You don't have to attend a Black Mass, or hold a séance, or even wear an upside-down crucifix. Nothing that flashy, or even deliberate, is necessary.
All you have to do is drink the wrong energy drink.
I am referring, of course, to "Monster," that whiz-bang combination of sugar, vitamins, various herbal extracts of dubious health effect, and truly staggering amounts of caffeine, which misleadingly does not include "demons" on the ingredients list.
At least that's the contention of the also-misleadingly named site Discerning the World, which would be more accurately called Everything Is Trying To Eat Your Soul. This site claims that the "Monster" logo, with its familiar trio of green claw marks on a black background, is actually a symbol for "666" because the individual claw marks look a little like the Hebrew symbol for the number six:
Which, of course, is way more plausible than the idea that it's a stylized letter "M." You know, "M" as in "Monster."
But no. Every time you consume a Monster energy drink, you are swallowing...
... pure evil.
Now lest you think that these people are just making some kind of metaphorical claim -- that the Monster brand has symbolism that isn't wholesome, and that it might inure the unwary with respect to secular, or even satanic, imagery -- the website itself puts that to rest pretty quickly. It's a literal threat, they say, ingested with every swallow:
The Energy Drink contains ‘demonic’ energy and if you drink this drink you are drinking a satanic brew that will give you a boost... People who are not saved, who are not covered by the Previous [sic] Blood of Jesus Christ are susceptible to their attacks. Witchcraft is being used against the world on a scale so broad that it encompasses everything you see on a daily basis – right down to children’s clothing at your local clothing store.So that's pretty unequivocal. Never mind that if you'll consult the Hebrew numeral chart above, the logo looks just as much like "777" as it does like "666."
Or, maybe, just like a capital "M." Back to the obvious answer.
Unfortunately, though, there are people who think that the threat is real, which is a pretty terrifying worldview to espouse. Not only did I confirm this by looking at the comments on the website (my favorite one: "It is truly SCARY that all the little kids who play their Pokemon and video games are being GROOMED to enter this gateway to hell. Satan wants to devour our young and he will do it any way he can."), a guy posted on the r/atheism subreddit just last week saying that he'd been enjoying a Monster drink on a train, and some woman came up to him and snarled, "I hope you enjoy your drink IN HELL," and then stalked away.
What, exactly, are you supposed to say to something like that? "Thank you, I will?" "Here, would you like a sip?" "Yes, it fills me with everlasting fire?" Since quick thinking is not really my forté, I'm guessing that I'd probably just have given her a goggle-eyed stare as she walked off, and thought of many clever retorts afterward.
"It's damned good." That's what I'd like to say to her.
Not, of course, that it would be the truth, since my opinion is that Monster tastes like someone took the effluent from a nuclear power plant, added about twenty pounds of sugar, and let it ferment in the sun all day long. But that's just me.
And of course, there's my suspicion that the owner of the Monster trademark is probably thrilled by this notoriety -- they pride themselves on being edgy, and their target advertising demographic is young, athletic, iconoclastic rebel types, or those who fancy themselves as such. So no doubt this whole demonic-entity thing fits right into Monster's marketing strategy.
Convenient for both sides. The perennially-fearful hell-avoiders have something else to worry about, and the Monster people have an extra cachet for their product. One hand washes the other, even if one of them belongs to Satan, who (if he were real) would probably approve wholeheartedly of capitalism and the profit motive.
These days, I think we all are looking around for reasons to feel optimistic -- and they seem woefully rare. This is why this week's Skeptophilia book recommendation of the week is Hans Rosling's wonderful Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.
Rosling looks at the fascinating bias we have toward pessimism. Especially when one or two things seem seriously amiss with the world, we tend to assume everything's falling apart. He gives us the statistics on questions that many of us think we know the answers to -- such as: What percentage of the world’s population lives in poverty, and has that percentage increased or decreased in the last fifty years? How many girls in low-income countries will finish primary school this year, and once again, is the number rising or falling? How has the number of deaths from natural disasters changed in the past century?
In each case, Rosling considers our intuitive answers, usually based on the doom-and-gloom prognostications of the media (who, after all, have an incentive to sensationalize information because it gets watchers and sells well with a lot of sponsors). And what we find is that things are not as horrible as a lot of us might be inclined to believe. Sure, there are some terrible things going on now, and especially in the past few months, there's a lot to be distressed about. But Rosling's book gives you the big picture -- which, fortunately, is not as bleak as you might think.
[Note: if you purchase this book using the image/link below, part of the proceeds goes to support Skeptophilia!]