LUCIFER MEANS "LIGHT-GIVER" or "Morning star" or "Son of dawn" and, ever since the Middle Ages, has been one of the aliases the Devil goes by, along with Satan, Old Nick, Old Scratch, the Old Harry, and so forth. Thus the Bible's blackest villain is known by one of the Bible's loveliest names, and not by accident either.

"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" the prophet Isaiah says (14:12), the point being that it was while he was still at the height of his loveliness that the ugly episode took place.

Lucifer was a leading member of the heavenly chorus that sings Bach around the throne of grace and as such seemed so infinitely removed from all temptation that both to him and to his fellow angels the very possibility must have seemed ludicrous. Then one day he made the mistake of saying to himself, "Just see how far I have come," with the emphasis on the first-person singular, and from there to "Just see how far I can still go" was of course only a hop, skip, and a jump.

When you are one of God's right-hand angels, there is clearly only one step farther you can go, and with his usual uncanny combination of justice and mercy, God let him go there.

Lucifer was no longer called upon to love anybody except himself or to sing Bach anywhere but in the bathtub or to follow anything or anybody except his own instincts and inclinations. He was given an office with mottoes like "Nobody loves you like yourself" and "Nice guys finish last" on the walls and was named to the number-one job in charge of everybody else who both then and for all time felt the same way, and they have been having one hell of a time together ever since.

-Originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words

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