Skip to content

Sympathy for the Devil

Ángel Caído en El Retiro

One day when I was very young I brought home from Sunday School a page from some sort of activity booklet. I believe it depicted Jesus being tempted by Satan. I cut out the image of Satan and pinned it to the wall of my bedroom. I found a blue foil star somewhere and pinned it in his hand. Somehow that seemed right. I’m sure at that tender age I didn’t know that Lucifer means Light-Bringer in Latin. I doubt I was aware that in the Book of Isaiah he was called Day Star, or Morning Star, son of Dawn.

Mom was a little upset by the display. “I won’t have devil worship in this house,” she said. I explained that I wasn’t worshiping him, I just thought he looked cool, with the horns and bat-wings and all. Besides, I pointed to the star as evidence that he’d turned good.

But I think the real reason Satan interested me was as a symbol or icon of transgression. From those very early days to this, I’ve been fascinated by transgressive behavior, rebels and outcasts, deviants and misfits, anyone that goes against the dominant narrative, anything that seems offensive to mainstream sensibilities.

I am not speaking of an obsession, just a mild fascination, an enduring interest. I know I’m not alone in this. It’s easy to look around and see there are plenty of people who share this interest. But I also recognize that it’s a minority position.

I still find Satanic imagery mildly compelling. But his primary appeal, to me, exists only within the Christian paradigm. As that has become less dominant in my mind, the power of such imagery seems to diminish somewhat, but my general interest in transgression remains. Curiously and ironically enough, I imagine Jesus as a friend to transgressors of all types.

I’ve been thinking about this lately, and wondering as always about that ultimate question: Why? There are so many ways of being. Why am I more this way than another? Why am I who I am and not someone else? For many years I have sought environmental explanations. More and more I attribute my quirks to nature, not nurture. I am who I am because I was born this way.

Ángel Caído en El Retiro / Álvaro Ibáñez / CC BY 2.0

Published inTheology


  1. KamaAina KamaAina

    Bizarre Coincidence Dept.: There is a TV network that has been snapping up unused UHF educational channel assignments all over the country (though not in New Orleans) and using them for fire ‘n’ brimstone religious programming 24/7/365.

    The network’s name? Daystar, of course. Hmmm….

  2. Scottica Scottica

    I have many “why” questions as well. For instance, why doesn’t anyone know that the devil tricked the world when he climbed up on the cross and fooled the world. All those Christians are really worshiping the devil. Pretty rad, huh?

  3. Well, I started asking the same sort of question, and I’m not even really sure that the devil (especially in the Christian tradition of Lucifer) is the pure evil that he’s depicted as. After all, he was supposed to be the greatest of all angels before he ‘fell’, or rather, was cast down for being prideful.

    As for the Christians just being fooled by the devil in disguise… you know what… never mind… I don’t think I can make a good argument against it without losing my temper.

  4. rickngentilly rickngentilly

    the “debil” is in the details.

    satan get the behind me.

    thats what my texarkana grandma had to say on the subject.

  5. WeaselBob WeaselBob

    I’m a big fan of nature being nothing more than predispositions, and everything else the result of nurture (socialization). We’re all influenced by so many different things; people, events, social mores, literature, media (to name a few), in so many different ways, while in different states of mind, while in various emotional states, that there’s no way to know with any specificity what all the causes are for who we are, who we’ve been, or who we’ll be in the future. I just recently read a book that made me even more firm in that belief. I can’t remember the author’s name, but the title, I think, is “The Outliers”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *