LIFE BYTES: And the Devil Laughed

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s a different kind of story from Pioneer contributor Kay Stoltz with a familiar theme.

By Kay Stoltz

“Boss, we’re losing the battle. Even my best can’t make any headway.”

“Redleaf, I know.” Devil answered. “But listen to this. Remember when the big guy sent a god in human form? With promises of life forever? No pain, no sickness, help the blind to see, ya-ta-ta-ya-ta-ta? We can use that”

“But how?” Redleaf answered. “We can’t use extra powers to turn people to our side. That’s the rules.”

“Rules are meant to be broken, remember that.”

“OK, what’s the plan?”

“First, unrest, distrust. Then the vehicle to carry out our plan. Come on, time to get moving!”

They moved to their workroom, far beneath them where the elements of pestilence, poverty, war and disasters are kept.

“I hardly remember being in here, it’s been such a long time, Boss.”

“Mankind’s been successful at wars and other disasters, and they didn’t need us. Today we need a stronger arsenal, more persuasive weapons in our fight against Good.” His evil tone made Redleaf squirm, glad he was not one of the targets.

And the Devil Laughed.

Meanwhile, in Tombusket, in the Pacific Northwest, USA, a pastor and his wife are arguing.

“Look, Wayne, I didn’t sign on to a tiny salary or to live in this “Hickville”.

“Careful, Gloria, remember where you came from. A small town like this “Hickville”, wasn’t it? But listen, I expect big money in the next few weeks. That rancher across the way? He’s hooked and he’s worth three big ones every week. Now all you have to do is be really friendly with his wife. That’ll get them involved and on our side. We can make some good money here.”

“OK, I’ll make a date with her.”

Redleaf watches this exchange and thinks how easy his job is going to be. Just push Gloria to be a little greedier, and we have her and her new friend playing right into our hands. Pastor Wayne will get more money from the rancher, and down the path to the Devil. Redleaf laughs at the gullible frailty of humans.

On the way to the bank, Wayne is also laughing. The pastor, a Man of God, sees money and saving souls in his future. He learned his engaging ways from his father, a small-time gambler who could charm the face off a clock. Wayne wants more. With a degree in religious studies, he looks for a struggling church in a small town. A town with wealth, careful practices and a thrifty lifestyle. Important people with money and stature also need to be saved. And he is the one to do it. Tombusket is perfect.

Wayne is saving souls; the congregation loves him. And rewards him in the collection plate. Soon the soul work and money work blend together. Wayne and Gloria are seduced by the ease of expanding their wealth. They exude confidence and with their impeccable manners and fashionable dress, they are the model of successful pastor and wife. Wives in the church become convinced the way to heaven, (at least on earth), is to have stuff, expensive stuff, look like a fashion plate, and be able to entertain with pretty dishes and linens. Meanwhile, their husbands look at Gloria, compare her perfect body with the out-of-shape bodies of their wives, and imagine Gloria in their bed.

Looking on, Redleaf chortles with glee. “Look, Boss, we have Envy, Greed, Pride, and Lust; more than half the deadly sins. We can spread this throughout the world.”

“I am looking at a bigger endeavor. And I noticed your small church has grown. Wayne’s sermons attract people from half the state, and they are building a Mega-Church. Suppose we spread this to the entire world?”

“Wow, Boss. What have you planned now?”

And the Devil laughed

“While you were checking on the pastor and his wife, I concocted something of my own. Something which will send the humans on earth scurrying to find respite. With any luck, we’ll have wars, pestilence, famine and greed! Everything in one package.”

“What can I do?”

“Find me candidates to spread propaganda, to keep people ignorant of the facts. You have your Pastor. Do you have more? Yes? Excellent.”

“Now will you tell me what the plan is?”

“Yes, it’s a virus so new and deadly earthlings have no cure for it. Because of the men you control, more than half the population won’t believe the virus is real, won’t take precautions, will convince others not to believe. These leaders will be our instruments of doom. We’ve got them, Redleaf!”

Back on earth, Gloria complains, “I don’t have makeup to last the month, Wayne!”
“Because of the virus, they’ve shut us down, no one in church, no collection, no money. However, I will talk to the mayor, convince him of the need to conduct services.”

Speaking to the Mayor, Pastor Wayne is adamant, “You can’t shut my church down! People need the Church and each other! They need to hear the word of God.”

“OK, OK, remember social distancing. Wear masks.”

“Sure thing. I’ll tell them.”

And sure thing, fourteen days later, twenty parishioners are struck with the virus. Unconvinced, Pastor Wayne and the remaining people gather to worship. The virus-affected people grow. Hospitalizations increase, front line workers are weary, pushed to the limit. Still, the sceptics insist on gathering even with warnings and high counts. They flock to hear the leaders say the dangers are lies and do not believe medical experts. The leaders insist the tales are meant to keep people in their place. Some leaders are infected. Increasingly people become convinced the threat is real.

Alas for poor Redleaf, his leaders can’t influence enough people and truth prevails.

The uncommon sense of common people believing in a higher Being aren’t persuaded Evil will win. They attend their churches, temples, synagogues, quiet places—virtually; and pray to their God, their higher Being. And healers build defenses of protection until the Virus is defeated.

The Devil Laughs No More …