A Reader: “The Devils of Loudun” by Aldous Huxley

As always, this is not a book report. Rather, it is an overview of some themes that stuck with me while reading “The Devils of Loudun” by Aldous Huxley.

Most movie plots make sense to us because we view them through the lens of good versus evil. We watch “Star Wars” and it makes sense to us because we see a push and pull between the light and dark sides. This “force” is reflective of the world in which we live. It is also found in our major religions. If there is a God and his son who are ultimately and perfectly good, then there must be a devil who is completely evil. They are light and he is darkness. They bring balance to our beliefs and create an impetus for faith.

Now, I write this is an agnostic and someone who is currently studying Buddhism but even here is a push and pull between being fully awake and enlightened versus being kept in the dark and not seeing life for what it really is. No religion is free from this battle, but Christianity focuses on it perhaps more than any other. In my opinion, hell is a necessity. Without it, there are no consequences for your actions. Stealing, cheating, lying, taking the Lord’s name in vain are just actions until you introduce the concept of sin, forgiveness, heaven, and hell. Without punishment, there can be no justification for the reward. Of course, I can’t speak to the reality of heaven or hell. In all honesty, no living person can. I also can’t tell you if they are the truth but I do know they need each other.

I also know men can create hell on earth for people they perceive to be different. This book builds up to a very dramatic scene where someone is burnt at the stake for being “demonically possessed”. Instead of allowing her fate to be decided by God in the afterlife, men decided to play judge and jury here on earth. For me, this screams of a lack of belief and faith in what comes next. Perhaps, this is Huxley’s ultimate point. Our belief systems are predicated on the unseen and experiences from books written long ago. Perhaps, we should stand back and ask ourselves why we believe these things. At the end of the day, we can still decide to believe but we should do so on our own and without the temptation of others. To do otherwise is to follow blindly and without justification. When we do that, people here on Earth can be harmed in the process. Just ask all those burned at the stake for being different.

Be good to each other,