Heroes and villains…

Last week a friend of mine asked if I thought the Devil was a hero or a villain. Now having been raised by a good Methodist mother, my response should have been automatic, immediate, and emphatic. Nothing with me is quite that simple, though, so the question became something of a thought exercise – and one that I’ve spent more time pondering over the last few days than I expected.

First, if we accept the Bible as the literal word of God, the answer is obvious. The devil is the bad guy. He’s the super villain’s super villain. However,I’m all too aware that edition of the Bible I grew up with was one commissioned by England’s King James I and completed by his team of translators, all members of the Church of England, between 1604 and 1611. The fact that it is a translation based on previously translated works based on events first described not closer than several centuries after they would have originally take place has always felt to me a bit problematic. For purposes of this particular argument, though, that’s not my point.

When I look at the Old Testament story of Lucifer’s fall, I’m often tempted to give it some of the context it’s lacking. Context that perhaps paints an image at an Almighty who is unelected and wholly unaccountable in His actions. If we apply a bit of literary license, we can see God, certainly the God of the Old Testament, as the purest incarnation of absolute monarchy – quite literally king by divine right. Within that broader context, Lucifer raising a reported one third of the angelic population in open rebellion against the throne could be construed as an act of defiance against a totalitarian regime. I’m thinking here now about the images of Romanians rising against Ceaușescu and East Germans overtopping the Berlin Wall in 1989.

From the seat of an all knowing and all powerful deity, Lucifer’s actions can only appear ungrateful, immoral, and a blatant violation of the established order. If one were to be devil’s advocate it certainly seems possible to argue that as a leading light among the heavenly host, he had a duty and an obligation to rise up and cast off the shackles of oppression and lead his people towards a more democratic future. At least that’s how I’d make the case if I were devil’s advocate, but maybe I’m flavoring it with a little too much of my own ideas about how oppressed peoples are supposed to respond.

Perspective is everything. Especially when it comes time to label the winners and losers of the story. So, is the Devil a hero or a villain? Yes, I suppose he is.

Retribution…

Retribution - CoverGod watched His creation evolve since long before the written word. He watched even as the first vertebrate flopped out of the sea. He watched long before that. He had great expectations for this new world. This was the one He hoped would finally get it right.

Even though Man was created in His image, they possessed a particularly irksome ability to veer wildly off script. It didn’t help that God’s one-time right hand spent every waking moment for eons finding new and exciting ways to tempt them away from their pre-ordained course.

Once upon a time, a bit of flooding, razing a few misbehaving cities, a smiting here and there, and the occasional miracle had been enough to keep the masses on the straight and narrow. In an age of endless entertainment and short attention spans, even an omniscient and almighty God was apt to have trouble getting His point across.

Retribution: Chasing Hearts and Minds is the story of what happens when the Old Testament God clashes head-to-head with the modern world.

My virgin effort at fiction in a short story format is available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Runnin’ (jumpin’) with the devil…

I was all set to bring you a different story tonight – a quick thought on the nature of Facebook and the people we meet at different stages of our life. That’s going to have to wait for a day or two now, because the devil has been sighted in a Paris suburb. Apparently he’s not only been sighted, but he’s also been stabbed by his quick thinking sister-in-law. Not a good day to be the prince of darkness, I suppose.

According to our good friends at the Belfast Telegraph, a total of 12 adults and children took part in this visionary experience that started when “A wife in the next room saw her husband moving around naked and began screaming that he was the devil… In the confusion following this apparent case of mistaken identity, the naked man’s sister-in-law stabbed him in the hand and he was ejected through the front door of the flat… When the man forced his way back in, they all began screamed in terror and leapt from the balcony screaming ‘Jesus! Jesus!'”

One has to assume that there is some kind of back story here. I mean even the morning after the most unfortunate one night stand, does anyone wake up and think the naked person in the room with them is the actual devil? Even in the depths of the worst hangover, I have to think that there’s a tiny little sober spot in the back of your head that tells you, “oh, that’s the guy I picked up at the pub last night and not the devil.” I’d think that’s even more true when the accused demon is actually your husband. I mean one can reasonably assume that you’ve seen him naked a time or two before, right? I mean I’m not a theologian, but the devil has horns on his… uhh… head, right? I can only assume that whatever horn-shaped appendage you saw was decidedly not on in the general region of his head. This problematic anatomy could have been a bit of a giveaway, no?

I’m forced to agree with the assistant prosecutor working the case when he allows that “A number of points surrounding this incident remain to be cleared up.” Yeah. This ought to be interesting.