Dining with Devils

Beware with whom you dine. Photo by Mat Brown.

“Come into my parlor,” said the spider to the fly.
“There’s a special treat I would love you to try,
And a prettier parlor you never will see. . .
Come in, come in, and dine with me!”
So goes an old story of deception and lies;
You know how it ends—one of them dies.

Your life, too, is surrounded by voices—
Crowding your thoughts, affecting your choices:
Voices of flattery, coercion, and sin;
Voices of kindness and courage to win.
Make sure the voices you choose to hear
Are the ones whose motives are honest and clear.

And beware the pretty-parlor trap;
For what begins as pleasure, ends with a snap.
And someone is roasted over a grate,
Then served with garnish on a porcelain plate.
So heed this warning and advice of mine—
Run when the Devil invites you to dine!


I was sitting at work one day focusing on the task at hand when, out of the blue, two distinct thoughts came to my mind.  The first was a variation of the opening lines from Mary Howitt’s famous poem “The Spider and the Fly.”  The second thought was “Take this advice of mine/run when the Devil asks you do dine.”  I quickly wrote these thoughts down on a yellow sticky note, put it in my pocket and went back to work.  When I got home that night, I put the sticky note on my somewhat-cluttered dresser top and forgot about it. 

One evening, months later, the organized chaos on the dresser got shuffled and I saw this note again.  I went to bed thinking about it when a flood of thoughts came to mind.  (Which means I am thinking and NOT sleeping!)  From 10 to 11 p.m. this poem developed.  The concept of the Devil eating those who succumb to his temptations came from the classic and highly recommended work by C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.

Now, if you will let me share two examples of the “pretty-parlor trap.”  Over the years I have had people inside and outside of organized religion tell me that no church will “tell” them what they can and can’t do.  Specifically with regard to dietary or consumption restrictions, I have had people tell me that I am missing out on a “good time” because of church standards.  Well, let’s clear something up right here.  The church doesn’t tell me what to do.  I have willingly and knowingly adopted the church standards because I believe there are blessings for doing so.  I choose not to do something of my own free will just like they choose to do something of their own free will. 

And, if we want to talk about a “good time,” let’s talk.  I was outside the other day at work walking from one building back to my office in the bitter winter cold with wind blowing and snow falling when the break bell rang.  Immediately several people came outside to shiver in the cold and take a smoke.  Why?  Because smoking is such a “good time?”  Or maybe it is because it is a “good time” to be outdoors in a freezing January snowstorm?  No, they were out there because at some point in their past they fell for the pretty-parlor trap. . .and choices have consequences.

Now, lest you think I am only picking on others, let me share a personal experience.  The other day it was getting late and I had not read the scriptures yet.  I said my evening prayer and planned to read but it was so chilly that I snuggled into bed and pulled the covers over my head for “just a minute” to warm up.  Well, you know what happened.  I fell for the pretty-parlor trap.  In the middle of the night I woke up and wondered in momentary, blurry-eyed confusion why the light was still on.  As realization dawned, I grabbed the scriptures and read a hasty verse or two (which I remember nothing about) to “check off” scripture reading for the day (being the middle of the night, which day does that really “count” for?).  To the angels, who are “silent notes taking”, I say this: I am not proud of that.  But I made a choice. . .and choices have consequences.

So, I am going to try harder to avoid the pretty-parlor traps.  Because, though I love dinner, I don’t like being the dined-on dish!

Written: January 4, 2017

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