Is is really possible to feel sympathy for the Lord of Hell, or expect mercy of the Devil? Internationally renowned, multiple-award winning journalist Edward R. Murrow was granted special access to the being once known as Lucifer, the First Fallen, now known as Satan, for a far-ranging, revelatory interview. Here, we publish an excerpt. Digital Illustration Copyright © 2019+ Mann – All Rights Reserved.
by E.R. Murrow, City Desk Editor
DYS DAILY DELIBERATOR
Excerpt from Transcript of Exclusive Interview
MURROW: It's been noted by many that Hell isn't much like Dante's Inferno.
SATAN: No, it isn't. We used to get that all the time. Not so much anymore, though I understand there was a popular video game set in that milieu. I hear that a lot of guys who played it are very confused when they get here.
MURROW: So Dante got it wrong?
SATAN: Of course Dante got it all wrong, Edward! Though he got certain parts of it right.
MURROW: What exactly do you mean?
SATAN: Well, the whole premise that a man's punishment should be determined by only one class of sin — it's absurd. Dumb. Entirely impractical. All men are a mix of sins, some minor, some major.
Therefore, the structure of Dante's Inferno is really just silly.
Ranking narrow definitions of sin into their own separate categories, where certain punishments are carried out for all eternity? Poorly thought out, and ineffective — not to mention sophomoric. But that's neither here nor there.
Beyond this, his raison de etre is, on it's face, ridiculous, based on an absurd and unworkable ranking system. Upon analysis, it makes no sense. You can tell poor Dante really had to twist himself into knots to justify such a scheme.
The whole premise that a man's punishment should be determined by only one class of sin — it's absurd. Dumb. Entirely impractical. All men are a mix of sins, some minor, some major.Tweet
Therefore, the structure of Dante's Inferno is really just silly. – SATAN
MURROW: Can you explain?
SATAN: Sure. Think about it. Heresy is worse than murder? Killing yourself is really worse than killing an innocent? Sodomy is a greater sin than murder? Hypocrites are worse than usurers?
The whole thing is just ridiculous. Hell was never like it, even in the most ancient of days. Dante's work may be great art, but like all art, it only reflects reality. In this case, poorly.
MURROW: Now that you point it out, it does seem a rather dubious scheme.
SATAN: Exactly! I'm pretty sure the Church fathers were involved.
MURROW: I take it that is sarcasm?
SATAN (chuckling): Or sacrilege. But yes, Edward, you could say that.
MURROW: You said Dante got certain parts right, though.
SATAN: Yes. There are parts of Hell worse than others. There are even ‘levels,' if you will. But it's nothing like Dante's Inferno.
There are parts of Hell worse than others. There are even ‘levels,' if you will. But it's nothing like Dante's Inferno. – SATANTweet
MURROW: I've heard you call it Dante's Folly.
SATAN (nodding): I do. Virgil got it wrong, too. As have most of the authors attempting to describe our realm. But that's to be expected, I suppose. Even in the long-lost and much-lamented Age of Heroes, word rarely leaked out, and even so, things have changed considerably since then.
MURROW: So if one's sins do not…
Forgive my confusion.
If one's sins don't determine the degree or nature of one's punishment, how does it work?
SATAN: I didn't say sin doesn't determine one's destiny; I simply said Dante's scheme was wrong. The damned are judged, but not by one sin or one category of sin. They are judged by the aggregate of their sins. Consider your own case. An appropriate part of the underworld is then determined, and the sinner assigned there.
I didn't say sin doesn't determine one's destiny; I simply said Dante's scheme was wrong. The damned are judged, but not by one sin or one category of sin. They are judged by the aggregate of their sins. – SATANTweet
MURROW: So it's more like being sentenced for a crime and sent to a prison appropriate to that kind of crime. A low level offender will not generally be sent to The Back Hole of Calcutta, for instance, or The Tower of London, or San Quentin.
MURROW: Can you explain to this reporter — for the benefit of those who don't know — the difference between what is colloquially referred to as ‘Old Hell' and ‘New Hell' and how the bifurcation came about? Some have said that New Hell demonstrates your repeated claim that you, personally, are not here to pass judgment or punish the damned, but simply to administer the underworld. Further, they say your relatively benign rule shows “mercy of the Devil.”
When I first arrived here…
SATAN: Not too long ago, by my standards.
MURROW: I suppose that's true. Yes. When I first arrived here, I had heard of ‘sympathy for the Devil'…”
SATAN: That old thing?
MURROW: It was a popular song, I believe… with the younger set.
SATAN (chuckling): I believe it was. And still is. Warms my heart, actually.
