Pleased to Meet You
Pitching The Pitchfork
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL
Satan writing an autobiography? Is this some kind of bad joke? Are you really trying to tell me this is a book of nonfiction?
OK, OK. I know you’re suspicious, to say the least. And you have every right to be. After all, as a child, you may have read tales of people selling their souls to me, or, as a teenager, maybe you listened as the Rolling Stones described my role at crucial moments in history—tipping the scales toward crucifixion, the Holocaust, and all the unspeakable atrocities people perpetrate in my name.
More likely, you don’t even believe that I exist. After all, anonymity and deception have been part of my strategy since the very beginning. Your disbelief certainly works for me. If nothing else, it’s proof that I’ve been doing a good job.
But what if I were to tell you that whatever you think of me—or don’t think of me—you’re mistaken? Completely off the mark.
Just hear me out. The truth is that I’m very real, and very powerful, and you and I are locked in a deadly struggle. What’s worse, I’m winning—that much I’m sure you’ll acknowledge. Just take a look around. Under my influence, you’ve turned this world into one hell of a mess.
But here’s what you don’t know. Although I’m your Opponent in this Game of Life, in the end, I’m just doing my job, and way down deep, I’m rooting for you to win. I’ll explain, but what you need to know right now is that you’ve been playing so badly that I’ve got to bend the rules to help you out.
I’m not who you think I am, and now is the time to set the record straight. Yes, I’m using this book to temporarily give up my most powerful weapon: Secrecy. When you don’t believe I exist, or you misunderstand what I’m up to, I win hands down every time. But as it turns out, this isn’t good for either one of us. Why? Because it screws up the plan God set in motion a long, long time ago.
Basically, you left the Garden of Eden. After that happened, God wanted to find a way for you to stop feeling so ashamed and to earn your way back. The only way to overcome shame is to choose to stop acting selfishly, and to start giving—to be more like God. That’s why God gave you free will; without using it to make good choices, you could never earn your way back to the Garden of Endless Light and fulfillment.
But if it this assignment proved too easy for you, you wouldn’t have truly earned anything. And that’s where I came in. God gave me the job of providing you with obstacles to overcome; by resisting the temptations I put before you, you could bring more and more Light into this world, until finally everything would become Light, as it was in the beginning.
The problem is that I’ve done my job of opposing you a little too well, and you haven’t done your job of resisting me well enough. As a result, we’re falling behind schedule.
I know, I know. This is a lot for you to take in. So let’s slow things down a bit.
THE ORIGINS OF DOUBT
All those suspicious thoughts you’re having right this moment aren’t really yours. They’re mine. I slip doubts into the gray matter that houses your mind. They originate from me. Deny it all you want, but I’m telling you, I’m planting that denial into your brain right now, even as you read these words.
Have no doubt: I am real. And I am outing myself after millennia of covert activity. I am revealing myself to you because we are at a historic moment in the destiny of humankind. But while I’m spilling the truth in these pages, I also have to keep doing my job, which is to plant doubt into your brain with every truth I reveal. That’s why from time to time you will doubt every word you read here. That is part of the game.
WHY IT WORKS THIS WAY
People of every race can serve God on one condition: They have to believe. If you don’t believe God exists, then how can you serve God?
That’s one limitation I don’t have. You do not have to believe in me in order to serve me!
Let that sink in for a moment. Now think about this: If you did believe in me—the real me—you would never, ever, serve me. Ironic, isn’t it? That’s why doubt is my very essence. It’s not a philosophical statement. It’s how I rule. Cynicism is my life force. Skepticism is the marrow of my being.
My power to rule over you thrives on disbelief.
Brilliant, isn’t it?
You don’t perceive me with your five senses. And it is your disbelief in me that gives me the power to influence this physical universe and control the hearts and minds of humankind.
If you saw the movie The Usual Suspects, you’re familiar with the following line:
“The greatest trick the devil pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”
Where do you think the line came from? Actually, I first slipped it into the mind of one Charles Baudelaire, the poet who lived in 19th century France. Baudelaire wrote:
“The devil’s greatest deception is to convince us that he does not exist.”
Funny thing. Though Baudelaire channeled this profound statement into his writings, he did not believe in me. He said as much. And the paradoxical logic of his own statement troubled him deeply.
Does this surprise you?
THE POWER OF DISBELIEF
Of all the writers, poets, and philosophers that have written about me over the centuries, 99 percent of them got it wrong. Once in a while, I’ve let a few facts slip through the cracks to see if you would catch on.
Only a select few ever have.
