, religious fiction, but it’s likely to bore the pants off everyone else. If you want to go ahead and check it out, the text is available online at archive.org. Make sure that you read this version though, as some of the other versions online only contain the first two out of its three volumes.

melmoth wanderer penguinMelmoth the Wanderer – Charles Maturin
Penguin – 2012 (Originally published in 1820)

Like I said earlier on, I bought my copy of Salathiel quite a while ago. I had originally planned to make this a comparative post weighing Croly’s book against Charles Stuart Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer, a book that I had read long before hearing of Croly’s. Unfortunately, so much time has passed since reading Melmoth that I can’t remember it terribly well. I do recall it being similar to Salathiel in the following ways:

  • It is also excessively long.
  • It is also about a cursed immortal.
  • It was also written by a protestant clergyman from Dublin.

Unlike Salathiel however, Melmoth the Wanderer is very definitely a Gothic novel. Its title character is immortal due to his dealings with Satan, not Jesus Christ. I know that I enjoyed Melmoth, but I recall it getting a bit boring in places. Regardless, all book-goths are obliged to read this one. The cover of the edition of this book that I own is one of the reasons that I try not to buy modern reprints of old books. Luminous pink, turquoise and orange for the cover of one of the classics of Gothic literature? No fucking thank you Mr. Penguin!

 

*The following is the list of Paul Murray’s 10 favourite Gothic novels from the article that set me on the track of Salathiel.

  1. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
  2. History of the Caliph Vathek by William Beckford
  3. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  4. The Monk by Matthew Lewis
  5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  6. Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin
  7. Salathiel the Immortal by George Croly
  8. Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood by James Malcolm Rymer or Thomas Pecket Prest
  9. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Dracula by Bram Stoker

Now that this post has been published, I have managed to review all of these books except Frankenstein. I’ll have to reread it and get it up here soon!

To give the Devil his due

amelia wilson the devilThe Devil – Amelia Wilson
Barrons – 2002
I bought this book for 2 dollars from a thrift store years ago. I finally picked it off the shelf recently because it’s short and I needed a break from a very long, dry Gothic novel that I have been reading. It met my expectations but did not exceed them. The paper it’s printed on is nice, and there are lots of cool pictures, but it contains very little information that I haven’t come across before.

The first half of the book goes into the origin of Satan as a devil. It discusses Biblical pseudepigrapha, folklore and Zoroastrianism. I liked this part, and was pleased at the level of detail it went into. Wilson clearly does not like how Christians have turned Lucifer into the bad guy.

ride to the sabbathRide to the Sabbath!

Next up, there is a section on the witch trials. Nothing special. This is followed by a short and very disappointing chapter on Satan’s place in modern society. There’s a page or two on films featuring the Devil, and very cursory glance at how he has influenced modern music. The Church of Satan is mentioned, but the author doesn’t attempt to explain its philosophy. There is one reference that quite irritated me. It reads; “One figure who has stirred a lot of controversy, is Aleister Crowley, a renowned ceremonial magician and expert in the occult who wrote extensively on the subject. There is no hard evidence that Crowley was in fact a Satanist, although many people who do consider themselves Satanists have read his books.” That’s all the book has to say about Crowley. There is absolutely no explanation as to why Wilson thought it important to mention him, and the wording of her reference suggests that Crowley was a Satanist because many Satanists have read his books. By the same logic, drinking water and breathing air are also Satanic. If you want to read a decent book on Satan’s place in modern culture, check out Gavin Baddeley’s Lucifer Rising.

hell
Wow, this is the most boring post I’ve written in quite a while. In fairness to myself though, I wasn’t give much to work with. This book wasn’t absolutely awful, but there are plenty of far more insightful texts on the same topic. I’ll keep it only because I enjoy filling my bookshelves with books that mention the devil in their titles.
devil books

Holy Shit, Shitty Hole (2 year Anniversary Post)

holy-blood-holy-grailHoly Blood, Holy Grail – Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln
Dell – 1983 (First published 1982)

I finally bit the bullet and read Holy Blood, Holy Grail. This very stupid pile of shit is perhaps best known today as the blueprint for Dan Brown’s the Da Vinci Code, but it was a best-seller on its release and has had a huge effect on the formulation and popularization of conspiracy theories ever since. I never expected it to be any good, but I thought that I should read it to familiarize myself with modern grail lore before beginning some of the more dubious texts on that subject.

The main idea here, and we’ve all heard this one before, is that Jesus had a kid. The authors claim that Jesus was actually married to Mary Magdalen and that this pair had a child. Personally, I see absolutely no reason for the historical Jesus to have remained celibate. We don’t know where he was or what he was doing during his 20s. What do most people do in their 20s? They go out and ride whatever they can get their hands on. It would have been weird if Jesus was a virgin. I don’t need the evidence in this book to convince me that he might have had kids. I would be more interested in sensible reasons to believe that he didn’t. And less than 50 pages of this 450+ page book are actually spent discussing the evidence for a horny Jesus. The other 400 pages are taken up with the authors making complete idiots out of themselves.