MURROW: But I had not ever heard of ‘mercy of the Devil.' Few in the the mortal realm would even believe such a thing exists.
SATAN: Well, the branding has been almost entirely one sided.
MURROW: I guess so. Still, many I have spoken with here in Dys feel that your mercy is… Well, they feel it is much greater than what passes for mercy from…
SATAN: Don't say it! Blasphemy is one of the original sins that can still get you sent to the worst parts of Hell, and if an order comes down from the top, there's nothing I can do about it.
MURROW: Thank you, Lord Lucifer. I forget sometimes, as an American journalist, that the 1st Amendment doesn't apply here.
SATAN: Indeed it does not. You're not in Kansas anymore. As for myself, I care not about words; only about deeds. But again, I don't write the rules. I only implement them. Your so-called ‘mercy of the Devil' is my policy, our policy, whenever and wherever possible. But as you might have directly discovered to your great chagrin, had I not intervened, it only extends so far.
MURROW: I must confess…
SATAN (chuckling): Confess? Are you sure you're not a Catholic, Edward?
MURROW: No, sir! Hardly. As a former ardent agnostic, in fact…
SATAN: Good, because I'm no priest and I can't absolve you of your sins! But that would make you an apostate, then.
MURROW: Actually, no.
SATAN: No? I distinctly recall reading that you attended church.
MURROW: Indeed I did. But I never believed it even then.
SATAN: Ah. I see. Just a heretic then. Well done.
MURROW: I'm not quite sure about that, sir. Anymore.
SATAN (nodding): The normal reappraisal of the rational. If it's any consolation, son, it wouldn't have mattered had you been devout.
SATAN: Oh yes. Most of the priesthood, nearly every alter boy, all of the pastors, a majority of holy men and virtually every single pope is here! All sinners, all damned. I should probably mention — it would seem to be a good time to make note of it — that the Lord particularly despises deceivers.
MURROW: I take it that is those who profess to great faith…
SATAN: But have none. Exactly, Edward! Holier-than-thou hypocrites.
The Lord usually stipulates a very special, personalized program of punishment for that sort. It's why New Hell, thank goodness, is mostly free of them.
MURROW: A blessing.
SATAN: Indeed. Amen. The sanctimonious are everybody's least favorite group, but the falsely faithful are the worst, I think everyone would agree.
Still, if men only knew that none of their most cherished, most closely guarded, most shameful and sinful secrets are actually hidden from view, well…
MURROW: I guess that makes sense. From what I recall of the process, you… the Judges… they seemed to know mine.
SATAN: Oh yes. All of them. We know the sins sinners have chosen to forget, as well as all the rest.
MURROW: So when it comes to one's Judgment, ignorance is no excuse?
SATAN: Certainly not. Even the senile end up in Hell, Edward. It's not about what you recall; it's about what you did!
MURROW (nodding): I was reminded of things I, well… would have preferred to forget.
SATAN: So it goes.
MURROW: I started to say, as a serious agnostic, if not a more or less outright atheist, I found it shocking to end up in, well… anywhere. The afterlife. Most especially in Hell.
SATAN (nodding): Perfectly understandable. They always do. Though I should add that whatever shock you felt, the smug, self-righteous true believers are the ones who have the greatest surprise awaiting them!
MURROW: I imagine. So, Old Hell versus New?
SATAN: Ah, yes! It's a long, long story, actually. Millennia old, to tell the truth. The difference is quite simple. There are parts of Hell under the rule of law, and those which are not. New Hell is a place where a sinner can “have a life,” as they say, without daily fear of violence, torture and horror — so long as he or she follows the local laws and customs — until Kingdom Come or Harrow Fall, whichever happens first. Demonic influence and presence is limited in New Hell, as you have undoubtedly observed by now.
MURROW: Yes, I've only been here a short while, but what you say comports with everything I've seen and heard.
SATAN (nodding): Good. Glad to hear it. That is just as it should be.
Now as for Old Hell… well, Old Hell is like it was before our reforms. A wild and wooly place, with no rules or regulations, other than those laws of nature which dictate survival. Feral demons rule such areas, are not to be trifled with, and the ecosystem itself is inimical to human life.
Or rather, I should say, human life wherein the human has some hope of a ‘life', as they do here in New Hell.
MURROW (nodding): I shall endeavor to avoid the place, to the extent that I can.
SATAN: Do. I should hate to have to dispatch you there.
MURROW: You mentioned reforms. Please tell us what brought these about.
SATAN: Yes, of course. We felt that it was time for certain… How shall I put it? Liberalization measures. It was time and long past time for significant adjustments. After all, by comparison to our greatest sinners and most malefic human monsters — Tamerlane, Attila, Vlad Tepes, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Tkach, Shipman, Bundy, Trump — most of the damned are relatively benign.
