Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day 183 of 365: It's Not Satan

Facebook has had quite the evolution over the past few years. As of late, it's become a bit of Pinterest Lite -- a lot of reposted pictures, recipes, articles, etc. And I love it: I made a delicious cannoli dip for the Superbowl thanks to a recipe I found on Facebook. And every time an essay of mine is published, best believe I link it onto Facebook (and best believe I check how many times other people shared my essays on the various social networking sites). But it's a double-edged sword: for every cool recipe, there's a whole lot of bullshit. And one of those came with an article that was titled essentially:

"This is Satan with your Children"

The actual title is slightly different (I didn't feel like calling out a fellow writer like that), but the overall feel is the same. In it, she talks about how Satan wins every time she loses her cool with her children, or gets anxious, or has a moment of doubt. She says that Satan is constantly around her, waiting to strike when she is vulnerable, ready to fill her mind with anger or sadness or frustration.

And, truly, honestly, genuinely: I can't. In the fullest internet/gossip-site definition of "I can't": I can't.

I just cannot with the, "Satan is doing this" stuff.

In some ways, people who get into this mindset are actually in line with what the Bible says: in the Old Testament, Satan is the guy who fills your mind with doubt. He's the Loki of the Christian world, playing tricks and causing chaos. But I doubt these people see Satan as a Loki figure. To them, he is evil, pure evil, and the reason for all the bad things in the world.

I can see how that's an easier pill to swallow. Is God to blame for the suffering in the world? No, this other guy is! Ignore the part where God is omniscient and omnipotent and nothing happens without His doing. This is all Satan's fault!

I get the mindset, and I get how people can find peace of mind thinking that way, but, wow, how unhealthy. How unhealthy to decide that all the pain, all the times we see red or have doubt or worry, is because of ~satanic forces~. I grew up Christian and, while my church was wonderful about preaching love and peace over hellfire and damnation, that didn't stop me from hearing about said hellfire and damnation.

And here's the kicker: when I was a kid/adolescent, I went to church every Sunday, prayed every night, said "Our Father"s when I was worried or scared for my well-being. I believed very much in hell and the devil and worried myself sick over people who didn't believe in God and were going to go to hell. Now that I'm an adult, I go to church sporadically at best, I rarely pray in the traditional format, and I've long-stopped believing that there is a hell awaited those who don't believe the exact thing they are supposed to believe. I opened my eyes to the idea that the spiritual world might be a lot more than we can even begin to believe as puny humans, and that -- the same way there is the contradiction of God as the Holy Trinity and God at the same time -- we can have the contradiction of a thousand paths to God, all saying they're the correct one, all being vastly different, and all being right.

And I think I have a closer relationship now with God than I ever did as a traditional Christian.

And while it's hard to imagine that all this suffering -- all the gang rapes and torture and child soldiers and war and famine -- is preordained, I walk away feeling a lot closer to God than I would had I said, "Well this is the work of the devil," and walked away with that unease about powerful evil forces in the universe. And I think it takes away some of the personal responsibility: when you blame the devil, you are looking at outward forces. It is no longer what you can do to better your own reaction to things; it is about how you can fight off offending forces.

But, of course, this is either preaching to the choir or preaching to no one. People who genuinely believe in the article I just mentioned will look at this essay and go, "Well, clearly this is the work of Satan's influences. Just look at how she talks about personal responsibility!"

Oh well.

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