Facebook is alive with godliness today.
I love it when distractions that Satan would want to use to hinder our worship are overcome by the Spirit of God!
Then: I am thankful for people willing to be obedient and lead us in worship despite their fears, sadness, grief, or any of the other emotions that I know were at work this morning!
Fear, sadness, and grief are apparently the “distractions” a supremely evil being uses to keep us from worship. Our own private council of fears are themselves something we ought to consider tools used by Satan. Goodness, if you can’t trust your gut fears, what can you trust?
God, she would probably say. You can trust God.
I don’t think that’s a healthy way to view one’s emotions. Fear is not an evil spirit, or even a tool used by one. It is simply the most sane response from any cognizant person who reads a newspaper these days. I’m scared. Aren’t you?
I have nothing against the woman who posted these things on her Facebook. She’s someone I once considered a friend, years ago, before I left my hometown and went off the deep end.
I scrolled down and found another religious-toned status. The biggest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing bigots, misogynists, and homophobes that they were patriotic Christians.
It’s a status speaking from the other side of a culture war that both these individuals have rigidly placed themselves in. They are in opposite camps: LGBTQ Vs. the Christian Right. Both of them are using the absurd concept of the devil to explain why people do what they do.
I suggest everyone please cut out the middle man, and leave Satan the fuck alone. The Devil doesn’t make anyone bad. People are bad enough on our own without someone to blame our horribleness on.
The Devil is simply an idea upon which we enjoy dumping all our guilt and shame and responsibility. Satan does not make people homophobes or misogynists, murderers or maniacs. Indoctrinating your children into time-worn and destructive thoughts and behaviors will make them homophobes, misogynists, murderers, and maniacs — and these are parenting practices Christians have been honoring for decades.
There is an old trick we humans are consistently good at. It’s called “scapegoating,” which means pinning blame onto a third party that really has no connection whatsoever to the problem.
It happened in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s and it happens every day across the globe for men who kiss men and women who kiss women — anyone in a marginalized population has been a scapegoat for the United States’ problems at one time or another.
Vladimir Putin is personally waging a scapegoating war this very moment, pinning the blame for Russia’s plummeting economy on its queer population. This has resulted in a country-wide witch-hunt for closeted gays, who many Russian citizens consider synonymous with pedophiles and menaces to society. Fear politics and blame-pinning gets deadly quickly.
If I were god — and I’m not, except in bed — I would make a grand announcement on the cosmic one-way intercom system called prayer (the burning bush was already used) and finally speak back to all these people bowing over their bedsides every night. I would deliver a long-withheld reply message on behalf of the creator of the universe, who himself can’t be bothered to make a reply himself (or part a sea every now and then just to remind us all he’s still up there, being godly). I would tell everyone to stop blaming the bogeyman for our own behavior. Own up to your own problems, children of Earth.
But in a way I can’t blame the idiots who say things like, “The devil made me do it.” Really, they’re not responsible. They were fed stories in the guise of truth from the time they could suckle.
I go to the source. I go straight to that little black book with verses like, “Take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16, NRSV).” It’s bad poetry and a tired metaphor, but as a symbol of faith, that shield is an appropriate image, one of deflection. Don’t look at me, it was him! Him!
We start doing it as children. “Timmy told me to thrash your boudoir with my baseball bat, mommy. I didn’t want to do it!” We blame. We deflect. It’s a species-wide instinct.
Somewhere in our mammalian brains, we have these delicious urges to break things (vases, craniums) and often submit to them. But our prefrontal cortex, with its higher-thinking powers of reason and behavior analysis, understands that maybe these urges aren’t always good. When we give in to them, we (typically) feel the higher-thinking sensations of guilt, and have a hard time owning up to our own misbehavior.
Somewhere on the evolutionary timeline we constructed a very simple and very brilliant way around this: What if we’re not responsible for the bad things we do? What if we are influenced — maybe even controlled! — by evil spirits and demons?
These nasty beings must be operating under some kind of central leadership — and ta-da! We crowned him “Prince of Darkness,” Lucifer fallen from Heaven, etc. And we designed him to not miss any of us. He is so deeply concerned with each and every person’s private beliefs that he actively works to thwart them.
In case I haven’t made it clear, I don’t believe the Devil is real. But let’s play a moral game for a moment, and pretend — for the sake of argument — that he is.
If he is, and if the Biblical narrative is to be believed, then he fought against a being that is decidedly more evil.
If Lucifer exists, so must his counterpart exist: A being that created an entire world and a human race to live on it, who was omniscient enough to foresee that little stint in the Garden of Eden, but who nevertheless chose to punish the entire species, past and future, for one woman’s crime of eating an apple. The sentence? Eternal suffering in Hell.
Unless, of course, individual members recount their evil natures — a state in which they were created by the maker himself. After asking forgiveness, they must obey him without question, and with songs of thanks.
If you think about it, the Abrahamic god — the god of presumably three faiths (each one believing the other two are false) — is the most sadistic and maniacal creature ever to root itself in our collective conscious.
If we are to believe Biblical texts, then we are to believe that God created man faulty (sinful), punished him for being sinful (and continues to do so), and expects songs of praise if man repents and turns away from the sin he was created with. In less grand terms, it’s like creating a dog designed to bark, then beating it savagely when it barks.
Worse, if the Bible is true, God requires continuous praise while simultaneously allowing hunger and disease to ravage his most beloved creation — all because they act on the impulses they were made with.
What I’m to believe — what certain people on my Facebook feed would like me to believe — is that God (an all-knowing, all-powerful being) sits up in Heaven and watches things like the Holocaust and the AIDS epidemic and thousands of children die every day and thousands of sick people ask him for help every day and DOES. NOTHING.
And I’m supposed to praise this entity? I’m supposed to thank him? I can’t imagine any being so cruel, so as a kindness to myself, I choose not to believe in one.
If the Devil is real, I am rooting for him at that final battle. Until then, I encourage all Facebook users to stop blaming that adorable, goat-footed buddy for producing bigots. It’s not his fault that we humans are predisposed to bigotry.
And if your emotions are hindering your worship, you should probably listen to them — they might be on to something.