The Devil You Don't Know

13 - Death and the Devil - A Homily... Kinda.

March 10, 2022 Don Early Season 1 Episode 13
The Devil You Don't Know
13 - Death and the Devil - A Homily... Kinda.
Show Notes Transcript

Words about Death, the Devil, and a Netflix series about Vampires. This completes Season 1.

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Death is the Devil’s creation. Before the Devil, there was no death. This notion is thousands of years old. I have heard it church. In Episode 9 we discussed that it may have originated with the Zoroastrians. A being of the ultimate evil, Prince of Darkness, the source from which all maladies come from. Maladies. Malignancy. Malice. Coming from the Latin root Mal meaning evil, bad, cursed. And what are these? Cancer, plagues, famine, wars, genocide, spiders, snakes, rats, locusts, flooding, drought, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes. Cancer. I mentioned cancer. Still. Cancer.

But why are these “bad?” Why do we experience these, personally, as attacks on our daily lives? Seemingly coming from some powerful force we cannot possibly comprehend. Because it makes us feel bad… no. Not bad. It makes us feel sorrow. Grief. Despair. Rage. Helplessness. Pain, so much pain. We don’t tend to like these feelings, these sensations. We don’t like how it makes us feel and these feelings linger. So. Bad. Evil. Evil because underserving. Right? It’s not fair. Why does she have to have cancer? Have to? Is “have to” even part of it? She does have it. No. I think cancer has her.

Cancer will win out in the end. Win out? Is it a competition? Is it a battle? We use words like “battling cancer.” “Fighting cancer.” But when the cancer takes over too many vital functions, she dies. Did she lose? You want people to win fights. Win battles. Be the victor. Conquer… what? Conquer death? If that is a fight, then no one wins. Ever. Not one. Even Jesus and I’ll get to him in a minute.

Is it helpful to think of our relationship with these phenomena we call maladies as a fight? Us vs them. Me vs. it. Because that set of opposites is where the Devil comes from. We vs It or They. A combat, a conflict. Winning, life, and more is at stake. I don’t know. Maybe at times it is useful to think in these terms to muster the will to go on. Afterall isn’t that what our own bodies do when it detects harmful bacteria or viruses? It summons a fighting force to destroy the invading presence. Where I think it gets problematic is when Death finally comes. 

No one knows what ultimately happens to whatever we are after death. It’s only conjecture. It’s a mystery. It’s unknown. It can only be unknown. And we will all eventually meet death. Death is bad for the living. The death of a loved one creates a hole in your life they used to fill. Now it’s different. What you knew them to be only now exists in your memories, and the memories of everyone who knew her. It hurts. It’s final. There is no coming back. She is not coming back. 

It sucks. For us who still live. For her? I guess it depends on your view of whether or not there’s an afterlife, and if there is, what that is. There is a powerful scene in the Netflix limited series Midnight Mass. I believe it was the 4th episode where near the end of the episode, two characters that have experienced unimaginable grief, discuss what they think happens after we die. She tells about meeting passed loved ones, in heaven, and happiness, and no suffering. He paints a picture of that final moment of death, this giant dump of DMT into his system, tripping balls and soaring into oblivion while his body then decomposes and becomes food for fungus, worms, creating and sustaining more life.

I love both ideas and for different reasons, and I encourage you to check it out, definitely had something in my eye there. 

For the rest of us who still live, we have to go on continue living until it’s our time for death. Ok so back to the Devil, yeah? On the one hand, if the Devil is this being of evil who just wants YOU personally to suffer and die by his own demonic influences, INCLUDING cancer, then according to the conventional way of thinking in this paradigm is that you WILL lose to the Devil. Now whether or not he gets you after you die is a bunch of theological nonsense I don’t have time to get into right now. If the Devil created death and destruction, and there was no death before the Devil, everyone lives forever? Did the planet just get overrun and the High God said okay okay, whoops. Didn’t account for the spatial limitations of that single planet where the only life exists. I need a partner to cull the herd so to speak and keep things in balance. And that will be tough, so it’s gonna be a fight for balance. But I’m ultimately going to want all the good things to win and he’s going to want all the bad things to win, yeah alright so humans can see in the daytime but not so well at night. I’ll give this guy the domain of darkness and see what he does with that. Whoa shit! That was overboard, I mean that’s all my stuff he just wrecked. I keep making stuff, he keeps destroying it, what the fuck?! Oh he was there all along, I didn’t create him. Yep, totally his fault.

