Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Dialogue with Mephistopheles II

Joe?

Oh! You again?

Yeah, it’s me. Got a few minutes?

I would think you would know that one way or another.

Me? No, I’m not omniscient, only the Big Boy.

That’s interesting. Didn’t give you all the goods then?

I have other talents.

Like being the embodiment of “the force in nature that governs and gives rise to wickedness and sin…”

Why don’t we start there again. Seems like the jury is still out on that one.

I’ve been thinking about this since we talked. From my perspective there are two fundamental choices: either there is a basic force of evil, embodied by you, in the universe, or there isn’t. If there isn’t, then it seems like you are a scapegoat.

Ever noticed the horns, and the little “goat”tee?

Sure, but what’s with the tail?

Lots of religious symbolism throughout the ages. Perhaps associated with a bull, which was oft an icon in various pagan religions. But we’re getting off topic.

Okay, let’s say evil does exist and can influence what we do. Doesn’t that play havoc with the whole sense of having Free Will?

You really want to talk about Free Will, don’t you?

BIG topic in religion.

We’ll get there; but let’s iron out “evil” first.

Okay, how about we start with the second perspective: that there is NO “force” in the universe that gives rise to wickedness and sin. That seems to me to say that wickedness and sin come from within, from each person. It kind of gets you off the hook, if I’m thinking of this the right way.

How do you feel?

That we all are, or should be, responsible for our lives. Anything else seems like a cop-out.

That would take a big weight off my shoulders.

Not so fast, Mephy. We really need to define wickedness and sin if we’re going to get the big picture.

Please, I prefer Bub.

Okay, Bub. How do you define sin? Or wickedness? Should we look at Daniel again?

By all means.

Wicked: “1. evil or morally bad, sinful.” That’s helpful. “4. unjustifiable, dreadful, beastly.” Not real helpful, either. I’ll try sin: “1. transgression of divine law. 2. any act regarded as such a transgression, esp. a willful violation of some religious or moral principle. 3. any reprehensible action; serious fault or offense…” Seems like we’re digging a big hole here.

Now you’re beginning to see my problem. So, what do you think “sin” is?

“Unjustifiable” sort of leapt out at me. I’d have to say an “unjustifiable; action that is harmful or injurious to another.”

Good starting place. So who defines “unjustifiable.”

Morally? Most often religions. Often, another person.

You want to start with religion? That’s the root of who I am, where I came from: the Devil, Satan. Mephistopheles, and so on.

Any name in particular you are fond of?

Most of them are wrapped around each other in one way or another, even dating back to antiquity.

Okay, how about starting with the Ten Commandments?

Pretty universal tenets by most standards. They certainly hit on  codes of belief from Christian religions and Judaism, and many other religions have similar beliefs.

Then we can branch out from there?

Sounds like a blast.

Here’s a short list:

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet (neighbors wife, goods, etc.).

Seem a bit old-fashioned today, don’t they.

They could use a bit of updating. You think this covers everything? Sin-wise and wicked-wise, I mean?

Not by a long-shot.

Oh? What would you add?

How about, “Thou shall not injure thy neighbor, blow him up (or his goods and servants, etc.), take his money, make him feel bad… there could be an awfully long list.

You’re back to the whole notion of ‘injury” and ‘harm” to others.

That’s the foundation, I think.

That would leave out the first four above, unless you think God is offended by man ignoring him, calling him names, or missing a day of prayer or two.

Well, you see, there’s another conundrum. I always wondered that if God was omniscient and all-powerful, why he would give a rat’s ass about whether human’s kowtowed to him.

He doesn’t.

How would you know? Do you talk to him too?

Off and on.

You good buds, Bub?

Not really, but we’re both dealing with the same concerns — from different perspectives, of course. Helps to touch base now and again.

Wow, now you’re really starting to blow my mind.

Keep in mind that I’m supposed to be deceitful, cunning, and so forth.

Don’t worry, I’m the original Doubting Thomas, anyway. Or at least a first cousin.

Good way to be when discussing religion. .. How about we get back to SIN. Want to have a little fun and start listing things you/we consider sinful?

Sure. How about we alternate. I’ll go first: cheating.

Cheating?

Lots of kinds of cheating: on tests, taxes, on a spouse or significant other…

That last one’s kind of covered under “adultery” above.

Yup. And all kinds of other forms of cheating: fudging this or that… Here’s a good example: I had a plumber come over to do a job. When I got his bill, he had charged me (without telling me before hand) for travel to my house, and travel away from my house. If he’s doing that to all his customers, he’s double dipping on this whole “travel” thing, which is a nasty “hidden charge” anyway. Needless to say I never used him again.

Well, looking at all my “clients” here, I’d have to add people from just about any profession to the “cheating” list: air-conditioner repairmen, car repairmen, used car salesmen, lawyers (heh, heh), even doctors… It’s a long list.

Did you just laugh?

Couldn’t resist.

Okay, your turn. What’s the first sin on your list?

Could I ask you something first?

Sure.

Why are you doing this?

Doing what?

Talking with me.

You asked me… Oh, I see. I guess because of what you said in our first dialogue.

About?

Setting some things straight.

Yes?

It’s just that the whole world seems to be “going to hell in a hand-basket.” Sorry about the bad pun, but it’s another expression my Dad used alot.

