Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Malovolent spirit

An acquaintance of ours mentioned that her daughter was applying to Patrick Henry College in Virginia. I thought that I knew just about every college in the country, and had taken my daughter on visits to most of them, but I had never heard of this one. It turns out that Patrick Henry is a small religious college, with a particular emphasis on home schooled kids. Their motto is "Christ and Liberty"and they have four or five majors that seem to revolve around getting religion, i.e. the fundamentalist Christian faith, as deeply into governement as is constitutionally possible.

All of this is well and good, even if it sounds a bit redundant, there are a number of colleges with the same mission. Then again, there are a lot of colleges teaching the same thing, so one another Liberty U., more or less, can't hurt anything.What struck me about Patrcik Henry was its "Statment of Faith". It has ten hard and fast beliefs, which is are different than the ten which God gave to Moses. Then again, Patrick Henry has had 5,00 more years to think about this than God had at Siani. There is something odd about about one of the 1o belief statements. It is like someone added one on. If you look at the statements, number 10 is different than the top nine. The top ten are statements that you would see in most conservative Christian platforms. Many people in my own denomination would be fully comfortable with the top nine . There are a couple or seven that I would throw out, but I have no trouble with most of the list. What strikes me as odd is number 10, which I quote here in full. Every student and employee at Patrick Henry must believe this.

J. "Satan exists as a personal, malevolent being who acts as tempter and accuser, for whom Hell, the place of eternal punishment, was prepared, where all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity."


I think I have written before that I am appalled by the fact that well over 60% of the people in the United States believe in a corporal Devil. My mother assured me, when I was only four years old, that not only did the Devil not live under a bush in Rick Roland's backyard, but that there was no such thing as the Devil. My mother seldom lied to me, and never about theological issues, so I have lived a Deviless existence since that time. If my mother had spent more of her time explaining to people in this country that there was no Devil, instead of constanly nagging me to finish my homework, this nation would be better off today.

I mentioned some time ago my doubts that Hell could house the number of us who could not make much of an argument for staying out of it. Like the California penal system, the Devil would be releasing people from eternal sentences for "time served" just to get a little breathing room down there.Paris Hilton would not spend forty eight hours in Hell. The Devil would not have time to do any "accusing" or "tempting". He'd be too busy fighting off habeous petitions.And believe me, there would be more than enough lawyers down there drawing them up.

Why the majority of the country still worries about this particular fairy tale is beyond me. I suppose that the approaching Halloween focuses people on malovolence every year. But it says something to me about the credibility of the people of the United States as human beings. How could we be relied on to deal with true evil, when we spend so much time worrying about made up evil ? There is no doubt in my mind that the current President of the United States believes in a corporate devil (some say that that very being is serving as Vice President, and, while that's tempting to believe, could not be possible.Cheney is a lot more evil than that). This is starting to become somewhat of a litmus test for me. I would not vote for anyone who was willing to say that they believed in a corporate devil. Note I said "willing to say". A good deal of these chowder heads would say they believed, just because there are more votes in that direction. I will give you two to one that you could not get Hillary Clinton to make the simple statement that she does not believe in the devil. No way. Yet she would be perfectly willing to deny that the earth was flat, that bat blood cured the plauge or that witches could not float. all of these were popular theories less than a thousand years ago. Most of them , at least to me, seemed more likely than the existence of a corporate devil.Yet none of those beliefs have survived, and Satan still gets the vote of two thirds of the country.

In another life, I taught English literature. During the reading of Paradise Lost, I was asked by a student if I believed in the Devil. I replied that I did not. I was lucky to hold my job. The good news was that my statement set off a round of prayers on my behalf by the students. I have always attributed those prayers to my getting into law school, as they were said just as the various admissions committees were looking at my record.So in a way, I owe my present livelihood to Old Mr Scratch, or at least to my not believing in him.Funny how the world works. Maybe this was just what he had in mind for me all of the time. Wonder if that bush is still in the Roland's yard ? I wish everyone a Happy Halloween.


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