The Devil’s Apocrypha

February 10, 2008

The Devil’s Apocrypha by John A. De Vito

Writers Club Press (iUniverse, Inc.) 2002

 

And what should I be? All but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater?”
— Milton

 

Although originally intended as a work of religious satire, I’m not surprised that this book spawned (however temporarily) groups of devoted followers using it as a religious text. Despite the rather overused ‘secrets revealed in hidden manuscript that is now lost/destroyed’ ploy at the start, The Devil’s Apocrypha then kicks it into high-gear with a retelling of the stories of the Bible, and goes far beyond the God=Evil Satan=Good dichotomy that could easily occur when someone proposes to tell the Other Side of the Story.

 

I’m not up to date on all of the various alien/god/seeding conspiracy theories, but this one’s a doozy. The basic premise is that various highly evolved spirits escaped their dying universe by jumping to this one, and then realized that in order to survive here, they needed to feed off the “power of sentient faith.” These spirits, called Angelica and led by the Trinity (read: God), manipulated the evolution of humans so that they would fear and worship them as gods. The catch being that in doing so, humans developed souls, which gave them the potential to one day evolve into Angelica themselves. And if they’re Angelica, they’re not worshipful and subservient humans. No problem, says the Trinity, we’ll just make sure that they can’t evolve beyond their bodies and keep them enslaved forever. And that’s when Lucifer stands up and says, that would be a really shitty thing to do. For defending the free will of all humanity, Lucifer becomes the reviled Satan, forever trapped with his loyal legions in the darkness beneath the earth.

 

Besides making me even more wary of organized religions, this novel forced me to ask myself some big questions, not only what I thought about the origin and fate of the universe, but also who is in control of my life, and am I thinking for myself? Who is impinging upon my free will and am I letting them? The chapter entitled The Book of Philosophies offers better advice on living than anything else I’ve read.

 

That said, I do have a few contentions. Okay, just one: I despise the pseudo-archaic language and find it distracting. Thee and thou do nothing for me.

 

After a grand revision of the Biblical-era tales, the book offers its own Revelations. It is a call to arms against blind faith and ignorance. It makes you confront your beliefs, and skewer them, if need be. I lent this book to a friend and he lost his faith. It made me reassess what I thought about these spirits themselves, and their place in our myths. If there are gods, do they need our worship to survive? Does faith have a place, so long as it is tempered by reason? Of all the concepts in this book, the fact that Satan isn’t as bad as we’ve been told was probably the easiest for me to accept. I guess I’m just predisposed that way. And although I’m not sure if gods exist, or where they might be if they do, I’ll light a candle for the Adversary, just in case he needs it.