Faith and relevance in the 21st century

Category: Evil (Page 2 of 2)

The plank in my eye

Plank in your own eyeI just finished watching the movie Tsotsi with my wife. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t give away too much except to say that it’s a story of redemption. It’s the story of a young man who lives in a shanty town in South Africa whose life is changed after he carjacks someone and takes off in the car only to find a baby in the back seat.

This movie got me thinking about the reasons people do what they do to survive when they are living tough. It is always the poor who get a rough deal, who are blamed for being lazy or good-for-nothing. But it is also those same people who are going through the most incredible hardships. That is not to condone their destructive behaviour, but it definitely is to understand it. There is a huge difference. The ones who really should be criticised are those with a comfortable lifestyle who commit white-collar crime. But they can always afford the best lawyers and so get off more easily.

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Evil Must Disguise Itself as Good

Some of the latest Richard Rohr daily reflections have been focusing on evil and goodness in the world. they are taken from his Spiral of Violence CD. This one really spoke to me about the subtleties of evil and some of the strategies of the Enemy. Reminds me somewhat of C.S. Lewis’ brilliant Screwtape Letters. I have highlighted the bits that are most profound to me. Check it out below:

When the first level of the spiral of violence, “the world” (group selfishness), is not exposed for what it is, and the second level, “the flesh,” generates out of control (murder, stealing, rape, lying, adultery, greed), then a third level of fully justified evil always emerges. These are systems like oppressive governments, penal systems, legal systems, military systems, economic systems, and all the other systems we create to control disorder and violence. They ordinarily have a complete life of their own. These can, of course, be good too; but when you worship them, when you let them have total power, when you refuse to critique these systems, they can wreak the greatest havoc in history—and they have. Any system that says “bow down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9) is always diabolical, whether it be church, state, or “the market.”

The devil’s secret is camouflage. The devil’s job is to look very moral! It has to look like we are defending some great purpose or cause, like “making the world safe for democracy” or “keeping the bad people off the streets.” Then you can do many evils without any guilt, without any shame or self-doubt, but actually with a sense of high-minded virtue. Evil must disguise itself as good (Thomas Aquinas), and until Christians start understanding that, their capacity for “discernment of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10) remains very minimal. They are easily duped and always misled.

Some of the themes that come out of this for me are the ends justifying the means, a sense of moral superiority (even ‘God on our side’), the politics of division, and the sense that we are inherently right and ‘they’ are inherently wrong. How I have to watch this in my own life.

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