I arrived a few minutes late for the meeting with the hippie roofer. Two many DUIs had cost him his driver’s license, and I had to take him to the home-improvement store. “Been to church?” he asked. Dressed in a suit at 10:30 on Sunday morning, I was forced to admit the fact. “I’ve read the Bible; I’ve read both bibles,” he said in a tone that suggested he was just making conversation.
“Yeah, your Bible and Anton LaVey’s.”
“You mean The Satanic Bible?”
“Yeah, is that a problem? I’m not a Satanist, but, you know, they’ve got a legitimate point of view. Does that offend you?”
“Stupidity doesn’t really offend me, but let me ask you a question: Why would anyone want to identify with a being, when the only sources of information we have about him—the Jewish and Christian traditions—make him the enemy of the human race? If the Bible is just fiction, then so is Satan, but if it is more or less real, then Satan leads the pack of demons ‘who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.’ It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that anyone who puts himself on Satan’s side will do you any harm he can?”
The budding Satanist pretended to be convinced, but I was not at all surprised when...