Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Devil's New Disguise

The devil has been around for a long, long time.  Different religious groups picture him differently but the majority consensus is that he is the Supreme Ruler of the powers of evil in our good world.  If we take a serious look at our earth, our environment, and our personal and international relationships, we can clearly see that something keeps them all from goodness and perfection.  For centuries the devil has usually been blamed for all that goes wrong in human life.

One of the most recent images of this Prince of Darkness is as a human-shaped being, bright red in color, who bears two horns on his head, a long pointed tail trailing behind him, and carrying a pitchfork.  But, in the ancient biblical story of Job, a righteous man of the land of Uz, the devil is called Satan and he is part of the heavenly council of God (See Job 1 and 2).  He raises doubts in God’s mind by questioning why Job serves God so faithfully.  God’s response is to give Satan limited permission to destroy Job’s blessings.  After causing Job to lose all his livestock wealth, all his children, and his health, Satan disappears from the story, perhaps to cause evil and suffering in the world in other ways and in other times.

Throughout the Christian scriptures, the devil is consistently portrayed as the power behind evil in the world.  He is called The Tempter, the Father of Lies, the Evil One, the Deceiver and other negative and hateful names.  But he is never depicted as equal in strength or power with Almighty God.

Throughout history, writers have attempted to describe this evil figure.  In the 14th century, Italian poet Dante Alighieri, wrote The Divine Comedy, a lengthy three-part description of “The Inferno” (Hell), “Purgatorio” (Purgatory) and “Paraiso” (Heaven).  He describes Satan as an angel, forced out of heaven when he tried to usurp God’s power.  He is also known as Lucifer and is frozen in ice in the center of the 9th circle of hell, immobile and silent.

Three centuries later, John Milton, an English poet, wrote a ten-volume poem entitled Paradise Lost.  In it he describes Satan (also called Lucifer) as one of several fallen angels who inhabit Pandemonium, the capital city of Hell.  It is the illustrations from this work that picture the devil with wings, a tail, and pitchfork.  Returning to the earth, he disguises himself as a snake and successfully tempts Eve and Adam to eat of the fruit God had forbidden them to use, thus introducing sin into the world.

So, although the Bible does not give us a detailed picture of the devil, it clearly accepts the reality of the evil he causes.  Writers through time, however, have attempted to specifically describe his appearance, his behavior, and his nature.

So, I, too, will offer my image of his new, 21st century disguise.  I think that the devil (the Evil One or whatever you choose to call him) has chopped himself up into millions of tiny pieces.  He has turned many of those tiny bits into cancer cells (or irritants that cause other serious diseases) and has spread those tiny evil cells around, infecting many of my dear and beloved friends as well as many, many strangers!  It seems like every day I hear of another friend or read of someone who has been afflicted by a dreadful disease.  So I can only conclude that “the devil is doing it!”

(ADDENDUM: If the devil has any bits of himself left over after making cancer cells, I’m sure he could sell them to the military industries of many countries.  They could use them as projectile weapons in a new form of germ warfare!)

20 July 2019 - mshr