Commonplace Thoughts of a Residual Welshman: The Big O

october-leavesLast week I wrote about September as being a special month, a transitional month, and I think October, which is now upon us, deserves some kind of mention, too, as it is the crisper of the two, the witchier of the two, and truth be told the gloomier of the two. It’s a not-quite-summer-not-quite-winter month, more so than November is, which drifts into winter with every golden leaf that drops from the tree in front of the house. No, October isn’t winter. It’s fall, but fall with its leaves, leaves mostly still clinging to the nurturing limbs, the wispy wings of the very tree on which they first were given birth an age ago, in April, when October seems a long way off, as old age does from childhood. But it is not quite October yet.

October, however, is most decidedly not the “Big O” to which the title of this piece alludes. Nor is Oscar Robertson, the erstwhile basketball player. Nor do I mean to allude to female orgasm or orange juice—for that would be the “Big O.J.,” nor Orange Julius (too similar to O.J.), nor to the burgeoning metropolises of Orland or Omaha, the “Aha! City,” which features a most retro hangout in Askarben Village. Nor is it a reference to the now all too popular OMG, or to the Greek letter omega, which technically is the “Big O,” as o indeed means “o” and mega means “big.” Nor am I talking about the current president of the United States or a certain city in Norway whose larger O cascades swiftly to a smaller (Oslo). Nor a large beer served at a pleasant enough local bar called George’s, georges-logonor Oxford Circle in Philadelphia or Oxford University, a world away from Oxford Circle. Nor opium, opossums, oats, oafs, even children’s owies; nor oarswomen, outdoorsmen, outré items, outtakes, omelets, Oliver Twist, or oregano. That last of these, however, is pretty close.

satan-clubAs you have probably guessed by now, I am referring to Oregon. And why? Because it has recently been in the news that Sacramento Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, is, to my knowledge, the first in the country to offer children the opportunity to participate in Club Satan. No, this is not a disco bar in New York or Amsterdam. Rather, it is a club for young children to go to celebrate the dearth of the Deity, the absence of God. But that’s not the interesting part. Rather, the striking bit is that the club inventors have chosen Satan to represent rational thought and thus have devilishly replaced God with reason and, I suppose the adult club masters believe, that children are the better off for it. They even have a cartooned picture of a friendly version of Satan wearing a mortarboard to make Satan look smarter than he really is and the after-school Satan Club more inviting, I imagine.

Now I want to think about this for a moment. First there’s the mascot business. Surely, if certain Halloween costumes can be “triggers” and produce outrage on college campuses such as Yale then the children in this group might just be offended when they find Johnny down the street dressed in his devil costume at the Halloween party. “Are you making fun of my non-deity?” he might rightfully lamentingly query.

More to the point: what about when the time comes for that child, as a young adult, to apply to colleges and universities. Should he or she actually put on his resume that he was a Satan Club member? Imagine, part of the resume might read: “Glee Club (2016–19), Varsity Basketball team (2018–20), Junior Satan Club (2016–17), Senior Satan Club (2017–20).” Now I know many universities these days are of a liberal mindset and they are therefore likely to prefer a student who is involved with an organization that prides itself on rational thought and denial of the supernatural. But still, might not the notion that the student in question is in a “Satan Club” not come across as a touch disturbing? It certainly is an attention grabber and possible a conversation starter, if the person in question gets an interview. But is it a conversation that you really want to have? (Perhaps Duke University or Dickinson College would be most apt to interview these candidates, as their mascots are apropos.)

And of course there are the WWSD rubber wristbands that would undoubtedly be released if for no other reason than mere competition with the WWJD bands of Christian organizations. wwjdbandAnd, these rightly raise the question “What would Satan do?” Since moral boundaries for Satan are, at least they are described in the Bible, fluid (to say the least) and the notion of outright deception would seem to be well within the Satanic wheelhouse, then we should imagine that those undoubtedly quite popular WWSD wristbands would be meant to encourage their wearers to nurture more than merely a tepid willingness to cross their already fluid moral boundaries, to deceive in order to gain the upper hand, and to lie as necessary and a volontà. In other words, to do what many of us, really all of us, do all too naturally anyway. And yet the brutally honest condoning of it—well, perhaps that just doesn’t sit well for me. Besides, there are the aforementioned likely objections that will turn up when Johnny shows up on Halloween as the Devil.

And that is the Big O, then, Oregon, where a Lewissian/Clarkian trail is being blazed across the as yet undiscovered territory of the Satan Club for youth. And what do the members of that club say when they do something mischievous, for “the Devil made me do it” won’t quite work anymore? Oh, to Hell with this topic. It is time to close these trifling thoughts on the Big O with a small farewell.



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