TPD pp 49-51: Allow me to introduce myself

Complacency. Not actual size

Time to meet the bad guys!

Complacency, the demon who had afflicted Our Hero Marshall when he was busy trying to embarrass I MEAN parent his daughter, returns to the secret lair of evil in which the demons are gathering. You guessed it – they lurk under the school, in the “catacombs of the basement level, the area set aside for administration and the private offices of the Psychology Department”.

I get the feeling we’re supposed to greet that particular department with a “boo, hiss!”, but since we’re not Scientologists here, I’ll just point out what dreary offices they have and summarily feel sorry for them:

In this dismal nether world the ceiling was low and oppressive, and crawling with water pipes and heat ducts that seemed like so many huge snakes waiting to drop. Everything — walls, ceiling, pipes, woodwork — was painted the same dirty beige ,and light was scarce.

Can you imagine working there day in and day out? I’m freaked out by anything that seems too institutional or hospital-like; surely psychology professors are aware of the soothing effects that could be gained by painting those walls a sunny yellow instead and adding a few extra lights. The fact that it remains dark and sterile implies they don’t have much clout – they’re certainly not running the show here. Poor guys.

The conference room the demons are lairing in is so dark it’s “more of a presence than a physical condition […] a force, an atmosphere”; I can imagine visibility would be severely limited except for all the glowing going on. Each demon’s eyes are glowing yellow, and their bodies are outlined in a red glow that matches just perfectly in this Vegas headline.

Demons apparently all hate each other as well; Complacency, the smallest of the demons, can “sense their common disdain for him”, but he considers them “belligerent egotists” anyway so what does he care. Bullying is a problem in our demon-infested schools, it seems; won’t someone think of poor Complacency, just trying to get by, being picked on for being small? It’s not his fault Mommy Sloth and Daddy FuckThisShit passed on stunted genes!

He meets two “demons who specialized in hate” and “a demon of lust”, as well as Deception, Murder, Lawlessness, and finally, Lucius [Malfoy], the Prince of Ashton. It’s around this time that I begin to wonder about the naming scheme here. Why is it “a demon of lust” and not “Lust”? Could the names indicate ranking? But then, why is he the smallest and (heavily implied) the weakest? Why is he getting picked on if he’s at least mid-rank? Or perhaps he just doesn’t know the exact names of these particular hate and lust demons. But there can only be so many. There’s Lust, and Masturbation, and CovetingThyNeighbor, and Pornography, and KinkySex, and Homosexuality… you’d think each of these demons would look very different. This one is a “slithery creature”with a “slippery hide” – so some kind of alligator or snake? He says to Complacency–

oh, hang on. In dialogue, he’s called “Lust”. It could just be capitalized at the beginning of the sentence, but….

Well now I’m even more confused. If “a demon of lust” is the same as Lust, then are both the “demons who specialize in hate” called Hate? How on earth do they specify, then? I suppose they don’t have actual names, and the formality among demons is to refer to them by their titles.

Except for Lucius. He has a name AND a title and his title tells you nothing about his specialty and everything about his geography. I suppose Complacency is probably Complacency of Ashton, and there’s a different Complacency at each post? Or is this little guy flying all around the world handling everything?

Complacency approaches Lucius, musing all the while about how mean and nasty Lucius is and how he was always punishing his subordinates. Nevertheless, he is “desperate and enraged” — probably not a good state for a demon that feeds on complacency — enough to risk Lucius’ wrath. Not only that, he outright censures him, insisting that he’s “making a mistake” by “bothering Hogan’s daughter”, causing him to cast the demon off rather than succumb. He’s careful to insist that it’s in no way his fault, of course, but Lucius smacks him around anyway.

Then Lucius calls the most stunning of character witnesses, Deception, to back him up. Deception, of course, insists that they were in no way attacking Sandy Hogan. Nope. They were just having a nice friendly chat. She invited them over for tea, it seems. Incidentally, we learn that Deception himself is working on Sandy Hogan, implying that the girl’s sin is…

Wait, hang on. Is being deceived a sin?

