complexity

Even Satan Knows He Does Not Exist

Photo by  NASA  on  Unsplash

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Pastor Brian Zahnd was explaining Satan to those of us who do not take the Satanvery seriously. Generally those are the people who are in the west, highly educated, wealthy, “rational” and suspicious of those things that are unscientific. A decent sized group of people.

In his efforts to explain the Devil, Zahnd described the way meteorologists would describe a hurricane. Hurricanes are powerful, destructive and are even given anthropomorphic names. But even as we name a hurricane, we know that the hurricane is the result of complex systems intermingling and colliding with each other. The hurricane cannot exist on its own.

Likewise Satan is powerful, destructive and given a name. We know that Satan is the result of complex systems intermingling and colliding with each other. As such, Satan cannot exist on its own. Satan is the result of the most complicated systems interconnected with the most complex animal on the planet.

Those of us who have read Stanley Hauerwas may recall how he wrote in his book Matthew, “That is why the devil is at once crafty but self-destructively mad, for the devil cannot help but be angry, recognizing as he must that he does not exist.”

Give me complexity not complicated

Wikipedia says over 350 million Rubiks cubes have been sold. There are only about 315 million people in the United States. If you are like me and cannot solve the damn thing, or if you are like my bother and can solve the bube in seconds, you cannot deny that the cube is a bit of a hit. 

Regardless of how complex the cube is, it would be harder to solve if there were complicating factors. For instance, what if every time you turned the cube, someone punched you in the gut? Or what if the cube was covered in butter and you had to wear mittens? Even the most skilled rubiks solver would find it impossible to solve the complex puzzle with such complicating factors.

This is all obvious and yet, we church folk are great at making things complicated. 

One time I asked a church member at a previous church to get plates for the kitchen. The person was under the impression that they needed to get permission from some people. And so for weeks the church was without plates because the person responsible for getting the plates was out asking people who he needed to talk with to approve the plate selection. 

What the heck? They are plates. They need to hold food. That is the requirement for plates. Yet this person, with the greatest of intentions was complicating a rather simple task.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

The church does not need to dumb down theology or spirituality or membership vows or church committees or anything else. We would best be served by embracing our complexity.

The mysteries of creation are already complex enough, we don't need to complicate them.