Satan’s Peculiar Grace
(Suggested by the title of Professor Steve Fallon’s “Milton’s Peculiar Grace”)
Presentation and discussion by Terrance lindall
With a Satan inspired trance meditation piano performance
by Bienvenido Bones Banez
January 26, 2013 6-7 PM
Suggested Admission $5
My artist friend Bienvenido Bones Banez always says “Satan gives color to the world.” Indeed, in art and literature stories of trial, sacrifice, desire, achievement in the face of obstacles, war, love, hate…all these things make for great poetry, great art and excitement in our lives. Imagine a world where there is no hate, no enemies to overcome, plenty of good food, no need to invent anything to make life more comfortable. We could simply live as vegetables.
In the West we have endowed Satan’s character as a part of our cultural heritage for 5000 or more years. And he is a concept in all human cultures because he embodies, or gives some tangible form to human misery. And yet he is also associated with pleasurable things too, such as the idea of eternal life, lustful delights, and carnal pleasures. Is not pleasure in and of itself a good? One can imagine Plato’s Socrates’ answer to this. The Meno is always a pleasure to consult as that wily old philosopher dances around the question “What is good?”
Literature and art are fecund with the character of Satan. In Faust he inspires a scholar, who, in pursuit of knowledge, seems to be ensnared. In Balzac’s The Fatal Skin, Benét’s Devil and Daniel Webster, and Stoker’s Dracula, we see that Evil incarnate has a peculiar, even attractive grace. Why are stories of these Satanic characters MORE interesting than stories about goodly characters? Milton had that problem. Paradise Lost was far more interesting than Paradise Regained and Dante’s Inferno far more compelling than Dante’s Paradiso. You can see at the WAH Center on January 26th where we discuss this issue one of the latest works of art revolving around an oily and persuasive Satan. They are my own illustrations for Horace Jeffery Hodges BOTTOMLESS BOTTLE OF BEER that was just published two weeks ago. Indeed you will see that the devil therein has a peculiar grace as he attempts to ensnare a guileless naif. See a sample of the book on ISSUU:
|THE BOTTOMLESS BOTTLE OF BEER|
So, is Satan good or evil? He is always enticing us, creating desire where there was none before. He then puts obstacles in our path. He makes us compete for scarce goods of the earth and for love. He makes us want to dominate others so we can be secure in having everything we need or could want. He causes the adrenaline high and feeling of achievement. But he also juxtaposes our moments of self-satisfaction and pleasure with the pain of loss, anger at those who put obstacles in our path, and ultimately, fear of death and the loss of all those things we wanted to possess. All of this is rich subject matter for painting, poetry, literature and music. If there is a patron saint of the arts, it is Satan himself. So Bienvenido is right to admire him!
There is in religious philosophy the concept of “the fortunate fall.” “O happy fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer.” So at Christmas we must thank Satan for causing the necessity of bringing Christ to be be born into our world to redeem us from the wickedness that Satan inspires in us. This is all very peculiar.
In my 20’s I started writing and illustrating what I thought was a very important philosophical tale called “The Beast.” It was about the idea that all of the bestial passions we possess are a necessity to the enjoyment and fulfillment of life. In the story The Beast is debating with a saint. I guess it is sort of like the nightmare of the discussion with the devil in The Brothers Karamazov. One cannot win a debate with a Jesuit or the devil, of course.
In any case, in this world we must accommodate ourselves. If we want to live, we must compete for control over goods or submit ourselves to control by others as tools or slaves for the production of goods for others. The Devil is in every major dilemma. As an example of our dilemma, if it is evil to kill another person, is it not good to kill someone to protect your family from someone trying to kill them?
Abandonment and rejection and the extreme mental pain caused by such are themes rife throughout the Bible. Adam and Eve experience rejection and banishment. Cain experiences rejection and banishment. Christ experiences rejection and subsequent crucifixion and even feels abandoned on the cross, saying “Oh Lord, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Perhaps the greatest pain for anyone is that generated by abandonment or rejection.
What about Satan? What were the characteristics of his personage that caused rebellion? Like Jesus, Satan wanted the love of God. He wanted to be God’s foremost archangel, but God created his Son to replace him, so Satan became enraged. Unlike Christ, Satan rebelled and Sin and Death were engendered.
Evil is a Necessity
In philosophy there is something called the Ontological Proof of God. The argument was posited by St. Anselm of Canterbury. However, one can also see suggestions of it in Plato’s Theory of Forms. But what I contend is that it leads to the necessity of evil. See my discussion on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DovgzhFuwNA
Is Satan a Hypomaniac?
Hypomania is a mood state characterized by persistent and pervasive elevated (euphoric) or irritable mood. Individuals in a hypomanic state have a decreased need for sleep, are extremely outgoing and competitive, and have a great deal of energy. Those with hypomanic systems are fully functioning, and are often actually more productive than ordinary individuals. Hypomania is sometimes credited with increasing creativity and productive energy. A significant number of people with creative talents have reportedly experienced hypomania and hypomania may account for Satan’s ability to create concepts of Sin and Rebellion, unknown in Heaven. Classic symptoms of hypomania include euphoria, a flood of ideas, endless energy, and a desire and drive for success. Satan, having oriented his existence and sense of self worth around successes and the unimpeded First Love of God (before the Son was created) as indicated by his position of Foremost Archangel after God, strove tirelessly for independence and self-definition. Satan greatly valued his own achievements, measuring them based on his own internalized goals, not those set by God. His criteria of whether he was successful were often more stringent than those set by others. However, the unreasonably high standards set Satan up for feelings of failure, disappointment, guilt and self-blame. Satan translated that into rage.
The maintenance of independence and freedom from control by others is also important to hypomaniacs. Thus, the Son having been placed over him in authority, such that he had to receive orders from Him, was anathema to Satan.
Even in Hell Satan’s hypomania persists in a flood of ideas, endless energy, and a desire and drive for success. His nobility persists. Because his followers having suffered, he strives to prove his worth to them. Satan’s peculiar grace!