Demonology Past and Present by Kurt Koch and Satan, Satanism and Witchcraft by Richard W. DeHaan

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Well it’s Halloween today, and I thought I had better make a post to give you something to read before the trick-or-treaters come to set fire to your cat. Here’s a review of the two books that I have managed to read since September. Enjoy!

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Demonology Past and Present – Kurt Koch
Kregel -1973

Satan, Satanism and Witchcraft – Richard W. DeHaan
Zondervan – 1972

These ones aren’t just shitty books; they’re actually shit books. I have barely any free time anymore, and so I have to limit my leisure reading to my Sunday morning craps. Being in school has made it so that those holiest of moments on the Sabbath are now my only opportunity to read about Satan without feeling irresponsible. (I used to limit my toilet reading to the collection of Poe’s poems that I kept under the bathroom sink. Whenever my phone was out of battery and I couldn’t play solitaire while pinching a loaf, I would treat myself to an old ‘Edgar Allan Poo’.)

As you have probably guessed, these two books are awful. They came as part of a collection I purchased a few years ago from a hippy lady in the suburbs. She was selling a collection of 6 books, only 2 of which I actually wanted to read. I have since read and reviewed all 4 of the books that I was not interested in, but the ones I wanted have remained on the shelf. Anyways, both of these books deal with the topic of Satanism from a Christian point of view, and unsurprisingly, they are both repulsively stupid.

Let’s consider the authors for a moment. One of them is named Kurt Koch. Old Kurty is a classic case of “Koch by name; Koch by nature”. And what about his companion; Mr. Richard W. DeHaan? Well, they say that a picture speaks a thousand words, but the below picture only seems to repeat the word ‘wanker’ a thousand times.
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As i have probably mentioned elsewhere, I find it fascinating to read  the ideas of people who take each word of the Bible as being literally true. Let’s be completely honest here; 99% of the time, when a non-christian comes into contact with a christian, the non christian can instantly be sure of the fact that they are more intelligent than the christian. Oftentimes though, we can give the christian the benefit of the doubt;  although the person claims to be a christian, it can be safely assumed that they have not actually read the bible. When a person has actually read the bible and still claims to be a christian, you can safely infer that that person is an imbecile of the lowest order. To all whom encounter them, rubes of this variety seem to be entirely incapable of thinking critically.

On closer inspection though, these people are capable of a form of critical thinking. Unfortunately, the logic on which they base their thought is both flawed and perverse. Instead of using reason to reason, they use fear, prejudice and a unhealthy splash of utter nonsense. The authors of these two books are particularly fond of this approach. They weave a web of dogma around the topics of Satan and Satanism, and make themselves look like a pair of proper fools. One of the big points that both authors push is that many people who are having problems with their mental health are actually possessed by a demon and more in need of an exorcist than a psychologist or a doctor! My favourite argument that is put forth in either of these books though, is DeHaans argument for the consistency of the Bible’s attitude towards witchcraft. There has always been a bit of a problem with this issue; despite the infamous “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” rule, there are actually quite a few witchy characters in the bible. There is a particular incident in Genesis when Jacob plays with some sticks to alter the appearance of the lambs being born to Laban’s flock. (Gen 30:37-43) He peels patterns into the bark on some sticks, and the animals who mate near the sticks will give birth to offspring with a similar pattern on their fur. Now let’s think about that for a moment. If a woman were to  have attempted something similar to this 500 years ago, she would almost definitely have been burnt as a witch. If somebody was to do something similar in the 1970s, the authors of these books would likely have attempted to perform an exorcism on them. How then does DeHaan get around the fact that Jacob, grandson of Abraham himself, was a dirty, occulting, sorcerer? Well, it turns out that God was actually trolling Jacob; he had organised the sheep to mate a certain way, and Jacob’s twigs never had any effect. Therefore, the sticks were a waste of time and Jacob hadn’t actually done magic. That’s fair enough, but DeHaan seems to think that this gets Jacob off the hook; however, it doesn’t change the fact that Jacob attempted to do magic. Just because he was a shit sorcerer doesn’t mean he wasn’t a sorcerer. It’s all about intent, you fucking dope DeHaan. (On a depressing side note, I just looked it up, and it seems that many people are still seriously discussing the tenability of Jacob’s approach to genetic engineering.) DeHaan’s twisted defenses of other biblical witches are just as unsatisfying, but this is hardly surprising. He is stretching the prim, white blanket of reason over an awkward, shit-brown, virulent mass of obtuse, dogmatic rubbish.

