In a recent interview, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia holds forth on the usual subjects such as originalism and repeats his view that “if a state enacted a law permitting flogging, it is immensely stupid, but it is not unconstitutional.” However, the most interesting part of the New York Magazine piece came with Scalia’s discussion of the supernatural. Scalia warns that the Devil has become much more “wilier” and harder to spot in society. It appears in both constitutional text and spiritual life the devil is in the details.
Scalia states that he believes that there is a Devil that continues to roam around doing mischief:
Scalia: “You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore. … It’s because he’s smart. … What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way. … He got wilier.”
Interviewer: “Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the devil?”
Scalia: “You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the devil! Most of mankind has believed in the devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the devil.”
It is not clear when the Devil shifted from “making pigs run off cliffs, . . . possessing people and whatnot” to more “wilier” devices, but he appears much more menacing. One could even wonder why he killed all those pigs to begin with. However, Scalia’s biblical reference may be slightly misplaced. Matthew 8:28-34 describes “demons” possessing pigs, which drown themselves rather than run off a cliff. Moreover, it was Jesus who sent the demons into the pigs at the request of the demons and as a result the town asked Jesus to leave:
“When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. ‘What do you want with us, Son of God?’ they shouted. ‘Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?’ Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, ‘If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’ He said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.”
For the herders, the decision not to simply drive out the demons as opposed to agreeing to allow them to possess the local food supply might have seemed a curious bargain. However, Satan appears to have moved on himself from pig possessions and “whatnot.”
It is simply unclear what the modern version of a pig stampede is. Miley Cyrus comes to mind, but I again end up with the Green Bay Packers. As a Bears fan, I have warned for years how Aaron Rodgers and his spawn of Satan reveal themselves in their many game “possessions.” (It also explains why the Bears seem to run off a cliff whenever we play in Lambeau Field). After all, the dark anagrams for Lambeau Field include “Baleful Made I.” (I am ignoring the anagram for Antonin Scalia of “Satanical In No” as any reference to the jurist’s work on rejecting such things as cruel and unusual punishment claims).
Wilier indeed, Mr. Justice, wilier indeed.