Plans for a Satanic black mass Monday evening in Memorial Hall at Harvard University recall conservative icon William Buckley's famous God and Man at Yale, which in 1951 chastised his Ivy League school for abandoning its Christian roots. His critique applied to nearly all of America's most prestigious, historically Protestant academies that shed their church affiliations in favor of a brash secularism.
What would Buckley, a devout Catholic, say today about a black mass at Harvard, the nation's oldest university and founded by the Puritans to train Calvinist clergy?
The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston expressed its “deep sadness and strong opposition to the plan to stage a 'black mass' on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge.” Certainly Buckley would be sad too but not too surprised. He diagnosed the spiritual and intellectual trajectory over 60 years ago.
A statement from Harvard Extension School carefully explains that “an independent student organization,” the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, will host a “controversial student event involving a historical reenactment of a black mass ceremony that has a narrator providing historical context and background.”
The school website offers a further statement from the black mass student host group, which will partner for the grim event with the Satanic Temple of New York, whose devotees will presumably provide the seasoned demonic expertise the Harvard students lack:
We are hosting a reenactment of a historical event known as a Black Mass. The performance is designed to be educational and is preceded by a lecture that provides the history, context, and origin of the Black Mass. While a piece of bread is used in the reenactment, the performance unequivocally does not include a consecrated host. Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices. This performance is part of a larger effort to explore religious facets that continue to influence contemporary culture.
Naturally, the school website insists it does not “endorse the views or activities” of any independent student group but does support the rights of students and faculty to “speak and assemble freely.” It also adds that the black mass hosts additionally are inclusively scheduling a “Shinto tea ceremony, a Shaker exhibition, and a Buddhist presentation on meditation-as part of a student-led effort to explore different cultures.”
Inclusive indeed. Will the Cultural Studies Club re-create an Aztec ritualistic human sacrifice in its expansive exploration of different cultures? Or maybe some sati, burning alive a newly widowed woman in homage to a Hindu goddess? Why not sacrifice children to Moloch to understand ancient Canaanite folkways?
Maybe Harvard inclusivity is not yet ready for full throttle multiculturalism. Baby steps. Meanwhile, the visiting New York Satanists will provide “commentary and historical context.” But in the interest of clarity, Harvard should acknowledge that a black mass affirms nothing positive but is strictly a negation, mocking the Roman Catholic Eucharist. Will Harvard be open to organized, ritualistic mockery of other faiths, such as Islam?
[Read the whole article here.]