Marilyn Manson and Neil Strauss, HarperCollins, 1998
“In the Bible, the word Antichrist is only used as a description of people who don’t believe in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. He is not described as one satanic entity – as the beast of Revelation which many people believe – but as a person, any person, who deviates from the Christian orthodoxy. But through years of myth-making and fear sowing, Christianity metamorphosed antichrists into a single Antichrist, an apocalyptic villain and bogeyman used to scare people as much as Santa Claus is used to regulate children’s behavior. After years of studying the concept, I began to realize that the Antichrist is a character – a metaphor … The apocalypse doesn’t have to be fire and brimstone. It could happen on a personal level. If you believe you’re the center of your own universe and you want to see the universe destroyed, it only takes one bullet.”
– Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson is right!
It would be too easy to agree with America’s political conservatives and televangelists who have been decrying Manson’s effect on our nation’s youth since he debuted at number three on the pop charts with Antichrist Superstar in 1996 and went on to sell millions of albums, or to dismiss him as a Gothic rock icon – a passing cartoon phenomenon – who “just wants to shock us.” It would be too easy to use the cliché, as even many secular rock journalists have done, that “Marilyn Manson is not the disease; he is just a symptom of our sick society.”
Manson’s art is a self-conscious satire on American culture, a country that aborts its own young by the tens of millions, a culture that doesn’t care for its youth, youth who in turn do not care about anything. Manson has simply told the truth. In his own sick, twisted, ironic way, he has told the truth and has given millions of young people what they want: a New Age Messiah.
Yes, this is the hard truth, but the truth is even more brutal than that. The 20th century evangelical church in America created Marilyn Manson!
The Long Hard Road Out of Hell chronicles Manson’s early life and his rise to fame to become one of America’s best selling recording artists. The autobiography uses as a motif an illustration of Dante’s Inferno. Each section of the book is named for a succeeding lower ring of hell. The sins and punishments of Dante’s hell are described as stages in Manson’s life as he slips deeper and deeper into human depravity, from his beginning as a lowly “worm” to his apotheosis as Antichrist Superstar.
Brain Warner (a/k/a Marilyn Manson) grew up in Canton, Ohio, the son of Episcopalian parents. An early girlfriend’s family were members of healing evangelist Rev. Earnest Angely’s church where Warner attended services each week. He also attended Heritage Christian school in Canton.
Manson tells of his sixth grade teacher, Ms. Price, warning him about the coming Antichrist, “If you do deny Christ and take this tattoo on your hand or forehead, you will be allowed to live. But you will have lost eternal life.”
According to Manson, Ms. Price claimed that Ronald Reagan was the Antichrist. (His name “Ronald Wilson Reagan” had six letters each. Read: 666!) This was one more sign that this was the final hour.
“The Antichrist was here on earth and we must prepare for the coming of Christ and the rapture. My teachers explained all of this not as if it was an opinion open to interpretation, but as if it were an undeniable fact ordained by the Bible.”
Manson claims that “Ms. Price would lay into Episcopalians and Catholics for misinterpreting the Bible and worshipping false idols by praying to the pope and the Virgin Mary.” Young Brian Warner, not understanding the error of his teacher, was angered and ashamed at his family for being Episcopalian.
“It was then that I began having nightmares – nightmares that continue to this day. I was thoroughly terrified by the idea of the end of the world and the Antichrist. So I became obsessed with it, watching movies like The Exorcist and The Omen and reading prophetic books like Centuries by Nostradamus, 1984 by George Orwell and the novelized version of the film, A Thief in the Night, which described very graphically people getting their heads cut off because they hadn’t received 666 tattoos on their forehead. Combined with the weekly harangues at Christian school, it all made the apocalypse seem so real, so tangible, so close that I was constantly haunted by dreams and worries about what would happen if I found out who the Antichrist was. Would I risk my life to save everyone else? What if I already had the mark of the beast somewhere on me where I couldn’t see it? What if the Antichrist was me? I was filled with fear and confusion.”
Manson’s description of himself up to this point is of an adolescent “worm” with no self-esteem, surrounded by a thoroughly dysfunctional family, a cross-dressing grandfather, an alcoholic Agent-Orange affected Vietnam veteran father, and hypocritical emotionally abusive Christians at school and church.
