Many years ago there was a very funny black comedian named Flip Wilson who did stand up comedy and had his own widely acclaimed TV show. Sadly he died at age 65, much too soon. Part of his comic routines involved becoming a wide variety of different characters. His most famous character impersonation, though, was a woman named Geraldine. He would don a dress and wig, and talking in a high-pitched falsetto, Flip Wilson would take on the persona of Geraldine, who would then talk about her very macho boyfriend named Killer. While she professed to having a great relationship with “Killer” she also had to admit she was constantly getting in trouble and being berated by Killer for spending too much money, especially on clothes.
As an example, Geraldine would say, she was walking down the street the other day, and passed by a shop with the most gorgeous dress in the window. Since it was so expensive, however, she was determined that she would not go in the store and spend all that money on a dress. She knew how upset Killer would be if she did. But then, just as she was about to move on, the Devil showed up, and said words to the effect, “Come on, Geraldine, you know how much you want that dress. There’s no harm if you treated yourself this one time.” And Geraldine would then respond with words to the effect, “Get away from me Devil, I ain’t falling for that line or any of your tricks anymore.”
There would then ensue a very funny routine where Geraldine and the Devil would battle it out in a test of willpower. Of course, in the end, Geraldine would fall for the wiles of the Devil and go in and buy the dress. She then dreaded going home and having to face Killer’s wrath at doing such a foolhardy thing. But she would just have to tell him, that spending all that money was the last thing she wanted, but the Devil made her do it. I thought of that a few days ago listening to the latest debate among those crazy kids still running for the Republican nomination for President. Seems the topic of Satan came up and the fab four still in the contest appeared to actually believe in the real life existence of the Devil. But since they’re beholden to tea party crackpots that’s not what startled me. A Gallop poll came out the next day that purportedly stated that between 70-80% of Americans actually believes that the Devil exists in reality. That sort of caught my attention.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think Satan is a great metaphorical figure throughout history and throughout literature. I put him in the same category as Santa Claus. One does good, the other does evil. But by the time you’re 6 or 7, maybe 8 at the latest, you’re supposed to have it figured out that neither Santa Claus nor the Devil exists in actuality. I guess I didn’t realize that there are so many people who take both the old and new testaments of the bible literally (rather than as a collection of fable, mythology, and superstition written by men in caves thousands of years ago) that they really believe Satan is lurking out there somewhere ready to do them or the world great harm and evil.(Satan is mentioned prominently in the new testament.) But on the other hand I can see great advantages of believing in the Devil. Fell off your diet and gorged on fudge brownies- well, of course, the Devil made you eat them. Had to have that 97 inch HD color TV to watch the Super Bowl, which was well beyond your affordability, well you know who’s to blame for that too. What a great way to absolve yourself of important responsibilities.
I guess I shouldn’t be amazed at the state of unreality large majorities of people prefer to live in. It all stems from religious fanaticism and it seems to be spreading throughout the country like a blob. (That metaphor is from a movie a long time ago called “The Blob” which similarly spread its unstoppable ooze everywhere.) And it’s in synch with a poll that came out about a year ago that showed a significant majority of people still don’t believe in evolution. Go to any museum of natural history, in any major city, and see all the evidence you need as to how life on this planet evolved over hundreds of millions years, if you need any proof as to the viability of the theory of evolution. But I guess the people who believe in the Devil, and who deny evolution are not big museum goers. It might force them to have to come out of their state of delusion.
All this plays into our state of discourse in this political season. Thought that the subject of contraception was dead and buried more than 50 years ago? Think again. Its now become a hot topic, among right-wing politicians who just look for new ways to appeal to the most extremest elements of their base. Its like society failed to drive a wooden stake thru its heart 50 years ago, and now, like a zombie, its risen from the dead. That along with extreme anti-abortionism. So, if one of those crazy kids vying for the GOP nomination becomes President next year, as is very likely to happen, you’ll have an an administration that believes in Satan, denies evolution, and basically feels that a woman’s body should be used as a baby factory. Pleasant dreams folks.