In light of our world’s current bio-psycho-social-spiritual conflict, I wanted to bring a reminder, to help us understand, that such tension and dissension has been around since the very beginning, of time. And perhaps, by visiting Goethe’s Faust, we can be reminded, of the need for truth, direction and redemption.
His name was Faust, and he is the leading character in the tragic play, written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
In the play, Faust is a man, dissatisfied with the limits of human knowledge and wants nothing less, than to be ... a god. Soon, he meets Mephistopheles, a devil character, in whom he confides, regarding knowing the limits of human knowledge. In turn, Mephistopheles ingratiates himself to Faust, making a deal, using black magic; that if he engages in pleasure, sloth, or if his spiritually stagnates, he forever belongs to Mephistopheles. And Faust, dissatisfied with his life, makes a pact with this Devil, to exchange his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.
I am a part of the part beginning everything was,
a part of the darkness that gave birth to the light
The proud light that now gave birth to Mother Night,
the old Rank that space disputes
Wow! Talk about selling your soul to the devil!
But ... the devil, he is a liar and the father of lies. And by all means, the victim of his own creation. But it is here, that we must realize that the position of the Son of God, is anterior to Satan - and the very power by whom Satan was created.
We must also recognize from a Christian orthodox position, that light is primary, and the darkness is secondary and derivative ... a theology that is profound.
Below are lines written from a Christian orthodox position, by author Dorothy Sayers from her work The Whimsical Christian. It is a conversation between Mephistopheles and Faustus, speaking in the presence of the judge, before whom a lie cannot live:
Faustus: Who made thee?
Mephistophles: God; as light makes the shadow.
This is the acknowledgment of derivation. Later follows:
Faustus: What art thou, Mehphistopheles?
Mephistopheles: I am the price that all things pay for being.
The shadow on the word, thrown by the world
Standing in its own light, which light is God.
Whether or not the lines above are "good", they reveal a fundamental issue; that Evil, is "the price, that all created and material things, pay for being; with the exception of God, Who is not a "thing".
For created things, along with the reality of God, we understand there is possibility of not-God. To the in-organic, this is only known as change, not as evil. For creatures, organic, but without self-conscious, there is both, change and pain. For humans, we are left with the mystery, although not in a position to solve it, since we don't have the ability of knowing what pain may be like to the unself-conscious organism.
But for the self-conscious creature, the not-God now becomes identified or understood as change; passively expressed as pain, intellectual, moral error or evil, and potentially activated by the will.
We know that the possibility of evil exists, from the moment a creature is made and can love and do good because it chooses to, and not because it is unable to do anything else. But we also know that the actuality exists from the moment as creature is made, that "choice" can be exercised in the wrong direction. It is called, sin.
Considered moral evil, sin is the deliberate choice of the not-God. And as the forefathers of faith have lovingly reminded us that; sin, "hamartos", to miss the mark, is the root of it.
It is considered the refusal to accept the creaturely status; and making a difference between self and God becomes an antagonism against God. Satan, "thinks himself impaired," and in that moment he chooses that evil shall be good, as Milton shows.
The making clear of what it is, is that evil is the soul's choice for the not-God. God does not send anyone to hell, it is the choice of the not- God.
As we can be reminded, that in the beginning, Satan and his followers chose the not-God, and that is what we know as ... hell.
In closing, a new note comes in the presentation of Mephistopheles:
Where are you damned?
How comes it then that thou art out of hell?
Why this is hell, and nor am I out of it:
Think'st though that I who saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with the thousand hells
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?
May we be drawn to the Primary Light of God in the New Year and Beyond, and a Love that never lets go.
Paulette Jackson is licensed professional counselor in Middle Tennessee. Follow more of her writing at The Conversant Counselor.