Saturday, June 12, 2021

New interview with Gregory

I hadn't talked to Gregory, leader of The Army of the Young (prominent on the U.S. West Coast and spreading) since the pandemic started over a year ago, so I thought I'd contact him and catch up.  Gregory is a political operative and messianic twenty-something.  I figured he'd have a lot to say about post-Trump reality.  It turned out he didn't.

Bakersfield is our chosen meeting point between Gregory's community near Marysville and my abode in Pearblossom.  We sat at the Woolworth's vintage soda fountain, where we first talked several years ago.  

It occured to me that Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster might be a cogent contributor to our conversation.  He has an uncanny understanding of human politics sometimes.  Gregory is not entirely comfortable that I associate with deities and sentient reptiles, so I hid Robert in my "man-bag" and told him to wait for an appropriate moment to reveal himself.

Gregory sighed quietly, it seemed to me, when I asked him his thoughts on "post-Trump reality."  He took some time to answer.

Harry, he finally said, I'm sorry, I don't entirely enjoy thinking about things the way I used to.  I know I'm the head of a political movement and so on.

Yes, that sounds difficult, Gregory.  How are you going to handle your followers?  Are you going to conceal that you don't like thinking about things anymore?

For now that's the plan, yes.

So...why don't you like thinking about things anymore?

Well, because a political movement is based on optimism, and, somehow, in what you call the "post-Trump reality," I'm not optimistic.

You mean...you are...

Yes, I'm pessimistic.

Silence ensued as we digested Gregory's words.

Gregory, I'm so sorry, is there anything I can do?

No thanks, Harry.  Pessimism is just an emotional/intellectual state after all.  It will pass.

Just like optimism.

Exactly.

Gregory, if I may ask, what is it about our post-Trump reality that has caused your pessimism?

Of course you may ask, Harry.  I think it's the way Trump took on all our sins- not in a Jesus sort of way, where you die for everyone's sins- but in an ass-hole selfish sort of way, where you actually commit all the sins that most people can't get away with, making fame and fortune for yourself and wreckage for everyone else.

Then why aren't you optimistic because America was able to depose Trump?

Because, just as Satan is supposed to be the source of all evil, we saw Trump as the source of almost all evil, and that temporarily deluded us.  We forgot that evil, or, as I like to call it, malpractice, is really everywhere all the time.  We don't need Trump for it.

Do you dislike President Biden?

There's not much to dislike, so far.  He's right out of a central casting call for "Nice older gentleman."  But the war and dysfunction that was headed our way under Trump is still headed our way.  

Agreed, but why can't you just celebrate this limited victory for what it is?

It's too limited.  

Gregory ordered a root beer float, which struck me as somewhat optimistic.  I got a Diet Dr. Pepper.  I don't even want to think about what that meant.

Gregory, what do you want Biden to do?

Honestly, Harry, there's not much he can do.  The world is filled with millions of young people who have little hope of gainful or meaningful employment.   The default option is to send them to war, that or convert them to soylent green.

And look at biotech, Gregory continued, Humanity is going to be refashioned by scientists, and much of the human race will become obsolete by its own hand.  There's nothing anyone, including a president, can do about it.

Gregory, some people would call that optimistic.

Yes, Gregory smiled, but Harry, we're not among the elect.  I know you are a psychic with unusual connections to the, what shall I call it...spirit world? 

Gregory had been seriously unnerved during our last meeting, via Zoom, by a cameo appearance from Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess. 

But, Gregory continued, do you see yourself welcome in the coming age?

I'm not sure I'll be up to code. 

None of us will be up to code.  Remember the "savages" in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World?  They were people who still reproduced sexually.  "Mother" was a dirty word.  The savages were kept in concentration camps in the desert.  And don't forget climate change.

Let's hear it.

In order to keep the planet habitable, 20% of the fossil fuel that remains in the ground will have to go unused.  That is not going to happen.

I don't know, Gregory.  Greta Thunberg's movement has proven enduring.

