Bodies Aflame



Questions For The Wily One

The activity of Satan is fertile grounds for conjecture since the Bible isn't that specific about him.

He doesn't have the attribute of omniscience or the attribute of omnipresence, so how the hell does he know what's going on?

For instance, when a special event happens who informs him? Does he have demon scouts who surf the Web looking for breaking news? Or does God communicate with him? Like when the Tribulation begins, will God call Satan in Hell and say "Devil, I need you." How does the Devil know how and when to participate in special events like this? Furthermore, what the hell does the Devil do in his spare time? Does he ever take a break? Does he lust after female demons or even female humans? Does he communicate with God? When does he do a job himself and when does he crack the whip and have his demonic legions do the work for him?

And I can't help but wonder about the Devil's actual schedule and workload. For instance, does he ever take a vacation? If the answer is yes, maybe God, his creator, yells at him from Heaven or sends him an e-mail and says "Hey, Satan, you motherfucker! You've been working too hard. Take a vake!"

If Sate goes on vake from time to time, who does he leave in charge of Hell while he's out? Does he have God take over temporarily? God would be a natural choice since He created Hell.

If Satan doesn't ever go on an actual vacation, does he ever get a day off? What is his work week? 5 days? 6 days?

And if Satan does go on vake, where the hell does he go? To Bermuda? Key West? Downtown Chicago to do some shopping? Hey wait, I think I saw the Devil on the ferris wheel at the Oklahoma State Fair one night...

As the CEO of Hell, does the Devil get paid quarterly bonuses? Surely the CEO of Heaven and the universe: God Himself, compensates the Dev for his hard and constant work. But since evil is a fluctuating thing, maybe God and the Dev have to make adjustments at times. Maybe the chief CPA in Hell studies labor costs, expenses like brimstone, etc., and initiates downsizing and layoffs of middle-management demons...

* * *

Why would God create the Devil? If you were the only being in existence, and you therefore had all the power, would you create your own worst enemy? Of course not. So why did God?

I worked with a couple of guys one time who despised each other deeply. One was named Marvin. The other was Karis. Marvin was in the right, had a good reason to hate Karis, because Karis treated him like shit.

On a human level, if you were Marvin, would you create Karis? If you asked Marvin: "Marvin, if you were the only person in the universe, and you possessed the power of creation, would you create Karis?", Marvin would answer "Of course the fuck not!"

Why would you create an adversary to make your life hard? And why would you continue to allow this creature's existence so it could fuck up the lives of your other creatures? God created his own worst enemy, then empowered him...If you had the power to do such, would you do it? It's too nonsensical to be true....

***

Assuming the Devil exists, which I am assuming at this moment for the sake of argument and instruction, either he's always existed or he's a creature of God. If he's a creature of God, God either created him (or her?) in an already-evil condition and a state of rebelliousness which he or she possessed at the first moment of existence or God, following his omnipotent will, "allowed" him to later become the Devil through an act of rebellion and drag legions of angels out of Heaven with him. God either created him or her already evil from the first moment of existence or He "allowed" him or her in His omnipotent will to later become the Devil through rebellion - it doesn't matter - they're one and the same thing - God creating something a certain way or letting it become a certain way later. Either way God, as the infinite, omnipotent being, is in charge of everything and responsible for everything.... Both scenarios have the same outcome, that of almighty God empowering the Devil. This adds to the long list of reasons we should never worship or even admire the God of the Christians....

* * *

Why doesn't the Devil have his own website? God has given him plenty of power, so why doesn't he communicate via cyberspace from a server room in Hell? What more effective way to deceive and devour humans?

If he's talented enough to write thousands of rock 'n roll songs, then surely he's smart enough to stay apace with modern technological developments. If he had his own website, say "angeloflight.com" or maybe "evolvedserpent.org" if it was a non-profit site, he would no longer have to slide from house to house seeking whom he may devour for a short season.

A website would make it so much easier for olde Satan to communicate with the humans he's subtly trying to destroy. We could even e-mail him and get e-mails back! Wouldn't that be a trip? Yeah it would, so why hasn't it happened? If Christians are right - if the Devil is a real personage, then why don't we have evidence of him? Why not a piece of evidence which is invincibly convincing, like Satan's presence in cyberspace? I mean, if we could e-mail the Devil we'd know he's real fer sher.

Why is demon possession so rare? If it's a real phenomenon, why aren't all unsaved humans possessed? Or at the very least, why aren't a lot more of us in a symbiotic relationship with Beelzebub and his buddies? Like, why not millions of humans out of the 6 billion on this planet instead of a sporadic few? Shit, it's too bad we don't have more personal visitations from Hell. If we did, we could have a lot more cool movies like "The Exorcist" produced by real-life possession inspiration. "The Exorcist" is one of the best movies ever made, but if that demon hadn't inhabited the young child in Washington, D.C. would the movie have ever hit the theaters?

