The Politics of “Heavenly Deception”

There is a line in the movie “The Usual Suspects” where Kevin Spacey’s character– who is masquerading as a milquetoast con-man in order to disguise his far more malevolent true identity– utters the following line: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.”

There are many people in this world who don’t believe in the existence of God. There are even more, I would wager, who don’t believe in the existence of (as he is known in the Christian context) Satan. I fall into neither of those groups.

When I stare at the ultrasound and watch my little daughter squirming and kicking in her mother’s womb, or when I stare up into a stormy sky and watch armies of dark clouds converging upon one another amid thunder and lightning, I find it difficult to accept that all of this is the result of accident.

When it comes to the Devil, though, I think medieval caricatures and Hollywood nonsense are what throw people off. The Devil isn’t some goofy, red miscreant with a pitchfork and a tail. He is depicted in the Bible as a super-intelligent spirit who is a master of influence and deception. He doesn’t force anyone to do anything, which is where Hollywood and the inquisitors got him wrong. If you read the account of his first interaction with humans, you can see the Devil for what he is: a really, really smart confidence man.

Of course, a supernatural confidence man who wants his hand in things to remain invisible will need corporeal accomplices. I believe the Devil has legions of these, because we are all vulnerable to his influence in some way or other. That is an inexorable part of the raw deal into which Adam and Eve bought us. There are, however, some for whom doing the Devil’s bidding is a career. They aren’t that hard to figure out, either. Read the following story to get introduced to one.

Dear Leader’s Paper Moon
by John Gorenfeld

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