the preacher burning books of Tennessee. Honestly, I don’t know why people are surprised by this stunt. This scenario isn’t the first time Greg Locke has burned a book that disagrees with his ideology. After all, man is neither unique nor intelligent. It follows a playbook that most bosses use. However, book burning has a long history, as does banning them. And there is a hazard here. So, let’s take a look at the past and how it affects our present.
The lessons of history
According to an article by Slate, an ancient Assyrian king built a royal library in Nineveh. He did this to retain the history and knowledge accumulated in his kingdom and those he subjugated. Unfortunately, when neighboring invaders overthrew the empire, the library was burned down and destroyed.
Time magazine reports that in 213 BCE, Chinese Emperor Shih Huang Ti believed that history would begin with him if he destroyed all of his kingdom’s records. Not to mention that in 1258 the Tigris is said to have sunk black from the ink of books destroyed when the Mongols sacked Baghdad.
Finally, the Christians began a crusade of violence after Constantine made Christianity the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. As a result, society could then be conformed through Christian beliefs, teachings and practices once pagan thinking was removed from public discourse and sight.
Burn books nothing new
There is a biblical saying that nothing is new under the sun. The same is true with the destruction of collective knowledge, wisdom and history. This has been happening for centuries.
In the middle of the 20th century, however, things changed. Burning book like ritual display came to the fore in 1933 when Nazi groups burned massive amounts of books written by Jews, gays, and anyone who opposed Nazi ideology.
The whole thing was an elaborate and manipulative display of Powerful. Why? Their belief in the “purity of race” included the notion of “a true cultural and ideological canon”.
Anything that didn’t fit, didn’t conform, or didn’t belong was thrown at the stake. They used these images to convey this message, forcing people to accept Nazi disinformation as inevitable and inescapable.
The symbolism behind the destruction is a modern interpretation.
So how did the Nazis know that people watching these books being burned would work to their advantage? Basically, the destruction of books as a control became more effective when common people had easier access to the written word thanks to the invention of the printing press in 1444,
Archives of the past, mythologies, religious discourse, philosophy, science, daily life, etc., copies have become available for the first time. Things to learn and improve over generations of readers and writers.
Over time, cheaper printing offered books to everyday people, who began to understand that access to information can change the world. Ideas are formed from reading books, collecting information. This is why reading, writing and understanding the language (among other skills) are so important.
The Nazis took control of book burning and amplified it through presentation. Hitler and his cronies were expert manipulators. People felt emboldened or helpless in their campaign assault, and the Third Reich used it to good effect. Why do you think the Nazis acted to the next horrible extreme?
Words matter – spoken, recorded or written down for posterity. They hold the power to manipulate events and transform matter into will. As witches, pagans and magical people, we understand the words. That is why we must use them with caution and wisdom. This is why we must do everything to protect them.
Who (or what) is really at risk
We live in a time when the written and recorded word is readily available. We have libraries, archives and electronic data storage. Even so, we must keep the written and recorded words available to all through assistance.
Banning books is an attempt to prevent people from reading things that don’t fit someone’s ideology. Sound familiar? Currently, several states and school boards attempt to prevent children and young people from accessing what they consider to be “unacceptable” material. Many of these works are of Black, LGBTQ, and progressive thinkers. And of course, there are the “occult” writings of children’s literature to deal with.
While it may not sound as scary as outright burning, banning books from schools and public libraries has a similar effect. Control over the minds of individuals who might otherwise adopt a different view of the world than those who oppose the material.
In a word…
If children are taught that people of different races, genders, religions and beliefs are equal and share the same rights within society, then change will be happen when these children become adults. Over time, they will contribute these ideas through action within cultural norms, affecting the overall values of our country.
Laws will be developed to reflect these new ideas such as equality of marriage, reproductive freedom without fear, the ability to live in a society where your very existence is not threatened because of the color of your skin or nature of your sex.
Words are the fuel that creates cash. This is what we must protect. Ideas that promote justice, equality and social equity that everyone can benefit from.
