|Posted on October 31, 2012 at 7:30 AM|
Today my blog day falls on Halloween itself, so I wanted to do something very special with it. What better topic than to discuss the author of Halloween, Satan? Last week I reviewed several episodes in Star Trek and Doctor Who which throw the word “devil” around like a rag doll, so today I’ll discuss the Next Generation episode, “Devil’s Due.”
In some perverse way, I like this story, despite that the theology is off-kilter—as usual—and in one respect it’s completely reversed. I wonder if Marta du Bois’ poise and beauty has something to do with it.
Du Bois plays Ardra with an air of seduction and deception, two things Satan does best. According to Ventaxian history and “prophecy,” an entity called Ardra had promised 1,000 years of total peace and prosperity. But at the end of the millennium, she would return and make them her slaves.
This is where the theology is backward. Satan doesn’t know how to generate peace for any length of time, much less for 1,000 years; nor would he want to. He does not prevent war, as Ardra claims to have done; he instigates it. The more the gorier. He does not wipe out all disease; rather, he works through man’s disease to destroy him.
When it comes to a millennium of peace and prosperity, this is God’s forte. His plans are told in symbolic fashion in the book of Revelation, plus a few Old Testament books such as Isaiah and Zechariah.
What puzzles me more is why the Ventaxians were required to eschew their high technology and adopt a simple life of agriculture. I can’t see how an entire society can do this without constant complaining from most quarters. Nor can I see either God or Satan being against man’s technology. God works through computers as easily as He works through people; and Satan’s servants would find it a fertile breeding ground for their skills: hackers, spammers, virus writers.
But let’s get back to the story. Starfleet scientists on Ventax call the Enterprise-D because the whole planet has been thrown into sudden panic. Quakes and rioting are common because the Ventaxians believe the world is coming to an end. While Captain Picard tries to allay the administrator’s fears, the ground quakes again, and a woman appears in a flash.
There’s something sinister in these two words that clue us to what we’ll find through the episode. Ardra is dressed in a fashionable black evening gown, a very gorgeous, stately woman with near regal bearing. To prove she is the Ventaxian “devil,” she takes various forms before the away team, mocking them. She appears as a stereotypical version of Satan, complete with horns and a cruel visage. She also changes into Fek’lhr, the Klingon devil.
“You are not Fek’lhr!” says Worf firmly. It does contradict “Day of the Dove,” where Kang claims Klingons have no Devil.
She produces the original contract in a literal flash, which Picard has Data study to determine whether it has loopholes to exploit. The captain is sure Ardra is nothing more than a flimflam artist, albeit one with a flair for the dramatic. Typical of all Trek incarnations, it’s assumed that spiritual or magical powers must have to have a physical source, so they search for it as well.
Deanna Troi’s take on Ardra: “She has an incredibly focused mind. It was virtually impossible to sense any deception … or anything else, for that matter.”
To which Geordi LaForge replies: “The best magicians will never let you see what’s up their sleeve, Counselor.”
It’s hard to see Satan’s deceptions, too. His power is not a mere magic trick—although historically it had been assumed “magic” equaled “sorcery.” Mere sleight-of-hand pales next to the Devil’s schemes. The demonic attacks I had experienced earlier this year are a good illustration of how he works (see July 11).
The concept of selling one’s soul to the Devil is also covered in this episode. Attempting to seduce Picard, Ardra says, “I want your heart, your mind, your soul and I want you to give them to me without resistance, of your own free will.” When he refuses, she sends him down to Ventax in his pajamas, where several people can see him—including LaForge and Data.
Actually, selling our soul to the Devil is another of his myths. When we are born, we already belong to Satan, thanks to our fallible human nature. The transaction’s real purpose is to plunge us deeper into the Occult, where he can completely ruin us. It takes personal commitment to Jesus as our Savior to redeem us—buy us back—from his trap.
Come to find out, Ardra’s power source is located on her ship orbiting Ventax. So is a loophole found, a singular case in which an issue with a Klingon merchant was settled by arbitration rather than through the courts. This was only because the case involved an alien; and since the Starfleet scientists are also aliens to Ventax, Picard uses it.
By hacking into Ardra’s power source, he utilizes it for himself while Ardra finds herself powerless, unable to connect with it. He matches her former tricks, blow for blow. For instance, when he imitates a quake, he asks Ardra to stop it.
Maintaining her usual poise, she says, “I like the quakes.”
“Well, I don’t.” And the temblor stops.
As fun as this arbitration is to watch, the overall assumption is that anything attributed to spirits actually has a material explanation—a typical humanist myth. Yet the Bible is clear that formless, nonmaterial entities do exist. It starts with four little words: “In the beginning, God …” Not Satan. It does not attempt to prove God is real; it merely assumes He is. If we’re to understand the Bible, we also need God “in the beginning.”
Oh, sure, it’s very easy to dismiss the whole business by saying the Word was written by a bunch of superstitious, backward people. It’s also very foolish to say this. “In the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know Him. God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. … **For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom**, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength” (1 Corinthians 1:21, 25).
So what unbelievers call foolish is actually wise. It’s their own materialistic outlook that’s truly foolish, because it fails to take in the bigger picture. Many myths about Satan are trotted out in “Devil’s Due,” some of them without a firm background in antiquity. For instance, the idea he can bring 1,000 years of peace is one such modern myth. The concept of him having horns and a tail was believed by the ancients.
Nevertheless, several of Ardra’s actions are dead-on regarding what the real Devil would do. 1) She looks beautiful and acts businesslike, even with a bit of humor, but her heart is as evil as they come. In the same way, Satan can appear as an angel of light.
2) She seduces Captain Picard so he’ll call his investigation off; sexual harassment of any kind is Satan’s pride and joy.
3) Her deception—taking a bit of history and twisting it to her own benefit—is also one of the Enemy’s tricks. Any good gift from God can be corrupted in Satan’s hands. The stars transform into astrology, medicine becomes drug abuse, human dignity is reduced to pornography—or else it’s discarded altogether.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower [i.e. lower for a little time] than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).
It’s the only way to stop Ardra in her fashionable tracks.
OCTOBER THEME: “DISCOVERY”
NOVEMBER THEME: “HEIRLOOM”
Nov. 2: Chris Henderson at TheWriteChris
Nov. 5: Lynn Mosher at Heading Home
Nov. 7: Tracy Krauss at Expression Express