If I Were the Devil If I were the Devil, what would I do to take the United States, the ripest apple on the tree, in 2017?

Home  »  Popular culture  »  If I Were the Devil
Print This Post Print This Post
Oct 5, 2017 No Comments ›› admin

By Lynn Woolley

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Paul Harvey perform his essay about the Prince of Darkness. A friend had asked me to join the local board of the Salvation Army, and he suggested I watch a VHS tape of Mr. Harvey’s speech to the Army. I did—and then, I watched it again.

I wished fervently that I had written it.  

That was many years ago, and now with the internet, millions more people have heard this essay. Many of them post it on their social media sites.

Every time I hear it again, I wonder if the Devil isn’t behind much of the evil in the world today. When he first wrote this piece, back in 1964, Paul Harvey declared – if I were the Devil, and I wanted the ripest apple on the tree (the United States of America), I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.

Maybe there is no Devil. Maybe he’s a religious myth. But he’s everywhere in popular culture. He seems to be amazingly effective.

Video: One of many versions of Paul Harvey’s famous essay.

For the record, here is Paul Harvey’s essay as it appeared in a newspaper column in 1964:

If I were the Prince of Darkness I would want to engulf the whole earth in darkness.
I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree. So I should set about however necessary, to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whispers to you as I whispered to Eve, “Do as you please.” To the young I would whisper “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that “man created God,” instead of the other way around. I would confide that “what is bad is good and what is good is square.” In the ears of the young married I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be “extreme” in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old I would teach to pray — to say after me — “Our father which are in Washington.” Then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull, uninteresting. I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies, and vice-versa. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing, less work. Idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could, I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction, I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the Devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions; let those run wild. I’d designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts and I’d get preachers to say, “She’s right.”  With flattery and promises of power I would get the courts to vote against God and in favor of pornography. Thus I would evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, then from the Houses of Congress. Then in his own churches I’d substitute psychology for religion and deify science. If I were Satan I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg. And the symbol of Christmas a bottle. If I were the Devil I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. Then my police state would force everybody back to work. Then I would separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines and objectors in slave-labor camps. If I were Satan I’d just keep doing what I’m doing and the whole world go to hell as sure as the Devil.

To fit the times, Mr. Harvey updated the wording over the years, but it remained essentially the same as this first version. It has become a classic. And yet, the Devil still is not universally shunned.

Not only did the Devil go down to Georgia, he’s everywhere.

Charlie Daniels has an amazing record about a young fiddle player who outsmarts the Devil. He does a great performance of it. But even so, most of us are not as strong as the hero of Charlie’s song.

We give in to the Devil far too often. As I said above, for a mythological creature, he sure seems to get his way.

The Devil in comics and on TV.

Sometimes, the Devil is presented as a hero.

Hot Stuff was innocuous kid’s fare

The first comic book I ever read about him was a comic, aimed at children, called Hot Stuff the Little Devil. Hot Stuff was created by Warren Kremer, and first appeared in Hot Stuff #1 (October 1957), published by Harvey Comics. The stories were good for children – except for the fact that the lead character was a young Satan.

There are others. Marvel’s Son of Satan was a guy named Daimon Hellstrom who was the son of a mortal woman and Lucifer – the Biblical Devil. Hellstrom parted way with his dark sister, Satana, and became s superhero, defending humanity.

DC Comics also features a Devil character called Lucifer in its Vertigo imprint. The theme of this series is free will – that is to say, the Devil doesn’t beat around the bush. He gives you the straight skinny and it’s up to you do to decide. Wikipedia quotes David Easterman, a character who sees himself as a victim of Lucifer:

Lucifer (Vertigo – DC Comics)

When the Devil wants you to do something, he doesn’t lie at all. He tells you the exact, literal truth. And he lets you find your own way to Hell.

Then, there’s Spawn, a comic (and later a movie) by Todd McFarlane. Spawn was Albert Francis “Al” Simmons (Lt. Colonel, USMC-Ret.), who began to question to morality of what his black ops CIA unit was doing. He was eventually killed, went to hell, and made a deal with the Devil. So he came back as an antihero.

In the comics, the devil-themed heroes are mostly good guys that sometimes use violent means to perform their heroic duties. Superman, for instance, would never kill the way Spawn does. In any case, some of these comics give the Prince of Darkness a good name.

Marvel’s Son of Satan

Speak of the Devil

That’s the name of a short story I wrote back in the 70’s when I was just starting to write fiction. I had almost forgotten about it, but I went through my files and located a copy. When I began posting my fiction at WBDaily, I did not deem it good enough to use. But on second thought, I might keystroke it in and post it.

It’s about two guys that argue about the finality of Hell, and then run into the Devil himself – and the old guy settles the argument. It’s the kind of story I was writing in my 20’s. Not what I would do today, but it does not cast the Devil in a good light.

Fabled Studio Hell

More recently, I wrote a story entitled “Fabled Studio Hell” in which a reporter engages the Devil in a hellish radio station. The story has religious overtones, as the hero uses an old hymn to defeat Satan and restore the city to light.

What if Jesus Changed His Mind?

This is another devilish piece of writing that I did years ago. I had attended a concert by a gospel group called the Mid-South Boys (or, if my memory is failing it might have been the Florida Boys), and they did a song called “Scars In the Hands of Jesus,” about the scars that were caused by nailing Him to the cross. I must have been pretty impressed, because I wanted to write a similar “deep” gospel song.

Video: The Florida Boys sing “Scars in the Hands of Jesus”

I came up with the idea that Jesus might get too frustrated with humanity to ever return. The song prominently features the Devil, as you can see from the lyrics:

What If Jesus Changed His Mind
August 1987. Words & music © by Lynn Woolley. All rights reserved.

As I peruse the daily news, a thought comes to mind.
That the One who made us all, He is not blind.
The day’s events have no defense, the things we do and say.
What if Jesus said, “Enough!” and turned away.

These are very troubled times.
What if Jesus changed His mind?
And decided that he’d never come again?
We’ve been waiting since His birth.
But now the Devil take the earth.
It would happen — if Jesus changed His mind.

Now Satan rules a world of fools with demons by his side.
And the gates of Hell are opened far and wide.
Now grief and pain and sorrow reign and darkness fills the sky.
And there’s no one there to hear us when we cry.


Then morning breaks and I awake. The vision starts to fade.
And I realize the promises He made.
How real it seemed. I’d never dreamed a dream that scared me so.
But it opened up my eyes, and now I know.

Yes, these are very troubled times.
But He’ll never change His mind.
He’ll be coming back just as He said He would.
In His glory and His might,
Like a thief within the night.
It will happen, because He’ll never change His mind.

No, the Lord of Life will never change his mind.

So the song ended on an upbeat note with God fulfilling his promises and the Devil no longer in charge.

But I wonder. Was Paul Harvey right? 

Spawn by Todd McFarlane (Image Comics)

If I were the Devil, what would I do to take the United States – the ripest apple on the tree — in 2017?

I’d make sure that every woman was told over and over again that her right as a female is to destroy her own children while they’re still in the womb.

I’d make sure to urge people not to place any blame on religious fanatics from the Middle East when they kill in the name of their god. I would invent an excuse for Big Government and I would call it Climate Change.

I would tell the people that government-provided healthcare is a right.  I would foster groupthink, identity politics, and racial divide. I would work to infiltrate popular culture with extreme violence, and sports with racial unrest.

I would pit the people against the police. I would work to elect leaders that would demean the Christian faith and bow to foreign kings.

Devil Tales

As Paul Harvey said so many years ago, I would do pretty much what the Devil is doing. It seems to be working just fine.


Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

%d bloggers like this: