Why the Monster Laughs at God (1 of 1)

Posted on October 29, 2004 by Jenna

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“My case is hopeless.”

I am full of guilt and shame.

It is funny. It is a funny way to live my life. I would think that it would be better to live some other way. To dance like a star.

But there is a small stain on the top I wore today. And Mom never loved me. And my thighs are too big. And I burp sometimes, even in public. And children are dying everywhere in the world.

I always imagine God up in Heaven, waggling his finger down, as if he’d like to love me but can’t possibly approve.

I got the weirdest spam today. Well, door-spam. You know. People, knocking. They were trying to sell me a “libellus,” and said it would make me good.

I laughed and told them to try next door. “My case is hopeless,” I said.
— from Linda Myers’ livejournal

Two men walk. Their destination is still half a mile ahead.

“Jenna thinks you laugh at God,” Sebastien says.

“Her name is Jane,” the monster says.

“I don’t understand it,” Sebastien says. “Why wouldn’t you claim God’s sanction? Do you really imagine that you’d be the first hypocrite He decides to smite?”

“It is every man’s choice whether to claim God’s approval,” the monster says, “whether their business is charity, industry, or pain.”

They walk on for a bit in silence.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Sebastien says.

The monster snorts. Then he looks sidelong at Sebastien. “You’re really curious? I mean, you actually think it matters?”

Sebastien shrugs. “I want to know what you fear,” he says.

“I don’t fear smiting,” the monster says. “I fear the trouble. I fear having to put on a big fake smile and tell everyone how Christian I am while children scream. The piousness and the constant references to God—it’s sickening.”

“That is why we need the Devil.”

The libellus is an odd thing. Strange and gnarled and horrid in its way. Yet it is soothing to me.

The pamphlet that comes with it says that it is the Devil.

Here, I’ll quote:

“The Devil is the one who tells you that you are beautiful. Because the world does not allow that you can be beautiful. The Devil is the one who tells you that you are good. Because the world does not allow you to be good. To be good and beautiful is reserved for other people. You can ask them, and they will tell you. To be good and beautiful is to be “arrogant and full of pride.” That is why we need the Devil.”

I do not think that I hang the Devil around my neck. I think it is an odd statue.

I find myself liking it.
— from Linda Myers’ livejournal

“Did you know,” says the monster, “that I am good, and right, and an instrument of virtue?”

“I did not know that,” says the hero, blandly.

“It is so,” says the monster. “The facts are barren. They are not pleasant. I have done things that transgress the borders of the self. But without interpretation these actions represent nothing more than a data stream—a flow of arbitrary data to the senses. It transforms topologically into ordinary zeroes and ones. Or into a Gödel number, empty and alone in the infinite set.”

“That is not virtue.”

“To survive,” says the monster, “each person must construct an interpretation for the data available that sums to something good. That is the call to God. Jane called for God’s help, once. In so doing, she placed herself in a world where there was a divine plan—where the immutable laws of God’s love and mercy made it necessary that she suffer. She chose a world where there was hope, and goodness, and salvation, and me.”

“So you laughed,” the hero says.

“I was afraid,” the monster says. “It horrified me. Of course I laughed.”

The condition of not being alone.

I received a letter asking me to speak against a man in court.

I did not want to do this. It took effort, and I value my honesty. But I did not want to lose the libellus.

It was at the court that I met the first of my sisters. She opened the top of her coat, as I passed, to show me the libellus round her neck. That is how I know. There are others who share my grace. I have arranged to have coffee with her on Thursday and she will tell me more.
— from Linda Myers’ livejournal, private entry

“Do you want to be good?” Sebastien asks.

The monster smiles. It is almost wistful. “When I was young,” he says, “I made a praising god. Do you know them? We call them libellatici.

“Succubi,” says the hero. “Incubi. The Devil’s voice.”

The monster tilts his head to one side. “Is there a Devil?” he asks.

Sebastien shrugs. “The existence of a Devil is neither made necessary nor contraindicated by the presence of his voice. Call them rakshasa, if you like.”

“It was pleasant,” says the monster, “to be good. But futile.”


“The rakshasa are the enemies of the gods.”

And I have met him

I have met the creature to whom my libellus gives voice.

I do not think he is the Devil. It is disappointing, in a way.

He is not conventional. He is sovereign, but worm-like. He is yellow and black. This is not the Devil’s color scheme. He is not the Devil.

But I will serve him. That is what is right.

He has made me good.
— from Linda Myers’ livejournal

They have reached a square of perfect grass and concrete walks, and before them there is a door.

“We make them now,” says the monster. “We make them, here at Central, and we send them out.”

“That is regrettable,” Sebastien says.

“Why?” the monster asks. His voice is mocking. “Surely, it is to the benefit of people to know that they are good.”

Sebastien snorts.

“It helps them understand that everyone is good and beautiful,” the monster says.

“But you’re not,” Sebastien says.

The monster laughs.