It appears the Devil isn't working very hard. He isn't giving enough orders to his demons: "Possess, you bastards, possess!" Or perhaps the demons have worked for the Devil so long they're sick of him. Maybe they just ignore him by now. Maybe they think he's a shitty boss. I mean, what can he do to them? Once you're consigned to the fiery pit forever with no hope of escape, it can't get any worse, can it? Maybe a rebellion in Hell has already occurred. And maybe an outright coup which topples Satan as master of Hell is next. Something is definitely amiss. Maybe the demonry are on strike and have been for a long time. It could have happened after they unionized then subsequently got together behind Satan's back when he was roaming about seeking whom he may devour then staged a walk-out. Surely if the demons who inhabit human bodies and their master the Master of Demons were working diligently this planet would now have billions of possession cases. But then again the Master of Demons shouldn't have to give out possession assignments because the demons of Hell would be volunteering left and right just so they could get away from Hell for awhile and take a working vacation on Earth.

Bible believers should be able to explain why possession isn't a universal thing. If you're unsaved aren't you automatically susceptible to catching a possession just as you would be to catching a bacterial infection when your immune system was depressed? What makes one unregenerate person more vulnerable to demonic indwelling than another? And once a demon fills the vacuum which the Holy Spirit does not occupy, then just what the fuck happens after that? Huh? Is the demon stuck there? Is he limited to making the occupant miserable, unable to do anything else in the service of evil? Surely grande olde Satan has taught his hellions the art of multi-tasking by now.

I have another question about demons. Are the demons who are now in the Devil's employ the same ones who were with him in the beginning, when he was a rookie? Does the Devil promote from within? Or are his legions composed of only grizzled old veterans?

If Christians continue to give unsatisfactory answers to speculations like these, their dumbass religion will continue to be unacceptable and I will continue to reject it.

***

The Book of Revelation is revealing...

Does this final book of the anthology called Holy Bible say God destroys the old Heaven and old Earth and old Hell and creates a new Heaven and new Earth and new Hell? Nope, it just says a Heaven and Earth are destroyed and re-created.

Why is Hell omitted? Is it just an oversight by John the author? But how could God let that happen? God was breathing his inspiration into John while John was scrawling the Greek words onto the page so surely He made sure no mistakes were made.

Furthermore, somewhere in the creation/destruction/re-creation sequence, if God had destroyed the old Hell and manufactured a new one, would this loving God have given the citizens of the old Hell a pardon, realizing they'd already served a long enough cruel and unusual punishment? Would the Creator have realized at this point that the denizens of Hell had suffered long enough, that one lifetime of sin and unrepentance does not justify an infinite lifetime of pain and punishment? Would the Good Lord have given them a reprieve? Or would they rather have been detained in some sort of holding area while God completed construction of the new Hell? Wouldn't this transitional time have been a grand opportunity for YahwehGod to show some mercy and compassion for a change and annihilate the citizens of Hell or let them stay in Heaven? Wouldn't occasional amnesty be an attribute of an all-good God?

In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth - no mention of Hell. In the end, as revealed in the Book of Revelations, God creates a new heaven and a new earth, after destroying the old heaven and the old earth. Again, no fucking mention of Hell or New Hell. Hell seems to be an afterthought, interjected into the Bible after the early texts were penned and not related to the original body of knowledge or mindset. But, that's another story...

***

Do you honestly, REALLY believe in a literal, REAL hell where millions, yea, billions of bodies and souls, are at this very moment screeching and wailing in infinite agony and anguish and pain, and will keep on doing so for millions and billions and trillions and quadrillions and sextillions and septillions of endless, everlasting, ongoing, interminable, hopeless aeons of eternities and forevers?

Do you REALLY believe this? If you do, you need counseling. If you really do believe this, you hate people. To believe in a literal hell and to preach same is to hate yourself and to hate humanity.

"If you don't get saved you'll sizzle like bacon in a skillet!"

My Christian days are over, but I'll never forget how a polished hick preacher/evangelist named Bailey Smith screamed this at the audience of thousands back in the summer of '82.

The essence of these insane words is "Believe or burn!" You're forced to make a decision - to worship Christ, and not out of love but out of fear of hellfire. Any religion which harbors such a tenet is not a religion worth joining. Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism are much more appealing. They involve no personal God and no threat of a painful afterlife for making the wrong decision. They don't preach the conditional love and the conditional salvation of Christianity.

On the night Smith screeched like a banshee about Hell at the Starlite Crusade soul-winning event, he did what so many other hailfire-and-brimstone preachers have done for centuries. He tried to scare people into Heaven. Apparently the love of God and Jesus wasn't enough, so he felt the need to throw in some fear.

