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Source: (consider it) Thread: Speaking the Name of the Evil One
stonespring
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I am perhaps excessively afraid of speaking (or even hearing, writing, or reading - but especially speaking) any of the common names of the Evil One (and for those of you who want to make some silly Trump (or other politician or public figure) or Voldemort joke, I am referring to the Devil (and I feel nervous just typing it here)).

This fear is somewhat ironic given that I did not much of a religious upbringing at all and that I am a pretty progressive Christian full of skepticism and doubt about all kinds of things. I am not sure what kind of supernatural evil I even believe in and what kind of powers or presence it has. But the personal reasons for my fears are the topic for another thread.

Does it give evil forces power to invoke the name of the Evil One or of Hell or demons more broadly? Does it summon them in any way? Is this true even if one believes in supernatural evil in a more impersonal sense (I am not sure if I do)?

Of course, naming the Evil One in the context of declaring opposition to him/her/it or in an attempt to cast him/her/it out of something is different, especially when coupled with the invocation of Jesus or God more broadly as help in opposing evil. I am referring, rather, to naming the Evil One, Hell, or demons in casual conversation, in jest, or in intellectual discussion (like that here).

Is it best to avoid using the names like one or all of "Satan," "Lucifer," or "the Devil" and to use more indirect or translated terms like "the Evil One" or "the Adversary"? If so, why? If not, why not? What about using the word "Hell" or talking about demons in general unless one is being serious and talking about avoiding or opposing them?

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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This is what I call paranoid spirituality. Put bluntly, no.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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Personified evil aside:

"The devil, the prowde spirit, cannot endure to be mocked" (Thomas More)

"The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." (Martin Luther)

So I'd say that this name perception thing has power in it only insomuch as you believe it have and thereby give it strength. If you abjure it or It (I'd use the lowercase myself, part of scorn and mockery, and I'd not use the personal pronouns he or she), then all power evaporates.

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Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.
\_(ツ)_/

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LutheranChik
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Oops...I thought this was another Trump thread. [Two face]

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Simul iustus et peccator
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Stetson
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quote:
Of course, naming the Evil One in the context of declaring opposition to him/her/it or in an attempt to cast him/her/it out of something is different
Going by your original premise, I'm not sure why you would posit this exemption. If saying the name "Satan" invokes Satan, is he automatically deterred by the fact that the person said it in the context of declaring his opposition?

(somewhere in Hell)

SATAN: Hey, ya hear that? Someone up on Earth said "Satan"! Whoo-hoo, here I come, helpless mortals, ready or not!!

BEELZEBUB: Hold on, Big Guy. I think he was saying "Satan is one nasty dude", so that negates your right to materialize in his presence.

SATAN: Damn technicalities!

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I have the power...Lucifer is lord!

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Raptor Eye
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We're told not to be afraid. There's no need to refrain from speaking about the devil. No harm will come to you from Satan as long as you avoid the deception that comes from the father of lies.

Superstition is deception. We do not control forces of evil or good, we only go along with them.

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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Stetson
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This bit from an old Jack Chick comic titillates the reader with detailed descriptions and drawings of occultic jewelery. But it reassures us that since the images in the comic are not three-dimensional, we don't need to burn the book.

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I have the power...Lucifer is lord!

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Gwai
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I'm getting a 403 from that link.

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A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.


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Boogie

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I don’t believe there is any ‘evil one’, ‘devil’ or ‘satan’ being.

All evil comes from human beings imo

I see the biblical devil as a powerful metaphor, no more.

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Garden. Room. Walk

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HCH
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As I understand it, in much of the Bible, the word used is what we translate as "satan" (small s) rather than "Satan" (large S). This is the little imp that sits on your shoulder (as in old Warner Brothers cartoons) and urges you to misbehave. In the New Testament, Jesus is tempted by the imp on his shoulder. In the book of Job, we find God being tempted or taunted by his own imp. This is part of us,
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Kaplan Corday
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I used to know a man who was tortured by the question of whether or not Satan could read his mind.
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Gamaliel
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I used to wonder that at one time. I'd forgotten about that, so I can't have been unduly tortured by it.

Perhaps I was but I've blocked it out ...

