I think folks worry too much about Satan, the Devil, ol’ Lucifer, Just Plain Evil – whatever you want to call it.
Through the last half dozen decades or so, people have variously proposed that demonic evidence abounds in music (remember “back-masking,” i.e. playing tapes backward?) or in print advertising, replete with subliminal messages or demonic logos.
According to many, the ol’ Prowling Lion of the Good Book operates within movies, television, music, vaccines, the government and even within our schools.
I must admit, the technology of playing a tape backward (is that reel-to-reel?) still has me baffled to this day. I barely comprehend most lyrics on the airwaves, let alone detect secret messages. And as for print, I have yet to see the hidden picture in one of those optical illusion posters with all those squiggly lines. How on earth could I be expected to see subliminal images in an ad?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a naive Pollyanna with her head in the sand. I believe that evil is alive and well on this planet. I need only check the breaking news app on my phone, tune into the 5 o’ clock news or pass a newsstand to come to that conclusion.
The issue is not whether such things are in fact taking place. The issue is that for most of us, who never played a tape backward or studied secret advertising messages and who believe that teachers are just trying to get through a school day without a migraine, ol’ Lucifer reserves his “lazy bones method.” He hides in plain sight. It’s easier, quicker and far more effective.
To illustrate, in the early 80s, singer Terry Gibbs recorded a song titled “Somebody’s Knocking.” The lyrics included the following lines:
“Somebody’s knocking; should I let him in?
Lord, it’s the devil; would you look at him?
I heard about him, but I never dreamed he’d have blue eyes and blue jeans.”
Yes, that may be how “the devil” devises his best work: in plain sight. So much of our time and energy is wasted trying to find evil in complicated technical feats or complex conspiracy theories, when the devil may be right under our noses “in blue eyes and blue jeans.”
For instance, relationships have taken quite a beating in the last three years. In my own circle, differences of opinion about politics, public health and school curriculum have divided families and severed friendships. I am sure that ol’ prowling lion of the scriptures sits back on his haunches and snickers, “That was easy. All I had to do was hide in plain sight.”
When we are short-tempered with our children, uncooperative with co-workers or mean-spirited to the 16-year-old who took the last parking spot on the block, we’ve been had. I have seen more damage rendered to humans through ill will, false accusations, poor communication and divisiveness than any amount of subliminal advertising, technical feats or conspiracy theories.
The sad truth is that for most of us, the devil just doesn’t have to work very hard.