How to Outsmart the Father of Lies | Sojourners

How to Outsmart the Father of Lies

Shortly after the election, President Donald Trump’s adviser Steve Bannon, in the context of a conversation about liberal politicians and the media’s failure to perceive the new political realities, told The Hollywood Reporter that “darkness is good.” He went on to say, “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when [liberals and the media] get it wrong. When they're blind to who we are and what we're doing."

Of course, there was something outrageous about it all. I don’t think it’s because Bannon lumped Cheney in with Vader and Satan – that’s something liberals have been doing for years. No, the real outrage comes when he compliments this strange trio by admiring their power, a power that works best under the cover of darkness and that thrives on the blindness of its opponents.

You may disagree with Bannon on the morality of his position, but you can’t argue with his grasp of how Satan’s power works. Subterfuge, misdirection, half-truths, and lies are recognized as legitimate strategies against an enemy. Even lay people have heard of the military strategies of surprise attacks and encrypted communications. Nothing strikes me funnier than sideline coaches at a football game shielding their lips as they discuss the next play with their upstairs coaches – as if they are guarding state secrets in the war against Nazi Germany. But they are demonstrating their belief that “darkness is good” when it comes to winning a football game. The strategy in sports, politics, and war is to keep your enemy in the dark about your intentions because as everyone also knows, forewarned is forearmed. And you don’t want to meet a forearmed enemy without the cover of darkness, now, do you?

Satanic Power Is For Winners

Satanic power is a win-lose game. There is no such thing as a win-win scenario if you embrace the power-over paradigm that Bannon is alluding to. Such power is frightening when it is being used against you. But if it’s being used on your behalf, well, the temptation to support the power of Satan can be mighty strong. In the game Satan plays, there are only winners and losers and you had best be sure you are on the winning side because there are no referees, second chances. or do overs on this playing field.

I suspect this explains President Trump’s recent comments about the moral equivalency between Putin and the United States. In a Fox News interview, when asked how he could respect a killer like Putin, he replied, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

If we listen with ears attuned by Bannon, it’s clear that Trump doesn’t admire Putin for his strategies but for how well he employs them. For heaven’s sake, he seems to say, we employ the same ones because there are no others. Trump admires Putin because he’s good at the power game – he’s a winner. And we know he’s a winner because he creates losers. For Bannon and Trump, the only moral goodness is the triumph of winning.

What Satan Doesn’t Want You To Know

Bannon is right on this – you bet Satan has power, and to deny that is to risk your own annihilation. The power to dominate and defeat is real and furiously destructive, and being on the losing side has dire consequences. But one thing that Satan does not want us to understand is that his power is not stable or something that he can generate on his own. Satanic power depends on us to play our part because it is parasitic. It depends on our utter faith in a satanic lie upon which all satanic power is rooted: that violence is good and can be used to achieve peace and security. It’s a whopper of a lie but we have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Why? Because it works in the short term, for the winners. The losers, the ones whose lives are expendable and whose voices are silenced, would certainly not call this peace.

Here are three mistakes Satan wants us to make in order to keep us in the dark.

1. Thinking Satan is a person.

It’s an easy mistake to make, because it’s hard to talk about Satan without using personal pronouns. I did that very thing in this article. But the personal pronouns are metaphors and so whoemver you think the big man or his representatives on earth are, you are mistaken. Satan is not an evil spiritual being or an evil human one. It’s more accurate to say, for example, that a piece of music is “satanic” but inaccurate to refer to the composer as Satan.

2. Thinking a person is Satan.

This mistake flows directly from mistake 1 – since Satan is not a mortal person, you are wrong if you think you know Satan when you see him. You don’t. Whomever you think pure evil is, you are wrong. Pure evil does not exist in a person, not in Bannon or your enemies or you or me.

3. You cannot defeat the Satanic by directly opposing it.

When you directly oppose evil, you are playing into Satan’s hand. That oppositional energy is just the power source Satan needs to keep control of the game. Because opposition, accusations, outrage, and claims of having found ultimate evil are satanic strategies. If we are using the same tactics as Satan, how can we know the difference between what is evil and what is good? We can’t, because all differences are being erased in the angry din of our hatred and outrage.

An Effective Anti-Satan Strategy

To defeat satanic power, we must be able to expose the lie that it depends on. To do that we have to create a space for truth to emerge. The first step is to drop the accusations and name calling that have boxed people into false, one-dimensional identities. No more accusations of being a racist, a tyrant, a misogynist, part of the liberal elite, a globalist, or unpatriotic. All that does is put everyone on the defensive, a real non-starter if you are after the truth.

Second, tell the truth about violence, that it has nothing to do with goodness, and the “peace” it achieves is a mockery of true peace. True peace is inclusive and does not generate losers and victims as a direct consequence. When good people use violence, their souls must ache for the harm they are doing. Combat veterans know the truth about violence but they often keep silent because few of us want to listen or accept responsibility for the harm our faith in violence has done to their souls.

A strange outcome of adopting these tactics will be that you begin to see satanic power as less threatening. It might even begin to look ridiculous because it is based on such blatant falsehoods. How can anyone believe that violence is good, that peace can be achieved through murder? It will begin to sound as ridiculous as a good elephant joke: “How do you kill a pink elephant? Hold its nose till it turns blue and kill it with a blue elephant gun.”

Satanic power is, in the last analysis, just as silly. It depends on such an obvious lie that once you see the truth, laughter starts to bubble up — not just at the unbelievable lie itself but at your own gullibility. And satanic power, which depends on our fearful pleas for protection, will begin to look like the pathetic, failed strategy that it is. Nothing sheds light into satanic darkness more effectively than a good chuckle. So begin to cultivate a sense of humor because if there’s one thing satanic power cannot survive, it’s our laughter.

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