So one of the authors, I can’t remember which one, read a book on his holidays one year in the early 70s. This book was about Berenger Sauniere, a priest in the south of France who had suddenly became rich in the late 1800s. There were all kinds of rumours about Berenger having found treasure of some kind, and the lad reading the book thought this was pretty interesting and decided to do some research on the mystery of the priest’s wealth. He went over to France and started looking for clues. While he was over there, somebody gave him an anonymous tip-off that there was a dossier of curious documents in a library in Paris that might contain information pertaining to this mystery. Sure enough, he goes to the library and there, in this dossier, are a bunch of cool documents that keep mentioning a weird sounding secret society. Convinced that he’s onto something big, the lad makes some photocopies, goes back to England and starts mashing his pieces of the puzzle together. A few weeks later he gets another call from his anonymous informant who tells him that a few more very interesting documents seem to have shown up in the secret dossier in the library. Our boy is on the next ferry over to France, and what do ye know, when he gets to the library, the dossier is looking thicker. This happens a few times over the next few years, and by the end, his friends and he have managed to piece together the peculiar history of the Priory of Sion, a mysterious secret society that has links to the Merovingian and Carolingian Dynasties of Medieval France, the Knights of the Round Table, the Cathars, the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons.

The authors use all the evidence from the secret dossier and a generous dollop of imagination to argue that the Priory of Sion is a secret society devoted to protecting the bloodline of Jesus Christ in the hopes that they will someday be able to reinstate his descendants as the rightful rulers of civilization.

The problem here is that the Priory of Sion is completely fake. It was made up by Pierre La Plantard, a dodgy Frenchman who believed that he was the descendant of some medieval French Kings. Him and his friends had been the ones putting the documents into the secret dossier all along. The whole thing was a load of absolute bollocks. Now, Pierre’s claim was that he was of Merovingian descent, but the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail were claiming that he was the direct descendant of Jesus Christ. He got a bit embarrassed about this and renounced the book. His mates that were involved the hoax came forth and acknowledged that they made up the whole thing. (As far as I can tell, the authors’ response to this was to maintain that their claims were true and to claim that La Plantard was lying about having lied.)

pierre-le-plantardPierre La Plantard (AKA Pierre Christ)

I knew that the Priory of Sion was made up before I read this book, and that made it a fairly excruciating experience. The ‘evidence’ presented in here is taken from novels, legends, the bible and hearsay, and the authors’ reasoning is absolutely infuriating. You’ll see their approach criticized in any review of this book; it really is terrible. It made me recall that of the protagonists in Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. (And I would find it very surprising if that novel, written in 1988, was not written partly in response to this book and how it had been received.) Leigh, Lincoln and Baigent accept any tangential idea that pops into their heads as long as it can not be immediately disproved. I have adopted a similar approach below to prove that Adolf Hitler was a descendant of Count Dracula:

Transylvania was under Austrian Hapsburg Rule between 1699 and 1867. This would have meant that things and people from Transylvania would sometimes have found their way back to Austria.

Count Dracula, Transylvania’s most infamous resident, although made famous in an 1897 novel, was actually based on a real person, Vlad the Impaler. Vampyrism is probably not a supernatural condition but some kind of hereditary disease, and so Vlad’s descendants would also have been vampires if he was one, which he probably was.

Did the bloodline of Dracula find its way into Braunau am Inn, the birthplace of Hitler?

Well that would explain a lot. We know that Hitler’s mother was born of peasant stock and had a thing for older men. (Hitlers dad was 23 years her senior.) Would she have been able to resist the charms of a tall, dark stranger with a mysterious foreign accent? I think not. If Vlad, or one of his descendants, had shown up on her doorstep, she would have let them drain her right then and there. Ok, I know at this point our argument might seem a bit tenuous, but if we continue with this line of reasoning, a lot of things begin to make a lot of sense.

Ok, so Hitler’s mother was definitely drained by a vampire, thus becoming a vampire herself. She got pregnant with a vampire baby. She tried to pass it off as her employer’s, but this baby had dark hair, like his real father.

Hitler was certainly responsible for a lot of bloodshed. Think about it dummy: Vampires love blood! Was his body ever found? No; he flew off into the night!

At this stage, anyone with an ounce of sense will agree that Hitler is a vampire and probably still alive. It would be utterly ridiculous to claim otherwise.

I did that in about 10 minutes, and I reckon it’s probably more entertaining  and no less sensible than the work of Leigh, Baigent and Lincoln.

Holy Blood, Holy Grail is a pile of shit, freshly emitted from a large hairy anus. At least the Da Vinci Code was superficially entertaining. This is just embarrassing. I wouldn’t recommend it.

This post marks two years of this blog. I’m going to become a dad at some stage in the next month, so things on here might be a bit slow for a while. Make sure you like the facebook page for future updates. Thanks for all the interest.