So the Pharisees said to one another,
"See, this is getting us nowhere. See how
the whole world has gone after Him!"
- Gospel of John, 12th chapter, 19th verse
Two possibilities exist: either we're
alone in the universe, or we're not. Both
are equally terrifying.
-Arthur C. Clarke
The tease quote from an October 26 2018 New York Times story "A Dark
Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge from Silicon
Valley" was quite revealing.
"I am convinced the devil lives in our phones."
The words are those of a top Facebook officer, and the full quote
appearing in the text of the piece ends with the words "... and is
wreaking havoc on our children." The Times noted that the story
originally appeared in the print edition with the title "Silicon
Valley Wary of the 'Devil' Living in Our Phones."
The folks at Facebook themselves have come under tremendous scrutiny
as much as they have engaged in criminal abuse of user data, yet
they've still managed to perpetually wiggle out of their predicament. But
because of the monolithic social media power it wields
Facebook cannot escape a profound dilemma: Regulate nothing — but then permit anyone to upload
whatever horrifically ugly material they may for all to behold, or
regulate some — and risk being politically consigned to what they
select comes across the screen.
Ah the travails of those administering a lucrative media
platform for Cain's vast promotional extravaganza.
As I grow and observe and gain wisdom as God graciously provides, I
am becoming more convinced that the devil is behind so much more
than we know. I look at someone behaving very badly and where I once
became a bit piqued, I now settle back and remember what Scripture
says. "Our battle is not with flesh and blood." "Forgive them Father
for they know not what they do." This doesn't mean I don't have
something to think and say about it — I'm engaged in addressing all
that here in this writing. It is my ministry.
But look at the ironic contrast. These people in Silicon Valley, the
ones who govern the overarching social media milieu, they themselves
transparently confess that the devil is indeed in our phones. They see it
and they know it. They astutely recognize there is something palpably evil that resides
beyond but still
claws on our souls.
It definitely invades the material. How courageous, really,
to say this when
the World sneers at such insights. The Times even confirms this
truth, but then cops out by putting quotes
around the word devil, just to let us all know that, well,
be assured — there really isn't a devil after all, it's just what they say.
I happened to come across an NPR radio show one Saturday a few
months ago, one of those weekend morning
of things, I don't remember what the program was called.
The featured item was about a local radio call-in show in which the participants could leave
messages about what precisely they'd like Satan to do for them. The NPR show
replayed some of the calls, each with the caller adding at the end "Hail
Satan." While most were pretty tame, one of note was a quite
seething "Put a [EXPLETIVE] hex on my
[EXPLETIVE] friend who
[EXPLETIVE] did this
[EXPLETIVE] thing to me, I want something
really [EXPLETIVE] awful to happen to this
[EXPLETIVE]! Hail Satan!"
Ow. That sounds really painful.
The narrators of the NPR show spoke dismissively about it, and
mentioned that the founders of the radio show hadn't expected it to last
and they themselves didn't believe in Satan but that they were fine
with sustaining the show as long as there were those who got some
thrill from it.
Turns out they
have had a lot of patrons, and they
have been directly addressing the devil no matter how much show
business is involved. I don't think anyone can treat this lightly no
matter how much the NPR and radio show hosts let on that they're
convinced it's all hokum.
This authentically diabolical activity pales, however, in comparison to a critical
component of the widespread belief that the supernatural is a big
joke. Portraying Satan as some silly cartoon character
generating fine amusement whenever the Saturday Night Live Church
Lady spits up the name makes the ruse that much more powerful.
I came across the immense breadth of that influence in a thoroughly engrossing book called
by Stephen Greenblatt. It tells the viscerally compelling story of
how Epicureanism became the preeminent philosophy of those whose
devotion to Cain and his city building is quite delightfully
Epicurus was a Greek philosopher who simply asserted that there is
no supernatural, and the more you accept that fact the happier
you will be. He went so far as to insist that it was perfectly fine
for you to believe in supernatural things, as long as that makes you
happy. Just don't go around thinking any of it is actually true,
or you'll suffer the penalty of ridicule by the more enlightened set
Lucretius was a Roman epic poet who idolized Epicurus, writing
De Rerum Natura ("On the Nature of Things") as a
hypnotically eloquent treatise essentially using over 7,000
hexameters to say "Atoms and void and nothing else." Really, this is
the actual phrase that has been thrust into the collective psyche in order to
convince people that God is a really super-nice fairy tale.
This was the message to be repeated over, and over, and over — every
attempt to showcase an idea requires this, added here after watching the splendid film
in which the line was expressed by the protagonists starting the campaign
to get Brits to vote to leave the European Union. What is that message
that can repeated over and over and over — so it can't help
but get into everyone's cranium?...
The Swerve gets deep into
how Lucretius' words were so seductive that even when
sensible people through the ages zealously railed against it, it
still had the strength to ravage entire civilizations leaving dead,
Thing is, none of the provisions and effects of Epicurean
entrenchment are new at all — what is intriguing is The
Swerve lets us in on a little secret about its propagation,
something about which devoted World inhabitants may not have the
It is that the Roman Catholic Church was the true force behind
its wide dissemination.