During the same crusade, which was an annual thing in Oklahoma City, Smith also bellowed at the crowd: "Your giving has been terrible!", forgetting the story of the widow and the two mites and letting us know what evangelism is really all about (you guessed it - a green piece of paper with a president's face on it - need any more hints?).

Preachers like Smith love to try and scare people shitless. Their God is such a God of love. Conditional love, that is. Conditional love like the variety taught in the cardinal verse of the New Testament: John 3:16. Believe in Jesus and be saved. But don't dare disbelieve, or your ass will fry like a piece of pig carcass on a spit. Yee-haw! John 3:16 preaches conditional love, plain and simple. If it taught unconditional love, the clause "shall not perish" would not even be in the verse. If BibleGod practiced unconditional love, He would not punish humans for not choosing to be saved by Him.

What kind of a deal is this anyway? This theology basically forces a person to get saved. But where is the freedom of the will and the freedom of choice Christians so often emphasize? Freedom of choice does not mean freedom if a punishment, in this case an exceedingly harsh one, is affixed to and a consequence of making the wrong choice.

***

Throughout the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation, it is Yahweh/Jehovah/God who decrees that human beings should kill their fellow human beings. And it is Y/J/G who gets in on the action Himself. It is this bloodthirsty God, who seems to kill out of sadistic glee, who destroys life constantly, as if it's a favourite hobby of His. It is God who orders and allows his armies of barbarians to embark on bloody rampages and to steal the possessions of their dead victims and take the women as if they were merchandise.

It ain't the Devil who does all this. It's God. Yet the New Testament calls the Devil the Destroyer.

Regardless of all the textual evidence in their precious anthology that it is beloved Jehovah who is the mass murderer, Bible-believers still have a very lazy habit of blaming the Devil for everything. These blind believers must needs be scrutinizing the sixty-six booklets of The Book to be apprised of this, then ask "Who is the real Destroyer?"

Moreover, they must be consistent in deciding what is literal and what is figurative. I've had Bible-believers throw the argument at me that "God didn't really kill all those people" when discussing genocidal passages. However, if the words "Lord", "Lord God", "the Lord thy God", and "creator" were replaced with "Devil", "Lucifer", "Satan", these people would surely say the verses are literal and the homicides were real. They love having the Devil as a scapegoat.

Bible-whores very unfairly blame the Devil for everything bad, and they illogically boast their God is pure goodness and can do nothing wrong. He can't possibly be the author of evil, even though his own autiobiog says He is (Isaiah 45 and other chaps of The Babble).

To be entirely consistent, and therefore logical, these believers in the Word, since they blame the Devil for everything, must also blame him for controlling their own God! They must blame the Devil for causing God to bring bloodshed to Planet Earth, since God can't be directly responsible.

Bible-believers must in the end say not only "The Devil made me do it", but also "The Devil made God do it."

***

Psalms 78:49-51

Did God, and does God still, have evil angels in Heaven, sitting around in the angels' lounge, smoking cosmic cigars, waiting for their next assignments?

The text lucidly states that God sent evil angels to kick ass on Earth. It doesn't say they became temporarily evil, and it likewise does not say they were good angels committing evil acts (in this case genocide). It says they were evil angels. Somehow the sublime words "cherubim" and "seraphim" don't quite jibe with evil, do they? All the artwork and statuary we see depicting sweet-faced tender angels doesn't harmonize with the 78th Psalm.

The text implies these evil angels were residents of Heaven, but maybe God just borrowed them from Hell for awhile. This would solve the problem (for Christians, who like to complicate everything) of whether the angels were really evil. If they were from Hell, they were - at least we can conclude that a Christian's feeble mind would conclude this. Maybe God recruited them for awhile. Perhaps He called Satan one day then leased them out for a little contract labor. If so, they were surely happy to oblige, more than happy to do some slaughtering for the Lord.

Or maybe the Almighty exercised a third option. Possibly a band of renegade angels, who live in neither Heaven nor Hell, did God's dirty work for Him.

But why, in this text, did not God just destroy directly, with his own hand, or have his soldiers the children of Israel do it, as had happened so many times previously? Rarely in the Bible does God have angels do his dirty work, and this is one of those rare instances.

If these are renegade angels...mercenaries...commandos, maybe they just wait around somewhere 'til they get a call. If they live in Hell and are contracted out by Yahweh occasionally, they must relish the opportunity for a little vacation and a little change of venue from time to time.

****

Christians tell me I'm going to Hell and normal people yell at me "Go to Hell!"

The problem is, I don't know how to get there. Can someone print me out a map from Yahoo or Travelocity? I need directions.

*****

I wrote the following essay in December of 2004. After hearing that "Snakes are serpents of the Devil!" from a co-worker, and other completely stupid shit from the buckle of the Bible Belt in which I reside, I thought it was time to enlighten people about 'ol Satan.