But poor fella. I hope he got over it.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Lamb Chopped
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No, that's God's prerogative, though no doubt a wily, experienced archangel can make some good guesses if he tries.

Simply speaking a name does not give anything power. Invoking a name means to intentionally call upon that person to be present or to help, not just to say the name itself.

In fact, refusing to say a name (using circumlocutions like "he who must not be named") actually adds to the person's power, if only because he/she/it gains something from your fear.

You're best off to say "devil" or "Satan" as needed without any special concern or ceremony, just as you would say "egg" or "pineapple". If you are in Christ, he can't harm you anyway.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Graven Image
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Lamb Chopped posted
quote:
You're best off to say "devil" or "Satan" as needed without any special concern or ceremony, just as you would say "egg" or "pineapple". If you are in Christ, he can't harm you anyway.

[Overused]
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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
experienced archangel

What would an inexperienced archangel look like?

quote:
You're best off to say "devil" or "Satan" as needed without any special concern or ceremony, just as you would say "egg" or "pineapple".
Would it be appropriate to say, "Satan, unlike the curate's egg, is good in no part, and I will therefore make sure he gets the rough end of the pineapple?"

quote:
If you are in Christ, he can't harm you anyway.
Not sure that Bunyan/Christian would have said that after his battle with Apollyon.

[ 23. January 2018, 23:20: Message edited by: Kaplan Corday ]

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
Not sure that Bunyan/Christian would have said that after his battle with Apollyon.

Ah, but unlike Bunyan and Christian, LC is a Lutheran, so she knows that when it comes to the Prince of Darkness grim, one little word shall fell him. [Biased]

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Lamb Chopped
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[Snigger]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Galloping Granny
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
I don’t believe there is any ‘evil one’, ‘devil’ or ‘satan’ being.

All evil comes from human beings imo

I see the biblical devil as a powerful metaphor, no more.

Absolutely. Useful originally for controlling people.

(As usual, what Boogie says I say).

GG

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The Kingdom of Heaven is spread upon the earth, and men do not see it. Gospel of Thomas, 113

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mousethief

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And anyway, "Satan" is not a name, but a description or title ("the accuser") that is being used as a name. Just as "Lord" is not a name but a title.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by Gwai:
I'm getting a 403 from that link.

Maybe this one will work(or maybe not). It's the complete comic book. The relevant section is on Page 7, I think. You can scroll down for the page numbers.

Apart from the kitsch value, I mostly posted it because the explanation about why you don't need to burn the comic book resembled the odd legalism underlining the OP's speculations on this thread.

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I have the power...Lucifer is lord!

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SusanDoris

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quote:
Originally posted by Galloping Granny:
quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
I don’t believe there is any ‘evil one’, ‘devil’ or ‘satan’ being.

All evil comes from human beings imo

I see the biblical devil as a powerful metaphor, no more.

Absolutely. Useful originally for controlling people.

(As usual, what Boogie says I say).

GG

Me too!! Also I think it is an indictment of religions if the idea of a devil is so indoctrinated into a person, that s/he has a real fear of talking of such a human idea.

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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Eutychus
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While I reject the notion of taking a superstitious attitude to evil (and Stetson, that Chick comic is certainly an unwelcome trip down memory lane) I occasionally run across stuff which is so evil that I have difficulty accounting for it through merely human agency.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
While I reject the notion of taking a superstitious attitude to evil (and Stetson, that Chick comic is certainly an unwelcome trip down memory lane) I occasionally run across stuff which is so evil that I have difficulty accounting for it through merely human agency.

How?

If the human has no capacity for care, conscience or guilt they can do anything.

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Garden. Room. Walk

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Baptist Trainfan
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I'd go along with that. I also see no difficulty in believing in the existence of a Devil (whatever we want to call it) if we already believe in the existence of God as an independent Being. Indeed I have, on occasion in my private prayers, invoked the name of our All-powerful God.

However I wouldn't want to set up an unhealthy dualism which suggests that we are all piggies-in-the-middle in a cosmic tug-of-war. And, while I don't think (to go back to the OP) we "attract the Evil One's attention" by simply mentioning his name, nor would I wish to give him undue attention.

[ 24. January 2018, 07:18: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
If the human has no capacity for care, conscience or guilt they can do anything.

