I know a disproportionately large number of Satanists who are fans of the show Doctor Who, and I don’t think it is a coincidence.
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television show that began in the 1960’s and is still putting out new episodes today (although it was on hiatus for a couple of decades during the 1990’s and early 2000’s). The main character (“The Doctor”) is an alien who travels through time and space, usually with a human companion or two, going on adventures and alternately saving the universe and/or getting himself into trouble. Over the many decades that the show has been running, it has covered nearly every style and genre, from slapsticky humor to horror to highly technical science fiction to outright fantasy.
The key that holds it all together is the character of the Doctor. Because he isn’t human, they are able to keep the story running for decade after decade with the plot device of “regeneration”: any time the character’s body is mortally wounded (i.e. the actor gets tired of dedicating all of his time to being the main character on this television show), it causes a chemical chain-reaction through which his entire body heals itself via metamorphosis: bang! He suddenly has a new body, a new personality, a new everything! (And the show is able to continue with a new actor playing the main character, without any break in the in-story continuity.)
Some Doctors are funny, some are grumpy, some are angst-ridden… but all of them are unified by a profound fascination with and enjoyment of the sheer magnitude and variety of the universe. The Doctor, in every incarnation, is amazed and in love with all of the quirks and peculiarities and strangeness of living beings across the enormous breadth of time and space.
If I were to sum up the Doctor’s personality in one image, it would be this:
The Doctor could come face-to-face with a giant, green clawed bug-eyed monster in the middle of a busy London street, and he would walk right up to it and say, “Hello! How are you doing? You seem a far way from home… are you ok? Is there anything I can do to help?”
He wouldn’t be scared, and he wouldn’t be aggressive. When he comes face to face with something alien–something weird, something unknown, something other–he doesn’t hate it or fear it. He doesn’t think “how disgusting!” or “how weird!” Instead, he thinks: “How wonderful and amazing! I want to get to know more about that person… I want to learn more about it, and be its friend!”
That mindset, that way of approach the other, is what I strive to be. That is how I’d like to be able to look at anything and anyone who is different from me: a source of wonder, a source of joy, a possible friend.
It’s the opposite of xenophobia… which is xenophilia, I suppose.
It’s my instinctive xenophilia that drew me, as a teenager, to look with compassion and curiosity at the “bad guys” in novels that I read. Was Grendel misunderstood? Was Sauron on a righteous quest, at least from his own point of view? And what would the story of the War in Heaven sound like if it were told by Lucifer, instead of by the agents of Heaven?
It wasn’t until much later that I discovered Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France, but the idea was there in the back of my mind. “History is written by the winner,” we are told… so that must be true of biblical lore as well, mustn’t it?
I look at the creatures and demons and distorted faces of human mythology, and I see simply people who have their own point of view. Or at least, that is what I strive to see. And when I watch Doctor Who, and see that character embodying that same xenophilia that I aspire to, and that I would love to see more of from humanity in general, it gives me hope.
Give us hope, Doctor. Help us to embrace xenophilia, and see demons as our friends.