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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


The General Problem Outlined:

a cloaked idolatry, a de facto worship of Satan



return to the main-page article on "Satan" 





just the facts, ma'am

At university, one of the fellows in the dorm was a former Navy man. I recall him saying, to the effect:

"When you live in close quarters on a submarine, if you want to keep the peace and not make enemies, there's an unwritten rule that you don't talk about three things: politics, religion, and somebody's girlfriend."

It's very difficult to focus on "just the facts" when emotion gets involved. And while the Navy guy's three topics lend themselves to heated discussion, it seems that religion, given its close association with the fear of death, edges out the other two.

However, within religion, the subject of Satan as mythic lord of hellfire, I would say, makes people crazier than any other point in question.


the Joker has never been so wild

We've discussed the mind-game of playing "the Joker is wild." When cornered in debate, rather than walk in the "open sunny air," many people will demean themselves by saying anything to save face.

It seems to me, however, that this spirit of disingenuity is never more blatant or rabid than in reference to Satan. According to Satan's true-believers, he can do anything; literally, anything. He directed the flow of ancient history; determines the outcome of national elections; produces the music on the radio and the movies at the theater - we could go on here, but there is no need. Satan can do anything; most of all, he can "complete any Joker-is-wild set" of elements needed to maintain a veneer of cogent argument. The Joker has never been more wild than in Satan's presence.

God's influence in the world, however, is dubious, at best. Nice old man, God is, but he's not that trustworthy. We have to "wait on him" and constantly pray and plead for him to exercise dominion - but we have no such misgivings about Satan. He's up early in the morning, johnny-on-the-spot, snap to it right now, gets the job done before breakfast, is efficient and reliable and never lets us down. With God we need "faith" and "belief" and regular church-meetings to prop us up; but with Satan we "know" and are "sure," and are just so impressed with him. Isn't this about the size of it?


a cloaked idolatry, a de facto worship of Satan

This vacuous irrationality is more than ordinary mistake and slip of logic; it's an idolatry, a de facto worship of Satan; but also an insanity of the Small Ego on full parade - willing to say anything, believe anything - as it negotiates, primarily with itself, the terror of death.


"Maybe you should worship him"



Editor's note: He looks harmless enough, but do not be deceived [smile]. This is Dr. K. J. Stavrinides, Greek scholar, college professor, and full-time intellectual gadfly. Well, it was a very long time ago now, but he was one of the great teachers of my life. You really didn't want to box with Dr. Stav as, with jovial laugh, he would quickly expose the soft underbelly of squishy arguments and politely eviscerate your cherished fables posing as knowledge. He's making me laugh, even now. I remember a comment of his in class, something that struck me, at the time, as so outrageous and so impious. Many true-believer students were superstitious about the powers of Evil; that Satan and his influenced-men of history could do this, and Satan could do that, and that no one was safe from his deceptions. Dr. Stav had had enough of this fretful god-talk nonsense, and one day he asserted, to the effect, “If you think Satan rules the world; if you think he has so much power and can influence you like that; if you think he can do all those things; then, maybe you should worship him!”
Amen, Dr. Stav.



Editor's last word: