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----------------- Original Message -----------------
Date: 09 Jul 2007, 01:05

Brother Al Barger has posted a new comment about you on MySpace!

According to your privacy settings, all comments must be approved by you before they appear on your profile.

Brother Al Barger's Comment:

"Sister Mary- I like having you for a top friend because seeing your icon gives me a special little warm friendly feeling every time I go to my MySpace page. Thank you.

Knowing you to be a spiritually serious person, perhaps in your meditations you'd be interested in this photo essay on Satan, comparing historical images and ideas about the devil."

----------------- Original Message -----------------

Sister this comment came in from Al Barger I don't feel that I can except it could you click on the site here where there is pictures of the devil do not no why he sent this to me but please advise me on this .I don'y think its just a debate about the devil which I want no part of dear sister love you lots and always needed to share tis Al I've talked to quite a bit and He does no about Jesus now just do not no why he has added the people that do not believe in God back but my profile on His top friends tell them about Jesus there is hope for Al sister thank you in helping me with Him but this comment I do not no I do not like anything about the devil it seems to make fun of everything about the devil but click on the site on this comment and see what its purpose is because I don't understand why he would want me to display this .Sister Al worries mre sometimes I just no inside He can be a great help to others if he just sets it in his heart and mind but my gutt feeling is not to except this comment even through most of it makes fun of the devil I just would prefur to have nothing to do with these images .Maybe by reading them You can help through prayer on figureing out how to help Al he has sent nice comments before about the Lord and Bible verses to I excepted theem but dearest sister this comment I need to find out from you why he would sent it and exactly what its suppose to mean love you lots sister and yes we should stay cheered up as much as possiable for the Lords return I just Pray the Rapture is before all the tribulation and I 'am pretty sure that it is because the Bible states that it is more then not Love always my sister and here are some xxxxxx's oooooo's till later .

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Mary my sister, you needn't be afraid of the devil, at least not in the way and to the extent as you display here. If you really believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, and you are approaching such study in good faith to understand your enemy, then why would you be afraid? Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of darkness, I will fear no evil. Also, I might here invoke Titus 1:15, "To the pure all things are pure: but to them that are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled."

I don't have images of Satan just to try to be funny or post modern or ironic or whatever. I have some seriousness of intent. Granted, I'm not a believer in a literal Lucifer walking around - but I certainly do believe in the evil that the character symbolizes.

If you study on the images and my text with them, you'll see that there are several different ways of thinking about this character. There are the comedic representations of Satan in South Park and SNL. But breaking those down a little, consider how Lovitz portrayed the devil as the all time loser. That seems like a healthy way to think of him.

Then again, as a believer you might consider that to not be taking him seriously enough. In this much less religious era, people often don't take the idea of evil seriously enough - whether or not you believe in a literal devil with cloven hooves. People are often very anxious to psychologize and blather on 100 different ways about childhood traumas or whatever rather than say that some people are wicked and evil, knowing the good but freely choosing the very bad.

This point has been very clear to me in this post 9/11 era, for example. I can very well sympathize with why people were straining to find images of Satan in smoke from the WTC, as per one of the pictures in my essay. Those people had the devil in them, whether you take that figuratively as I do or more literally as you might.

Even beyond not being much of believer in ghosts and things that I can't see - being a Doubting Thomas - I would be dissatisfied with a lot of carrying on about the devil even as a believer. I might would tend to take some of this as a dereliction of personal responsibility. When you say that the devil made you do it, you're trying to pass the buck. Why, some outside force came along and made you do something you really didn't want to do.

But most of those images of the devil in my essay are not at all humorous or jokes, but serious representations of different ways of thinking about what evil is and where it comes from. When Mick Jagger sings about the devil as a sophisticated "man of wealth and taste," that's perhaps one good way of thinking about him. There's a seductive appeal to the wit and sophistication of Hannibal Lecter.

