An AIA review of The Black Mask: Satanism in America Today
Written by John Charles Cooper
Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Publishing Company, 1990
Copyright 1994 by Bob and Gretchen Passantino.
(The Black Mask: Satanism in America Today by John Charles Cooper. Old
Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Publishing Company, 1990, Trade paperback, 192
Dozens of lurid, sensational books on Satanism cram display racks at our
local mall bookstore. The bold covers and screaming titles promise blood, gore,
mystery, terror, and sinister incantations. The lineup at our local Christian
bookstore is nearly identical -- the only differences being that in the Christian
books Satan finally loses and God wins by a hair. Book after book promises to
deliver facts, evidence, sound analysis, and constructive advice. Book after
book fails, most simply rehashing common rumors and proposing fantastic
conspiracies. In fact, out of the two hundred book working bibliography we
developed for our own research on satanism and witchcraft, we recommend only one
Christian book as a good general introduction to contemporary American satanism:
The Black Mask by John Charles Cooper.
This short, fast-paced, well-documented book brims with pithy, laser-sharp
observations about satanism. Cooper is not speaking off the top of his head:
he has spent thirty years teaching, counseling, and observing the American
religious scene. With a minimum of words he clearly summarizes the causes,
development, and current status of satanism. Following are excerpts illustrative
of the gems scattered throughout the book:
Fixation with the occult indicates that our society has neglected
the human soul, indeed neglected the human being, in pursuit of the
scientific-technological revolution and the power and wealth
technocracy has promised and delivered -- to some (p. 25).
In a personal interview, Cooper explained he wasn't afraid of the
controversy stirred by some of his more controversial statements against
conspiracy theories and against the credibility of breeders. "Truth is my only
motivation. I debunk what is not true because it is not true. I have no agenda
but truth. As a Christian, I believe you can't remain in a state of grace
without upholding the truth."
Satanism is political rebellion, ethical inversion, religious
heresy, and suicidal self-loathing, all mingled in one great,
taunting gesture of obscenity, thrown in the face of the universe.
. . . Satanism is the ultimate in deviant behavior, the preeminent
in perversion (p. 32).
Satanism, in the modern sense of that concept, began as a search for
sexual "kicks," sensual enjoyment, and power over others. That is
what it remains today (p. 38).
Popular culture, the way we see ourselves and the way we are
with one another, is the source of satanic activity, not some
"organized conspiracy." . . . We are the people our parents warned
us against. We, who call license "freedom," are the sources from
which the young and the unbalanced draw the elements to create their
individual "hells" (p. 53).
[Satanism] is utter selfishness, pure egotism in action, and a quest
for personal power and unlimited sensual pleasure. Destructive
occultism represents the triumph of the will and the rejection of
all authority. . . . (p. 54).
Satanism blesses and encourages the expression of all that is
natural to adolescent development -- rebellion, defiance, and
specialness -- yet it lacks a positive, rational framework and
totally disregards relational, social, and religious boundaries and
values (p. 61).
These feelings of power, the desire to control, and the
pathological pleasure in hurting others are emotions quite close to
those expressed in the utter hedonism, the conscienceless pleasure
seeking of the committed destructive occultist (p. 112).
After much thought, I believe that the claims of breeders and great
numbers of MPD [Multiple Personality Disorder] cases are classic
examples of urban legends. The reality of satanic crime makes
unthinking belief in unsupported claims unnecessary. I may be
wrong, of course, but logically there is no cause to accept claims
without proof (p. 120).
Those fascinated by the occult and drawn to the practices of
Satanism are obsessed with the dark, the filthy, the dead, the
irreverent, and the antisocial (p. 124).
John Charles Cooper has a broad background in philosophy, theology,
pastoral counseling, and teaching. Cooper has several earned degrees, including
an M.Div. from Lutheran Seminary, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy and
theology from the University of Chicago. He has written dozens of books
throughout the last thirty years. Currently Cooper teaches philosophy and
religion at Eastern Kentucky University and pastors All Saints Lutheran Church
in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Cooper has extensive experience counseling troubled
youth concerning cultic and occultic involvement, and has consulted with numerous
law enforcement representatives.
The Black Mask combines facts, evidence, sound analysis, and constructive
advice for dealing with the deadly world of contemporary American Satanism.
Cooper's book shows an intensity of commitment to moral absolutes and spiritual
integrity that alone rescues the Satanist from himself. As Cooper observes,
"Ignorance can be overcome with instruction, but moral stupidity continues its
devastation year after year" (p. 41).