The essay was designed to fit into one page (a little larger than the standard 8-and-a-half-by-11) so it could be copied easily and distributed as a tract, albeit a one-page tract. I thought that was a good strategy since most people are probably unwilling to read several pages, especially when the material is intended to offend and educate, and shatter cherished beliefs.

So far I've left two versions of it in my laundry room, where it unbelievably lasted a few days each time. I also "accidentally" left a few extra copies at the libe where I printed it out from a floppy, and gave a copy to one of the libe girls after telling her I'm a writer. I haven't hit any churches with it yet, but definitely will do so soon.

Tracts and essays on Satan-man are rare. Enjoy! And if you want to print it out, make copies, and distribute it to church people and others in need, you are certainly welcome to do so...


Satan In One Page

Satan's very name is the first hint that he is not an original idea of the Christian church. As happened with the entirety of Christianity, the moniker of "Satan" is extracted from older religions upon which Christianity was patterned. Our modern "Satan" is a derivative of Set, the Egyptian god of evil. More specifically, "Set-an" became the contemporary, popular appellation which many humans regrettably deem more than just a name.

This etymological nexus is but one indicator of an evolving and plagiarized legend. (See The Origin Of Satan by Elaine Pagels and other texts on the evolution of the Devil).

The Christians assimilated their Satan from the Hebrews. The Hebrews got him from the Egyptians. The Egyptians got him from the pagans. And that's about as far back as it goes, since paganism is the world's oldest, and therefore first, religion.

Satanic lore has romanticized Satan while insisting on keeping him evil. It has even made him sexy and appealing, first in medieval literature and later on Hollywood screens. But more significantly, it has made him more human and more like God.

Bestowing human characteristics unto Satan is more proof, as if any were needed beyond that of common sense, that Satan is a creation of the human mind.

Giving him legions of demons as helpers parallels him with God and his angels. Both Heaven and Hell are top-heavy, hierarchical corporations with a CEO having absolute rule over laborers. The importance of this cannot be downplayed when the dualism and Westernization of the evolving Satan are pondered.

Rational people don't believe in Satan. They realize that good and evil are relative concepts, and individualized. They are perceptive enough to consider other causes when bad things happen. They don't automatically impute a satanic or demonic edifice with responsibility for the world not always turning smoothly.

Irrational people do believe in Satan. Reliant on dialectics in all aspects of life, they summon forth the "good-vs.-evil" mantra, and therein create a scapegoat called "the Devil". Only those weak in philosophy and lucid thinking would believe that "evil" or "darkness" could be embodied and concentrated in one person, whether designated "prince of darkness" or "the deceiver" or "the destroyer".

As the biblical "destroyer", Satan's formidability is grossly exaggerated. In the most famous text which has Satan as a character, Satan kills only a few people throughout the entire 66 booklets of the anthology. His alleged adversary, commonly called "God" and represented by the Hebrew JHVH, alias "Yahweh", alias "Jehovah", kills millions. Consequently, calling Satan the destroyer is quite inaccurate.

Saying "The Devil made me do it" is also inaccurate, when Christian themes are challenged by logic. In the Christian schematic, the ontology of God places him first in time, the original being. Therefore, God is responsible, directly and indirectly, for anything and anyone which exists and occurs after He was the only existing person. That would include Satan, whether God mysteriously "allowed" him to rebel and change his name from Lucifer or whether Luce used his personal "free will" to jump down from Heaven.

Irrational humans who believe Satan is a literal entity number in the millions, possibly the billions. They believe in a satanic force for several reasons, at several levels, primarily psychological.

Their foremost reason is insecurity. Satan represents absolute evil in their minds, so they invent the embodiment of good, called "God", and cling to him as a safe haven from the bad ‘ol Devil.

This polarization of good and evil is expected from the Western mind, which is dependent on dualism and for the most part rejects unity of humans with "other" aspects of Nature purveyed by Eastern philosophies such as Taoism and Buddhism.

As for safe havens, it's also expected that irrational minds which imagine big bad Satan turn to God for refuge from him because they yearn for the warmth and security of the womb from whence they came, where they were happier and had the luxury of not having to think rationally.

Insecurity at the natal, pre-thought level hints that irrational people have not yet been weaned using the tool of reason. They still "think" in terms of security and comfort, and shrink back to that proverbial maternal comfort when assailed by the horrors of the post-partum world. In that sense, how natural it is for them to blame the bogeyman for cold and dark and give him a name.

Another factor leading to belief in an illogical presence personified by "Satan" is a sense of absolving personal sin via a mechanism psychologists call transference.