Yes, but sometimes the scope of the evil achieved appears to me to defy human competency.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
If the human has no capacity for care, conscience or guilt they can do anything.

Yes, but sometimes the scope of the evil achieved appears to me to defy human competency.
You will have seen much of the very worst and it is natural for a religious person - and I include my rationalistic self - to invoke the supernatural in human brokenness. But they can never read your mind can they? They can never actually do anything supernatural.

I too have residual feelings, gut reactions in talking about Satan in particular. That name is more powerful than The Devil for some reason. When the feelings get more than transient, I seek deliverance from evil, in the mighty name of Jesus, by His blood, whatever it, evil, is. That and CBT with God in prayer.

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Love wins

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jbohn
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
experienced archangel

What would an inexperienced archangel look like?

Well...

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We are punished by our sins, not for them.
--Elbert Hubbard

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
But they can never read your mind can they? They can never actually do anything supernatural.

As you might guess, my functional demonology owes much to The Screwtape Letters, so yes, I think they are permanently frustrated that they never quite know what we're thinking.

What you're missing is that my emphasis was not on the depth of the evil so much as the competency required to occasionally perpetuate some particularly evil stuff, which to me seems to surpass what even the most competent of humans could devise unassisted.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
What would an inexperienced archangel look like?

"L" plates front and rear perhaps? Or a lanyard hung around his wings saying "Please be patient with me, I'm in training".
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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:

Of course, naming the Evil One in the context of declaring opposition to him/her/it or in an attempt to cast him/her/it out of something is different, especially when coupled with the invocation of Jesus or God more broadly as help in opposing evil. I am referring, rather, to naming the Evil One, Hell, or demons in casual conversation, in jest, or in intellectual discussion (like that here).

I can understand not wanting to refer to the Evil One in jest, although intellectual discussion does have to be able to refer to him. He does have quite a few names, which is interesting in itself.

As for me, I'm not keen on 'cute' depictions of the devil, such as the one on the Ship's homepage, or the one on the 'Hell' page. But one has to tolerate these things, because the devil has largely become a comedy character in our culture.

I do think it's interesting how little theorised the devil is in the spiritual life of the (Protestant) churches I know. Hell has largely fizzled away without the benefit of any clear instruction on the matter, so I suppose the devil has gone the same way. We're free to believe what we wish for lack of any clear pronouncements from our church authorities.

Perhaps the RCC and some of the strict evanglical churches have somewhat clearer ideas about the devil, but my guess is that they don't really like to 'name' him (i.e. talk about him) either. I think we all find him simply too embarrassing and troublesome a character to dwell on. Also, I should think focusing on him risks dividing congregations, which the clergy are loathe to do.

Only 24% of self-professed British Christians claim to believe he exists, according to YouGov.

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
But they can never read your mind can they? They can never actually do anything supernatural.

As you might guess, my functional demonology owes much to The Screwtape Letters, so yes, I think they are permanently frustrated that they never quite know what we're thinking.

What you're missing is that my emphasis was not on the depth of the evil so much as the competency required to occasionally perpetuate some particularly evil stuff, which to me seems to surpass what even the most competent of humans could devise unassisted.

Ah, they practice and they start small when young. Genius helps.

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Love wins

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simontoad
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Dr Who had a good episode on the Devil.

I have a strong Australian accent, so whenever I try to invoke the Evil One I am hit with a roll of fabric.

[ 24. January 2018, 22:37: Message edited by: simontoad ]

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Human

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Martin60
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Early Tennant, in balance with a black hole? VERY good.

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Love wins

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Dormouse

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I'm not sure what I believe vis-à-vis the Devil/Satan/the Evil One, but sometimes, when feeling that oodles of stuff are going wrong, as though someone/thing was trying to get me to start effity-jeffing then I start talking to it saying "Oh, yes, you really know what buttons to press today...that was a clever trick...etc" which takes away the sense of being tempted into wrongdoing.

It's a form of mockery, an "I know what you're doing" - whether it is addressed to something/one, in the end, probably isn't important.

I'm not sure that adds much to the debate, but there you go.

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What are you doing for Lent?
40 days, 40 reflections, 40 acts of generosity. Join the #40acts challenge for #Lent and let's start a movement. www.40acts.org.uk

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
Dr Who had a good episode on the Devil.

