Political correctness is the devil

People like to keep things simple. Whenever possible, they would prefer to have One Big Problem, rather many different ones.

The Devil is a perfect illustration of this principle. Over hundreds and thousands of years, mythic and historical writing has included a number of bad characters harboring ill will, or representing challenges to humanity. But our simple-minded culture has decided that they are all actually just one Super-Bad Being: the Devil.

In the Book of Job 1-2, Job has a spiritual adversary who is referred to as “the satan” (which translates from the Hebrew as “the adversary”). According to the book of Job, this being is specifically Job’s adversary: not “the adversary of God” or “the adversary of mankind”. The satan is in fact following God’s instructions, according to the story. And yet, in our modern-day interpretation of the myth, this being becomes “The Devil”.

In Leviticus 7:17, the Hebrew word sair is translated as “The Devil”, even though it really means “goat” or “satyr”.

In Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalms 106:37,  the Hebrew word shed is translated as “The Devil”, even though it means “idol”.

In 1 Kings, the word “satan” is used to refer to an actual human being: Rezon of Damascus. He was an adversary (a “satan”) to Israel. But many Christians claim this passage refers to The Devil.

“Shaitan” or “ash-Shayṭān” is also the name of Iblis in Islamic myths: the one who whispers evil temptations into the ears of man. According to many: also the Devil.

A snake in a garden that tempts Eve? Must have been the devil.

The peacock angel worshiped by the Yazidis? Must have been the devil.

And my favorite bit of twisted interpretation is Ezekiel 28:12-14, which many many Biblical scholars argue must be referring to the Devil:

“Thus says the Lord GOD: You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, chrysolite, and moonstone, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald; and worked in gold were your settings and your engravings…”

And so on, and so on. The passage goes on to say that he was proud because of his beauty, and so the Lord cast him out. Many Biblical scholars call this a description of the Devil.

The only problem with this description of “The Devil” is the one sentence that precedes it:

“Moreover the word of the LORD came to me: Mortal, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him…….”

This (supposedly inerrant?) biblical passage very clearly states that it is a description of the king of Tyre, not the Devil. But no! It’s too confusing to have more than one Bad Guy in the novel of life… so Christians claim that this, too, is a description of The Devil.

This over-simplification happens in other areas of life, too. A good example is the way that America’s right-wing has chosen to focus on “political correctness” as the supposed source of so many things it finds disagreeable.

The original idea behind political correctness was fairly mundane: be mindful about how the things you say might have unintended negative consequences or might impact people around you in negative ways.

But now?

Students are complaining about their classes? It’s because of political correctness!

President Obama won’t use the phrase “Islamic Terrorism”? Political correctness!

Women are being allowed in the military? Oh, the horrors of political correctness!

Conservatives want to make “political correctness” synonymous with “language policing” and authoritarianism. And admittedly, some radical “PC Police” activists can use the term in a very authoritarian way. As a Satanist, and a strong supporter of Loki, I’m against anyone who tells me that I should never offend people, or must walk on eggshells in the way I talk.

But it is also obvious to me that political correctness has become the American Right’s modern “Devil”: the single big Bad Guy that can be blamed for all of the problems!

Well, you know what? I like the Devil. And I also like political correctness: at least in the way it was originally intended, even if not the way it is executed by some on the left-side fringe. It is noble, and indeed very Satanic, to be mindful of one’s place in a culture, and one’s relationship to other people. It is very Satanic to be aware of the power you have with your own rhetoric, and as an activist within a community. It is the very nature of the aspect of The Leviathan.

So let the political right wing wrings its hands over the devastation being brought down on the land by the dreaded Political Correctness! As a Satanist I say:

Hail Community. Hail Political Correctness. Hail Satan.

Psychotherapy in the desert

Fame and faith can consume a man. They can make for a deadly combination. Imagine the man who had so much of both that people became convinced that he was divine… and he allowed himself to be convinced, as well. If you saw him walking through the desert, muddled with hunger and delusion, your heart would surely go out to him. You would want to help. Of course you would.

When I was in college, a friend of mine suffered from a psychotic break. He was eventually diagnosed with acute schizophrenia, but that diagnosis only happened later: after he’d stopped eating, shaved his head declaring that he didn’t have the “right” to own hair, and then tried to poison himself. I saw him in the hospital that night, his mouth ringed with black from the charcoal the medics had force-fed him, his eyes red and wild. And it threw me back to all the conversations I’d had with him in the months leading up, where I could tell that something was wrong but I didn’t know what.

He was an intelligent guy, and very articulate. But he would phase in and out of lucidness, his mind wandering off into conspiracies about “higher powers” and creatures that were always watching and who would punish you if you made bad decisions. Sometimes he would claim he had powers himself, and that the rest of the humans were “mere shadows” compared to him.

Those conversations were frightening, because he was so plainly earnest. He believed to the core of his being, every word that he said. So, I tried to use the only conversational tactics at my disposal: logic and reason. I asked him for evidence. I challenged his logic. But nothing I could say would penetrate his delusion. “They are watching us,” he would simply mutter over and over again, “they see everything.”

When I imagine Lucifer in the desert, watching over a rail-thin man who has been starving himself for weeks on end, my heart goes out to that poor fallen angel. Lucifer is seeing a man who is wrecked by mental illness, a man who is on a literal path to self-destruction. The man is consumed by the myths and stories that people tell about him, and that he believes about himself.

If I were in Lucifer’s shoes, I’d want to help poor Yeshua, too. Lucifer knows the importance of evidence and skepticism, so naturally he tries to use that tactic to get through to Yeshua:

“If you are really some kind of divine being, then why don’t you throw yourself off of this cliff? Come on, if you really believe all this stuff: prove it with your actions rather than your words!”

But it couldn’t break through the mental illness of Yeshua’s faith, who simply replied: I don’t need to provide evidence, I know what I know.

It reminds me of my schizophrenic friend in college: coherent, semi-rational,  but completely unable to recognize the delusion in his own thoughts.

After Lucifer gave up on Yeshua, Pan decided to give it a try. Pan knows the importance of earthly pleasures and indulgences, and his heart went out to the starving man in his self-imposed abstinence. “Hey, bro… at least make yourself come bread and eat. What are you accomplishing by starving yourself?”

But Yeshua’s mental illness consumed him, and he claimed that he didn’t need actual food, he could survive just on his own willpower and beliefs.

Finally, Satan appeared, and attempted to reason with Yeshua one last time: “You’re destroying yourself in abasement to some imaginary being who has imaginary rules… this is absurd! Why are you doing this to yourself? Bowing down to an invisible, impalpable, unknowable entity is insane, don’t you see that? You might just as well bow down to a rock! Or a horse! Or, even me! That’s how ridiculous it is!”

Quite naturally, when this story was transcribed by others, they described these events somewhat differently. But this is how it actually happened.

And you should think about how you would act, too. What would you do, if your friend was out there, a shattered man, broken by mental illness, killing himself in the desert with paranoid delusions about superpowers and an invisible being watching over his every move. How would you try to help him?

Would you try to reason with him, like Lucifer?

Would you try to get him to take care of his body, like Pan?

Would you try to get him to see the oppressiveness of his delusion, like Satan?

Maybe you would take a different tactic completely. But if you have any compassion in you at all, you would surely do just as the Devil did, 2000 years ago on Mount Quarantania, when he tried to talk poor Yeshua out of his delusions and bring him back to the eternal light of reason.