A Dialogue with Mephistopheles III

People are wondering why I am writing this. It’s a good question. I think that over the years, especially as I am aging, I have become frustrated with the state of things. Things ARE “going to hell in a hand-basket”: Terrorists, fanatics, scams, hackers, people hurting other people because of race, religion, creed, color, money, or just for the hell of it… It’s a mess out there. And if your work is “Understanding and Working with Difficult People,” you see your fair share of crap along the way.

This is, maybe, about the nature of evil. Mephistopheles (or any other devilish character that takes on the embodiment of evil) sees things, has to see things, from a different perspective. Perhaps, if we consider that, we can make a bit more sense out of “right and wrong,” and out of this mess of a world we find ourselves struggling with/in.

There IS a great deal of truth and goodness out there. I know that; and I try to emphasize such things in my life. But I also want to make a difference. Maybe this dialogue will, in a convoluted sort of way, make a difference. Take the ride with me and let’s see if we can come up with some answers. I can always say, “The Devil made me do it.”

P.S. Humor is one way we can gain another perspective on things, too. Hope you don’t mind how that seems to flit in and out of this discussion.

P.P.S. I always appreciate constructive input, ideas, thoughts, etc. If you would like to add to the current discussion — which is about “sin,” feel free to weigh in. FYI rude, nasty, ill-conceived and ill-purposed comments are not appreciated and will be erased. Let me know what you consider” sins” that perhaps humanity oft overlooks. I think it is really worth taking a look at such things in some depth, because there really seems to be a wide range of opinion about this very topic. No matter your religion, creed, or beliefs — how do you look at sin? How do you define it and how do you feel about it? Right now this discussion is centered on sin as defined as: “unjustifiable injury or harm to others.” I’m open to other perspectives and ideas as well. I imagine we can get Bub to weigh in too. Looking forward to hearing from YOU!

 A Dialogue with Mephistopheles III

Yo.

Geez. You’re going to scare the hell out of me one of these days popping into my head that way. It’s a helluva way to communicate.

Get’s your attention! And you for two bad Hades puns in right off the bat.

Might as well cover the bases. I guess it’s your turn to lay a sin down.

Scary how many there are actually. Humans have taken sin to a whole new stratosphere. I’ve been busy as hell.

Cute. Okay, I deserved that one. Remember, our starting premise is that sin is “unjustifiable injury or harm to another.”

Well, we could start with the obvious, like killing.

Unjustifiable killing.

Murder.

Or did God mean any kind of killing? That justifiable/unjustifiable seems to become a problem here.

We have to cross that bridge some time. Might as well do it now.

How about referring to “King James” again: I’ve seen two versions at least: “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not murder.” “Murder” is much more specific; one would assume it refers to humans killing other humans. However, “killing” is pretty broad. I looked deeper, though, and digging a bit it seems that the Greek and Hebrew words used here refer more specifically to murder; hence, the latter version in King James is “murder.”

There’s plenty of “killing” going on, that’s for sure. And undeniably a good bit in the bible. How do you feel about this?

Well, I think it would depend on the person you asked. A vegan eschews all forms of meat and meat products. There are even people who don’t eat anything that is alive. For example, there is a scene in the movie “Notting Hill” where Hugh Grant is on a blind date and the lady says she is a fruitarian; she doesn’t eat anything that has been killed, only if it is already dead, e.g. fallen from a tree or vine, I guess:

            “We believe fruits and vegetables have feelings.”

            “So… ah… these carrots…

            “Have been murdered, yes.”

            “Poor ol’ carrots. It’s beastly.”

A little early morning humor?

People are serious about this stuff. Though, I do have to ask myself why some people avoid most meat, but eat fish. Is a fish less alive, less conscious of its own existence, so that it is okay to eat it? What about plants? Insects and worms? There’s a good bit of life out there in the real world.

So what you are saying is that there are lots of beliefs, opinions, thought on what “killing” is justifiable or not justifiable.

Look at murder itself. What is “justifiable” killing of a human being? If you go by what’s in the Bible, then wars are justifiable ways to kill. And most people believe it is okay to protect their loved ones from someone else’s violence, if not their “stuff.” “Kill or be killed,” is an oft acceptable perspective. Where do we draw the line?

Frustrating isn’t it? Now you know what I have to deal with every day — lots of conundrums in my line of work.

And you have the answer? There is a clear division line?

There is, if you believe in God, me, heaven and hell, etc.

Right and wrong?

Good and evil… Actually you just hit the nail on the head.

Right and wrong?

Yup! But that really is a long discussion. We may want to table it for the moment. Let’s get back to “sin.” We’ll get there soon enough.

So… back to wars. How would you weigh in on them as “justifiable” or not.

Depends on the reason for the war, I guess. Or, perhaps, whose side you are on. Again, it seems pretty nebulous when you start to think about it. We’re back to “right or wrong,” because evil versus good is definitely in the eyes of the beholder when it comes to war. There have been lots of religious wars… Unfortunately they seem to be more about territory, money, have and have not, and so on, rather than true beliefs. But there have been wars, seemingly, just about beliefs, as well. How do you and God view this.

It IS all about beliefs. But not necessarily religious beliefs. It’s complicated, and all of this does go back to “right and wrong.” Fundamentally, if you believe it is a sin, it is. However, let’s tackle a few more sins. The effort will pay off in a better understanding, a better foundation for further discussion. Then we can start the more in depth metaphysical dialogue.

Okay, my turn. How about taking off from “murder and killing.” What about injury, hitting, raping, cutting, shooting, maiming, any and all ways of hurting another human being. Can’t think of “justifiable” reasons for such things…

You tailed off there. I’m guessing you thought of something. Circumstances?

You got it. There always seem to be circumstances that can get in the way of absolute statements.

Any of the above where there isn’t a line?

I would have to say “rape.” Can’t think of any circumstance that would make that right.

What about a religion that condones the sacrifice of a virgin, either figuratively through rape, or in actuality, through murder?

Sorry, don’t buy that.

I’ve had followers who seem to believe such things.

Sorry, but we’re getting close to the edge for me. I would have to say they were/are wrong.

Right and wrong again. BIG issues. Patience, Joe, we’ll get there.

Well, rape is wrong! Whether you want to use the term right now or not. I would have to say that is a definite “unjustifiable” in jury to another — most often women, but it even happens to men.

I have more than a few priests and other clerics down here with me who can testify to that.

So, we have our first definitive “sin?”

I’ll say, “yes” to that, but in reality we’ve already talked about a good many “sins” based on your definition. There are other possible definitions, though. Maybe your readers can come up with a few good ones.

I would be happy to hear them. Mine was just a stab at it. Well,  guess I have to say that if you exist, you have a VERY difficult job. God, too. I feel like we’re going in circles here.

We are. But think of it more of as a spiral. We’ll get to the center eventually. It’s not as complicated as it seems right now; though people do have a great many odd ideas.

I’m not sure I would use the word, “odd.” I think I need a break at this point. Pick it up another day — maybe, start with “:right” and “wrong?”

Not quite ready for that topic yet, Joe. A bit more on sin; let’s see where that takes us. I’m afraid you really need to be spinning to get to the real foundation here. Much more to be considered.

You’re the one connecting with me; I guess I can handle it. But I’m not going to let you force me into spurious decisions just because you have ideas I don’t agree with.

Everything open. You’re free to disagree with me all you want. The Big Bopper and I argue back and forth on some of this stuff all the time. Human’s have a knack for making almost anything extremely complicated.

Tell me about it.

I will.

Best, Joe

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