An Excerpt About the Devil

Lord it has sucked around here lately, I know. But here’s a little of what I’ve been working on instead. I’ll set the scene. Hannah has just acquired the Devil’s baby from the police in Greenwood, Mississippi, and stopped at the Walmart in Grenada to pick up some things. She meets the Devil in the Baby aisle:


“Hell is no place for a baby,” he walked on as if it was a matter of fact, but I noticed that he clenched the side of the cart as he said it. “I want her to have a different life. Who I am now is not who she has to be.”

I didn’t know what to say. Like I said, I wasn’t really brought up with a concept of the Devil as a tangible actual being. According to our family, and thus religious, upbringing, he was simply the personification of the force of Evil and not someone you would run into in Walmart.

But what’s one more weird thing, right?

I  just hadn’t been prepared for a grieving demon.

“But you’re the boss,” I said. “Couldn’t you keep her safe?”

“That’s the thing,” he explained. “You’re never the boss. Not completely. No matter how powerful you are, there’s always someone looking for a chance. And that someone, even if you don’t know who he is yet, has power over you. Once you realize someone out there is watching, you start to change your behavior, you start to imagine what they might do to you, what you might do that gives them an opening.

“Half of their hardest work is done for them by you, once you start to imagine them out there, plotting against you.

“And if she stayed? How could I not teach her to do the same? What kind of life would that be?”

“One wonders,” I said. By this time, we were deep in the grocery aisles, rolling past brightly colored boxes of things you eat only when you’re a child or stoned, which was slightly different than the aisle of brightly colored packages of things you eat only when you’re a child, stoned, or stressed. “This is pretty selfless of you,” I pointed out the obvious. He was cooing over the baby now.

“It’s the chance I give all my kids,” he shrugged.

“You do this all the time?” I said, starting to get annoyed.

He grinned slyly at me and said, “Condoms feel funny.”

Dems Have to Roll Over Before They Can Learn to Crawl Before They Can Learn to Walk

So, y’all remember that Brad Parish invited me to help moderate the debate between the three candidates for TNDP chair? Other than that, I’ve had no contact with him, but I found him, while working with him on the debate, to be very thoughtful and very concerned about how to improve the Tennessee Democratic Party. I remember coming away from the experience feeling like “Yeah, hey, this is nice. We have a wide swath of Democrats and we all have some fundamental agreements.”

Believe me, feeling like Tennessee Democrats had “fundamental agreements” was so new to me that it took me a while to get over it.

Anyway, here’s the thing–“What are we doing with our money?” is not an unreasonable or an uncalled for question. And to hear that Chip Forrester won’t answer that question?

Frame it however you want–that Parish is too “micro-managing,” that it’s an insult to be asked, whatever–at the end of the day a member of the Executive Committee asked “What are we doing with our money?” and the Chair of the Party refuses to say.

Knowing this, why would any Democrat in the state give money to the TNDP?

Here’s the thing. The Republicans aren’t sucking. They’ve held off, so far, on most of their egregious nonsense from years past. The stuff that would upset people who don’t pay close attention to politics? Well, hell, they managed to get G.A. Hardaway to co-sponsor it so they’ve got bi-partisan cover. And we’re not seeing the typical abortion nonsense. And some Republicans are trying to salvage collective bargaining.

Are they doing some stupid stuff? Yes. But it’s the kind of stupid stuff only people who follow politics are going to care about.

The average Tennessean is going to feel like they’re doing fine.

If Democrats are a disorganized in-fighting mess with money problems, the only way we’ll ever be able to win again is if Harwell is leading the Republicans in Satanic orgies in the Capitol and someone gets pictures.

Even if Democrats get our act together, we’re probably only going to be able to win again in the Satanic-orgy scenario, honestly.

But there’s a world of difference between “definitely not” and “probably not.” “Probably not” allows us to recruit non-suicidal candidates, allows us to raise funds, allows us to actually be politically viable.

But we don’t have our act together.

Jeff is My Problem with Evolution

I know, one who makes fun of young-earthers should probably keep her own mouth shut about problems she has with evolution, but I have them anyway in exactly the area of Jeff.

So, Jeff shows up and comforts Jo’s Grandpa at the end of his life. And, as Jo points out, there’s a scientific explanation–that “the brain in extremis contorts reality into one final rationalization to make it all better at the end.” But why would our brains do this? It’s not like you can get out of death. Everyone dies.So, while I see the benefit to the individual, I don’t see why this is a coping mechanism our brains would evolve to develop. Yes, it may make facing death easier, but you can’t not face death. And, once you’re dead, you can’t pass on your genes, so it’s not as if you can really select for a good death as a trait you want to pass on to your offspring. By the time anyone knows you’re capable of it, it’s too late.

So, why waste the energy?

And how would comforting deaths even evolve? Are we talking mate selection based on great-grandparents? “I have three cows, six rocks, and your son can graze on my sons’ land until my death. Oh, and did I mention my grandmother eased into death?” “Well, then Bob, I’m happy to give you my daughter to marry your son.”

Or older “Ogg, I will mate with a woman of the Uglok clan for their deaths are always calm and unscary!”

Although, now that I give it some thought, I can see how it’s selected for–child deaths. If you think of just how many children used to die before their 18th birthdays, and how many women whose children died were still in their childbearing years, now I can see how this is indeed selected for. Women whose children died horrible, scary deaths would work to lessen their chances of continuing to reproduce. In places and times when childhood mortality is so great, who could bear bringing a child into the world knowing how great the chance is that the child will suffer and die horribly?

But, if the child’s brain kicks in to comfort itself and the child’s parents with stories of supernatural beings who care and are there with them, then it makes the prospect of having more children, even if some of them may not live, more palatable.

Well, this is depressing.

And the truth is that I honestly don’t care if someone like Jeff is just in your brain. Everything is just in your brain at the end of the day. If it makes the tragedies of life easier, and doesn’t hurt other people, I have no problem with it.