That is the only movement that will count.  The adult movements are weakened by uncertainty.  The moment of Thunberg's vision has arrived.  Yet that 20% will be pumped into the sky.

Jesus, Gregory, your pessimism is getting to me.  You know, I'm a blogger.  People don't want to read bad news unless it's funny.  How am I supposed to make this funny? 

I don't know, Harry.  My calling asks me to be serious, which for me requires optimism.  Looks like we're both in the shit. 

Gee, I wonder what you can do about it, thought Robert (to us) from my "man-bag."  I had almost forgotten he was there.  Gregory gave me a skeptical look.

Gregory, I'm so sorry, I said, I know you aren't comfortable with my outreaches to non-human realms, but perhaps I could change your mind.  May I introduce Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster?

Hi Gregory, thought Robert as he stuck his head out of the bag and stared directly at Gregory, whose look turned from skepticism to disgust.

Gregory, Robert continued cheerily, don't forget I'm psychic.  I know you're not enjoying meeting me.

No...I, I'm happy to hear what you have to say, Gregory stammered, Go on please.

Well, I'll do my best, but I should explain that gila monsters do not have a sense of humor.  I've tried many times to understand what Harry means when he says something is "funny," to no avail.  I do know from my study of human physiology that laughter is a response to the reconciling of the left and right hemispheres of the human brain- which represent, roughly, literal vs. figurative thinking- mediated by the corpus callosum, a bundle of nerve tissue that connects the hemispheres.  As the c.c. sifts through the streams of the two interpretations of the environment, it finds esoteric matches.  The c.c.'s brain decides which of these matches is "funny" (from Middle English, fon, fool).  The matches are sent to the brain's humor centers (there are 15 million).  If enough electrical charge is accumulated in the humor centers, a feedback loop with the c.c. emerges, and this triggers a spasmodic choking response in the upper body.  The experience, though highly valued by your kind, is mercifully denied to mine.

FYI, Robert, I retorted, what you just said was funny, but, as the saying goes, it was so funny I forgot to laugh.

Actually, Robert, said Gregory, who appeared considerably more relaxed, your ideas are intriguing.  I'm not much of a humorist myself, and I often wonder about laughter.  Since Harry went out on a limb to bring us together, maybe your analytical abilities could help him find the humor in the highly pessimistic scenarios we've been mulling.

Wow, thought Robert, another human willing to listen to me.  The world just keeps getting better.  Let me think.

Robert started his purposeful thinking by chewing softly on the rim of my leather bag.  His thoughts were guarded, but sometimes we picked up stray, fragmented sentences.  They were not funny.  

Finally Robert stopped chewing on my bag and looked up, directly into Gregory's eyes.

Try thisHarry, Robert thought, still holding Gregory's gaze:

 A rabbi, a Catholic priest and a pantheist are walking together when they come upon the final 20% of Earth's remaining fossil fuels.

The rabbi says, "Hey you two, why don't you go in with me to buy this last 20% of fossil fuel.  Then we'll pull it off the market and save the Earth!"

The Catholic priest says, "That's a great idea! Count me in!"

The pantheist says, "No!  This may not happen!  The Earth God is freezing to death and wants the surface of the planet to ignite and warm him!"

We gathered that Robert had come to the conclusion of his "joke" because he was shaking spasmodically in what I understood to be his first experience of humor and laughter.  Gregory looked pale and a bit disturbed.

Robert, I finally said, Please snap out of it.  That was not funny.

Really, Robert spat, You obviously didn't get it.

Gregory and I decided not to belabor the point.  We made our goodbyes and headed to our cars.  On the drive back to Pearblossom Robert told me that now that he understands humor he is going to write a book called "Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster's favorite jokes."  He says he will forward the jokes to me as they develop.

The ride home was uneventful, punctuated every few minutes by spasmodic sounds in Robert's throat when he managed to get his corpus callosum to fire.