To tell the truth, I guess I’d like your perspective on the problem. I figure as long as I keep an open mind, and avoid your deceitful charms, I might learn something. Plus, if all these other people who have talked with God are right, I can always ask him for his side of the problem too.

Okay. I was just curious. How about we break here for the nonce. I’ll start with some sin next time that IS filling my world from a hand-basket.

Catch you later, Bub.

Joe

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A Dialogue with Mephistopheles

A Dialogue with Mephistopheles

Joe?

Yo?

It’s the Devil, Joe.**

Yeah, right. Come on, Bill. You can do better than that.

No, really. It’s the Devil.

You mean, like THE Devil? Mephistopheles, Baphomet, Satan, The Cursed One, Asmo…

Yeah, yeah. I get the point. Yup, that’s me.

What in hell do you want with me?

Hah, hah, Joe. Good one. Pun intended, I assume?

Whatever. Who is this, really?

It’s… Well, for starters, why don’t you just call me Bub.

Bub?

As in…

Beelzebub?

You got it.

(groan) Okay, I’ll play along until I figure this out. What can I do for you, Bub? I mean, seriously, I don’t even believe in you… Not really.

That’s why I picked you, Joe.

Okay, I’ll bite.

Look, I get enough hatred and adoration thrown at me from day to day depending on what I’m paying attention to down there on Earth; I figured it would be a nice change to talk to someone who was more open-minded, someone who was willing to consider different viewpoints.

And you picked me? Why would you want to talk with anyone at all?

To set some things straight.

Okay, let’s say I do play along. Can I still not believe in you, and demons, and imps, and the Nine Planes of Hell, and so forth.?

You can decide whatever you want. You can believe whatever you want — that’s where free-will comes in.

Free will is a topic we could discuss for hours, right there. Well, what can I do you for?

Why don’t we start with Evil. We can get back to Free Will a bit later on.

That seems like a pretty big topic right off the bat.

It might take us a couple of days. You still willing?

Sure, I’ll start… Here’s a question for you: What is evil?

I was hoping you would tell me.

The opposite of good!?!

I probably deserve that; but you don’t sound convinced.

How about consulting Daniel?

Webster’s always a good fallback. What’s he say?

Well, in the version I have: “1. morally wrong or bad; wicked… 2. harmful, injurious…” And the one I like best: “7. the force in nature that governs and gives rise to wickedness and sin…”

Sounds like me.

You are supposed to be the embodiment of evil. Get this, though — Webby ends with: “13. the evil one, the devil; Satan,” with “the evil one” in bold type.

Yeah, depressing isn’t it.

Depends on how you look at it. So you’re not enjoying the gig?

I don’t exist.

So I’m right?

In a way; and in  a way not. Have you ever heard the phrase, “thought creates”?

Sure.

So, there you have it. There are enough people out there that believe I do exist. So, here I am, sorry about that.

Yeah, and you’re  talking to one person who doesn’t really believe in you. That seems like a major conundrum right off the bat. I’ll need a whole lot more convincing to change my mind.

Don’t be sorry. Trust me, it will be easier this way… So, tell me, do you believe in that statement from Webster, “the force in nature that governs and gives rise to wickedness and sin…”

Whoa, that’s heavy! There certainly seems to be enough “wickedness and sin around.” The hard part is whether there is a “force in nature” that influences it.

Your thing is working with “difficult people.” I know that doesn’t necessarily mean all difficult people are wicked or sinful, but…

Where does difficulty come from? … not to mention wickedness and sin? I guess I have some ideas.

Want to start there next time?

Got other pressing matters?

Well, you know, the wicked never rest.

Touche’! Next time it is then… And if I find out this is you Bill, you’re in serious trouble.

** My sincere apologies to Bill Cosby, Neale Donald Walsh, Jeff Rovin, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Andre Nickatina, and any others who have touched on this topic. This series of independent dialogues, however, is envisioned as a serious, semi-serious, and sometimes irreverent (how could it not be?) perspective on… well, you’ll see.

Best, Joe Koob

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She still has legs.

Featured image

But she still has legs.

Arwen, “That Black-haired Beauty,” turned eleven on February 14th. That’s 77 years old give-or-take in human years. However, if you put a squirrel, rabbit. or groundhog in her path, she still takes off like a bat-out-of-hell. Still got some legs on her.

There’s a bit of white around the edges now — heck I have more than a bit of that myself.

She’s a bit creaky when she gets up from a nap — I’m glad I still manage to get up after a nap.

And she does take a few things a touch more easily than she used to. She recently manifested a new behavior (who said you can’t teach old dogs new tricks): On our typical one mile walk (down a verdant path by a canal), we head off until we reach the sewer cap just before the path opens onto a major highway. In the mornings, Arwen follows right along, goes to the end to see if we are going to extend the walk further to the left or across the highway, or circles the cap with Dad to head back for home. However, on the afternoon walk she has decided that the last 100 yards are a tad too much unless Dad IS going to make that turn to the east. So-o-o, she sits patiently up the trail and watches until Dad reaches the end, and waits patiently until he comes back. Interestingly, I can’t fool her either. If I step off the trail and pretend like I am going to go on, she just sits and waits until I show up again. This old girl has got some smarts too.

It’s nice to think about how much pleasure a dog (cat, etc.) can give us humans by just being themselves??? Life is pretty basic for them, but there is something there, too, that transcends instinct and needs. Sometimes I wonder why difficult people don’t get that. Most basically put, its called caring.

Have a great day.

Joe

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