What Stories Should Teach About Satan
I was horrified, but not surprised to learn that the recent school shooter -- 26 year old Chris Harper Mercer -- was a devoted Satanist. "I will be welcomed into Hell and embraced by the devil," he reportedly wrote.
It occurs to me that Mr. Mercer by now has received a nasty shock. That the movies, video games, and books with which he swamped his imagination told fatal lies about Lucifer. Such lies cost Mercer's victims their earthly lives, but it cost him his eternal one.
If I had a megaphone in the ear of every suffering young person in America, this is what I would clarify about Satan:
1) Satan has no friends. He rewards no bad deed. He delights in the agony of all human beings, be they on Earth or in Hell. "Loyalty" to such a creature (for he was created) earns no prize but pain. He has less regard for his "disciples" than did Lenin for the "useful idiots" of the West. I'm afraid Mercer will not be getting that bear hug from Uncle Lucifer.
2) To openly reject God is to pointedly choose unhappiness. No matter how much young men such as Harper convince themselves that true satisfaction lies with the worship of evil, they quickly come to a point where they can no longer stand themselves or the world. And for these poor souls, death is not the end but only the beginning of their woes.
3) The sinister delight one takes in bodily sinfulness doesn't even draw a chuckle from the devil (who has no body), except to laugh at the weakness of men. Violence, drunkenness, lust, gluttony -- all these are just as revolting to him as they are to a pious man. He only knows how susceptible young people are to these temptations, and uses them accordingly. Anything to diminish the throng of saints.
4) Satan is captain of the losing team. Just ask Legion (Mk 5).
From C.S. Lewis's brilliant The Screwtape Letters, I'd like to highlight two important lessons. First, that Satan hates to be mocked. He is the most prideful creature there is, and the one who does not take him seriously is despised most of all. Second, that demons are never faithful -- even to each other.
Young people long for someone or something to give them a reason to hope. I believe that my job as a storyteller is to suggest that hope lies in rejecting the culture's idea of happiness. Mr. Mercer was thoroughly convinced that he was being denied the keys to his happiness: sex, popularity, prowess. When selfishness and bitterness excluded these things from his life, he groped for something that would exact revenge on a world that was never to blame in the first place. Had he only known that true happiness lies in self-sacrifice, in joyful patience, in self-denial and humble gratitude. Then his struggles would have produced fruit where before there was none.
Hopelessness drives people to self destruction. Hopelessness is the devil's wine. This is what stories should teach about Satan.