Kelsey Voss, graduate of Heritage Christian School class of 1987, testifies, “Brian Warner and I were in the same class in a Christian school in Canton, Ohio. Both Brian and I rejected the religious pressure of our education quite strongly. He, of course, promotes himself as a Satanist. I’ve rejected the whole idea of God and Satan, first by being an agnostic and then by becoming a witch.”
Warner’s family then moved to the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area where he enrolled in public school. “Christian school had prepared me well for public school. It defined the taboos, then held them away at arms length, leaving me reaching for them in vain. As soon as I switched schools, it was all there for the taking – sex, drugs, rock, the occult. I didn’t even have to look for them: They found me.”
While a high school student, Warner was introduced by a friend to Satanism. He witnessed his friend’s older brother cutting himself with a knife and using the blood in a Satanic ritual invoking the names of demons. After waking up with a hangover after a night of drinking, smoking pot and being forced to drink Southern Comfort used as bong water, he realized, “I could use black magic to turn the lowly lot life had given me around – to attain a position of power that other people would envy and accomplish things that other people couldn’t.”
In ninth grade, Warner read No One Here Gets Out Alive, about the Doors lead singer, Jim Morrison; wrote macabre poems; immersed himself in role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons; and listened to heavy metal rock albums. “I began to appreciate music as a universal healer, an entry way to a place where I could be accepted, a place with no rules and no judgments.”
Warner bought convicted mass murderer Charles Manson’s Lie album, which featured him singing bizarre, almost comical songs like “Garbage Dump” and “Mechanical Man.” He writes, “[This] was the beginning of my identification with Manson. He was a gifted philosopher, more powerful intellectually than those who condemned him. But at the same time, his intelligence made him seem eccentric and crazy, because extremes – whether good or bad – don’t fit into society’s definition of normalcy.”
Warner’s foray into the rock music scene came after he had failed in his attempts to be published as a horror fiction writer. While working as a music critic covering local bands for a start-up rock magazine, he saw that early 1990s bands “had nothing to say.” Warner was encouraged to form his own band using lyrics from the macabre poems he had composed.
“As a performer, I wanted to be the loudest, most persistent alarm clock I could be, because there didn’t seem like any other way to snap society out of its Christianity and media induced coma…. The words Marilyn Manson seemed like an apt symbol for modern day America, and the minute I wrote it on paper for the first time I knew that it was what I wanted to become. All the hypocrites in my life had helped me to realize that everybody has a light and a dark side, and neither can exist without the other. I remember reading Paradise Lost in high school and being struck by the fact that after Satan and his angel companions rebelled against heaven, God reacted to the outrage by creating man in his image. In other words, in John Milton’s opinion at least, man’s existence is not just a result of God’s benevolence but also of Satan’s evil.”
While striving for recognition as a stage performer, Manson perfected his nihilism. To Manson, Satanism was not just a stage gimmick but a lifestyle. “Around the time of the Gainesville [University of Florida] murders, when eight college students were stabbed, I took a bunch of photos of [his girlfriend] Missi lying naked covered in blood, as if she had been brutally butchered. We left our gory photographs in restaurants on buses where people could find them and do whatever their consciences dictated.”
During his rise to fame in the south Florida underground scene, he recounts atrocities committed in drug induced sprees of nihilism: sabotaging nativity scenes in an attempt to create political uprising; making prank calls to a girl whom he lusts after; then threatening to rape her and crush her with his car; tying a naked woman to a cross and using naked children as props in his stage act; considering killing a band member; and actually plotting his ex-girlfriend’s murder.
“Plenty of people could do what I’m doing on an underground level – we did it for years and nobody cared. It’s not until you’re a household name that people give a ****. But what we’ve done onstage with the fascist banners, with tearing up the Bible, with the snow falling from above, with the whole beautiful thing – it’s all so much more controversial than nudity or killing dogs onstage because it’s so powerful and it has meaning.”
During this period, before “Marilyn Manson” became a household name, he was in Manhattan trying to get a record deal. He recounts viewing a pornographic public access show of a man masturbating in front of the camera while asking viewers to send him their credit card numbers over the telephone. On the opposite channel was TV evangelist Pat Robertson. The bizarre juxtaposition became the song, “Cake and Sodomy.”
