When we got this dog (Hank, his pound name, has stuck) a month or so ago, my mom expressed surprise. "I just never thought of you as a dog person," were, I'm pretty sure, her exact words. Up to that point, it was my hope that we could just GET a dog without becoming, you know, dog people. I think this hope came from always having cats before. Except for the hairs on your polar fleece and the mug on your desk that says "I live to serve...my cat" or whatever, you can pretty much go through life as an anonymous cat person. But a dog sort of catapaults you into dog personhood whether you plan it or not.
When most every day includes walking the dog, talking about the dog with people you see who have dogs with them and who therefore might be assumed to have interest in dogs, talking about the dog with people who have no interest in dogs whatsoever, picking up the dog poop, going to the pet store for a few toys and a bag of organic dog food, in which, if you look closely you can see the chunks of carrot and rice that prove its naturalness, throwing balls for the dog which he may or may not return to you, hiring ridiculously priced dog personal trainers to come to your house and humiliate you about how unlikely you are to ever be able to manage your dog, calling and talking to alot of other people about the bad experience you had with the dog trainer, going to the pet store and getting something to chew on, finding a new dog trainer and spending even more money, saying 427 times a day to your son "Dont do that to the dog," going to the library to pick up that book everyone says you should read that the monks wrote about dog training, going to the pet store for a new collar to replace the one that got bitten in half, sitting on a bench at the dog park watching your dog exercise, and luring the dog into his crate for a good night's sleep, you have officially become a dog person and I can testify that, as a dog person, THERE IS NOT MUCH TIME LEFT FOR BLOGGING, or really for much else. I know some of you do it, but you also knit and belong to soft ball leagues and watch TV and other distractions I cannot imagine time for.
All this is a long way of saying that I havent been here, or much of anywhere on the blogosphere for weeks and weeks, and I miss you all and I'm trying to come back.
So, gird your loins for a radical topic change because I DO have something specific to ask, and it's a little heavy duty after being off the blog for three weeks. I have a question about evil. Sheesh, is anyone still even reading after that ridiculous dog paragraph? Probably not. But if you are, and if you're feeling theological, read on. It can't possibly be worse than what you've endured already, right?
The senior pastor was talking in a worship planning meeting last night about the book of Job, on which she'll be preaching next month and she was making some comment about Satan "not being REAL of course" and I foolishly chimed up that I believe in Satan, and I would be glad to have a dialogue sermon with her about it, and I think she took me up on it, so now I'm in a pickle.
Here's the thing. Recognizing that there is an evil force at work - whose joy (if I may use that good word for this bad thing) it is to misarrange and break those things that God has made good and perfect (which is to say everything), and who sometimes uses us humans for that purpose - has been very helpful for me in my own personal prayer life and theological development. But that's about all I have to say about it, and it's been a pretty personal thing for me until now. My super progressive denomination doesn't have much to say about evil, even, let alone Satan. And these progressive theology websites (here and here) that are so helpful to me these days aren't really helping either.
So, of course, I'm turning to the blogosphere, source of all real wisdom. What do you believe about Satan - a helpful metaphor? a silly guy with a red face and horns? a real presence? just another way to keep us obsessed with our personal so-called sinfulness and therefore not of use to modern Christians? And, if you're a pastor, extra credit for sharing how you talk about Satan (if you do) in pastoral care or preaching contexts.
Comments from both churchy and unaffiliated types are welcome.