Tag Archives: the devil

Reality Confusion Redux: Inanimate Evil

Fundamentalism is rife with strange superstitions concerning the ability of mere things to somehow hold mystical powers of evil. If you want to freak out a fundy, invite them over to your house and then ask them to help you organize the cupboard where you store your wine and Ouija boards. For to a fundamentalist that isn’t just some fermented grapes and silly writing on a cardboard box. No, indeed these things actually are themselves evil.

It’s as if the concept of “sin” has somehow turned into a dark mysterious force that infects everything it touches. And in a moment of weakness if an unsuspecting person should allow a picture of Santa Claus to hang on a door or a statue of Buddha to sit on a shelf or an NIV to lay on their coffee table, that object is, in fact, a doorway from which the very powers of hell can gain access to your life.

By way of illustration, I was once told by an elderly lady that the pastor of her church got up in the pulpit and railed against unicorns as a symbol of the New Age Movement and a likely symbol of the occult. After this very biblical and Christ-honoring sermon (one can only imagine that the text was Deuteronomy 33:17) this elderly woman’s daughter came to her mother’s house and broke the horn off the unicorn statue that the daughter had given her mom as a present some months earlier.

With the satanic protrusion removed, we are left to believe that the evil the unicorn contained all seeped out of the hole where the horn had once been and (lacking a proof text for the satanic nature of horses with holes between their ears) she did not do any further violence to the statue. Her mother’s good nature, however, was left much worse for the wear than the figurine was. And what did this accomplish? A little glass was shattered. A heart was broken. And evil remained unchanged for it stayed right where it always has lived in the heart of a person driven by fear and ignorance.

Now we all know that an idol is nothing. But carve that idol out and fill it with alcohol or stick a peace sign on it or tell someone that it’s a talisman from an African witchdoctor and apparently nothing turns into something pretty quickly. Reality is a funny thing in fundyland.

Fighting Imaginary Battles With The Devil

The fundamentalist war against Satan is as unceasing as it is uninformed. The field of conflict is so often located in such unlikely places that one has to wonder if Satan has even been told that he’s supposed to show up to fight.  Satan is evidently much like the Taliban who are known to win a strategic battle against the American way of life every time someone buys a smaller car, skips a vacation, or eats a salad. You may not even know you’re playing, but you’re losing just the same.

Allowing children to attend a secular college? The hordes of hell advance in dread array.

Canceling mid-week service? Christians tremble in fear as the fiery host drives back the faithful few.

Discontinuing your door-to-door outreach? You can almost see devil spiking the ball and doing an evil endzone dance of glee.

Gird your loins and prepare to do battle in whatever patch of lentils your pastor has chosen to defend. Maybe this time the devil will actually show up.

Perceiving Spiritual Warfare In Common Events


Satan’s attacks are a constant topic among fundamentalists, with any number of naturally occuring events being perceived as the direct work of the Evil One.

Perhaps these claims of spiritual warfare are familiar…

“After living a life where I consumed fatty foods every day and never exercised, Satan has attacked my body and given me high blood pressure and heart disease. The devil also made me put my wallet through the washing machine this morning.”

“I was walking down dark alleys alone with ten dollar bills falling out of my pockets when a couple of thugs (who I could tell were demon possessed by their punk rock t-shirts)  mugged me.”

“I haven’t changed my oil or had a tuneup to my car in 10 years. Then today on my drive to work, Satan attacked my car and it broke down on the side of the road. He also had sneakily drained my cell phone battery so I couldn’t call for help.”

The devil is evidently a very clever sort who disguises a lot of work as the natural result of human folly. Subtle indeed.