In the psychology arena, transference deals with emotions, but it can be extended to theology to entail sin. By designating Satan the guilty and responsible party for the world's wrongdoings, many people de-personalize those wrongdoings by separating them from their own psyches in an attempt to decrease their pangs of guilt. Their transference of guilt into a nebulous haze with the goal of quieting their consciences naturally places the guilt into an extra-human source. This is akin to a cosmic crucifixion without a physical victim. It is further like an atonement sans sacrificial lamb.

It wouldn't make sense to transfer all guilt and blame into another human. Yet other humans are sometimes said to be directly inspired agents of the Devil. This usually happens when individuals other than the accused make this accusation, as opposed to self-labeling. Noone would know where to begin, or who to begin with, however, if just one human being were chosen as the fount of all things nefarious. The choice would have to be entirely random, and therefore illogical, even to a Satan-espousing irrational mind. Therefore, a quasi-human personality who was once a Luciferian angel: Satan, is the perfect answer for those who want to assuage the curse of personal responsibility. A juxtaposition of the transference mechanism with that of justification accomplishes this. Sin is thereby marginalized, unless someone else is doing the sinning. At that point, the scapegoat machinery is employed fanatically.

Thereby, Satan's foremost characteristic: that of scapegoat, has full luminosity. And sadly, human beings thereby treat their fellow homo sapiens as the guilty party, casting the first stone at other sinners instead of obeying the Pauline exhortation to examine themselves.

More than one mental health practitioner has diagnosed, en masse and individually, those who opine a literal, living Satan as mentally deficient, even insane.

This assessment is probably accurate, in varying degrees. Anyone who says he/she believes that an actual being called "Satan" roams the planet and travels back and forth betwixt Hell and Earth should be regarded suspiciously. Either he/she is trying to hide something, such as a sin or constancy of sins, or is simply a little too imaginative and naive. The naivete' of Satan-believers causes others to think they'd probably believe in gnomes, trolls, and tooth fairies as well, maybe even the monster in the closet or under the bed, maybe even Santa Claus. It incites the suspicion that Satan-believers might still play with dolls in their adulthood, not yet having escaped the grip of childhood fantasy. The caveat to be wary of such people arises quickly. Rational minds don't trust Satan-believers due to their predilection for the chimerical.

Rejection of the Satan idea is necessary for the continued evolution of rationality, as a vital component in the betterment of mankind. It's now 2004 - much too late a year to still believe in anything as childish as some invisible bad guy. We humans have enough enemies without conjuring one called "Satan". And instead of blaming a pseudo-human abstraction for the ills of the world, we should start facing up to the fact that we are responsible. Only then will we be on the path to peace, harmony, and happiness. Only then will peace, harmony and happiness be realities, not mere ideals.

The power of positive thinking cannot accommodate something so negative as a grand Devil.


"How Evil Is It?"

The Devil is the source of evil. D'evil is da man who delivers the evil goods.

This simplistic conclusion is not an absolute truth, of course, but a conclusion of individual minds.

Only the individual mind can decide whether to believe in a literal D'evil, and whether to deem him the fountain of absolute evil and the actor who initiates evil upon the worldstage. A neighboring, separate mind can do nothing externally to coerce the Devil-accepting mind into rejection. The mind that believes in a real Devil must do that itself. Minds change with the aid of factors like persuasion, logic, and evidence, but they cannot be forced.

When involving subject matter like good and evil, this is true because evil is a personal thing. It is an individual matter. The varying degrees in which humans evoke evil in a cause-and-effect scheme of explication is evidence that evil varies from one mind to the next. The very fact that some regard evil as absolute, and some as relative, bolsters the individual nature of evil even further.

Since the Devil is a quasi-human character, it would make sense that portraiture of him would occur. Caricatures of the Devil, from the Medieval era until today, suggest that we created Satan in our image. One has only to look at his human face, his two arms, his two legs, his nose, his mouth and lips, his pair of ears, and so on, to see that he definitely resembles us. Yes, his ears are pointed, and he has a tail, because the ascribing of evil to him prompted a nexus with inscrutable animals like goats (see pagan lore). The mysteriousness, the "darkness" of the animal kingdom, as perceived by naive and frightened humans, motivated attributing to the D'evil "sinister" traits of animals such as pointed ears, and a tail, which most humans don't have. It's natural to create imagery of the Prince of Darkness using animalistic attributes like tails, since for the most part the animal kingdom is considered one of raw power, impulse, and savagery, without the love of God guiding it.

The "angel of light" metaphor from the New Testament still does not preclude Satan's humanness. Angels are portrayed with human bodies, albeit of greater stature and with a pair of wings thrown in to make flying around Heaven and between Heaven and Earth a little easier. More sophisticated minds, including those of theologians, might say that an "angel of light" is purely spiritual, with no body whatsoever. Such a mind might say that Satan appears an angel of light to deceive humanity, since darkness is his real nature and his goal. Such attempts to attenuate the anthropomorphism of Satan fail, as the author of the epistle which calls Satan an "angel of light" did choose the word angel (in its original Greek). An angel may be deemed spiritual in certain regards, but it's basically a physical creature - a thing created - by God.