Bible belt ‘round Anglo-waste, putting sinners in their place
Yeah, right, great if you’re so good explain the **** stains on your face
White trash get down on your knees, time for cake and sodomy
“I had written other songs I thought were good,” says Manson, “but ‘Cake and Sodomy’ was more than just a good song. As an anthem for a hypocritical America slobbering on … Christianity, it was a blueprint for our future message. If televangelists were going to make the world seem so wicked, I was going to give them something real to cry about. And years later, they did. The same person who inspired ‘Cake and Sodomy,’ Pat Robertson, went on to quote the song’s lyrics and misinterpret them for his flock on The 700 Club.”
But Manson takes great delight when preachers malign him. He describes his guiltiest pleasure as, “Watching The 700 Club and hoping they’ll mention me.”
Nine Inch Nails band leader Trent Reznor bought the Sharon Tate home in California and produced Marilyn Manson’s first album, Portrait of An American Family. According to Manson, while working on a computer music sampler, samples from Charles Manson’s “My Monkey” mysteriously appeared in the mix. “We totally got scared and we’re like, ‘We are done for the night.’ We came back the next day and it was fine. The Charles Manson samples weren’t even on the tape anymore. There’s no real logical or technological explanation for why they appeared. It was a truly supernatural moment that freaked me out.”
Soon Manson received an invitation to meet with the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton Szander LaVey. “No matter what time the doctor [LaVey] called for me and where he summoned me to, I planned to be there. I admired and respected him. We had a lot of things in common: We had experience as extravagant showmen, successfully placed curses on people, studied criminology and serial killers, found a kindred spirit in the writings of Nietzsche, and constructed a philosophy against repression and in support of nonconformity. In short, we had both dedicated the better part of our lives to toppling Christianity with the weight of its own hypocrisy, and as a result been used as scapegoats to justify Christianity’s existence.”
“Satanism is not about ritual sacrifices, digging up graves and worshipping the devil. The devil doesn’t exist. Satanism is about worshipping yourself, because you are responsible for your own good and evil. Christianity’s war against the devil has always been a fight against man’s most natural instincts – for sex, for violence, for self-gratification – and a denial of man’s membership in the animal kingdom…. All the power LaVey wielded he gained through fear – the public’s fear of a word: Satan. By telling people he was a Satanist, LaVey became Satan in their eyes – which is not unlike my attitude toward becoming a rock star.”
Anton LaVey made Marilyn Manson a minister in the Church of Satan. “Little did I know that accepting that card would be one of the most controversial things I had done to that point. The day I became a Satanist also happened to be the day the allied forces of Christianity and conservatism began mobilizing against me.”
“It makes a lot more sense to follow The Satanic Bible, written with a 20th century humanity in mind, than a book that was written as a companion to a culture long since defunct. Who’s to say that a hundred years from now some idiot isn’t going to find a Marilyn Manson T-shirt – nail it to a wall and decide to pray to it.”
Self-mutilation soon became a hobby of both Manson and his fans. Blood letting on stage and scarring of the skin (at least 450 scars by the publishing of his book!) and numerous tattoos of demonic figures began to appear on his body. Two young girls began to follow Marilyn Manson and would carve the words “Marilyn” and “Manson” on each other’s chests and show up at each concert in the front row with blood from their self-inflicted wounds dripping down their tank tops.
The numerous sins of American culture are poignantly described in Mason’s macabre anti-art. In an early stage act, Manson had a pregnant woman pretend to perform an abortion on herself, wrap the fetus in a Nazi flag and present it to a TV set as a sacrifice. The idea here is that “the nuclear American family sacrifices its children to this cheap, mind-numbing babysitter.”
Marilyn Manson is truly rebelling against the God of the Bible, but in his mind, he despises the dispensational caricature of God offered by his church upbringing. As C. FitzSimmons Allison has pointed out in The Cruelty of Heresy, most modern nihilistic rage against the Christian faith is in reality a rebellion against a heretical conception of God. That was how Marilyn Manson’s rebellion came to full fruition.
Manson’s view of the total depravity of man, and man’s corresponding need for repentance and regeneration is more orthodox than that taught by the majority of modern evangelicals and understood by modern American culture.
I am so all American, I’d sell you suicide
I am totalitarian, I’ve got abortions in my eyes
I hate the hater, I’d rape the raper
I am the animal who will not be himself
Hey victim, should I black your eyes again?