But does the devil do his work (again, literally or metaphorically) primarily by trickery and wit? I suspect not. Consider some of those older, medieval images that present Satan as an animal, and generally a nasty and not at all attractive one.

This seems to me to be the truest and most useful way of considering the devil. Mostly people aren't doing really bad things because they've been tricked, and don't really understand what they're doing. No, most real wickedness comes from people knowing better but consciously choosing to indulge their lower animal instincts. A man damn well knows that it's not right to go shoot his ex and her new guy - but he's full of animal rage, and it viscerally feels really good and empowering to unload - if only for a minute. That's animal rage, not some clever seduction.

Hopefully this gives you a clearer understanding of my intent with the Satanic photo essay, and why I would recommend it to you in particular. It seems like this would be of more specific interest to a believing Christian than to a secularist.

Beyond the devil pictures though, I understand your confusion about me as a non-believer. Again, my lack of belief is not a defiance of God and definitely not a mark of presumed superiority. Please take it as a sign of humility, in that I would not presume to know The Answers to how we got here. That's WAY above my pay grade.

But if there is a God - and there might be - then He gave me a brain, and it's my top duty (in which I am admittedly sometimes derelict) to use it as best I can. It is our special gift as humans, the 99% main thing that separates and elevates us from other animals. I would consider it a grave sin to abuse this power by, for example, talking myself into believing in stuff that doesn't really make sense to me.

If there really IS a God, moreover, He doesn't seem to want us to really know that for sure. It would be easy enough for Him to physically manifest himself in an unambiguous manner and lay down clear and detailed rules for how we should behave. I haven't seen anything like that. As I've said before though, if He's up there and wants something specific from me different than what I'm doing, I'm all ears. I'm not trying to be defiant.

But that doesn't mean that there isn't a God. It might be - and this would make more sense to me, for what that's worth - that He wants us to figure some things out for ourselves using these powerful brains He gave us.

Perhaps He isn't particularly concerned with a petty egotistical human need for praise and worship, but is more interested in us doing right amongst ourselves. That certainly seems to be the message of Jesus in the New Testament.

We don't need to just blindly know that "thou shalt not..." or He's going to blast you, but to understand and freely choose the good. That free choice depends, however, on understanding. That is the underlying point of why I would be interested in studying images of Satan, not because it's funny or hip or ironic somehow.

You're confused and unsettled about my simultaneous interest in both you and the non-believers. You needn't be. For starters, consider that Jesus made a big point of associating with the sinners and even the *#($ tax collectors. Take my social interests in that perspective.

Beyond your issues of believers vs atheists, if you look through my friends listings you'll see very many people espousing beliefs I most emphatically do not share. For example, I am pretty much of a hardcore Goldwater Republican - but I make a big point to make friends with all kinds of left wingers and socialists and such. There are a lot of reasons for that, but to summarize it in your language, I think that's what Jesus would do.

Beyond that, though, I don't try to pick my pals based on shared ideology. I'm not primarily judging people based on whether they share the right political or religious beliefs, but on more specifically personal things, such as how they treat other people - especially me and mine. I've known plenty of people who share common interests with me that I think are nonetheless big jerks or not serious people whom I'd want to be close to personally.

In that vein lie a lot of the atheist types with whom I make MySpace friends. I might theoretically agree more with some of them than with you, but I will tend to find some of them to be arrogant and mean spirited. It takes a little bit of chosen tolerance on my part to accept them, and that part definitely represents a conscious reaching out past my personal distaste in some cases.

You, on the other hand, are easy to love and cherish. The light of Godly love shines out of you, as does your spiritual seriousness. Why wouldn't someone want you as a best friend, whether or not they agree with everything you believe? I might choose to make friends with some know-it-all atheist, but it's an obvious point to me that you're the SunShine that I'd want to see first thing on the front page when I go to MySpace.

I hope that this explains my interest in these images of Satan, and why I would present them specifically to you. I apologize if I have caused you spiritual consternation, but do please understand that I'm not doing so just to be funny.

With agape love,



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