Let me shift a little bit over to the dark side, to the Devil. If things are indeed getting worse—if Satan, as you seem to fear, could be winning—why would the Devil wish to destroy the world, rather than run the world as an ultimate tyrant?
Let’s start with the Devil’s point of view—the word “evil” is not even present for him. My guess is that the Devil sees God as incompetent. I propose that the Devil’s belief is that He or She could end up with a better world, a better form of existence, a more sophisticated, more intelligent, well-run notion of things. I’m guessing technology is an arm of the Devil. Plastic is a perfect weapon in the Devil’s armory, for it desensitizes human beings. Living in and with plastic, we are subtly sickened. And the Devil looks to destroy God’s hope in us. Still, technology could be a third force, ready to destroy both God and the Devil—man’s assertion against God and the Devil.
But if you see the Devil as capable of defeating God, He must have equal powers.
Well, even at the highest level, there is such a matter as mindless destruction. When you can’t win, you destroy the game. The spoiled kid who picks up the marbles comes in all forms. But such a kid hardly has to be the best player. If the Devil feels that He or She cannot gain those powers that are needed to form a new universe, the rage generated may be so intense that the next move is to destroy the works. Talk about rank speculation, let’s suppose the Devil is treacherous and has sold His or Her birthright to some other god in the cosmos and will do His or Her best to turn over a paralyzed, inane, stupid, mainly destroyed world to someone who can build it up. The Devil could be a lieutenant, rather than a majordomo. In that case, the game starts all over again
“I’m guessing technology is an arm of the Devil. Plastic is a perfect weapon in his armory. Living with it, we are subtly sickened.”
Talk to me about your ethic—your system doesn’t seem to suggest an obvious one.
It’s as if we live in a triangular relationship with God and the Devil, trying to sense the best thing to do at a given moment, be it a good thing or a bad thing.
What I’m offering to people as an ethic is to have the honor to live with confusion. Live in the depths of confusion with the knowledge back of that, the certainty back of that—or the belief, the hope, the faith, whatever you wish to call it—that there is a purpose to it all, that it is not absurd, that we are all engaged in a vast cosmic war and God needs us. That doesn’t mean we can help God by establishing a set of principles to live by. We can’t. Why not? Because the principles vary. The cruelest obstacle to creating one’s own ethic is that no principle is incorruptible. Indeed, to cleave to a principle is to corrupt oneself. To shift from one principle to another can, however, be promiscuous. Life is not simple. Ethics are almost incomprehensible, but they exist. There is a substratum of moderate, quiet, good feeling. Generally, if I’m doing things in such a way that the sum of all my actions at the moment seems to be feasible and responsible and decent, that certainly gives me a better feeling than if I am uneasy, dissatisﬁed with myself, and not liking myself.
Now, obviously, there is room for error. We all know about vanity. There are people who, when they like themselves, are dangerous. When they think they are extraordinary and fabulous, they can be awful.
God’s ultimate purpose, some philosophers say, is to glorify Himself.
I’ve never understood this: Why is there this enormous desire in God to be glorified? Why is that so acceptable to so many branches of religion? We laugh at people who insist on being constantly glorified. We speak of neurotic movie stars or spoiled athletes, crazy generals and impossible authors, mad kings and greed-bag tycoons. One of the few things we all seem to agree on is that excessive vanity, once it has grown into a thing in itself, is dire. By that logic, a God-sized vanity is hard to comprehend. Where is the need for it?
Maybe we can change “glorified” to “loved.” God wants to be loved.
Why does God need to be loved? That’s a large question. It may be true, but if God needs to be loved, then I think we are entitled to start posing a few questions. Is God’s need to be loved so crucial because God, like us, is overextended? When, after all, do we have our greatest need to be appreciated? It is precisely when we are worn thin—precisely those times when our courage, our stamina, our determination, our belief that we possess worth are attenuated. At such times, we are more in need of love.