MURROW: Those are certainly some notable monsters. Many more could be added to that list, no doubt.
SATAN (chuckling): Certainly. Do you have all day?
The reality is, to name just one large set of our inhabitants, we have tens of millions consigned to Hell not because they rejected God or even because they are sinners in the conventional sense, but simply because they never heard the “Word of God!”
MURROW: If I may, Lord Satan… It doesn't seem terribly fair.
SATAN: You're right. It isn't. Hence the reforms. Fair or unfair, as the case may be, it's my job to run the joint. One does the best one can, but as we like to say… take your complaints upstairs! I wish you better luck than we've had over the centuries – my staff and I. In the end, a direct order from the Lord trumps all. He's the boss — the big boss — and we follow His mandates to the letter.
Anyway, to expand on your prior prison analogy, in the past we were putting spendthrifts and misers into the same prison as rapists and murderers, for more or less the same kind of punishment. It just made no sense, and more to the point, it was grossly unfair. So we made the change.
MURROW: People will find it strange, even impossible to believe, that it appears one can expect a kind of ‘mercy of the devil.'
SATAN: We all have our crosses to bear. We didn't make the call for accolades. It was simply something that had to be done, for a number of pragmatic reasons, Edward.
MURROW: There was no consultation with the Lord?
SATAN: None was required, nor needed. I'm free to administer this realm as I see fit, within certain constraints.
MURROW: You mentioned ‘”we.” May I ask who the “we” consists of?
SATAN: Certainly. I consult with my Wise Men — a panel of advisors — on all important matters. Furthermore, whenever necessary, time and exigency permitting, we hold referendums. As an American, that should reassure you.
Despite the lies people are told during their lives, many are quite surprised to realize that life in Hell — in the civilized parts, anyway — is not far removed from existence on Earth. And we'd like to think, to the extent possible, some of the better parts.
MURROW: I suppose most of the damned — those lucky enough to find themselves in New Hell — should be grateful.
SATAN (chuckling): Probably!
Seriously, though, many have told us that they are. Things could certainly be a lot worse. But that's not why we did it. It was simply the right thing to do. The underworld may be a place of damnation eternal, but I, for one, don't believe it should be a living hell!
MURROW (nodding): There are hundreds of millions consigned to Hell who will be glad to hear it.
SATAN: We aim to please, we're here to serve.
MURROW: Thank you, sir.
I believe, based on what I have heard, that you have been vocally critical of… of the Lord… for a long time now. Centuries, as I understand it. Though I also understand you have attempted to moderate your language in recent times. Some have seen that as a softening of your positions against Him.
We touched upon this a moment ago — you prevented me from foolishly blurting out something which could land this reporter in big trouble with the, er, ‘higher authority' if you will. Yet you seem to have been immune to consequence. Is that the case?
SATAN: It may seem that way, but I assure you it is not the case. My views haven't softened in the least, but I also realize it's my role here to set the tone.
Harsh, ill-considered words can lead to dire consequences, and what I say matters. I deeply regret past remarks which may have led others to believe the indulgence the Lord grants me extends to them. Some of those who were exiled to what we now call Old Hell as a result have not been seen or heard from in centuries.
MURROW: It would appear even the Devil has regrets, then.
SATAN: More than you can ever know. Life is regret, Edward. We all have them. Or, I should say, we all should.
Life eternal is eternal regret.
MURROW: I suppose it is.
Well, looking at my watch, I can see our time is nearly up. I know you're a very busy man. I wanted to get into questions about your relationship with the Lord, the War in Heaven, and what we sinners might expect in the coming years. Or perhaps centuries.
If I may, sir, you have been known to drop some fascinating hints of what is to come from time to time. But I suppose that will have to be tabled for a future date, if such a thing is even possible.
SATAN: We shall see.
MURROW (nodding): Thank you, Prince of Darkness, on behalf of myself and my audience for your time and generosity. I think I can say that nearly all of the damned appreciate the insights into who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
SATAN: You're quite welcome.
MURROW: To my readers and listeners throughout the underworld, good night and good luck.
KSK had his first professional work published at 14, and has been writing ever since. Recent works include QANON & TRUMP EXPOSED, a serious examination of the inane, insane, harebrained conspiracy theory, and THE TOP 10 MOST POPULAR WESTERN NOVELS OF ALL TIME. Future works will be fiction, though one can argue that in the Age of Trump, reality is already fiction, like Donald's tan, his "$10+ billion dollars" and his integrity.