Woland and Lindall: More on "Satan's Peculiar 'Grace'"
. . . with a witch bowing in reverence . . .
In Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, Woland -- a stand-in for Mephistopheles, himself a stand-in for Satan, and thus Woland is Satan -- responds to a request for mercy from Margarita:
"One thing remains, perhaps: to procure some rags and stuff them in all the cracks of my bedroom."This is certainly peculiar of Woland, but according to Wikipedia, "Woland's name itself is a variant of the name of a demon who appears in Goethe's Faust: the knight Voland or Faland." And Mr. Faland Em, as my novella shows, can -- even with contracts signed in blood -- draw upon an "extralegal reservoir of mercy to wash away the binding signatures and thereby release the contractee," a peculiar sort of grace available here. Of course, he can only do so by God's grace . . .
"What are you talking about, Messire?" Margarita was amazed, hearing these indeed incomprehensible words.
"I agree with you completely, Messire," the cat mixed into the conversation, "precisely with rags!" And the cat vexedly struck the table with his paw.
"I am talking about mercy," Woland explained his words, not taking his fiery eye off Margarita. "It sometimes creeps, quite unexpectedly and perfidiously, through the narrowest cracks. And so I am talking about rags . . ." (Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita, 1997, translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, page 131)
Speaking of which . . . Terrance Lindall has added some remarks about Satan's peculiar grace by way of a promise:
Actually I am soon to write up my Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione. It expands on "Satan's Peculiar Grace."Robert J. Wickenheiser disagreed with Lindall, raising the stakes by challenging his citation of St. Augustine:
In it I expound on the nature of our place in the world, what the world is, the necessity of evil and the million other things I have been talking about for years. The new idea is that in fact "I" am and will always be the original Adam (how? read my tractatus). I have experienced the paradise of the ignorant bliss of childhood and then was brought "knowledge of good and evil" by my experience of the world around me (the world is the apple and my engaging with it is my bite and taste of it) . Although I fell from grace of loving all people around me because of what I perceived as evil, I eventually became reconciled through knowledge itself and was through knowledge elevated to "understanding." I came to realize that this is "the best of all possible worlds." I have been redeemed to Paradise!
"Love the sinner, hate the sin." So too, Satan should be loved!
"Love the sinner, hate the sin" is from St. Augustine. His Letter 211 (c. 424) contains the phrase Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum, which translates roughly to "With love for mankind and hatred of sins." The phrase has become more famous as "love the sinner but hate the sin" or "hate the sin and not the sinner" (the latter form appearing in Mohandas Gandhi’s 1929 autobiography).
Now you can ague that Satan is a special case and should be hated. But I argue further that Satan plays an important role in God's plan.
St. Augustine (whose name I bore in the monastery) did indeed say "Love the sinner, hate the sin," but he NEVER intended it to be applied to Satan, and I defy you to find a passage in Augustine in which he makes such application or even hints at it. And "With love for mankind and hatred of sins" does not in any way refer to the evil fallen angel below, called Satan.Lindall responded:
Bob has rightly chastised me! But the dialogue/dialectic is engaged. In the fires of the the dialectic the gold of Truth will be revealed. As Milton said "Let her (Truth) and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?" Satan get thee gone!In defense of Lindall's views, I might note that since the Middle Ages, the Russian Orthodox Church has had prayers offered for the salvation of Satan -- if he happens to repent. I am therefore open to Lindall's 'Orthodox' view on Satan -- that Christians ought to pray for Satan's repentance. However, I have some qualms about the view that "knowledge" will save us. Wisdom might be a better candidate for that role, particularly the wisdom of knowing that we often have no inkling as to the repercussions of our actions, a point that Lindall appears to acknowledge. Wisdom thus counsels caution where knowledge forges boldly ahead, secure in its self-assurance that it knows the causes and effects, the reasons and results, the actions and reactions . . . often only to stumble badly.
But the fact is that most evil in the world, although INSPIRED by Satan is actually performed by man. Satan offers his "color" and we are inspired to action!
We do not have to fear Satan. We just have to be vigilant about not succumbing to our own base inclinations . . . greed, ambition, hatred, jealousy, etc. We must stand just like Christ on the mount who was offered the world.
It is our duty to be knowledgeable about the repercussions of our actions . . . if bad, the result will not be good even for the one whose actions result in some perceived gain from doing injury to others. And for the leaders and thinkers, it is their duty to pass on this knowledge. Unfortunately we do not live in that kind of world with philosopher kings. So the world is very "colorful" and artists like Bien or writers like Jeffery or Carter have a lot of material with which to work. Thus Satan is the patron saint of many artists and writers.
"No man knowingly does evil." - Plato's Socrates in The Meno
"Ultimately knowledge will redeem man!" - Terrance Lindall
I therefore eagerly await Lindall's Tractatus, and not only for his views on knowledge, but its appearance is probably going to take some time . . .