Tag Archives: evil

Mind Your I’s and A’s

While our pastor’s sermon kind of meandered today (good message, but it seemed overly long and somewhat disjointed), there was a portion that caught my attention:

Where there is ignorance, there is often indifference. Where there is indifference, we often see intolerance. And wherever there is intolerance, we will see injustice.

That explains a lot to me about the world. Ignorance remains at the core of so many of our problems. Ignorant Christians, ignorant atheists, ignorant Muslims, ignorant Jews, ignorant agnostics, ignorant pagans…you get the idea.

Now, those who read me regularly might expect me to pick on the members of the Tea Party here in the United States. And certainly, their ignorance is often astounding, as they make people with education seem to be the enemy. Suddenly, to them, knowledge is the problem. God forbid anyone pays attention, or tries to consider complex issues. No, lock-and-load or fly off at the mouth are the ways to go.

But they aren’t alone. I’ve known a ton of ignorant “progressive” people and other liberals. People who say they understand the plight of people who struggle but who distance themselves from such people. They are just as ignorant, because they have some kind of general knowledge or book learning but no connection to the real issues or what needs addressing.

Stay-at-home middle class mothers who knock other mothers’ choices to send their kids to school instead of home schooling, thereby showing complete ignorance of those other mothers’ challenges and lives, which don’t mirror their own and therefore cannot often follow a similar model.

Men who blame women for leaving them and being shallow, while remaining ignorant of their own gender sins and the things they did that helped scuttle the relationship, too. Women who show the very same ignorance as they set unrealistic demands and then dog out their former (or current) men online for not being perfect.

Ignorance is at the heart of ethnic conflict; passive workers who allow themselves to be undercut by corporate interests; corporations who focus on short-term goals at the expense of the country and their own organizational health; teachers and doctors who slap labels on kids like autism or ADHD when they’re just being kids; and so on.

And so, with my pastor’s example in mind, with those four I’s, I now offer my four A’s as a counterpoint. As a healthy alternative. As the path for our salvation, whether secular or religious:

First, we need awareness. Honest, willing efforts to look past the surface of things and challenge our own assumptions about everything.

Second, we need authorship, so that we will be not just show silent accountability but also open assertion of where we fail and where we cease to understand. Such things will lead to us asking for help in increasing our awareness and then our authorship.

Third, with those two things, we will see more acceptance. Always in society, there will be things we cannot accept, but those will be the things that are truly hurtful as a result of cruelty or ignorance. But we will accept that people are different and even when they lead lifestyles that we find uncomfortable, they have a right to be the way they are.

Finally, those three things, if we seek them (and I have no reason to expect that humanity will bother to, but there’s always hope, right?) will lead to the start of ascendancy. This could be secular as easily as it could be spiritual. But it will mean that we are on the path to fully realizing our potential beyond mere self-satisfaction and laziness. We won’t likely become truly ascendant in these our mortal coils, because that’s expecting too much.

But damn it, we need to make an effort to head in that direction.

G. vs. E.

I’ve often heard people talk about how, even if there is a God, “I’m not a bad person.”

The notion is that even if they don’t think about God, or so much as consider Jesus, they couldn’t possibly be “bad” enough to be denied salvation.

Now those arguments can go back and forth forever in terms of God’s fairness. But that isn’t my point today. My point today is to address our rather faulty concepts of good and evil.

You see, lots of people think that they’re pretty good. I maintain that people, as a whole (and this includes myself) aren’t really good at all. Oh, I may be fairly nice, and pleasant to be around, but I’m not good.

The problem is, people think that because they aren’t evil, or even just vaguely bad, then they must be good. I see this all the time. It’s kind of like how almost everyone (myself included) thinks they are smart, or at least above average in intelligence.

But not being evil doesn’t make you good.

Just like not being a villain doesn’t make you a hero.

To be honest, most people are somewhere in the middle, and by and large, we tend toward badness. Not overt cruelty usually, but plenty of little things. Not smiling at someone. Moving past a person asking for money. Not listening well enough to someone in distress. Not honoring our loved ones enough. Being too fixated on our own wants and needs.

No, people aren’t good overall, and that’s regardless of religious beliefs.

But having said that, it’s a good exercise for me to look at my actions in light of God’s expectations and Jesus’ teachings. When I look at my actions by worldly standards, I’ll go pretty easy on myself and pat myself on my own back quite readily. When I apply a spiritual filter to that assessment, though, I come up short, and I realize that while I’m not heinous, I have a long, long way to go before I should be using the label “good.”

In fact, I doubt I’ll ever get to that point.

And chances are you won’t either.

Green Is the Color of Evil

People often say that “Money is the root of all evil.”

They are wrong.

Because that isn’t what the Bible tells us.

What it tells us is:

“The love of money is the root of all evil.”

The love of.

Paul, in his first letter to Timothy (chapter 6, verse 10 of 1st Timothy, if you’re curious), tells us:

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (King James version)

A slightly more clear meaning might be gotten from International Standard Version though:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.

An important thing to note here is that the audience for this message consists of the Christian believers. The warning is that pursuit of wealth can lead to failures in our faith walk. That’s not to say that the message isn’t applicable to non-Christians, too; it is. After all, much of the evil in the world by people of any religion, or lack of religion for that matter, can be traced to the quest for wealth or economic power of some sort. Also, this passage shouldn’t be construed as saying that Christians cannot be wealthy.

But it is a warning. And a good one.

How many times have we seen major televangelists with huge audiences and wealth end up going into all sorts of excesses, whether financial, sexual, behavioral or otherwise? Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Oral Roberts, Robert Tilton and many more in the 1980s through the early 2000s alone, and now Joel Osteen, via his wife Victoria’s alleged violent and abusive misbehavior on a flight.

In the gospel of Luke, chapter 16, verse 13 (and in Matthew chapter 6, verse 24 as well) we are told:

No servant is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

(Mammon, by the way, is a term that was used to describe riches, avarice, and worldly gain in Biblical literature. It was personified as a false god in the New Testament.)

If you make your focus the pursuit of wealth, you cannot focus on God. Plain and simple. I don’t believe someone like Donald Trump is born again. I just don’t. He is so about the money and nothing but the money that I cannot imagine how there could be room for God in him anywhere.

We can gain wealth; we can even become truly wealthy. But we cannot do it by wanting to be rich or desiring to have riches or we will lose sight of what really matters: The things of heaven and of the spirit. And when we have wealth, we don’t have to give it all away but we do need to use it wisely, give generously and use what we have to help others and not simply enrich ourselves.

Money is not in and of itself evil. But we need to get over the idea that white is good and black is evil. The fact is that all too often, evil is green, because money is often involved somehow. (Well, green in the United States, anyway; evil is a bit more colorful in most other nations with their pretty, pretty cash denominations)