Apparently so: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”  (Eph 5:6) This link uses that and other verses to make a pretty strong case that deception is no excuse for sin; apparently deception, or the state of believing the lies told to you by someone supposedly knowledgeable or in charge, is a sin. On the other hand, being lied to seemed to work out pretty well for Isaac and Jacob and David, so apparently it’s only bad if you’re not Chosen or something.

I would have guessed that deceiving others was sinful, but apparently Sandy Hogan’s sin is being deceived just like her father’s is being “complacent”. On that cheery note, I’m going to stop here for the time being. Hopefully one of my Christian readers can put us more at ease as to the validity of that point of view within scripture.

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6 Responses to TPD pp 49-51: Allow me to introduce myself

  1. Jarred H says:

    This naming of demons is just one of many signs of the convoluted weirdness of the spiritual warfare thinking. On the one hand, they have this idea (and I’m not sure where it even comes from, and I was part of the movement) that there are demons that specialize in particular sins. But then, you have the whole idea the “prince of Bablylon” in…Isaiah, I think[1], as well as the Ephesians 6 reference to battles against “spiritual in high places” that suggest there are demonic “princes” of cities and entire regions.

    The amount of time classifying and describing the demonic hierarchies is astounding, when you think about it.

    Glad to see a new deconstruction post, by the way. I’m actually promoting and discussing your deconstruction on my blog on Wednesday. Hope you don’t mind.

    [1] This is supposed to be, of course, the previous battle with Rafar that Tal and Guilo mentioned in earlier pages.

    • yamikuronue says:

      Huh, I had no idea that was meant to be a specific biblical allusion. It had been my recollection that most angel taxonomies and specific angels were not present in the Bible itself, but in supplementary material, so I didn’t even think to check for a biblical Prince of Babylon. Glad to have readers who are familiar with that sort of thing – my fiancee is nominally Christian but hardly the most steeped in Christian culture or Biblical lore.

    • I didn’t know there was an actual hierarchy, in my spiritual warfare christianity upbringing it was just…everything we don’t like was a “demon” to be prayed away.

  2. Literata says:

    Hi, yamikuronue! I’m no expert on the ideas of demonic and angelic hierarchies, but there is in fact a long history of complex taxonomies of these things, going well back into Catholic lore. Some evangelical Christians are very concerned with naming and classifying these, and some less so. In my limited experience, they tend to be interested in hierarchies especially where there are corresponding hierarchies or power structures on earth – the demon that rules over Japan, for example, would be superior over all the local demons within that area. This is usually backed up with some “powers and principalities” proof-texting, plus lots of allusions to Dante and Milton’s type of Catholic mythology taken as literal fact.

    On the other hand, there’s a clear implication that “spirits” can be in more than one place at one time, perhaps because “the Holy Spirit” can also be, and historically many people can be calling on an angel or saint simultaneously. Peretti’s insistence on characterizing demons (and angels) as having physical instantiation causes problems here, which is why he basically glosses it the way you point out.

    All in all, I suspect that this clumsy elision works for his readers because when they engage in “spiritual warfare,” they don’t visualize themselves as being possessed or oppressed by Howie, Second Jr Assistant Demon of Lust in Arlington Heights, who is showing a talent for latent homoeroticism and bucking hard for promotion to Jr Assistant in the Lust Department, with an eye to taking over most of Cleveland’s lustfulness one day… Oh, no, they are, each and every one of them, being bothered by Lust hirself.

    To me, there’s some potentially interesting nuggets in there about how this kind of thinking is quasi-polytheistic and raises some issues similar to those contemporary Pagans wrestle with – aspect or independent? – but the whole setting is so warped that I’d rather do positive theaology instead. I enjoy reading your deconstructions, though, so please keep up the good work!

  3. Jarred H says:

    By the way, did you intentionally leave this post uncategorized or did you just forget to add it to the TPD category?

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