[For background on Gregory and his movement, and for a peek into the 2044 U.S. presidential election, go to http://www.gregorysarmyoftheyoung.com/]

Friday, June 4, 2021



                                                                
                                                                      Home sweet home

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster's favorite jokes

Four entries from the upcoming book, "Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster's favorite jokes":

1. Once there was a king who was not a megalomaniac.  He wondered: "How can I know what to do if I'm not a megalomaniac?" 

2. The Earth felt cold and neglected.  The Moon said, "You dummy!  Look at the sun.  Do you see it complaining?"

3. An adherent of an eastern religion that believes in reincarnation was starving to death.  He thought: "I hope I will be reincarnated as someone who has had plenty to eat his or her whole life.  Then I will understand why such people complain all the time."

4. The cat said: "I am at the top of the food chain.  The humans serve me because I am far more beautiful than any human could be."  The dog hated that and barked at her.


Monday, January 11, 2021

In the covid sweat lodge


                                                  The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo

My altered-ego DL and I endured two weeks of intense covid attack, with opposite effects on our writing.  DL withdrew from his blog (https://laskenlog.blogspot.com/) which he uses for polemics, proofs that he is right and others are wrong.  This happened one febrile night when we dreamed we were in India, DL and I, marching in a festival of brilliant colors.  I felt like I had left the earth to visit another dimension so I could face my life and the covid enemy with renewed will.  I went directly from the dream to my computer and wrote this account of the sweat lodge.  By contrast, DL reported after the dream that his polemics had become "unstable," that he cannot read his blog now without screaming.

Earlier, as the ordeal unfolded, we crouched near the killer for long hours, close enough to see its awful face.  Henry James wrote that nearness to death makes characters more interesting, and this thought prompted me to nag at DL that I'm his character, waiting to be made interesting.  I felt a spiritual retreat was required to handle the challenge properly.  We were sweating anyway, so I suggested to DL that we visit and refurbish an ancient sweat lodge I had discovered in the Mojave, an assemblage of stones where for centuries men gathered to sit naked around coals to sweat and reduce themselves to an essence.  I explained that only men were permitted in the sweat lodge because they had their own essence, which was not the same as a woman's essence.

DL was sold.  We went to the Family Dollar Store in Pearblossom and bought food, water, charcoal briquettes, lighter fluid and matches, then we located and occupied the sweat lodge.

We sweated so long in the sweat lodge that, as noted, DL's polemics melted.  Towards the end of two weeks, when it seemed that we were either to die or find ourselves, two visitors arrived.  Usually in the desert I commune with beings known to my readers- various deities and my overly practical companion Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster- but the sweat lodge was for men, so the first visitor was a man who had been so real in his time that he became real again.  He strode into the sweat lodge at the moment of our despair, naked, tall, muscular, young, with an ostentatious erection that seemed to broadcast his thoughts.  He announced himself to me (DL being invisible):

Greetings, Harry the Human!  I am Standing Penis.  I am a man and I have come here to reduce myself to my essence, so that I may know what a man is.

Greetings, Standing Penis!

I was in a wry mood, for a change, and asked: Is it necessary for you to have a prominent and permanent erection?

For purposes here, yes, because an erection is the essence of a man.

Really?, I pursued, That seems anti-climactic, so to speak.  Is a man's essence merely to supply sperm?  Is that sufficiently noble or impressive to justify all the display?

There is more to it, Harry.  The essence of a man is to be excluded.  His mother and his wife have sent him away, to hunt for food, to be far from home.  He does not belong home.  He belongs isolated, in the wilderness where no one belongs.  The erection is a link to home.  There are other links in his mind.  He brings things from the world of his isolation back to his home.

In my culture, Standing Penis, the man's erection is problematic.

Yes, you have taken over the earth, both your men and women have, and now there is no distinction between home and beyond, between erection and aggression.

What will happen to us?

You will stop being men and women.  Your essences will combine.

At that moment the door flap flew open and a tall, naked woman stepped in.

Weeping Vagina!, exclaimed Standing Penis, You may not enter the sweat lodge, even in these decadent times!

