THE DEVIL LIKES TO SING. By Thomas J. Davis. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2014. 138 pages.
Do you believe in a personal devil? That is often a corollary to questions about whether you believe in Jesus and have accepted him your personal savior. The assumption on the part of many is that the Devil or Satan is the evil counterpart to Jesus. If you believe in one (and belief here doesn’t mean trust, but accept the existence of a being), you are expected to believe in the other. Furthermore, if you believe in the existence of both entities, then you must decide who you will support in what is presumed to be a cosmic battle between good and evil. It’s a bit like the Giants – Dodgers, Yankees-Red Sox rivalries. Many liberal/progressive types reject this rather dualistic understanding of reality. They likely accept the existence of Jesus and may commit themselves to be his follower, but as far as there being an alternative power known as the Devil or Satan that’s a different story. They might affirm the presence of evil, even accepting its systemic presence, but they don’t necessarily want to personalize this power.
Those are, of course theological questions that have taken up the attention of many theologians (and preachers). But much of that conversation is rather abstract. Perhaps one of the reasons why we have tended to personalize evil is that it’s easier to understand the reality of evil. Having something concrete to reflect on can help stir the imagination. Surely that’s one of the benefits of the Harry Potter stories – they help us put a face on evil. C.S. Lewis offered something like this with his Screwtape Letters, and now Thomas J. Davis offers us his take on the matter in The Devil Likes to Sing.