The creation of the Devil (yes, he was created, not a priori, and he came into existence in human minds at a definite point in time) demonstrates the human need to explain the occurrence of bad things. (See my essay "Satan In One Page" above).

Physical and spiritual description demonstrate "the need to know" even more strongly. Humans just can't stand it when they don't understand the mysteries of existence. That's a good thing - that humans are curious and want to know why - but their simplistic, dualistic, explanations are often not good, however. Relying on mystical explanations in preference to naturalistic ones is not good. But, inaccurate and unscientific assessments are in a way necessary as a sequence in human evolution. We can't expect humans to come up with the right answer immediately, on anything. We can't see the ancients - bamboozled and ruled by the occult and by biblicism - as sages when it came to rejecting the heavy hand of mysticism. It was "in" to ascribe forces of fairies, elves, gnomes, gods, and spirits to misfortunes in those days. Humankind has learned from such quick conclusions and such mistakes, but still has a long way to go in rejection of the D'evil idea.

The evolution of Satan is exemplary of our plight. Before he can be recognized as a projection of human consciousness and a metaphor for imbalance in the equilibrium of everyday life, the Devil must first be a beast of cloven hoof hanging out in your chicken coop, eating your roosters raw, blighting your soybeans with fungus, bringing hailstorms and tornadoes upon your 40 acres, making you feel queasy and uneasy and amiss, and tempting your wife with the muscle-bound hired hand who's helping you while out of college for the summer, while you're in town buying more gunny-sacks of chicken feed.

Just as it is easy to analyze and scrutinize Satan, to modify his original characterization, to give him alternate physical characteristics besides the hooves and horns, to say he isn't really an angel of light, to argue that he is completely spiritual and not physical, it is easy to do the same thing with the topmost item on the Devil's to-do list: Evil.

Evil - the item at the top of Satan's agenda marked in fluorescent yellow with one of those Hi-Liter pens - can in no way be an absolute. If it were absolute, it would be interpreted by all minds in the same way. The fact that one man's evil is another man's good shows us that evil is a relative concept. Moreover, the ability to ask "How evil is it?" proves it a matter of the mind.

An event happens. Some people regard it "evil", others are neutral, and others see it as good. The individual mind is the key to all the interpretations and reactions. This is simply because evil is a product of interpretation.

Our event (multi-event) will be a series of murders performed by a serial killer.

The serial killer in our scenario kills 12 elderly women in a span of three weeks. Elusive and crafty like most serial killers are, he slips and gets caught right after committing the twelfth murder. His carelessness leads to his incarceration and identification. These events lead to reactions, naturally, and to interpretation by all those who read about his capture and his deeds.

One reader - in a workplace breakroom - immediately shouts "He was evil!"

The lady sitting next to her sips her coffee and says "Well, maybe he was mentally ill. Maybe he couldn't help it."

Their supervisor doesn't say a word, but thinks that eliminating a dozen elderly ladies could be seen as a good thing, since their entrance to the nursing home was probably imminent, and the killer took them out of the misery of old age and decrepitude and dependence. He doesn't dare voice this view, though, and just says "Okay, your fifteen minutes is up. Breaktime's over. Let's get back to the computers."

The deed - the series of homicides - was absolutely the same to all those informed of it after it was discovered. It was one event, that happened in one timespan. One man killed 12 other humans. That doesn't vary. But the interpretation, and the interjection of why upon hearing the news report, vary greatly.

Evil is absolutely, totally, completely, unequivocally subjective. Our interpretations, which deviate in varying minds on the basis of individual lives' prior experiences, and religious indoctrination, and other factors preceding an event, are needed to designate something "evil".

A serial killer's spate of killings is not "evil" of itself. Only a consciousness can deem an event evil or not evil.

The first lady in the breakroom scenario, or the person who bellows: "That bastard killed 12 people!; he is the epitome of evil!" proves the point. The very thinking that the string of murders was evil, and following the thought with speech, further indicate the subjectivity of the reaction to the event.

A logical next step is relativizing "evil" out of existence by recognizing it as merely a word - a word applied to events, intentions, and value judgments. People don't look at a telescopic image of the Andromeda Galaxy and say "That galaxy is evil." They instead relegate evil to entities which function on thought, emotion, and conscious decision, proving further that "evil" is a mental and psychological affair.


* * * * *


To And Fro: Speculation On How The Devil Moves, And How Fast, And How Many People He Makes Friends With...

