Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Plague of Incompetent Demons

Pity poor Wormwood. As Screwtape's wannabe-demon nephew in C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, he aspired to the depths of depravity to which Screwtape had sunk. Unfortunately, Wormwood was incompetent. So Screwtape had him for a snack.

There's a lesson here, somewhere. Incompetent demons always get done in, maybe? I hope so. It's always happened in the past, with wannabe demons like Herod, Nero, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot.

We have our own wannabes right here in the US. I can even give you some of their names (obviously, this list is not necessarily in order of demonic-wannabe incompetence.):

Max Boot
Paul Wolfowitz
Richard Perle
Douglas Feith
David Frum
William Kristol
Norman Podhoretz

Lewis "Scooter" Libby (What kind of grown man calls himself "Scooter," anyway? It reminds me of a dog I had that used to scoot around on a brand-new carpet.)

John Bolton
Elliot Abrams
Robert Kagan
Bill Bennett
Michael Ledeen
Frank Gaffney, Jr.

These incompetent wannabe-demons (currently known by the name "neocons") are the ones stumbling into war in the Middle East, and dragging the US with them. The blind leading the blind? Yep. What's that over there? A ditch? You bet.

If I had a large enough hand-basket, I'd stuff all of them in it and toss it straight to Hell. Have a nice trip. Don't write. Speaking of Hell, Lewis defined it as a bureaucracy in which "everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment."

And why do these plagues of incompetent demons always come in groups? The demon that Jesus kicked out said, "My name is Legion, for there are many of us." Why could he have not said, "My name is Joe, for there's just one of us in here"?

And then Legion got stuffed into some pigs and sent over a cliff. Afitting end to all demons, I'd say. Ditches and cliffs and falling into them and over them sure do seem to figure prominently in the lives of the stupid and evil. I think I'll write that on my palm so I don't forget it. I will look at it often. Every day, in fact.

I know these neocons supporters of the "Let's conquer the Middle East" wars are blindly self-righteous to the point of fanaticism, but the truth, unbeknowst to them, is that they are a legion of incompetent (and therefore minor, and annoying) demons who are bollixing up everything they touch.

Not only are these guys not wise, they're not even knowledgeable. "My people perish for want of knowledge!" moans Hosea. Not even wisdom, just simple knowledge. "False swearing, lying, murder, stealing and adultery! In their lawlessness, bloodshed follows bloodshed." Hosea's remonstrations are directed at the local kings. Uh oh.

Something I'll write on my other palm is the fact that so many of the preachers today criticize the common people, telling them they're going to Hell unless they believe as the preachers do. Yet, these same preachers rarely say anything about the depredations of those with political power, instead apparently believing they are going to be instrumental in bringing Jesus back. But, in the past, the prophets' ire was directed almost exclusively at the really naughty guys, the rulers. And, boy, if Jesus does come back, I suspect there are going to be some really surprised people! One of which will not be me.

Let's put it this way: when's the last time Jerry Fallwell said, "Hey, George, God didn't choose you to be President and doesn't talk to you no matter how much your booze-damaged brain tells you He does. And, I might add, I think you'd better buy some flame-proof underwear come Judgment Day."

The people who are the real prophets are ignored and insulted, just as they were in the past. They are without honor in their hometowns. However, in 200 years, people won't be calling them traitors anymore. By then they'll be respecting them as the real (although dead) prophets, and the names of the real traitors will be used as insults, the way "Pharisee" is, even after 2000 years.

Although, to be totally honest about it, even in 200 years there's never going to be a quote in the Bible that reads, "And the people listeneth not to Bob the Prophet, for their heads cleaveth to their butts." (Considering "cleave" has a dual meaning, I know there's a pun in there somewhere.)

Hosea may have been around a few thousand years ago, but he knew what he was talking about, just as the true prophets today do. And what kind of knowledge was Hosea talking about? The same that is true now as it was then: false swearing, lying, murder and stealing. Hmmm . . . sure sounds like some of the Ten Commandments, doesn't it?

Obviously, in the past (as now, and in the future) the local rulers always exempted themselves from the prohibitions contained in the Ten Commandments (actually, "Commandments" is a completely incorrect translation – it's "Ten Words" or "Ten Utterances").

Notice that Hosea says "lawlessness." He's talking about Natural Law, the law of the universe, of human nature. If these are laws of human nature he's talking about, then they are imprinted right on our DNA. Some of those people on the Human Genome Project going to be surprised when they find morality at the genetic level! Ancient wisdom and modern science, shaking hands over a chromosome.

I used to wonder how these old guys got to be prophets. No more! It's easy. They tell people to follow the Ten Words. And even better, they had no exemptions for those in political power. If the local ox/cab driver couldn't/can't murder, steal and bear false witness against his neighbor, then neither could/can kings/presidents. Or their advisors. It doesn't matter how much they believe in that false god known as their own Monstrous Egos, which, as Russell Kirk accurately pointed out, is the source of all evil. (That source ain't out there, by the way. It's inside us.)

Of course, kings and their advisors never believed what the prophets said, then, or now. No matter. The Law is the Law. When the Bobby Fuller Four sang that old song, "I Fought the Law, and the Law Won," even though they didn't know it, they were singing about something far beyond all the local Barney Fifes deluding themselves they are enforcing real Law by ticketing speeders on the interstate.

All of recorded history (what, maybe 4000 years?) has shown that murder and stealing and bearing false witness and worshipping false idols has never worked. If they had worked, then we wouldn't still be having wars. It almost seems we've involved in a war a few thousand years old, with a few intermissions every once in a while.

All of this is just pretty nuts, which reminds me of the best definition of insanity I've ever heard: trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. "Hey guys! Let's murder and steal and bear false witness . . . what? We'll still be doing the same things 4000 years in the future? But it's for a good cause! And I'm the king, too. Are you really sure about that?" Oh, yes, very sure.

These guys certainly need to call "Mr. Obvious" and get a little advice. Although they won't listen, even if he told them to take the sun shields out of their car's front windows while driving. Which, for all practical purposes, is exactly what they're doing with the USA.

Demon wannabes . . . ugh. If they were lawyers, they'd belong to the firm of Stupid, Arrogant, Blind and Insane. And if anyone founded that firm, it'd be Screwtape.

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