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The Devil Went Down to the U.N.

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Apparently the President of the United States left a lingering foul odor at the podium of the United Nations on Tuesday. The inimitable and irrepressible President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, interpreted the stench as a sure sign of proof that Bush is the devil when he said, "Yesterday the devil came here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today." Recent disturbing revelations about Bush's tendency toward unseemly gastro exploits lend some credibility to Chavez's observation, however it may be a bit of an overstatement to call him the devil.

I am modestly qualified, as a Christian minister and student of the Bible, to recognize the demonic when it manifests in the material world. George W. Bush is certainly a major player when it comes to evil, but I don't believe he is the devil. The Bible portrays Lucifer as a spirit being who rules over the hoards of hell and has powerful influence in our world. He has countless minions who do his bidding both in the spirit sphere and the physical plane where humans dwell.

The Bible does offer ancient prophesies about a futuristic evil leader called the Antichrist who would exert incredible totalitarian control over the nations of the world. I recently stumbled onto a website dedicated to the notion of Bush being the prophesied Antichrist ( I find the idea very troubling, being a native born Texan like the Dixie Chicks and Molly Ivins, to think the Antichrist might come from Texas. The website does offer some interesting reading. However, like Bush is fond of saying about global warming, the jury is still out on this one. Or is it? Perhaps President Chavez was bringing God's verdict to the nations with his pronouncement.

Chavez loves being the fly in Bush's ointment as he went on to give a powerful speech advocating for the gathered nations to rise up and oppose the global imperialistic agenda manifested through U.S. hegemony. Something about the bold flair of Chavez chastising Bush reminded me of the hit song from The Charlie Daniels Band in 1979 entitled The Devil Went Down to Georgia. The song tells a story about the devil challenging a young Georgia fiddle playing phenom named Johnny to a fiddling contest. The lad wagered his soul against a gold fiddle the devil was playing and won. Part of the song's appeal is found in its parallel to the classic underdog story of David and Goliath.

A similar drama is unfolding on the international stage as Chavez is vying for a Venezuelan seat on the Security Council against the wishes of Bush. He is calling for the non-aligned nations to coalesce and oppose the imperialistic super power gone bad. He pointedly exposed U.S. hypocrisy on terrorism when he mentioned the failed American backed coup attempt in Venezuela and the fact that we are giving shelter to a known and convicted terrorist named Luis Posada Carriles who bombed a Cuban airliner thirty years ago. He indicted the United Nations for the impotent response to American aggression and suggested Venezuela as a new location for a true world body to gather. Seldom has such boldness been demonstrated on the floor of the United Nations.

One of the verses in the Charlie Daniels song goes like this....
"Johnny you rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard.
'Cos hells broke loose in Georgia and the devil deals it hard.
And if you win you get this shiny fiddle made of gold.
But if you lose, the devil gets your soul."

Hugo Chavez is truly calling out a giant and there is a lot more at stake than one gold fiddle. The Bible has a lot to say about the struggle of good versus evil. I'm not worried about who ultimately wins because I have read the back of the book. Call me a fool, but I am betting on Chavez even though he only has a rock and sling.
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Gary Vance is an evangelical pastor/writer living in rural Tennessee. He is the author of "Wasn't Jesus a Liberal?" and other published essays.
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