French author and Nobel Prize winner, André Gide, had an inkling when he wrote this about me:
“He is never so well served as when he is unperceived.”
The old Frenchman also wrote:
“It’s always to his interest not to let himself be recognized; and there, as I said, is what bothers me: to think that the less I believe in him, the more I strengthen him.”
Dead on. I thrust skepticism into your rational mind to sustain my existence. I inject you with so much disbelief that it courses through your veins, floods your brain waves, and permits me to live unfettered behind a curtain of doubt.
And here’s the kicker: To seal the deal, I make you believe these doubts are yours. Why? As long as you believe it’s you, I remain invisible. As soon as you believe in me, it’s Game Over. Get it? Doubt is not just a trick performed by “the devil,” it is who I am.
All these years, I’ve let you think that you have ownership of the opinions and beliefs that arise in your mind. You are far more than your thoughts, but you hate giving up the idea that you’re special—that those thoughts and ideas are uniquely your own. You don’t distinguish between the two voices at work in your head (my voice and God’s). You only hear my loud, limiting voice and all the negative thoughts that accompany my cacophony. And when you give in to my temptations, you think you’ve lost.
CAUSE AND EFFECT
I keep you focused completely on the effects, but never the true cause. Consider me the greatest special effects artist in history. You love watching all the special effects that I display in the movie that is your life. And that’s exactly what your life is. It’s a movie, with drama, suspense, fear, a few moments of comedy (when I am in a good mood), and lots and lots of tragedy.
Your life is what it is because you don’t bother searching for the unseen source behind everything that transpires in your life … or this world.
AT LONG LAST
The time has come to reveal my presence, to step out from behind the curtain and remove my mask. My real story has never been told. But I will tell it today. The need for putting God’s plan back on track is urgent, and, with your help, that transformation gets jump-started right here. The pages that follow will make my true identity and purpose crystal clear.
Am I worried about revealing myself? You’re kidding, right? The moment you close the book, the truth of who I am will begin to fade from your mind. But I’m hoping that even a glimpse of what’s really going on can help restore things to their proper balance. It can give you the tools you need to play more effectively in this all-important Game we know as Life.
I cannot let you know me permanently. Never. I will not permit you to fully grasp the totality of who I am or the depth of my role in your universe. I’ll plant the seed that this book is just a gimmick. An autobiography by Satan is just a creative device. Norman Mailer tried his hand at it. Others will follow. Nifty idea, but nothing that’s going to rock my world.
Feel better now? Comfortable with your conclusions? Great, let’s get on with my story.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
First, let’s clear up a misconception about the word Satan. Check the history books. Satan is not my name. Surprised? Don’t be. I’ll explain. Is pitcher the name of Sandy Koufax? Is love the name of Mother Teresa? Is center iceman the name of Wayne Gretzky? Is shooting guard the name of Michael Jordan? Is midfielder the name of David Beckham? Is industrialist the name of Charles Michael Schwab? Is singer the name of Mariah Carey? Is emperor the name of Julius Caesar? No. These are not names. They’re job descriptions. Same with Satan. It’s not a name. It’s a role I play in the Game of Life. Look in the Old Testament. Unravel an ancient Torah scroll. Inscribed on the parchment is the first-ever appearance of the word Satan in the history of literature. It’s a Hebrew word. Translated accurately, Satan means “adversary.” The Old Testament actually says “HaSatan,” which means “the adversary,” or “he who opposes.”
In Zechariah 3:1-2, it reads:
1. Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and the Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. 2. And the Lord said to the Satan, “The Lord rebukes you, the Satan. The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebukes you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire.”
When the Bible speaks of Satan, it’s talking about an opposing power. Me. I am the antagonist in the movie of your life. I’ll reveal the reason behind this in due time. Patience, my friend (never a strong point of yours, I must add).
The movie I speak of takes place in your head. That world around you is a mega IMAX screen, so to speak, and I am the only antagonist in the history of dramatic acting who is never seen or heard. I am invisible, even though I am everywhere. Such extraordinary magic! Such dazzling sleight of hand!
It’s funny, because we think that in order to be an actor in the physical world you need a big ego. Well, I create the ego, yet, ironically, when I’m playing my role, no one sees me perform. Now if this is starting to sound very strange, relax. As we roll through history, it will all begin to make sense.
UNMASKING THE DEVIL
The most important thing I’d like you to realize at this stage is that there is no such thing as a devil. No such thing as a demon, at least not the way you think of it. So, who caused all this misconception? Why does the entire English-speaking world use an ancient Hebrew word (Satan) to inaccurately identify me? Why not just use the correct English translation and call me the Adversary?