I have a strong Australian accent, so whenever I try to invoke the Evil One I am hit with a roll of fabric.

I can do strong strine, but for the life of me I can't say the names in a way that would evoke being thumped by a bolt of cloth.

And Dormouse, that's a great strategy. Regardless.

And BT: I have every difficulty in believing in the existence of denizens of supernatural creation, evil more so than not. Yet Jesus did. He exorcized them and passed that ability on. I can and do believe in evil as a real synergy of our individual limitations, in our social interactions, groupings, hierarchies, power structures. There is no evidence for the supernatural beyond the wind blowing where it will for me.

If there is a supernatural creation perichoretic with ours, I don't want to know. I can't. No one can. I don't understand why it's there if it is. Which doesn't mean it isn't. If it ever actually makes its presence incontrovertibly felt and more, seen, I'll ask the Lord to rebuke it. It never has. Even when I was staring at an apparition. That was a good one. In a deserted country wood at night. You should have been there. Whatever evil I encounter in myself or others, I'll seek deliverance from. Which is a lie, as I don't reach up whenever I'm being impatient, unkind. When I'm being afflicted with intrusive thinking I'm more likely to remember. My inner, untransformed lack and its external ramifications are the evilest thing I know, how I blame the Devil for it and how that would help I don't know.

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Love wins

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Dormouse:
I'm not sure what I believe vis-à-vis the Devil/Satan/the Evil One, but sometimes, when feeling that oodles of stuff are going wrong, as though someone/thing was trying to get me to start effity-jeffing then I start talking to it saying "Oh, yes, you really know what buttons to press today...that was a clever trick...etc" which takes away the sense of being tempted into wrongdoing.

It's a form of mockery, an "I know what you're doing" - whether it is addressed to something/one, in the end, probably isn't important.

I'm not sure that adds much to the debate, but there you go.

That's interesting that you found your way to that method, as it's widely used in therapy, usually under the name of self-talk. It's often used with those negative voices which plague some people, often called the inner critic or inner saboteur.

I used to recommend to people using plenty of anger as well, and 'fuck off' is quite useful. It does seem to work, partly I think, because one is actually acknowledging that there is such a thing as a negative inner voice. The worst thing is to be unaware or half-aware of it. I don't see it as supernatural.

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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Penny S
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I'm not very happy about the idea that creation includes entities which we cannot sense, and which can feed off us in ways which can only be countered by being the right sort of believer and knowing the right way to call on the powers of light.
Doesn't seem to fit with a good God at all.

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Raptor Eye
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quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
I'm not very happy about the idea that creation includes entities which we cannot sense, and which can feed off us in ways which can only be countered by being the right sort of believer and knowing the right way to call on the powers of light.
Doesn't seem to fit with a good God at all.

What of the argument that we must have the knowledge of evil as well, so that we have the true free will to choose the good, and must accept accountability?

Can we sense evil? Does it depend only on nature / nurture?

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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Brenda Clough
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quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
I'm not very happy about the idea that creation includes entities which we cannot sense, and which can feed off us in ways which can only be countered by being the right sort of believer and knowing the right way to call on the powers of light.
Doesn't seem to fit with a good God at all.

And yet you have probably had a cold. You possibly consulted a doctor, or at least asked a friend or relative whether aspirin was a good idea. Maybe she even gave you some.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Boogie

Boogie on down!
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
I'm not very happy about the idea that creation includes entities which we cannot sense, and which can feed off us in ways which can only be countered by being the right sort of believer and knowing the right way to call on the powers of light.
Doesn't seem to fit with a good God at all.

And yet you have probably had a cold. You possibly consulted a doctor, or at least asked a friend or relative whether aspirin was a good idea. Maybe she even gave you some.
The devil is a virus?

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Garden. Room. Walk

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Anselmina
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quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:

Of course, naming the Evil One in the context of declaring opposition to him/her/it or in an attempt to cast him/her/it out of something is different, especially when coupled with the invocation of Jesus or God more broadly as help in opposing evil.

