Have you seen the memes showing Jesus and Satan as musclebound arm wrestlers? Sometimes people share it sincerely and sometimes as a joke, but either way, it’s pretty popular. The two of them are locked in a pitched battle, biceps bulging, veins popping, sweat pouring down their faces as they struggle to gain the advantage.
Even when we share this image ironically, it’s a little too easy to unintentionally internalize the idea that this is what spiritual battle is like: God vs. the devil, two equally matched, opposite forces locked in combat. Even Catholics who should know better fall into yin-yang thinking, imagining the universe as a battle ground where two immense, abstract forces are held in eternal tension.
This is actually a heresy, or part of several popular heresies, including manicheism and some forms of gnosticism. Let’s call it “dualistic cosmology”. Whatever you call it, it’s baloney. You’re giving Satan way too much credit, and understanding far too little about God.
Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.
Image: A canvas wall art rendition of Jesus and Satan arm wrestling, available through Amazon
4 thoughts on “Omnipotent, ineffable, unmeme-able”
Faith, Hope, and Charity. The greatest of these is Charity.
Amen!!! Beautiful meditation which I shared with many…
Oh, Simcha! That was a wonderful essay. Such a vivid, helpful image (“now imagine…an actual piece of soot…” vs. the sun), and such a clear, succinct description of how much infinitely greater our God is than that minuscule speck-of-soot Satan.
Picturing what you described as I read actually made me laugh — a laugh of surprise at the disproportion, but also a laugh of victory, joy, and security in Jesus.
Thanks for another great ‘blog post!