Hey victim, you were the one who put the stick in my hand
I am the ism, my hate’s a prism
Let’s just kill everyone and let your God sort them out.”
- Irresponsible Hate Anthem
Manson’s irony must be understood. The protagonist speaking in this song is the self-righteous American looking at the failed culture his religion has produced. Behind this twisted irony is Satan himself piercing the soul of “infallible” human self-righteousness. Manson laughs in glee when Christians attack his lyrics as offensive and pornographic, because (he believes) they are only proving his point. He is not the protagonist in the song. Therefore, when a famous Christian personality attacks him, they are attacking American Christianity and the culture they have created.
He lambastes in song the oft-repeated Christian oxymoron: “Love everyone.”
When will you realize you’re already there?
So watered down – your feelings have turned to mud.
“Love everybody” is destroying the value of
All hate has got me nowhere
Seeing the impossibility of this false deity, which A.W. Tozer termed the “mush God,” Manson correctly surmises that both love and hate are necessary realities of human existence. In gutting the hate and anger of God in order to proclaim a “seeker-friendly” message, evangelical “decisional” soteriology has produced a hell-on-earth culture unable to save itself.
When will you realize you’re already there?
Indeed, we are frighteningly further along in this cultural trend towards Paganism than most Christians realize. A look at the popular music of the culture proclaims this loudly. Satanism was used as a kind of rebellion moniker from the very beginning of Rock and Roll. As early as the 1930s, influential bluesman Robert Johnson recorded “Me and the Devil Blues.” By the 1960s, Satanism was promoted by the Rolling Stones, the Doors and Jefferson Airplane. In the 1970s, the baton was passed to Heavy Metal groups such as AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osborne. Death metal bands have proliferated since the 1980s. Bands like Venom practically wore out the theme Satanism to the point of cliché. But most rock stars used Satanic imagery mainly to entertain a depraved, drugged, and unthinking audience. Most of the “Satanic” bands in today’s Gothic, Industrial and Death Metal movements have repeatedly denied practicing any form of Satanism.
There have been a few exceptions. In Scandinavia, a violent Satanic group, the Inner Circle, has recently used Death Metal to promote their ideas related to Satanism, Paganism, Fascism, Viking mythology and anti-Christian philosophy. In recent years, Satanists were behind ritual murders and a rash of church burnings in the southeastern United States.
The band Deicide freely admits practicing Satanism. Deicide band leader, Glen Benton admits, “I’m a Satanist.” But he condemns violent groups that burn churches and commit violent acts in the name of Satan. “This is wrong. Satan appreciates deeds, but only when they’re done in … (pause) in taste. They actually have to be done for him, not for yourself, or for any kind of gratification of your own behalf.”
Marilyn Manson is totally different. He is a rarity in the world of rock – an epistemologically consistent Satanist. “I believe I am God. I believe everyone is their own God. I dreamt I was the Antichrist, and I believe it.”
“Since I was about sixteen, I’ve had really intense dreams, and over the past four years they’ve gotten more detailed, and that’s where the songs on Antichrist Superstar came from. As a kid I was terrified of the apocalypse and the Antichrist, and in my dreams I’d always be trying to find out who it was going to be. Then at one point I saw myself. That’s when I knew I wanted to be like Nietzsche or Aleistair Crowley – men who have, in their own way, drawn people closer to the apocalypse. So I hope that each time Antichrist is played, it brings people closer to the end of the world – in their hearts or in their flesh – [and] the beginning of a new one that’s better! That’s the paradox! Sometimes I think the most shocking thing I could do would be to behave politely and speak of Christian morality.
“As a teenager, I was very interested in selling my soul. But after reading books and investigating, I realized I’d be selling it to myself. I see the apocalypse and the destruction of Christianity as giving people back to themselves so they can wake up and realize that they have the ability to be their own God and their own devil and accept responsibility for both halves. Which is all Satanism is.”
What is in store for the 21st century? Manson offers, “We can’t go any further without starting over. It’s like, what sexual positions are left, what other violence can you show, what other drugs can you do, what other things can get pierced? It’s all been done. Sickly enough, maybe what America needs is for everyone to become a Christian so we can all be excited by the taboos once again.”