Greetings, Standing Penis!  Do not call me "Weeping Vagina."  That name was not given by my sisters, but by you.  I have my own name.

I had stood, seeking some sort of courtesy or protocal, aware of my diminutive stature among these figures.

Excuse me...I'm Harry the Human, I stammered.  How shall I address you?

Of course, Harry, we know you, she said.  My name is Waiting Vagina.  Turning to Standing Penis, she continued, Were you not saying as I entered that the essences of men and women will now combine?

Yes, Waiting Vagina, I was saying that, yet I was hoping for a moment from the past....

Waiting Vagina joined us to sit around the smouldering coals.  Our bodies glistened with rivers of sweat.  She continued, looking wistfully into the steamy red circle:

It is no joy for me to give up my female essence.  We die in here today.  When our essences combine, we will be neither male nor female any more.

We were silent for a few moments.

I asked, When we combine in here, will the entire human race outside die, all the men and women, no longer men and women?

It is already happening, Waiting Vagina said, Men are killing women for excluding them from the Earth, not knowing that women are excluded too.  Women are killing men for not staying excluded, for coming home, not knowing there is no home.

Standing Penis stared into the coals.

Suddenly DL called out from within me, My polemics!  How can I be right and others wrong now?  At the least I should know that my politics are right, my view of human life is right, my interpretation of history is right, my way of expressing myself is right.  Right?

Waiting Vagina and Standing Penis chuckled softly.  It was reassuring to sense a unity between them.

I asked, Waiting Vagina, what is the meaning of your name?

Harry, she answered, I am waiting to be the type of the new human brain.

What will this brain be like? 

It will wait.  It will not think it knows.  It will know only that it does not know.

What's the point of that? I had to ask, and Standing Penis added an approving grunt.  Don't forget, Waiting Vagina, that some men migrate to outer space after women expel them from the Earth.

Yes, Waiting Vagina conceded, and some are, ironically, accompanied by women.  Within the boundaries of space they will seek redemption for your species, but without a successful Earth memory as guide, they will lose themselves on each celestial body.  As your poet Emily Dickinson wrote: 

"Those who have not found the heaven below,
will fail of it above."

Then the face of the covid death appeared in the coals.  The rivers of our sweat carried us into the death, and we merged.  There were no more men or women.  There was no more right or wrong.  But there were still people.  The people had minds, and their minds were quiet.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

I've tried

I've tried to seek what I have sought

I've tried to need what I have bought

I've tried to learn a little-lot

and now I'm getting a covid shot!

Saturday, October 3, 2020

We have been detected!

Last week, I and the broader telepathic community received a message of unusual strength.  The message stated simply: "We have been detected!"  Though the message was short, it reverberated in our heads, communicating a tone of extreme alarm.  I've been struggling to locate its source and to communicate back.  It was slow-going until this morning, when I enlisted the aid of my friend Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster.  We sat in the desert for hours, scanning the airwaves, gleaning with our combined bandwidth shards of conversation from the general direction of the message's origin, which, we soon discovered, was outer space.  I've forwarded the shards to earth's telepathic network (there's only one, for obvious reasons) and I share them with you now.  

Note: the shards in the first group, which I was able to glean on my own, appear incomplete.  After Robert joined the effort, his animal force produced the missing clarity. 

Please enjoy.  

Best, Harry the Human


                               We have been detected!

                                A partial transcript


...let me sip this joy for all time....

...we remember before...we need to remember before....

...yes...before, when there was pain....

....it lasted so long....

...we were driven half mad....

....until our goddess led us to divine flames, and we dropped our congealed bodies....

....so heavy, so difficult to control....

....our needs, oh god!  How we needed!

...until our goddess led us to the blue flames of love....


Sip our love, brothers and sisters, race with me through the heavens!

The Ancients believed joy had to be deserved.  

There was so little.  It was fought over.

Sip this boundless joy with me!

Brothers and sisters!  Attend!  Bringers of pain approach.  We have been detected!

How?

Our thoughts!  They take a form visible to the bringers of pain.

