That sly come-hither stare

That sly come-hither stare November 5, 2023

If you read the previous post, you’ll understand why this headline from the white evangelical prudes at MovieGuide jumped out at me: “What Christians Need to Know About Witchcraft: ‘Satanic Culture Is Real.'”

The spiritual/ecclesiastical authority quoted in this journalistic offering is “Timmerie,” who hosts a podcast titled “Trending With Timmerie.” So this is not just essential information about What Christians Need to Know, it’s also “trending.” OK, then.

The podcast is hosted by Relevant Radio, which is like a slightly more right-wing online version of EWTN. MovieGuide is much more ecumenical than a lot of white evangelical ministries, embracing both weird right-wing white American evangelicalism and weird right-wing white American Catholicism. OK, then, again.

“The satanic culture is real, witchcraft is real, and I think we live in a culture where we like to act as if that’s just something that is make-believe, cute and entertaining to see in movies, especially around this time of the year,” “Trending with Timmerie” podcast host Timmerie said.

She explained that even though many people say witchcraft is fake, “Satan wants us to believe that.” It is, in fact, real.

The podcast host recalled a time in her childhood when she entered a store filled with crystals and witchcraft tools. There was even a woman who was a witch.

The evidence presented there is just about as compelling as that in the Witchcraft Is Real!!1! article from Charismanews discussed by Robyn Pennacchia: “Lady Who Watched ‘The Craft’ In High School Is Here To Warn About Halloween Dangers.”

Not a witch.

This is a sub-Christine O’Donnell “testimony” of a woman who’s feebly working the Mike Warnke beat by claiming to be a former “witch.” And Pennacchia isn’t exaggerating — she really is saying, basically, that she watched The Craft when she was in high school. (The Charismanews piece also includes the opinions of a Charisma Inc. “prophet”™ who warns readers not to be deceived by Satan into thinking that werewolves are not real.

Pennacchia surveys a few other articles from [Weekly World] Charismanews to offer more examples of “the absolutely batshit anti-Halloween weirdness” on Steve Strang’s Money Machine.

The weirdest thing about this weirdness is that it’s not just Spooky Season clickbait that surfaces in October. This is what Charismanews is like all year ’round. Witches, demons, ghosts, succubi, werewolves — all of it is real to the writers over there. But these lesser monsters are still marginal figures compared to the pantheon of Evil Gods that Strang’s prophets™ routinely warn against, like the “Jezebel Spirit” they discuss as a fearsome deity whose power they describe as rivaling that of the First Of Many Gods they claim to serve.

I’m not really joking here. These post-Peretti, spiritual-warfare American Christians — millions of them — are functional polytheists. They may be monolatrous — worshipping only one God — but they are not monotheistic. They believe that many, many Gods are real.

If you stand up in one of their churches and tell them that, prior to your salvation, you used to fly through the air with the Goddess Diana, they will believe that you did so because they believe that the Goddess Diana is real, and powerful, and more than capable of granting her human servants the power of flight.

If we put it to them in such stark terms, they’ll retreat a bit from that explicit claim and argue, instead, that what they believe is that Satan can deceive us by acting as the Goddess Diana, tricking the unwary into believing that there are many different Gods. Accuse them of being polytheists and they’ll indignantly correct you by insisting that they are merely Dualists who only believe in two Gods — the Good One and the Bad One.

Somehow Kandiss Taylor is not yet a columnist for Charismanews. You may remember Taylor as the “Jesus Guns Babies” woman — the Georgia Republican official who preaches anti-abortionism, creationism, flat-eartherism, and anti-vaxx nuttery. Kandiss Taylor is a firm member of the Witchcraft Is Real team, and recently made headlines by going after a more famous Taylor: “Failed MAGA candidate melts down at Taylor Swift: ‘You’re celebrating witchcraft.’

It’s not entirely fair to call Kandiss Taylor a “failed MAGA candidate.” Her campaign for governor didn’t get her elected to that office, or even result in double-digit poll results. But it landed her a sweet gig as a county Republican official with a high-profile MAGA podcast she can use as a fundraising machine.

Anyway, that Taylor’s Strangian attack on Taylor Swift isn’t worth any more serious discussion than the Werewolves Are Real guy. She’s not a witch. A time traveler maybe, but not a witch.

But here’s a more interesting article that doesn’t so much accuse Swift of being a witch as just take it for granted that she must be one: “‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ Could Usher End Of Faith-Based Films As We Know Them.”

That headline is a tease. It gets our hopes up for the “End of Faith-Based Films,” but then only discusses that faith-adjacent sub-genre industry’s new attempts to market to a new demographic.

What does any of that have to do with Taylor Swift? Not much, but the article strains to use the release of Swift’s concert movie as a news hook for a discussion of the changing (and shrinking) audience for the “Faith-Based Films” companies. It seems those movies have mainly succeeded due to a loyal base of married women. But that base is shrinking and can’t compete with the larger, more enthusiastic base of single women who go to see movies like Swift’s Eras Tour. So now the FBF producers are aiming for a different demographic — Unhappy White Guys (or, as they put it, “family values conservative Christian men.”

But this piece is not only about the box office prospects of “Faith-Based Films.” It uses that as a way to discuss “The Great Dechurching” and the Rise of the Nones and the realization that the White People’s Party has lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections, which the author of this piece seems to think is a bad thing.

And who is to blame for all of that? For the fact that more people went to see the Eras Tour than God’s Not Dead XXIV, or for the fact that white evangelical churches are shrinking, or for the fact that the White People’s Party keeps losing elections?

Single women are to blame for that. Unruly, disobedient, uppity single women. And who stands as a representative for all of those single women and the threat they pose to church and to state and to every God-ordained hierarchy? Taylor Swift.

This somehow makes Taylor Swift sound way cooler than I’d previously thought. (Partly, I think, this is because this article was originally intended to be about how Barbie was a threat to Faith-Based Films and to the church and to the future of the White People’s Party, but the author didn’t get around to finishing it until long after the Barbie movie’s reign over the box office, and so Taylor Swift is presented here as Lead Witch instead to avoid the embarrassment of everyone realizing he’s Still Very Upset About the Barbie Movie all these months later.)

So, anyway, the article never quite comes right out and says that Taylor Swift is a witch. But that’s still the gist of it. This, ultimately, is “What Christians Need To Know About Witchcraft” — it’s a word that comes up whenever men start to panic about the women they don’t seem to have control over.

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