Chronicled within Michael’s book The Church of Satan is a comprehensive history of the so-named organization. In such a highly Judaic-Christian society any mention at all of such an organization is taboo, yet, for the persons who were on the front lines of such a movement nothing is off-limits.
To call Michael’s work the definitive edition of the Church of Satan’s history would not be an understatement. Indeed, coming from someone who attained the Second Level of the Fourth Degree within the Church-Magister Templi IV-II- as well as the founding High Priest of the Temple of Set (The Church of Satan’s spiritual successor) nothing less than perfection is to be expected.
The book is comprehensive, to say the least. With over 800 listed sources and over 530 pages of Appendixes, the author’s coverage of the Church’s rise and decline is extensive. Starting from Anton LaVey’s early career, leading to the formal founding, and enduring the painful growths of being noticed by the sensationalist public, the book only ends with the Church’s gruesome demise.
Throughout the length the reader is treated to every secret, obstacle and reactionary tirade regarding the Church and Anton LaVey’s activity. Among the masses list of such “dirty laundry” is Anton’s animal cruelty, domestic violence, homophobia, opportunist lying tendencies, as well as, by the end, his material lust thus becoming a sell-out and obscure cultist.
From a genuinely progressive viewpoint one cannot excuse any of the uber-reactionary tendencies of the church; the American nationalism and mystifying anti-communism, the latter policy to expel and bar homosexuals, along with the personality cult as well as the cowardly, elitist manners in which he handled church attacks and events, hardly constitutes anything worthy defending even minutely on the part of any Leftist.
While Michael’s ignorant tendencies occasionally reveal themselves throughout this memoir his own beliefs are largely pushed to the background instead leaving most of the pages devoted to unraveling Anton’s crazed world.
Still, though drowned in unforgivable worldviews the concept of “worshiping one’s innate needs through the use of melodramatic ritual” seems to be something to stay for a while more and this text is as detailed as any scholar on the subject could ask. Though bias, unsurprisingly, I believe it to offer a glimpse into not only Anton’s mind but that of the larger religious history of Western society.