Saintly Thoughts

A Pithy Parable

We often speak of the devil, the tempter, sitting upon one shoulder and whispering his encouragements to evil in our ears.  But in these accounts, fortunately, we also imagine an angel on the other shoulder, prompting us to act our better selves.  But I wish to suggest another version of this story which is far more troubling and, I fear, far closer an image of the truth; that there are two devils, one on each shoulder, pulling us first this way and then that, to the right and then to the left.  For evil is not a unitive principle, but is many and divided against itself.  It can and will strike at our souls from many directions.  No angels shall correct our way midst such a demonic chorus.  The only thing preventing us from falling over in our evil is that we are as inconsistent in evil as we are in goodness.  Thus, we are prevented from falling into the abyss not by any divine prompting to virtue, but by a prompting to an equal and opposite evil.