Article XXI: Lucifer

Written by:
Jacob King

When I was twelve, one of my neighborhood friends invited me over to hang out, like we did most Fridays after school. That particular evening his older brother was home, and after a few minutes of being there he came downstairs and said: “I’m about to watch The Exorcist.” I often saw this demonic tale on our local Blockbuster’s shelves but definitely never had the stones to rent it. “Do you want to watch it, or are you both chickensh*t?” 

Twelve was a strange age. I was caught in the weird reality of being secretly pumped to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Christmas, yet I also felt impelled, probably because of the thousands of years of evolutionary testosterone now coursing through my veins, to prove my manly-badassness.

So, of course, with the calm confidence of a man in a western movie duel – yet feeling like a damsel in distress on the inside – I said, “bring it on.” Secretly I knew I was making a monstrous mistake. I sensed I was about to inject something into my brain that was going to lead my-not-so-bad ass to be wrapped up in Depends for a long, long time…

After two hours of spinning heads, levitations and crucifixes stuck in all sorts of places, my friend and I peeled ourselves from the sweat soaked couch. And it was now time for me to ride my tricked out bmx bike back home through what seemed to be millions of miles of dark woods. To make matters worse, it was now late at night… With all my tough guy pretenses now having been exorcized away, I said good-bye to my friend with my voice crackling-like-a-wood-burning-fire, who looked at me as if I was Katniss Everdeen boarding the ship to the Capitol of Panem. I distinctly remember riding with my heart trampolining out of my chest, expecting every tree to have demon-possessed people crawling up and down them looking like contorted spiders.

And as I looked back to see if any of those scary things were chasing me, I knew, at my current pace, I would have given Lance Armstrong a run for his money at the Tour de France.

But life goes on. There were girls to obsess about and cop-car chases to be had. I mean, high school wasn’t going to drop out of itself. And that weird encounter with the spiritual upside-down via The Exorcist, thankfully, was in the past. 

That was… until I encountered Father Strange.

After pouring through the surreal whoopings Pio took on a daily basis, I had to find out if these demon-gorgon things were actually a real thing. And the topic that was most fascinating to me: Was the infamous devil, the dark and villainous ruler of them all, also real — the most evil one who is claimed to have haunted us poor monkeys ever since we gained consciousness? Or is this spiritual predator just a combined-result of our species' overactive imagination and the always present telephone game? Was this a mythical figure born in the fire of our creative fear of nocturnal animal predators like jaguars that ate our species ancestors in the dark while we still lived in the jungle? Had it just morphed into the personification of our early parents’ fears?

Warning! Be careful what you ask for. Sleeping on your mom's bedroom floor at twelve is already embarrassing, but at 22… that’s the type of stuff that gives your reputation a life sentence without parole. Trust me, I know. I’m still trying to Shawshank myself out from those bars of embarrassment. Reader’s moms beware.

Like I discovered earlier, John structured his eye-witness gospel-testimony around seven signs, or miracles, Jesus did to prove that God exists. But I also learned later…

That's only half of the story. 

After diving deeper into this question about the reality of the devil, I realized that the other part of John’s testimony is centered around Jesus taking on “flesh”… 

to pick a fight.

C.S. Lewis once commented that “God entered into our human condition quietly, as a baby born in obscurity… because He had to slip covertly behind enemy lines.” And John didn’t mince words about who Jesus’, and our, enemy truly was.

John reported that the first thing Jesus did in his ministry was go into the treacherous Palestinian desert for a long period to battle this spiritual IT. Another time, John told of a time when he returned to Jesus rejoicing because he discovered he had power to remove demons from the possessed, Jesus told him that he was personally there to see “Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” And at the most crucial moment in Jesus’ life, when he was to be hauled away to be crucified upon the Sign, Jesus left nothing to the imagination about who he was really at war with; he told John: “Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out.” John even reported the infamous betrayal of Jesus by Judas through a devilish lens:

“And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas… to betray him… Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly….’ [H]e immediately went, and it was night.” 

There was also something very interesting recently discovered by archaeologists and biblical scholars. They have come up with a curious and convincing theory: the hill just outside of Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified, called Cavalry, or “the place of the skull”, is the site of David's famous battle with Goliath — which ended with David burying the giant man's severed head. What’s even more: why was that “place of the skull” called “Golgotha” in Jesus’ day? The Bible doesn’t say, but it is intriguing that this place sounds very much like Goliath of Gath. But we do know for sure it was in this very city that David cut the head straight off this giant evil serpent of a man. And if Jesus chose his final battle scene to happen at the very place David beheaded Goliath, this would emphasize even more just how serious and central of a figure this creepy, evil being really was… and still is.

Taking in the reality of the devil was a-lot-a-lot... especially with how casual our culture takes this figure...

But I had to remind myself that if the resurrection and the subsequent miracles by The Lady and Pio prove Jesus was truthful in his claims about the existence of God, they also prove Jesus’ testimony about the reality of the Devil as well. And after discovering this second half of Jesus’ mission, my curiosity was just itching to find out more about who and what “the devil” was exactly, and why the hell this thing was so freaking dark? What’s your problem, bro! I needed an expert guide for the journey into the spiritual upside down. I definitely didn’t want to get lost in some haunted woods with this horned thing – I still have some serious Exorcist PTSD. I ain’t no Pio.

That’s when I came across one of the champ-champs of “demonology”: the chief exorcist for the Vatican, called “The Pope’s Exorcist”.

(Fun fact: this is now the title of a new major Hollywood movie being made about this demon-champ’s life, featuring Russell Crowe.)

He is also the reason for my frequently used mattress protectors. This godfather of exorcism, Fr. Gabriele Amorth, became a priest in Rome at the age of 24, and in 1986 he was elevated to be Rome’s chief exorcist. Since then, he has performed tens of thousands of exorcisms... and he knows a thing or two about the dark side… He also looks like it too. He tells the story of the supposed devil quite well.

Fr. Amorth confirmed my nightmares: this scary thing is, for sure, real. And this incredibly powerful and intelligent being’s real name is Lucifer.

To be continued…

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