This is what is threatened by the likes of streamers and book engravers who use the show to make a point. The freedom to live, learn and grow in the way that suits us best.
Banners and Burners are the ones that to wish have the power to block people from reading anything other than their “approved” list. Something based on a particular group’s subjective opinion of what is “righteous” or “moral” in their ideological canon.
These people have always believed that if they could prevent access, they could prevent the change of their favorite “high morality.” Except we live in a time where even if they do manage to ban (or burn), there are multiple ways for interested people to find those words. Our best defense is to understand and act on this reality.
Does the pastor who burns books threaten witches?
This whole post was generated from reading Jason Mankey’s “What Really Matters” and John Becket’s “Those Who Burn Books Will Eventually Burn People.” Two interesting perspectives on the book burning event sponsored by (as Jason hilariously prefers to call it) “Pastor Jerkface.”
What bothers me is this quote from Jerkface (in an article in The Hill):
“We have a constitutional right and a biblical right to do what we’re going to do tonight,” Locke says in the video. “We have a burning permit, but even without one, a church has the religious right to burn occult material that it considers a threat to its religious rights and freedoms and belief systems.
Here is my question.
How was what was burned that night (except for the protester who threw a bible into the flames; now the is dangerous material) a “threat” to their religious rights and belief systems? Aren’t our religious freedoms also protected by the same laws?
There was DISNEY stuff in there for heaven’s sake. And maybe a clock (or a jewelry box)? Probably an antique passed down from a grandmother who knew folk magic. I do not know. The video shows a group of people becoming giddy throwing perceived “evil things” at a large bonfire that evening. A little crazy.
No witch or pagan proselytizes his church. Witches do not seek their babies (some medieval propaganda) to devour. Like so many marginalized people, we want to practice our witchcraft, ceremonies and rituals in peace. We want to wear our pentacles without a Christian trying to “save” us or proselytize us. For my part, this Witch would like to be accepted by society rather than feared.
OK, maybe a Small feared. I’m joking. Kind of.
In the end, Pastor Jerkface’s book burning ritual had more to do with OPTICS than anything else. If it was about saving people from the occult (or from their sins), he would do it not broadcast it live. Plain and simple. So yeah, he’s probably trying to instill fear in anyone who doesn’t tow his brand of conspiracy (see what I did there) and inspire those who do. He wants attention, outrage and agitation in his congregation.
No, we can’t ignore his defiant apology or his request for Christian purity or whatever else he wants. We must do what we can to repudiate such actions and encourage laws that prevent books from being outright banned or burned. Marginalized groups to be targeted.
Are witches in danger? Probably not. John Beckett is right that we have laws in this country to protect us from wrongdoers like Greg Locke and his deceived sheep should they step over the line.
The ones we really need to worry about and support are Black, Asian, Latinx, Middle Eastern, women of all ethnicities, and LGBTQ communities. We must work for inclusion in witchcraft and paganism. We find the strength to defeat the Lockes of the world together.
And we need to come out and vote for people who will stand up for justice, fairness and the rights of all. We need to reverse the polarity toward authoritarianism that this country has walked in since 2016 through our votes (and our magic).
Witch, be a good neighbor
In his article, Jason Mankey suggests doing our best to fight Greg Locke and his ilk. And I agree with his point of view on some level. We try to make things right in our own house and ignore the little man shouting obscenities around the corner.
However, there comes a time when we need to see the big picture, discern if history is about to repeat itself. Anti-Semitism is gaining ground in this country (again).
Laws that would protect immigrants and transgender people are overturned. Roe vs Wade is under serious threat and could be revoked at any time. Who’s to say a renegade firefighter preacher couldn’t feed the belly of the beast.
Sure. We should be at our best, but with our eyes wide open and ready to help protect our neighbours, our families and our occult communities as well.
The burning of books, the prohibition and all that goes with it are attempts by individuals to take power or keep it. It is we who prevent them from succeeding. I will end this LONG article with a quote from a man I admire – Martin Luther King, Jr:
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty of the wicked, but the silence of the good.”