For you see, a kindly mild-mannered scribe named Poggio Bracciolini
engaged in an extremely industrious campaign to get the work
reintroduced into the mainstream. Poggio was no ordinary seeker. He
was deep in the well-respected company of a number of pontiffs
apostolic secretary. This is no small role, as he pretty much ran
the communications office. Mercury would be so proud.
He was addictively steeped in the humanist spirit of
the times, as were most members of the eminently
regarded courts throughout Renaissance Italy. His job
came with the highest classified security clearance
allowing him to go anywhere in the
farthest reaches of Vatican enterprise, and from The Swerve,
"he had access, as the very word 'secretary' suggests, to the pope's
secrets. And the pope had a great many secrets."
His significance did not stop there. "Sophisticated and highly
skilled, he had long moved in the circles of the great. The armed
guards through at the Vatican and Castel St. Angelo let him pass
through the gates without a word of inquiry, and important suitors
to the papal court tried to catch his eye."
Poggio was the very definition of World Operative, charged with the
task of ensuring the Church's authority is perpetually legitimized
through any means imagined. What better way to do that than to
release upon the world the very antipathy of what it publically advocates, in
order to present ordained mandarins the ready opportunity to return fire with a rigorous barrage of condemnatory vitriol
that could benefit Rome for centuries.
Not only was Lucretius' work regularly burned on the steps of every ecclesiastical
edifice eliciting maximum gratification of righteous indignation,
but its promulgation made for the widest expression of ridicule
It was marketing genius. All Poggio and other Lucretius rediscovery
handlers needed to do was extensively fertilize the popular culture
with it so it'd
first be vigorously reviled, then furtively considered, then
neurotically embraced mostly from fear of being subject to the
protracted mockery squarely directed at those who still believed in that
silly religious stuff.
I'd like to transcribe a paragraph to give you an idea of this
By the 1490s, then, some sixty or seventy years after Lucretius'
poem was returned to circulation, atomism was sufficiently present
in Florence to make it worth ridiculing. Its presence did not mean
that its positions were openly embraced as true. No prudent person
stepped forward and said, "I think that the world is only atoms and
void; that, in body and soul, we are only fantastically complex
structures of atoms linked for a time and destined one day to come
apart." No respectable citizen openly said, "The soul dies with the
body. There is no judgment after death. The universe was not created
for us by divine power, and the whole notion of the afterlife is a
superstitious fantasy." No one who wished to live in peace stood up
in public and said, "The preachers who tell us to live in fear and
trembling are lying. God has no interest in our actions, and though
nature is beautiful and intricate, there is no evidence of an
underlying intelligent design. What should matter to us is the
pursuit of pleasure, for pleasure is the highest goal of existence."
No one said, "Death is nothing to us and no concern of ours." But
these subversive, Lucretian thoughts percolated and surfaced wherever
the Renaissance imagination was at its most alive and intense.
Sure enough, today, here now in bright brand spankin-new
so-very-progressive year-of-perhaps-no-lord-at-all 2019, how
many brazenly shout these things off the rooftops as gospel truth.
Go to any university, listen to most any professor,
any of his/her underlings even, you can't miss
it. A few may say they're keen to religion, but scratch them, turn
your ear in, and you'd hear Lucretius' voice whispering "Don't be a fool," shedding doubt
on the whole thing.
Look at what the mainline media pour onto all of
our viewing screens, it really is the basis of any prominent journalistic venture: "Look at the fine works of this
peculiarly religious person. How cute! How precious! How much
good can come from such a fantasy!" Or probably more
common: "Look at the evil that
this religiously motivated individual wreaks upon humanity! Oh that they would know it's all so fake, then they could be
enlightened like us!"
De Rerum Natura is truly one of the greatest ruses in
the history of mankind, and it has achieved so much misery. To the
genuine credit of Epicurus and Lucretius, neither
was likely ever acquainted with Jesus — all around them were fanciful stories of flawed
gods extraordinarily useful for crowd control. Their
quite rational response: Nothing is supernatural
at all. Rome has
either devised grand religious drudgery for most of the world to
obsess over, or it has fomented Epicureanism in any number of
variations as the perfect foil for
the religiously captivated.
Another film getting lots of cred right now is
whimsical portrayal of the tyrant that was Dick Cheney and bumbler that was George Bush.
More instructive is Tupper Saussy's short piece,
Sympathy for Mr. Cheney,
one of his last published works in which he writes cogently about the standard deep
politics machinations. The "Commander-in-Chief" here is not exactly
the one you may think it is.
Every general knows that winning, whether in war or the jungle,
requires exceptional skills in deception. A well-designed and
executed ruse, aimed at an enemy or the general's own men or nation,
can confound, instill fear, provoke to fruitless extremes, tap
precious resources, sap energies and ultimately make the general a
conqueror with very little actual combat. The ruse is, by far, the
economical weapon in the Commander-in-Chief's arsenal.