I guess if that makes you feel better and you can keep going in your life, okay? But it sure makes a lot of feelings of “losing the battle,” “losing to the Tyrant Death,” “losing to the Enemy,” “losing to the Devil.” Those feelings seem like a giant waste of energy to me. 

So on the other hand, there is another perspective. What if the Devil IS your fighting spirit? What if the Devil is your defiance against unfavorable odds? To many, the Devil is not the figure of ultimate evil but rather the figure of Rebellion, Defiance against Tyranny, the one who stands up for the oppressed, the discarded, those who cannot have a voice of their own. What if this ultimate figure of evil is something we made up because we experience death and disease and the like, and it doesn’t make us feel good? We experience it as unfair, we didn’t deserve it, I’m being punished. You could challenge yourself in asking WHY. Why does it seem unfair? Why do you deserve anything? Where did deserving come from? Death happens to us all. We all get sick. We all lose loved ones to death. Not loss as in a fight or a contest. Lost as in, no longer present. Cannot be found. What if there is no evil that comes from the way this planet literally works? Is a volcano eruption really evil? Is a flood evil? Really and truly is cancer evil? I’m a little stuck on that last one but it’s my own bias and if I’m honest my answer is no. Cancer is not evil. It is fucking terrifying, but not evil.

(what about Jesus? You said you’d get to him) Okay fine. Christianity’s primary tenant is that Jesus died of course, but then on the third day, rose from the dead. He was resurrected. He beat death. It’s a great story. Not sure if it’s the Greatest Story Ever Told but it’s got its strengths. For one, it has provided hope for countless over two-thousand years through the worst atrocities imaginable. It provides the will to go on. The live boldly. To give us courage… okay all that stuff. And you can keep going with that if that’s what you need. Jesus died. The end. He not only died, he was executed for being a traitor to the Roman Empire. That was the official charge that history records. So everyone he inspired, experienced a terrible loss. When you grieve, when you feel deep, deep sorrow, hope seems either too far away, unattainable, or just irrelevant. If Jesus was truly God’s Son, the chosen, the promised Messiah and he was just nailed to a pole and died like a robber, a criminal, what does that mean? How do we keep going, those of us who believed what he said? They look for answers. They have experiences and they interpret, looking for hope. Because that’s what humanity does. That is what inspiration is. It is the North Star, the guiding light. The angel to nudge you in a better direction. 

Death has come. Death is coming. There is no avoiding it. That fact is uncomfortable as fuck.  So what do we do? We keep going. Until we can’t. Until we don’t. We keep trying. We support each other with love. If we don’t have anyone, we have to try and find… anyone. Maybe it’s a song that gets you through. Maybe it’s this phone number you should call right now if you’re thinking of voluntarily ending things for yourself. 800-273-8255. National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 800-273-8255. If you’re listening, I care at the very least to give you an opportunity to get help. 

I’m grieving. I am filled with sorrow and I don’t want to imagine what her husband, my brother, is going through. In our pain. In our suffering. We reach out. Even if it’s just with intention. I think that counts. If that’s all you got. All you can do. Sit down and write. Say what you feel or what you want to have happen out loud. Let your intention be known, and mean it.

I don’t know if the Devil has anything to do with Death at all. Hell, I don’t actually believe in the theological as reality. But I’m starting to think that we place a scary figure as connected to a scary thing. And a thing is scary because we don’t understand it. Fear of the unknown. And there’s nothing more unknown than death. If the Devil is real for you, maybe turn him into something useful. Maybe The Devil is the liberator of suffering instead of the cause, I don’t know. Maybe the Devil you Don’t Know is actually the Angel you need. Doesn’t have to be the Devil. Doesn’t have to be an angel. If any of that is meaningful for you then use it. If not, I recommend immersing in art. Listen to music, really hard. Study a painting. Let your emotions respond. Find ANY bit of inspiration that connects with you, and reach out. Be together. Remember. Love. And keep going.

So say we all.