Alan Jacobs knows that hovering around the topic of original sin is the devil, so he has a chp that explores a “few words about the devil” in his book Original Sin. He begins with a movie I had not even heard of: Hellboy.
The focus of Jacobs’ observation is a climactic scene where Hellboy says, “I chose.” This leads to a lengthy footnote on this theme in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — and, once again, I come up short: not seen it or read it. C’mon, I say to Jacobs, give us some nonfiction to chew on.
This leads to something along my line, St. Martin of Tours, who it is said held out hope even for Satan to repent. There’s a problem there, of course — and Jacobs sees this — because of how Revelation sketches out the future. What he doesn’t bring up is that prophetic utterances often have a sense of contingency about them. Anyway, Jacobs says this to St Martin’s hope: “But good for Saint Martin all the same. Better to hope too much than too little” (89).
We are, if you are following him, flat stuck in the middle of original sin issues. What causes us to sin? Is it our nature or our will? Or is it Satan?
A question: Does the Fall of Genesis 3 answer this question? Does this story tell us that all sin or that all inevitably sin or that only one couple sinned?
Jacobs slips back to the fiction folk: Defoe and Milton and Tolkien and Marlowe’s Faustus.
Leading him to this question, our question: “Do we sin because we heed the devilish voice in o ur ears? Or do we heed that voice because we have already sinned?”
“The divided self,” he says, “is our inheritance no matter what, and in the pain and diorientation of that experience we may not even care whether we were torn from the inside out or the outside in” (95).