A reader sends in this essay from Salon, of all places, really lighting into the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club for its idiotic idea to host a Satanic black mass as an exercise in diversity. The essayist, Elizabeth Stoker, says that the “debacle” it turned into revealed how empty is the liberalism of HECSC and its approach to culture. Excerpts:

If there is any substance to Satanism beyond an eminently collegiate desire to be stridently counterintuitive, you wouldn’t know it from following this saga. Never at any point was anyone able to articulate a practice or tenet that wasn’t a mere reaction: the black mass is only a riff, after all, on the Catholic Mass, and the symbols and associated “sacraments” are all imitations as well.

In fact, the very decision to host the black mass seems at the final analysis to be derivative: the HECSC never bothered to explain what about the event would’ve been ennobling or enriching for anyone in particular; they assumed that something other than the dominant culture had to have some kind of value merely by nature of being unlike the norm. Presumably institutions of higher education aspire to greater goals than exposure to whatever not-norm is floating around in the cultural ether, but if a metric existed for selecting Satanism in particular, it was never provided.


Which ultimately indicates the reason the HECSC was so paralyzed when it came to defending the choice, though they managed to sputter about arrogance and ignorance. The fact was that they were only able to cite personal defects among members of the resistance rather than the merits of their own position because they more or less occupy a non-position, one that states quite simply that other things are good while patently refusing to interrogatewhat exactly those other things are. The Boston community, meanwhile, was more than happy to pry into the specific contents of the traditions and practices at hand.

For the HECSC, religions are content neutral. That is, all religions are of identical value and validity simply because they are religions and people practice them; there can be no inquiry into the ways in which they genuinely differ and/or offer more or less enriching experiences to interested parties or adherents. So when the Catholics and other assorted Christians of the Boston area responded sharply to the announcement of the mass, it was impossible for the HECSC to mount much of a spirited response: all they could say was that the traditions were distinct, and that anyone who couldn’t see the supposedly inherent value in distinct traditions was guilty of rank ignorance.

Read the whole thing. It’s good — and the essayist even praises the Boston Catholic community for its response, saying that it managed to teach outsiders a lesson in what the Eucharist really means to followers of Roman Catholicism. One lesson here is that it reveals that the HECSC is probably not at all interested in how religious actually differ as it is in thumbing its childish nose at Christianity. Surprise, surprise.