Today they had a story of "Satan" being apprehended in a bathroom. As Monday is the simplest sudoku day, my mind wandered off on this story to think about what some folk--not just terribly troubled people, such as the guy in the story--actually do believe about some invisible world of demons and the devil surrounding them.
What if Satan was in the realm of horses rather than unicorns, and, above that, apprehended in a men's bathroom, for "staring and pointing at himself in the mirror"?
Would that mean some of my siblings would expect us to wake up the next day free of temptation, thinking that it'd be best if we dissolved our union, split up our boy's home? We'd look for a couple of girls, who we would suddenly find attractive, or at least we'd stop seeing coupling up with them as wrong in all sorts of ways? Would brains, hair sworls, and such of the average homosexual all morph back to the God-desired heterosexual male template? Boy, I hope we'd have a smooth custody battle and at least remain in the same ward :-).
I mean, I hear a lot of people talk about devils and their influence on the world and gay people in particular. It's weird, and, frankly, creepy, insulting, and dehumanizing to suspect that some of my family, when they think of me and our home, may think like, well, like Jack Chick (see here for one of the funniest examples of serious homophobia I know of). I kind of feel like, just for kicks, I should learn to roll my eye back into my head and talk backwards in Latin; really freak them out.
I've often heard people say the greatest success of the devil is making his influence so imperceptible that people do not believe in him. I probably bought that at one time too. I find this framing clever, sure--to them the absence of evidence is the best evidence of all. But it sucks to be the one powerless to address the unaddressable evidence on the other end of it.
All this reminds me... On my shelf I keep a copy of the Malleus Maleficarum, along with a whole bunch of other religiously themed book. As Wikipedia summarizes:
The main purpose of the Malleus was systematically to refute arguments claiming that witchcraft does not exist, refute those who expressed skepticism about its reality, to prove that witches were more often women than men, and to educate magistrates on the procedures that could find them out and convict them.This book, at one time, was second only to the Bible in its spread through Christianity, and it should be required reading for anyone who, for religious reasons, has decided to hunt the "witches" of any age. Not for instruction, but for perspective.
A lot has changed since then, but it's amazing how much has not: the righteous focus on sex, satanic trickery, claiming the person being harmed is the victimizer. Posing people as influenced by or tools of demons seems to be an efficacious and time-tested way to hide the humanity in the targets. No one wants to hurt us gays and our families, right? But they have to stop us from souring their cow's milk and truing their families into a bunch of newts, right?