That dastardly purveyor of Evil - the D'Evil himself - is a fast, crafty bastard. He evidently moves with the quickness and tricky change of direction of a mosquito. The prince of the power of the air apparently knows how to navigate the air currents in ye olde atmosphear and use them to transport 'imself from place to place, somewhat like a clever sailor uses the wind while asea.

Observation of the Devil has been rare. Hell, some of his demons - those with thousands of years of service and the recently recruited rookies - probably still haven't met him, just as most workers in a corporation never meet the CEO. How many humans have caught a glimpse of the Prince of Darkness?

I've never spotted him but a manager of mine once told me that once he saw a large hand appear out of the ether, whereupon a large handprint didst singe a guy's back and leave a permanent burn mark there. But he didn't see the Dev himself - just a mysterious hot hand. And he assumed it was the hand of the Devil.

Of course, I'd have to witness the burning hand myself to believe this actually happened, as would any sane person, and then I'd have to decide whether the hand belonged to the Prince of Darkness or to another being. But I can always have fun considering the implicatioins of sighting the Devil, and conclude that a sighting of Satan is as rare as a sighting of a giant octopus or a rare species of whale above the waves.

Two ingredients suggest that being an eyewitness to the Devil, or to his presence (I assume he's invisible on our plane of reality, but I could be wrong since that manager of mine did see that spooky hand) is a remarkably difficult achievement and won't happen to most humans.

Those ingredients are his attribute of moving to and fro upon the earth, as related by the Bible, and that of limited travel, since the Prince is not omnipresent, like God. The second ingredient is an allusion to the first one. For if the Bible is correct in saying the Devil moves to and fro, seeking whom he may devour, it implies that he is not everywhere upon the Earth at once.

Another difficulty comes from wondering "What the hell does the Devil do?" The Bible says he tempts people, and seeks to devour them, whatever that means (the Bible isn't crystal-clear on that activity, but I don't think it's talking about cuisine). The Devil has demons who possess people and work for him in other ways (you know - pestilence, famine, and all those things), so why does he himself visit our planet?

A friend's encounter with a customer at his health food store, whom, when he asked her "How are you doing today?", replied "Satan has really got ahold on me", hints that perhaps Satan does indeed spend time bothering individuals. We'll accept her statement as truth, for the purposes of speculation.

Satan really had a hold on her. We assume right away that it was a spiritual hold. We hope for her sake it wasn't a wrestling hold, like a half-Nelson, or a grasp or grope, as in the Dev squeezing her breasts and not letting go. Surely the Devil has more important things to do than trying to be like Arnold Schwarzenegger - a famous fondler of strange women's breasts.

Satan really had a hold on that customer, who must've gone to the health food store for refuge and relief. But, he followed her in. Somehow he squeezed through the door with her. That clever guy. Being immaterial might help in such a situation. Satan was gripping the poor lady, in whatever way. What are the odds?

Mathematically, she was a very special person while Satan was holding her. How privileged she was. What is the population of Earth in mid-2005? Six billion, I believe. Not counting the 40,000 or so babies that were born in the last second (damn!, that's a lot of pain in one little sec). Not counting the thousands of people who expired and left this mortal plane in that same second...

The odds of that one lady - in a health food store in Tulsa, Oklahoma - being pestered by the Pest of Darkness, at that moment, for whatever period of time he bothered her, would be at least six billion to one based solely on the mathematical parameter of population. The odds are even greater when pondering what compelling reason Satan would have to pick on her and not another human at that moment. But, we can only ponder...

Since Satan has an awful lot of ground to cover, it's a safe assumption - surely, that he moves to and fro very rapidly, and doesn't spend too much time in any given spot. The lady he was harrassing in the health food store must have felt pretty good when he left her alone after a period of who knows how long - minutes, hours, or days. Or maybe she found an herb which irritated him and forced him to let go and move on to another locale. But while inside the store he must have been flattered at all the bottles of Devil's Claw on the shelf. He probably already knew about the remarkable healing properties of that herb named after him and his claws, but on the other hand, while the bothered soul was telling my friend - who worked in the deli there - that Satan had a mean grip on her, Satan might have been reading the label on those bottles. How strange it would be if the lady bought a bottle of Devil's Claw, then the Devil went home with her (somehow sneaking through her car door when she opened it and slithering under her garage door as well), then she took a couple of tablets of the herbal powder with a glass of water, and then the Dev was irritated by the purgative properties of the herb, and scooted.

Surely the D'evil has too many households to visit, too many abodes to hang out in, to tarry in one spot for more than a short season. (Although, he probably takes vacations from time to time, and chooses his vake spots carefully). Since his prey are humans, he has too many souls to snatch, too many bodies to infiltrate, to be wastin' time. He has too many caves to delve into, too many grottoes, too many art museums, too many discotheques, too many 7-Elevens, and too many churches. But - he probably skips over many of the latter. If all the souls inside are already saved, why should he even waste his time? He knows it ain't easy grapplin' with the Holy Spirit. In fact, it's a hopeless endeavor since a preacher can merely say a few words to cast the Devil and his demes out and they have no choice but to flee. On the other hand, if he detects that little Jimmie is struggling with a decision to accept Jesus, the Devil might drop in and sit by him in his pew for a few. Then again, how would the Dev know who was saved and who was unsaved? (unless God or Jesus gave him a list).

