They say it's not a good idea to talk religion or politics at a family gathering. It can also probably be said that a newspaper columnist should never take on matters of religion either.
But since Hollywood has on occasion presented the Devil numerous times, such as in The Exorcist, Angel Heart and others, I guess precedent has been broken.
There has been much written about the classic struggle between good and evil and no place where it appears more than in the Bible. I realize that readers of this paper probably fall into three camps: The camp that believes the Bible is rubbish and the invention of man; the second camp that believes the Bible is the Word of God himself; and last camp that is unsure about things but open-minded.
Let's say for the sake of argument that the second camp is right on the money. If that is the case that the Bible is true - and I believe it is - there is a frequent mentioning of the evil one. He goes by many names, such as Satan or Lucifer or Beelzebub or simply, the Devil. The authors of the Bible say that his chief purpose is to steal, kill and destroy - you and me, specifically.
So if there is a Satan, an evil entity, how would he do his twisted little "steal, kill and destroy" act?
If I were Satan I'd start with destroying the family unit.
I'd steal away the dads. Moms are usually the dependable and devoted ones, so I'd take away the dads. Why the dads? The dads tend to be the disciplinarians who stop their kids from growing up doing stupid things like living dangerously or destroying things. So, take away dads and the kids - they think they're invincible and fearless and do stupid things - are more prone to go wild, and wrap themselves around telephone poles and disrespect cops and steal.
Let's see then. How to get rid of the dads? Hmmm, hey I've got several ideas. First, I'd create a longing for things they can't afford and have them run up debt chasing after happiness. Stuff won't make them happy since they'll always want the next best item. In the meantime, the debt will pile so high that they will stress out and the marriage crumbles.
I'd also get rid of dads by making them chase other women. I would make people so unhappy that they would seek to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.
To ensure that young men grow up to destroy their own families, I'd cause young men to treat women as objects for gratification. A side benefit would be STDs and unwanted pregnancies and abortion. For those women who decide to keep their babies, at least there won't be a dad to stick around.
Yep, as Satan I'd use the media too. I'd put foul-mouthed comedians on TV that scoff and mock people of faith and make God the butt of their jokes. Their irreverence will cause people to never take God seriously. And if they don't take God seriously, they'll certainly never know I exist. I would have even seasoned newscasters put such a slant on the news that they'll believe everything without questioning anything.
Once I got rid of faith, well, anything goes. There will be no right and wrong. People can do whatever they want and you know what a mess they'll make of their lives trying that. What a chaotic world there will be.
The government will be their savior. But they'll reject that too.
I'd have people take zero responsibility for their actions. Instead, I'd have them declare war on cops, the very ones hired to enforce the law. I'd make them believe the lie that race is the only reason police have to shoot and kill certain suspects. And when the bullets fly, I'll sit back and enjoy the fun.
That's what I'd do as Satan.
To those in the first camp, I wouldn't put any stock in the notion that everything I've described - since it is all happening - is the work of happenstance. To those in the second camp, you already acknowledge the evidence of the evil one abounding and know it for what it is. To the third camp, do your homework; there's too much apathy in the world about spiritual matters. As Helen Keller said once: "We may have found a cure for most evils; but we have found no remedy for the worst of them all, the apathy of human beings."
Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will read it, promise.