Old Nick's Offer
Temptation in the wilderness of everyday
I enjoy thinking about the devil. This is probably not a thing I should say, but there it is. I don’t enjoy it because I imagine that he is a sexily dangerous and attractively transgressive figure - I’ll leave that up to the entertainment industry. Rather, I enjoy thinking about him because it feels like the devil is a puzzle to be solved. A key to something. A key, maybe, to the religion I find myself entwined in.
The devil is unfashionable these days, which is probably how he likes it. Society as a whole has long scoffed at the notion of demonic beings, and many Christians seem to shuffle a bit in their seats too when he is mentioned. This is not the case in the Orthodox world, where Old Nick, as we call him in England, remains as visible as he was in the West in the Middle Ages. We modern types, though, prefer our Christianity scrubbed of the awkward bits. Hell, demons, angels, cherubim, seraphim, giants, talking serpents, wonderworking saints, the raising of the dead: all of these are absolutely central to the Christian understanding of reality, but we tend to cough and look the other way when any of it is brought up. ‘Heaven’ we can just about cope with; and God, who is usefully distant; and Jesus, just about, though we do like to bend him into whatever shape suits us. But the rest of it: we don’t like it. And we don’t like the devil most of all.
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