Temple President Silver,
As you know, I joined the Church as a custodian—the Sanitation Specialist II. It was a fancy way of saying that I pushed a mop and didn’t have to do toilets. I was happy to have the work, and I again thank you for the opportunity, but it was just a job. I’ve had many like it, and I kept my head down. Some of that was because it’s what I’ve always done, but I can admit to more: I was nervous about the Church and its members. We all know the prejudice of the outside world, and I was no different. So I mopped. I heard the wild noises coming from the services and turned away, shaking my head.
Over time I met members of the parish. They were warm, and I was welcomed. I cringe remembering how coy I was, but the congregants were gracious all the same, so persistently nice. I was invited to worship countless times over the weeks and months, but I resisted. I ran out of excuses, then stopped supplying them. The congregants knew I was bullshitting them, I’m sure, but they stayed as nice as ever. Our back and forth was like an old dance they had done a thousand times, one they’d happily do a thousand times more, endlessly until they wore me down.
I don’t know when, but my misconceptions started to feel silly. I realized that I was the problem, shutting myself off from a perfectly friendly community for no good reason, and just like that my prejudice fell away. I heeded the call, and I will always remember my first entrance into the church as a worshipper: the gruff shouts from Brother Parelle, the screams of ecstasy from Sister Sanchez, and above all, the fire with which Father Braun led the congregation. He moved like a man possessed, like the sweep of his arms was a force of nature. The lowest rumble of his voice chilled my soul and his highest shout stoked something new within me, a dormant thing that—now awakened—I can not live without.
I embraced the Church and it embraced me back. I soon became the Sanitation Specialist III, responsible for buffing the black marble of the nave and transept. I appreciated the promotion, but started my new job with the impression that the dark floor looked the same whether or not it was buffed. I soon learned the truth. I buffed for hours, every day, and discovered a subtle change. The marble was just a little smoother, a little glossier. I’ve since pointed it out to people, and some agree, are complimentary.
I think that the average person prefers the buffed version, but I don’t. My buffing has made the marble too smooth, elevating the floor to something more than it is. Are we supposed to walk on rock as smooth as still water? Or is it better to have a floor made all the more beautiful for its imperfections?
I don’t mean to be dramatic, but the same question has become true for the Church itself. With all due respect, President Silver, your direction would have us buff our core values by the day, by the hour, by the minute, buffed and buffed and buffed until something raw and beautiful was rubbed clean. Sterile. Unrecognizable.
As you know, the tension between you and Father Braun could not be resolved, and Father Braun left the congregation earlier this year. Brother Parelle, Sister Sanchez, and countless others followed him, a schism that has left our Church a husk of its former self. Gone are the gruff shouts and screams of ecstasy. Worst of all, I feel that fire within myself again going dormant. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I offer my resignation, both as the Sanitation Specialist III and as a member of His dark parish, the First True Church of Satan.
I don’t want to make this complaint about me, but I feel like you are entitled to a full explanation of my perspective. I also don’t mean to make a grocery list of grievances, but I think that presenting an outline of issues facing the Church will be easiest to digest. The grievances are in descending order:
- Father Braun is the most charismatic leader I have ever followed, and I miss him
- More should have been done to enact his vision for:
- Red stained glass would have been nice
- I don’t understand why so many people rejected the idea
- We all agreed that the Community Room could use an update
- Why has this renovation taken so long?
- The Blood Fountain was a really good idea
- I know it would have been impractical, but we could have made it work
- Rites of Passage
- I like the idea of a more stringent application process, especially in service to weeding out the weaker in our congregation
- Trial by combat needn’t be to the death
- Grandfathering-in of active members could have smoothed the transition
- Animal sacrifices are messy, I know, but I am sure that I and the other Sanitation Specialists would have risen to the occasion
- Human sacrifice should not have been so quickly dismissed
- I know of at least five congregants who would have volunteered for the honor
- Church of Satan transplants
- Your acceptance and recruitment of LaVey Satanists is misguided
- They are:
- I’m all about hedonism, but it should be in service to something greater
- LaVey Satanists are just a bunch of fat cats
- Increased dues
- In the short term of my membership, my annual dues have gone from $450 to $675
- I don’t mind the increase, but do not see how this extra money has gone back into the church
- I know of other members that have not seen their dues increase as much, or at all
- Other complaints
- The congregation is still in need of another Sanitation Specialist I
- We used to do hot dog cookouts every other Friday
- Why did we stop?
- I miss that
- The quality of the hallucinogens seems to have slipped
- This may be on me
There are still three months left in my current membership, a balance of $168.75, which I am happy to yield to the Church. The last thing that I want is hard feelings. That said, I do plan on joining Father Braun at the Second True Church of Satan as soon as possible.
As parting words, I ask that you remember the marble! Consider leaving my position empty for a time. Perhaps the slightly scuffed floor will remind you of His truest form, one of dischord and acrimony.
I hope there are no hard feelings, and that your vision for your congregation comes to a truly dark and twisted fruition.
Ernest T. Grimes