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A phrase which is used when you're talking about someone behind that person's back, and that person appears on the scene.

An example

Peter and Randy are having a nice discussion about Ron:

Peter: "You know, I have never seen anyone with such a big, hairy stomach as Ron!"

Ron appears to the scene

Randy: "Speaking of the devil."

If Ron hears this, it might leave him confused and maybe a bit hurt, wondering what Peter and Randy were saying about him. Poor Ron. Of course it all depends on how Randy said it; if he had said it to Ron with a smile that says "I'm just kidding!", Ron would have realized that Randy wasn't serious. BUT if Randy had said it to Peter with with an icy tone in his voice, his back deliberately turned to Ron, then Ron would have, in case he heard it, been aware that Peter and Randy were talking something bad about him. Bastards.
The origin of this phrase is the doomier 'Speak of the devil and he is bound to appear'. This stems from the fact that some things are so frightening, so terrifying, so evil beyond the grasp of human minds, that to speak their name aloud is to invite dire consequences.

Apart from the fact that, in certain parts of the English countryside, the Black Forest in Germany and Norway this is literally true, the general modern meaning in this scientific age is 'If you start talking about something, it may well come to pass'.

For example, just this very minute some workmates of mine were wondering what had happened to another workmate who had been sent to the local shop to buy a variety of sweets. He had been gone a long time, but no sooner had my workmates wondered as to his whereabouts, the errand-boy returned. 'Speak of the devil', we said, 'and he is bound to appear'. 'Ph'nglui mglw'nfah Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!', we continued.

... and the Devil shall appear. So goes the saying, and the saying is true.

I originally picked up The Origin of Satan because I wanted to know the lucifer story, where he came from, how he was regarded in different cultures. This, however, is not what Elaine Pagels was writing about. Instead, her point was about how the Devil came to be so important, how the monotheistic proto-christianity quickly elevated (and mushed together) the Adversery of Job, the fallen angel Lucifer, and the snake of Eden into the ultimate figure of Fear and Worship that is The Devil -- the embodiment of ultimate evil, and nearly another God himself.

So I put the book down and didn't give it a second thought, at least until I was taking a course on the Formation of Christian Identity and it was a choice for a book to read and report on -- to save reading time for the class as a whole.

The entire course was about how the core of christianity, the elements that won out over the thousands of other sects struggling for recognition, did it largely by distancing themselves from the proximate other, that is, those other religious belief systems that were closest to them; by naming exactly what they were not, they could show themselves exactly what they were.

And thus Pagel's book was exactly in line with the course. People invoked the name of Satan to show those that were close to them, but were not quite them, and thus the smallest of sins became the most evil. First, it was the Jews, then the Arions and the Gnostics and so on, each belief that differed from the core cut out with the knife of Heresy, the knife that was Satan.

The thing is, if you read your Gospels you find Jesus preaching a message of love and acceptance.

Life has given me my own interpretation of love: accepting something as part of your own being, as part of your own definition of self. Whether it is your wife or your boyfriend, your house, your car, your country and religion, or even your own body, when you feel something else's pain as your own, when something else's well being is felt as your own well-being, it is, on some level, a form of love.

The golden rule, the message of Jesus' gospels and the core principle of a thousand other religions, tells us to accept others as part of ourselves, to make their pain our pain and to try to understand them. Not to try to change them, distance them from ourselves, and to impose our own being on them and obliterate what made them unique.

This, however, was exactly what Satan evolved to become. To distance people from each other, to put a curtain between individuals that could become a unity. He did it in the garden of eden as the serpent, making a rift between mankind and the world around him, he did it in the story of Job, trying to distance Job from God himself.

By invoking the name of Satan ever against another person, by thinking another person to be evil, and for her evil to set her apart from ourselves, we invite Satan into our hearts. Even when a person commits evil acts, even when they show that they themselves have no compassion and set them apart from the environment, our attempts to distance them from ourselves only further the influence of the adeversery in the world, and serve only to drive us apart.

Speak of the devil and the devil shall appear.

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