What sort of form?

They call our thoughts "phosphine."

They can see our thoughts?

They do not know that they are thoughts.

What do they think they are?

Useless byproducts of life- shit, if you will.

They think our thoughts are shit?

Yes, since we expel them from our minds.

Does anyone still want to sip some joy?

End of Transcript

[Note: Robert and I came across a possible clue to the transcript's meaning in "We're heading for Venus," NewScientist Magazine, 10/3/20.  Here's an excerpt:

"If phosphine is really present on Venus, and we can't work out a non-biological source in Venus' clouds, we could see a new rush to look for life on our solar system's hottest planet."

Sunday, September 20, 2020

An interview with Satan

Satan is a tricky subject, so it's best to start with definitions and some background.

The Hebrew word "satan" meant "adversary."  It did not connote evil.  Biblical Satan's earliest appearance, in this morally neutral form, comes in the Book of Job, which is found, not in the Torah (the Five Books of Moses, aka the Old Testament) but in the Ketuvim- additions to the Torah, including Psalms and Proverbs, with apparent origins in the 6th Century BC Babylonian Exile and earlier.  

The story of Job has baffled and terrified people for centuries:

Job is a successful man.  He is married and rich, with three sons and seven daughters.  He praises God and observes His laws.  God is satisfied with Job, but Satan, who has access to God, challenges God's satisfaction, pointing out that Job praises God only because of God's blessings; if God took away the blessings, Satan suggests, Job would not praise God any more.  To test this theory, God drives Job into poverty and kills his entire family.  Job continues to praise God, who then says, in effect, "I told you so" to the adversary.  Satan replies that if God would afflict Job physically, Job would not remain faithful.  In response, God torments Job with boils from head to toe.  When Job continues to praise God, Satan is out of arguments and Job finally wins, ending up (as a very old man) married and rich again, with another three sons and seven daughters, the latter so fair they all get rich husbands.

Most of the moral speculation regarding the story of Job centers on God's actions, not on the comments by Satan that led to the actions.

There are 26 other references to "Satan" in the Old Testament, but most of them are lower case "satans," suggesting the modern equivalent of "debate opponent" rather than a particular evil entity.

In the New Testament, Satan evolves from an indistinct critic to the prime force of evil in the world.  Most famously, Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness, offering him food (Jesus was fasting) and promises of wealth and political power if Jesus will abandon God.  

Interestingly, Satan does not tempt Jesus with sexual opportunity, a puzzling omission.  It is because of this conundrum, in fact, that, considering that I've been able to hold conversations with deities such as Gxd, Jesus and the Buddha (not to mention Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess), I was motivated to do the same with Satan.

In past searches I relied on one deity- Betty- to help me contact others, so I figured she could help me contact a fallen angel.  I began by wandering into the desert while thinking about Betty, and sure enough, she was waiting for me beside her favorite creosote bush.

"Hi Harry," Betty called, "I'm way ahead of you."

"Betty, should I rethink this?  I mean...an interview with Satan?"

"Harry, you're in the quest business.  This is a quest.  That means it's your business."

"Yeah, I guess.  Anyway, how do I go about this?  Should I draw a pentagram or something?"

"Look at your feet, Harry."

I looked down and I was wearing ruby slippers!  Betty instructed me to click the heels together and repeat- you guessed it- "There's no place like home."

As I repeated the mantra and clicked my heels, I became dizzy and the surroundings blurred.  I murmured, "Betty, what the hell...."

"The mantra is changeable, Harry," Betty called back, "I chose this one to put you at ease..."

"What the helllllll....," I continued as I fell down a seemingly endless vertical tunnel while doing backward flips.

I landed with a splat in hell.  It was the hell of cartoons, with despairing souls escorted into a chamber of flames by grinning demons carrying pitchforks.  Several demons approached and led me into the chamber.  The crowd of tormented people opened, revealing a giant throne maybe 30 feet high, with a fiend of similar dimensions seated upon it.  The demons cast me down before the throne.  Satan leaned over to regard me splayed before him.  When he spoke, flames and smoke issued between his pointed teeth:

Satan: Harry the Human, you miserable worm!  Your mindless curiosity has brought you at last to my world!  

