‘Mine instrument’

‘Mine instrument’ December 7, 2018
Monument to Satan in the Illinois State Capitol

Holiday season in Illinois means holiday displays at the Illinois State Capitol building, under the rotunda. It’s public property, which means anything is permitted so long as no public funds are used. So while we have a Christmas tree and nativity set for Christmas, and a Menorah for Hanukkah, we’ve also had a Festivus pole and, in 2015, a gay pride Festivus pole.

No Festivus poles this year, though. No, instead of one of those, the 2018 holiday displays under the Illinois State Capitol rotunda are joined by a monument to Satan. From my hometown paper:

A display from The Satanic Temple-Chicago has been placed in the Statehouse rotunda, joining the Nativity scene to mark the Christmas season and the Menorah to mark Hanukkah.

According to the Satanic group’s application to the secretary of state’s office to allow the display, the sculpture is called “Knowledge is the Greatest Gift,” and it depicts the forearm of a young woman extended, with a snake coiled around the arm, and the hand holding an apple.

“The whole structure, including the base, is about 4 1/2 feet tall,” reporter Bernard Schoenberg writes, “and the arm and apple statue is about 18 inches long.”

Most will be highly offended by this, and there will be much airing of grievances, even without a Festivus pole. Me? This is the funniest thing I have seen all fall.

An arm holding an apple, with a serpent coiled around it? This is what the Satanists think will offend Christians? Strike fear in our hearts? L, as they say, OL.

The Fall, while tragic, does not scare us. On the contrary, we love it. We commemorate it every year in the Exsultet, the proclamation that opens the annual Easter Vigil:

O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault
that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

“O truly necessary sin of Adam…that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer.” We do not fear the Fall. We celebrate it.

It would take only a few minutes to Google this. You’d think Satanists, who pride themselves on their knowledge—it says so right on their monument—would check this out before putting their little monument in the Illinois state capitol building alongside a Christmas tree, a Nativity scene, and a Menorah.

Nor do the other trappings—the apple; the serpent—scare us. The apple is just a piece of fruit. The Serpent? Well…

“[14] And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. [15] I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”

This is the Protoevangelium, the first Gospel, which I wrote about a few days ago: the promise of a Redeemer in the fallout from the disobedience of our first parents. For its role in the Fall, the serpent is cursed, and told that a future descendent of Eve would crush its head.


As much as they honor knowledge, these Satanists seem woefully ignorant of the role the Fall plays in Christian—especially Catholic—faith. Since they wouldn’t even know about Satan without Jewish and Christian scriptures, you’d think they would take the time to study those scriptures, to improve their knowledge of him.

And since knowledge without a literary foundation is incomplete, it is only fair to ask what they have read. Maybe they’ve read some Tolkien? His writings include this snippet:

And thou, Melkor, shall see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.

It’s a safe bet that Satan could not possibly have imagined the consequences of wounding humankind’s primordial innocence, particularly that God would choose to identify with our fallen nature, rather than with the order of the angels to which Satan belonged. He could not possibly have foreseen “things more wonderful” such as the Incarnation; the Nativity; and the Redeemer rising from the dead after allowing his own creatures to brutally torture him to death, healing the ancient rift caused by the “truly necessary sin of Adam.”

So, I say: welcome to the holiday display at the Illinois State Capitol, Satan. Look upon the Christmas tree and especially the nativity set. Remember what they commemorate. And weep. You lost.

Image published in Signs of the Times, December 4, 2018

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  • E Hakenson

    YOu have entirely missed the point of the display. It’s a way to make people aware that religious freedom means ALL religions.

  • Donalbain

    Strike fear in our hearts? L, as they say, OL.

    What makes you think that was the intention?

  • Leisuresuitbruce

    You may not be in fear of this and for that I commend you. But many of your fellow Christians do, or at least act like it. Their attempts to have it removed while arguing for religious freedom puts them into a tail chase that amuses fans of separation. And THAT is the point.