Friday, April 20, 2007

I'm not sure what to make of this

One of the Christian rights most popular themes these days is to mention that there really is evil in the world. Which in part explains the Bush Presidency; hard to argue there isn't evil around with him in the White House.

Obviously, an event like the Virginia Tech shooting makes writing on this theme easy, but I'm still unsure about Chuck Colson's latest article. He talks about visiting a Norwegian hospital where there were a lot of criminals. He asked which ones were mentally ill, and was told they obviously all were or they wouldn't have committed the crimes they did.
While the Norwegian approach would strike most Americans as very naive, the difference between them and us is one of degree not kind. We also blame crime on external factors, like mental illness, culture, dysfunctional childhood, and the like.

We are uncomfortable attributing events like this to human evil, much less to a kind of evil that seeks to undo God's creation—what Christians call the demonic.

Yet without this idea, events like this massacre can never be understood. We might learn that the killer was "mentally unbalanced" or on anti-depressants. But, absent evidence that he was clinically delusional, this knowledge will not explain why he walked onto a college campus, locked people in a lecture hall, and killed them.
So to put it another way, is there a difference between being crazy and being possessed by demons. I'm not exactly sure how we would change our law enforcement procedures if we had to assume people who committed these crimes were possessed or just evil. Have a police department exorcist? Hey maybe that Dresden Files show is more relevant than I thought.

In reality the only thing Colson wants is for us to feel no sympathy towards deranged people who do these kinds of things. Fair enough. But purposefully saying "Well they're evil and that's all the explanation we need," deliberately blinds ourselves to understanding and possibly preventing such insanity.

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