Me: I...uh....

Satan (shouting, sputtering smoke and embers): Bow before me and worship my evil!

Me: What the...hell?

And then it was all gone, like a struck movie set, and I was seated in a booth in what looked like a '50's burger joint, across from a dynamic looking thirty-something guy in a sharp business suit.  I would have taken him for a tax lawyer. 

Satan: Sorry about the theatrics, Harry.  Betty advised me to put you at ease and the hell-show was my way of doing that.  Maybe I made it too realistic?

I said nothing, but looked down uncertainly from Satan's smiling face at a coffee stain on the menu lying before me on the linoleum table.  The special was veal cutlets.

Satan: Harry, I give you permission to ask me whatever you want.  After you hear my answers, you can decide what you think I am.

Satan's new persona with its observant yet easy-going manner relaxed me a bit.

Me: Ok, thanks.  Well, first of all... are you evil?

Satan: Excellent question!  

Me: Thank you.

Satan: As I usually do with tough questions that involve word meanings, I'll begin with etymology.  "Evil" comes from old German, "ubel," a craftsman's term referring to a piece of material that has no use in the thing you are making.  Satan, if evil, would be a being who does not belong in your world.  From this point of view, Satan might possibly belong in a different world.

Me: Hm, and yet you are in this world.

Satan: Yes, the metaphor of "ubel" is incomplete.  A better metaphor is offered by J.R.R. Tolkien (who imagined your friend Gandalf), in his epic The Silmarillion, which is the creation myth of Middle Earth and the background to Lord of the Rings.  The creator of this world is Illuvatar, who forms worlds by composing music.  He discovers that without dissonance, his music and the worlds it produces have no meaning or beauty.  One of Illuvatar's minions, Melkor, writes his own music, which is not compatible with Illuvatar's.  Realizing a solution to his boring world, Illuvatar permits Melkor to insert his music into the primal composition, even though it produces dissonance, because the dissonance adds meaning and beauty lacking in the original.  Thus was produced Middle Earth, with it's dichotomy of good and evil, and thus was produced the beauty of the book.

Me:  I think I follow this, but much evil is not beautiful, just dissonant.  The Holocaust was not beautiful.

Satan: No, it was not.  Tolkien's idea does not suggests that evil is beautiful; it suggests that evil is a structural component of this universe, which is to say it's a structural component of the human psyche.  From an aesthetic perspective, then, it can be argued that evil sometimes "fits."

Me: If evil fits in our universe in any sense, why is it overwhelmingly experienced as negative, painful and bad?  If it's a structural component of our psyches, shouldn't it be, as we say, "natural"?  

Satan: The answer is in the human psyche itself, which is compressed into a tight little ball.  Your impulses derive from a former life, now gone.  Some appetites that evolved to fit that life, such as hunger and sexual desire, may have qualities that do not fit your lives now.  When apes find a bounty of nuts, they eat them all, ending up indolently on their backs with stomachs distended, behavior which makes sense because of shortages to come.  You, because of the surpluses that have bedeviled you since the advent of agriculture, must control your impulse to save nuts for the future (at least in your stomach).  If you do not control the hunger impulse, you face serious health issues.  Hunger beyond immediate need, then, becomes evil, as it does not fit well into your world.

Me: How about sex?  And I have a follow-up question.

Satan:  Promiscuity and fantastical orgies are common in your closest cousins, chimpanzees.  Since baby chimps are raised communally by females, in ways developed over millions of years, the blurring of paternity is not harmful to the young.  Human society, however, has not had a chance to develop over millions of years, but is a jerry-rigged contraption that changes constantly.  In such an unstable environment, you need identifiable fathers to be responsible for specific offspring.  The male sex drive, in as much as it does not lead to paternal caring, does not belong, and is thus evil.  Harry, what is your follow-up question?

