Who needs external symbols for evil, anyway?

Doing random searches for blogs, I ran across another blogger’s diatribe about Halloween. Now, I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of Halloween myself. (Indeed, I’m quite happy that I observe Samhain based on an astrological calendar, as it places my ritual observances as a separate event from Halloween altogether.) Unlike the author of that blog post, though, I do tend to see Halloween (except for the prankish part) as mostly “harmless fun.”

But what really caught my attention was this bloggers argument against it. It seemed that the crux of his argument is that it “desensitizes” people to the “traditional symbols of evil” — such as the devil. The continuing thought from that point is that this desensitization will allow “moral relativity” to reign supreme because those moral systems of the faiths that provided these symbols will be devalued at the same time.

I see a number of problems with this viewpoint. The basic underlying problem is that it underscores the fact that these “traditional faiths” (namely certain sects of Christianity, because no other faith seems to see the Devil in quite that same light) are relying too heavily on these “symbols of evil” to begin with. Personally, I think that it’s time that these faiths quit hanging quite so tightly onto this idea of “the Devil” as the source of evil. After all, the Bible does not start with the downfall of Lucifer, but with the sin of Adam and Eve. And it continues from there with many more stories describing the evils of countless human beings. While I admit that it’s been years since I’ve done any serious Biblical research, it seems to me that when you look at the countless evils carried out by humans in its pages, you begin to notice that the antics of Satan and his minions seem to be little more than subtext.

Indeed, it seems that religious groups that focus on these “external symbols of evil” such as devils have lost the very essence and point of their religious texts. The evil isn’t (just) “out there” with “devils” and other such creatures. There’s real evil lurking in the hearts of men and women everywhere. Perhaps if we took that reality a bit more seriously, how people view and treat those “traditional symbols of evil” wouldn’t be as essential.

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