Tuesday, October 12, 2004

More than a passing fad?

Brooks Alexander of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project (an "anti-cult" group) has a new book, Witchcraft Goes Mainstream

It gets favorable notice from Jeffrey Burton Russell, perhaps one of the last of the hardline historians of the medieval and early modern witch trials, who treated at least some of the victims as genuine Satanists.

The publisher's language manages to be both conventional and scare-mongering: "What do I say to my teenage daughter who wants to experiment with witchcraft?" Why not "son"? "Experimenting" -- sounds so much less committed than "adopting a different world view" or even "changing religions, much to her parents' horror."

Alexander's assertion that "historical" witchcraft is in the past would be challenged by plenty of journalists and anthropologists, for people are executed (usually by their neighbors) for the crime of so-called witchcraft all the time, particularly in Africa but also elsewhere.

Much of the Craft's appeal, Alexander asserts, arises because "The contagious excitement of cultural insurrection is modern Witchcraft’s functional substitute for missionary zeal." And then there is feminism, oh yes. Read the excerpt at the Web site. Much of the history is accurate enough, if polemical.


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