The devil is in our phones all right, but only because he is first in our hearts. Social media
and other such scathingly prevalent avenues just make it more
visible — now it isn't as hard to see what he's doing all around us,
particularly in our children.
A seminal point in the film
Brexit is when lead
campaigner Dominic Cummings (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is
discussing strategy with a smart young borderline Millennial-Generation Z'er, and he
directs his attention to the massive immersion in The Phone.
Comes the dawn.
He recognizes Internet technology is the way to get what he wants,
to get that
idea into that mainstream psyche. "It is not about the left or the right,"
Cummings is told. "It is now between the old and the
The old is De Rerum Natura, but just as old is the devil's
work. Look at how much he has his grip on the new —
today the young and old — through those media.
One of the most attractive sells of Epicureanism is this
that you are experiencing true liberation, because you now have a buoyant rationale
for pursuing pleasure and happiness without all that fear of the
nonsensical transcendent getting in the way or those expectations from
some burdensome morality mucking things up.
Hmm, pleasure and happiness.
Well, there is something better than that, really, and it comes from
beyond. It is indeed the only place it can come from. No
better place to see the contrast than at the very end of Brexit.
Cummings is being grilled at a hearing after the successful Brexit
vote, and the inquisitors simply don't get it. Thing is, Cummings
doesn't get it either. He'd thought he'd been successful,
he'd thought he'd achieved what was supposed to make everyone's life better. He'd
even spent the last several months swimming in the data, overloaded with it, so much knowledge now about what's right and
true and real. Yet all he's
feeling is exasperation. He says at one point, "We are adrift
without a vision or a purpose." Eventually he storms out of the
hearing with the words
"We're done. We're all done."
That's the very end of the film, by the way.
disconsolation was propelled to the most destructive ends hundreds of years
ago by a dutiful well-connected scribe on behalf of the Roman hegemony for
the purpose of keeping billions in the devil's grip. Sure happiness
and pleasure are fine things, but they are pointless if you're dead.
Of course the Epicurean exclaims, "That's what makes it okay! You're
dead dead dead, so don't worry about it!"
I cannot see how
that is supposed to be of any comfort, and
I truly believe even the most seasoned Epicurean deep inside knows
it is one of the most heinous lies of all. Sadly I think most
ill-versed to grasp the impact on them just absorb it by a sort of
spiritual osmosis and haven't even a clue as to how to seriously contemplate
how absurd it is.
This is especially true of young people today, young adults just
children really. Adrift. Purposeless. They know it in their hearts
but tied to the World's philosophy they cannot see
an out. As such they go crazy trying to
convince everyone they're not in a state of abject despair, and they
struggle so much because the only thing that governs
their ethical constitution is the stultifyingly
superficial glitter and glam splashing from their
It's all they have, the devil keeping them desperate
for more and telling them over and over again
there is nothing beyond that. They try to find
assurance in that ever-so pervasive rule Make
your own way with your own lifestyle standards and
that's just fine especially when it's fun and flashy, but I can't believe many
can't see through it.
It can be discouraging, however — it seems millions
and millions more are given over to it, never
introduced to The One Who Is Life, intractably adopting one of the grandest deceits of
all time to their relentless anguish and crushing subjugation.
For those who consider this a bit too melodramatic, that's cool, I
understand. Before you dispatch this for the last time, I'd
like to invite you to take a quick look at a compilation of the Epicurean assertions
I've assembled on this page. There are so many each meriting a response
that I've made this special page for
it — please, consider continuing
the discourse there.
The devil is the father of lies and as nasty
as the fruit of Poggio's work has been through the ages, rampant
information dissemination today makes it just that much more easy for him
to do his work. Indeed it is true as the New York Times says:
the devil is speaking through our phones, to our children, to
individuals with no protection from The Ruse.
It is just another major implement in the armory belonging to the Prince of the Age.
Please be assured of this, however:
He still can't do a thing against the King.
That's because while the Kingdom is also about happiness and
pleasure — very much so! — Jesus is way more interested in
something else —
Something truly eternal...
love and joy.
You may only get them from Him.
that link again to the page with
the most significant Epicurean
assertions, robustly challenged.
The biographical passages in The
Swerve related to Poggio
Bracciolini are from page 19. The
pull quote on the absurd Epicurean
things people proudly do confess
today is from page 220.
A page with links to other works of
Tupper Saussy is
the exposition on the formation of
Cain's domain, check out the
chapter of Genesis. The actual
Commander-in-Chief is described
Too much to write here, but I'd like
to add that at the end of the film
Brexit they mentioned
Cummings' funding connection with
Robert Mercer, none other than a
major player in the
Another home page piece in which I
address the Epicurean mythology is
Last summer I blogged a bit more
about Facebook's dilemma,
that is here.
Jesus' exposition of the devil,
particularly his role as the father
of lies, is in the
eighth chapter of
John. Take a peek at the
chapter of Mark for the truth of
Jesus' authority over the devil, and
first chapter of Ephesians for
His authority over the strongest
The One Who