Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Devil Rides In

A long time ago in a land far far away, I lived as one who was deeply religious. On Sunday mornings I went to the C of E Church. In the afternoon I went to a Gospel meeting. In the evening I went to the Free Church service. After that, I went to the prayer meeting. That was only the Sunday! During the week, I went to a different Bible study or prayer meeting just about every night apart from Saturdays; there were no meetings on Saturdays. I would read the Bible on the beach and in bed. I read it on the loo - you can’t beat a good holy shit! I read it from cover to cover and committed much of it to memory. I have very interesting conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses!

In addition to all this, I listened to preaching tapes featuring people like Willie Mullen who was an Irish fire and brimstone preacher who hated Roman Catholicism because it was of the Devil. He wanted to dance on the grave of the Roman Catholic Church. I particularly liked listening to David Pawson who preached in a much more reasoned and controlled sort of way. As far as I am aware, he is still around and I’ve seen him on television over the past year or so. I actually got to meet him about three years ago when I saw him preach at the local Community Church. It felt weird to actually shake his hand, as he was to me a bit of an enigmatic figure who I kind of worshipped from afar a long time ago. But not any more. I don’t believe a word of it now; it was all a fantasy - I just didn’t realise it at the time, and I hadn’t thought it through in a logical, rational, reasoned, objective way. This was during my time in Cyprus. It was against this background and state of mind that I had a friend called Sid who came to stay with my wife and I for a few days one summer.

To say Sid was a convinced and enthusiastic Born-Again Christian is an understatement. He believed it all - hook, line and sinker! He was in the army, in the Royal Green Jackets. I believe they were called “Green Jackets” because they wore green jackets, as against red, blue or even yellow! Anyway, Sid was keen on the “Gifts of the Spirit”. These are “supernatural” gifts bestowed upon believers by the Holy Spirit which include such items as prophesy, knowledge, healing etc. St Paul writes about them in his letters to the Corinthians. If you are a Biblical illiterate, these letters are found in the New Testament. The “gift” Sid displayed in abundance at prayer meetings and Bible Studies was “Speaking in Tongues” which is speaking in a divinely bestowed language unknown and not understood to the speaker. It was insisted by some that one should not speak in tongues at a meeting unless there was another person present who had the gift of translation to inform everyone present of what had been said. This is interesting in itself, because I went to many meetings where various “gifted” people spoke in tongues, but no one ever asked beforehand if anyone present had the gift of translation! Even so, invariably there always seemed to be someone amongst us so gifted (not me, it was all Double Dutch as far as I was concerned) who would offer an English version of what had been said. I suspect that in actual fact, no one actually did know what had been said, and that when a translation was offered it was done so on the basis of gut feeling rather than knowledge. Very often, someone would speak in “tongues” and only say one or two “words”, often repeated over and over again. The trouble was, that when the translation came, it was more often than not longer and more detailed than the original “tongues” would have suggested it should be. Also, the message tended to be so general, that anyone could take it in pretty much whichever way they wanted. Never once did any translation come up with the winner of the next day’s 4.30 race at York or Cheltenham - or any other race or sporting event for that matter. Oh well, they do say God moves in mysterious ways! Anyway, Sid was of this ilk.

Unfortunately, being a Christian didn’t seem to make Sid very joyful. He always seemed to be sensing and seeing evil everywhere around him . Wherever we went, he was appalled by the “worldliness” of everyone around; everything was dark and bound for Hell and destruction. The Devil lurked on every corner, waiting to jump out and ensnare you. The spiritual world is a very dangerous place! Sid even saw evil in our personal possessions, and offered to rid me and my wife of most of our record collection. Obviously, Chris Barbour and Acker Bilk were satanically inspired and should be consigned to the fires of Hell before they dragged us down with them. Mind you, I’m not sure what The Seekers had done to deserve such a fate! Was “Morning Town Ride” really so evil? You see, evil is insidious - it gets everywhere, and is everywhere. Be careful that the next Mars Bar you eat doesn’t cause you to stumble - you don’t want to get thrown into Hell for the sin of gluttony! I’m not sure if “obesity” is a sin, though we are entreated in the Bible that the body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit”, so I suppose anything which you do to pollute or harm it must be sinful. All joy and purpose was to be found in the Bible. Forget hobbies, holidays, ambition etc - these are all worldly and sinful and the Devil takes delight in all who fall to their enchantments!

