Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world

COME BACK, DEVIL, WE NEED YOU

Sunday, our vicar commented on a move to alter the wording of the Baptism Service to exclude any mention of The Devil. I stopped listening  after that to ponder the implications. After all ‘The Devil’  is just a name, two words used to identify a person or thing or idea or force. If that person or thing or idea or force is in any sense real then removing the name from your vocabulary leaves the thing itself unchanged. If you stop talking about gravity or centrifugal force or love they still operate.

Words come into being  at a certain time and use the language of that time.  Whoever created the story of Icarus said that he fell out of the sky because his wings were held on with wax and the wax melted when he flew too near the sun. When the De Haviland Comet fell out of the sky people used different words. Some religious folk still use Icarus-speak about The Devil.

It is hard to argue that there are no such things as selfishness and hate, and that they cause us to behave in an evil manner. And if you deny that, then you must also deny opposite forces like love. So renouncing The Devil just means resisting internal human instincts. But is that enough? Perhaps the old-fashioned Devil  with horns and a tail and a toasting fork was more memorable and had more effect. Telling the truth as we now see it has two disadvantages. Firstly it plays down the fact that resisting the force is almost beyond human capability and needs supernatural support, Secondly, it makes the force less memorable and almost manageable. The image of a conscious being does have an impact. LuciferSo my intellect tells me to “get real” but my practical side says “Come back, Devil, we need you.”

Stories can have a powerful and beneficial influence on human behaviour. It is all a matter of seeing them for what they are and using the meaning they carry. It is a mistake to ridicule them because the language in which they are expressed may be out-dated.

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