To Reign in Hell: A Novel

Written: February 25, 2015

There’s a lot more to Christianity than the bible. While the bible may be the complete and supreme document, apparently, there’s a bunch of secondary stuff involving angels and archangels. Even Islam has angels. In and out of Christianity growing up I didn’t learn much about the angels and archangels. I couldn’t name two. I’m not even sure many Christians know or believe in angels and archangels. Paradise Lost gets into angel and satan stories. In my mind, according to Christianity, there is God in heaven who rules everything, knows everything, and is everything. He looks like an old dude with a white beard. His son is Jesus. He’s surrounded by angels who help him. Lucifer, aka Satan, disobeyed him and was evicted from heaven and now rules hell, a sulfur-smelling oasis of horrors where youf soul will burn eternally if you commit enough sins. Then there’s purgatory somewhere between Earth and hell.

According to this book, heaven is like Earth except it’s surrounded by the “flux” which comes in waves and destroys angels and archangels, ripping them apart like a black hole. The book doesn’t describe the flux. There’s also cacoastrum which can produce illiaster, a form of internal power. There are seven firstborn beings: Yaweh, Satan, Michael, Lucifer, Raphael, Leviathan, and Belial. If this were a story about the Hobbit, I could get into it, because you have that fictional suspension of belief, but since this book implies something factual by fault of talking about God and the devil, you tend to read it more skeptically.

The story is about how God created the universe (the one in which Earth exists), but in doing so, he needed angels who would risk their lives in the flux. I especially question a world where they have to coerce angels to work and put their lives at risk. If you have such tremendous wisdom, power, and intelligence, can’t you simply convince angels to work for you with the power of reason, charisma, leadership, trust, and vision? Why threaten or coerce them? That doesn’t sound like heaven to me, and it doesn’t sound like leadership either. Of course, this is all fiction. When I look at any religious scripture, first of all, I know that the authors were fallible humans and more often than not imposing their own cultural values and biases on everything they wrote. However, I also leave room for the possibility that they may have been divinely inspired, but what that means is uncertain. Does it mean that some God being gave them a visit when they were fasting in isolation? Or does it mean, when they fasted or did hallucinogens, they activated a spiritual part of their brains that was free of human-centric survivalism and was more in tune with the real neutral state of the universe where our perceptions are not tainted by judging everything as either beneficial to our survival or a liability? In either case, they’re tapping into something meaningful, ironically, that could be beneficial to our survival, sort of thinking outside the box. Institutions have turned these spiritual skillsets into something more like a liability, something that chains us and oppresses us with this new bureaucratic religious hierarchy. When in fact, these messiahs were trying to liberate us and open our minds to a new perspective of the universe that would help us.

The fact that Christianity has turned Mary Magdelene, one of Jesus’ best disciples, into a whore, makes you doubt everything else they say. The fact that Lucifer was once an angel makes you wonder about that system, a system that produces such a villain. Often in companies or any organization, when someone turns bad, it says something about that organization. Some people are just evil. They’ve been abused at a young age and are now incapable of trust. It takes a lot to help and change them. But first, an organization should be able to tell right away if someone is unwilling to change, and they’re basically assholes. Will the organization be proactive and get rid of them or do their best to reform them? Why would an organization allow such a person to stay and cause trouble or even promote them? So supposedly, God created Satan and he couldn’t control him. His disobedience was somehow unavoidable? Doesn’t that say something about that version of God as fallible? Unless of course, he wanted Satan to disobey him. He needed Satan, perhaps as a scapegoat, perhaps as the whip that scares us into not committing sins and being bad, or like that motivational poster, an example for the rest of us as to what not to be. But if you look at any organization, those who hire and promote Satans do so because they cannot directly motivate, inspire, and lead. They need Satans as their henchmen to keep everyone in line. I see this time and time again. Weak leaders attract power-hungry Satans who oppress and tyrannize everyone. The weak leader simply looks the other way. It’s the same thing with dogs. A weak human owner inevitably creates a mean, vicious, over-protective dog. So why would God need Satan unless this version of God is a weak leader?

So in the book, Yaweh wants to create a new universe that is more stable, free from these flux waves, and his strategy is to coerce the angels into building it while risking their lives. Here’s a better strategy. In every society, you have outliers and risk-takers, those willing to risk more for greater glory or gain. So you find them. You create a system where there is greater reward for greater risk. Those putting themselves at greater risk are more likely to die, but those who survive get the best spot in the new universe, get privileges, rewards, recognition, a closer spot to Yaweh, etc. Why flatly coerce everyone, treating everyone the same? The story becomes an absurdity of poor communication and leadership. All Yaweh has to do is meet with Satan and Lucifer, to get them “onboard” so to speak, a “come to Jesus” meeting, to use his intelligence, charm, charisma, wisdom, whatever, to get Satan and Lucifer to back his plan, but instead, he surrounds himself with sycophants who urge him to take arms against Satan and Lucifer. Total bullshit. Humans will never be able to properly describe God. We will always suffer our ignoramus limited intelligence and portray God as this flawed, weak, king or CEO. This book’s God acts more like King Lear than an almighty being. The novel’s dialogue and flow are also abrupt and I never really could get into it, simply glossing over everything in anticipation of the great battle where you know Satan, Lucifer, and Beelzebub lose. Of course, this feels like their story, and hence, you feel more empathy toward them than Yaweh. In the end, Satan laments, Yaweh wants to be worshipped and he will lie in order to do so, while Satan just wants to be accepted. Satan reminds me of all those workers who just want to do a good job and be honest, whereas Yaweh is the big CEO who wants to manipulate and lie to everyone to control them.

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