Me: Satan, I'm sorry if I'm overstepping bounds here, but, well, I know that when you tempted Jesus in the wilderness, you tempted him with wealth and political power.  But you did not tempt him with sex.

Satan: Who told you that?

Me: That's what the Bible says.

Satan: I did tempt Jesus with sex.  The ancient scribes left that out.

Me: Why would they do that?  

Satan: You tell me.

Me: So, what happened?

Satan: I tempted Jesus with a beautiful woman.

Me: And?

Satan: There were mixed results.

Me: Did he have sex with the woman?

Satan: No, but he masturbated afterwards and thought about her.

Me: What came of that, no pun intended?

Satan: God did not care.  He made clear to Jesus that far from being a sin, masturbation is a sacrament in that it serves God's intention to reserve parenthood for people whom He deems appropriate.  The sin would have been impregnating the woman.

Me: What about the story of Onan, in Genesis?  Didn't God kill Onan for masturbating?

Satan: No.  God killed Onan because he wouldn't ejaculate into his brother's widow, as God had commanded.  Fearing that his bloodline would be subsumed by his brother's, at the moment of climax Onan pulled out, "spilling his seed on the ground."  He was killed for pulling out, not for masturbating.

I pondered that, then came up with a timely question.

Me: Satan, are you and God in opposition on abortion?  That question will be on many people's minds since the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had been holding the fort against designating abortion a sin.  

Satan:  Your secular system does not use the term "sin" in its legal language. 

Me:  No, but our laws follow the outline of religious beliefs.  If enough people think abortion is a sin, the law will follow.  Satan, is abortion a sin?  

Satan sighed, as if fatigued by my limited understanding.  

Satan: Harry, the answer is subjective and open to interpretation.  

Me: Ha!  No wonder you have your evil reputation!  There is not supposed to be anything subjective about sin.  An action is either a sin or not.  

Satan: In a similar vein, you could assert that a fertilized egg either has a soul or it doesn't.

Me: And...does it?

Satan: Everything has a soul, every atom, every quark.  If a thing is perceived and conceptualized, it has a soul.  The question becomes: Is it part of the nature of a soul to exist forever?  If it is, why do people worry so much about its day-to-day welfare?  And finally if, as your mystics preach, eternity resides in each moment, it's not clear what existing forever even means.

Me: I see...well, to return to the question: Is abortion evil?   

Satan: Didn't I just answer that?

Me: Did you?  Sorry, I must have missed it.  I'll have to ponder this when I get home.

I was starting to feel a little queasy.  If Satanism means anything, it means ambiguity, and humans have only so much tolerance for that.  Satan must have sensed my desire to exit.

Satan: Harry, what do you think now?  About me, about evil?

Me: Well, I think it's a cop-out for people to constantly harp about you, blaming you for their impulses, when those impulses don't originate in you.  They originate in ourselves.  You represent the part of us that wants to do the repressed things.  If we blame you we don't have to blame ourselves.

Satan: Nice try, Harry!

The burger joint burst into flames and I was prostrate again before the giant throne, with gigantic Satan again snorting and steaming down at me. 

Satan: How you like me now?

And then- you guessed it (or not)- the monster was gone but, seated on the throne and dwarfed by its size, with his legs dangling over the edge, was the tax lawyer, his shiny black Kiton Monk-Strap shoes now visible.

Satan: Sorry Harry, I guess I've got my own repressed impulses.  

Me: That's ok.  

I felt an urge to get the hell out of there ASAP.  True to her nature, Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess chose that moment to enter the chamber, walk calmly towards the throne, sit on her haunches and regard Satan.

Betty: Hi Satan, how's tricks?  

Satan: Can't complain.  

Betty: Harry, are you ready to return to your world?

Me: Pretty much.

And in half a moment I was back in my desert shack with a lot to think about.  I must apologize if this account is TMI.  As usual, the devil is in the details.

[Send comments to doug.lasken@gmail.com.  For more Harry the Human, click on "Older posts" below right]