If we assume accurately that the Devil is a fast-movin' dude who can peregrinate throughout our sphere very quickly, and hasten from house to house and body to body, we can use the real-life metaphor of the atomic particle.

Since an atomic particle such as an electron spins around a nucleus at an incredibly fast speed, it is very difficult for atomic scientists to observe it. They basically have to keep trying and get lucky. And quite often the very observation of the electron, and subsequent experiments upon it, affect its behavior, leaving the scientists to wonder if they've espied the electron in its normal, spontaneous state or in a perturbed condition (see Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle).

Does observation of the Devil likewise affect his behavior? Is he miffed when he sees us seeing him? Maybe that's why he moves so fast, and changes locations so frequently. To not get caught. Does it bother him when we catch him hanging out at McDonald's on a Friday night after a football game, when he can entice the quarterback to have sinful carnal relations with the head cheerleader? Does the Devil get pissed off when he notices us noticing him? Maybe he's at heart a shy guy and he scrams when he catches us looking at him. Especially if he's naked, which he may very well be, since the Bible and medieval portraiture never show him with a stitch of clothing on his bod...

Hmmmmmm...Just as pinpointing an electron with a scientific instrument can affect its orbit, maybe our occasional sightings of the Devil screw up his travel plans. Maybe we scare him away and he ends up in the wrong place - like in the back seat of the preacher's car at a drive-in theater, instead of in the Mazda inhabited by the crack dealer and his brand-new would-be customer.

Being able to attend the Summit of Succubi while also tempting a bank teller to begin embezzling, would be a wonderful thing for the Dev, a most highly prized ability. But, since he moves "to and fro", he is implicitly limited to one spot at one time. Omnipresence would be a valuable tool for Satan in his continuous fight against Goodness and Mercy. Omniscience wouldn't hurt either. The Bible isn't clear on that attribute either, but we assume that God really stacked the deck when he allotted Satan certain powers and withheld certain powers for only 'imself in three persons.

How organized is the Devil? Does he have one of those phenomenal memories that some humans have? Maybe a photographic memory which reminds him when he visited the suburbs of Pittsburgh and when he's scheduled to return there? Does he maintain a written list, or just a mental list, of all his visitations, including the amount of time spent in each, the people harassed, and the results? Who knows - he could have a little plastic packet of Hi-Liter pens in a full spectrum of bright pretty colors, including those orange and hot pink ones and not just the conventional luminescent yellow. Yeah, I bet he goes through a lot of those Hi-Liters, marking up all his daily to-do lists with who to tempt first, where to be at 4 o'clock, which adolescent boy to tempt to masturbate for the first time while fantasizing about his algebra teacher, and stuff like that...

Yes, omnipresence and omniscience would solve a lot of problems for Satan. Damn, if only God had bestowed those gifts upon him after he copped an attitude and moved out of Heaven. If he could be in many places, as many as he chose, simultaneously, he could be at the Incubus Institute atop Mount Vesuvius whilst also bothering Freddy Rangle about murdering his neighbor with hedge clippers.

Maybe the real inventor of the D'evil: the human psyche, didn't want to make him too powerful, since he is our devourer...


* * * * *


The Devil Is Dead

By William F. Denton

Sigh priests, cry aloud, hang your pulpits with black;
Let sorrow bow down every head.
The good friend who bore all your sins on his back -
Your best friend, the Devil, is dead!

Your church is a corpse, you are guarding its tomb,
The soul of your system has fled.
The dead-knell is tolling your terrible doom;
It tells us the Devil is dead.

'Twas knowledge gave Satan a terrible blow;
Poor fellow! He took to his bed.
Alas! Idle priests, that such things should be so -
Your master, the Devil, is dead.

You're bid to the funeral, ministers all;
We've dug the old gentleman's bed;
Your black coats will make a most excellent pall,
To cover your friend who is dead.

Aye! Lower him mournfully into the grave,
Let showers of teardrops be shed;
Your business is gone; there are no souls to save -
Their tempter, the Devil, is dead.

Woe comes upon woe, you can ne'er get your dues -
Hell's open - the damned souls have fled;
They took to their heels when they heard the good news;
Their jailer, the Devil, is dead.

Your preachings henceforth will be needed no more;
Revivals are knocked on the head;
The orthodox vessel lies stranded on shore;
Her captain, the Devil, is dead.