There was one cool part of DeHaan’s book where he lists some other books that you shouldn’t read. I haven’t heard of these, and maybe he made them up, but I’m sure as hell going to keep an eye out for them in the future. Let me know if you have copies!!!

To conclude; these two books were truly moronic. Don’t waste your time with this kind of crap unless you’re crapping. School is really getting intense now, so it’ll probably be another little while before I post anything else. In the meantime, have a good Halloween, listen to metal, worship Satan and remember to keep it anti-christian!

Dictionary of Witchcraft – Collin De Plancy

Philosophical Library – 1965

This was a very disappointing purchase. I bought my copy online and never had the chance to look through the book before buying it. Based on the title, I naively presumed that this book would be a translation of Dictionnaire Infernal by De Plancy. I was mostly wrong.
Instead of a straight forward translation of the Dictionnaire Infernal, this book is largely an alphabetized list of French witches. Some of the entries are vaguely entertaining, but none of them are particularly believable. I liked the entry on Tanchelin:

In 1125 a heretic named Tanchelin was revered to such a degree in some provinces that people drank his urine and preserved his excrement as a relic. The money that came to him…enabled him to have good food and superb service. Fathers begged him to sleep with their daughters and wives.

That’s all it says. This is certainly a valuable nugget of information, but there’s no mention of Tanchelin’s witchy heresies! (I googled him. His name was Tanchelm, his heresies weren’t particularly wicked and he was dead by 1115.)

Now I’m not one to get upset when a book isn’t convincing, but this book isn’t merely unconvincing; it’s deceiving. It actually refers to itself as ‘The Dictionary of Demonology’ in Wade Baskin’s introduction, and then on the very next page it uses the title ‘The Dictionary of Witchcraft’. The slightly embarrassing entry on the book’s own author mentions, ‘this dictionary, of which the first edition appeared in two volumes in 1818’ (1818 being the year Dictionnaire Infernal was published!), and also specifically references the book as the ‘second edition of the Dictionary of Demonology’. In 1965 the Philosophical Library publishing company  released this book and a different book titled ‘Dictionary of Demonology’.   Perhaps Baskin was trying to recreate the ‘two volume’ feel of the 1818 edition of the book and purposely split the entries into the categories of witchcraft and demonology. That would be acceptable if it was actually alluded to somewhere in this book. Baskin’s shitty editing makes it all the more irritating.

I can’t be entirely sure if the books are a pair; the other book costs far more than this one, and I’m not willing to risk another expensive disappointment. Also, it’s difficult to compare the entries in this piece of crap with the French text online. It is a translated dictionary after all. I know I’ve written a lot about this frustrating inconvenience, but I couldn’t find any discussion on this topic and I’d love to hear from anyone who could clear up this confusion.

To add insult to my frustration, I noticed that the covers of the two books differ slightly. In every image that I have found online, the Dictionary of Witchcraft has a purple rectangle and the Dictionary of Demonology has a blue rectangle.

My Dictionary of Witchcraft has a blue rectangle…

Overall I’ll give it 4/10. It was more trouble than it was worth but still fun.

I also have a copy of the Dictionary of Satanism by Wade Baskin that was published by the same company. I might review that if I manage to forgive Baskin.

(October 2016 update: The mystery over this publication and its mysterious companion has now been solved. Dictionary of Demonology is word-for-word the same book as the Dictionary of Witchcraft. Click here for full details.)