Sympathy for the Devil?

Excellent comments over at regarding my novel have made me realize something I had not appreciated. Easily excited people have expressed concern that I may be advocating violence against the US or even a racial war because I depict some pretty horrible stuff. I couldn’t understand how anyone could confuse my depiction of an event from my endorsement of an event.

After all, no one imagines that Tom Clancy wanted a nuclear bomb to go off in a football stadium in the US, but that is what he depicted in The Sum of All Fears. I assumed that these people, believing me to be advocating such horrors and even illegal acts, were simply unhinged.

But, many people reading my story have commented that my characters have a greater breadth and depth that is ordinarily seen in thrillers of this type. And that made me think, and I put two and two together…

My goal was, indeed, to create characters with what I thought were the full range of human emotions and motivations.

  • Bad people can and do love.
  • Good people can and do hate.

Moreover, people we think of as evil do not see themselves that way. And, in some respects, they often are not. The Rolling Stones commented, in Sympathy For The Devil,

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
Cause I’m in need of some restraint
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste, …

Thus did I make Nate Smith an evil character in whom we could see and feel legitimate motivations. And thus did I place Jeff and Anne at the center of a maelstrom that may destroy them if they act, but will destroy the country if they don’t …

To be conflicted with good and evil is the nature of our existence, and incidentally, the reason to be thankful for the cleansing blood of Jesus.

Some of that is clearly showing through my characters and has, it seems, given some to believe I have sympathy for the devil.

Well I don’t. But I do have sympathy for any human who struggles, but fails, to do what is right.