In one respect - perhaps not a very important respect either - I wonder about this. I spent a lot of time with Christians who spent a lot of time praying the kinds of prayer that went like this:

We declare to you, Satan, God is going to do this, that and the other to you... Or, Watch out, Satan, 'cos Jesus is going to punish you and stop all your evil etc etc.

Or less directly, Lord, We pray this about Satan and that about the Devil, and the other about Be'elzebub, that you'll confound him, or stop him, Lord. Lord, do this to Satan.... Jesus, do that to the Devil.

Or more worryingly, things like: Lord, stop Satan from making Steve's life so difficult; or help Mary to stand against the devil's power in her life etc.

I understand the theology behind some of this, particularly the last kind of prayer, especially considering some of Christ's healing techniques in the gospel. And to an extent I understand the psychology of naming aloud something that can harm and declaring its lack of power; as in 'depression, I won't let you beat me'.

But some Christians seem peculiarly hell-bent (boom-tish) on including Satan in so many of their prayers to God, I end up wondering who, or what, is really and truly at the centre of their faith. I don't mean that I think they worship, or deliberately prioritise the devil or anything daft like that. I just mean that their principle focus and object of prayer does not seem to be God! Why are they turning naturally and persistently to the dark, and wallowing there?

[ 25. January 2018, 19:52: Message edited by: Anselmina ]

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Raptor Eye:
quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
I'm not very happy about the idea that creation includes entities which we cannot sense, and which can feed off us in ways which can only be countered by being the right sort of believer and knowing the right way to call on the powers of light.
Doesn't seem to fit with a good God at all.

What of the argument that we must have the knowledge of evil as well, so that we have the true free will to choose the good, and must accept accountability?

Can we sense evil? Does it depend only on nature / nurture?

What argument?

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Love wins

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Raptor Eye:
What of the argument that we must have the knowledge of evil as well, so that we have the true free will to choose the good, and must accept accountability?

“Hey you. You will suffer so this other bloke can freely choose to be good” How does this work? I think the best you can get, with the premise of a god that is good, is that bad shit can happen; not that it must.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Ohher
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I doubt it. Though there's a good example of a non-human-caused evil -- disease, natural disasters, etc.

Whoops -- ETA that was in response to Boogie.

[ 25. January 2018, 20:28: Message edited by: Ohher ]

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From the Land of the Native American Brave and the Home of the Buy-One-Get-One-Free

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Ohher:
I doubt it. Though there's a good example of a non-human-caused evil -- disease, natural disasters, etc.

That isn't evil. They are just unfortunate events.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Brenda Clough
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But they are just as unseen, just as inexplicable, just as difficult to influence. I don't know how that Tylenol works, any more than I know how my mouse works. Large swathes of our lives we take on faith. Why am I taking this vitamin?

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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simontoad
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
Dr Who had a good episode on the Devil.

I have a strong Australian accent, so whenever I try to invoke the Evil One I am hit with a roll of fabric.

I can do strong strine, but for the life of me I can't say the names in a way that would evoke being thumped by a bolt of cloth.

Satan/Satin? No?

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Human

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
But they are just as unseen, just as inexplicable, just as difficult to influence.

I get it. It provides comfort for some to ascribe agency to the bad things.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Eutychus
From the edge
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quote:
Originally posted by Penny S, emphasis mine:
I'm not very happy about the idea that creation includes entities which we cannot sense, and which can feed off us in ways which can only be countered by being the right sort of believer and knowing the right way to call on the powers of light.
Doesn't seem to fit with a good God at all.

Did you read Frank Peretti novels instead of the Bible?

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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Huia
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quote:
Originally posted by Ohher:
I doubt it. Though there's a good example of a non-human-caused evil -- disease, natural disasters, etc.

Whoops -- ETA that was in response to Boogie.

I don't think natural disasters are evil, though their consequences may be bad.

In 2011 a severe earthquake hit the city where I live. There were over 100 deaths, and over 10,000 aftershocks and an extended time of constant uncertainty. One of the facts that I clung to was that the quakes were a result of the earth's structure, not something perpetrated by a malicious mind bent on destruction and not, as one fuckwit fundamentalist claimed, God's punishment for sin.

Being physically assaulted in my own home was more terrifying because there was a human mind setting out to deliberately harm me - that is what I call evil.

Huia

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Charity gives food from the table, Justice gives a place at the table.

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