At the bottom of Dante’s Inferno, is a special place in hell reserved for betrayal to benefactors. In Dante’s poem, Judas Iscariot, Brutus and Cassius, betrayers of their closest friends are tormented here. Manson completes his journey into the abyss by aborting his own offspring – and he understands that it is child killing.
“I sat in the women’s clinic waiting room, imagining what was going on just three rooms away as the doctors put a rod the size of a matchstick, with two tiny thread-like strands jutting from the top, up into Missi’s cervix, causing it to dilate before tearing out the brain of our child with a pair of forceps…. At the same time I couldn’t keep a twisted, degenerated thought from crossing my mind. I wondered if she could talk to the doctor about keeping the aborted fetus.”
According to Manson, this last sin was the necessary final depravity before producing the recording which would propel him into worldwide renown, Antichrist Superstar.
“What happens if more people own my record than the Bible? Will that make me God because more people believe in me than him? Because it’s just about popularity. There are plenty of people in the world who have never heard of Jesus, while in America he’s taken for granted. The key to changing the way people think is to change what’s popular. That’s why rather than submit to the mainstream, you have to become it – and then overcome it.”
The aspect of Manson’s lyrics that disturbs most Christians is their brutal obscenity. We are also disturbed by the mirror reflection of the culture of death, his popularity with millions of youth. Yet these are not so frightening as the picture of where this generation of young people may be headed without Jesus Christ.
“I really wanted to do that totalitarian shock-symbol thing, to create part of the show that resembled a fascist rally, to make a statement about things I’m against like religion and, in some ways, rock and roll, because rock and roll can be just as blind as Christianity. At the same time I wanted to create a giant piece of performance art that said, despite everything that’s happened with the media and people trying to ban our shows, ‘I did this, and I got away with it.’”
Parodying the furor that erupted in fundamentalist churches in the 1960s when John Lennon claimed that the Beatles were “more popular than God,” Manson comments on the success of Antichrist Superstar: “Now I was bigger than most of the musicians I used to idolize. To some people, I was even bigger than Satan.”
Says Marilyn Manson, “Each age has to have at least one brave individual that tried to bring an end to Christianity. No one has managed to succeed yet, but maybe through music we can do it.”
In Foundations of Social Order, R.J. Rushdoony elaborates on the necessity of orthodox, creedal Christianity as the basis for human freedom. In the Christian faith, the idea of the Trinity – one God, three persons – is ultimately important. Each person of the Trinity is of equal importance, but submission to the Father is always maintained and unity in the Godhead is always preserved. Likewise, when the Christian is freed from sin, he bows his knee to the Lord Jesus Christ. The old man dies, but a new free man emerges. When both unity and personhood are in their proper God-given roles, man transcends himself. He is in communion with God, free from his own sinful state, free from the tyranny of the flesh, the devil and the world.
Man’s freedom from sin is only realizable by faith in Christ alone. Legalism, false doctrine, and man’s effort to save himself result only in frustration and the ultimate form of rebellion against God, apostasy, and “the sin that leads to death” (1 John 5:16). Heretical notions of the nature of God and the nature of man has been basic to the decline of the Church in our century. What is true salvation? Is it by man’s effort or God’s grace? Man needs a savior, and he will choose one or the other: Christ or man. No man can choose the one without denying the other. All attempts at compromise are a symptom of the delusional self.
Out of the bottomless pit comes the little horn.
“Little horn is born” …
So says the little horn
“Save yourself from this”
Everyone will suffer now …
“You can’t save yourself …”
- “Little Horn”
Christianity made possible Western liberty. And now the absence of this revelation from western culture has led us to the oppressive presence of the state as the social order. Western liberty began when “No king but Christ!” became the church’s battle cry. Blood was spilt as a result of the early Church’s defiance of Caesar’s claim to be Lord. Whenever Christ ceases to be fully both Savior and Lord, liberty perishes and fascism – as a fully articulated pagan philosophy – arises promising a false messiah. History is replete with man’s attempt to be his own savior. The Roman Caesars, the medieval popes, Napolean, Friedrich Nietzsche, Adolf Hitler, Aleistair Crowley, Anton Szander LaVey, and now Marilyn Manson have each sought to destroy Christianity and replace it with an Antichrist religion. The Satanic/Nietzschean idea of the individual becoming his own god, or a superman able to save himself, ultimately leads to the ideal of totalitarian fascism.