One night it happened. What happened???? - I hear you asking. Well IT happened, the big IT!!!! The Devil came to our bungalow. It happened like this:
During the time that Sid was staying with us, we were all (the three of us) sat round having breakfast one morning. We preferred breakfast in the morning, it seemed more appropriate than in the evening or the afternoon! However, on this occasion, there was a bit of a strange atmosphere surrounding Sid. He wasn’t smiling much. He wasn’t saying much either. He looked serious. Very serious.
“This looks serious” I thought to myself. I could sense it was serious.
Presently, Sid spoke in a serious tone.
“Did you hear anything last night?”
“No Sid, why - what happened?” I replied in words to that effect.
“The Devil was in the room with me, and I was doing battle with him.” He then proceeded to tell us how the Devil had been accusing him of all sorts of evil transgressions, trying to make him doubt his faith - amongst other no doubt infernal accusations. I can only assume the Devil was standing at the end of his bed. Maybe Sid had eaten one too many Mars Bars and had a case to answer!
“But I didn’t let him get to me”, continued Sid, “I hit him back with Scripture.”
Now, I don’t think this means that he was throwing Bibles at him, but rather quoting Bible verses at him. He went on to relate to us how the Devil could not withstand this onslaught from the Word of God, and had to flee, no doubt taking all his legions of demons with him!

So there we were, my wife and I peacefully asleep in our love nest, completely unaware that the forces of Satan and God were lined up and ranged against each other in our spare room! The forces of Heaven and Hell had honed in on our dwelling. It’s a wonder flashes of lightning weren’t crashing around the house with giant bats flapping around the garden! Maybe, this was what happened, but we were not meant to witness any of it. We had been kept asleep by divine intervention!

Anyway, there is a serious point here. Sid was a member of the British armed forces; a soldier, trained to kill people. But, he lived in this religious fantasy world which affected his judgement on everything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to suggest that he was dangerous in any physical sort of way - but he could have been. Having people of like-minded beliefs in such pivotal places does little to help one’s confidence. Given that he and millions - yes millions like him believe everything in the Bible, literally and at face value, this can only spell trouble for our society and the world. People who see demons and devils everywhere, and think they have a direct line to God are dangerous. They are not in touch with reality and never stop to think in a reasoned or rational fashion. People like this are more rife than you might realise, and we just want to hope that one of them doesn’t get into government or come to lead our armed forces. It wouldn’t have taken much for Sid to have been tipped over the edge. His irrational zeal controlled his mind and his judgement. Common sense gave way to fantastical dogma and blind faith. We cannot afford to have such people in positions of responsibility where they affect the lives of others. Religion is dangerous - it has passed its sell-by date. Consider what the outcome might be if our Prime Minister or the President of the United States was a Bible believing Christian, longed for the Second Coming, and nursed the apocalyptic belief that this would only happen at the onset of World War Three. Would you really want that person’s finger on the nuclear trigger?


The People History said...

holy crap, what more can I say


Mloclam497 said...

Good thinking Steve - although I think you'll find several Prime Ministers and Presidents believed all that *****, and still do.

As for Sid - that could have been me, although I've only met the devil once - 1977 to be more precise. Ahhh - sounding like a Sid. Oh yes - he won that time! Best wishes - Mloclam.

Andy Mule said...

Must be time for a new blog......that devil is freking me out!

Anonymous said...

I really like your website, and would love to carry your link on my website, currently getting excellent exposure! Visit NetLaborer Free Employment Information and hopefully we can help each other be seen!